Thursday, September 25, 2014

Getting Older, But Not Necessarily Wiser...and How a Gardener Spends Her Birthday

My birthday was on Saturday and I was kinda down in the dumps about this getting older thing. In July I had injured myself, yet again, working in the garden. Apparently I am getting older, but not wiser, as I continue to do more than I should. This time it was lifting 50 pound bags of gravel to finish the path through my flower garden (see my post about that). The time before that was when I spent about a year making my kitchen garden, with its raised beds and gravel paths (see the post for that, too). That first time, I had hurt my left elbow in three places and after a few rounds of physical therapy, ended up having surgery. This time it is my right shoulder and upper arm. Tendonitis and bursitis of the rotator cuff tendons and what my physical therapist likes to say, “a whole lot of soft tissue damage to the deltoid, bicep, and triceps areas” due to “overuse.” Overuse, you say? Isn’t that what all gardeners do? Or should I blame the yoga? Or both? Or just blame age? I still feel too young to have injuries due to “overuse,” but I guess I’m older than I care to admit. I’ve been going to physical therapy three times a week, while still going to yoga classes twice a week, and of course working full time, as well as overtime much of the time. It has been pretty exhausting. Plus, the web design classes that I take at night are starting up again next week. Where will I find the time for homework? Good thing I don’t have kids to keep track of, too.

So, needless to say, I have been kinda down and kinda stressed. My physical therapist said, “You gotta cut out this weekend warrior stuff and start spreading stuff out.” Weekend warrior. Never even thought of myself as that before, but boy, she has me pegged right. I seem to recall a recent weekend of patching and painting a ceiling, sanding and painting a back porch railing, and weeding. Then there was the weekend before that where I pruned the wisteria, both from the ladder and then from the roof, trimmed a bunch of overgrown stuff, weeded, helped Brian re-seal a section of flat roof, and helped Brian with replacing our rotting back porch steps with steps made of a composite material. But when else am I going to get anything done???

What does a gardener do when she shouldn’t be gardening? She visits other people’s gardens! It just so happened that one of my garden idol’s was opening her private garden in New York state to the public on my birthday, via the Garden Conservancy Open Days program. What a great excuse to take a weekend off from warrior-ing. I have been a fan of Margaret Roach’s podcast and website for about a year now and also just finished reading one of her books, And I Shall Have Some Peace There. A chance to see her garden on my birthday sounded ideal, so I planned a weekend vacation to see her garden, as well as do some other things. When I told my younger sister my birthday weekend plans, she called me a nerd. Well, yeh, I AM a garden nerd.

Margaret Roach’s Garden

We drove to New York state on Friday night so that we could be at Margaret Roach’s garden around when it opened. The drive out there was lovely, through rolling hillsides dotted with farms and vast cornfields and then a tiny town here and there. I couldn’t help but wonder, “Where does one find good sushi in these here parts?” Margaret Roach has been a vegetarian for over 30 years, so she could probably care less about sushi.

I was really hoping Margaret Roach would be at the garden when we got there, and she was! I was so excited to meet her. She was a very kind hostess, greeting everyone and answering questions. I took lots of pictures of her garden and asked permission to post them on my blog. I will get them on here this coming weekend and will talk more about her garden. While we were there, we learned that Lynden Miller’s garden in Connecticut was also open that day. Lynden Miller is a well-known public garden designer and the director of The Conservatory Garden in Central Park, NY. I have seen some of her work in Fine Gardening magazine (my absolute favorite gardening magazine), as well as other places, and couldn’t resist visiting her private garden, as well.

(Side Trip to Hyde Park)

Lynden Miller’s was only about 20 minutes away from Margaret Roach’s garden, but wasn’t open until 2pm. We had plenty of time to kill, so we decided to zig on over to Hyde Park to see Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s birthplace and home, Springwood. Well, apparently due to the Ken Burns series on PBS, it was pretty crowded, but we did manage to do a tour of the house after having lunch at Hyde Park Brewing, conveniently located across the street. (Had to keep Brian happy while dragging him around gardens!)

Lynden Miller’s Garden

After a great tour of the Roosevelt house and some time spent in the Presidential Library and Museum, we zagged on over to Lynden Miller’s garden. What I love most about the work I’ve seen of hers is her amazing talent at garden borders. Her private garden certainly reflects that talent. She has such an eye for texture, color, bloom time, and more. I wish I had that eye, as well as that knowledge. Unfortunately, Lynden Miller was not there for us to meet. I was disappointed about that. We didn’t get there until about an hour before the garden was closing, so maybe she was there earlier and we had missed her. Her garden was truly lovely.

New York Botanical Garden

The next day the big thing on the agenda was the New York Botanical Garden. I had never been before and had always wanted to go. My excuse for going was the “Weird, Wild and Wonderful” botanical illustration exhibit. We also got to see The Haunted Pumpkin Garden in the Everett Children’s Adventure Garden, which was really cute. We spent about FIVE hours at the botanical garden and I think I wore Brian out. At least he had a chance to go to a couple of brewpubs after the garden – he needed a drink after all the walking we did! The garden is really amazing and I will definitely post about it soon.

“Weird, Wild and Wonderful” Botanical Illustration Exhibit (at NY Botanical Garden)

The “Weird, Wild and Wonderful” botanical illustration exhibit was really beautiful. Such talented artists. I love botanical illustration and dabble in it a bit myself from time to time – just don’t have the time to really focus on it, though. For this exhibit, The American Society of Botanical Artists invited artists to create works of art of “visually unusual plants.” They had 240 submissions and the jury selected 47 to be in the exhibit. Two of those selected submissions belong to the amazingly talented Asuka Hishiki. Her watercolor of an Heirloom Tomato takes on a life of its own and almost looks like a grotesque monster (or as she calls it on her website, the “Kind-hearted Monster”). She got the gold medal for her watercolor of Wasabi, with its mass of fibrous roots. If you’re not familiar with Asuka’s work, you must check out her website. She also creates works of art of mythical fungus caterpillars which are truly unique. An illustrator friend of mine calls her fungus caterpillars “gross,” but I find them absolutely fascinating. Other work of note at the “Weird, Wild and Wonderful” exhibit: Lucy Martin’s gouche and watercolor of Violet Hedgehog Mushroom with leaves and moss; Dolores R. Santoliquido’s very graphic acrylic, colored pencil, and graphite illustration of a Purple Pitcher Plant; Beverly Allen’s watercolor of White Bat Flower (silver medal winner); and Jeannetta vanRaalte’s watercolor of Romanesco Cauliflower, roots and all. All of the rest were fantastic as well, those were just my particular favorites.

It was a fantastic weekend full of great gardens and fabulous garden-related art. Look for future posts with more information and photos from my garden visits.

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