Road Trip: Lavenlair Farms

 

Where do gardeners go when they aren’t tending their own gardens?

To other gardens of course.

Today, a friend and I traveled to Whitehall, NY to a Lavenlair Farm to take in the blooming lavender fields. The views are breathtaking not only of the rows upon rows of English and French lavenders, but out over the fields to a 200-year-old house and the mountains beyond.

We gathered bouquets of lavender,  made some purchases at the gift shop and then continued our adventure. If you haven’t been there, add it to your list of local places to visit.

It’s charming. Here’s a link: http://www.lavenlairfarm.com/

ByWard Market Shopping in Ottawa

 

I stumbled upon a farmers’ market in the ByWard district while traveling recently in Ottawa, Canada and couldn’t believe my good fortune.

Here I was with gorgeous fruits and vegetables displayed in front of me on a street that also had shops selling French pastries, hot coffee, wines, loaves of fresh breads and cheeses from around the world.

The farmers were friendly. The aromas appealing.

If I lived there, I would shop this street every day.

 

Outstanding Horticultural Art Exhibit in Gatineau, Canada

 

What does this gardener do on holiday?

She visits horticulture masterpieces, of course!

Today I returned from the Mosaiculture exhibit in Gatineau, Canada.

What’s mosaiculture? It’s art with horticulture. This horticultural technique established in Beijing and Shanghai and just beginning to be known on this continent uses sculpture, paint and plants to create massive and breathtaking works of art.

Inside each sculpture is an armature, much like topiary. Some are wire, but some of the interior structural forms are made with plastics that look more like a giant set of Legos pieced together. The viewer never sees this part. It is covered by different plants to create texture, patterns and show coarseness or smoothness.

Big, Bold and Awe inspiring

Think big, very big.  In the last image above of the seated woman, the bottom of the bag on her lap is about 6 feet off the ground. In some cases, it was one large sculpture on view, like the seated woman, but in others you were viewing a diorama depicting a scene of historical significance like a first nation warrior paddling a canoe, or a man panning for gold.

In other cases, there are sculptures within sculptures, like the artwork of dragons and people shown above. What the viewer sees is thousands upon thousands of plants totally covering the form and the surrounding landscape to create living and changing artworks. The exhibit is spectacular and thoroughly amazing.

Each of the 40 or so arrangements is so unusual, so intricate that you will literally stop, stare and wonder, “How did they do this?”

The artworks are on exhibit in Gatineau as part of the country’s celebration of 150 years of Canadian history, values, culture. Admission to the MOSAÏCANADA 150/Gatineau 2017 exhibit in Jacques-Cartier Park is free. But hurry, it closes in mid-October. For more information or directions visit the website

I understand that after the Gatineau exhibition ends, the giant plant sculptures will be moved to sites in provincial and territorial capitals.

 

 

 

Lavender Farm, Ice Cream and Mom

Mom’s visiting.

At 89-years-old she has pretty specific wants, likes and requests.

Today we checked a few off the list that weren’t all that exciting. She wanted to buy new shoes and black pants, and have lunch out.

But one part of our adventure today is worthy of more detail because it was wonderful and because time is running out to do it this season.

Lavenlair Farm

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I drove Mom to Lavenlair Farm in Whitehall, NY.  It is nestled in rolling hills of with views that stretch from the Green Mountains of Vermont to the Adirondacks.

Everyone in the car at one point or another commented on the vista or the soaring hawks.

They have 22 different lavender varieties growing in the field.

High time for bloom is July and gardeners have told me the field is a blue wonder then.  But we saw plenty today to make this a must do next summer.

In the little boutique next to the field we found lavenders noted for culinary use, fragrance, and color and shopped for all things lavender from honey, flower wands, soaps, tea, sprays, lip balm, sachets and more.

Also on site is a hand built “Laverinth” a 100ft diameter, lavender planted, Petit-Chartres meditative labyrinth that the owners, David and Diane Allen, created.

If you want to go, hurry. The farm closes for the season September 3rd, which is next weekend.

Ice Cream

The other highlight of our outing was the Ice Cream Man in Washington County.  Mom ordered root beer ice cream. She loves all things root beer.  And, I think she liked it.

Screen Shot 2017-08-27 at 6.09.55 PM.pngShe ate the whole thing. 🙂  Now she’s napping.

Swimming Hole Photo Shoot

This was a fun day.

A friend and I went to a swimming hole in Bristol, Vermont to shoot photos.

We weren’t there long before we met the guys who make the Gooner Longboards videos like this one.

 

Lots of jumping, splashing and hooting. The director Chris Magoon was shooting images of his buddies jumping off the cliffs using a series of devices he created to extend the camera’s reach and slide along with the action.

He is a young engineer, very creative and serious about capturing the action in a cinema-graphic way. Nice work.

Want to go and take a leap? All you have to do is grab that rope you see in the image below, swing out over the water and let go…._DSC0704_1433

I was told that once you hit the water, you need to get to the sides quickly as the underwater current pulls you towards the waterfall. Not what you might expect. Beware.

Oil Painting

I took plenty of photographs that will be studies for a future oil painting. I took images of leapers, kids standing there waiting to jump, splashers, screamers, swimmers and everyone having fun on the boulders. And one day soon, I will draw these images on a canvas and compose a painting. I will keep you posted.

Today was a very good day.

Road Trip: Frost Hill Farm

On a road trip into Vermont yesterday, a friend and I had our cameras fully charged, a map in the car and a willingness to brake for anything of interest…shops, flowers, tag sales, and views.

Our destination: Frost Hill Farm in Belmont, a peony nursery that will leave you breathless. The flowers are so delicate, the petals translucent…and they move in the slightest breeze like dancers in fancy, frilly frocks. This farm will enchant you. If you aren’t sure you need peonies in your garden, walking among the rows of pink, burgundy, white, lemon and magenta flowers will convince you otherwise. The fragrance alone is worth the drive.

Here are a few images:_DSC0574_1295

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piink peony

Frost Hill Farm is only open until the 29th of June. If you’re interested, go this week. There is still plenty to see…note all the buds in the following photo.

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Vermont is just beautiful countryside to drive through. Magnificent vistas. Rolling hills. Even the wildflowers along the roadsides were outstanding. I believe the purple flower is spotted knapweed. Is that correct? The orange flower is Orange Hawkweed.

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While you are meandering the back roads, stop often. We passed a swimming hole in a quarry, talked to an antique shop owner who steered us to great vistas she called “a piece of heaven,” and if we weren’t in heaven…then heaven wasn’t far.

On the Move Lunch Idea

MasonjarsaladSalad in a Mason jar?

When I googled “portable lunch no sandwiches,” this adorable idea came up.

The salad lasts for five days in the refrigerator, the dressing is on the bottom – first layer – so it is not soggy until you shake it up and it is pretty to look at. Add to that my own requirements for something easy to bring on a kayak and healthy, and this is a winner.

I made mine with red onion, carrots, celery, cucumber, peppers, lettuce, tomatoes, basil leaves and feta. You can add chicken, beans, anything you like. The key is to put the dressing in the bottom of the jar and then add the veggies least likely to absorb the dressing. In my case this was the onion, carrot and tomatoes.

I love the idea of prepping the salad once on a Sunday and then having it available in the refrigerator ready to go for the rest of the week. This could become a regular thing.

There are lots and lots of recipe ideas online. Taco salads, Greek salads, etc. Try http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/06/06/mason-jar-salads_n_5452313.html as a start.

Pretty soon I will be packing mine with veggies all grown in the garden!

Amazing Day at Shelving Rock Falls

We wanted to do a photo hike but we didn’t want to be far from home, it couldn’t be too strenuous, and we wanted to see wildlife. So we went to Shelving Rock Falls and we weren’t disappointed.

This is the time of year when snapping turtles lay eggs and we found this one crossing into a pond.turtle

I must have had turtles on my mind when I downloaded my images because I swear it looks like a turtle’s head in the rocks in the falls. Do you see it?shelvingrock

The walk was good. We headed down to the lake at one point and sat on the boulders soaking in the beauty of Lake George. We heard an owl in the distance and waved at a few boaters out enjoying the quiet waters.

When our hike was just about done, we spotted these swallowtail butterflies. There were many around — in the air and on the roadway — but a group of three to five would flit about and then land together. They didn’t seem to mind our picture taking one bit.trio

It was a fine day in the woods with a friend. Thanks G.

gina

Eco-Friendly Cup Cozies

coffecozy

opencozyFabric cup cozies like this one were on sale at Methodist Church Plant Sale in Monkton, Vermont over the weekend.

My sister bought me one and I’ve been using it. I like that it insulates fingers from hot coffee and catches any drips. But I also like that they are environmentally friendly and pretty, too. Oh, and machine washable.

Someone at the sale said the cozy works around a pint of Ben and Jerry’s. Vermonters…I like the way they think.

P.S. I just learned these are called zarfs.

Winter Road Trip: Canajoharie Adventure

There were two things in Canajoharie that were on my list.

The first has been on my list since the summer when I learned that Canajorharie was a Mohawk Indian word that meant the “pot that washes itself.” It was named for a circular rock formation in the Canajoharie Creek.

I wanted to see this geologic feature but never got there this summer so . . . we went today.

When we asked directions, a local said “You mean the boiling pot?” and she pointed us down a steep trail with the warning to watch our footing. It was a little snowy but manageable.

Unfortunately, the pot wasn’t turbulent when we were there. I have read that when the water is high, it moves so violently that it gives the appearance of a cauldron boiling over. It wasn’t that way today. It was cold and the water was moving but not furiously.

The beauty of the shale and slate along the gorge, the long smooth rocks and cooling water would make this a great place to visit in the heat of the summer. I may bring a picnic next time.

Afterwards, we went to look at the gorge from the observation deck near the water tower off Moyers Street. We didn’t stay long, it was cold and windy and getting colder.

Our next stop was the Arkell Museum to see the paintings of James Gurney, author and artist of the Dinotopia series. If you don’t know the work, look here.

http://jamesgurney.com/site/images/dinotopia-land-apart-from-time

The exhibit provides a glimpse into the way Gurney’s imagination works and it is inspiring. In one of the interpretive panels, it says that Gurney’s father told him everything begins with drawing. If you can draw something, you can create it.

What a wonderful thing to say to a young artist.

And it seems that Gurney was listening. The exhibit included many paintings fans of the books will recognize, but also explained how the artist works, how he creates models of the dinosaurs to determine where the light would fall, etc., and how he develops story boards as an outline for his books. It is magical.

You feel like Gurney has shared a bit of himself with you.

Note the details of the imagined world . . . like how Gurney developed an alphabet and how the shop signs are written in that alphabet. Or how along a steep village street, there are stairs for humans and another much larger set for dinosaurs. Gurney is so absorbed in the world of Dinoptia that after a while you believe it is indeed possible that such a world exists. And, furthermore you would like to visit.

The paintings are dazzling in their details. The art is fantastic in content and execution. And the depth of Gurney’s imagination is limitless.

I’m a huge fan and this exhibit is a must see while it is in our area. The exhibit ends Feb. 9th, 2014.

For more information on the hours, directions, etc. visit the museum’s website http://www.arkellmuseum.org.

Afterwards, if you are hungry, you might like to try Erie Station on West Main Street in Fort Plain (about 10 minutes away). It was open on a Sunday afternoon – many places weren’t – and the food was good and the staff welcoming.

Enjoy.