Mobile Happenings

We’ve been in Belgium for two weeks now – filling our time slowly with the treasures of the region.  We are staying in Brugge, and I’ve been fascinated with often seen medieval houses that usually have a name and number printed on the side.  These ‘Godshuizen’ tend to also have pretty little gardens attached, so I spent a day riding my bike to all that I could find here and made a study of them.

Godshuis in Brugges by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.com

Literally translated, Goshuizen would mean ‘Houses of God’ but this translation is a little misleading.  They are not churches or places of worship but rather they are houses for the poor and needy.  They are in fact housing for the poor, needy, elderly and widows and widowers that were built by rich families and corporations as early as the 14th century.   Sometimes the houses were constructed by corporations or guilds, for their members who had lost their income or were unable to work because of illness, handicaps or other mishaps.

Goshuis garden in brugge belgium by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.com

Most of the time these houses form a complex around an inner courtyard where the inhabitants can get their water and grow vegetables in little gardens (though most of the ones I saw, contained many more flowers than edible crops).

goshuis garden in brugge belgium by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.com

They also typically have also have a chapel where the people are supposed to pray for the souls of their benefactors – but this is the only religious obligation.

Godshuis in Brugges by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.com

Many of these remain today and many of them have the sweetest most charming gardens.

ehinops and goldenrod garden by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.comClick through the gallery below to see more!

-Rochelle

image by rochelle greayer

This little video just knocked my socks off. It is beautifully illustrated and oh so clear….it is based on this poem:

TANT DE FORÊTS…

Tant de forêts arrachées à la terre
Et massacrées
Achevées
Rotativées

Tant de forêts sacrifiées pour la pâte à papier
Des milliards de journaux
attirant annuellement l´attention des lecteurs
sur les dangers du déboisement des bois et des forêts

Jacques PRÉVERT “La pluie et le beau temps”
Éd. Gallimard, 1955

Here is the english (as translated by google translate — and decidedly a little rough…poetry and google translate I suspect are not good friends – if you can do a better translation, by all means, speak up!)

AS FOREST …
So torn earth forests
And massacred
Completed
Rotativées

So sacrificed for pulp forests
Billions of newspapers
attracting the attention of readers annually
the dangers of deforestation woods and forests

I think you get the idea though…a trailer of a short film that is based on a French poem written in 1955 that speaks to the irony of the fact that newspapers warn us about deforestation although they are made of paper themselves…I’d love to see the film.
Tant de Forêts – trailer from Burcu & Geoffrey on Vimeo.

Whoa – it’s February already!.  That really snuck up on me! January went by was faster than a collection of short and cold days have a right to.  I think its time to catch up from the beginning of the year….from when we were in beautiful southern California.

Gerbera Daisy Farm by Rochelle Greayer www.studiogblog.com

I’ve pondered the best way to tell you about our trip to meet California flower farmers and see the Rose Parade  and I have finally decided that the best thing to do, right now, is to just document it.  I don’t want to forget the little pieces that added up to a wonderful experience.  What I saw and learned will wend its way into all my future writings, but that will come with time; for now I need a diary.

Read the full post

We left our down coats in Colorado and flew to warm California last night and these beautiful cut flowers greeted us in our hotel. (This is best shot I could get in the low light…and I didn’t even try to capture the giant arms of orchids that sprayed out to the sides of this huge arrangement – G.O.R.G.E.O.U.S.)

I am in Pasadena this week with my family on an adventure to go behind the scenes with the California Flower Growers as they get ready for the Rose Parade on New Years Day. We have a busy schedule starting today when we head north to Santa Barbara County to visit a variety of cut flower farms that supply materials for the floats (one of which I am told is the largest in the USA). I can’t wait. I will be posting pics on instagram, commenting on twitter (if you have questions you want to me ask — tweet me – I hope we can all learn a lot on this trip!) and telling stories on Facebook all day — and then recapping here later tonight.
This will carry on right through the parade on New Years Day…so if you are interested in joining in, follow along with the #Farm2Float hashtag. I’ve been a huge fan of the Rose Parade since I was a little kid and this is my first in-person visit…so if you or someone you know (please pass this along) is also a big fan…I hope to hear from you this week.
-x-
Rochelle

Along the coast of Maine as we are readying for Christmas, our outdoor cultivation has come to a screeching halt as the ground is covered by a foot and a half of snow. To add emphasis to this being the time of the shortest days of the year, a half inch of ice fell the past couple of days, making a nice, preserving crust on the snow.

Ulf Nordfjells utstÑllning frÜn 2007 GîteborgFor a gardener, this is a time of planning, organizing, and preparation. For me, I am in search of a theme for next year’s garden designs at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. We are redesigning our entry walk, areas around our entry lawn, plus seasonal displays throughout the gardens. In looking for inspiration, I start running through the usual candidates: Victorian carpet bedding schemes, Beatrix Farrand with her free-flowing perennials, Roberto Burle Marx and his massive flows of bright colors, and Piet Oudolf’s visions of grass inflorescences dancing with salvias and alliums.

Ulf nordfjellThe problem is that all of this has been done before. Most gardens are looking to replicate one of these designers or some variant of their designs. Part of the reason I came to Maine was to be at a young garden where we could do things differently. Part of doing this is to learn which plants will survive and which plants will struggle. I learned last summer that tropicals that thrive in the south and mid-Atlantic, will sit around like a dozing dog all summer, only to peak in mid-September as the summer crowds have moved back to their occupations which afford them the ability to summer in Maine.

Long-story made short, I started thinking about what kind of home interiors I like the best and was drawn to the furniture of Hans Wegner. If money were no object and we did not have 4 kids, our home would be an assemblage of Scandinavian modern design. Aha, that is when I began searching for Scandinavian garden design. We share somewhat similar climates and short summers, I thought, so the plants and designs might be worth investigating.

2007 Chelsea

Right now, I am poring through the gardens of Ulf Nordfjell. Nordfjell has a simple aesthetic with clean lines and blocks of plants. The colors are subtle and used with restraint, when used at all. Like a Wegner wishbone chair, the look is easily understood yet relaxed and comfortable. Nordfjell entered gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show in London in 2007 and 2009. I saw his garden from 2007 in person and thought it was brilliant. All of the other gardens seemed to be competing with one another to have the largest structures and plants just appeared to be filling in the gaps. Nordfjell’s garden was structured around the plants. From what I recall it used green, white, and a bit of purple for color. Not the garish combinations of his competitors. He won a gold medal for this garden only to come back in 2009 to take a Best in Show award.

Ulf Daily Telegraph

The challenge in the coming weeks is to figure out how to take this inspiration and make it fit our existing context. The lines of our gardens are more organic and curving. Our guests are drawn more to color than shades of green, grey, and white. I will continue looking through his designs, reading about his inspirations, and then coming up with plant combinations that are our own.

How about you? How do you design? Who are your inspirational designers? What cool things are you thinking of trying to pull off for 2014?

-Rodney

Images: englishgarden.se, Shoot Gardeningtradgardsformgrysigurdsdotter

I returned late Thursday night from the International Trials Conference at Longwood Gardens. The conference was fantastic because of the information presented, the people I met, and the new plants that we saw at various trials. I have a new listing of plants that I want to grow in 2014 at Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. At the top of this list is the ornamental black-foliaged rice, Oryza sativa ‘Black Madras.’ There is a wonderful mass planting of Black Madras rice in the annual trials at Longwood Gardens. It is planted in front of the black leaved Pennisetum ‘Vertigo.’ The dark foliage is fringed with a yellow celosia and a light colored Alternanthera.

Oryza sativa Black Madras

The Black Madras rice was in seed which are actual rice kernels. The rice kernels are a chartreuse-green that contrast nicely with the dark foliage and flower stalk. The plants were growing in a regular garden bed that had been amended with compost and receives adequate moisture. When I think about growing rice, I think about submerged rice patties. Oryza ‘Black Madras’ will grow well in a patty like environment but it will also do well in a garden bed with full sun and sufficient water. This would be cool to try in an aquatic planter if you do not have the right place in the garden for it to grow. These rice plants can be purchased as annual plugs or grown from seed. In looking at various seed sites, it appears that you can sow seed in late winter in flats or direct sow in late spring into the garden bed.

Oryza Black Madras

We will probably start our from seed in late winter since we cannot plant our annuals into the gardens until early June. I am starting to think what I can use for companion plants around the rice. I hope we can even get some rice to set on our plants. It would be fun to harvest some and then serve it in our cafe as “micro” harvested rice. Well, maybe that last part would be a stretch but worth a shot!

-Rodney

Photos: botanickateplice.cz, davesgarden.com

The staff at Uncanoonuc Mt. Perennials are so nice, they just smile sweetly even when they have no idea what you are yammering on about.

uncanoonuc mt perennials by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.comThis is Uncanoonuc Mt. Perennials.

Last week, I was up in New Hampshire visiting the Proven Winners Team at Pleasant View Gardens and on my way back I thought it the perfect time to check out a garden center that had been highly recommended by my friend Neil at The Gardeners Spot (one of my fav. local garden centers).  Neil told me about this fantastic nursery that his closest friend has created that put his own beautiful center to shame.  Simply, a must visit….

ruby star coneflower uncanoonuc mt perennials by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.comBut then I lost the little piece of paper that had the name of place written on it….

I googled and knew two things….that the center was between Manchester and Concord, New Hampshire and that it had a really odd name.  Uncanoonuc sounded right.

mercury rising coreopsis uncanoonuc mt perennials by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.comThe place was fabulous and my favorite part was that all the beds were right out front so you could see the plants in the ground rather that all stacked up in pots in the nursery.  I also fell a little bit in love with the idea of using salt marsh hay for mulch…I actually liked the way it looked and think it might relieve my disdain for hauling mulch.

eucalyptus honeysuckle uncanoonuc mt perennials by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.comSo while I was there I made extra special sure (like at least more than three times) to mention Neil and his recommendation and how Neil told me they were such good friends because Neil is awesome and all that….I seriously name dropped Neil’s name constantly, because I intensely wanted to make sure that Neil got credit for sending me there…Neil, Neil, Neil….

And then when I got home I had an email from Neil making sure I found the right place…he wanted to know what I thought of  Chakarian Farm Greenhouses.

Right, another crazy named nursery between Manchester and Concord.

climbing rose uncanoonuc mt perennials by rochelle greayer www.studiogblog.comI’ll be heading to Chakarian Farm Greenhouses next week — and will once again make sure they know that Neil sent me…but I hope that this time instead of blankly polite smiling faces (behind which lie people who think I am an obnoxious, name-dropping, friend-of-some-guy-named-Neil whackjob) I will actually meet Neil’s friends.

But seriously — Uncanoonuc Mt Perennials is well worth a visit.  It’s in Goffstown, NH.

images by rochelle greayer