The Promise of Summer

With the solstice officially marking summer this week, the season of plenty is here to celebrate. Many birds have already fledged one brood and are now sitting on a second clutch. Depending on where you live, songbirds may even have a chance to raise three broods. I say, thank goodness for second chances. Let the wrens try again after their first nest was disturbed by a bear. Let the robins lay perfect blue eggs and hope the jays leave them alone. Let all this new life surround and fill us during the… Read More

Showstopper

The color of poppies is outrageous—so bright and red you can scarcely believe it. But there it is, once a year, a showstopper in the early June garden. When other flowers are just contemplating what kind of tune they might sing, the poppies belt out their solo. Confidently, they command center stage—knowing, perhaps, that a good rain will soon end their performance. Tips and Techniques– Because I work during the day, I am often snatching time for sketching and painting in the evenings. I made several trips to the garden this week,… Read More

Catch it while you can

Today, the allium. Tomorrow poppies. Coming and going, a garden is ever evolving, never static. A bee, a swallowtail, if I’m lucky, a hummingbird. Even now, one moment makes way for the next. Catching it while you can makes all the difference. Tips and Techniques– Because I was away for much of May, I missed the flowering spring trees, many of the ephemeral wildflowers and bulbs, and the unfurling of ferns here in New York. When I got home the allium were in bloom but starting to fade; I knew I had… Read More

Travels in Italy- Part 2

While you may have heard of or traveled to Italy’s famed Cinque Terre— five colorful villages built into the steep hillsides on the Ligurian coast— you may have missed the lesser known sixth village of Porto Venere. Less crowded than the other villages, Porto Venere is charming and beautiful, with brightly painted villas, narrow streets, and steep stone staircases leading to sweeping views of churches, Roman walls, a castle, and the sea. I logged 13 miles climbing up and down over my two-day stay and bought a lemon to ward off a… Read More

Travels in Italy—Part 1

Buon Giorno…It’s been a while. I didn’t mean to be away so long. But sometimes travel leads to the unexpected. After a lovely week of teaching in Umbria and several days hiking up and down the steep hillsides overlooking the sea in Porto Venere, my trip to Italy took a wrong turn when I tested positive for Covid in Florence and couldn’t come home. You may be thinking that spending an unexpected week in Florence is a dream…but not so much when you have to find a place to stay during the… Read More

Just the Essentials

So many lists. Still a lot to do. My trip to Italy is a week away and I am nearly ready…but not quite. There’s still paring down and packing and final workshop preparations, but what else can I manage to cram in? A bit of gardening? A few Italian language lessons? House cleaning? Another pre-trip journal page? Alas, this will be my last blog post for a few weeks as I like to unplug and immerse myself fully in a place while traveling and teaching. I’ll share my journey upon my return…. Read More

Coming Soon

Spring is just about to burst forth here in New York. It’s a time many of us eagerly await; the long winter months nearly behind us. Just a few things are blooming now, but the pace will accelerate in the coming days with a procession of spring ephemerals, migratory birds, flowering trees and shrubs, and colorful bulbs. I went looking for spring yesterday and was pleased to spend time with star magnolia and forsythia before the rain came and temperatures fell from 60-to 40-degrees. Here’s wishing you time to wonder and enjoy… Read More

The Irony of Beauty

I went to the New York Botanical Garden for the first time this weekend and it did not disappoint. A spectacular Orchid Show drew crowds to the historic conservatory, while thousands of visitors strolled the grounds on one of the first sunny days of spring. I could have spent hours painting orchids, but there simply wasn’t space. Instead, I wandered sunlight paths, soaking in the beauty of the place, and scoping out potential subjects for when I return in May to participate in this year’s Plein-Air Invitational. In the Native Plant Garden,… Read More

Go to the Swamp

“If you are afflicted with melancholy at this season, go to the swamp and see the brave spears of skunk cabbage buds already advanced toward a New Year.” – Henry David Thoreau, 1857 I walk to the swampy margin of a nearby stream every March. It’s still cold. Still brown and gray. But I know that I will find there the first blooms of the year. Tucked inside a cloak of mottled maroon and green the tiny yellow-green flowers hide. The first waking insects will find them on warmer days than this;… Read More

Walking Among Cherry Blossoms

We couldn’t have picked a better weekend to visit Washington D.C. I didn’t realize when we chose the date that it would coincide with the blooming of the city’s cherry trees. After two years of social isolation, families, friends, and lovers strolled among the trees around the Tidal Basin, drinking in the beauty of pink and white blossoms in the sun. In a world with so much division and strife, what a gift to find the promise of hope and renewal still within our reach. The planting of cherry trees in Washington… Read More