Friday, May 1

May is digging in the dirt - gardening

Yesterday I planted a small vegetable garden. As I sit with my coffee in the quiet of the early morning and look out the window at my work, I contemplate the experience. I must admit there is something very soothing about turning the soil over in your bare hands, letting the cool earth run through your fingers. I am usually not the gardener of the family, and although I enjoy picking and cooking the vegetables, until recently I have not had the urge to plant. There was a fleeting moment where my vanity threatened to spoil the mood, but I pushed the idea of dirt-stained nails away–nothing a good scrubbing cannot fix. The smell was clean and fresh. The whole morning was luxuriously calm, no rushing, driving or texting, just digging, planting, watering, patting in a repetitive manner-it became a wonderfully, melodic experience. I finally stood back to assess the lines, making certain they were straight, each tiny bud of a plant set feet apart to give them plenty of room to expand. I could not help but feel proud that I helped these little lives along. 

Over the next few months, I can watch these little buds grow into a small family. My husband warns me to be careful putting some vegetables together, as they can dominate; like the pumpkin, he can be quite insidious and deeply roots, choking his neighbors. So, pumpkin stands alone, giving room to expand. Tomatoes grow tall, arching towards the sun, so soon we must remember to carefully stake and tie them or they will topple with their heavy fruits weighing them down. Of course, we will take measures to keep the little creatures away so they do not destroy our hard work. We have tried fences, but, each year, somebody manages to creep in, leaving their damage strewn about. I am no expert, but these are a couple of details to vegetable gardening I have come to understand over the years. The digging and planting was pleasurable- it brought my energy level down, away temporarily, from the multitasking and back to the basics of life. I am grateful for that.
my hydrangeas in full bloom July 2008
We may not all love to garden, or even have a space to plant, but even if it is just a simple potted flower, I hope this will help to motivate you to take a moment in your hectic life to appreciate the value of the physical growth of a plant. Pot or plant a little something and watch it grow, nuture it.
australian tree fern, strawberry, cabbage and cauliflower from Debra's garden
I would like to thank Debra Carter, a full-time artist and gardener, from the opposite shores of California, for her beautiful photography (seen above and throughout this blog) of her vegetable gardens. She has enlightened me with her incredible knowledge and beautifully designed gardens.
If you missed this great article in this past Sunday's New York Times, Unlatching the Garden Gates - check this out for schedules of a fabulous collaboration of gardeners in the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut area
Into-the-Woods Effect in a Well-Tended Plot
By PAT WIEDENKELLER Maxine Hicks for The New York Times
A BIT OF PARADISE Sue Bottigheimer in the rambling garden at her home in Stony Brook.
A compact lot wound with honeysuckle and mountain laurel poses as a lush rambling retreat. It is one of many private properties that will be available to visit as part of the nonprofit Garden Conservancy’s Open Days.
Garden Tours Throughout the New York Region Slide Show
East Hampton, New York
Many of you may have watched Grey Gardens last Sunday night on HBO, which the newest version of this story, that originally started as a documentary filmed by Albert Maysles and his brother over 34 years ago. The documentary followed a reclusive woman and her mother. It is a sad look at how these women had fallen from their prosperous beginnings, and along with their demise, the once beautiful property they lived in East Hampton, Long Island became broken down as well. The story became a legend, with an almost cult-like following, and a broadway show followed, and now, an HBO show as well. In 1979, Benjamin C. Bradlee and Sally Quinn bought the historic property and recently refurbished the grounds to their splendor. Of course the most recent made-for-tv version is well cast and intriquing, but I have two thoughts on the story-how about we leave the ghosts of these poor women alone to their broken dreams, and thank goodness the gardens are back in good shape.
Grey Gardens today!
An inspirational California girl and her garden dreams -

taking the vegetable garden to her children's school
Barbara Crampton-Bleckman with students preparing for THE FAIR on May 31st at Mill Valley Elementary School, Edna Macquire. They plan to raise funds, highlighting a bake-off, to help build a kitchen on the school's 1/3 acre sustainable garden, much like Alice Water's edible schoolyard in Berkley, California. A labor of love, setting the groundwork for the May 31 Fair.

one final thought on gardening....
a dedication to my mother,
Judith Helene Matthews
Judy's peony, pink hydrangea, hollyhock, rose, dalia, and sunflower overlooking the ocean, in her garden, Gloucester, Massachusetts
I would like to end my gardening thoughts with a dedication to my mother, Judith Helene Matthews. Unfortunately, my mother passed away suddenly from an asthma attack in October 2006, ironically after she had been working in her garden. My mother was a vibrant, amazingly accomplished woman who tapped into her artistic side later in her life (after we all left the nest) through her gardening. As a single mother, who juggled many tasks at once throughout my childhood, including raising three children while simultaneously receiving her master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and Social Work, Judy had become accustomed to utilizing her abundant energy to get much done in a short day’s work. She dedicated her life to helping women and children in poverty, and although that career choice was not always monetarily profitable, she got great joy from helping women ascend out of poverty through grassroots programs, the subject she wrote about for her graduate school thesis. She was a woman’s rights activist my whole life, and in her younger years she did not seem to have much time for NESTING, although she always had an affinity for antiques, decorating and entertaining. As she aged, she slowed down a bit, and found gardening, and through digging in the earth, she learned to “smell the roses”. Speaking of roses, her rose trellis became something of a legend in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Judy's Hollyhocks grew over five feet tall, her raspberry bushes were plentiful, and her Koi pond became a beautiful, Japanese inspired project. I remember her hoisting and laying her flagstone driveway herself, while carefully planting thyme in between the stones so the peppery smell would surround her guests as they exited their cars. With her "green thumb" my mother turned her property into a beautiful oasis. She had bought and refinished an old house that had originally been a sea captain’s home, just feet away from the ocean in the pretty enclave of Gloucester, called Rocky Neck. The visual picture of seeing Judy’s garden, against the backdrop of the glistening ocean and fishing boats meandering out for a day’s work, was stunning, and, subsequently, brought many onlookers. Even though I had little interest in gardening at the time, and only had a small terrace in Manhattan, my mother would often send me packets of seeds, clippings of gardening advice, and encouragements about her new found passion. Years later, she taught my children the joy of a vegetable patch. Each spring she would haul her tools into my backyard and, together they created the magic. She was an inspirational woman in many ways, and through her passion she brought joy to many people-It is fitting to dedicate this May blog to my amazing mother!
 my mother's beautiful garden
Happy Nesting
XO Tamara
in addition to Debra Carter, I would like to thank my daughter, Gabby, for her beautiful photographs!


Norbridge Antiques said...

How beautiful! This post is a work of art. The photos are full of the colour of approaching summer. Every year I try so hard getting the acidity into the soil to turn my hydrangeas into the beautiful blue you've achieved. I also enjoyed reading about your very accomplished mother.
Thank you.

Robin's Egg said...

Fabulous blog! I love the colorful photographs and the delightful entries.

Willow Decor: said...

What pretty photos and great tips!!
Looking forward as your blog unfolds!

Michelliott said...

Loved your dedication to your mom. She was a special lady, and she raised a special daughter.

I am inspired to do some planting. I am going to enlist some help as a Mother's Day present.

Keep it growing and flowing, I am really enjoying your words, pics and nesty vibe.

Randal Vernon said...

Simply amazing. Tamara has a keen eye for alluring, inviting environments, whether outside or in. Using very little resources she creates milieus that are so powerful and attractive that they truly rise to the level of art.