A Little Modern Art from the Met

The Modern Art section of the Met was quite enjoyable.  Somehow, after all of the older landscapes and portraits, the more modern stuff was very refreshing.  Not to say that I don’t enjoy the older stuff, but there was something minty and wonderful about this part of the collection.

I especially love “The Innocent Eye Test” by Mark Tansey, on the left.

“Kouros” by Isamu Noguchi, 1944-1945, struck me as very playful. And it slyly references the Ancient Greeks, so clearly there is much to love!

“Bohemia Lies by the Sea” (oder “Böhmen liegt am Meer”) by Anselm Kiefer, 1996 was somberly beautiful.

“13/3” by Sol LeWitt, 1981 reminded me a bit of the Wexner Center for the Arts, located on the OSU campus.

My husband was particularly taken with “Attic” by Willem de Kooning, 1949.

“The Banquet of the Starved” by James Ensor, 1915, was a fascinating nightmare vision.

Vegetable Garden

Since we have five dogs, it quickly became apparent to us that we would need to enclose our vegetable patch if we wanted to be able to eat anything from it!  First we tried one large raised bed with temporary green metal mesh fencing around it.  Unfortunately, it was nearly impossible to get to any of the veggies in the middle once they’d grown a bit.  A few years ago, we installed this, instead:

Picket fencing encloses the raised beds, with pea gravel paths between them for easy access to the plants.

Gate into veggie patch. Our garden is generally in a sort of “cottage garden” style, I guess.  I find that I like the element of structure and order that the enclosed veggie garden gives to the yard, the contrast between it and the casualness of the plantings around it.

My husband planted the veggies and herbs that he picked out at the OSU plant sale.  He put in:

2 Eva Purple Ball tomato plants

2 Black Prince tomato plants

2 Black from Tula tomato plants

2 Green Zebra tomato plants

2 Pineapple tomato plants

2 Costoluto Genovese tomato plants

3 Kalman’s Hungarian Pink tomato plants

6 sweet pepper plants, 2 Golden Summer peppers, 2 Better Belle peppers, and 2 that should be purple but  from which the tags were missing

3 Fish pepper plants

2 purple jalapeno plants

6 okra plants, 3 each of the ‘Millionaire’ and the ‘Burgundy’ varieties

1 Italian Parsley

1 Hot & Spicy Oregano

1 Sweet Marjoram

2 Lemon Basil plants ‘Mrs. Burns’ variety

2 Holy Basil plants

1 Sweetleaf

Should be delicious!

watering the newly planted pepper and okra plants in the veggie garden.

Grow little plants, grow!

Three from the Rare Tree Collection at Dawes Arboretum

The rare tree collection at Dawes Arboretum inspired my husband and I to start our own little rare tree collection.  (As a side-note, I am aware that saying we “collect rare trees” sounds a bit absurd.  On the one hand, trees are so common that “rare tree” feels oxymoronic.  But just saying we collect “trees” wouldn’t be accurate and it sounds rather like Bert’s paper clip collection on Sesame Street.  But when you throw in the “rare” bit, it ends up sounding like the weirdly inflated claim of a comic book super-villain.  There’s probably no winning.)

Planting a tree is an inherently optimistic act.  Planting a rare tree is optimism tinged with a bit of madness, I think! But these three favorites from the rare tree collection at Dawes each inspire a little mad optimism, I think:

I am quite partial to this Weeping Norway Spruce (Picea abies f. pendula). (Ja, vi elsker dette landet! What can I say, my Norwegian pride pops its head up in all kinds of funny little ways.) But doesn’t this tree look ready to lift up a head and chase you, like something out of the movie “Trollhunter”?

Behold the amazingly beautiful bark of the Japanese Stewartia (Stewartia pseudocamillia). This specimen was added to Dawes in 1961. I love it.

We were so focused on the bark, neither my husband or I really got a good picture of the tree overall. Which is a shame, because they are pretty.  They even bloom camellia-esque white flowers during early summer. We have three at home because of the ones at Dawes, but it takes a while for the trees to mature enough for the bark to start exfoliating in this striking way, so it’s very nice to admire the bark in it’s glory and dream of what ours will hopefully look like, someday.

This gorgeous thing is a Silver Ghost lacebark pine (Pinus bungeana ‘Silver Ghost’). While some things in the rare tree collection might have been rare when they were added in, say, the 1960s, they may have since then become more readily available (like the weeping Norway spruce, for example). This lacebark was added in 1949 and finding one to buy of any size is still quite a challenge.We were lucky enough to add one to our yard 3 years ago.

Like the Japanese stewartia, the lacebark pine is on the slower-growing side and only does the exfoliating bark thing when the tree is relatively mature. It may be 10 to 20 years before the one we have starts to do anything remotely like this…remember how I mentioned that planting rare trees required a combination of optimism and madness? 😉

Luckily, it’s a shared madness!

We’ve had some odd, rough weather the past few years:  ice storms, high winds, and too much rain followed by scorching heat.  Some favorites didn’t make it.  It used to be a small grove of lacebarks, but heavy rains combined with strong winds ended up ripping several of them out right by the roots.  And especially sad to me was the loss of a mature, magical Japanese Pagoda Tree whose low, thick, strongly horizontal branches seemed to beg you to sit on them and dream for a while.

A Quick Jaunt Through Dawes Arboretum

As I mentioned earlier, Dawes Arboretum is one of my favorite places to visit.  After our plant shopping on Saturday, we had a quick jaunt through the grounds.  Because the truck was full of delicate plants, we didn’t stay for as long as I would have liked to, but any time spent roaming the grounds is still time well spent!

View from the All Seasons Garden towards the Education Center. I met the gentleman who constructed the wooden obelisk at the plant sale, he was lovely.

View from All Seasons Garden towards surrounding countryside.

There was a special “Story Time” trail through the All Seasons Garden. We didn’t see everything, but we did have an encounter with Bigfoot!

Luckily, things ended well and my husband got away safely!

View into the Azalea Glen. We were there too late this year to witness the glen in it’s full glory. It looks like a tropical paradise when everything is in bloom.

A glorious tri-colored beech tree in the Beech and Buckeye Collection area.

I took pictures of the leaves…

and so did my husband. The leaves were like botanical stained glass when you looked up and saw the sunshine glowing through them.  Gorgeous!

Hiking on Oak Hill, where we saw a red-tailed hawk soaring through the sky.

View into surrounding farmlands, bordered by a Kentucky Coffee Tree allée.

That’s just a little taste.  I’m saving some favorites from the Rare Tree Collection at Dawes for their own separate post, too hard to squeeze them into what is already a picture-filled post.

Dawes Arboretum Plant Sale

Waiting until the clock strikes 9!  Seriously, they keep up the caution tape until 9. The people on the other side are staff and volunteers.

Another spring favorite:  the Dawes Arboretum plant sale!  In the past 9 years, I believe my husband and I have only missed the spring plant sale at Dawes Arboretum twice.  Once because we were in NYC to see Leonard Cohen, and once because it was absolutely impossible to adjust our work schedules to go.  It is that good.  Better, even!

Dawes Arboretum is one of my favorite places.  Located about 35 miles east of Columbus and covering 1,800 acres, this private, non-profit organization has grounds that are absolutely packed with gorgeous trees, shrubs, and flowers.  If you are ever even remotely in the area, GO!  Here’s their webpage: http://www.dawesarb.org/.

It’s a peaceful, beautiful, special place.  The depth and breadth of their collection is staggering, and you’d be hard-pressed to find many of the things there anywhere else nearby.  Their insanely thorough holly collection has made me a fan of hollies, the azalea glen makes me feel like I’m in a tropical paradise when everything is blooming, the tea house in the Japanese Garden is a tranquil spot to rest, and I’ve become a rabid fan of some of the trees that are in their Rare Tree collection.  And at the plant sale, many of the rare cultivars that are found on the grounds are for sale, often in baby form, at very reasonable prices.

Just some of the many plants for sale!

On offer was a heady mixture of trees, shrubs, and perennials.  All of the plants bear information-packed tags letting prospective buyers know the background of the plant, often including where and by whom it was propagated,  the conditions needed to thrive, and the eventual size.  Browsing is fascinating:  I always learn something new, and choosing plants to actually purchase is a challenge because there are so many fabulous options.  Often I’ll be tagging around after my husband, clutching a plant in a Golem-esque fashion, explaining why we need it, and he’ll have to gently explain that it won’t fit in our yard.  Equally often, this scenario plays out in reverse and I’m the voice of reason.  And almost as often, we both chuck reason right out the window and add to our collection of plants.

Checking a tag.

The large tent houses the plants available in the Silent Auction. We didn’t get anything at the silent auction this year, but we certainly have before.

In addition to the sale, special specimens are available at both a silent auction and at a live auction.  Although we didn’t get anything at the silent auction (which ended at 3:00), we got some amazing specimens at the live auction, held at 10:30.  Actually, I can’t help but feel a little guilty for how well we did:  very few people attended the live auction, with most items going for their minimum bid and a few not selling at all.  You could tell it was breaking the heart of one of the horticulturists acting as emcee to see these fantastic plants go for so little.  We actually got several that we hadn’t been eyeballing because of his passionate explanations of what the plants were like, and we got them for the minimum bid.  Insane deals.  Both of the horticulturists who were acting as emcees for the live auction came up to congratulate and thank us for bidding afterwards, because the money all goes straight into the arboretum.  I wish things had sold for more!  If you like plants at all, come to the plant sale next year and bid on something in the live auction, you won’t be disappointed.

So what was the damage?  In spite of pep-talks to each other on the way out to Dawes about how we would be very targeted and reserved in our approach this year, as with many best-laid plans, things went gang agley posthaste.  We pretty much immediately abandoned that measured approach and went a little crazy.  We got:

  • a Ginkgo biloba ‘Jehoshaphat’  or Jehoshaphat ginkgo.  The cultivar we got was actually named by one of the horticulturists who was acting as emcee at the auction.  He named it after a fictional dwarf because it is a dwarf variety.
  • an Enkianthus campanulatus or redvein enkianthus
  • an Acer japonicum ‘Oregon Fern’ or Oregon fern full moon maple
  • a Quercus robur ‘Salfast’ or Salfast English oak
  • a Carpinus japonica or Japanese hornbeam
  • a Quercus robur ‘General Pulaski’ or General Pulaski English oak
  • a Hypericum prolificum or shrubby St. John’s-wort
  • a Cercidiphyllum japonicum ‘Rotfuchs’ or Red Fox Katsura Tree
  • a Pinus densiflora ‘Low Glow’ or Low Glow Japanese red pine
  • a Cornus officinalis ‘Kintoki’ or Kintoki Japanese cornelian-cherry dogwood
  • a Picea pungens ‘The Blues’ or The Blues Colorado spruce
  • a Cornus mas ‘Pyramidalis’ or Pyramidalis cornelian-cherry dogwood
  • a Calycanthus floridus ‘Athens’ or yellow-flower common sweetshrub or yellow-flower Carolina allspice

I’m so excited!  Except maybe about all of the digging we need to do, and fast…  But!  We have some wonderful additions to our garden and I can’t wait to get them in and see how they play with everything else.

More about the arboretum itself in a future post…