Archives for the month of: January, 2014

Old stone farmhouse with maple trees, hudson valley NY

The red pointed structure to the right of the farm house is the original well cover.

Last summer, my friend Liz introduced me to her friends, Deb and Peter, who live in a stone farm-house built in the 1800s. The house was abandoned for many years and has been reclaimed and repaired by them.  The stone walls are beautiful and the north facing wall is covered in lichen.

stone wall with lichen

The colors and textures serve as inspiration for the owner’s art and design work.

The builders of this house incorporated fossils into the walls.

fossil coral, Hudson Valley, NY

These marine deposits date from before the time of the dinosaurs.

These fossil corals are from the Early Paleozoic era, 550 to 350 million years ago when shallow, warm seas covered New York state.

Fossil coral reef, Hudson Valley, NY

Fossil coral reef

Fossil fern, Hudson Valley, NY

Fossil fern leaf

While working in the garden, Peter pushed this rock over with his tractor and saw the fossil fern on the surface. He thinks it may have been intended as building material because this rock has similar building marks to those seen on the rocks in the house wall.

Bamboo in front garden


There are several different species of bamboo in the garden. Peter spotted this bamboo on the back of a truck in NYC, stopped the truck and purchased two bunches.

Bamboo and American Basswood tree, front garden

Bamboo – with the heart-shaped leaves of an American Basswood tree above

Bamboo may be invasive, to prevent this, Peter suggests planting it in a rubber trough which will contain the root system. It can take five years or so to establish then grows rapidly.

Rhubarb against stone wall in garden

The stonework is beautiful in its own right.

Ornamental rhubarb is growing against a sunny wall of the house.

Rhubarb and Yucca, side garden

The yucca grows well in this area (USDA zone 5)

Yucca intermixed with ornamental rhubarb.

plants in pots, front garden

Tender plants in pots in the front yard

In front of the house the tender plants thrive in the dappled shade from the maple tree. That’s Ruffian on the lawn, keeping an eye on things.

Euphorbia and tradescantia in front garden

The purple creeping plant is Tradescantia Pallida Purpurea

This fantastic stick-like plant is the ‘Pencil Cactus’ Euphorbia schimperi. Peter plucked a small stem from a nightclub (which charged $5.00 for a glass of soda!) and it has rooted and grown quite large.

Euphorbia pachypodioides

I think this spiky one is Euphorbia pachypodioides

spiky stem of Euphorbia pachypodioides


Euphorbia in pot

Until seeing this collection, I had no idea that the Euphorbia genus includes such a variety of forms – many plants that I thought were ‘cacti’ are actually Euphorbia.

a cultivar of Euphorbia lacte

This cultivar is usually grafted with another Euphorbia because it’s difficult to grow on its own roots.

This is a cultivar of Euphorbia lacte.

A rare euphorbia, in the family Opuntia

A rare Euphorbia, in the family Opuntia

Agave x Manfreda Bloodspots

Pretty agave with red spots, called Agave x Manfreda Bloodspots.

Agave paryii 'Truncatum'

In the background, Agave paryii ‘Truncatum’ which has long spines at the tips.

Monkey Puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana

‘Monkey Puzzle’ tree, Araucaria araucana

While growing up in London UK, I saw this 130′ tree growing in the tiny front gardens of Victorian terrace houses. We called it the Monkey Puzzle’ tree and seeing it here in New York brought back memories. It took Peter and Deb 14 years to find this one. Now rare in its native habitat, South America.

phalaenopsis orchid

This Phalaenopsis orchid was a gift from a friend. This 40-year-old plant bloomed with 19 flowers during the year that Peter was very ill. Prior to this, it had not bloomed for 22 years. Unfortunately their friend recently passed.

plant, flowers smell of carrion

The carrion-like scent of the flowers attracts insect pollinators

Deb affectionately calls this one the ‘Stinky Plant’ because the flowers smell a bit iffy.

Hoya Kerri

This Hoya ‘Kerri’ with heart-shaped leaves is also known as ‘Sweetheart Hoya’, from south-east Asia.

Prickly Pear cactus

A drought tolerant Prickly Pear cactus – one of several cacti that can survive the New York winters.

This palm tree has been in the garden for almost two years and is hardy to -10 degrees F.

This palm tree has been in the garden for almost two years and is hardy to -10 degrees F.

I was very surprised to see a ‘Windmill’ palm tree Trachycarpus fortunei. To protect the tree during the winter, a layer of mulch is applied, followed by a burlap cover and a layer of red bricks.

Red clay bricks in garden

Red bricks found on the property (cameo appearance by Liz’s dog)

Brick from the Washburn brick yard on the Hudson River NY

Brick from the Washburn brick yard on the Hudson River NY

Check out this Saugerties Times article for a little more info on Washburn local history.

Rugosa rose in back garden

Rugosa rose in back garden

Rugosa Rose with pink blooms

Chinese preying mantis insect on rugosa rose bush in back garden

Spot the bug…

This Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) originates from Asia and it usually stays a while on the rose-bush. The insect was introduced into America in the 1800s, perhaps it prefers this shrub because the Rugosa rose also originates from Asia and it is a ‘home from home’.

Check out these great pictures of cacti and succulents in an Italian garden on ‘The Pink House’ blog!

I hope you had an enjoyable Holiday Season!  Thank you very much for visiting my blog and for all your comments during 2013. I’d like to say a big ‘Thank you’ to the gardeners and artists who generously allowed me to interview them and take photos for this blog.

For me, one of the highlights of Christmas in the Hudson Valley was this handmade Christmas tree, which was displayed on the sidewalk outside ‘Kiss My Feet Salon and Spa’ in Saugerties NY.

Handmade Christmas tree and wreaths ouside Kiss My Feet Salon in Saugerties NY

The Kiss My Feet Christmas tree on Partition Street, Saugerties NY

The salon owner, Deb constructed this tree with the help of her friend who supplied the welding equipment and expertise.

Cannonball on handmade Christmas tree Kiss My Feet salon Saugerties NY

Cannonball welded onto rebar

Weighing over 500 lb, the trunk and base of the Christmas tree are constructed from metal pipe.  The branches and decoration on the trunk consist of lengths of rebar (steel rod used to reinforce concrete). The metal balls on the end of the ‘branches’ are actually cannon balls supplied by a friend!

Christmas tree ornament at Kiss My Feet Salon Saugerties NY

Snow on top of Christmas tree ornament

Metal chain ornament on handmade metal Christmas tree outside Kiss My Feet Salon in Saugerties NY

Heavy metal chain with just a touch of rust

Christmas tree ornament on handmade Christmas tree Kiss My Feet salon Saugerties NY

Sparkling in the winter sunshine

Decorated with lights, balls and metal chain.

Handmade grape vine wreath with Christmas bells at Kiss My Feet Salon

The wreath is made from wild grapevine that grew in the back yard

I love the way Deb added sleigh bells to her handmade wreaths.

Handmade grape vine wreath with Christmas ornaments at Kiss My Feet salon

The gardens at Kiss My Feet are really something special, here are some pictures of the entrance and patio from 2013.

I am looking forward to meeting more gardeners and to sharing their knowledge and aesthetics with you in 2014.There are some great items planned that I hope you will enjoy – including private gardens, sculpture and reviews.

Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year!

– Andrea

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