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View from the Bedroom Window – August 2014

August 11, 2014

August 11, 2014

A cool cool August. That means the grass grows really fast, even though there hasn’t been any rain to speak of.

August 19, 2014

August 19, 2014

This has got to be one of  the coolest Augusts ever. Nighttime temperatures in the 50s – and often taking a long while to warm up. The one rainfall came all at once. Torrents amounting to 2-1/2 inches on August 13.

August 26, 2014

August 26, 2014

The Lawn Beds don’t change very much, at least from this angle, but the field beyond has become more and more golden as the goldenrod comes into bloom. The weather remains cool.

View from the Bedroom Window – July 2014

View from the Bedroom Window July 1, 2014

View from the Bedroom Window July 1, 2014

The view from the bedroom window on July 1, 2014 shows a hot and humid landscape, but there is a breeze.

July 16, 2014

July 16, 2014

It’s been hot, humid and rainy. The rains are usually torrential – July 4 – 2 inches; July 7 – 2 inches; July 15 – 3 inches during the night.

July 30, 2014

July 30, 2014

Thelast week of July was chilly, with night temperatures in the 50’s. Breezy during the day. A total of another 2-1/2 inches rain on the July 27-28.   With a few showers thrown in, we’ve had about 10 inches of rain during July.

For more (Almost) Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

View from the Bedroom Window – June 2014

View from the Bedroom Window June 1, 2014

View from the Bedroom Window June 1, 2014

The view  from the bedroom window on June 1 shows that the lilacs still have nice bloom, but there are not many flowers in bloom yet. We do move into high gear, pruning clipping and mowing to prepare for the Annual Rose Viewing which will be on Sunday, June 29 this year.

View from the bedroom window June 8, 2014

View from the bedroom window June 8, 2014

The lilacs are in shade in this photo, but they are definitely finished. No hot summer weather yet, with temperatures rarely reaching 80 degrees, and lots of good breezes that keep the bugs down. One light shower, and one good rainfall of 1-1/2 inches.

View from the bedroom window June 21, 2014

View from the bedroom window June 21, 2014

The ginkgos are finally fully leafed  out and you can see that the salvia ‘May Night’ in the Lawn Bed is blooming. Still no really hot weather. We even had an evening fire in the woodstove on June 11. Sunny and breezy with about 1-1/4 inch rain since June 8.

We were so  busy getting ready for the Annual Rose Viewing that I neglected to get a view from the bedroom. However, I can report that the  view was very much the same. The roses that started to bloom are not really visible from this view. There was a heavy rain, 2-1/2 inches on the night of June 25. In spite of TV news reports of bad weather none materialized. June 29 dawned slowly, and was humid, but guests arrived, admired the roses. Because of so much cool weather the bloom might have been slightly less exuberant, but still there was a good show. Have I ever mentioned that it never rains on the Rose Viewing?  Sometimes just before, and sometimes just after, but never between 1 and 4 pm.


First Day of Spring – Just for the Record

March 20, 2014 9 am

It snowed and rained last night. As the first day of spring dawned the plow came through, but mostly they were sanding the road because things were a bit icy outside. The temperature was already 34 degrees – and climbing. More showers.

The Cottage Ornee is Spring sun

The rain stopped!  Only the roofs are dripping, dripping. The sun came out and raised the temperature to 45 degrees. The snow will melt some today. I am not discouraged because I know it could always be worse. This is what the first day of spring looked like last year.

March 19, 2013

A foot of snow fell during the night – and it wasn’t the last snow fall of the year. Last year The Bridge of Flowers opened on schedule on April 1, but then closed again because of another snowfall. But I’m sure that won’t happen this year. Will it?

View from My Bedroom Window – February 2014

View from the Bedroom Window February 2

With this view from the bedroom window on February 2, I continue my more or less regular record of the weather and climate in this year of our Lord 2014. The dawn temperature was 34 degrees. Snow is melting.

February 6, 2014

Thirteen inches of snow fell yesterday, and so did temperatures today – 9 degrees.  But it is sunny.

February 9, 2014

More snow on February 8, about 3 inches. Temperature still cold, 10 degrees at 7 am.

February 21, 2014

Still more snow! A total of 30 inches in the last 10 days.  And this morning freezing fog turning the trees into crystal.

February 25, 2014

The road is clear, but the snow is melting very slowly because it is so cold. 10 degrees this morning,


February 28, 2014

The last day of February. We are glad to see this cold snowy moth depart – even though we do treasure all that precipitation. Now I walk out to the henhouse on snow that is frozen solid. The Polar Vortex seems to have left its shadow over our region. Zero degrees on this final day of the month.  How long will it take all the ice and snow to melt?

For more (almost Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

View From the Bedroom Window – January 2014

The View From My Bedroom Window January 5, 2014

This is my post for the View from the Bedroom Window for the  month of January. A continuing record.  By January 5 we  had 10 inches of snow and temperatures of  minus 10 degrees last night.  A Polar Vortex is promised  in the next couple of days.

January 13, 2014

On Monday, January 6 it was rainy and foggy and 50 degrees. The Polar Vortex arrived on Tuesday, January 7 with temperatures of minus 18 and WIND. The trek to the henhouse was bitter. I had to wrap my face in scarf.  But then  the weather became milder. On January 11 it was warm enough, 38 degrees, for pouring rain! The snow is nearly gone.

January 19, 2014

On January 18 it snowed and snowed. About six inches. This morning the temperature was 21 degrees at 8 am. Beautiful, mild day as the sun came out.

January 26, 2014

January 26 and temperatures hover at Zero at dawn.  Bright sun, brisk breezes; it is cold!  As the old saying goes, the cold grows stronger as the days grow longer. Last night’s snow showers freshened the landscape.

January is over, but I am hoping for a lot more snow. Precipitation is what we need.

For more (almost) Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.

Mystery Melt – and the Solution?

Mystery Melt

What is a mystery melt? Yesterday morning we had snow showers, and cold temperatures all afternoon.  When I went out to the henhouse I noticed this mystery melt  that ran from the top of the slope towards our wellhead.

Mystery Melt

I  thought it was so strange to have such a clearly demarked area when the cold temperatures kept the veil of snow intact everywhere else.

We have a lot of water on  our hill with intermittent streams that have created paths of water/damp loving sedges in our  fields. There is a dug well up in the field, a 30 foot dug well lined with stone (an artful marvel of engineering) in back of the house near our drilled well, and a shallow dug well in the North Lawn Bed. The Sunken Garden is nearly a swimming pool from spring into mid-summer. Water comes coursing into our basement – and out through a conduit and onto the road. Water everywhere.

Thinking about all the water on our  hill showed I was on the right track. When I showed this to my husband Henry at the end of the day, he didn’t think it was a river or stream, but a spring not far below the surface. The area has always been wet. Then when we had work done on our foundation a few years ago our construction guy was moving soil around behind the house. Henry pointed out that the shape of this melt looked a lot like a bulldozer scrape. The spring was then just a little closer to the surface.

It’s possible. What do you think.

Tony Palumbo and the Gifts of Irene


Tony Palumbo

Two years ago Irene came rampaging through the area turning the rivers into torrents overleaping their banks, washing away roads and buildings, breaking hearts and pocketbooks.

Tony Palumbo, artist, owner of the Green Emporium and gardener, was at his easel watching the rain pour down. Neighbors came urging them to leave. Palumbo’s partner, chef Michael Collins, said they would wait it out. Their house had survived the storm’s of ’38 and ’87. It would survive this one too.

Soon Palumbo and Collins were watching fish swim past their kitchen windows in the swirling waters. Suddenly the door burst open and in came the flood. The two ran upstairs to wait out the storm. In the morning the water had all disappeared from the garden, although not the kitchen, leaving behind deep mud and sand. The secret garden with its trickling fountain was buried and the vegetable and flower gardens were washed away. Also washed away was the undergrowth in the woodland at the far end of the garden.

As with all those who suffered losses, at first there was just shock. But soon Tony Palumbo became weary of people commiserating with him on the loss of his beautiful garden. “Wait til you see the next one!” became his spirited response. “My palette was cleared by the storm, I had a whole new canvas to work with.” But the question was what to do and where to begin.

One day Palumbo’s Colrain neighbor Paul Forth, artist and stonemason, walked by and saw the destruction of Palumbo’s garden. “I knew Tony from the Green Emporium where I had eaten and chatted with him, but we didn’t really know each other. When I saw the garden I had to ask if I could help,” he said.

Palumbo replied that he needed so much help he didn’t know where to start. The starting place appeared when Palumbo woke up in the middle of the night and. in a frenzy, sketched out a very different kind of garden from that which had existed. “I didn’t want to recreate what had been lost. I wanted to create something new,” he said.

“He was great to collaborate with,” Forth said. “He had the idea, and then totally trusted me as I worked from his crazy sketch.”

The Palumbo-Collins house is located between the West Branch of the North River on one side, and a stream on the other, that ultimately makes its way to the river. The first project Palumbo and Forth worked on was a dam that turned the stream into a small pond with a stone spillway. The water cascades through the large stones Forth placed in the spillway into the old streambed where watercress grows once again.

Stone Wall built by Paul Forth

The second project was a curving stone wall holding up a steep flower filled bank. Forth said that when he is choosing stones for his projects he is looking for unique stones, stones that have different color veins, or quartz or some other feature.

Standing Stones constructed by Paul Forth

The final project was the small stonehenge, a circle, one hundred feet in diameter, of standing stones around a fire pit. In his business, Stone Creations, Forth is usually working with flat stones, building steps, walkways, walls and patios, sometimes adding metal railings because he is also a blacksmith. But for the circle of standing stones he was looking for stones that were tall enough and strong enough to stand, as well as be aesthetically interesting. All the stones he used are individually chosen, which means time spent walking through the Goshen Stone Company quarry or Hillman and Sons in Shelburne, quickly eliminating many stones and then making his distinctive choices.

“I design as I go,” Forth said. “One of the stones for the smaller arch was too short so I stacked three stones.” This is an element that adds interest as well as stability.

Beyond the standing stones in the woodland, where underbrush was washed away all sorts of metal and automotive debris was unearthed. Palumbo who enjoys turning found objects into art saw immense potential in those bits of rusty car doors and hoods. For the moment he has begun this new garden by planting a shitakke mushroom pyramid that is fruiting, and created an unusual array of old windows illumined with Palumbo’s trademark neon.

When Palumbo proudly gave me a tour of the new of the new garden he said, “These are the gifts of Irene.”


White lilies in Palumbo’s garden

As we come up to the 2nd anniversary of Irene’s rampage, Tony Palumbo and Michael Collins are opening their garden to the public on Saturday, August 24 from 10 AM to 5 PM to celebrate the gifts of Irene. The garden is located at the intersection of Adamsville and North Heath Roads in Colrain.  There is no charge. Visitors will be able to admire the arresting stone work, Palumbo’s latest neon work in the new woodland garden, as well as the Secret Garden that has been resurrected from its burial in sand and clay. The magnificent trees survived, and there is a hot sauce garden filled with tomatoes and hot peppers of every kind and color bordering the surviving peonies. Palumbo’s garden sculpture series of Garden Hands ( will be available for sale.

An exhibit of his paintings, Pets and Flowers, will be on display at the Leverett Arts and Crafts Center Barnes Gallery from August 15 to September 1. A portion of the proceeds from sales will go to benefit the Dakin Animal Shelter.

Palumbo’s Secret Garden

Between the Rows   August 17, 2013


The Suddenness of Spring

The suddenness of spring caught me by surprise yesterday.  After two days of being kept inside by sometimes torrential rains, I went out and saw that the ajuga, escaped into the lawn years ago from an old flower bed, is in full and startling bloom. This area has not been mowed yet because I made the mistake of planting daffodils here and must wait until they have finished blooming and ripening.

Poeticus or pheasant’s eye daffs

Only a few daffodils are still in flower. Newly blooming are the poeticus daffodils which means the season will be over any minute.

Apple blossoms

The old apple trees in the field and by the Cottage are suddenly clouds of blossom, barely opened before being battered by the rain.


The Fairy rose, Alma Potscke aster, invisible alliums

I began weeding the area around The Fairy rose in the north Lawn Bed. I got most of the grass out from under the Fairy’s root and released the tiny fine alliums from groundcovering shepherd’s purse and carpetweed and other weeds yet to be identified. I also ripped out a good deal of silver artemesia that has become a weed.  I should have known better than to have planted it in a flower bed. It was not ideal to be working in such wet soil, but I can feel the grass growing beneath my feet, and the weeds  will quickly outpace the newly emerging plants. Spring is here.

Boule de Neige and Rangoon rhodies

Boule de Neige and Rangoon are the first to  rhodies to come into bloom. Other bushes have buds getting fatter by the minute.


Tiarella plants put in last summer and this spring as part of the lawn reduction project are blooming away and spreading out.

Beauty of Moscow lilac

Lilacs have been blooming for more than a week in the lower elevations, but finally mine have burst into bloom. I gathered up a bouquet of mixed lilacs and brought them inside, into the kitchen. Suddenly spring arrived in the garden, and I was able to bring a fragrant bit into the house. Hallelujah!


T is for Thoreau on the A to Z Challenge.


Henry David Thoreau’s cabin – and me 2010

T is for Thoreau, author of Walden and many many journals in which “[he omitted] the unusual – the hurricanes and earthquakes – and described  the common.”  He had always recorded the weather and the natural scene in a sporadic and fragmented way, but in July of 1852 he declared a year of observation, a ‘year’ that lasted through 1861.  Amidst the the poetry of his prose, and his record of his own responses to the world, he began a careful record of the passing seasons, noting temperatures, leaf break, frost, and blooming seasons of many plants.

I love Walden and reread it from time to time, but I have not read much in the journals. It was with some surprise that I read in yesterday’s New York Times Book Review an essay by Andrea Wulf about the use that modern science is making of the journals. “Richard Primack, a professor of biology at Bsoton University, has collaborated with colleagues at Harvard to use the observations in Thoreau’s journals as the basis for groundbreaking studies in climate change,” she wrote.

Walden Pond

What the scientists have discovered is that the average tempeature of our springs  is 48 degrees, but Thoreau recorded an average of 42 degrees during his day. Also the first flowering of 32 species of flower has moved to 11 days early. Early blooming flowers have been more affected by the change in temperatures, than later blooming flowers, but the change is undeniable.

I wrote more about Walden Pond and my visit in 2010 here.

I have written about Andrea Wulf’s brilliant and engaging books about gardens and plant and American history here in a review of The Brother Gardeners featuring America’s first botanist John Bartram and his botanical adventures, and a review of The Founding Gardeners about Washington, Jefferson, Adams and Madision here.

To see what else begins with T click here at the A to Z Challenge.