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Stonehurst, Robert Treat Paine Estate in Waltham, Mass.

Stonehurst - Paine family home

Stonehurst – the home of the Robert Treat Paine and his family

While we Greenfield Garden Club members were on a trip to Waltham, MA, to see the Lyman Greenhouses we also visited Stonehurst, the beautiful house built for summer visits by Robert Treat Paine.

Stonehurst reception room

Stonehurst reception room

I am calling this the reception room, but you can see there is a little room where the entry door is before coming into this large space. There is built in seating, and a beautiful golden marble fireplace, but am not really sure how the space would have been used. Nowadays the house is used for events – like weddings and receptions! I wish I had had a wide angle lens to take this photo.

Paine's Study at Stonehurst

Paine’s study at Stonehurst

I do understand the function of this handsome study.

Stonehurst ballroom


I doubt this was really a ballroom, especially since there are nice bookshelves on the wall opposite the fireplace. But our friends held their wedding and reception at Stonehurst and there was dancing in this room.

Stonehurst butler's pantry

Stonehurst butler’s pantry

This room was originally the kitchen, but over time a big kitchen was built on the other side of  this cabinet wall. Note the little pass-through. Nowadays caterers use that big functional kitchen.

stonehurst bow parlor

Stonehurst Bow Parlor

This lovely little room, named Bow Parlor, is built under the grand wide staircase .

bow parlor

Bow parlor plaque

I was very glad for these explanatory posters.

Stonehurst was built as a summer retreat and the builders used heavy stone and oriented the house to catch summer breezes as well as the view. Our friends confirmed that they were very cool inside the house on a blistering July day.  H.H. Richardson  and Frederick Law Olmstead cooperated on many projects. I’ll have to come back and see what Olmstead created for the landscape.

Visitors are invited to stroll the grounds designed by Olmstead, or they can hike woodland trails that wind through the 100 acres of woodland of surrounding Storer Conservation Lands.

Historic Lyman Greenhouse in Waltham, Massachusetts in March


Bougainvillea at entry of Lyman greenhouse

In March gardeners need flowers so members of the Greenfield Garden Club set off for the historic Lyman Greenhouse in Waltham, Massachusetts. It was so exciting to be able to walk under this tropical vine as we began our tour of the greenhouse.

wall of succulents

Lyman greenhouse succulent collection

There are literally thousands of plants in the greenhouse of every variety. Most of them are houseplants, some familiar and some dramatic and strange. The greenhouse is filled with orchids, succulents and many other beautiful and strange houseplants. Many of  these are sold to support the Lyman Greenhouse.

Climbing onions at Lyman greenhouse

Climbing onions

In the strange category are these climbing onions with feathery asparagus like lacy foliage.

Cattleya orchids at Lyman Greenhouse

Cattleya orchids

The many orchids, in full bloom, are definitely in the beautiful category.

Lyman greenhouse camellia room

Lyman Greenhouse Camellia room

One of the treasures of the Lyman Greenhouse is the Camellia room. Some of the camellias here are 100 years old. We were fortunate to arrive in March because they began blooming in November and are now drawing near the end of their bloom period.

Camellia tree

Camellia tree

This is just one of the camellia trees. There are still some buds beginning to swell, but some of the flowers are slowly turning a golden shade and then beige as they die and fall away.

Striped camellia

Striped camellia

I love this camellia, partly because it resembles a striped rose I used to have.

As I toured through the different rooms I had to wonder who Mr. Lyman was. There is not too much information online, but the New England Historical Society did come up with information about his family, his successful trading  with China, his philanthropy, his palatial home and gardens.

I confess I only bought a single rhizomatous begonia in delicate bloom – but you have to remember that I have very little space in my house for plants. MAYBE I need a little greenhouse.


Celebrations and Caladiums

An Eagle Scout family

An Eagle Scout Family, Kate, Greg, Anthony and Drew

My husband and I just returned from a celebratory trip to the southland. We visited an uncle in Gulfport, drove through very wet bayou country in Mississippi and Texas, and then on to beyond the big Houston metropolis where towers of the city are a showy exclamation point in the flat landscape. We were off to Sienna Plantation where daughter Kate and her family live. We had come to Texas to participate in a solemn ceremony as grandson Anthony received his Eagle Scout award.

Anthony is a third generation Eagle Scout, following in the steps of his father and grandfather. The ceremony was attended by family, brother Scouts, Scout leaders and mentors, friends and neighbors who have watched Anthony grow and helped him along the way. There was some mention of an occasional ‘kick in the pants.’ The ceremony was a moving and important moment in Anthony’s life, and in the life of our family.

The celebration included barbecue at famous Rudy’s. We could tell it was authentic BBQ because menu items, ribs, brisket, pulled pork, sausage, coleslaw and beans, etcetera, were sold by the pound and served on waxed paper with plenty of paper towels. No dishes. This is real barbecue! The barbecue was so celebratory we didn’t even have room left to eat any of the leftover celebration cake.

Enchanted Forest nursery

The Enchanted Forest nursery

Of course, no celebratory trip is complete for me until I have visited a nursery. Fortunately Kate needed some new plants for her decorative pots, so we sailed down The Six (that’s the nearby highway) to the EnchantedForest. There, under the shade of enormous century old pecan trees, was a fabulous array of plants. Many of these are too tender for us in Massachusetts, but it is fun to see new, exotic plants that are native to an area where they are as common as sugar maples in our neighborhood.

I had to admire the rose selection that included the brilliant red Miracle on the Hudson named for Captain Chesley Sullenberger’s heroic landing of a passenger plane on the Hudson. I also got to see the array of Drift Roses that are low-growing landscape roses. These roses are not only perfect for mass plantings, low hedging, and at the front of the border, they are disease resistant and bloom for a long season. I was quite partial to the peach and apricot Drifts. I am hoping I can find them locally for my proposed new garden.

The one shade plant that made the biggest impression on me was the caladiums. Caladiums are a tender bulb that needs to be dug in the fall if you want to hold them over for the next year. Many cultivars are quite large and they make it possible to have brilliant or bright color in a shady garden.

I did grow caladiums a couple of summers ago and made a couple of mistakes. First, I chose a cultivar with red and green foliage. They did not show up as grandly on either side of the Cottage Ornee as I had imagined.

Second, I did not pay attention to the fact that the roof overhang kept the potted caladiums from getting rainfall, so I didn’t think to water them very often.

Third, I didn’t set the plants firmly enough so that a critter or two knocked the pots over, damaging the delicate roots. If these three errors can be avoided, caladiums can be a great addition to the shady garden.

Kate bought a few plants for pots in front of her house, torenia, shrimp plant (Justicia brandegeeana), a hybrid impatiens sold under the name Bounce, an unusual kalanchoe named Flap Jacks, creeping jenny and a white Shades of Innocence caladium. It was quite a task to remember the light requirements of each plant as we made our choices because we did have a particular site in mind. We spent Tuesday morning potting them all up for a shady  space in front of her house that gets some afternoon sun. Too much sun and heat is one of threats in Texas.



I think they will all make a delightful show, but we planted the caladium in a substantial tall blue pot, with a bit of golden creeping jenny to cascade over the side. We chose a spot where the pot would be surrounded by shrubbery. The caladium is relatively small at the moment, but it will grow to be about 18 inches tall, and the leaves will become larger than they are now. The surrounding shrub may need some pruning as the plant grows and this is easily done.

I do think the plant labels that come with most plants these days are helpful. They give requirements for sun or shade, dry or moist soil, drought tolerance, size of the mature plant, bloom season, fertilizing and pruning advice. It’s a good idea to keep these labels to refer to if there is a problem. They also help you keep a record of plants that do well.

The time we spent with Kate and her family was a reminder that everything changes. Anthony has achieved the rank of Eagle denoting his leadership skills, and soon he will graduate and his intellectual talents will be recognized. Then he will become a lowly freshman at the University of Texas at Dallas where his intellect and leadership will be tested anew. His parents and brother will create a whole new daily rhythm without Anthony. And Henry and I will be anticipating big changes in our life. Gardens grow and change, and so do we.

Between the Rows   May  2,2015



All is revealed – Catalonia

Demonstration for Catalonian independence in Boston Public Garden

When I visited the Boston Public Garden on September 2, I ran into this demonstration right under the magnificent statue of George Washington.

George Washington in the Boston Public Garden

It made sense to hold a demonstration for independence under the statue of one of our own founders of an independent nation, promising liberty to all, but I couldn’t tell what the demonstration was all about.

Demonstrator for Independence in Catalonia

It was not until one woman held out this banner than I even knew the issue, but still I did not know for WHOM. Now all is revealed. Catalonia!

Today we saw a news story today about Catalonia’s national day, on September 11  illustrated with the red, yellow and blue flag, that I came to some understanding. Catalonia is an autonomous section of Spain that includes Barcelona, “In the Spanish Constitution of 1978 Catalonia, along with the Basque Country and Galicia, was defined as a “nationality“. The same constitution gave Catalonia the automatic right to autonomy, which resulted in the Statute of Autonomy of Catalonia of 1979.” (from Wikipedia)

I like having these little mysteries solved.

Boston Public Gardens


Boston State House

The Boston Public Gardens begin at the foot of the Boston State House. First is the Boston Common where cattle once grazed, then the Boston Public Garden, the oldest botanic garden in the nation, and finally the Commonwealth Avenue Mall. Here are a few photos from my recent visit.

Boston Common Frog Pond

Frolicking tadpoles in the Boston Common Frog Pond watched over by parents and

Boston Common Frog Pond frogs

the frog statues!

Boston Public Garden sign

The Boston Public Garden, established in 1837 is the first botanic garden in our young nation.

Pink Mandevilla Boston Public Garden

White Mandevilla Boston Public Garden

Pagoda Tree in Boston Public Garden

Small Fountain Boston Public Garden

Medical memorial

Statue memorializing the first use of ether at Massachusetts General Hospital to deaden pain.

Rose in Boston Public Garden

Mass plantings of roses.

Parallel planting in Boston Public Garden

A matching planting is on the other side of the path.

Swan Boats in the Boston Public Garden


Commonwealth Avenue Mall

The Commonwealth Avenue Mall is a grand allée of shade trees forming the central axis of the Back Bay, connecting the Public Garden to the Back Bay Fens. Designed by Arthur Gilman, who was inspired by the new Parisian boulevards, the Mall was set out from 1858 to the 1870s. From its inception, the Mall has been a vital amenity for both residents and visitors. Winston Churchill praised it as “the grandest boulevard in North America.”

Alexander Hamilton

Alexander Hamilton is just one of the statues on the Commonwealth Avenue Mall.  These three public gardens include many statues and reliefs that celebrate the great men and moments of our history.

For more (almost) Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.


International Women’s Day – Beijing Memories

Women of China Magazine staff 1990

On April 16, 1989 my husband and I flew to Beijing where I had taken a job  with a women’s magazine. There I first learned of International Women’s Day where it is a  big event. And certainly I learned a lot about the life of Chinese women while working as  a ‘polisher’ for Women of China English Monthly.  I worked with translators (whose English was excellent) who translated articles about women in China’s history, and the women who were taking women into a very different era for China. I then ‘polished’ them to make sure grammar and vocabulary were accurate, but I found the biggest problem was  giving a bit of context as when I was given a story about a factory that was now making jewelry for sale. What was newsmaking about that? It was  explained that Beijing was now selling consumer goods, like jewelry, that had not been available to the general population before.

The photo above, of me with the Women of China staff, was actually taken at my farewell party in April 1990 – after many amazing adventures.

We arrived just as the events of the Beijing Spring were beginning, and that culminated in the Tianenmen Massacre on June 4.

Like almost the entire international community living in the Friendship Hotel (more like a campus than a hotel) where we were billeted and elsewhere in Beijing, we left the city. We flew out on the day that the People’s Liberation Army entered and declared martial law. We flew to Hong Kong and got in  touch with our daughter Betsy who was living in Kenya and nearing the end of her Peace Corps tour. We then flew to Bombay and then Nairobi  where we waited for Betsy to meet us and take us on the 6 hour bus trip to her village in the hills.

Betsy’s mud hut in Munyaka, Kenya

Betsy gave up the bunk bed to me, and she and Henry slept on the floor. The choo (outhouse) was in the backyard, but she had a ‘sunshower’ arrangement in the house. She was there  working on a water project renovating one large water tank and building a new one as well as laying a water line from a spring higher on the hill. While that project was going on she had to carry all her water, just like the other women in t he  village. We certainly learned a lot about the lives of Kenyan woman and the new issue of birth control, in a country where men had more than one wife and each wife could have ten  children. We also learned how small the world had gotten. In this village of mud huts, in the higher elevations of Kenya they had heard about the attacks in Tianenmen. In our farewell to Munyaka they all gathered at Betsy’s house to ask us questions about China. Betsy ran around serving chai, and a couple of the men told us it was very odd to see Betsy acting like a woman, serving tea, when they were used to her working like a man.  Of course, Betsy would say that women worked like horses, doing immense amounts of heavy physical labor, not just planning and organizing. I don’t know if they celebrated International Women’s Day.

Beidaihe resort

After checking with our new friend Leilani who had remained in Beijing we made plans to return. Our house was rented for the year and we really did want to continue in China. Because of the ‘turmoil’ that made so many Foreign Experts (that was our official designation) leave, the government declared that those who had stayed could have a vacation at the important resort, Beidaihe on the Bohai Sea. We were even given soft seats on the train. Of course, we had to be accompanied by our translators, and the staff  of the Beijing Friendship Hotel took up posts at the Beidaihe Friendship Hotel – but with a little extra time off for vacation. We  could see what seemed to us the odd standardization of the new consumer economy. There were lots of bathing suits for sale, in sizes, but in only one fabric pattern, little white stars on a solid ground. Of course, you could get a red bathing suit, or a blue one.

We were taken on one outing to the place on the seashore where the Greaat Wall of China begins. As we worked out way  through  the crowds strolling on the wall we were stunned to have Xiao Pan say, “It ‘s nice or us that are so few people are here this year.” Everything is relative, I guess.

Beidaihe party

During the day we went to the beach or sightseeing with new friends from our Beijing hotel. Muhammed (second from the left) was a polisher for a magazine distributed in Africa. On our final afternoon with Muhammed, and Aftab from Pakistan and a couple of others we had gone exploring, looking for the  pavillion overlooking the Sea where Mao Zedong had written some poems. We were a little late getting back for the farewell party and were chastised by Xiao Pan ( far right) who was our translator. “We are having fun, but we are on a tight schedule,” he said sternly. This has become a standard phrase in our household on many occasions.

At the party we each had to provide some entertainment. Ayjay from India did magic tricks  but the only thing Henry and I could come up with was the children’s song Two Little Blackbirds Sitting on a Fence.

Beijing Alley

Back in Beijing we spent time sightseeing on our bicycles with Leilani and other friends. In 1989 it was the best way to see the city. Near the Friendship Hotel was this Uyghur neighborhood where  there were great noodle shops. I had to get used to a new idea of what a ‘restaurant’ looked like, but the food was fabulous! The Uyghurs are a minority people living in Xinjiang Province.

There was work, of course, but I only had to be in  the Women of China office three mornings a week. I did some of my work at home on my Kaypro computer. Lunches were in the Foreign Experts Dining Hall where the food was good but cheaper than in the hotel’s other restaurants, and there was lots of discussion among the other Foreign experts about what had happened, and what was going to happen, and every thought began with the phrase, “Well, it is very complicated.” Then came a nap, which is granted by the Communist constitution!

Betsy at Tianenmen Square

After the ‘events’ at Tianenmen Square in June, it was closed to the public until the great 40th Anniversary of the Founding of New China when thousands and thousands of workers in their work units performed dances  and there was a great show of fireworks.  We Foreign Experts had excellent seats for the show. When Betsy visited in January (she was seeing as much of the world as she could on her way home from Kenya) we took her on the tourist trail, from Tianenmen to the Great Wall. Betsy in in the blue hat, I’m in faux fur and the two others are Peace Corps friends.

Xiao Pan and his family with Henry

Our time in China was growing short. We were granted a vacation in the south of China and requested that Xiao Pan accompany us as translator. This was a typical Chinese arrangement. Xiao Pan had not been able to visit his family in a couple of years and they lived in Suzhou, the Venice of China, just where we wanted to go! We had a wonderful dinner with his family. Papa did all the cooking  in the alley on a little charcoal stove, in a way that all international women can applaud, but came in for the final toasts.  Suzhou is also the city of many famous gardens, including the Master of the Nets garden. A single courtyard of this garden has been recreated at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.

Xiao Pan and Henry

Before we left we attended a banquet with my work unit to celebrate International Women’s Day. They could not believe that I had never heard of this international holiday. Everyone had gotten to know Henry pretty well and appreciated the help he gave them, and me. He was named an Honorary Woman, and given an All China Women’s Federation pin to prove it.

All China Women’s Federation pin


Being in China during such an historic year made us  wonder if we would ever return to see the changes that we could tell were beginning to take place. And we did!  In the spring of 1995 I left for Beijing and my old post at the Women of China English Monthly. And that turned out to be another historic year! The Fourth World Conference of Women organized by the U.N. was held in Beking that September. But that is a whole other story.

On this International Women’s Day I celebrate all the amazing women I met in China, and my own three daughters who have made such a difference in my life and in  the life of their own communities.


Meadows – and Art – Are Where You Find Them

The beginning of the Asphalt Meadow at Mass MoCA

During our trip to the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art I found a new way of looking at meadows and art.

The Rounds at the Asphalt Meadow at Mass MoCA

The plan is to turn Mass MoCA’s rear access utility road into a green space  and a work of art. The Rounds are created by using rammed earth and dry-stacked stone. The Rounds provide places to sit and visit and picnic in the midst of wildflower gardens.

A Round filled with thyme

Thyme is a another featured plant in this meadow. I wish I had a space filled with time.

Swings in the Asphalt Meadow

Mass MoCA likes kinetic art. We like to have fun on the swings. This is a great section of the Asphalt Meadow. There was also the fantasie merry-go-round from a group of artists in Quebec city — it’s made of crowd-control barriers, possibly alluding to the border between our countries:

Asphalt Meadow

That stone wall, part of an old building foundation was not thought of as a work of art when it functioned, but now many of us will agree that it is indeed magnificent. We were sorry to bring our visit to Mass MoCA to a close. We always enjoy our excursions to the weird and wonderful exhibits at this gem in our neighborhood.


Sunny Sunday With Friends and Mass MoCA

Brunch Buffet

That’s Tinky Weisblat’s blueberry cake and frosting. More food coming out of the kitchen. We built up our strength before heading of Mass MoCA

Great Porsche

Not My car. I look good in it though.

By BGL Arts Cooperative

Off to our favorite museum, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, with grandson Rory. This sculpture is made of discarded barriers from the Canada-US border.  You can ride it, and I did. The O Canada exhibit was fabulous!

The Mountain, mixed media by Graeme Patterson

Chris Millar - Mixed Media

Crash Landing

Rory in crashed spaceship

Grandson Rory is NOT responsible for the crash landing.

Space travelers live in tight quarters.


In Between - Installation With Arrows by Michael Fernandes

You had to look but this exhibit, random arrows shot from a cross bow, were scattered through the O Canada exhibit.

No gardens in this post, but I’ll soon put up photos of a Mass MoCA garden. Art is where you find it! For more (almost) Wordlessness this Wednesday click here.


Guess Where I Am?

Felix Frankfurter summered in Heath for many years

Can you guess?  I am in Boston! On March 13 I help judge entries at the Boston Flower Show! Come and see it beginning March 12.  More news and views to come.

Ornaments in the Garden – Plain and Fancy


While the ground is covered with snow and temperatures hover at zero, I’ve been trolling through photos of my visit to Seattle last July (with 70 other garden bloggers) and especially noticing ornaments in the garden, some plain and some fancy.  Many of us have birdbaths in our garden – even me – who has not ornamented my garden in any thoughtful way.


It is not a big step to go from a simple birdbath to a fancy fountain. Bird lovers tell me that the sound of running water will attract more birds than a bird feeder.

Shiny beads

Strings of beads on a trellis is pretty simple. And simply pretty.

Mosaic bench

If you sit on this fancy mosaic bench you’ll get a fancy view of Seattle.

Steps and stones

I don’t know whether to call these steps plain or fancy. Stones aren’t fancy, but they can be used in fancy ways. I was surprised to realize that ornaments in the garden can be built right into the landscape.

Pebbles can be fancy, too. This pebble mosaic stair landing is beautiful.

Large urn

A large urn in the garden is a simple idea, and beautiful even if it is empty.

Urn with plants

Put plants in a fancy urn and you have double fancy.

Garden sculpture

Is this a sculpture – or is it a planter. Pretty fancy.

Bowling ball

Lorene Edwards Forkner invited all us garden bloggers into her Seattle garden. She knows how to make really simple work in the garden. And she has written a whole book about ways we can ornament our gardens simply for a fancy effect. Have you read Handmade Garden Projects: Step-by-step instructions for creative garden features, containers, lighting and more?

Entry to Japanese Garden at Bloedel Reserve

This small stone fox sculpture is set at the entry to the Japanese Garden at the Bloedel Reserve. Is it simple? Is it fancy? Is it perfectly elegant?

What kinds of ornaments do you have in your garden? Plain? Fancy?