Tuesday, July 3, 2012

In a Washington County state of mind

 Many years ago, my Handsome Husband (otherwise known here as HH) covered rural Washington County, New York, as a new young reporter for The Post-Star in Glens Falls. As I recall, that was among his first beats in his career as a newspaperman. He liked travelling through the rolling hills and farm country of Washington County, which runs along the Vermont border.
We both came to know and enjoy Washington County and think its pretty villages and working farms are among the best-kept secrets of New York State. One of the places we still visit is the village of Cambridge, mostly for its Hubbard Hall plays and programs.  So when I saw that there was a garden tour scheduled this past Sunday as a fundraiser for Hubbard Hall, I took notice. I like gardens; I like Hubbard Hall; I like exploring rural Washington County: a perfect afternoon outing for me! All of the photos posted here are from the garden tour.
Coincidentally, I have been reading James Howard Kunstler's novel, The Witch of Hebron , which is set in Washington County and is a sequel to his earlier novel,  World Made by Hand. I recommend them both. There really is a town of Hebron, by the way. Both of these  novels can be ordered through the very good independent bookstore in Cambridge, Battenkill Books. The books are also available through other big name sites, but hey, why not support the little guy?
Kunstler himself has recently moved to Washington County, leaving Saratoga behind. The HH brought Kunstler's recent photo essay of the area to my attention, which, in perfect Kunstlerian form, paints a bleak picture of his new home town. Greenwich (which, oddly enough, in this neck of the woods is pronounced "green witch") is really much lovelier than Kunstler's narative would lead you to believe. Maybe he's trying to discourage more folks from moving there and clogging up the place.
I admire Kunstler's writing and think he's a smart and interesting guy. His writing career has certainly evolved to be a successful one. However, his gloom and doom predictions and lamentations can get a bit wearying. 
I noticed that a Jim Kunstler painting of Washington County had been donated as a raffle prize for the Hubbard Hall garden tour fundraiser. Maybe through his painting, Kunstler, too, is seeking to add more beauty to his life. I'm kind of disappointed that I didn't win it.
Kunstler has a website and blog here: www.kunstler.com . Warning: it's not really G rated, but it is a good read.

Another successful Washington County author, much tamer than Kunstler, is Jon Katz, whose dog books have been best sellers. He, too, blogs prolifically at www.bedlamfarm.com. and heavily features Washington County in words and photos. You can purchase Katz's books through Battenkill Books, as well. He has been known to do book signings there.

And about that garden tour on Sunday? I liked it. Five lovely spaces, varied and carefully tended. I liked the last one best of all. These last five photos, starting with the blue bench, are from "A Painter's Collection", the gardens of Ginny McNeice in Greenwich (remember, it's green witch here abouts.)
The tour brochure said that Ginny McNeice is a landscape painter and that her gardens have evolved over forty years. I can well believe it. They were lovely. Ginny was giving away seed pods from her poppies with instructions to dry them and then sprinkle the seeds where we'd like them to grow next year. I hope I can get some lovely pinks like hers, above.
I will be back in Washington County soon, for my friend Eileen's annual Berries and Crafts get-together at Gardenworks Farm, near Salem, NY. We pick raspberries and blueberries and do dried flower crafts at the farm in the morning, then go her home on Cossayuna Lake for a vegetable lasagna lunch. It's a tough life, July in upstate New York... Gardenworks is right around the corner from Bedlam Farm, and  I've seen Jon Katz pop in for a cup of coffee there on previous visits.

Bedlam Farm is for sale, by the way, in case you'd like to own your own piece of Washington County and a bit of literary history. And it's address? Why, it's in Hebron, just like the witch.