Monday, June 27, 2016
More Hidden Gardens: Cool spaces and artful decorations in Ballston Spa. Plus a note about the SPAC Jazz Fest.
And because it was hot, it was mostly the shady places that attracted my attention yesterday.
The Ballston Spa Hidden Garden Tour was a shared fundraiser for the Ballston Spa House and Garden Club and the Friends of the Ballston Spa Public Library.
Down the road a piece, these clever gardeners made an effective frame to protect their berry bushes from various critters. All they used were PVC pipe and fittings, along with a roll of plastic deer fencing and some zip strips. No hammer and nails needed and it could be easily disassembled and stored for the winter. Great idea.
The last photo, below, was from this same garden. In a full sun space near the road, this simple bed of just two types of plants - red knockout roses and purple cat-mint - made a a big impact. My photo doesn't do it justice. It was a knockout, indeed.
Late Sunday afternoon, the Handsome Husband and I headed to nearby Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) to see the last three acts of the Jazz Festival. Loved seeing and hearing Chick Corea and his trio. But the final act, Smokey Robinson, was ... well, just a little weird, in my opinion. I'm not sure Motown = jazz, but aside from that, Robinson was over the top in his emoting. Shoulda just played his fan favorites straight, talked less, ground his loins less (I mean, the man is 76) and called it good enough. On the upside: the crowd was well-behaved and the Mazzone-catered food was pretty good and reasonably affordable for venue fare.
And that was a good chunk of my summer weekend. How was yours?
Saturday, June 25, 2016
So the HH took notice of a news story a year or so ago, when the renovated St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church in Albany installed eight new icons, including one of Dorothy Day. The icons were written by (that is the correct term to use for icons) the painter and iconographer Christine Simoneau Hales.
I saw a small notice in Friday's Times Union about a program, "Feed My Sheep", to be held at the Westminster Presbyterian Church in Albany. The program was to include organ music and an exhibit of icons written by the Saint Luke's Guild of Iconographers, which just so happens to be led by Christine Hales.
We decided to check it out, after first arranging to visit the other church, St. Vincent's, near The College of Saint Rose, to see the icons we already knew a bit about. The gracious Betsy let us in there and gave us a tour.
With some time to fill before the evening program, we stopped for a walk in Washington Park.
Like the plants, I was getting a little thirsty and so I made my way toward a water fountain. As I stood in front of it, a sweet chocolate lab bounced up to me and stood there expectantly, making very direct eye contact.
"Aren't you a pretty thing", I said, and then bent to turn on the water.
And then this happened:
She's shameless, he said. The dog has learned this trick of begging people for water and now runs off whenever anyone approaches a water fountain. Well, that's a lab for you, clever water-lovers that they are.
No harm done, but I did pass on using that fountain. (I had left a bottle of water in the car and waited to use that instead.)
After some Indian food on Lark Street, the HH and I strolled over to Westminster Church.
Peace be with you.
Friday, June 24, 2016
Last evening, I hied* my way down to Albany's Center Square Hudson/Park neighborhoods for the 41st Annual Hidden City House and Garden Tour.
Sponsored by Historic Albany Foundation, twelve property owners opened their homes and city gardens for viewing by those of us who had purchased a tour ticket.
* Hommage to Carl Strock.
I myself am a gal of the suburbs, but I am also a nosy soul and a fan of garden tours. It is fun to see what creative folks can do in what are sometimes tiny outdoor spaces. Here above, I liked the idea of growing a clematis vine up along the branches of a climbing rose.
This photo above is from one couple's rooftop garden. Having no ground-level space for a garden, they built up. Below, two other garden viewers took the liberty of resting a moment in this charming rooftop space.
Fountains were popular features, as well, where the soft sounds of trickling water helped to mask the sounds of city life. They also made the spaces seem cooler and more Zen-like.
A fairly simple planter, beautifully done in cooling greens and whites, also adds a peaceful element to the front door area on a busy street.
I know some garden snobs might scoff at the use of pachysandra and hosta, but in many of these urban gardens, they were used to good advantage. Here above, with an attractive iron-like low fence, these easy-to-maintain plants, tolerant as they are of shade and dry conditions, looked neat and cooling. Pachysandra has the added advantage of staying green year round, so even in winter, these city gardens will have something to make them look lush and alive.
This extra large city garden, above, used pachysandra in a great swathe along one stretch. Again, this hardy plant offers low maintenance and year round green.
Sometimes, neatness and simplicity are all that is needed. A tidy edging helps hosta and and a few shade-loving annuals provide easy interest to a challenging space.
Some homes had only tiny outdoor spaces but still managed to squeeze in some fun green things. This homeowner had an admirable assortment of herbs and veggies growing just outside their kitchen door.
~ "Strawberry Cow" caught the eye of many garden visitors.
Also on the tour, visitors could view much of the interior spaces of homes open on Thursday night. However, I chose not to photograph those, as it seemed too intrusive to do so. But it was fun to see how folks have met the challenges of living in historic homes.
More garden tours are on tap in our region. Coming soon are Ballston Spa's this Sunday (see: http://www.saratogaracetrack.com/event/ballston-spa-hidden-garden-tour-128283/) and Saratoga's on July 10 (see: http://www.saratoga.com/event/annual-secret-garden-tour-74146/)
Bring a camera and comfortable shoes. Private gardens are not always as accessible as public spaces so think twice before you set out with strollers or 95-year-old great aunts. Trust me on this.