Thursday, June 09, 2011

 
Fritz has begun the 25th class since his Conference & Retreat Center became allied with Lesley University as a remote site for its Master of Education in Creative Arts and Learning degree program. With each class the first assignment is to make a set of wind chimes.

This year's stand-out was made by a woman who asked if she could have a chunk of our maple firewood, which she turned on a lathe to create the lovely cascade seen at the right.  To me, the texture and color resembles marble.

As the class progresses through the next 22 months, they will work in art, poetry, music, storytelling, theater, movement, curriculum development and a variety of other courses designed to bring creative, hands-on work into the classroom in every subject.  As Fritz often points out, the object is NOT to train arts teachers, but to train teachers to use all the arts in all the subjects they teach.

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When Fritz gave me the services of a landscape designer for our first Christmas in the new house -- Christmas of 2008 -- she told us that the third summer would be the first one that would be really spectacular in terms of fullness of the plants and their flowers.  This is the third spring for the first part of the project we planted, the big English-style country garden that's right in front of our living room windows, and it looks as if she was exactly right. 

That said, last winter had some very strange effects on our plantings.  There was intense cold for a good period of time and then there were the almost continual snow storms, even some blizzards, throughout January and February.  We lost some bushes and perennial plants and all of our mint (I didn't think you could actually kill mint!) but some annuals, plants like dianthus, covered by red flowers with white fringes, and dusty miller not only survived,

but resumed flowering and growing from the size and stage of development they were in when winter started -- a huge surprise.   All the bulbs have come back beautifully.  I tired to get a picture of one of these iris that would do justice to its color but my digital camera doesn't capture the depth of its imperial purple color fully.  Fritz keeps putting more bulbs in all the time, thereby pushing the appearance of the first flowers of the year earlier and earlier each spring.

This fellow is a real delight.  The areas we planted last fall called for a dozen or so of these Snow-in-summer plants (Cerastium tomentosum) which thrive in hot, dry, sunny areas, which we certainly have up on the hillside above the house.  The white of the flower mounds is indeed a brilliant snowy white, and with luck these will spread into a ground cover as advertised.

When we were first discussing what we wanted with the designer, she showed us some "purple" foliage plants which we liked immediately, so she's been careful to have them appear regularly throughout the layout.  The ones in the back are particular favorites of ours for the size and height of the foliage.

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For the third summer in a row, Eastern Phoebes have built their nest on a part of our house.  The first year, they built on top of a support beam for the bridge leading from the second floor to the edge of the "cliff" behind the house.  Last year they built on the sill of the transom above the front door.  They don't nest in trees but on structures.  This year it's back to the bridge, not on the beam but where the bridge joins the house in a corner where I had secured a garden hose on its way to water the raised bed vegetable gardens.

If you look closely and carefully at the top of the nest, the eye and beak of one of their baby birds can be seen.  A little patience will reveal a wing or two of the others.  The Phoebes are fun to have; they swoop around the house like swallows and when they perch on something (the trellis I built for the pole beans this year is currently one of their favorites) they constantly bob and flick their tails.

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One of the best pictures I think I have ever taken of Starr, in typical mid-afternoon recline on my schedule book with her hind quarters on my laptop.  This is a convenient pose for her because when I sit at the table and attempt to open the computer, she can easily roll over on her back asking for a tummy rub, which she always gets, because she makes it impossible for me to do much of anything else.

Comments:
Your property sounds beautiful, and the little glimpses you tease us with are gorgeous. You live in a very different environment from ours and it's nice to enjoy it from afar.
 
The yard looks wonderful.
 
The flowers are lovely. And that wooden bell, what you call a "cascade" IS amazing.

I will try sometime soon, before the heat dries everything out too much, to take a picture of the mint that I and my former lover planted around our house. (We planted it in the hopes that it would crowd out this vine that typically grows over and smothers everything.) The mint this year is about waist-high and lovely. :)
 
Alas, in the bizarre winter weather we had, all our mint in the herb garden died. I didn't think it was actually possible to kill mint, but even the chocolate mint we had planted along the edge of the "cliff" and that had been thriving failed to survive last winter. Very strange.
 
Thank you for the wonderful tour & great photographs. You men are Da Bomb.
 
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