DIRTIER The Every So Often Garden Memoir
Well it’s been a crazy time since I have last been in touch... cherry blossoms on Montauk Highway before Christmas were just one of the unlikely circumstances on which we careened into 2016
To catch up: Arrived from glorious autumnal Paris (November a perfect time to be there)
to a garden full of many hued leaves and gigantic mushrooms growing in the back forty...
Only two days later, news of the horrific attacks in Paris hit us hard. Having just been there, it was more difficult to comprehend what must have thrown a dark change of mood over the City of Light.
We were giddy with joie de vivre during our divine two week stay. Lodged in a charming duplex
on a cobblestone street
right in the heart of the oldest part of St Germain.
This was a joyous neighborhood – just like the one they targeted. So awful. So sad. But before this happened, we had a wonderful time. A few of our Parisian highlights: The new Picasso Musee is superbly light-filtered
and filled with the gentle Picasso drawings one seldom sees: and things, of course, that you can never see often enough These empty black frames represent Picassos that have not been recovered from the Nazis. Chilling. Parisian enamelled doorways are simply the best Their sense of color even better than the Italians. Wouldn’t these enhance any garden? So easy to locate stone fragments in Europe... ...so difficult to get them home We went to many churches and marvelled This one happens to be the American Church in Paris. The French are fortunate that the Rector in the 1870s happened to be the brother of J.P. Morgan. It is magnificent. He was very generous. and this, of course, is Notre Dame – more fantastic with each visit and worth every minute of the wait in line And along with the rest of the world, they're crazy about The Pope And we visited lots of museums – which left no time for shopping, except for the shoe store CLIF which had all those sensible-but-chic styles that the French actually wear. The usual and the less usual museums: Near the new Picasso Museum is the Musee de la Chasse and la Nature. (or The Hunting Museum, if you prefer) We would have missed this one had Kiki Smith not told us that it was "the most wonderful fetishization of objects that she had ever seen" So, of course, we couldn't wait... It was chockablock with all sorts of strange and exhilarating stuff... the scale of this was larger than life the white owl in a sonorous black room all to itself was the epitome of eccentricity, by the weird but fabulous Jan Fabre domestic oddities, curiosities and several things totally inexplicable abounded Musee Cluny is other-worldly in a different way - filled with tapestries and many not so obvious delights Le Monde d’Arabe had a spectacular Egyptian exhibit that we enjoyed with our new and wonderful friends The Pattersons We met them on our Indian voyage - he was the architectural lecturer and she is a Brit painter and raconteur the Musee d'Orsay is absolutely divine –you need an entire day to take it all in Lots of particularly ooh-la-la art and fabulous Orientalist and the new Frank Gehry Louis Vuitton Foundation smack in the middle of the Bois de Bologne is a mind-blower... the art is arresting and au courant but the building is spectacular and at the Palais du Tokyo (Paris' MoMA) it was the art that was great. Four fabulous concurrent shows: Ugo Rondinone's incredible homage to John Giorno and this is just one striking scene from an incredible Ragnar Kvarrtson installation the often missed replica of Brancusi’s atelier which is part of, but behind, the Pompidou - in its own building Paris is exceptional: bookstores still proliferate, every gallery window is provocative, at the Opera we saw a fantastic production by the new maverick Romeo Castelluci, the shops are filled with unique and charming things, while the Cafes are simply a way of life. Parisians have every right to be so proud. I forgot how much I love Paris.
LITTLE WONDERS AT HOME
Giant mushrooms in the back 40.
The fig tree indomitably producing edible figs despite its withering leaves and continued to bear fruit with no leaves at all The dogwood 'controversa' was more ethereal than ever as the leaves get whiter and whiter The clinging yellow leaves of the Japanese Maple ‘Sango kaku’ against the bark beginning to turn its crazy shade of red while the red-leaved Japanese maples glow in the twilight The dropped leaves of the Magnolia macrophylla make a fabulous trompe l'oile-like carpet and dance among the hellebores that are priming to show their stuff Cyclamen coum leaves producing stupefyingly intricate and beautiful patterns and for those of you who are Cyclamen nuts, the great HAH (Horticultural Alliance)had a great December lecture (and even better, a plant sale) by John Lonsdale, proprietor of Edgewood Gardens who is as much a nut for standout variegation and odd plants like Arisaemas as I. A valuable new source
GARDEN CONSERVANCY NEWS
They have made a better-than-ever Open Day Directory + Hamptons Open Days, on which I am included are May 7 + June 11 The garden should be at its most floriferous and flooded with all the nubile colors of new growth. I can't guarantee that the magnolia will be in bloom or that there will be lingering hellebores, by the look of things right now - there could well be a very early spring There are fat buds and signs of growth everywhere.
NICE CHRISTMAS PRESENT
It’s always nice to know that one is appreciated. DIRTIER has gotten to Tom K at the Santa Cruz Sentinel and he seems to like it very much. So naturally – I Love Him. A burst-open tree peony seed pod... beautiful and black...how long might it take for those ripe-looking seeds to produce a flower? Oh – to have the patience and find out for myself
IN AND AROUND OUR ENVIRONS
I was hoping to convince the ducks, geese and seagulls to congregate around the feed pattern and make a peace sign. It didn’t really work, but it caused some consternation with our swan, who rarely gets out of the water Our Town Pond swan walked across the ice with its big black feet to get to this food. A more successful visual treat was created and photographed by Durell Godfrey This could almost be a scene from our Nature Trail. And since, in the whirl of things, I missed sending you my dearest Holiday wishes, I send them along now with hopes that the first weeks of this new year have been good to you. and Dare I say ‘Peace”...