Stuff and Nonsense: around connecticut


Showing posts with label around connecticut. Show all posts
Showing posts with label around connecticut. Show all posts

3.13.2020

Elizabeth Park: Spring Greenhouse Show


Who else can't wait for the end of this exhausting, gray winter? I had some time today after therapy and decided to do a little extra self-care with a wander through the Spring Greenhouse Show at the Elizabeth Park Conservancy in West Hartford. The colors! The scents! A half hour visit left me refreshed and filled with fantasies of the bulbs I will plant in my new gardens.

Elizabeth Park Conservancy hosts this show every year and it is a simply stunning display of flowering bulbs and other seasonal blooms. This year the floral display included varieties of French hyacinths, muscari, tulips, daffodils, pansies, trellised sweet peas, culinary herbs, and hanging baskets, as well as a collection of tropical plants and succulents. The week-long display concludes with a sale of everything in the greenhouse for completely reasonable prices. Admittedly, I have yet to make it to the post-show salad, because I forget to book the time off!

What I'm saying is, the Spring Greenhouse Show is well worth a visit.

Tulip 'Foxy Foxtrot' & Narcissus 'Tahiti'

Tulip 'Spring Green' look so striking next to bold, purple hyacinths

Multiflowering Tulip 'Shogun' are an inviting mix of apricot & melon

More Tulip 'Foxy Foxtrot' with its soft ruffled petals

Leucojum aestivum 'Gravetye Giant' looks like a great mashup of Snowdrops & Lily-of-the-Valley

Lathyrus odoratus 'Watermelon' (I think), an heirloom variety from Renee's Garden

3.09.2020

An Evening With Dr. Douglas Tallamy


Recently I had the good luck to attend a presentation by Dr. Douglas Tallamy, professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware and the author of many publications, including the recent Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard.

Dr. Tallamy spoke about the vital need for a homegrown approach to conservation. With eighty-three percent of the land in the contiguous United States privately-owned, we must integrate native plant species into our yards, balconies, or window boxes to create conservation corridors he calls "Homegrown National Parks."

Such parks would boost the wildlife diversity in North America tremendously by making suburban lawns and gardens more productive for insects. Insects eat foliage, birds eat insects. The more delicious bugs to nom on, the more populous and healthier the birds. If we don’t increase the number and quantity of native plants in our landscape, then the populations of insects will continue to drop and that is very bad for the birds and everything else.

According to Dr. Tallamy the best plant you can add to your landscape is the oak, because they support more than five hundred species caterpillars ("bird food"). Asters and goldenrod are also strongly suggested, as they support the most species of insect herbivores and pollinators. Conveniently, asters and goldenrods are usually drought-resistant and deers avoid them.

Overall, it was a fascinating evening and I recommend getting a hold of a copy of Nature's Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation That Starts in Your Yard.

2.23.2020

2020 Connecticut Flower & Garden Show

The Connecticut Flower and Garden Show in Hartford is something I look forward to every February. Even though I don't attend every show, the photos it generates are a godsend in the middle of winter blahness. Over three acres of beautifully landscaped gardens, horticultural displays, and vendors transform the Connecticut Convention Center into a gardener's paradise. The themed gardens are just so much gardeninspo, filling my head with fantasies about my new yard.


If all that's not enough for you, the show also offers a daily series of talks and workshops. As large crowds in enclosed spaces tends to trigger my anxieties (working on it), I used the talks as an opportunity to create a little breathing space for myself.

I attended three talks:

Grow a Pollinator Garden with award winning, nationally recognized garden writer Charlie Nardozzi

Every Yard Matters: How to Create a Healthy Monarch Butterfly Habitat at Home with Diane St. John of Natureworks Garden Center

Wild Flowers with Owen McLaughlin, landscape architect and founder of Perennimix.com


And purchased three books from the UCONN Hartford campus bookstore's gardening and local interest display:

New England Bird Lover's Garden: Attracting Birds With Plants and Flowers by Randi Minetor

Northeastern Birds Backyard Guide by Bill Thompson III

Native Plants for New England Gardens by Mark Richardson and Dan Jaffe

Do you see a theme?

12.21.2019

Tea at the Phelps-Hatheway House

I recently had the pleasure of attending a tea in honor of Jane Austen’s birth anniversary at the Phelps-Hatheway House in Suffield. The afternoon began with a tea tasting led by a representative from Rishi Tea. We tasted Quince Eucalyptus and Cinnamon Plum, both organic caffeine-free botanical blends. The Quince Eucalyptus (a blend of quince, eucalyptus, ginger, black pepper, yuzu) was both bright and citrusy, but there was an underlying astringency I did not find pleasing. Much better was the Cinnamon Plum, a blend of plum, currants, hibiscus, and Saigon cinnamon. Already a fan of hibiscus tea, I was really taken with the perfect balance of flavors. Cinnamon Plum is definitely moreish lets-brew-a-whole-pot-just-for-me tea.


After the tea sampling, we retired to the "tea room" where we were served what were described as refreshments popular in the early 19th century and conversed at length among ourselves about Jane Austen and her delightful novels. We ate a variety of scones and quiches, plus cucumber sandwiches and a delicious (if anachronistic) Victoria Sponge.


The afternoon concluded with a tour of the first floor of the Phelps-Hatheway House and a brief vocal performance by one of our guides. All in all, it was an extremely pleasant way to pass a December afternoon.



The Phelps-Hatheway House & Garden highlights the luxurious lifestyle enjoyed by two wealthy 18th-century Connecticut Valley families until their fortunes collapsed. Suffield native Shem Burbank built the center chimney structure in 1761 where he and his wife Anna Fitch Burbank raised nine children. A merchant of British goods, Burbank’s business suffered during the American Revolution. In 1788, he sold the house to Oliver Phelps originally of Windsor, who served as Deputy Commissary under George Washington and later a successful land speculator. In 1794, Phelps commissioned the addition of a substantial wing decorated with imported Parisian wallpaper. A depressed real estate market forced Phelps to foreclose on the property in 1802 and move to Canandaigua, NY where he died in 1809.