Category Archives: nature

Bloom Day in April: tulips

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A previous occupant of our house left us three or four clumps of orange-red and dark pink tulips. I’m enjoying the colors in our kitchen window and in the living room.

To see what’s blooming today for other garden bloggers, visit Carol at May Dreams Gardens.

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Filed under German gardens, nature, our garden, plants

Vintage landscape: boxwood drive

Boxwood hedge, by F.B. Johnston, Library of CongressDriveway, Castle Hill, Charlottesville, Virginia, 1926, by Frances Benjamin Johnston, via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

The original house on the plantation of Castle Hill was built in 1764 by Dr. Thomas Walker and his wife Mildred.  Walker was a friend of Peter Jefferson and later guardian to his son,Thomas.

At the time of this photo, the property was owned by his descendant, Amélie Louise Rives Troubetzkoy, a novelist married to a Russian prince who eventually ran somewhat short of funds.

By the fall of 1938, when future novelist Louis Auchincloss, then a law student at the University of Virginia, came to have tea with the aging princess, he found her living in “romantic, impoverished isolation in a decaying manor house.” To get to the house, he had to find his way through a double row of aromatic box hedges that rose up three stories high and were so enormous that his bulky Pontiac could barely pass through. The awe-inspiring hedges even became the subject of one of Amélie’s poems, which she wrote in middle age. She ends the poem with “Hedges of Box,/Hedges of Magic./…Behind your barrier of glad enchantment/I have rediscovered reality.” The reality Amélie envisioned had herself within the encircling wall of boxwood, still a young beauty of twenty-one, seated on the back of a unicorn.

— Donna M. Lucey, from “The Temptress of Castle Hill,” Garden and Gun

Today, the estate is still privately owned.  Its remaining 1,203 acres (from the original 15,000) have been permanently protected against development by a conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy.


Filed under American gardens, culture and history, design, garden design, landscape, nature, plants, vintage landscape

The Sunday porch: Trondheim, Norway

The Sunday porch/enclos*ure: Norwegian hotel, ca. 1900, Library of CongressFossestuen Hotel, Trondhjem, Norway, between ca. 1890 and ca. 1900, a photochrom by Detroit Publishing Co., via Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division.

Click on the photo to get a better look at the building’s green roof and outdoor restaurant seating divided by planters and latticework.

 Nestled in the mountains near the lower tier of the Lienfoss waterfalls, the Fossestuen Hotel drew many foreigners to this picturesque region of Norway. Built in 1892, the hotel was actually a restaurant that served dinner and refreshments to tourists. The building reflects the traditional wooden architecture of Norway, with the sod roof a source of insulation against the harsh winter cold.

— from the image’s page on World Digital Library, a project of the Library of Congress.

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Filed under architecture, culture and history, design, food, landscape, nature, plants, The Sunday porch, travel, vintage landscape

The aforementioned woods

Stuttgart woods with wood anemones, by enclos*ureA little while ago today. . .

Stuttgart woods with wood anemones, by enclos*ureThe forest behind our house carpeted in wood anemones or Anemone nemorosa, a small white flower native to Germany.

Stuttgart woods with wood anemones, by enclos*ureI just noticed that little black bug on the flower petal. It looks like a tick. I feel itchy now. . . .

Spring, the sweet spring, is the year’s pleasant king. . .

Thomas Nashe


Filed under German gardens, landscape, nature, plants

On the windowsill, this morning

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I looked out the upstairs window yesterday afternoon and saw that the woods behind our house were carpeted in wood anemones or Anemone nemorosa, a native flower.

When I went out the back gate, I also found yellow primroses — Primula vulgaris, I believe — along the fence.

Except for the little white flowers and some ivy, the forest is still mostly brown and beige, but that will change very quickly now that daytime temperatures are in the 60s° F.

Flowers in a vase
or strewn in mad profusion
across a meadow. Choose

Tom Disch, from “Memoirs of a Primrose

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Filed under German gardens, landscape, nature, our garden, plants