Thursday, May 2, 2013

the long awaited return?

Okay, I know it has been forever. Well over a year. But here is a promise. This summer will bring many more posts, updating on lots of new things that will be taking place in my life. But here is a short (?) recap of what has happened since last we met.

Dec 2011: My mother succumbed to her fight with emphysema. I am still not quite over it as of yet.

February 2012: My father passed from brain cancer.

May 2012: Began a two month jaunt to Europe, which, along with the above mentioned will be a series of posts for the future.

August 2012: Began my architectural thesis, entitled The Material at Hand: Constructs of Memory and Identity, regarding fashion, architecture, landscape and the body.

Dec 2012: Lost my Father-in-law, also to brain cancer.

May 2 2013: I am now complete in my Masters of Architecture. Tonight my thesis won two prestigious awards. The thesis award for outstanding work in a terminal project, and the King medal for architectural student research. At long last, I feel as though my hard work has paid off.

So now you are up to date. I promise to fill in all of the details in a couple weeks. I am returning to Europe next week and will have lots to talk about when I get back (plus pictures).

So much to fill you guys in on. My fingers are already cramping from the typing they will have to do. But it feels good to be back.


Saturday, October 8, 2011


Upon reading Connie's blog over at Hartwood Roses I realized that I have not posted a blog in a very long time. I feel compelled to tonight because of the same reason as Connie's most current post, the loss of a special friend in the household. Cinnamon came to our house with her "brother" Mikey two years nearly three years ago. Her mom and dad had been Dachshund breeders (not puppy mill type) and had moved to Florida three weeks earlier from Alabama. Within a week, the husband had died suddenly of a heart attack, and the wife could no longer care for the two pups to the standard she would have liked. So with a tearful goodbye, these two sad pups joined our other Dachshund, Beau, at the (then) new house. We realized very quickly that the two boys did not get along, and partitioned the walk through kitchen to keep them separate.  While Mikey is a great dog, and I love him dearly, Cinnamon was my prize. She reminded me of the Dachshund I grew up with at my family home (our family has had Dachshunds since the 1930's) and immediately took to me with abundant kisses and attention. 

Last Friday Cinnamon left the corporeal world to cross her own Rainbow Bridge. She left this world with the tears of myself and my partner streaking her soft red fur, and I know she felt the love that went with her in our embrace. It was the most heartbreaking decision I believe I have ever had to make, to end a beautiful life that brought so much joy to our lives. However, the vet reassured us that we had made the right choice for Cinnamon, and she let us take her home (though that is technically illegal) so that she could have a final resting place in the garden she so loved to explore. And so, a little piece of my heart lies beneath the wisteria arbor now, and somewhere in heaven, there is the sweetest little girl getting belly rubs from the angels.

Mikey and Cinnamon the day they came home with us, she is the sad looking one on the right.

My sweet girl enjoying a day out in the garden

Cinnamon was an explorer from the beginning.

When we installed the gravel walkways, Cinnamon hated walking on it, and so she did a tightrope walk on the bricks instead.


Friday, August 12, 2011

A little help?

I need the help of all you rose experts for a couple of items. First, I have two identifications for you. 1) There is a rose planted at my mothers home which was given to her some years ago, without a name. It is a remontant type, blooming even as we speak, with  clusters of small blooms in the slightly double form with exposed centers, ranging in color from a medium pink at bud to a barely there pink at full bloom. The shrub itself is upright, probably around 6' tall (in zone9a North Florida) with a spread of around 3-4'. Fairly twiggy growth, but it is in partial shade, so I not sure if that is how it would normally grow. No discernable scent, but my nose is a bit wonky.
2) Is not a rose, but a shrub that I saw recently in sarasota and would like to use in my yard as a hedge.

Finally, I need advice on what may be wrong with a rose in my yard. It is a modern rose, Floribunda Our Lady of Guadalupe. In the last week, it has gone from glossy dark green foliage to entirely yellow and defoliating. It was planted last spring and had been doing so well in the garden. All the roses around it seem to be just fine, no sign of any problems. I am baffled.

Mystery Rose.....

Mystery Shrub in Sarasota

Poor Our Lady of Guadalupe.

Notice the Autumn Damask (own root vs the grafted Our Lady) is doing just fine.

Any help you could offer would be of great assistance.


OLOG has left the building, and as my post on GW can attest, I am still baffled as to the sudden failure, especially since the roots seem to be okay.

Friday, July 8, 2011

In case you were wondering....

In case anyone who actually reads this rambling blog wonders why there haven't been any posts as of late, the reasons are twofold. 1) Architecture school keeps me extremely busy, and I will be sharing pictures of some of my work further down. 2) Until the last couple of weeks, it has been so ungodly hot and dry here that the roses and other plants have given me the proverbial finger, not performed well, and therefore were not worth taking pictures to share. That does not mean that absolutely nothing has happened in my garden, just nothing beautiful. I have significant new growth on some of my roses, especially Autumn Damask and Variegata di Bologna. The recently ordered roses have still not been planted, I hate to plant in such heat with so little rain...the less stress the better, so they have been residing in my pot ghetto, aka, my back deck. They look so happy though. Great new growth, strong foliage growth, and even a couple of bloom bracts from Duchess de Gramont. Now that the rains have set in (finally) I will be trying to put them in their new homes.

As far as the architecture goes, my first project (of two) for the summer semester was very well received. Great critiques all around, and general happiness with the final deliverables. Here are some pics:

Initial schematic for 76 floor vertical city to be sited in Chicago.

Above are all model photos of the final model.

Photoshopped view of model in context.

So thats what I have been doing, in a nutshell.

Friday, May 20, 2011

New Additions, and a review.

Recently, due to a gift certificate for my birthday, and a little extra in the garden budget, I was able to acquire a few new roses. As any rose addict knows, this is a happy time in the garden. Fresh starts, new growth, the anticipation of when the package will arrive, where to put the plants, how they will grow and fill out. It is like a dose of rose-crack, straight into the veins. So with my gift certificate to ARE (antique rose emporium) I picked up two new roses, CL Cecile Brunner, a certified house eater from all accounts I have gathered, which I am still not sure as to its planting location yet. Also purchased was Duchesse de Gramont, a smaller, more in-bounds climber, which will serve as a "footer" to another, larger climbing rose on one of the four pergolas in the back rose circle. Then, I got the greater joy of purchasing 4 roses from a nursery I have been aching to order from for some time. Hartwood Roses, whose blog is on my favorites list (go visit) is run by one of the nicest people, and a great rose knowledge base, Connie. Though we have never met in person, I count her in my favorite people column, and I couldn't wait to order roses from her small nursery based outside of Fredricksburg VA. So order I did. I purchased a Reve d'Or, a beautiful climbing rose with a color like a golden sunrise, Garisenda, a barely pink rambler, the apparently unstoppable Peggy Martin, who gave the middle finger to Hurricane Katrina and kept right on growing, and The Bishop (apparently their are many roses called the bishop, but I think this one is also called Velours Episcopal, of which I have seen many pictures and loved every one)

So here comes the review section, and then pictures of the new babies...

I have ordered before from ARE, and had mostly success, and a couple of definitive failures. Overall, the roses are healthy, 2 gallon plants, with decent cane structures, and usually apparent signs of burgeoning new growth. The failures I speak of are the loss of 3 roses from them (out of the number I ordered, it isn't that bad overall) one of which was Souvenir de la Malmaison, a rose I adore and STILL don't have in my garden, due to it croaking. Of course, my laziness and inability to be confrontational kept me from calling and getting a free rose..but nevertheless. The two new roses arrived late last week, beautifully packaged as always, and ready to take over the world. Duchesse de Gramont has bloomed three times this week, still in its pot in a shady location (The pot ghetto begins again) and Cecile has new growth popping out all over. So that order was a success.

Today, I heard the knock of the package delivery guy, and was greeted at the door with a shallow rectangular package from Hartwood Roses. I nearly killed myself getting through the house to the back deck so I could unpack my new pretties. The roses were meticulously packed, secured to the box in such a way as to not have any breakage in transit. Each rose pot was wrapped to avoid drying out and there on the top was my handwritten bill of sale. Remember now, this is a 1-2 person operation, so the level of  care shown here reflects not on workers paid to do a single job, but of a nursery owner who wants to do the best job she can at making her customers happy. The roses themselves are beautiful; healthy canes, great foliage, and even a bloom on one. So an overwhelming recommendation goes out to order from Connie at Hartwood.  I know this all sounds very biased, but just so you know, there is no compensation or discount given here for this review. Just a very happy rose addict who would be pleased to see a small rose nursery run by a good person succeed. Order away won't be dissapointed.

And now for pictures of the babies:

a bloom on Peggy Martin, from Hartwood Roses

Duchesse de Gramont from ARE

CL Cecile Brunner from ARE

look how happy the foliage looks. The Bishop from Hartwood Roses.

My Hartwood Order.  From left to right: Reve d'Or, Garisenda, Peggy Martin, The Bishop

So there you have it. A new set of roses to place in the garden, a happy rose addict, and couple of great places to order roses from (although you know I am biased to one)

Happy gardening,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

It has been too long...

Apologies to anyone who actually reads this spaced out rambling of a blog, I know I have been lacking in posts for a while now. The final weeks of any final project in an Architecture program are hectic, filled with 18-20 hour days, and sometimes strings of days without sleep. (I think the personal record for this semester goes to a good friend of mine who worked the full last week on her project with 6 hours sleep, across 4 days) Drawings must be spectacular, models well crafted, and this is no easy feat. In the studio, we deal with tempers and egos flaring to an alarming level, meltdowns of every shape and size, our cigarette addictions doubling in size, trash building up like small foul-smelling mountains, lack of home-cooked (or sometimes cooked at all) meals. All this leads to pinning our completed work up on a wall, dressing as neatly as possible, shaving the weeks of stubble from our faces, applying a thick coat of foundation under our eyes so as not to look like a raccoon, and presenting. An architecture jury goes like this: 1. You present your project, hoping against hope you remember why you made and drew everything up on the wall and all the while wondering where the semi-articulate speech uttering from your lips is actually coming from, as your brain is probably the consistency of tapioca after the last week. 2. Upon completing the presentation portion of the jury, a panel of distinguished visitors, who have never seen your work before, tell you why you are a complete waste of space, or how awesome you are, but most likely a blend of 60% bad, 40% good. 3. You sit down, and try to remain awake (this hardly ever happens) for your fellow classmates turn. 4-9 hours later, you pin down your work, almost literally throw it on your desk, and leave. Now here is the strange part...even though you haven't slept in a month, the fact that it is over and done with creates a new gust of lucidity, and nearly everyone in the class is chattering about which local dive bar to invade, drinking and talking long into the night about how awful or great the semester was. I know this whole systems seems horrid, but it actually is quite invigorating. It takes a passion for what you are doing to cope with this, especially considering that the average salary for an architect is somewhere around 40,000 after 5-7 years in the field, and entry level is a mere 25-30,000. I love my classmates, and enjoy each semester of learning....but sometimes I really just want to dig in the dirt..

So herein lies the point of this post. I have had lots of pretties blooming and growing, and when I have the chance in the mornings, or whenever I happen to be home, I snap a couple pictures, meaning to post them on here. Now I get my chance. This is a load of pictures, some roses, some daylilies, and various other things. These range back over the past month, and some back to February, as I finally found my iris pictures. So enjoy, and let me know what you think:

The Cleome is really taking off!

Capitane Dyell de Granville

"Forever in Time" from the Nethertons' at Peace on Earth Gardens

again, with mealycup sage and sweet potato vine (which is taking over!)

An older variety of daylily from my mother's yard.

Not sure on the variety, but its so lovely.

looking to the oldest pergola, with Mrs. B.R. Cant climbing up and over.

I am finally getting my hydrangeas to turn, they were SO pink last year from the alkalinity.

Leveson Gower and Vincent Gosdiff

My first thripless bloom in Anna Olivier

Anna, and two of my three hounds. 

Mrs. B.R. Cant. This bloom was nodding down in my path, and just begged me to take a picture.

Abraham Darby flopping over the adjacent fence, along which grows a passionflower vine.

and again, isn't he handsome?

This variety of passionflower (maypop as we call them) smells just like fresh laundry to me. Very clean and very beautiful.

I believe this to be "always joy" but I am not sure, as it got misplaced in another clump.

My first Paul Neyron bloom! Nearly 4 inches across at the height of bloom, and smells to me like lemons and tea. 

The aforementioned mystery day lily.

My sweet girl, Cinnamon. (I did not choose the name, she was adopted)

Heirlooms from my grandmother. She loved iris, and even though they tell me most iris won't grow here, these apparently did not listen. These bloomed in February, and I thought I had lost the pictures. 

So now that the Spring semester is over, I have 1.5 weeks to devote to the garden. Boy have I missed it, and it shows. Apparently the camphor trees in my yard are trying to kill me, as every seed they produced has been viable, and I now have to spend the next two days ripping those damn little trees out of every bed, crack in the sidewalk, and anywhere else they fell. Here I thought oak trees were bad. HA! Absolutely no contest. The upside is, I got a gift certificate for ARE on my 30th that I still need to use, and I now get to put my spring/summer rose order together. There are upsides to everything.

Sorry for the epic length of the post, I have missed writing and I felt the need to catch up.