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October 2008

September 2008

Secret Garden Tour, Newport, The Duke Estate at Rough Point

High 79 F
Low  53  F
Brenton Point, Newport, RI
This weekend, Hannah, reared her wet head and left us with over four inches of rain.  Fortunately for those who ventured out for the Newport Secret Garden Tour, the wildest, wet weather  occurred in the early hours of the morning and the late hours of the day leaving tour times humid and overcast.  Much better for picture taking.  Since I live as far inland as you can get in Rhode Island, I always appreciate the chance to visit the ocean which is within an hour's drive and Newport is a world apart in many ways.  Bellevue Avenue is the home address of many of the private gardens available for viewing on the tour.  Former summer homes of Rockefellers, Vanderbilts, and Doris Duke, line the Avenue and it is the current home of many generous garden lovers.  Dsc_0045 The gardens at Rough Point, Duke's estate are well hidden behind yew hedges and this property looks out on the ocean from a point high above the surf. Dsc_0052 The estate was bequeathed to the Newport Restoration Foundation upon Duke's death in 1993. Dsc_0057 The topiary camels are standing sentry in the wide expanse of a lawn which must seem very unfamiliar to them.Dsc_0054_2   They are planted with sempervivums and sedums and sport a grass ruff.  I am trying to figure out how to build my own animal out of chicken wire and rebar.  I think it is a job for the Equipment Manager!  If you were to have a large topiary in your yard, which animal or creature would you choose? 


The lushness of a late season garden

High 82 F
Low  65 F
It has been a fairly moist summer with just a couple weeks of dryness.  The rain gauge says 38.84 inches so far this year and the yearly average is around 42" which may mean we are in for a dry fall.  Most lawns are still green and the garden looks quite lush this year.  The birds are busy on the sunflowers and the bees have built their paper nests on the branches of the trees.  The white faced hornets build a particularly interesting nest with visible layers. Dsc_0021 This nest is about seven feet from the ground and hanging right over one of the gardens.  I walk under it regularly which is not a good idea as these are aggressive and painful stingers.  Some people cut these nests in winter for decoration.  I shudder whenever I see one displayed in such a way.  Is this wasp and nest common in your area and, if so, would you display this creative home on a wall?



High 80 F
Low  56 F
I have read that the moonflower, Ipomoea alba, can open in just a minute or two.  I haven't yet caught it in the act but it is a spectacular flower.  Perfection of symmetry and color, even theDsc_0015_2 stamens and anthers are white.  I think it could be called the moon/star flower as there is a definite star in the center of the blossom.  How does nature create such perfection.   Dsc_0015 The vine is a bit coarse and looks like the other members of its' morning glory, Convolvulaceae, family. It has grown quite quickly on the pyramidal support and would grow even taller if it could.  Its' runners are drifting in search of further support but with little luck.Dsc_0064    Without a bloom, it is nondescript. In bloom, the moonflower is what dreams are made of. Dsc_0061 The hyacinth beans, courtesy of Hank over at Lake County, add a bit more color and interest to the trellis and the vines are intertwined making this trellis one of moonbeans.    Dsc_0018  I am only catching a light fragrance from the flowers but the nights have been cool which may reduce the intensity of scent.   Have you grown this?  I grew it because of all the comments on blogs last summer so if you posted a picture of a moonflower, or a description of its' charms,  you are responsible for this gardener's celestial adventure.