Friday, October 15, 2010

Back In Vermont

Friday, October 15, 2010

10 AM here on the mountain with rain falling from the sky in drops so large that there is a drumbeat on the standing seam roof that thud-thud-thuds. Large yellow leaves from sugar maples seem pushed straight to earth by the rain as smaller yellow leaves of black cherries blow vertically as if the smiling, puffy white cloud face you see in cartoons is blowing out leaves to entertain young children.

Three drenched tom turkeys just passed my office window. When I left for Maine there were four but this is turkey season in Vermont and some friendships change. Two are aged toms with long beards and one is a jake, a younger male learning the ropes. In fall they come to the bird feeders looking for leftovers the wasteful blue jays kick out. It is too early to feed birds as black bears still visit often.

The cadence of the rain has just changed significantly as sleet has joined the mix and is noisy as it hits the bottom of my overturned canoe. Why did I leave it there again? Why can't fall last longer?

Just returned from Maine last night. I planned to stay two more days but the weather changed and this storm had nothing good about it. Just the same I saw a lot and did see three gardens and a museum I really wanted to see. I love Maine but there is nothing like Vermont!

US Route 1 runs the Maine coast and almost any day it is a slow drive through villages and a fast drive on out-of-town stretches. The roads are posted at 55 mph but no one respects that speed on the open road. Maine roadsides, like many roads this year, are plastered with political signs. No matter what size or frequency the signs appear, they don't change my personal intent. In Maine the number of "For Sale" signs approaches political signs because so many people are facing difficult financial times. I don't think I have seen so many Sotheby real estate signs along the coast in my recent life. Their ad always exclaims "our unrivaled collection of luxury real estate properties" but really what I am seeing is a wide variety of economic lifestyles moved by tough times. There are even fixer-uppers like the one pictured above. Just kidding about this one!

One of my agendas when leaving home is to check out older landscape and architectural design and try to incorporate things I like in what I am doing at our gardens or what I am suggesting to others. I have been at a loss for why schools do not teach more "architecture in retrospect" so students learn to apply some of these proven designs. Roman architecture is always covered but American application over the past 200 years is often overlooked.

Take the house pictured up top. The red "No Trespassing" sign says it all as the house is decayed beyond repair and is falling down. But in its day, this house had some strong architectural points. I can envision a recreation using the wing on the left as a well appointed kitchen and dining area. The octagonal cupola could be heightened slightly to serve as a second floor master bedroom sitting area and an add-on to a first floor living room for entertaining. The list of ideas continues. If you look carefully you can see some interesting cornice work around the main entrance door, at the house corners and around the windows including the dormer windows top right.

When I look at old gardens I get into detail just as I saw in this house. Heights, textures, colors, grouping, bloom time are all relative. I look at trees and shrubs, big leaves and little flowers. As you embark on a garden redesign or a home retrofit, how about considering the past and applying things that worked well for hundreds of years? Could be you'll become part of another winner that others will admire for a long time to come.

Writing from the mountain above Peacham Pond where a flock of low flying Canada geese sounded a "welcome home Vermont Gardener". I'm happy to be back in Vermont.

George Africa
The Vermont Gardener

Vermont Flower Farm
On Facebook at my personal page, George Africa, and as Vermont Flower Farm & Gardens
On Twitter as vtflowerfarm

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