Saturday, April 25, 2015

Historic Garden Week in Richmond Virginia 2015

Tuckahoe Plantation, boyhood home of Thomas Jefferson.
Yesterday I spent my birthday among gardeners in Richmond, Virginia surrounded by lovely Spring flowers. This is my second trip to Richmond for the annual Historic Garden Week tour and I have yet to be disappointed. I've always loved Richmond and every time I go I love this stunningly beautiful historic city a little more.

Quote on brick wall at the Bredrup's on Cary Street.
The Cary Town tour featured several gardens designed by famed landscape architect Charles Gillette. Installed on a brick wall in one garden was the sweetest garden plaque that was written by Mr. Gillette's wife. Spring is such a beautiful and delicate season. Spires of blue Delphiniums, cupped colorful Tulips, dangling Deutzia blossoms, and pom pom Viburnum dotted the gardens.

Wilton House Museum in the woods.
Two historic sites were on the tour. The 1750 Wilton House Museum was disassembled, stored, and relocated by the Virginia Dames brick by brick. This amazing plantation mansion is a massive structure overlooking the James River surrounded by quite the collection of boxwood.

Kitty relaxing in Pansies at Tuckahoe Plantation.
Upon arrival to Tuckhoe Plantation, Thomas Jefferson's home place, one is transported centuries back in time to a scenic pastoral setting on the James River. Horses, Guinea Hens, and a sweet kitty complete the charming setting. If you have the chance to visit this designated Historic National Landmark, GO! It's the finest existing early 18th century plantation in America and I would concur!

Pot of Tulips arranged by Garden Club vol.
I'm always so impressed with the kindness of Garden Club volunteers and their personal interest and love of gardening. We chatted with several volunteers along our trip and all were very helpful and fun to talk to. I thank each of them for their time, assistance, and breathtaking arrangements. This is one of my favorite features of the tour each year. Arrangements perfectly captured Spring featuring romantic pinks and blues with touches of Delphinium, Helleborus, variegated Solomon Seal, Tulips, Iris, Peony, and Viburnum.

Garden Angel in Deutzia buds at the Cronley's on Hillcrest.

On Hillcrest Avenue, secret garden pockets among naturalized areas featured lovely statuary, large trees and shrubs, and beautiful perennials. There was quite a crowd in this garden because it was slated as the first to tour. All sites were busy but not uncomfortable. It was fun rubbing elbows with fellow gardeners about plants but the gardens are typically quiet as many are focused on taking in the beauty around them.

Refreshing pool of the Tilghman's on Cary Street.
I also toured Monticello earlier in the week.

Oh next year hurry and arrive --- what a sweet adventure.

-Rebecca 













Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Monticello in the Spring during Virginia Garden Week

Monticello April 20, 2015
It's hard to not be blown away by the gardens at Monticello in Charlottesville, Virginia. Yesterday as part of Virginia Garden Week I attended a free lecture and tour by Architectural Historian, Gardiner Hallock, on the latest restoration project, The Kitchen Road. It was a blustery beautiful day on the mountaintop. A storm was brewing so the sky was full of white clouds floating among brilliant blue.

Lower section of Mulberry Row up to the Hemings log cabin.
In Thomas Jefferson's day, the Kitchen Road was the work area of "the farm". A bustling hub where food from the garden and deliveries were collected and dispatched up the hillside to the underground kitchen, ice house, and wine cellar. Wagons stocked with household items traveled up the mountain and ended up on the kitchen road to be sorted out by slaves.  Over 20 buildings were along Mulberry Row which connects to the Kitchen Road. Slave homes, an ironworks and weavers shop, and little stable were along this network of short pathways that let up to and serviced Monticello.

Ongoing archaeology survey of the stables.
A lot of work has gone into reconstructing a Hemings slave cabin, and connecting pathways up to the house. Some trees and shrubs have been removed and pathways have been recovered to the original Thomas Jefferson day pattern. Even the privy vent has been restored to the original design which is a much simpler and more natural stone outcropping. Monticello was one of the few homes with indoor bathrooms and was considered to be very modern. If alive, TJ would be fascinated by the new geothermal system that has just been completed at Monticello.

The tulips were in FULL BLOOM up at the main house.
All projects are based on Thomas Jefferson's drawings, historic photos, and archaeology digs. Some of the discoveries are quite interesting. Old cobblestones, paint chip analysis, and plenty of dirt sifting reveals centuries of history. Very few slave gravesites have been found (one is near the visitors center). There have to be more burial sites on the mountaintop but were unmarked and are difficult to find.

Dwarf Tulips that at one time I grew and loved.
Oh but I digress, the grounds were bursting with the most beautiful display of Tulips. The white Dogwood and Purple Redbud speckled throughout the mountaintop forest.

Fothergilla shrub in bloom at the Visitors Center
This is the peak time of year at the Visitors Center to see the native plant landscaping in full bloom.

Crested Iris
I would love to get my little grubby gardening gloves on some Crested Iris. What a lovely ground cover it has made at the Visitors Center underneath the white Fothergilla. I see it every year and dream of having a start and would like to replace my aggressive Vinca Vine with it.


It was a beautiful day and the weather held off this year, last year I was drenched so decided to attempt the same tour again. Thank you Gardiner for an amazing tour!

-Rebecca



Thursday, April 16, 2015

Etsy Stock IPO today, becomes a Publicly Traded Company


Vintage Iron from my shop.
YES, I am an Etsy seller and have been since 2010. Today my boss becomes a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ exchange.

News so far... The pre-stock IPO buy price was $16.00 and it has just hit the market for public buying at $31.00 and is currently trading at $34.40.

There is a lot of talk among shop owners as to if Etsy can remain a hub for small business owners. Etsy opened the door to manufacturing (with restrictions) last year and it was not an easy pill to swallow for small business owners, especially handcrafted goods sellers.

Cute vintage purse in my shop.
I sell vintage on Etsy in two shops, ForsythiaHill.etsy.com and DontUWantMe.etsy.com, consigning many of my items for friends and family. I also sell on Ebay.

Want to get in on the excitement, here is a bit of how today began for Etsy.

The stock is rising, is it time to jump in? Time will tell.

1970's Necklace - never worn - in my vintage shop.
Founded in Brooklyn in 2005, Etsy is a hipster online marketplace that sells, handmade, vintage, and supplies. Having over 1 million sellers and 20 million buyers selling 26 million items. Come join in on the fun, check out Etsy.

-Rebecca



Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Forsythia

Maple (foreground), Forsythia Hedge in back.
It's that time of year when the Forsythia is in full raging bloom. Shockingly yellow, this plant adds so much color to the Spring landscape. It's a plant that I would probably not seek out to plant but I acquired it when we moved into our house.

Because of all the Forsythia on our property, I named it appropriately Forsythia Hill. I can see Forsythia out of every window in our house!

New little sprinkling (foreground), established (background).
I have started a few new areas of Forsythia to add a backdrop to my shrub border. I'm creating a mass of shrubs beside our driveway to serve as a buffer to street noise and to provide cover for the birds. Various shrubs have been placed in a mass with a hedge row of native Red Cedar behind. Along side is a wavy sprinkling of Forsythia.  Shrubs include, native Viburnum, Dogwood, Crabapple, Clerodendrum, Lilac, Coralberry, and Carycarpis.

Biggest clump, home to the Mockingbird.
I try to incorporate fruiting natives into my landscape every chance I get. Forsythia is not native to the US, the the vast majority of varieties are native to Asia. It does not provide fruit for the birds but it does create a lot of excitement in the Spring. There is always a Mockingbird trying to defend its Forsythia hedge and plenty of wildlife such as a Fox, Frog, or Ratsnake finding cover.

Viburnum blossom
My personal favorite shrub is Viburnum. Currently, I have planted Hobble Bush, Maple-leaf, and Arrowwood varieties but am always looking to incorporate more. It's a wonderful plant providing color, fragrance, and food and cover for wildlife.

My one tip about Forsythia is to keep it natural and do not clip it into a rigid square box hedge. It will destroy the light sprinkling effect and kill the drama and "messy hair day" flow of this wild shrub. Give it lots of room to romp and it will be appreciated, otherwise it can be a nuisance as the ends "root tip" and wander.

A good ex of how to use Forsythia, on a slope in mass.
Yellow is starting to fade and is being replaced by pinks and reds! The pink Dogwood and Maples have been beautiful this year.

Get out and enjoy SPRING! There is so much to see.

-Rebecca 
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