Monday, June 27, 2011

This Will Be a First for Me!

This is the first year I've tried to grow Gladioli, or as I always heard growing up, Gladiolas. I bought a bag of bulbs earlier this spring, and had almost forgotten about planting them. Their foliage closely resembles the irises and lilies near them, and until this morning, had not seen any indication they would bloom this year. Walking about the gardens a few minutes ago, I found buds on four of my plants. The buds are really interesting to look at. They have an almost perfect herringbone pattern on them; I suppose each flower has its own little "home" in the burgeoning bud. The variety of these glads is called "Green With Envy" and should give me bright, lime-colored flowers!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Marriage Equality Comes to New York!

My version of the 1963 Chrysler New Yorker Salon. Eagle-eyed car aficionados will notice the slightly shorter trunk, rear fender skirts and front wheels moved closer to the bumper, as well as the argent rocker panels. Rainbow-hued background courtesy of the original advertisement! 

B R E A K I N G   N E W S — New York has become the sixth state to legalize same-sex marriage, bringing marriage equality to the state. New York is the most populous of the six states, and this law effectively doubled the number of gay American citizens that can legally marry. It was a televised nail-biter last night, the evening before New York's annual Gay Pride weekend. Rachel Maddow stayed on the air past her usual 10 pm deadline, and at approximately 10:30 pm, history was made in Albany. Newly-elected Governor, Andrew Cuomo signed it into law just a short time later. Thirty days from now, gay people all over New York can begin to marry and enjoy the approximately 1,300 legal rights and privileges that are bestowed upon couples when they marry. Congratulations mes amies, and have a GREAT Pride weekend.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Stormy Weather

Nice sunny morning, then thunderstorms in the afternoon. 
It began to pour around 1:30 pm, when I shot the photo, above. It's of my front porch steps and a puddle that always forms when it rains on the brick landing. It disappears as soon as it stops raining, but was nicely reflective today. The sky was still fairly bright.

Within a few minutes, the sky turned dark gray, with a greenish tint. It was as dark as it is at 8:30 pm these days. Indoors, had to turn on all the nights I use at night. Then I walked down to the porch and took this shot. This is 2 pm! The day lilies are beginning to really come out, but I'm sure they were a bit confused today!

Meanwhile, Earlier in the Day. . .   
My little Lupine is really looking good these days. At least it was just before the rain came. I hope it didn't get crushed. It was raining the proverbial cats-and-dogs.

The pink Geranium is beginning to flower now. This plant is almost 3-feet wide, having wintered-over inside.

Neighbor June's front steps and her fabulous containers, flowers and collection of ceramic shards found in the ground around Pink Gardens. Almost every time you dig in the soil to plant, you find pieces of old pottery, dishes or glass.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Junecolour Inside: Quick Walkby Past the Stuff

Vintage "parfum" bottles atop the fridge, all from the late '70s through the early '90s. Starting with red cap in front of the tall blue vase, l-r; Christian LaCroix; Christian Dior, Poison; Gianni Versace; Helene Rochas, Mystere; L'Effleur (cologne); Yves Saint Laurent, Opium. All images clickable to enlarge.

Upstairs hallway inner wall. Vintage games date to the 1920s; desk 1930s; chair, 1890s; globe lamp, Victorian reproduction, 1940s.

Studio inner wall. "Afghan Man" has been in my family since the late 1960s; ribbon below him is from President Clinton's 1997 Inauguration.

Upstairs hallway inner wall; self portrait, platinum-glazed ceramic swan, and brass artillery vase.

Atop the late 18th century cherry secretary, three ceramic bird sculptures I won at the Guilford Fair in the mid 1960s.  Small paintings date to the mid 1950s, a German artist.

Upper hallway inner wall. Oil painting at top left dates to the very early 20th century. Silhouettes at right date to the 'Teens. Feather pens are from Sturbridge Village in the late 1960s. Sturbridge Village is a recreated historical town in Massachusetts.

Upper stairway walls with lotsa my art, finished and unfinished.

Late 18th century secretary and collectibles, including late 19th century piano musicstand, upper right.

Junecolour Outside: Early Summer Lushness

The variegated Geranium I bought a few weeks ago. I'm growing it for the foliage. The flowers are pale pink but they don't really "go" with the coloring of the leaves so I've been picking them off as they bloom. They're better looking in a small bud vase where they don't have to compete with those gorgeous multicolored leaves.

Ornamental grass "flowers" are almost 5 feet tall today. The day lily stalks are overtaking them. All photos clickable to enlarge.

The first Day Lily of Summer 2011 bloomed today.

This is a miniature version of Connecticut's state flower, the Mountain Laurel.

June's tomato plants are already blooming. She planted them a few weeks before I planted mine.

My new blue ceramic planter, a gift from Mary, has been replanted this week. For some reason, the three Marigolds I had in it before all died. All in the same night... Not sure what happened to them, but I moved my New Guinea Impatiens into it. That saturated blue color demands equally strong hues and shapes.

Spring Phlox are fading with time.

On the other hand, this hydrangea is just beginning to bud. These flowers are greenish/pinkish/bluish/lavender in the summer and then darken to a burgundy in the fall. Some of the petals stay green which is really a lovely combination.

Feverfew has small groups of white daisy-like flowers and the leaves when touched are very aromatic.

A closeup of the garden globe. The tree trunk it is sitting on is planted with purplish/burgunyd Perilla. A lonely Japanese Iris is at the bottom. They're just about done for the season.

Tiger Lily buds. These stalks are about 5-feet tall right now. Last year some insect ate them before they opened. This year, I've been more vigilant about hosing the bugs off. I don't use any chemicals on the flowers so it's rather hard to keep the foliage perfect. I'm pretty sure the flowers will bloom this year.

The radiating leaves of a small wild thistle plant. I find these in the lawn and diligently dig them up and move them into the flower gardens. Certain birds LOVE the thistle seeds in the early fall.

On its last bloom for 2011, the Japanese Iris next to my front steps is still beautiful.

The elegantly leaning boughs of my Solomon's Seals. The stalks are 5-6 feet tall but bend over and touch the ground.  By fall, those cream-colored hanging flowers will turn into seed pods that look just like ripe blueberries.

Neighbor Rick's summer annual by his front door. I can't remember the name of this variety.

A recent visitor to our yard is this Black-Crowned Night-Heron. He's been hanging out in the small creek behind the house. We've had so much rain this year, there is still quite a bit of water, and he hunts for his dinner back there. The creek always dries up by July though, so we probably won't see him much longer. He's about two-feet long from head to tail, and has red eyes that really look a bit spooky! I had to use the longest Zoom setting for this photo, hence the blurriness of it.

B T W :
Happy Father's Day to all the dads out there. Though my dad died in 1986, I still raise a toast to him each year, and thank him for all he did for me as I was growing up. Though he was raised in an orphanage, and in fifteen foster homes, many of them abusive, and thus had no personal experience with what it meant to be a supportive, loving, father, he was all of that and much more. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

DIgital Beetle Woody vs. Real Country Squirt

I just used Photoshop to create a new Beetle "Woody. It's an homage to the Country Squirt, an actual ancient VW Beetle that I customized when I was a kid, see below. 

C H O P — For this digital image, first I changed the new Beetle coupe into a 4-door sedan. Then I added the wood siding on the sides and hatch. I used a lighter grain wood for the framing, perhaps Ash, and then applied a darker veneer, perhaps Mahogany, in between, just as many carmakers did on their Woody Wagons in the 1930s. I know no one would introduce a new Woody, but I think the second generation New Beetle body lends itself to a plain, painted-side, 4-door version.

The original, and real, VW Country Squirt which I created in the early 1970s. I've written about this little cutie before, click here to read.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Now They Can Be Shown, My ATS, GTC, and GW

The next issue of Automobile is on the newsstands now, so I can now post the three renderings I did for their June edition. My take on the new-for-2012, entry-level, rear-wheel drive Cadillac ATS sport sedan. I was given some spy shots to work from, so I'm fairly confident the "bones" of this car are very close to what GM will be introducing next year. It seems to be a bit "rounder" than the all-angles CTS. Perhaps GM is softening Cadillac's Art and Science design language just a bit. All three images enlarge nicely.

This is the next generation Bentley Continental GTC, or cabriolet. I used the brand new GT coupe as the base, and fashioned an interior, top boot and trunklid similar to the current GTC for continuity. I kept the original press photo's cool background for this rendering.

My Jeep Grand Wagoneer, a slightly larger 3-row version of the new Grand Cherokee. I was told that this larger Jeep would be competing with the Cadillac Escalade so I made it a bit bolder and "blingier" than the Cherokee. I lengthened the rear doors as well as the rear overhang, for a luxurious look and ride for 7 passengers. The chrome, cursive "Grand Wagoneer" nameplate on the front door is the same as used on the classic Wagoneers of the '80s and early '90s.  

For the ATS and Jeep renderings, I was asked to keep the background plain, for the best layout possibilities, and I also furnished them with "clipping paths" which is the way the background can be totally dropped out for cleaner layouts.

This was a really fun project—fast and furious, really, lol. I had about 2-3 days for each photoshopped rendering. I work best with hard and fast deadlines though, so it was all good, and, once again, I thank Eric Tingwall, Automobile's Associate Editor, for this opportunity

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Aroma is Intoxicating!

Wild roses are in bloom right now, on acres and acres of land around town. They're white, single petaled, but bloom in groups. The aroma is incredible. It wafts into the open windows of the house, and is in the air everywhere. Just taking a walk, or a bike ride, is a great aromatic experience! Of course, it's a fleeting one as well. The flowers will be gone in about a week, and then the bushes will turn into just more prickly briars and thickets. Lesson? Enjoy every minute of every day while you can!

These wild rose bushes grow 25-30 feet tall and cover much of the town at this time of year. These roses are on Pink Gardens' property. The clusters of white flowers adds a brighter touch to the usual green background.

While Japanese Iris don't have an aroma, their beauty is enough for me. Most of the German, Bearded and Siberian Iris are done flowering for the year, but the Japanese variety have just started to bloom.

This image was shot a few days ago. It's a regular German Iris, but notice the lower petal variegation. All of this variety are solid yellow, but this particular bloom must have cross-pollinated with the purple ones, resulting in that one petal's purple veins. It's a mutant but a pretty mutant!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June is Bustin' Out All Over!

The front steps today. I just got the bright orange New Guinea Impatiens and the beautiful multicolored leaved Geranium, bottom left. Isn't that a great variegated foliage? My new Lapis blue ceramic planter at the top, a present from Mary. The steps are a bit dirty here. Our beloved Chipmonks "play" in all the pots at night, and every morning I have to sweep the dirt back into the planters, lol. 

All photos are clickable to enlarge and enjoy!

The front yard's Iris selections. The lawn and shrubbery are lush this year, the result of the frequent rain we've had this spring. We have a family of chickadees in the bird house, background right: Mama, papa and (we think) 4 babies. The parents spend most of the day flying in and out of the house, feeding their chicks.

The first year this peony has bloomed! They have such a gorgeous scent. There werr virtually no flowers, and no flower gardens when I moved here. Perennial gardening is really one of my most favorite hobbies, and makes it worth getting up each day!

Yellow and white iris stand out perfectly in front of the brick chimney.

 A very pale blue/lavender iris in the front yard. These were given to me last year by my friend Nikki's mother, Betsy. The dark purple/bronze iris, below, is from her, too, as well as the yellow/white variety above. A huge thanks to Betsy! They've made my iris year!

Purple/Bronze hybrid iris. These are planted next to the vegetable garden. I have them in three different gardens.

My frilly pink iris stands in front of the dark purple Siberian iris in the background. The spiral leaves of my Tiger lilies can be seen, as well as the white/green variegated leaves of a summer ornamental grass.

The pale blue iris present a few shades darker until the buds open. This adds to the riot of colors in the flowerbeds, as it takes about a week for all of the buds to open fully. I love the contrast with the darker iris among them.

Yellow german iris surround the cedar tree on the corner of the porch. That's the front yard in the background. Two types of day lilies are planted around these yellow iris and will be blooming in a few weeks.

The peony as a bud, with Siberian iris behind them. The pale blue and dark purple hybrid iris can be seen in the background. 

A nice portrait of the pink hybrid. It's really a pale peach, with just a tint of yellow to the petals and beard.

The yellow iris, with Feverfew around them. That old-fashioned perennial has profuse white daisy-like flowers and will be fully blooming in a couple of weeks. The small yellow flowers at the bottom are wild Mustard.

The cast iron planters this year have geraniums, spike plants and those pretty salmon flowers. They're a new variety of annual, and I can't remember the name. It takes me a while before I commit new things to memory! That salmon matches the house color almost exactly, and should continue to bloom, and cascade down the planter all summer. I wintered-over 4 geraniums in the attic, so they are much larger than the ones I usually buy for Memorial Day. I might find a couple more small foliage plants for them before these Victorian planters are "perfect" this year, lol.

I know this plant as a Spiderwort, but it's technically a Tradescanthia. The flowers only last one day, but there are many multiples on each plant, so the plants bloom for a couple of weeks. These are from my family's old home. 

The biggest group of Siberians I have. The new blue gazing ball is in the background. The ancient tree trunk holds it perfectly, as if grasping it.

More of the pale and dark iris combination. I'm so pleased this year; iris are my favorite flowers.

My corner of the vegetable garden. I'm only doing about 9 x 12 feet this year. I have 5 dill plants, 5 parsleys, 10 basil and 10 tomatoes. I have all the tomato varieties I had last year, including the great heirloom Brandywines, and have added Sweet 100 cherry tomatoes and San Marzano plum tomatoes. After the plants were in the ground, I covered the area around them with wet newspapers and then a layer of saltmeadow, weedless, hay. This will keep new weeds from growing and hold the moisture in during the hot, dry, summer months. This treatment worked out really well last year. This year there is black mulch in between the garden plots and looks great.

June's peas are climbing on multiple strings of fishing line and starting to flower. They are inside a wire fence enclosure, which is inside the main fenced garden to ensure the rabbits only much on the lawn this year.

The vegetable garden, Year Two, at dusk. My garden plot is on the left, and June's at the right. The blue barrel is filled with more of the saltmeadow hay. You can see the nice contrast of the golden hay, brown soil and black mulch. The fence is made of whole cedar posts and green chicken wire fencing. I have hostas, iris, morning glories, sunflowers, pumpkins, ferns, golden rod, sedums, zinnias and Solomon Seals around the perimeter. Most are only a few inches tall right now, but I think it's going to be quite beautiful by mid-summer.