Monday, March 31, 2014

Road Trip to Lancaster County

So colorful!

Last Thursday, Eileen, Prudy, and I took a quick day trip up to Lancaster County.  We just couldn't wait until May! This time we just went to a few of our favorite places, Weavers Market and Country Store to stock up on some of our favorite foods, Newswangers Greenhouses and Espenshades to check out the plants. We stopped at Wilbur Chocolate for some buds and Easter treats, had lunch at a new place in Brickersville, and just generally enjoyed being in Lancaster County. A few nurseries, some food, and a chai latte at Weavers before we left, and we were happy girls. Oh, and Eileen picked up a couple of bags of mulch at Landyshade. We love this mulch place. They have the most luscious looking mulch, mountains of it,  rich and dark almost like compost. It is triple cut 100% bark and very fine, so it breaks down easily in the beds and enriches the soil--doesn't look mulchy. I always get several bags in May for my prime spots. It's hard to believe we'll be going back in a little more than a month for our annual plant shopping trip. There weren't too many plants out yet--pansies and violas were out but little else for spring planting. I bought a flat of pansies and some dahlia bulbs--finally going to try those this year. It was nice to just browse around the greenhouses without the pressure of our spring buying.

Nice selection of succulents

Terrarium plants 

The weekend was miserable, raining all day Saturday and a mix of rain, sleet, and snow on Sunday. I didn't go out all day on Sunday, spending the day cleaning out the basement and watching basketball, although Walt went for a swim at the Y. This morning the sun is out, and it's supposed to warm up this week,  so let's hope that yesterday was the last hurrah for winter.

30 March--Snow

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Cold and Frozen Lake Erie

It was so fun to see a frozen Lake Erie this week when we were in Cleveland.  I haven't been back to Ohio much in the winter and Julia didn't remember ever seeing it frozen. I guess we mostly visit in the summertime.  So of course I had to take some photos. And as always when I am home, I was poking around my sister's house and found some old photographs that I had never seen, so I am including those here for my family to see. It was interesting to see some of my grandparents, my dad's parents, as young people. I only remember them as grandparents--old and stern!

My mom and dad

I love how my dad is looking at my brother Tom

My paternal grandmother, Grace Poynton--those clothes! that bow!

My paternal grandfather Frank Davis, as a young man

My great grandfather William Hamilton Davis

My dad (on right) and his brother Harry, probably in Washington, DC

My grandmother Grace

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My Aunt Peggy

Aunt Peggy with my sister Linda and me, August 2013

We have been away for the past three days in Cleveland, attending the services for my dear Aunt Peggy, who passed away last Friday.  She was my mom's younger sister, was part of my life always, and was my favorite aunt for sure. And I made sure to let people know that I was her favorite niece yesterday, although I know we all felt like her favorite niece, favorite nephew, friend, etc. That was just the way she was. Our families grew up together, my cousins and I love to talk about holiday dinners together, remembering the cramped dining room at our grandparents house, the children's table where we would play with our food, all those memories that are so fun to talk about when you are together. I remember spending a lot of time at my Aunt Peggy and Uncle Tom's house when I was little. I would sometimes spend little 'vacations' at their house, and when my cousin Kenny was born, I remember spending a week at their house, helping my Aunt Peggy with her new baby.  Just what she needed, another kid in the house, but I remember having so much fun.

My mom Betts (left), my uncle Reed, and Aunt Peggy
My Aunt Peggy told me she loved me every time she saw me, she kissed me when I was leaving, and then kissed me five more times before I got out the door. She was the most positive person I know, always smiling, always genuinely interested in what you were doing,  always marveling at all the changes she has seen throughout her ninety-two years, instead of complaining about them. I last talked to her about 10 days ago, and as always she didn't complain about her own failing, she just wanted to know about me and Walt, hear about our kids and their busy lives.  She was so happy that my cousin Bob (her son) lives near us, and that our families  are close, and spend our holidays together.

My mom (left) and Aunt Peggy, on Lake Erie, 1920s

As my cousin Bob said at her funeral, her life was about loving people--her incredible family--husband Tom, six amazing children, her beloved grandchildren, her great grandchildren, and all of us. She was a mom through and through and she was never happier than when everyone was together. She was a loving sister to my mom and I appreciate the friendship and  bond they had throughout their whole lives, both living into their nineties. I know she missed my mom after she died, and she knew I missed her too, and we talked about that when we saw each other or talked on the phone.

It was so nice to be with our family these past few days, to be with my Uncle Tom and cousins. My cousins and I know that we are so lucky to have had our moms so long, but it doesn't make it any easier to lose them. I will miss her so much. XOXO

Monday, March 24, 2014

More Signs of Spring

One of my favorite times of year is when the crocus start to bloom in the yard of a neighbor up the street. I've posted pictures before of his yard, but it's always a thrill to see these cheerful blooms begin. I'm so appreciative of someone who takes the care to naturalize these colorful beauties in his front yard, for all to enjoy in the spring. I hope others appreciate them as much as I do. ( I'm the stalker in front of his house with a camera...)

Saturday was a beautiful day, maybe 70 degrees, so Walt and I both worked outside most of the day in the gardens, cleaning up, mostly raking leaves out of the beds. It felt so good to be outside and to feel the sun. I pruned my Limelight hydrangea hard--I didn't realize I should be pruning it hard every spring, no wonder if was so big and awkward. I pruned all my roses, knockouts and regular (I prune them by half), I cut down the remaining perennials, the baptisia, the sedums, old asters. It looks like my big rosemary bush is dead, victim of our cold, cold winter. And this is the first time I can remember that none of my pansies planted in the fall survived.  But there are signs of life, the hellebores are starting to bloom,  snowdrops are up, and I see a few green buds. Spring has begun.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

The Lowland

I finally got around to reading Jhumpa Lahiri's new book--I have enjoyed all her previous books very much (Interpreter of Maladies, The Namesake, Unaccustomed Earth), and have been looking forward to this one.  The Lowland  is the story of two brothers, Subash and Udayan, who grow up near the lowland in 1960s Calcutta. Inseparable during their childhood, the two brothers take very different paths as they grow older.  Udayan is a revolutionary, joining the Maoist Naxalite political movement in India, at great risk. Subash is more conscientious, choosing to continue his studies and scientific work in the United States. Though separated, there is a bond between the two that shapes the rest of the story. I found this to be a very sad story of loss and love, almost painful to read at some points--so many mistakes made, so much regret. Lahiri has such a talent at showing the complicated relationships between people--between brothers, with parents,  between mothers and children. The story spans seven decades,  from Subash's birth to the present, and with the rich landscape of India always in the background. A good read, but sad.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Back on Saturday, when it was 70 degrees and feeling like spring, we took a day trip to Montpelier,  home of James Madison, about a one and a half hours drive west of DC.  We had always passed signs for it on the way to Charlottesville, and I have been wanting to visit for a long time. The home was built by James Madison's father, around 1763, and is situated in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  James Madison was born and grew up at Montpelier, lived here with his wife Dolley Madison, and returned here in 1817 after serving as our fourth President. James Madison died at Montpelier in 1836. The home was purchased by the William du Pont family in 1901. The du Ponts lived there for nearly 80 years and donated the house to the National Trust for Historical Preservation in 1984. The home went through an extensive restoration which was only completed about five years ago and now shows the mansion as it was when James and Dolley Madison lived there in the years after his presidency.  No photos are allowed inside the mansion, which is still being furnished with pieces authentic to Madison's time.  In one of the front rooms there is a chess table set up by the back windows,  where Madison reportedly had many a chess match with his good friend, Thomas Jefferson.

Front of the house

We toured the house and we especially liked Madison's second-floor library, where he spent many hours reading and studying history, while forming his ideas on how our government should be structured. His study and thought formed many of the principles of our government and our Constitution. James Madison wrote the Bill of Rights, the Federalist Papers, and is called the 'Father of the Constitution.' Much of his writing was done in the library at Montpelier, overlooking this beautiful Virginia countryside.

Looking west from the house toward the Blue Ridge Mountains

Walt reading with James and Dolley
Framed structures on the site of the old slave quarters

I loved loved loved this Cedar of Lebanon tree, and it is believed to have been a gift to James Madison from the Marquis de Lafayette around 1824.

The cedar of Lebanon tree stands at the entrance to the walled gardens, which were designed by the du Ponts, but the pathways and parterres are from Madison's design. The walled garden was restored in 1992 by the Garden Club of Virginia, to reflect Madison's garden of fruit trees, vegetables, herbs, and flowers.  While obviously nothing was in bloom when we visited, it was still interesting to see the structure of the garden, the parterres, and the hardscape. I loved the boxwood allée and all the garden urns and ornament. There was a row of tree peonies that I was drooling over, would love to come back and see those beauties in bloom.

This boxwood allée is amazing

Loved this moss-covered urn

It's always kind of a thrill to visit the homes of our Founding Fathers, and walk around the homes and gardens where they spent so much time and thought.

Monday, March 17, 2014

A Snowy St. Patrick's Day

Here's a few shots of green (green and purple oxalis) that I took at a garden center recently. Oxalis is such a pretty plant, but I've never had much luck with them, so I admire them at the nursery.  We had such a nice weekend, almost 70 degrees on Saturday. I walked around our yard and starting making lists in my mind of all the things to do. Walt actually pruned a few things yesterday, the smoke tree and the buddleia. It felt like spring!  And then look what we woke up to this morning. Spring is only three days away, but it sure doesn't feel like spring today.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014


'O Wind, if Winter comes, can spring be far behind?' ~ Percy Bysshe Shelley

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Shot of Color

I was in my favorite nursery the other day to pick up a few things, and was so happy to see all the colorful plants and pots and seed packets and garden tools.  Maybe it's just these gray, cold days of winter, but I am really ready for some color.

And how could I resist 'Bling Bling' zinnias? (I didn't.)

And these are some of the zinnia seeds I'll be planting this year. I'm kind of zinnia-obsessed.