Tuesday, June 8, 2010

City Views, Country Dreams

Good evening from New York.

If you have visited here a time or two, you will know how much I do love the country, even though I have chosen to live in a huge city.

This post is a tribute to some dear friends of mine, who last week treated me to a day in the country. The weather was perfection. Our destination was about 40 miles north of New York City.

And so, in our rented car, we set off mid morning. And, mid-day decided to have a restoring stop. This was not our destination, but rather a lovely spot next to a pond.

On the other side of that reflective pond was a mill. Its wheel is just to the disappeared left side of the mill. I cut off the wheel to show the goats that were exploring the pond, while we rested under the trees.
We got back into the car, and continued on. Our destination was a fabulous place. It seems to be an undiscovered treasure. It is Stonecrop Gardens. Those of you who live near fabulous gardens across the Pond would definitely appreciate this place.
When we parked in the gravelly car park area, and emerged to that gravel, and looked at the green trees, shrubs, and iris blooming around us, it was the quiet that struck me.
True peace. I think that there was one other car parked. It was this welcoming quiet that would characterize the rest of our visit.
We ambled up a wood slatted pathway toward the little Potting Shed building where we would register our arrival, pay a very, very small fee, and receive a map to guide us around the expansive grounds.
Stonecrop is a place where botanists may come to study and observe, where students may learn a thing or three hundred about plants.
The site was once an estate owned by a particular family. It is now a teaching garden.

Every part of this place seems artless, yet could not have been what it is without lots of skillful planning and carrying through.
There are woodland areas, pond areas, rose gardens, areas where horses ramble, greenhouses where fledgling plantlets take root. There was something about this group that reminded me of some Chinese scroll paintings at the Metropolitan Museum.

In this part of New York State, there are lots of stone walls. I would love to learn how to build such a wall.

Here is one of those horses. Under a sky that truly shows what June can be.

This is a sample camellia. We saw hundreds. In many colors. I just liked this one best.

And here is one of the pond areas. Remember that we walked around and around, and had a splendid picnic lunch and walked around some more. And the entire time perhaps saw ten other people. For a New York City resident...this is just astounding.

We did not see Blackie, the resident black snake about whom we were warned. We did see lots of frogs, turtles, a few duck, and lots of tiny fish. And we heard much bird song. And saw many swallows as the day reached afternoon.

Since the day was so sunny, I took along my hat with the wide brim. I also took along my big linen tote bag with a sketchbook and colored pencils. Yet. Even at our relaxed pace, there really was no time to sketch. I took many photos, in addition to those posted here. Perhaps I can use those pictures to do some drawing and painting.

The above photo was taken by one of my traveling pals, and shows me in a beautiful little wisteria-covered gazebo, on the edge of a lilly pad endowed pond, next to a bit of rocks. Remember the name of the garden is Stonecrop Gardens.

The above photo shows one of those crops of stone, with one of my friends exploring the route to the next layer of ponds. That pond was just a short climb up the rocks...or stones.

We stayed almost until sunset, watching the light change, watching big clouds move across the sky. We were so glad to have had wonderful weather for our day in the country.

We lingered as long as we could. What dear friends I have to have treated me to this beautiful experience.
Hoping that you all will enjoy a sampling of our visit.


  1. What a truly marvellous place, Frances — complete with excellent pictures and informative travelogue (the format you use so well).

    Thanks for taking me on an adventure.

  2. P.S.: About learning to build stone walls, I am reminded of Robert Frost's observation: "Something there is that doesn't love a wall."

  3. So restful and such a beautiful place and so so lucky to see it with friends and without the masses. A much deserved break from city life and all its perfidities .Stonecrop is also a small alpine plant that grows often in English cottage gardens google image it and you will see.

    May you hae tme for many more days of Zen amidst your hustle and bustle life!

  4. Great day out. Reminds me a bit of http://www.trevarno.co.uk/
    a lovely estate in Cornwall that we visited a couple of years ago - no snake though - well as far as I know.

  5. Frances, what a lovely day out. The photo of the mill reminds me so much of our mill cottages in France.
    But the gardens brought back memories of Giverny, Monet's home, with the little bridge.
    I did like your hat!

  6. A lovely garden, Frances and a lovely post. Your pictures and description transported me there.I know I would love 'Stonecrop Gardens'.
    If ever you come to Wales you will learn more about stone walls. The sort you pictured are called dry stone walls here because they have no mortar between the stones and stay upright (for a long time, anyway) because of the skill used to build them. The are traditional in Wales and other parts of Britain.

  7. How lovely for you to be able to escape the city for such a beautiful day in the country. Walking around a garden of this kind is always a great pleasure, and there seem to be enough clouds in your June sky to make it happily bearable without getting overly hot.

    Besides, I love your wonderful hat!

  8. I love the hat Frances, and what a peaceful place....we too have lots of old dry stone dykes on the farm, so if you ever make it over here you will definitely be able to have a go at building one. My husband rebuilt one all along the road leading up to the farm, it was hard work but he really enjoyed it as it is an art form choosing just the right piece for each bit. He did get bitten by an adder though, but was thankfully fine. They live in the old stone walls. Posie x

  9. What a beautiful place for a relaxing day out, and with lovely early summer weather too - perfect.

    What a contrast to a walk through the city!


  10. I didn't know you had drystone walls as well as us! Perfectly logical of course - I am so glad you had a lovely day out, I expect you were in much need of a little jaunt out, it sounds - and looks - wonderful.

  11. What bliss!
    Amazing how near to the country we are.
    Splendid photos of the gardens and the wall.......will escape to Tappan this weekend myself.

  12. What a wonderful day you must have had, Frances....and what good friends to treat you to exactly the thing that would give you such pleasure.

  13. I can imagine how peaceful the place must have been after the hustle and bustle of the city. I looked at the website and saw that you were indeed a little bit closer to heaven being a higher altitude. It certainly looks heavenly and I am sure you will have recharged your batteries, thanks for taking us along too.

  14. I think it's always good to have a bit of contrast - I live in the country and love to visit cities - a little bit of pavement once in a while is a must. The gardens look beautiful - what a treat.

  15. Wonderful pictures as always Frances. But I am intrigued by your desire to build a stone wall. To build a wall well, strong and neatly is an art that will take half-a-lifetime to learn, but almost anyone can build a wall that won't fall down and is fit for purpose. All you need is patience. You need to build it from both sides and nicely overlapping, the stones on their short sides so that they point in and slope slightly as well. There are plenty of books and probably websites too.

  16. Oh, those plants in a row, those skies and that hat.Thanks for the lovely post, Frances. Beautiful.

  17. What a beautiful place. Looking at those views I'm reminded of the work of some of the great American illustrators, N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parish. Wouldn't it be a heavenly thing to visit for a week and draw or paint a new vista each day.

  18. A wonderful day out for you dear Frances, beautiful gardens on a beautiful June day. What lovely pictures you have shared with us, and you are sporting a gorgeous hat too.!

    A real pleasurable day in the country, hope you get to visit those lovely gardens again soon Frances.


  19. What a wonderful day out!! Beautiful nature, good friends, great weather and a day away from the big city! Could not be better!?! Lucky you.
    Take care.
    Ingrid xx

  20. What a lovely photo of you, Frances. Isn't it wonderful that a place that was owned by one family now brings happiness to so many people? Cx

  21. looks like a very nice relaxing day! very nice post!!

  22. What a lovely post Frances. Fancy all of that and only 40 miles away from your huge city. Loved the pic of you in your big hat - gorgeous.

  23. What a delightful trip, such a pleasure to come along with you!

    Are you sure that the flower is not a peony?


    (12 more days of studying for finals)

  24. Thank you all for all your comments.

    It really was a marvelous day.

    Merisi ... of course it was a giant peony. When I write late at night my mind is not that sharp. Well, when I write at other parts of the day, my mind is not that much sharper.

    I would so love to be able to have access to the serenity of this garden. The company was also pretty swell.


  25. What a beautiful day you had Frances! Sounds like a real treat. I LOVE your hat by-the-way, it's just fantastic. I try and wear a hat in the sun too, you're hat is truly covetable! Love Vanessa xxx

  26. As i sit here looking out of the shop window to the great grey wall of the library opposite, which is blocking out the glorious sunshine.
    I thank you for taking me along on your walk and letting me escape for 5 minutes..xx

  27. Lovely trip Frances, it makes a change from the city, I did enjoy it,

  28. Hi again Frances, re your question about baking coloured pencils, here is Angela's answer-

    Frances, lay your pencils on greased proof paper on a baking tray. Starting with a cold oven, bake them at 250oF for 5 - 7 minutes. It does improve very crumbly pencils, but sadly doesn't stop them breaking all together.

  29. Hello, you've won the Woodland Christmas cards!
    Let me know how to send them, my email address is tucked away in the Licensing page of my website.

  30. I love your photographic journeys. One day, one day, I'm going to visit New York and the surrounding areas.
    I helped restore some stone walls in the north of England once-it's a beautiful craft, isn't it?

  31. Oh my! The pictures look as if the were meant for the book The Secret Garden! How marvelous...I could use a day in the great outdoors too...thank you for sharing!