Tag Archives: Jane Booth writer

Garden Inspiration, CAPE COD HOME

I still have the books my mother bought in her quest for garden knowledge.  I've bought many more in my adult life as they are a wonderful source of inspiration.My best friends for the vegetable garden are “how to” books letting me know  the onions are ready to harvest when their green tops have toppled over and to pull the garlic when the browning stems are tilting toward the ground.  I have books on tending perennials and books on herbs and annuals.  They are all an inspiration.

I still have the books my mother bought in her quest for garden knowledge. I’ve bought many more in my adult life as they are a wonderful source of inspiration.
My best friends for the vegetable garden are “how to” books letting me know the onions are ready to harvest when their green tops have toppled over and to pull the garlic when the browning stems are tilting toward the ground. I have books on tending perennials and books on herbs and annuals. They are all an inspiration.

When we are on the road and have the time I like searching out antique and junk stores for old garden tools, often sturdier than what is manufactured today though I have not been able to bring them into the garden, I just like looking at them and thinking about the hands that used them many years ago and the gardens they might have helped create.  I also hunt for old terra cotta pots, especially small pots to start seeds in.  They don’t retain moisture like plastic, but they look fantastic and you don’t toss them in the landfill when your plants have grown!

When we are on the road and have the time I like searching out antique and junk stores for old garden tools, often sturdier than what is manufactured today though I have not been able to bring them into the garden, I just like looking at them and thinking about the hands that used them many years ago and the gardens they might have helped create. I also hunt for old terra cotta pots, especially small pots to start seeds in. They don’t retain moisture like plastic, but they look fantastic and you don’t toss them in the landfill when your plants have grown!

Some of the best  inspiration comes from visiting gardens open to the public whether personal or private.  I have often buy plants or put together color combinations I have seen in someone elses garden.  The Garden Conservancy, www.gardenconservancy.org, publishes The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Directory, A Guide to Visiting America’s Best Private Gardens.

Some of the best inspiration comes from visiting gardens open to the public whether personal or private. I have often buy plants or put together color combinations I have seen in someone elses garden. The Garden Conservancy, http://www.gardenconservancy.org, publishes The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Directory, A Guide to Visiting America’s Best Private Gardens.

In the early winter I look forward to the arrival of seed and plant catalogues that I keep for reference and to drive a gardener crazy with want.

In the early winter I look forward to the arrival of seed and plant catalogues that I keep for reference and to drive a gardener crazy with want.

Riddle of the Catskill Mountains, GARDENS ILLUSTRATED

Dean Riddle's Catskill gardens are amazing.  I was blessed to be given the opportunity to photograph them for the greatest garden magazine in the world, Gardens Illustrated.

Dean Riddle’s Catskill gardens are amazing. I was blessed to be given the opportunity to photograph them for the greatest garden magazine in the world, Gardens Illustrated.

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Wonderful whimsy, exuberant color, Dean Riddle’s Catskill Mountain garden made me smile.

Dean Riddle creates  extraordinary plant combinations.

Dean Riddle creates extraordinary plant combinations.

 

Ruth Kirchmeier, Carved by Nature, CAPE COD HOME

Ruth Kirchmeier, Martha's Vineyard woodcut artist and gardenerWhen I met Ruth Kirchmeier I didn’t know she was a woodcut artist but thought  she must be a sculptor of tall columnar things, her garden suggested so with upright narrow hollies and yews. I imagined her hands chipping away at stout totems of wood.  I had the medium right but the art form wrong, instead of totems she chips away at flat fields of pine, cutting into wood visual scenes close to her life such as a simple vignette of her dining room where a forsythia filled vase placed on a red runner radiates with the sun’s energy.

Ruth Kirchmeier, Martha’s Vineyard woodcut artist and gardener
When I met Ruth Kirchmeier I didn’t know she was a woodcut artist but thought she must be a sculptor of tall columnar things, her garden suggested so with upright narrow hollies and yews. I imagined her hands chipping away at stout totems of wood. I had the medium right but the art form wrong, instead of totems she chips away at flat fields of pine, cutting into wood visual scenes close to her life such as a simple vignette of her dining room where a forsythia filled vase placed on a red runner radiates with the sun’s energy.

“I don’t see the difference between making a woodcut and making a garden, you need the skills to cut the wood and make a garden , the same things go into it, placing things so that there is depth and interest and a certain desire to go around the corner and see what’s happening.

“I don’t see the difference between making a woodcut and making a garden, you need the skills to cut the wood and make a garden , the same things go into it, placing things so that there is depth and interest and a certain desire to go around the corner and see what’s happening.

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House plants are welcome winter friends finding places to reside outside come summer.  A topiaried myrtle came to Ruth by way of her dealer, Hermine.  “She has a small gallery nearby, Hermine Merel Smith Fine Art, one winter she asked me to look after her myrtle and I nurtured it and shaped it.  When I brought it back, she asked if I wouldn’t like to keep it permanently.

House plants are welcome winter friends finding places to reside outside come summer. A topiaried myrtle came to Ruth by way of her dealer, Hermine. “She has a small gallery nearby, Hermine Merel Smith Fine Art, one winter she asked me to look after her myrtle and I nurtured it and shaped it. When I brought it back, she asked if I wouldn’t like to keep it permanently.

 

 

More than Summer Friends, CAPE COD HOME

Favorite flowers for a Cape Cod garden include hardy roses, Guara, and 'Cotton Candy' Supertunias.

Favorite flowers for a Cape Cod garden include hardy roses, Guara, and ‘Cotton Candy’ Supertunias.

To my Puritan New England eye, coleus has a always been a bit too exotic -- red-dressed flamenco dancers edged in flames of green and white.  Looking up the Latin name I came across another common name, Flame Nettle, and indeed, these are "hot" plants.

To my Puritan New England eye, coleus has a always been a bit too exotic — red-dressed flamenco dancers edged in flames of green and white. Looking up the Latin name I came across another common name, Flame Nettle, and indeed, these are “hot” plants.

Wild Organic Apples of Vermont (and New Hampshire too)

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We’ve been making forays into Vermont’s pastoral countryside and have been thrilled to find wild “organic” apple trees growing along many a roadside.

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We spied this huge, lone apple tree on our way to Walden Heights Nursery, Vermont growers of heirloom apples and other unusual orchard fruits. We noticed nary a blemish on the deep red fruit polished to a high shine by wind-whipped leaves.

In less than four miles from our home we have collected a sampling of very edible fruit in colors ranging from red to green to yellow or a mix of all three.  The most beautiful apple we have found so far is a tiny and fawn-colored with a lipstick-pink blush.

Wild and wonderful

A selection of wild apples gathered not far from our home in Newbury, Vermont.

In the past before we sampled apples from the wild, we would wipe off fly speck, tiny black dots – and no, the dots do not arise from flies but are the result of fungal disease especially prevalent in Vermont’s apple orchards as our summers and falls become more humid and wet.

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We found two abandoned orchards with trees still producing fruit on Cobble Hill within the lands of The White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire.

Most orchards spray fungicide multiple times to prevent things like fly speck and sooty blotch – but we don’t have to worry about eating chemicals with our wild finds in hand and we don’t even bother to wipe off the spots and dots, instead biting into the apples to determine if they are tart, sweet, spicy, or too sour to eat.

One of the tastiest apples we have discovered so far is in a meadow adjoining ours.  The apples are gnarly from the pecks and bites of piercing, sucking insects but all they need is a trim around the insect-damaged flesh and they are a delight to eat.  We wonder if they are possibly an heirloom apple variety as they have many attributes for home use – the flesh is sweet, tart – firm but juicy.  They are yellow overlaid with crimson stripes and were ripe some weeks ago.

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The apples we dubbed “the meadow apple” looked rough but had exceptional flavor and were added to a succession of excellent dishes — a harvest stew of rabbit, a veal stew reminiscent of my Great Grandmother Booth’s French Casserole of Veal, and a fragrant, spicy venison chile.

The “meadow” apples have held up well in cooking and have found their way into a rabbit stew made rich by the addition of butter, good olive oil, a cider reduction we made and put up last year, lots of vermouth, good white wine, carrots and tomatoes picked from our garden and roasted before being added to the stew. There was an ample amount of the excellent fragrant sauce left over from the rabbit and it was reincarnated as a base for a veal stew.

The organically-grown veal came from Winsome Farm in Haverhill, NH just across the Connecticut River from our Newbury, VT home. The tender bits of newly-harvested meat were caramelized in a super hot oven and were added to the sauce as were more “meadow” apples, our own heirloom tomatoes and slowly sauteed onions, little red potatoes from one of our favorite local farms, Peaked Moon in Piermont, NH, and as more liquid was needed to keep everything moist the last half of a bottle of red wine.

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This abandoned orchard in The White Mountain National Forest will provide food for wildlife and a taste of the wild for those lucky enough to find apples in season.

As the stew was put to a simmer and the aroma filled our home, I wondered what else I could cook with wild apples and rummaged about in the freezer pulling to the front items of goodness needing to be cooked before the freezer put the burn to them.  A goodly-sized package marked “stew” put a smile on my face as I silently thanked our friend Tom Kuralt who generously shared venison he had taken during a hunt last year.  After thawing the rich, wild meat it was browned, like the veal, in a hot, hot oven then added to a base of homegrown tomatoes, onions, lovage, peppers, and garlic with the addition of carrots from Newbury’s own 4 Corners Farm and cut up chunks of wild apple.  Cumin and dried chiles from Oaxaca — Pasilla and Chilcosle — added heat and hints of clove, anise, cinnamon and smoke.  Homemade corn tortillas completed the meal!

All of this yumminess has us giving thanks to the early settlers of Vermont and New Hampshire – the apple trees they planted years ago produced a mixed blessing of progeny to inherit the wild.

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The Simple Sweetness of Sugaring Season

Stately maples on town greens and back roads suddenly sport buckets when it is sugaring time

Stately maples on town greens and back roads suddenly sport buckets when it is sugaring time

A sweet heavenly fog permeates the sugarhouse.  Scent memories conjure up cotton candy and caramel apples – but I am smelling something more earthy, spicy, an aromatic sweetness that makes me hungry – not for pancakes (as it must for others) but for roasted pork tenderloin and winter squash and butter and drizzles of caramelized maple syrup.

Steve stokes the fire under the evaporator to keep up a steady boil

Steve stokes the fire under the evaporator to keep up a steady boil

There is a roar and a blast of heat as Steve Glabach, a second generation sugar maker, opens the fire doors on the evaporator, a huge compartmentalized maple sugaring pan where just collected sap boils and bubbles.  I’ve entered a scene from Macbeth – “double, double toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble.”

A hot fire is needed to boil sap in the evaporator pan

A hot fire is needed to boil sap in the evaporator pan

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And toil doth the sugarmaker while the fire burns and the sap bubbles!  Maple sugaring season is short and harried.  Sap begins an annual dance in maple sugar trees, Acer saccharum (think sucrose), in late winter when days begin to warm while nights still turn to freezing.  You can be assured that folks from hereabouts in northern New England will claim “it’s sugaring time!

Stately maple trees lining back roads and town greens will suddenly sport buckets.

Sap spouts (spiles) through the ages from hand-fashioned wood to the ubiquitous plastic

Sap spouts (spiles) through the ages from hand-fashioned wood to the ubiquitous plastic

Groves of maple trees, called a sugarbush in maple sugaring terms, will be traditionally tapped with spiles (spouts) and buckets or with a modern system of tubing (pipeline) running from tree to tree and a vacuum pulling sap to a central collection point.

Traditional and modern methods of collecting sap in a Vermont sugarbush

Traditional and modern methods of collecting sap in a Vermont sugarbush

Steve Glabach and his wife, Maria, of Dummerston, Vermont use both systems and their children, Ted and Theresa, work alongside them during the short season as do other family members, friends, and volunteers.

Gathering sap from traditional buckets

Gathering sap from traditional buckets

I spent part of a day following the frenzy and was exhausted watching a young volunteer crew rushing through the sugarbush gathering sap from buckets and sloshing off to fill a storage tank pulled by a tractor.

Volunteers, family, and friends empty sap collected from buckets into a storage tank

Volunteers, family, and friends empty sap collected from buckets into a storage tank

The tractor took off down the road and pulled behind the sugarhouse where a gravity fed line brought in all the watery goodness.

When maple sap is boiled down, water vapor forms and pours out of windows built into the top of the sugarhouse

When maple sap is boiled down, water vapor forms and pours out of windows built into the top of the sugarhouse

The Glabachs, like many other sugar makers, use a reverse osmosis machine to assist in making maple syrup – it concentrates the sap for processing in a evaporator set over a heat source – an arch, or combustion chamber.  The Glabachs use wood to fire their arch and it is the combination of wood smoke and steam escaping from the sap that smells so delicious.

"double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble"

“double, double, toil and trouble; fire burn and cauldron bubble”

Days are long and nights are longer during this short sweet season.  The fire must be stoked to continue the boil drawing water from the sap and as the sap turns to syrup a constant vigilance must be kept to keep the syrup from burning and to draw off the syrup as it finishes.

Steve Glabach demonstrating how the syrup thickens and comes off the spoon in a sheet

Steve Glabach demonstrating how the syrup thickens and comes off the spoon in a sheet

Maria Glabach in a sweet-smelling cloud of goodness

Maria Glabach in a sweet-smelling cloud of goodness

Ted Glabach  pouring just drawn off sap into one of many filtration systems used in the making of syrup - a compression system that will filter out the last large bits of minerals resulting in a sugar sand.

Ted Glabach pouring just drawn off syrup into one of many filtration systems used in the making of syrup – a compression system that will filter out the last large bits of minerals resulting in a sugar sand.

Sugar sand - it looked good enough to eat but we didn't try it ... the "sand" comes from a final filtration of the syrup and is filled with minerals

Sugar sand – it looked good enough to eat but we didn’t try it … the “sand” comes from a final filtration of the syrup and is filled with minerals

Maria and Steve Glabach and a photo of Steve's dad with his sugaring "team"

Maria and Steve Glabach and a photo of Steve’s dad with his sugaring “team”

Steve Glabach's father collecting sap with a team of horses and a sled

Steve Glabach’s father collecting sap with a team of horses and a sled

Colby is not only a friend but a trusted assistant in the Glabach sugarhouse

Colby is not only a friend but a trusted assistant in the Glabach sugarhouse

The Glabachs keep samples from each day they make syrup, note the different colors - light is Fancy, dark is Grade B

The Glabachs keep samples from each day they make syrup, note the different colors – light is Fancy, dark is Grade B

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A few maple sugaring facts from The Proctor Maple Research Center of The University of Vermont and the Vermont Maple Sugar Makers Association

Vermont’s forests are filled with maple trees, approximately 1:4.  The higher sugar content in the sap, the less sap needed to make syrup – the rule of thumb is 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup.  Maple syrup is good for you:  calcium, manganese, potassium, and magnesium and full of antioxidants too!

Project Native, YANKEE MAGAZINE

www.projectnative.org"Nobody is a better landscaper than nature," states Raina Weber, dirt-streaked and beaming from her Housatonic, Massachusetts, native-plant nursery.

http://www.projectnative.org
“Nobody is a better landscaper than nature,” states Raina Weber, dirt-streaked and beaming from her Housatonic, Massachusetts, native-plant nursery.