Hooked on Red Hook


SPENT TIME IN RED HOOK, BROOKLYN, this weekend, and forgot to take pictures of the Statue of Liberty. Instead…


…this beached boat reinvented as a planter…



…new mural art cropping up everywhere…


…families picnicking at Valentino Park…


…development development development…


…Coffey Street, unchanged since forever…


…another mural and a glimpse of why Red Hook is often called ‘gritty’…


…a sign that once had more letters…


…cloud formations, a specialty of the neighborhood.



Garden Soup


A few days ago in Springs

WHAT A DIFFERENCE A YEAR MAKES in the garden. Have you heard this about perennials? First year they sleep… second year they creep… third year they leap.


Same view, one year ago this week

Well, I’m only in my second year of real gardening at my Long Island cottage, and frankly, I’m already a little worried about what year #3 may bring.


After more than a week of relentless rain, and the frequent application of Deer-Out, my beds are already crowded with plants eager to take over the spaces occupied by their neighbors.


You know me by now — can’t just relax and enjoy it, for godssakes. Nope, I’ve got to fret and fuss and imagine what could go wrong, notwithstanding something I remember a wise lecturer saying at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden: there are very few true emergencies in the garden (it’s not like Nurse Jackie, my new favorite show).


My chief fear is specifically discussed in the just-reissued classic Envisioning the Garden: Line, Scale, Distance, Form, Color and Meaning by Robert Mallet (Norton), with lots of pictures from Le Bois des Moutiers, a famous Normandy garden, and textbook-like diagrams illustrating various principles of garden architecture.


These words jumped out at me: “A flower bed devoid of forms cannot be seen properly. This is the effect we find in gardens containing a lot of ground-cover plants when they have been left to their own devices for too long; they sometimes turn into a sort of soup, and everything has to be uprooted and replanted to form separate groups again.”

That’s what I’m afraid of: garden soup. Mine was minestrone from the beginning, and I can see it becoming puree.

Those silly snapdragons should go into a container, methinks

As my friend Lula said, “Hmmm… you’ve got so much here.” Yes, too much, perhaps. I’m upstate at the moment, where I gardened for several years, and which always reminds me how quickly things can get out of hand without constant vigilance.


Last year, my garden was just getting started. This year, it’s full and lush (note to self: ENJOY IT!) Next year: the garden that ate East Hampton?

Paths Less Traveled in Prospect Park


I ALWAYS THOUGHT the Boathouse was one of the most romantic buildings in Prospect Park. No, in Brooklyn. No, anywhere. The 1907 Beaux Arts structure sits on a pond called the Lullwater, which also sounds impossibly romantic in the manner of the Park’s original 1860s design by Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted.


Last time I looked, maybe 12 years ago, the Boathouse was dilapidated and deserted. In fact, the white terracotta, Tuscan-columned building came this close to being demolished in the 1960s before being saved by community protests (it’s now on the National Register of Historic Places).


And though I glimpsed it through the trees every one of the countless times I walked or ran the Park’s 3-1/3-mile loop, and vaguely realized the place had been renovated, that sketchy earlier encounter still resonated, and I hadn’t been down there in eons.

Yesterday, encouraged by my daughter, who’s visiting from Hawaii, we deviated from the course and explored not only the Boathouse but other sections of the park that were new to me. The 1907 boathouse, which replaced an earlier wooden structure by Vaux and Olmsted, is now used as an Audobon Center for nature education.


Its vaulted, tiled interior, above, now contains displays on birds and birding (who knew there were 200+ species in the Park?) and a small cafe. Yesterday, a rare sunny Sunday in this desperately rainy month of May, it was crawling with kids.


Unlike in Victorian times, when people ice skated, fished, and boated on the Lullwater, all that is now forbidden. The Lullwater today, above, is strictly a reflecting pool, mirroring an 1890 bridge by McKim, Mead, and White that also replaced Vaux’s original.


Skating on the Lullwater, c. 1886. Photo: Brooklyn Historical Society. This image shows the original wooden Lullwood Bridge, designed by Calvert Vaux, in the background.

The rowboats seen arrayed in William Merritt Chase’s painting of the original rustic boathouse, below, were nowhere in sight.


We then took a path I’d never traveled, which revealed an apparently unused pavilion, below (one imagines uniformed brass bands playing there 100 years ago), and emerged at Grand Army Plaza, feeling like we’d been somewhere new.



To read more about the Prospect Park Boathouse, go here.

New-to-Market Maui Plantation Cottage 499K


THIS 1939 PLANTATION COTTAGE in upcountry Maui, an area of rolling hills and lush farmland, has just hit the market. It’s near the low-key town of Makawao, 15 or 20 minutes inland. Sweet, is it not?


Though the listing says 519K at the moment, the price on the 3BR, 2 bath cottage being dropped to 499K, with taxes under $200/month. It’s owned by Cherie Attix, who runs the Hale Ho’okipa B&B, where my daughter and I spent a few lovely days last November.


Read more about it below, and go here for the full listing and lots more pictures of the interior and the surrounding property.


The Cutest Plantation home in Makawao is up for grabs! An arbor covered walkway leads to the French doors that open into the living room. The large kitchen features a built in pantry with glass doors, an island with gas cook top, and a monkeypod bar [ed. note: ???] with a pass through to the living room. This 1939 old style charmer has three bedrooms, two baths and new addition. The addition with vaulted ceiling, sky light and hardwood beams makes a great living space, office, art studio, or a private area with it’s own covered lanai and separate entrance and yard. Addition’s bath has a walk- in tiled shower. The lot was landscaped with privacy in mind, is fenced, gated, and planted with fruit trees and flowers. From the porch swing on the covered lanai enjoy the view of the neighboring pastures and grazing horses. Only a short walk to Makawao schools, shops and restaurants. Welcome Home to country living near the heart of Makawao town. Listing Agent is owner.





Wet Week in Brooklyn

MAY SHOWERS, May flowers…



Clematis most fabulous


Anyone know what that pink explosion is, above?


Stoop sitting


Towering alliums


The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, where I’ve been twice this week


The Rose Arc Pool


Bluebell Wood


A venerable paper birch


Contemplating an azalea in the BBG