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HERE’S AN OLD HOUSE THAT COMES WITH A NEW LIFE, should you be in the market for one. Loomis Creek Nursery in Columbia County, N.Y., was well-known to me in my years of gardening upstate. It was a boutique nursery with out-of-the-ordinary offerings and fantastic annual display borders. Its owners are re-locating to the West Coast and the whole kit ‘n’ kaboodle, which includes an 1820s farmhouse, is for sale.
Read all about it in the broker’s listing, below:
Successful high-end nursery and landscaping business ideally located in southern Columbia County is now being offered for sale on 24 acres, with an 1820s farmhouse, a pool and several outbuildings. Branding and customer following have been well-established in the 8 years of operation. This turn-key business is offered with all of the equipment, inventory and initial consultations essential to the continuation of this profitable venture.
In keeping with the mood of this bucolic setting, the charming 2906 sf, 3 bedroom, 2 bath 1820s farmhouse, surrounded by terraced decks and meandering stone paths, is landscaped for privacy. There is an in-ground pool with a poolhouse tucked away on the other side of the road, 2 barns, and a garage – all eclectically and beautifully landscaped. Featured on The Martha Stewart Show, in The New York Times, on such blogs as A Way to Garden and Rural Intelligence, and The Garden Conservancy’s Open Days Tours.
Click here for a PDF with lots more photos.
For more info: Kathy Duffy | 518.822.0800 x11 | email
Fine row of 19th century storefronts, Northern Liberties, Philadelphia
I’VE BEEN MOVING AROUND SO MUCH LATELY, my head is spinning. Hence the random assortment of images in this post.
A few days after moving into my new apartment in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, I took off for a week in Maui. I was back in New York all of two days before heading down to Philadelphia to meet a new tenant and a painter.
Federal-era corner building in Northern Liberties, Philly, now a popular brewpub
Got to hang out in Brooklyn another couple of days…
Flatbush Avenue’s own Flatiron building, near Bergen Street
where I did much of my Thanksgiving food shopping at Damascus Bakery on Atlantic Avenue it Brooklyn Heights. It has become a full-service Middle Eastern grocery in recent years. I went there primarily because Sahadi’s, the old standby, was mobbed, but I’ve since decided I much prefer the offerings (below) from Damascus anyway — all tops.
Meanwhile, Sahadi’s opened a pop-up holiday gift store, below, on the same block, for those food gifts (pistachios, dried fruit, candies, sticky baklava…) everyone likes.
Then I high-tailed it to Ancram, N.Y., in Columbia County, for a high-spirited Thanksgiving weekend with cousins.
Impeccable three-story eyebrow colonial, Ancram
Quintessential Hudson Valley dairy barn, late 18th c.
Hope you all spent a satisfying Thanksgiving with people you love.
Margaret Roach at last weekend’s shade gardening workshop, above
LAST WEEKEND, along with a few dozen other garden nerds, I attended a half-day shade gardening workshop in Columbia County, and took 8 pages of notes.
We started at Margaret Roach’s lovely, hilly two-acre spread (she being the garden blogger I most admire, and author of a forthcoming dropout memoir about leaving the city for a more serene life in the sticks — I can relate). Our second stop was Loomis Creek, a nursery known for unusual offerings and stunning display borders. One of Loomis Creek’s owners, Bob Hyland, presented the second half of the workshop, and shared the news that the nursery will be closing for good Columbus Day weekend, when Bob and his partner de-camp for new adventures on the West Coast. Great bargains there in their final close-out; I came away with a car-full.
When asked why we were there, one woman spoke for many: “Because I don’t have any SUN!!!” Despite what I hoped when I first came to my Long Island cottage in May ’09 — south-facing backyard and all that — I have NO full sun anywhere on my half-acre. It varies from part to deep shade throughout, and I’ve been gravitating toward plants that don’t have to struggle. Also, almost all my gardening knowledge to date comes from books. I wanted to see how real gardeners actually handle plants (I may never plant a quart nursery pot again without tearing it into several pieces, as we watched Bob Hyland do with a pot of ajuga).
Here’s some of what we learned last Saturday, beyond the basics (the basics being ‘plant in multiples of 3,5,7,9; in drifts or waves rather than rows…’):
- Shade plants grow slowly. That’s why they tend to be more expensive. It takes a nursery 2-3 years to nurture seedlings (hellebores, epimedium) along to salable size.
- When transplanting/dividing plants in fall, pre-soak the ground. I’d always just sprinkled perfunctorily, but Margaret recommended a few hours a day for a few days in advance. And wait for cool, overcast weather to do the deed, if possible.
- September is THE time to transplant and divide perennials (in Zone 5, anyway; here in Zone 7, we can probably go into October). October’s the month for planting new trees and shrubs.
- A lot of woodland (shade) plants have shallow root structures, so their roots freeze easily if you move them too late. They are adapted to live in small pockets of soil between tree roots. “Pocket planting of baby seedlings may be more effective,” said Margaret, than buying larger nursery specimens. “It’s nature way.” That requires patience, not my strong suit.
- Think “opportunistic” gardening on a shady property — that is, create gardens for beauty in March through May, before deciduous trees leaf out. Identify your seasonal opportunities and make the most of them.
- An easy kind of shade garden (well, it’s all relative) is creating a “skirt” around deciduous trees, with early bulbs and primulas, trilliums, Jeffersonia, and ‘dolls eyes’ aceta (cimicifuga) — none of which I’ve tried — especially near the house, where you can view them through a window in March and April.
- The best way to design: “Look out the window.” Especially in winter, that’ll be your most frequent vantage point.
- Group containers full of high-impact, long-lasting plants, such as ‘citronelle’ heuchera, hostas, begonias, and hakonechloa to welcome visitors into a shade garden.
- Spanish bluebells are “good for the back 40” – sweeps of ground cover visible from a distance.
- Note to self: get some petasites! They’re dramatic, huge-leafed, pre-historic-looking things.
- If you want to special-order annuals from a nursery for next year — if you need a large quantity or want something unusual — do it now.
HAVE YOU BEEN TO THE EXTRAORDINARY Olana? It’s well worth a field trip (and a picnic), especially as they’ve just opened two upstairs rooms restored to the late-Victorian era of Olana’s original occupant, the Hudson River School painter Frederic Church.
In the 1870s, there was a fashion for Middle Eastern exotica, and Church and his wife Isabel embraced it to the max. They visited Beirut, Jerusalem, and Damascus, returning with visions of arches, loggias, fancy brickwork, and other dazzling design elements. With their architect, Calvert Vaux, they incorporated all these into the hilltop house they were building in Columbia County, and they decorated accordingly, with imported Persian rugs and furnishings imported from that part of the world.
To today’s eyes, Olana appears more bohemian than Victorian, tasteful and arty as opposed to excessive and overwrought.
In 1964, when the widow of the Churches’ youngest son died there, Olana was still intact, decorated as it had been when Frederic and Isabel lived there. The next Church heirs, however, sought to auction the furnishings and sell the house. They were stopped by the timely formation of an Olana preservation society. With help from New York State, the house and its contents were saved, restored, and the main floor opened to the public in 1967.
This weekend, for the first time ever, the Churches’ second-floor bedroom and dressing room will be added to the tour, finally allowing us to see what’s above the fantastic staircase in the main hall. Another upstairs bedroom is a gallery containing art and photographs that had long been in storage.
The amazing wallpapers in these rooms have been painstakingly reproduced from scraps found beneath mantels and moldings.
To read more about Olana’s history and see more pictures, go here.
Olana State Historic Site
Route 9G, just south of Route 23
Greenport, NY, between Hudson & Germantown
Guided house tours: Tuesday-Sunday + holiday Mondays, 10AM-5PM
Reservations recommended: 518/828-0135
ANOTHER RED DOOR! That was my first thought when I saw a recent post on Rural Intelligence, the home/food/culture blog of the Hudson Valley, about staging the 1760 Colonial, above, for sale.
Boerum Hill, Brooklyn
The post features the provocative James Mane, a Greene County real estate agent/hands-on stager, who prefers the term “editing” and who’ll take a project only with the understanding that he can do as he pleases. He really strips a place down to showcase “the house, not the furnishings” — which makes perfect sense when you have historic houses of enormous charm and character to sell (and clients with boring stuff).
Tivoli, Dutchess County, NY
Why the cliché red door on Mane’s latest project? “To warm it up,” of course (the paint is Benjamin Moore’s “Warm Comfort,” something close to persimmon).
Red doors seem to be everywhere lately, used as a quick and easy pick-me-up for a house, especially one on the market. A red door says ‘Welcome, please come in and love me — better yet, buy me.’
Park Slope, Brooklyn
Actually, I love red doors, though I’ve usually painted my own some version of turquoise, because an Israeli friend once told me it keeps evil spirits away.
Kinderhook, Columbia County, NY
Any thoughts on the meaning of the red door?