Garden Inspiration: Upstate Flower Meadow

photoOH, THE THINGS THAT CAN BE DONE — or that happen naturally — in “full sun”! Full sun has always proved elusive where I’ve gardened, certainly in Brooklyn backyards but even on woodsy Long Island.

Upstate in northern Dutchess County last weekend, I visited a tucked-away farm where Ethel and Tom Barone grow vegetables for their produce business, and on which Ethel’s mother Licia Sebok, from whom Ethel evidently gets her green thumb, tends a meadow full of flowers in peak, no-holds-barred mid-June bloom. I only had my iPhone with me for photos, but you’ll get the idea.

I don’t mean to minimize human involvement here. There would be no farm or meadow at all if Tom hadn’t first cleared the acreage of trees and rocks. And there’s a lot of knowledge involved. Licia helps things along by knowing when, where and how to collect and scatter seeds, and how to control invasives, but in large part, and to hear her tell it, it seems to do by itself.


Among the flowers, wild and cultivated or perhaps a bit of both: poppies, daisies, black-eyed susan, gaillardia (blanketflower), potentilla, evening primrose, foxgloves, and something Licia calls ‘catch-fly,’ because it’s sticky. That’s the fuchsia-colored flower so dominant at the moment.

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My most astounding floriferous experience since Giverny last June!

Undiscovered Milan: Oldies, Acreage from 519K

COMING TO YOU TONIGHT FROM MILAN, not to be confused with the Italian fashion capital. This Milan is pronounced MY-lan, and it’s in northern Dutchess County, N.Y. In the 19th century, there was a crossroads around here called Milanville, with a post office. Now Milan doesn’t have even that. A few miles northeast of Rhinebeck, completely lacking in useful amenities of its own like stores and gas stations, Milan shares a ZIP code and a school district with Red Hook.

What Milan does have are old farmhouses, Catskill views from many spots, long country roads, a few remaining sheep farms and apple orchards, and unspoiled rural character, which is good enough for me.

Today I checked out a few recent for-sale listings here in Milan. Instead of capping my search at 500K or 600K, as I normally do for blogging purposes (doesn’t it say ‘Affordable Real Estate’ in the header?), I threw caution to the winds and didn’t set an upper limit. As a result, I saw three very appealing historic houses with lots of acreage, all on secluded sites off Academy Hill Road (exit at Rt. 199 off the Taconic State Parkway, just under 2 hours from NYC). Click the links on the descriptions below for the realtors’ listings, with full details.

  • A vintage farmhouse on a huge pond, top, on 53 acres for $1.25million