Another great garden

IMG_8725Here’s another interesting garden from the Gardens by the Sea tour I took recently in Charlestown, RI. One of the great things about this tour is the diversity of the gardens. Each one feels so different from the others. This garden is very large, and rambles around the house and outbuildings, which, I understand, the owners built themselves.

IMG_8728The large greenhouse was being used by small scale farmers’ market growers.

IMG_8744The garden decor was whimsical.

IMG_8753Very whimsical.

IMG_8742This garden spreads and sprawls. Edibles and ornamentals grow side by side. It is by no means messy, though. Just not as controlled as other gardens we visited.

IMG_8745The path eventually brought us here, to this charming scene. It was nice to sit in a shady place for a moment and enjoy a glass of lemonade.

IMG_8747It was even nicer to be offered a piece of pizza, made by the owner, in his wood-burning pizza oven.

IMG_8749And here’s a close-up of that oven. Gorgeous. Like the rest of the garden.

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A parade by and for the people

IMG_8796I’m taking a break from garden talk this week to write about the annual Snug Harbor 4th of July parade. I am immigrant who has lived in the United States for nearly 20 years, and this quirky, come-as-you-are parade is one of my favorite annual traditions.

IMG_8807It’s a casual, inclusive parade, but with a lot of pizazz.

IMG_8816Inclusive – as in dogs welcome, too.

IMG_8834The floats are always creative and funny.

IMG_8842The neighborhood kids LOVE it.

IMG_8854Snug Harbor is home to several charter fishing marinas, so there were a few fishing-themed floats.

IMG_8855This one made me look twice.

IMG_8858A float with an environmental message!

IMG_8877Members of the “Rod n Reel Precision Drill Team.”

IMG_8882Another regular is the Snug Harbor synchronized swimming team.

IMG_8893Another funny election-themed float. I love the “we’re doomed” sign!

I will end this post with a couple more shots of happy children. We need more happy.

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Style and a sense of humor

IMG_8684This is the second garden we visited during the recent Gardens by the Sea garden tour in Charlestown, RI. This garden was skillfully designed, beautifully planted and full of funny surprises – both colorful and sculptural. I love alliums just as much after they have bloomed. They look great in this setting.

IMG_8690I admired the pond with its overhanging Japanese maples. I wonder if those fish know how lucky they are to live in it.

IMG_8693Many of the planters were graced with dolls of various types.

IMG_8697A “New Dawn” rose planted with clematis, covered one wall.

IMG_8698Even the chicken coop was  interesting.

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The entrance to the greenhouse was marked by striking containers.

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Here’s a look inside the greenhouse. I wonder if it’s always this neat. Probably is.

More gardens next week. Happy Fourth everybody!

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Garden tour containers

IMG_8645This post is in response to a request from a reader who wanted to see more containers from the garden I wrote about last week. You ask, Micky, I deliver. The above container, in a hot, sunny spot, was appropriately planted with succulents and portulaca.

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A more formal arrangement, with white mandevilla and alyssum.

IMG_8651More containers, holding succulents.

IMG_8664Finally, in a shady spot, an attractive window box brings some color to the otherwise gray and black palette.

I’ll post photos of other containers when I write about the rest of the gardens on the tour.

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A garden tour de force

IMG_8653My friend and I recently had the pleasure of taking in this magnificent garden and several others at the Gardens by the Sea tour. The event, which takes place in South Kingstown and Charlestown Rhode Island,  raises money for the Cross’ Mills public library. It is only one day, but we lucked out and the weather was perfect for visiting beautiful gardens.

The top photo was taken at Long Pond farm, a former sheep farm that occupies 50 acres next to a lovely pond. This post will focus on the Long Pond farm garden. I will  write about the other gardens in later posts.

IMG_8643You reach the house after slowly making your way down a very long driveway. One of the first things you notice is this Japanese maple. There is one on either side of the entrance.

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The many large and venerable trees on the property, like this copper beech, made sections of the garden cool and pleasant during the heat of the day.

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Looking back at the house, you can see the topography of the property, which is rather hilly.

IMG_8660When they renovated the house a couple of years ago, the owners added a roof garden, which, as you can see, is just getting established.

IMG_8649The hardscape is elegant, and provides interest throughout the garden, almost always with a focus on the pond.

IMG_8679Maybe this is where the sheep used to graze. The family also keeps bees, but we did not see any hives.

IMG_8671A parting view of Long Pond, on a sparkling early summer day.

I’ll be writing about the other amazing gardens in upcoming posts.

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Summer pleasures

IMG_8319A perfect lobster roll. A stuffed-full-to-brimming, not-too-much-mayo lobster roll. You can buy these throughout the year in RI, but many of the best seafood shacks are open only in the summer.

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The beaches. I am not one of those people who spends an entire day at the beach, but I do enjoy gazing at them and walking on them. This is Napatree Point at Watch Hill, RI, as far west as you can get before you cross into Connecticut. It’s a lovely beach with impossible parking in the summer. Easier on many levels in the off-season.

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Summer sunsets. Bailey Island, Maine.

IMG_5607Wading. On Cape Cod.

IMG_5318A clear lake on a hot afternoon.

IMG_5398Annuals.

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June: the good and the bad

IMG_8565The mountain laurel is in bloom now in Rhode Island, and that’s always a good thing. I took this photo during a recent hike.

The flowers are pretty, but mountain laurel’s impact is best enjoyed from a slight distance, so you can appreciate the masses of blooms.

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Here’s one doing its thing in a local park. Wow.

As this beautiful cycle unfolds, another ugly one is also occurring: the gypsy moth infestation.

IMG_8601Here’s a gypsy moth caterpillar eating leaf right down to the rib. The caterpillars are particularly bad in RI this year, and while their destructive eating phase will be over in a couple of weeks, they have denuded large swaths of forest. Can’t wait for them to be gone.

IMG_8594I spoke with a forester and another expert who advised homeowners with defoliated trees to give them a little extra TLC this summer by watering them when it’s hot and dry. Water, but don’t fertilize.  The trees will grow new leaves, but it’s stressful for them and they could use the extra help this year.

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Sharky

IMG_8533We live in Rhode Island, but we also love spending the day on Cape Cod. An interesting development on the Cape over the past few years is the presence of Atlantic White sharks, aka Great White sharks,   apex predators of the sea.

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The story goes like this: Gray seals, once numerous in the waters off Monomoy Point in Chatham, were hunted almost to extinction. Then the feds passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act, people stopped hunting them, and the population rebounded.

Now, the burgeoning seal population is being somewhat regulated –  not by humans, (who almost always mess up whatever wildlife situation they try to “manage,”) but by White sharks.

But of course, folks are still complaining. Fishermen say the seals are eating too many fish, and some people are demanding that humans cull the seal herd, so fewer sharks will be attracted to the Cape. Either way, it sucks to be a gray seal these days.

In the meantime, the Town of Chatham has wisely capitalized on people’s fascination with White sharks. The non profit group, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, has an excellent facility in Chatham where people can learn more about White sharks and their role in the ecosystem, see some amazing aerial photos taken by shark spotter Wayne Davis, buy some cool T-shirts to take home – and stick their heads in a shark’s mouth, just to see how it might feel…..

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Also in town, in addition to the shark-themed merch available in many stores, the Chatham Merchants’ Association organizes an annual art installation called “Sharks in the Park” featuring decorated and painted sharks which are auctioned off online.

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So I guess my point is, the sharks are making it dangerous to swim in some places, but the entire area has benefitted in other ways from their presence, and they’re eating some of those seals that everyone is complaining about. It’s interesting to watch this unfold and see how people adapt to and even profit from the sharks.

Here’s the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy website: http://www.atlanticwhiteshark.org/#welcome

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Be a Sustainable Surfer: It’s Easier than You Think

Editor’s note: A couple of weeks ago, I received an email from Jay Recinto of Warm Winds Surf Shop in Narragansett RI, asking if he could submit a guest post on environmental-friendly surfing. I support any initiative that will help the environment, and especially the ocean, so I said ‘sure.’ And no, I was not paid to run this post.

BTW,  the cool building in the shot below is known as “the Towers,” a famous Narragansett landmark. 

Here’s Jay’s post:

 

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There are two potentially damaging misconceptions in the surfing industry as far as the environment is concerned. The first misconception is that the sport of surfing is not damaging the world’s oceans. While it’s technically true since the act of surfing a wave doesn’t really damage the ocean, surfing as an industry is damaging the ocean and the environment in a lot of ways.

The second misconception is that making the switch to sustainable surfing is hard and expensive. In fact, a lot of surfers think that it’s so hard that it will take the fun out of the sport.

This article on sustainable surfing will dispel both misconceptions. As a surfer with no regard for sustainability, you’re damaging the environment in ways you never imagined. As a surfer who cares for the environment, you can easily make the chance to sustainable surfing.

Start by Respecting the Ocean

As a surfer, you know how good the ocean has been to surfers and the surfing industry in general. It’s actually easy to start with sustainable surfing. Start by following the general rule – respect the ocean.

It’s the least we can do. With the countless of imperfect and perfect waves that it has provided us, the least we can do is to give the ocean the respect she rightfully deserves.

Unfortunately, it’s not getting 100% respect. Surfers and people in general do things that damage it like throw trash or use products that are not environment-friendly. This is something that needs to be changed.

This of course extends to the beaches. Respect the beaches as well. They’re basically the welcome mat to the amazing experience that the ocean provides.

Speaking of welcome mats, the ocean is part of Mother Nature’s home and we’re just visiting. You wouldn’t disrespect another man’s house as a guest, right?

Read and understand how the ocean works. Know what’s okay and what’s not. For starters, it’s common sense that it’s not a good idea to throw your trash, no matter how small, on the beach or in the ocean.

Take nothing. Damage nothing. Leave nothing.

Respect everything.

Travel Light

Surfers usually have a bucket list of sorts. This bucket list has all the surf spots that they want to try before they die. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course, but you may want to “travel light” in such a way that you minimize your travel as much as you can.

You have to understand that traveling leaves a lot of footprints that can damage the environment. This is especially true with air travel. No one’s stopping you from flying to an exotic surf location to conquer its waves, but every now and then, make the choice to travel light.

For example, instead of flying to Indonesia to surf, why not just make the drive to Narragansett Town Beach? You get the idea.

Volunteer

There are a lot of opportunities for you to volunteer in. Ask your favorite surf shop if there’s an upcoming clean-up drive that you can volunteer for. Better yet, start your own clean-up drive. With social media widely-accessible, you can easily find volunteers that can help you out.

There are also organizations that encourage sustainable surfing. You can check them out, see their goals, and volunteer. Start with the Surfrider Foundation and Sustainable Surf.

Used Surfboards

Buy Used Surfboards

The manufacturing process of surfboards leaves a lot to be desired as far as sustainability is concerned. While there’s a conscious attempt to make the switch among environment-conscious companies, the best you can do right now as a surfer is to prolong the life of surfboards by buying used surfboards.

Check out surf shops in your area. The best ones have impressive stocks of used surfboards – some of which are as good as new. As a bonus, you can save a lot of money this way.

Think Multiplicity

You can accomplish a lot of things on your own. Can you imagine the effects if you can get more people to join you in your efforts?

The important thing is to start now. Get in touch with your favorite surf shop. They can help you to start.

About the Writer

Jay Recinto is the Media Content Manager for Warm Winds Surf Shop in Narragansett Rhode Island. In addition to being a trusted surf shop, Warm Winds is also known in and around Narragansett for giving back to the community and the environment.

Check out the Warm Winds website for a Narragansett surf report for your next surfing visit!

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Spring favorites

IMG_8477My absolute favorite time in the spring is when the crocuses, and then the narcissus, are blooming. A close second is right now, when the trees are in flower, even if all that pollen makes my eyes itchy.  One of the prettiest early spring bloomers is Florida dogwood, or cornus florida. There’s something about those spreading branches, which I find very elegant. And the colors of the blossoms are always pretty without screaming at you like some of the azaleas.

IMG_8481Here’s a white dogwood. What’s not to love? I have been told that Korean dogwood, cornus kousa, is more disease-resistant. I like them both, but I think I love cornus florida a little bit more.

IMG_8479This is another of my favorites: creeping phlox, or phlox subulata. It’s peaking right now in RI, and I am seeing lush mounds of it everywhere, from rock gardens to slopes (where it prevents erosion) to flower beds. I’ve always found this plant easy to grow. It’s a good idea to shear it back after it flowers to keep the foliage dense and bushy.

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