Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Mockingbird Babies

During my spring Open Garden on Memorial Day, one of the guests found a bird nest tucked into the top of 'Firefall', a miniature climbing rose.

At the time, the nest had one egg in it.  A couple of days later, I remembered to grab my phone and photograph it.  By then, it contained three eggs.  The parents added a fourth egg the next day.

Two weeks later, there were four baby birds.  Instagram followed along as I posted a photo of the babies every day.  For you, I will put them all here.

Day One:

Day Two:

Day Three:

Day Four:

One of the parents, keeping a close eye on me.

Day Five:

Day Six:

Day Seven:

Day Eight:

Day Nine:

Day Ten:

Today is Day Eleven.  I went out after breakfast to check on the babies and found that the nest was empty. 

My neighbor next door at the winery told me that he saw young Mockingbirds in his garden earlier this morning.  I'm certain that they were my babies.

It's amazing how quickly this process happens.  Four weeks exactly, from the time the first egg was laid till the babies fledged.  Mama and Papa Mockingbird were very attentive parents, swooping down on me whenever I was near their nest.  I have no doubt that their babies are in good hands, or wings, as they learn to live in the great big world.

Saturday, June 2, 2018

Finding My Past at Goodwill

Remember in the 80's and early 90's, when country crafts were king?  Shades of Wedgwood blue, mauve, seafoam green, and rusty red reigned in the design world.  Stenciling or wallpaper, flowery chintz upholstery, with ruffly curtains at the windows, completed the look.  

During this time, my husband was starting his own business.  Money was tight.  We were fine day-to-day, but the reality of finding the money necessary for Christmas presents for three daughters required some ingenuity.  We had power tools, I knew how to use them, wood and paint was cheap ... and a small business was born.  Very small.

For a few years, in summer I would cut and sand and paint little figures and country-style decor.  In fall, I rented space at craft fairs, setting up a booth and selling my wares.  One of my best sellers was this:

It was a custom item.  I had the large hearts like this at the booth, pre-made in mauve, blue, rust, or cream, and customers ordered small hearts to hang from the hooks underneath.  Husband, wife, children.  I sold a ton of them.  (I remember one special one: a family's four grown children chipped in together and ordered one for their parents, with themselves, their spouses, and all of the grandkids hanging from it.  It was huge.)

I was startled to see this one earlier today.  Somehow it ended up at Goodwill in Culpeper, minus its little name hearts.  It looks as good today as it did when I made it almost 30 years ago.  Goodwill's price:  $1.99. 

My label.  Hometown Designs was what I called my little enterprise.

I still have ours, the prototype, with our family on it ...  it's in a box somewhere.  

I hope this one goes to a good home.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Sunday Snapshot: My New-To-Me DSLR

Last week, I was at a loss about what to do with my malfunctioning Nikon D70.  I talked to a photographer friend about it, and he offered a most profound observation.   He said, "It's going to be hundreds of dollars to repair your D70 ... used ones are about $75 online."

Why didn't I think of that???

I surfed around online, looking at used D70s, but hesitated.  Something didn't feel quite right.  There were things about my old camera that I would improve, namely the display screen.  A bit of research and reading and opening up my search criteria led me to this:

Meet my new-to-me Nikon D90, fresh out of the box!  It has a better processor than my D70, a larger screen, and it can use all of my lenses.  It's old technology, minted in 2006 or so, but I'm perfectly comfortable with that.  I wasn't comfortable with the prospect of paying a lot of money for a camera that I use only occasionally, which is what would have happened if I had shopped for a new camera.  (To be honest, the thought of that made me queasy.)  

That thing in this post I said about rose season passing me by while I was without a 'good' camera ... 


Sunday Snapshots are posts devoted to moments in time that represent glimpses into everyday life in Hartwood, or wherever else I happen to be at the time.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Open Garden Day, 2018

Open Garden Day this year will be on Memorial Day, May 28, 2018, from 10am till 3pm.  

As you can see from the above image, it was originally scheduled for this coming Sunday.  We have had rain every day so far this week ... the ground is saturated, the garden is a bog, the roses are soggy and sad, footing is treacherous and parking in our field will be impossible.  

We hope to see you on the new date.  

Thursday, May 17, 2018

Wine and Roses Open House at Tufton Farm

This Saturday, May 19, the Thomas Jefferson Center for Historic Plants, at Tufton Farm in Charlottesville, Virginia, will hold its annual Wine and Roses Open House.  I was there for most of the day yesterday, consulting with staff, evaluating the roses in the garden, and helping to prepare for this weekend's event.  

Most of my time was spent organizing the roses in the nursery sales area.  There is a great selection of roses, most of which are rarely available except for via mail order.  

The roses available for sale are:

'Amanda Patenotte' (aka, "Portland from Glendora")
'Aviateur Bleriot'
'Baltimore Belle'
'Blush Noisette'

'Blush Noisette'

"Bremo Musk"
'Cecile Brunner'
'Climbing Cecile Brunner'
'Champneys' Pink Cluster'
'The Fairy'

'The Fairy'

'Felicite et Perpetue'
'Fewell's Noisette'


'Gruss an Aachen'


Lady Banks, White
Lady Banks, Yellow
'Madame Plantier'
'Marie Daly'
'Marie Pavie'

'Marie Pavie'

'Mary Washington'
Single Musk (R. moschata)


'New Dawn'
'Old Blush'
'Climbing Old Blush'
"Peggy Martin"
'Pompon de Bourgogne'

'Old Blush'

'Climbing Old Blush'

"Peggy Martin"

'Pompon de Bourgogne'

Prairie Rose (R. setigera)
'Pride of Washington'

'Pride of Washington'

'Princesse de Nassau'
'Redoute's Red'

'Redoute's Red'

'Rosa palustris' (Swamp Rose)
'Rose d'Amour'
'Temple Musk'


Here is the event flyer, with the schedule of activities.  This year's rose speaker is my friend Peggy Cornett, Curator of Plants at Monticello.

I can't be at the event this year and I'm seriously bummed about it.  

Sunday, May 13, 2018

The Garden is Getting Glorious ... and My Camera May Be Dead

My trusty, ancient Nikon D70 is acting up.  I use it a lot during rose season to take photos of the garden in bloom.  The camera in my iPhone 8+ takes good photos, but the Nikon is better at capturing accurate, large, close-up images.  I really hope that this problem is something that can be easily sorted out.

Here are the facts:

In order to get the photo files from my camera to my computer, I download them directly from the camera to my PC, using a USB cable.  Earlier this morning, I hooked everything together, and highlighted, copied, and pasted the files like I always do.  There were about 40 photos, ... the last dozen or so came out distorted.  Corrupted files, I'm guessing.

IMG0247, looks perfect as it downloaded initially.

I deleted the wonky files from the PC, and attempted to download them again ... figuring that something went astray during the first transfer process.  This time, ALL of the files on the memory card were distorted.  They were compressed to one side and overlaid with black lines, lime green bars, and most of the frame was blank.

IMG0247 now looks like this, when viewed from the memory card.

A quick Google search and some reading on various forums indicated that the problem could be a bad memory card, faulty USB cable, or something REALLY wrong with the camera.

The easiest thing to test was the USB cable.  Tried to transfer files with another one ... same problem.

Switching out memory cards, and now I get a CHA error.  Turn the camera off, then back on, the error goes away.  I took a few test shots, which didn't write to the memory card, then the CHA error comes back.  This happened with all three of the three memory cards that I tried.  On my last attempt to transfer files to my PC, it got even worse:

Catastrophic failure is never a good thing.

Same error, and worsening chain of events, with two different USB cables and three memory cards, tells me that it's probably a camera issue.

So .... it looks like my iPhone will be my only photo-taking tool this season.  I am thankful to have it, because it really can take great photos. Folks over on Instagram saw this one that I took yesterday morning.

"Connie's Favorite Gallica" straight out of the phone, with watermark added in Photoshop.

I'm not giving up on the Nikon just yet.  It may be an easy fix.  I'll have to get a recommendation for a good camera shop and see what they say.

Friday, April 27, 2018

What's Blooming in the Garden Today?

After a few false starts, it appears that Mother Nature has decided to release us from winter's grasp and allow spring's flowers to proceed. 

Red Bleeding Heart

White Bleeding Heart

Just in time, I think, because I am SO far behind with my normal spring pruning and garden maintenance.

Variegated Solomon's Seal

Brunnera macrophylla

Part of this delay is because we had winter weather for a lot longer than usual this year.  Those of you who follow along on Instagram are aware that I have been traveling a LOT this year, which has taken me away during prime garden prep season.  Trips are finished for a few months (I think), so I have to get cracking.

Pink Lily of the Valley


I was outside all day yesterday, pruning most of the Miniature Garden.  Roses in all of the other gardens are finished.  We had rain overnight, which made the garden too wet for work this morning ... perfect, though, for a quick circuit through with my camera to capture all the things in bloom.  Later this afternoon, I hope that it dries enough for me to get outside to prune the last few roses.  Weeding and mulching are next.  



Speaking of roses, buds on 'Dr. E. M. Mills' are beginning to show color! 

For those who want to visit to see the roses in person, this year's Open Garden Day will be May 20, 2018, from 10am to 3pm.  Everyone is invited.  Dogs may come, too, but they must be on a leash at all times.  No flexi/retractable leashes are allowed.  

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