ABOUT AZALEAS

We have a lot of azaleas.  One cannot deny their brilliance at a certain time of the year.  They are stunning when flowering.  They simply take up space when they are not, but that characteristic can be used positively by a gardener.  Lush and green most of the year in the South, they still have leaves in the winter but not an abundance.  They are stick-y looking.  Serious gardeners like less common bushes.

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But part of my raison d’etre is to do things on the cheap.  I have extensive gardens, and propagate to populate them.  Therefore I have azaleas, mostly white ones.  We had a freeze the other day, a late one. Last year our last freeze killed almost all my blooms.  It was the right freeze at the right time.  This year only a few buds froze and only those that were about mid-age for a bud.  Smaller tighter ones survived, and blooms survived.  Buds that were about to open did not.  Below are some babies found under mature plants about six months ago.  I pulled three loquat trees out of this garden and extended the azaleas.  Buds on the back plant survived, but not on the front.

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The bushes above are bursting with buds.  To the left of this image are the babies which are replacing the loquats.

The first time I saw azaleas, home in St. Louis where they did not abound at that time (do they now?), was in a book that my dad had ordered through the mail.  It was a dream book for him.  It showed houses that you could buy, and they would arrive in a railroad car.  Cannot remember if this was around the time that he bought a couple of lake lots in St. Claire, MO, and he was thinking about building there.  This book had a house on the front that was overflowing with candy pink azaleas.  This was LONG before photoshop, but they looked totally fake to me.  That is the thing about azaleas.  Imagine a yellow sided house in the image of an old Florida postcard below.  There was my introduction to this plant.

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But more than that, I thought when seeing that book was that we were moving, and was horrified.  A sophomore in high school, my needs were paramount then.  I certainly did not want to move into a house like that from a railroad car and those nasty fake bushes all around!  It did not happen; Dad didn’t survive long enough to do anything with those lots.

Thinking often about what he would think about my ten acres,  I enjoy them for myself, but also for him.  I create compositions and breed plants and generally make something from nothing.

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Oh, and these are not azaleas.  They are loropetalum.  And not photoshopped.

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NEW RESIDENTS

We made blue bird houses for some people for Christmas.  And three for ourselves.  In our old example, the squirrels had with great talent and energy enlarged the entrance hole to suit themselves.  Blue birds are picky, they like a tight fit.

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Maybe three months ago, we started seeing the scouts.  They traveled in a beautiful herd, all those males.  Their coloring is so dramatic.  You cannot beat complementary colors used together. The rusty red orange enhances the blue and vice versa. The group enjoyed our satellite dish filled with water, which is close to one of the houses.  They drank, they washed, en masse.  We had a new cake of  meal worm hanging with a little tin roof over it to save it from rain.  They hung around for maybe one day and then were off.  We hoped they liked what they saw.

The three blue bird houses are in good sites, the one out the back deck is perfect.  They want to be on the edge of the woods, with the hole opening towards a clearing, and with other trees for flying lessons in range.  They need a water source, and of course their preferred food.

It seemed to me that the interval between the scouts looking around and an actual couple moving in was huge.  Not until now, the end of March, today, did we see a pair off the bedroom.  This morning they were sitting on the house, but we saw no entrance into it.  Perhaps they were in negotiation with some unknown force.

blue bird pair

It is not fair that we love them so much because of their beauty.  Like our cardinal pair,  Stanley and Mama. The cardinals are such amazing colors, even Mama, that it is easy to create a relationship.  One can easily see them in contrast with all the green, and note their movement.  Their brilliant color is how we know where they live, in the line of elaeagnus at the edge of the front woods.  Their morning movements to the feeder are easily seen from our outward facing bed.

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Giving others a chance however, it is difficult to pick a favorite.

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We have many Carolina wrens in our acreage.  The detail is outstanding on this bird.  His markings are like my late cat, Mouse.  Birds always remind me of cats.

FIRST CAME THE ICE STORM

And what year was that?  2004? 2005?  That was a difficult winter.

The ice storm continued for two nights, and my adolescent live oak tree about folded itself in half.  Living alone here then,  the damage was overwhelming.  I hauled and burned for weeks and FEMA picked up damage for months.  After they left, the county still picked up damage we all managed to haul to the road.

It was not until I figured out how to use some of the damage creatively that the work became easier to do.  In the pictures above, you can see that the gardens are circled by big oak branches.  I started doing that during the clean up.  And every year, I add more as the older wood disintegrates.   These pictures show just part of the gardens here.

The ice storm, or “Nature’s pruning” as some optimistic people call it, did a number on our woods.  Where the crowns of the trees had created a round and loopy line as they reached the sky, after the storm, it looked like Death Valley in an alternate universe.  There was no crown to speak of on any trees, and the tallest pines looked like Dr. Seuss designed them.  They had lost all their limbs save the very top ones, and those tops were round and poofy.

One thing this huge pruning did for our woods is that sun got into places it had not for a while.  It was maybe two years later that I noticed huge white flowers at the top of what I had thought to be bay trees.  Were they really magnolias?  This brings me around to my current topic, my new garden around the new bedroom addition.  Almost done with it now, and spending no money other than the 20 bucks spent on a pretty large Japanese maple,  I transplanted two magnolias from the woods to the new space yesterday.

Well I am confused between bay trees and magnolia trees.  Doing a little research, the names of these trees jump around in both varieties with a spectrum of hyphenated choices.  Google “magnolia” and you get a number of different names: swamp magnolia, swamp laurel, laurel magnolia, white bay, bay magnolia, sweetbay magnolia, loblolly- bay, holly-bay; it goes on and on.  It seems that both bay and magnolia have creamy white flowers.  Is anybody clear about these trees and their flowers?  Somebody is, but there is a lot of contradictory information on the net.

I also saw opposing opinions about whether deer like bay trees or magnolia trees.  It seems deer will eat the tender flowers of either, if hungry enough. Thinking that maybe I could deduce what we have here with the fact that deer do not eat what i know for sure to be a Little Gem Magnolia, this seems to be a specious task as well.

Above is one of my Little Gem Magnolias in a huge pot, during the ice storm and sometime after.  The tree is the perfect height for deer to eat it, but they do not.  Some entries on the web talk about deer not eating the trees, but rubbing up against them, which can do its own type of damage.  I see none of that here.

Back to the new garden.  Below, on the left with a shimmer,  is the first bay/magnolia transplanted yesterday.

And here is the second.

As one website advised, magnolias with their shallow root system like water that leaches from fallen leaves of their own.  So I raked up the fallen environment in the little magnolia (?) woods across the driveway, and imported them here.

CREATING LANDSCAPE AROUND THE NEW OUTDOOR SHOWER

AND SUBTITLED:  SOLVING OLD PLACEMENT PROBLEMS

Glenn takes a rest with our mouse after struggling with transplanting three huge Burning Bushes that have not burned for years.  They were in another garden where an oak is taking over and they were not getting enough sun.  Here the amount of sun should be enough to get good red leaves going in the fall, and also to camouflage our new outdoor shower.  Closer to the brick pathway are Loropetalum, very small, rescued from under bigger examples of the same bushes.  They spent the summer in pots and are now big enough to be transplanted.  Love doing things this way.

The Loropetalum are in a little crescent behind the cement planter that has Creeping Betty in it  among other things.

Other rescued plants are three Azaleas, two planted in the small space between the shower pathway and stairs, and the third to the left of the cement planter furthest away.

The removal of the three burning bushes has left a huge empty space in the garden in front of the studio.

Above is the area where the spindly and not red Burning Bushes were growing.  They overwhelmed the little path, and now it can be seen better, although more cleaning up needs to be done.  Ajuga is exploding here, and trying to grow over my mosaic tiled path stones.  After cleaning that up, I will find some shade loving things to replant.

Thinking about replacement, I found this good candidate.  Deer are my enemy and deer don’t like this.  Shade is needed and here we have it in abundance.  And this color is great.

  Aralia Sun King.

I HAVE BEEN POSTING, JUST ELSEWHERE

Last time any serious stitching was done around here, “Woman-Flower” was one of the results.  Hearing what you are thinking, yes, the relationship to Picasso’s famous portrait of Francoise Gilot cannot be denied. This series of works started out without a plan, and the need to be more spontaneous than my normal mode of stitching.  The work, mostly because of its orientation, started to remind me of that painting, so I encouraged it.

Another from that series which is mostly about eggs and fertilization and such is below:

A collector from “off’ as we say in the South, requested images of work that is for sale.  You, dear reader, know that I am playing outside as a construction worker these days, but he did not.  The older I get, the more outside I stay:  ass-backwards, eh?

So on a new blog called ” Lee Malerich New Work” there is a post called “embroideries” and five additional  from “Post Two” to “Post Six”.  There are full images and details of work still in the studio.  It feels great to have a tool to which people
can be referred.  Of course, the name is a misnomer because there is no new work on this blog!  It is all old work.  Still trying to learn to photograph well the new work which in addition to being made of tile, dishes and found objects, it is getting sculptural, and involves that whole “depth of field” thing.

So the address is leemalerichnewwork.wordpress.com.  Thanks for looking!

RECENT WORK GLENN SABOROSCH

This steel welded branch-like mantlepiece holds four ancient pots. 7/12

“Cleavage”  6/12  Welded steel and wood.

BLAME IT ON ARLO

For years, and it may be true even to this day but I cannot say for sure, Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger, with friends and family have performed the Friday after Thanksgiving at Carnegie Hall.  We discovered this one year when in NYC for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Trolling around for something to do, we got two singles way up in space the day of the performance.  The kids were left to responsibly take care of themselves at the Marriott Marquis, and they loved the independence.


This image is from 1995, and it very well might be the year that we were there.  My husband left early; he could not stand the heat in the “ceiling” where we were seated.  I was in a world all of my own.  Being in New York, alone for a while, and listening to the music and ideas of the sixties was almost too much for me.  I was overwhelmed by my youth, and wondered how some of us had moved so far away from where we were then.  It was a night to remember.

Often, I take a personal oath that we will be there again this (or that) Thanksgiving, wanting to share this experience with everybody.  Somehow it just has not happened again.  No one to blame but myself.

So last weekend Arlo was on Prairie Home Companion.  I was in the pool, cooling off and listening.  When Arlo plays  “City of New Orleans”, all that old blood from what?  1969? 1970? starts rushing through my veins.  I feel like I can whip the world.  I get ideas.  I get stimulated.

So what do I do with all that creative energy?  Start laying tile.  I know, this is a really crazy response.  “Laying tile” is probably not the correct way to state it.  My response to important stimulus is to make art.  Right now, for me making art is about laying tile.

Above are the two sides to the entrance to the pool area, one before Arlo started singing last Saturday night, and one after.  Now this is a pretty good response to “art”.  Create.  But look at the size of this job!  All the tile work you see on the wall was finished last year, and it took many years to complete.  Basically, what is now being done is the deck around the pool.

What I am doing is taking the composition from the wall, which incorporates lots of different ideas as I essentially used the wall around the pool as a sketchbook.  Now, to unify the whole thing, I am repeating the basic elements in the wall on the deck but using the complementary colors.  Look at what a dead horrible space that cement was when viewed next to the wall.  Everything looks much better without that space, even with only  these first patches of  tile work.

This morning, while taking pictures for this post, my husband said “Now don’t you wish you were forty?” referring to the amount of work that I have gotten myself into.  Yeah.  How many reasons can I come up with to wish I were forty again?

TILE PIMP

You already know that Zoe finds great junk on the street.  Sometimes she can walk the stuff home, but often she has to drive back to the discovery site with the car.  One of the labors of love we did last weekend was load up my car with fine architectural tile, all in warm neutrals with different textures, about seven boxes in all.  I am already composing for our new bathroom,which is just being built.

Whether in construction or in the making of art, new materials are my influence to create.  The universe presents me with stuff, and it is my challenge to get them to work together to state a theme visually or intellectually.  This is why I get up in the morning.

At the end of this construction will be the new master bathroom, and beyond that a deck, projecting into the woods.  On that back wall will be a collection of different kinds of mismatched windows, from 14 inches off the ground to the ceiling.  All free, of course.

About ten years ago, Zoe told me that she needed a cement seat for two pedestals that she already had.  A year later, we had it.  I found an old septic tank cover in the yard of some rentals we bought at one time.  It was perfect, but two women couldn’t lift it.   We got a wretch out of bed to lift it for us and Zoe gave him twenty dollars.  He was thrilled!

Above is the septic tank cover disguising itself as a fine bench! Below is a brass deer head that Zoe and her husband found in France.  They had it shipped back here to use in the garden, and it is very heavy.  Right now, instead of hanging on the side of the little screened in building, it is leaning and waiting for installation.  It will take some work to deal with this weight.

I told you Zoe and I had similar tastes, but mine tends toward cheaper materials, and a less elegant selection.  Below is MY deer example, boasting a dress from Bonwit Teller.

So Zoe emailed this morning, and has found some more tile.  She will pick it up when she goes out again to the gym.

A PAIR OF FINE CHAIRS

My friend Zoe has been my garden guru for years.  She happens to live in a funky little neighborhood in Atlanta, where it seems that many clever people live.  Or, they have clever gardeners.  I am filled to the brim whenever we work in her gardens, almost unable to wait to get home and implement ideas that flood in just by being in that neighborhood.

We have a similar aesthetic, but Zoe goes for the fine old sometimes British things, and I, wallowing among the working poor, have to covet newer things, but cool.  We both like rust.

This pair of chairs is near the back of her fine garden, near the alley.  If I had these chairs, they would be inside, used as side chairs.  This is the difference between Zoe and me.  Her side chairs, recently acquired, are from the French countryside and are leather.  They tour old barns in France!

I am pretty sure that she picked these up off the street.  Much of her early morning time is taken up with exercising and street cruising for good junk at the same time.  She finds the most wonderful stuff.  It is truly amazing what some people choose to throw away, but no complaints here!  If it weren’t for the bad decisions of other people, this hacienda would be bare.

The swinging movements in these chairs are intact and moving well, made more amazing by the fact they are always in the weather.  The series of lines that make up the seat are body-loving and feel great.

Opposite the chairs, and still back by the alley is a sturdy little structure that is the potting shed. Made years ago by Zoe and her husband, it houses tools and pots and the roof is open.  The plan for this year is to put some kind of opaque plastic roofing material on the existing structure to close it in a bit.  It now has an inside door for its outside, and it is weary of the misuse.  That will be replaced, although still attractive in its disintegration.

It is amazing what one can incorporate in a small city backyard.  The potting shed is not the only roofed structure in this one.  The second one is near the house, separated from the house proper by brick pavement, hand set.  Below is a picture from the kitchen, looking out to the screened structure to gauge the distance.

You can see a bit of the screened building over the hydrangeas and the purple bottle collection.  It has a tin roof, and houses a table for outdoor eating.  Right now, it has cat bones in it waiting for reconstruction.

Above is the back of the  screened building from the garden.  It has a weathered tin roof, and the climber on the screens turns red in the fall.  Japanese climbing fern is on the arch in the foreground.

Wait!  I just thought about a great idea for my garden here…

A FINE GLIDER EXAMPLE

It had to happen.   Sooner or later I would run out of my own gliders to write about.   Problem solved:  and all you have to do is ask!  This “immediate” world we live in now makes me dizzy.  My friend, Jeffrey Day sent pictures of  a fine glider that he has on an inside porch.  Good move on the inside porch part, Jeffrey!

Being the GLIDER LADY, there are some examples here that are similar to Jeffrey’s.  It is obvious that he goes for quality, while I go for quantity, not being able to afford quality (can quantity ever trump quality?? Something to think about.).   In his example, we can see what a huge difference having the original pillows makes.  The tawdry but similar one is mine, with pillows acquired at a later time.   It has no pillows for the arms that rotate down to make a longer sleeping space; a definite negative.  Jeffery’s armature and pillows combine to make a sensible and elegant statement. I bought my example some years ago for almost nothing, hoping to furnish it later.  The aluminum scroll work attracted me.

These fine sleep extension pillows have an “engineered” space to fit within on Jeffrey’s example.  It seems to be a right-angled bent support that the pillow lays within,  My example simply has a  tube outlining the support space, with a couple of linear reinforcements within that area.   Many old gliders have an armature in the back that can be rotated down to make a small bed,  stretching the width instead of the length.

In the example above, you unhook the stay from the back of the glider, rotate down the movable legs, and you have an almost twin bed width, but a short length.  Think, kids on the back porch at the beach in the summer.

Above is a second glider that works this way in making a bed.

Both of these last two examples have easy flowing, but metal armrests; visually appealing but not for stretching out upon.

There is so much more to talk about in these examples:  time period, pattern, the design of the front facade, the shabby aesthetic vs. repainting, and the luck and merit of having an old example, well taken care of in pristine shape.  Now that is a real find.