Monday, November 16, 2009


The pomegranates have arrived!
Where could anybody find a most sensual fruit? Well, there's always guavas and mangoes, but in this latitude, finding these luscious flavor bombs in the market is always a red banner day. The Spanish word for this beautiful fruit is GRANADA, and that is also the word for hand grenade. I can see it so clearly... an explosion of flavor inside your mouth. Close your eyes, fill the passion running on your tongue. You are eating rubies. Enjoy them while they last, which is not a long time. For those who have asked me how to eat a pomegranate: Slice off the top with a knife, break the fruit with your fingers. Remove the seeds. Put a handful of seeds in your mouth and press with your tongue onto your palate. I recommend you don't wear white clothes while you do this. The juice will run and spot everything. Maybe eating them naked would be more appropriate. Throw a fistful of seeds into the mouth of your naked eating partner... Uhm... I have the feeling this could turn pornographic if I go on... And remember... not only is it sexy to eat a pomegranate, it's also chuck full of antioxidants. A new friend advised me that squeezing the juice of a pip into the eyes will cure conjunctivitis (pink eye). I can think of more ways to eat this juicy, sweet, full-flavored gem, but I've had enough titillation for one day. Have a satisfying experience!

Friday, November 13, 2009


A flurry of activity inside and outside Furball Cottage. I'm flying to get ready and leave for a court assignment. The birds outside are chattering and flying about sending distress signals. Must explore the situation. The judge can wait. Right there, by the window, perched on a branch of the old cherry tree, a hawk! No time for binoculars or identification guide, just rush for the camera and try to get as good as shot as possible. Of course he turned his head at the last moment and, sensing the clicks, only allowed two exposures. His claws, however, tell the whole story. Bright yellow in the early autumnlight, those prehensile toes and hooked black nails, perfect for the purposes of capturing prey and ripping it apart. What a magnificent creature. The birds may not like you, Mr. Hawk, but you're always welcome in my garden, especially if you go after the squirrels, moles and chipmunks. Oh, and by the way, I made it in time for court, although I had already rehearsed my apology: "Your Honor, unavoidably detained by raptor".

Saturday, October 24, 2009


Bud of Viburnum 'Eskimo' / Snowball tree
They are gone forever, or so you'd think if you didn't know better. In reality they're just hiding and will explode again next spring in all their glorious force and blow off our eyeballs and minds with their tremendous beauty. Here they are, lurking and waiting to surprise us in just a few months.
For now, we wait, and huddle around the fire and count our blessings as one season leaves and another approaches.
We are alive. We have made it through another summer, another year, and so have they. O that we may be just as resilient and assured of what is to come as they are!
Buds of Cornus florida / Dogwood

Buds of Hydrangea quercifolia / Oak leaf hydrangea

Friday, October 23, 2009


Josephine Bonaparte was born and raised in the Caribbean. She had a penchant for roses and gardens and clothes. Those are pretty much our only similarities. She married a short man; I married a tall one. She was an Empress. I rule my own kingdom in half an acre. This faded oak-leaf hydrangea reminded me of Josephine. Malmaison, her house outside Paris, is now a museum that shows many of her personal belongings. Besides being a flirt, she was a tender and good-hearted woman and I'm convinced she would have loved these subdued tones. She faded rapidly after her divorce and died pining for her "Petit General". This blossom would have made a perfect offering at her grave.


Yes, it is richer and warmer and more complex than any other light at any other time of the year. It envelopes and caresses like a lover's last passionate embrace before a long voyage. If you keep your eyes wide open, you will see what's coming right behind it. But for now, all you want to do is cling to it, cover your skin with its warmth and hope against hope that it will never leave you.


Nandina domestica / Heavenly bamboo. Will grow anywhere, from Tucson to Siberia. Full sun to shade. And those berries...! Think of the flower arrangements! A true winner. As resilient and graceful as the Philadelphia Phillies, who, by the way, are going to the World Series next week! Go Phillies!


Callicarpa dichotoma / Beautyberry. Need I say more? Graceful branches arching down covered in the most astonishing, metallic purple. Not a birds' favorite, so they add color for a little longer in Furball Cottage's Fall garden.


Ilex verticillata/Winterberry. OK, here's the drill: Take a very good look at them now, because if you blink, they'll be gone. It happens every year. The birds adore these berries and they disappear in a matter of hours. I have seen pictures of snowy fields punctuated by brigh red berries on the bushes and ask myself whether there are birds anywhere near. In my garden, flocks of robins feast on them so quickly that I had to shoo them away with a broom in order to take these pictures. It;s a mixed blessing, but just for once, I'd love to see them against a fresh snowfall. Dream on.


Yes, Furball Cottage is surrounded with color! A magic palette has emerged overnight! Wherever I look there's mind-blowing brightness. Autumn in the Northeastern United States never disappoints.


Be dazzled. Bedazzled. Become dazzled. No other sky holds so much promise. The way everything, yes, dazzles under this slanting sun, the clarity wherever you look, the cloudless eternity of that patch of blue. There will be dark days ahead, but this sky will keep its brightness in my mind's eye long after October has given way to the frigid months ahead.


Late summer's special treat. Wake up and say it, Morning Glory/Evening Grace. Ipomoeas exist all over the world, I have seen them blooming in ancient crags in Crete and Dubrovnik, on empty beaches in Samaná and Maine, under lamp posts in Philadelphia and Cairo, usually a washed-out purple color. But this beauty, this glorious blue of the morning sky that fills my eyes with Heaven and my soul with gratefulness, climbs and clambers and roams until it reaches my window and peeks in. Could anybody want a better way of waking up?


All of a sudden the light changes, there's a different feel in the air. Not chilly yet, but the warmth seems to be saying goodbye. The slant of sunshine that enters my window in the morning is brighter and lower. There's a sense of anticipation. Not one leaf has turned color and yet I know that soon there will be a riot of color all around me. The desire for summer's bounty recedes. That delicious watermelon does not appeal; there's no interest in cherries or peaches. My tastebuds yearn for the honeyed mellowness of a fig... the crisp grit of a pear. Autumn is in my heart before it manifests itself in the world.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


This has to be the toughest of all floribundas when it actually survives in my garden in New Jersey withouth coddling, extra watering, or chemicals. Lovely fragrance. Bunches of 7 or more buds per branch start blushing pink and open to perfect white. Can take any kind of abuse and looks great in simple summer arrangements.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


Lysimachia clethroides - gooseneck loosestrife - swimming across the flower border, who knows how far it will go by next spring!



Wednesday, August 5, 2009


It is a color not found in nature and that's why it shows so beautifully in the garden.
More to come.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tuesday, July 28, 2009


One of the signs of a healthy garden.


Female ruby-throated hummingbird feeding on monarda dydima



You tell me, do they really need arranging?

Monday, July 20, 2009


Butterfly and hummingbird delight. Monarda dydima,
aka bergamot is in the mint family (square stems), grows with abandon, loves the summer heat and spreads around wherever it pleases. The leaves have a lovely , strong, fragrance and can be dried and used in teas and poptpourri. Another winner at Furball Cottage. The hummigbirds fight each other over these blossoms. Just look at those flower bracts (pseudo petals). They're meant for hummingbirds' tongues!


First come the bees and the butterflies for the nectar and then, when the color is gone and they look ready to be cut down, the goldfinches arrive in flocks and paint the sky with yellow and gold and eat the seeds and make my heart rejoice! I'd say that's what a true all-seasons plant should be all about.


On a very fragrant hosta flower...


Jewelweed is loved by hummingbirds. This is a wild flower that has been growing and thriving in my garden for several years. It's in the impatiens family but it's very tall. I didn't plant it, but I'm glad it found me! Right now the hummers are buzzing all over the garden having a feast on this and the other hummingbird-friendly blooms out there.


A perfect verbena ball of fire!


They eat the cherries and the acorns, they dig all over the place, they're pretty brazen, but they're oh, so cute!


The Treasures you Find when you Dig in the Garden!


So many little dots!


He painted fruit, you know.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


As it has been said before, the two most beautiful words in the English language. SUMMER AFTERNOON. No matter how hectic the schedule or busy the mind, undone tasks put aside without a hint of remorse. Touching the sweet, green grass, lying down on its softness, looking up at the bright blue sky and slowly, oh so very slowly... finding the shapes in the clouds. SUMMER AFTERNOON. A peaceful memory to carry me through whatever the months ahead may bring. SUMMER AFTERNOON. It's worth repeating once again. So go ahead, say it.

Monday, June 22, 2009


If you're like me, you'd prefer digging in the garden to tinkering in the kitchen. The perfect recipe should have five ingredients or less and one of them must be water. So here's an easy dessert that looks beautiful and tastes divine. It's my adaptation of the 'puddings' I have loved at the Henley Royal Regatta. This is a poor people's dessert, so I don't know how it made it to such an exalted location. There are no measurements - follow your heart and enjoy the results.
1 loaf day-old white bread summer berries (blackberries, blueberries,
sugar or Splenda to taste raspberries, strawberries)
1 packet gelatine summer fruit sliced very thin or
chopped very small
Butter the inside of a bowl. Remove the crust off all bread slices and butter one side. Line the bowl with the bread slices. Leave no gaps.
Cook the fruit with the sugar or Splenda until it's all mushy and beautifully colored like rubies on the headdress of a maharani. Add gelatine. One tablespoon of cherry Jell-o will also work. Pour into the bread-lined bowl. Cover with the rest of the bread slices. Push it down with something heavy like a brick. Cover with plastic wrap or a kichen towel. Refrigerate overnight. If you're brave, which I'm not, unmold it into a serving dish. Otherwise, just slice it from the bowl and serve with Devonshire cream (Wegman's) or vanilla ice cream. Bask in the compliments.

Saturday, May 23, 2009


No fragrance, almost impossible to work with in flower arrangements, nevertheless, what jolt of beauty in the garden when almost everything is still bare! My four bushes are named, but right now the varieties escape me. I've just enjoyed their flashing, colorful display, mostly from a window as the days were so cold and drizzly. The bushes were covered in color, the branches hanging from their weight of blooms. It is a cliché, I know, but still, what a sight for sore, wintry eyes.

Friday, May 22, 2009


I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this: whenever I see a magnificent oriental peony [this one is Sangu Kiku] I think of those fantastic Latin American celebrations for girls when they turn fifteen. Yes, I had mine too, and I was tempted to post my pictures here, but really, as time goes on, they become more and more elaborate, expensive, over the top. This peony reminds me not only of my own birthday dance party but of all the skirts and crinolines and ruffles my young aunts wore in the 50's. Christian Dior came up with his 'New Look' after WWII. I wonder if he was inspired by an Oriental peony


Finally the rain has stopped and the gardener must get to work. Backaches will certainly ensue. Deep digging and heavy lifting are not for sissies.
This statue was a surprise gift from Cristina and Freddy de Castro. Freddy thought it  should face not only the garden gate but also the guest room window and so it does.
The truest blessing is cultivating a garden of friends and sharing them with others.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


It's been raining for days. Good for the garden; not for the gardener who cannot go out and dig and pull and say hello to her little friends she hasn't seen since last spring. So what's left is to take pictures from the windows or wait for the rain to stop for a few moments and snap a shot or two. The pink lawn is not covered with flowers. Those are the petals of the cherry tree that the rain brought down. The house looks smothered by the viburnum opulus with its green snowballs and the white dogwood that the birds planted by the window. From the house it feels as if you're inside a cloud. The Buda Cat is a constant companion and the birds are not afraid of him. He is a serene reminder of our beloved Percy the Sweet Babboo whom we lost last September. Rain is good. I'd love to see some rainbows, though, and a few rays of sunshine peeking through these clouds.



About Me

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Moorestown, New Jersey, United States
Let's talk about our gardens. Let's talk about all the flowers and critters that thrive within the confines of our personal paradises. Let's talk about those we love and love us back, although once in a while they scratch us and make us bleed a little. Just to remind us that we are alive. Those roses and cats and people that thrive in our gardens... How important... How important they are...