August 26, 2014

A Country Garden at the End of August

I had a chance to see Jonathan’s garden over the weekend after a day of light but steady rain. I was there a little the “golden hour”, that time an hour or so before the sun sets, when the light is clear and golden, but it was stunning nevertheless. It’s fun to look back at the garden over the past few months and see how much it has flourished. June. July. It is set up for the washed out dinner party. IMG_2740

One of the things I like most about this garden is all of the “rooms” with something at the end of the vista that draws your eye. This old iron bench is the perfect example, and it’s just one of a number scattered through the gardens.IMG_2743

The cutting garden, which is anchored by an iron armillary, is a riot of colours, shapes and scents. IMG_2754IMG_2752

There are plants as varied as globe amaranth, dahlias, zinnias, cockscomb, and even some lowly marigolds. IMG_2748IMG_2750IMG_2761IMG_2763IMG_2765IMG_2766IMG_2777

The garden then opens up into one of several more rooms, this one with white cast iron benches around the perimeter, just waiting for a game of combat croquet on the beautiful and flat lawn. Funnily enough, before this garden was built, I remember a cut-throat game of softball between the staffs at the Baltimore Museum of Art, where I worked, and the Maryland Historical Society where my friend worked. IMG_2779

Looking at one of the center urns, you see another variety of plants, including this wavy datura, or the poisonous jimsonweed. IMG_2780It’s only when you look closely at the plant that you see the incredible seed pods. IMG_2783

The plants in the urn have really flourished, and the sweet-potato vine is spilling over the edges and the coleus around the base carries on the green and deep purple theme. IMG_2785

Moving through the arches of hyacynth beans,IMG_2801IMG_2803 IMG_2823

you come to the big cutting and vegetable garden and it is a RIOT of colour!IMG_2845IMG_2805IMG_2843IMG_2849IMG_2841IMG_2833

The tomatoes at the top, and pumpkins at the bottom, are both going crazy, IMG_2815

the espaliered apples are looking like they will provide a good crop, IMG_2837

and somehow, even the figs managed to survive the winter and fruit (which we ate with prosciutto around them).IMG_2797

As we headed back towards the house, we stopped to look at the spent clematis, IMG_2859

and gather the dogs. IMG_2867

By this time, it really was the golden hour and I managed to get a couple of shots of the lawn set up for the washed out dinner. IMG_2871IMG_2873IMG_2877

After dinner, as I was leaving, I remarked that I could smell gardenias blooming, and Jonathan gave me one, which put mine to shame! This had to be at least four inches across! Mine might be two inches.IMG_2881

Thanks to Jonathan for a tour of the garden and for a great Sunday supper of Saturday’s leftovers… and some other dishes!

August 24, 2014

The Portrait, The Limes, and Some Other Things

Months and months ago, we’d planned a small dinner party for our friends Reggie Darling and Boy Fenwick, who were going to be in Baltimore for the Summer Antiques Show. A casual picnic was planned, with tables on our friends’ beautiful green lawn. However, plans don’t always go as intended, as Reggie and Boy were unable to travel to Baltimore, and for the first weekend of the summer, it rained heavily on Saturday.IMG_2714 Nevertheless, we carried on, first with a tour of the gardens (photos coming on Wednesday) and then an amazing dinner of traditional Maryland foods, including Maryland fried chicken, two types of crabcakes, Southern fried corn, Capresi salad, and peach cobbler. To drink, we had the usual summer Southsides!IMG_2717

After dinner, surrounded by good and dear friends, including fellow blogger, Loi Thai of Tone on Tone, Stiles, the host of the party, made the most beautiful speech about friends, which had me and everyone else in tears. At the end, he presented me with the painting that we had done of Connor earlier this summer. The painting is called My Favorite Blanket after the old patchwork quilt that Connor sits on in the back seat of my car. IMG_2733

To say that I will treasure this painting always, is an understatement. It will always remind me of dear Connor and of the wonderful people whom I am lucky enough to call friends. I have hung it on the wall by my staircase, so I can see it when I come in the front door. IMG_2729

Sam Robinson, a friend and the artist, did a terrific job of capturing Connor’s spirit and the light in his eyes, as well as the shading on his fur, from the white face to the pale orange on his back. We are planning an exhibition of Sam’s canine portraits, including Connor’s picture, at Halcyon House Antiques in the fall. Stay tuned. And if you’re interested, Sam is accepting commissions.

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Earlier this week, friends had given me some produce and I asked you what I should do with limes, mangoes, garlic and more. Someone suggested a lime and mango chutney and that’s what I made. The good thing about chutneys and relishes is that you can be free-wheeling with some of the ingredients. I found a recipe here but made some substitutions. I used molasses instead of honey and cutting the amount of hot pepper to about a half a jalapeƱo. I also cheated and used pre-made pickling spices because it was mainly the same spices as the recipe called for and I wouldn’t have to buy individual jars of the different spices. I put them in in a tea-ball since I didn’t want whole all-spice or chips of cinnamon stick in the chutney. I also threw in a handful of golden raisins. 

One of the steps is to chop a whole lime and add it, peel and all, to the mixture. I did that, but ended fishing out the slices of lime at the end of the cooking process. The chutney had just the right amount of heat, and was sweet and sour at the same time. It will be a great addition to chicken salad, or on pork. I used my Weck jars and it made three 12 oz. jars. One for me, one for my dinner hosts and one for the friend who gave me the produce!

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Here’s a small preview of the garden pictures that I will post on Wednesday,IMG_2789 and a reminder of what the gardens looked like in early June here, and mid-July, here.

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In the coming weeks, I will be telling you about all of the exciting things happening in Baltimore in conjunction with the 200th anniversary of the writing of the Star-Spangled Banner, our National Anthem. imageIt’s going to be the biggest celebration Baltimore has ever hosted and we’re not likely to see anything like it again in our lifetimes. I remember being on the Friends of Fort McHenry board 15+ years ago, and starting on the planning work for this huge celebration, and now, it’s just weeks away.

August 22, 2014

Baltimore Summer Antiques Show

For the next few days, the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show is taking place, and I had a chance to visit the show today, courtesy of my charming friends at Spare Room Antiques. The show is huge with almost 600 dealers participating. One of the fun things about this show is the full schedule of booth talks, ranging from how to tell good china from bad, and building an affordable collection. Here.

I thought I’d share some of the pieces that caught my eye, starting with the amazing flowers in massive urns that were scattered around the show floor. Each arrangement was at least five feet tall!
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One thing that struck us was the number of Flora Danica pieces that we saw. I am not sure whether you can decipher the price, but for a set of 60 pieces, the price is a cool $49,500, down from the original $104,000.IMG_2560

If you’re going to have that china, then clearly you need this silver chest to hold your silver.IMG_2586

It’s service for 24, IMG_2590with more than 800 pieces. The price is $295,000!IMG_2588

I’d have been perfectly content with this little set of mother-of-pearl handled knives and forks. Actually, it’s not unlike some that I already have.IMG_2574

If you’re dining on china like the Flora Danica and using the Reed & Barton silver, then you might think about wearing this set of jewelry. IMG_2554

Or maybe this blingy thingy. IMG_2621

One of the fun pieces we saw several times was an vintage silver plate meat platter dome, cut in half and repurposed as wall sconces. IMG_2609

I love trinket boxes and these are several that appealed to me.
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When I was mugged in April, I lost my beautiful Goyard bag, but I am sure that if I’d been carrying this one, the mugger wouldn’t have bothered to grab it.IMG_2636

I am always a fan of prints and ephemera, and this show had no shortage of that.
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One of my favourite pieces, which is hard to see, is this old metal dish rack from France. It was about three feet tall and had a row of hooks across the top for hanging teacups or mugs. Such a simple design, but such fun.IMG_2659

I am sure you’re wondering what I got at the show. Funnily, I went to a jumble sale at the Greek church next to my office right before I headed to the Antiques Show, and got some fun things there. IMG_2679But nothing I HAD to have at the Antiques show.

For more information about the Baltimore Summer Antiques Show, please click here.