Not again!

It has been raining almost every day for about a month, and we are sick of it, as you can see from this extremely witty Facebook post.

Even someone like me, who welcomes a rainy day as an excuse to quilt and read, is getting weary.  We had one sunny day last week, and the air was ringing with the sounds of lawn mowers.  I was able to edge the sunny border, fighting with the witch grass all the way, and started to replenish the soil in the newly installed raised bed.  Rainy today, Sunday, and predicted to go on until some time on Tuesday.  And to top it off, we are still in a rain deficit for the year!

On another note, garden bloggers’ Bloom Day has come and gone yet again without a post from me.  Here is a reconstruction, and a list from 2014 (another of those pieces of paper that floats around the kitchen counter until needed).

Early May 2014

  • Cherokee phlox
  • False Solomon’s seal
  • Ghostly bulb in white garden
  • small white allium
  • hellebores
  • mazus reptans
  • bluebells
  • tulips (going by)
  • columbine and wild columbine
  • sweet woodruff
  • Topolino (I think) daffodil in sunny bordertopolino
  • tiarella
  • euphorbia
  • vinca
  • sorrel
  • Star of Bethlehem
  • dandelions
  • Viburnum ‘Shasta’ and neighbor’s pink dogwood
  • bleeding hearts (white and red)
  • white azalea
  • garlic mustard
  • geranium macrorrhizum ‘Ingwersen’s variety’
  • bugleweed
  • lily of the valley
  • pink azalea
  • coral bells
  • Sun Dial narcissus
  • pansies

This year is much the same, except that mid-May this year found nary a trace of the mazus and wild columbine, both lamented.  I think the hellebores might have crowded out the columbine.  The Topolino daffodil again was the last to bloom and is most welcome.

‘Sarah Bernhardt’ is in bloom, as gorgeous and over the top as ever.

2016 peony

Equally magnificent in a very different way is the Jack in the pulpit that either Becky or Judy passed along to me.  It seems to be very happy in this cool, wet spring. Jack in the pulpit

Thanks to advice from Adrian Higgins, I sowed my Shirley poppy seeds in February and hoped for the best.  They were just lying around, so why not give it a go? Lo and behold, it worked!  poppy

This gorgeous red is a good contrast with the blue columbines that have taken over the garden (their days are numbered if it ever dries out a bit).

What else we saw in Kansas City

After our restorative lunch and an even more restorative nap, we set out for the World War I museum, partly because it was highly rated in Trip Advisor and partly because it was in the general direction of our dinner reservation.  It was well worth the trip despite these weak reasons for visiting.IMG_20160421_165412

It’s set on a hill with great views over the city, but the museum itself is mostly underground.  You could spend hours here, but we only had one.  Nevertheless, we saw  incredible recreations of battles, followed the timeline of the gaining, losing, gaining and losing of the same ground over and over, saw a recreation of a trench, watched videos and generally came away in awe both of the horrors of this war and the skill of the museum staff in presenting complex information in an engaging and illuminating way.  If your travels take you to Kansas City, go here!

We wandered around the art district at the tag end of a gloomy day and didn’t see much except for the remnants of the industrial side of KC.  Here’s a glimpse of the back of Union Station and some double-stacked freight cars.  IMG_20160421_192613We proceeded from here to our amazingly delicious dinner at Lidia’sbbhg_lidias_pittsburgh_9122_-_copyI did not realize until this very minute that the restaurant is run by that Lidia, Ms. Bastianich of PBS cooking show fame.  No wonder it was so good!  The best Caesar salad I have ever had, followed by our old friend cinghiale, this time in ravioli.  A perfect end to the day and to our Kansas City adventure.

 

Why we went to Kansas City

Johannes_Vermeer_-_The_Astronomer_-_WGA24685Since Alison plans to see every Vermeer in the world, she paid attention when an exhibit with two Vermeers was announced for Boston and Kansas City.  Though one was from the National Gallery, which we have seen repeatedly, the other, The Astronomer, was from the Louvre.  Maybe we saw it on our visit, but since neither of us has a clear memory of it, it doesn’t count.  Boston in the winter?  Nah, on to Kansas City in the spring!

After our visit to a famous quilt shop, we settled in to our hotel in Country Club Plaza, walking distance from the Nelson-Atkins Museum.  Too weary to drive to Gates Barbecue, we went at the suggestion of the hotel guy to this placeIMG_20160420_203450

where we had more meat than was good for us.  Yum, the burnt ends!  Alison was happy even before dinner began:IMG_20160420_192952

The next morning we took a walk around the Plaza, which is more interesting than it sounds.  Built in the 1920s in a style that borrows heavily from Spain and Italy, it’s filled with upscale national chain stores but also has some interesting architectural details.DSC06905DSC06911

Had we met this guy in Florence?  Yes, we had.

More Spanish influence:

The weather was raw and damp, and soon enough it was raining.  We scurried down the street to the imposing art museum.

KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA

sculptures by Claes Oldenburg

We walked up the steps to this classic old-style temple of art, though the shuttlecocks give you a hint that there’s something else going on here.  In the imposing atrium was the exhibit banner, and the art-lover whose expression hints at what was to come…DSC06922

The exhibit was in the modern addition, a huge space that is seamlessly attached to the side and back of the old building.  We walked and walked and walked, and finally got to the exhibit itself.  Since no photos were allowed, I can only say that it was a fascinating exploration of class through 17th century Dutch art from museums around the world.  You can read more about the original show in Boston and peek at a few pictures here.

But as we came to the end, the Vermeer-lover looked around in confusion.  Where was The Astronomer??  No one could tell us, so we went up to the information desk and asked there.  Much to-ing and fro-ing, although both guides swore that there had only ever been one Vermeer in the exhibit.  In the end, we determined that between Boston and Kansas City, four paintings had been removed from the collection.  Insurance reasons?  Other bookings? Who knows.  Alison vows to contact the curator and determine what happened, but what can you do?

To make us feel better the guide encouraged us to view one of their jewels, the Caravaggio St. John the Baptist.  This will get us ready for Rome and Malta!  Isn’t he dreamy?Caravaggio_Baptist_Nelson-Atkins_Museum_of_Art,_Kansas_City

We enjoyed their Renaissance collection and their lovely cloister, and then had a ladies’ lunch in the stunning atrium cafe.  IMG_20160421_123702

I can only imagine the generations of Kansas City children who have been taken to the museum and then on to a special lunch or bite of cake here.

And now for something completely different, this stunning piece that looked like a quilt but wasn’t.  Created by Ghanaian artist El Anatsui, it’s made from bottletops.DSC06923

See more here.  Quilt designs are everywhere, you just have to look.

The Disneyland of Quilts!!

The main purpose of our jaunt to Kansas City was to see the Dutch art exhibit at the Nelson-Atkins Museum.  But a quick look at the map showed that the Missouri Star Quilt Company was just an hour away.  You can’t pass up the opportunity to see this amazing quilt store complex, can you??

We picked up our car at the gloomy old airport and were surprised to find that they had given us a bright yellow Mustang.

IMG_20160420_104631

Of course, all we wanted to do was to ride around (Sally), so it was good to have an hour-long trip ahead of us.  We took an almost deserted highway to a two-lane road that wound up and down rolling hills, some of them rather steep, with rich black soil in the newly plowed farm fields on either side.  Another highway, another two-lane road, and we were in Hamilton, Missouri.IMG_20160420_132414

It’s a typical small town (pop. 1800), with incredibly wide streets (presumably so you could turn a horse and carriage around), head-in parking, and not a whole lot going on.  But Jenny Doan and her family have created eleven quilt shops here, and their empire has become the biggest employer in town.

We had lunch at the Blue Sage restaurant: a huge side salad of romaine, blue cheese and bacon for me, tomato soup for Alison, and a delicious shared lamb burger with fantastic home-made potato chips.  Thus fortified, we started next door at the Florals shop.  Brightly lit, nicely laid out, and an enticing beginning to two hours of browsing, yearning and actual shopping.

Here’s a peek at what we saw.

The Modern shop had fabrics from Cotton + Steel, my fave Marsha Derse, and, as you can see, lots more.  Fabrics are arranged by manufacturer or designer.

IMG_20160420_140611

Each shop is beautifully staged, with the Modern shop featuring this mid-century modern tableau.IMG_20160420_143643

The solids shop had colorful display windows and a rainbow of mostly solids inside.  This is where I found the Pepper Cory shot cottons from Studio E that I had not been able to find anywhere!  Now I know – everything in the store is also available online.

Quilts and inspiration on the wall.IMG_20160420_143623IMG_20160420_143224IMG_20160420_143154

Non-quilters are not forgotten.  While many quilt shops have a couple of chairs for non-quilting friends (face it, usually husbands), this one features an entire “Man’s Land.” Leather recliners, two big-screen TVs, and bookshelves featuring sports-related books and equipment.  Two guys were there, one reading a copy of Guns & Ammo, the other snoring mightily, and both covered in quilts.  Alison retired here with a good book.IMG_20160420_140423

I didn’t break the bank, but I did come away with some project-related fabric, some hard-to-find IBC pins (recommended by Judith Baker Montano), and some random beautiful stuff: blues for my Sarah Fielke BOM, William Morris and neutrals for the hexie quilt, binding for the baby quilt, the shot cottons, and the Potting Shed Daily Deal which I just could not pass up!   46% off!!IMG_20160423_103742

On the way out, we stopped for a few more photos of the main drag.

We tootled back the way we came, stopping only for a picture of this clever Trump sign.  Hate the sentiment, love the inventiveness!IMG_20160420_162850

Justifying its existence

The akebia vine just sits there most of the year, putting out tendrils that want to conquer new territory but never quite getting there.  By February it is looking ratty, and then the transformation happens.  New leaves appear, it looks happy and healthy and, best of all, the tiny flowers bloom and release a heavenly scent.DSC06850

Today, the bees were enraptured, in particular this hovering variety.  Look at the middle of the frame…

I wish you could turn on your Smell-o-vision and experience it the way the bees and I do.  The birds like it, too, and I think the wrens may nest there.  Whether they appreciate the scent as much as I do is an open question.

Spring Ephemerals

DSC06832

Searching for spring ephemerals the day before St. Patrick’s Day was a great idea, but in reality the weather was hot and humid in this weird spring.  Nevertheless, we did spot a few joys, thanks to Ann’s sharp eyes.

Are these oyster mushrooms?

DSC06841

Bluebells just emerging, and leaves of trout lilies promise flowers later.

DSC06836

I think this is some kind of spurge (euphorbia), of which there are about a zillion varieties.

DSC06835

A true ephemeral, claytonia virginica, aka spring beauty.  You can just make out the helpful lines on the petals so that pollinators can find what they’re looking for.

DSC06837

I kept calling this witch hazel, but I think it is actually spicebush.

Ann knew what this was, though it’s hard to make out in this picture.  Shadbush is also called shadwood or shadblow, serviceberry or sarvisberry, or just sarvis, wild pear, juneberry, saskatoon, sugarplum or wild-plum, and chuckley pear, according to Wikipedia.

DSC06839

No walk is complete without wildlife.  We admired this shiny fellow along the path.

DSC06842Oh, and the turtles sunning themselves (top) are probably Eastern River Cooters, according to this site.  Unless they are Eastern Painted Turtles…

Bloom Day March 2016

A drizzly morning is good for the garden and good for garden photos.  In bloom today, after a very warm week last week and just a bit of welcome rain this week, are:

grape hyacinths – modest little bulbs but I want to add more for a sea of blue.  I like the contrast with the red blossoms from the maple.IMG_20160315_093458

hellebore – one of the most satisfying of perennials, these come in several colors and postures

daffodils – the cutting garden is doing well (I’ve already cut several dozen in the last few days), and more are in bloom under the oak tree and outside the shed.  I need some in the front garden.DSC06825

chionodoxa – my plan for a sea of blue under the hydrangeas is slow to mature, but I’ll keep adding bulbs each yearDSC06826

speaking of blue, the blue anemones seem to  be the only ones to survive.  They do well in sun and are not showing at their best on this cloudy morning.  They would look great under the maple tree.  Next year?DSC06828

and finally, leucojum ‘Snowflake’ – this one is in the bed with Bishops weed, so I rooted out both the weed and some of the leucojum a year or two back.  It seems to be thriving again.  It makes a very sweet tiny bouquet that allows you to see the delicate green lines on each petal.DSC06820

And, of course, dandelions, myrtle and forsythia, all appreciated but too common to record.  Otherwise, plenty of buds are swelling – not just the maple but also the bottlebrush buckeye and the hydrangeas.