Tangled Branches: Cultivated
happenings in and around my zone 6b gardens in northern Virginia and in central Virginia
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Very Belated Bloom Day
Yikes! It's already November 20. One week to Thanksgiving. Five weeks til Christmas. So I made a little rule for myself this week - no computer entertainment (that includes blogging and blog-reading, but not Twitter) until the real-world work is done. Guess what? The real-world work still isn't done (progress has been made) and I haven't done anything at all with blogs this week. Well, I made my little rule, and I can break my little rule. Blogging first today. But it's going to be a short post - just my Garden Blogger's Bloom Day list.
Tangled Branches North:
Salvia guaranitica 'Black & Blue'
Cyclamen hederifolium (I thought these should be finished by now)
Mentha piperata (Peppermint)
Cuphea laevis 'Twinkle Pink'
Cuphea x 'David Verity'
Some assorted self-sown Cupheas, but the top half was killed by frost and I pulled most of these out last week.
Tangled Branches South:
Petunia 'Dolce Flambe'
Achillea 'Summer Berries' (rebloom after cutting back)
Lonicera sempervirens 'Leo' (just one flower cluster close to the ground)
This is what was blooming on or about November 15. We've had some very cold weather since then and these flowers are now just a memory.
Labels: in bloom
Thursday, November 13, 2008
Botanical Ancestry: Longwood Gardens
Some time ago I learned that I was tangentially connected with the Quaker Gentlemen who began an arboretum at their property which would eventually become Longwood Gardens. Just today, I learned that the house of the ancestor who connects me to these two men is up for sale. I merely need to acquire $12 million dollars to buy it.
If you're not interested in genealogy, you may want to stop reading right here. This is going to get messy.
I'm fortunate to have as my 9th great-grandfather a man named George Smedley. He emigrated to the United States about 1682. Much of my information about him and his descendants comes from a book - The Genealogy of the Smedley Family written by the esteemed Gilbert Cope and commissioned by Samuel Smedley. I normally would be suspicious of the information in a book of this type, but Gilbert Cope was a thorough and tireless researcher of the history of Chester County, Pennsylvania. I trust him. Much of the information in the book has been placed online by Lew Smedley.
George Smedley, the immigrant ancestor, had a grandson named George Smedley. (I told you this would get messy.) This grandson married a woman named Patience Mercer. It is their property that's currently up for sale. Patience Mercer was the daughter of Thomas Mercer Jr. and Hannah Taylor. Patience's aunt (sister of her father) was Ann Mercer, who married Joshua Peirce (yes, that's how they spelled it). Apparently Ann died before 1722, when Joshua Peirce was married to Rachel Gilpin. Joshua Peirce and Rachel Gilpin are the grandparents of Joshua Peirce and Samuel Peirce, the twin brothers who began planting at the future Longwood Gardens. So, sad to say, I'm not directly related to them, but I am distantly related to their half-aunts and half-uncles.
|Joshua Peirce, twin brother to Samuel Peirce|
The Peirce-du Pont House at Longwood Gardens was built by the elder Joshua Peirce in 1730. Joshua first built a log cabin on the property sometime after 1709, and presumably that was where Ann Mercer and he lived. The brick house replaced the log cabin. I had no idea of my connection to the Peirces the last time I visited Longwood Gardens and have never toured the house. That must be remedied!
According to Tulip Trees and Quaker Gentlemen, a short book on the history of Longwood Gardens, a cousin of Joshua and Samuel Peirce, also named Joshua Peirce, was a nurseryman and collector of camellias at Linnaean Hill in Maryland. A bit of further online research this morning reveals that this was in present-day Washington DC, and that this Joshua Peirce's nursery supplied trees and shrubs to the growing capital. This is how it goes in studying family history - one thing leads to another and hours vanish.
Note 1: A lot of what I've just written here wouldn't pass genealogical scrutiny because I've relied on second-hand sources and haven't documented them except with links. I feel fairly confident that the information here is correct, but can't prove it. One of these days when I have a lot of free time...
Update, Note 2: I ought to have mentioned that Ann Mercer, the first wife of Joshua Peirce, was my 8th great-grandaunt, according to my genealogy database program. Patience Mercer, her niece, is my 7th great-grandmother. Thomas Mercer, their common ancestor and mine, is my 9th great grandfather.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Life is About Maintenance
I once heard Patricia Schroeder say that and the older I get the more I agree with her.
There's my maintenance work for the day. This is the only time of year I don't like living on a wooded lot.
Not all the leaves are on the ground yet, and we still have some good fall color in the backyard. Hope to do a post about that soon, or at least before the snow flies. Speaking of snow, today is the 21st anniversary of the great Veterans Day storm of 1987. I remember watching the snow fall while cross-stitching a Christmas stocking for my niece, but don't remember if the trees still had leaves. It seems to me the leaf drop happens later every year.
Sunday, November 02, 2008
What with post-pepper depression and pre-election tension, my blog muse fell silent. I needed something new and different for inspiration and found it yesterday at Vintage Virginia Apples. Did you ever go to a wine tasting where there were so many different wines that you left confused instead of educated? This was almost like that. Lots of apples available to taste and buy and not a McIntosh or Red Delicious in sight. I read through their catalog online before I got there and had in mind a few particular varieties that I wanted to try.
Black Twig is a longtime favorite of mine, but I wanted to compare it to Arkansas Black. Do I have a new favorite? Maybe. At this moment in time, Arkansas Black has a brighter, sweeter, almost berry-like flavor. The catalog says, however, that Black Twig must be stored for a while in order to develop its flavor. We'll have to wait for the final comparison, or perhaps there shouldn't be a comparison - Arkansas Black is good to eat now, and Black Twig will be just as good to eat later (fingers crossed because I bought a lot more Black Twig than Arkansas Black).
I was tempted by the appearance of a pink-blushed one, tasted it, liked it, bought it, and forgot her name. Sorry. Should have taken notes.
Thomas Jefferson is said to have grown Pomme Gris at Monticello, and Jefferson had excellent taste. You wouldn't guess how good this apple is from the way it looks. It's not really gris, but more of a dull indistinct yellow-brown. Inside, the yellow flesh is crisp, slightly dry, quite sweet, with a lingering "apple" flavor. This one is definitely on the shortlist for the prospective orchard at Tangled Branches South.
And I can't leave off without saying a good word for the cider - pricy, $10 a gallon, but very very very good. This is the best cider I've tasted in a long time. Right up there with Edwards' and that's saying something.