Thursday, January 19, 2012

Preserving parkland

Running along the opposite side of our street is a stretch of wooded parkland.  This sliver of open space hosts native plants as well as, yes, some patches of invasives.  At its lowest point, a pond and surrounding wetlands support mallards and other birds. On the far side, the land rises sharply to a train bed.

Recently, our town had to vote on whether to sell a portion of this parkland so that an 18th-century  house could be moved on to it (and then vastly augmented so as to ensure financial feasibility for the developer).  As an abutter to this parkland, the idea of destroying even a single square foot was incomprehensible. Rule one of natural resource management: once open space is lost to development, it is gone forever. (I won't labor all the political back and forth but, in a nutshell, more suitable locations for the preservation of this house have been identified.)

At Town Meeting, where the authorization to sell was debated by the citizens, it was quite revelatory to hear other townspeople say again and again how much they valued this parkland--for its trees, its wildlife, its refreshing green stretch of open space. On voice vote, the potential land sale was overwhelmingly defeated.  Instead, a bike path may be set along the train bed. How wonderful if that project could be combined with a wildlife census and the removal of invasive plants. Anyway, happily, it now looks like this patch of parkland will be preserved for all of our citizens to continue to enjoy.

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Winter lawn sports

In the winter, it's something of a New England tradition to create your own backyard skating rink.  Growing up, my husband's family would flood their driveway to make a sheet of ice for testosterone-fueled pick-up hockey games between siblings and cousins. This winter, his brother erected a board and batten rink in the middle of his circular driveway. For the kids, of course. Well, our sloping yard doesn't have level space for skaters, sticks, and pucks, but we do have a small frozen slab in our side yard.  

If the voles and mice that channel paths through the garden this time of year ever decide to take up ice sports, this patch would be the perfect size for their athletic endeavors.

For a brief moment, I can almost see Stuart Little skating between these banks.  Then I remember that he's just a rodent. And rodents are pests.

Our watercourse is simply runoff from the stream that rises further up our hill.  When the ground freezes, the water ices over in the edging ditches along the garden beds and eventually spills on to the lawn.  Over the next few months, the freeze and thaw cycle is not going to be kind to this lawn.  Repairing a mucky patch of dead lawn will probably be on this spring's agenda.  Wonder if Stuart Little ever considered mud-wrestling?

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Greenwich Village greenery

During this past week's immersion in Manhattan, I missed my mid-winter pilgrimage to the High Line. However, between perfume shopping at Aedes de Venustas and nibbling Nizami rolls at Thelewala, I did happen upon the most wonderful Greenwich Village holiday greenery.

Almost all of the houses along West 10th Street were decked out for the season. I had to stop, admire, and take a few 'phone pix. Lots of wrought-iron railings were swagged with evergreen boughs.  In front of this double door, pots of paperwhites were additionally stacked on the stairs between miniature pines and trailing ivy. 

At another house, there was more liberal use of miniature pines and ivy, embellished with pots of ornamental cabbages and strings of white fairy lights.

The same house viewed obliquely displayed lights just starting to twinkle along the railings and tree branches.

Across the street, the bare branches of these two small trees were hung with tiny glass drops. Around the trees were bedded red and fuschia cyclamen and pink ornamental cabbages. Rock my world!

These black painted window boxes were filled with evergreen branches, ilex berries, ivy, and white ornamental cabbages.  Perhaps a more conventional arrangement but nevertheless a satisfying foil to the iron grillwork.

Even if the balmy weather didn't seem very seasonal, these swags, wreaths, and abundances of greenery certainly did!