Ed and Mary Epps' backyard garden

Ed and Mary Epps’ backyard garden

Sunday’s “Let’s Sketch Bay View” gave a few of us the added pleasure of a mini-garden tour by Ed Epps.  He and Mary have garden plots on all sides of their home, with plenty of places to pause and enjoy the variety of colors, patterns, and natural forms.

Rarely have I seen such exuberant variety in a garden.  Ed seems drawn to all manner of flowers and plants — from the odd voodoo lily, to the uniquely colored chrysanthemum ‘bright eyes,’ or to the more traditional sweet peas and poppies.  Something lovely is always in bloom, and each plant is worthy of joyful attention.

Desicated bloom of weird voodoo lily

Desiccated bloom of weird voodoo lily

Chrysanthemum 'bright eyes'

Chrysanthemum ‘bright eyes’

Sweet peas

Sweet peas

Poppies

Poppies

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Ed and Mary’s garden exhibits all manner of things done well, but surpassing all is the celebration of foliage.  The foliage provides its own beauty in the variety of colors, textures, and structures it displays.  I was particularly taken with the jagged-leaf melianthus, whose early leafings are folded like intricate origami (another of Ed’s interests), and whose mature leaves bring intriguing spikiness to the garden beds.

Melianthus leaves, folded like a miniature origami fan

Melianthus leaves, folded like a miniature origami fan

Melianthus

Melianthus

Melianthus

Melianthus

The spiral of the rex begonia escargot

The spiral of the rex begonia escargot

The under leaf of the rex begonia escargot

The under leaf of the rex begonia escargot

Succulents

Succulents

I was also most impressed with the many ways Ed incorporated chocolate browns, deep dark purples, and (almost) blacks into the foliage and flowers of the garden.  It made me wonder if a chocolate garden, similar to Vita Sackville-West’s white garden, could be executed in an exciting way.  I imagine cafe au lait dahlias and black leaf dahlias combined with  . . . what else?  Ed would be the one to pull this off, I’m sure.

Black leaf dahlia with yellow bloom

Black leaf dahlia with yellow bloom

Thank you again, Ed and Mary, for opening your private gardens for the participants of Sunday’s “Let’s Sketch Bay View.”

 

 

 

 

Mudflats at Padilla Bay

Mudflats at Padilla Bay

Sunday’s trip to Padilla Bay was my second excursion there.  Years ago my daughter and I took a bookmaking class at the Breazeale Interpretive Center.  This time I spent an hour or so exploring the grounds.  There is a short path, past multi-colored grasses, to a beach overlook.  A spiral staircase takes you down to the beach.  The tide was out, exposing acres of mudflats, pebbly stretches at the high tide line, and eel grass.

I marveled at all the colors in these grasses.

I marveled at all the colors in these grasses.

Short tunnel under the road to the beach overlook

Short tunnel under the road to the beach overlook

Sprial staricase from overlook to the beach

Spiral staircase from overlook to the beach

Padilla Bay

Padilla Bay

Eel grass

Eel grass

Raccoon track

Raccoon track

Padilla Bay

Padilla Bay

My poor attempt at a landscape sketch of Padilla Bay.  I was unhappy with many things, including the anemic colors.

My poor attempt at a landscape sketch of Padilla Bay. I was unhappy with many things, including the anemic colors.

Can this painting be saved?  A bit better with more saturated colors, but still not redeemed.

Can this painting be saved? A bit better with more saturated colors, but still not redeemed.

Next I explored the Upland Trail through meadows and woods.  Quite a sampling of varied habitats in s small area!

Upland trail through the woods

Upland trail through the woods

Noble fir

Noble fir

Walking the Upland Trail, Breazeale Interpretive Center

Walking the Upland Trail, Breazeale Interpretive Center

Andy Goldsworthy-esque sculpture as rock quarry along the trail

Andy Goldsworthy-esque sculpture as rock quarry along the trail

Big-leaf maples

Big-leaf maples

Giant rose hips

Giant rose hips

The next time I visit, I plan to walk the Padilla Bay Shore Trail, a dike path along the estuary.

 

 

 

Sketching Bay View

July 21, 2014

The sketchbook of one of the Let's Sketch Bay View participants, Michele Cooper

The sketchbook of one of the Let’s Sketch Bay View participants, Michele Cooper

Yesterday I participated in an outdoor sketching event in the Skagit Valley, “Let’s Sketch Bay View,” hosted by Edna [Breazeale]‘s Neighbors.  Bay View is a village on the shores of Padilla Bay, an estuary near Anacortes, WA.  Artists were invited to draw, paint and sketch from a choice of sites including the Breazeale Interpretive Center and its trails and grounds, Bay View State Park, and the Bay View community.  Several residents opened their private gardens to sketchers as well.

Morning rainbow over Padilla Bay

Morning rainbow over Padilla Bay

Hollyhocks by the blue house in Bay View

Hollyhocks by the blue house in Bay View

Ed and Mary's garden, Bay View

Ed and Mary’s garden, Bay View

Any day is a good day if it finds me with a paintbrush in my hands, especially after a too long break from sketching.  I found a comfortable spot in Ed and Mary Epps’ garden where there was a wealth of natural subjects.  It was a time for meeting a special group of friends and kindred spirits with whom I originally crossed paths because of this blog.  What a talented and fun group they are!  Sometimes I am floored by the miracle of friendship.

“Let’s Sketch Bay View” was well organized and the planning resulted in an atmosphere that was welcoming to artists of all skill levels.  Informal, yet productive.  At the end of the afternoon the participants met up at the Breazeale Interpretive Center to share their work, mingle, and enjoy cookies and lemonade.  Community and art-making — a convivial combination.

Another painter in Ed and Mary's garden

Another painter in Ed and Mary’s garden

Bonnie in the garden

Bonnie in the garden

Bonnie's sketch of cabbage (those jewel-like colors!)

Bonnie’s sketch of cabbage (those jewel-like colors!)

Jude's painting in progress

Jude’s painting in progress

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You can see more of Michele's work at www.michelecooper.com

You can see more of Michele’s work at http://www.michelecooper.com

My watercolor sketch of geranium foliage from Ed and Mary's garden

My watercolor sketch of geranium foliage from Ed and Mary’s garden

For another look at the day of sketching, follow this link to the Anacortes Sketcher’s blog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mid-July Vividness

July 13, 2014

Harvesting for market, Jello Mold Farm

Harvesting for market, Jello Mold Farm

“Mid-July comes and the palette of blossoms shifts to hotter colors, as if in their vividness they were reflecting the sun.”
– Verlyn Klinkenborg, More Scenes from the Rural Life

I saw some evidence of vibrancy in the flower fields at Jello Mold Farm this past week.  The deep reds and oranges of the crocosmia, poppies, and sneezeweed glowed in their jeweled presence.  And the sunny yellow sunflowers were starting to burst into bloom.

Poppies

Poppies

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Crocosmia with hummingbird

Crocosmia with hummingbird

Sneezeweed

Sneezeweed

 

 

Watermelon slices like happy smiles

Watermelon slices like happy smiles

Watermelons
by Charles Simic

Green Buddhas
On the fruit stand.
We eat the smile
And spit out the teeth.

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More smiles!

More smiles!

 

Making Jam

July 11, 2014

Carol's raspberry jam

Carol’s raspberry jam

” . . . making preserves is an art of stalling time, of making the fruit that is so evanescent last indefinitely.”
– Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby

I bet this new jam won’t last too long on the pantry shelf — definitely not indefinitely!

 

Freshly picked raspberries

Freshly picked raspberries

“As some beautiful or palatable fruit is perhaps the noblest gift of nature to man, so is a fruit which a man has in some measure identified himself by cultivating or collecting it one of the most suitable presents to a friend.”
– Henry David Thoreau, from Journals, November 23, 1860

Our friends Diane and Dennis opened their berry crop to me this week.  A lovely day trip to the Skagit Valley, a cool morning, comfortable picking while standing because the raspberry bushes were so tall, and the hugest raspberries I’d ever seen.  They were Tulameen raspberries, plump, firm and sweet.  And organic, too.  The less firm ones made way directly to my mouth — no sense wasting the ones I couldn’t keep.  What a generous gift this was, to share the bounty of their harvest with my friend Carol and me.

Once home, I flash froze my berries.  A way to prolong the summery season into fall and winter.  Lucky me.

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Aaahh!

Aaahh!

 

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