Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Views along the Pamet: Truro's Tidal River and a Hopper Painting

For more than 10 years we soaked up the views of the Pamet River and its beautiful marshy shoulders every September until the house we rented was sold to people who planned to live there year round. We decamped to neighboring Wellfleet for a few years. Then I found a "new" house,  a little farther up the river.  So, happily, this September we were back watching the tide ebb and flow in the Pamet, which winds its way for about 4 miles between Cape Cod Bay to the west and Ballston Beach on the Atlantic to the east.  The section west of  Route 6 is the most picturesque and navigable, a kayak is perfect, but small motor and sail boats use it too, as long as it's about two hours on either side of high tide; otherwise, there's the risk of running aground on muddy flats, which appear at dead low.

Some views of high tide, then low.

Somewhere in between tides

There's a trail along the edge of the marsh.  

Follow the trail toward the Bay and you come to a slightly elevated path running along an old railroad bed.  You can walk this towards Pamet Harbor until it ends where an old trestle, now gone, used to take the trains across the river.  Just to the left of the Juniper you can barely make out the shadow of the path along the railroad bed; it runs more or less perpendicular to the river. That's Pamet Harbor to the right.  (photo below)

The house in the distance, to the left of the tree, can be seen close up below.  It belongs to a family that's been in Truro for several generations and ran a cold storage business in Truro.  These early freezer businesses were crucial to the fishing industry for processing and refrigerating the catch. Proximity to the railroad made for easy transportation of ice and seafood.  

Next door is a house owned by the same family, which Edward Hopper painted in 1936.  The painting is titled " The House with the Rain Barrel."  If you stood on the right side of the house and slightly behind it, you'd get a similar perspective as the one in the painting. (Just the side of the porch is visible in the painting.)   

The landscape is virtually treeless in the painting as it was, I think, by the early to mid 19th century. Trees had been felled for nearly three centuries by the 1930's for fuel, building of houses, ships, fences, you name it, and to make way for farming.   

 Hopper and his wife lived in Truro during the depression;  his house still stands near Fisher Beach.  

People talk about "Cape Light," the ethereal light that plays on the Cape Cod landscape. Photographer Joel Meyerowitz produced a famous series of Cape images in the 1970's with that title, which may have launched the term.   The Pamet at sunset is one of those times when the light and landscape seem especially attuned--the grasses glow and the water shimmers silver.  

This view is looking away from the Bay in the direction of Rte 6 to the east.

Looking west into the Bay.  The breakwater, the dark horizontal line at the top left,  marks one side of the gut, a channel leading out of Pamet Harbor.  The areas on either side of the channel are shallow enough that you can walk across at low tide to reach the Bay-side beach without getting  wet much above your knees.  

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Posies of Provincetown

People live in relatively tight quarters in the bustling town at the tip of Cape Cod.  There's just not a lot of space in Provincetown, yet gardens abound.  Sometimes it's just a container or two, a narrow street-side bed, but some sort of leafy whimsy, a dash of bright blooms in a window box, or a full blown garden, where possible, seems important to most residents of this densely packed, seaside enclave.      

I spent an afternoon, recently, photographing some of the plantings that caught my eye along or near Commercial Street, the main drag.  

Hydrangeas are popular and here are some poofy paniculatas grown as standards in a fairly traditional front garden. 

These Asian heads appear in a storefront garden.  

The entrance to a small inn with flanking manicured lawn

I love the pickets of this weathered fence and how they offer a silvery color echo of the house siding. Using Miscanthus sinensis (Maiden Grass) as a foundation plant is nice choice.  Their cascading deep red-violet inflorescence compliment the paint palette and the overall combination of colors and textures give this traditional Cape a sophisticated, unfussy look.

It took a keen eye to see this site as having decorative-planting potential!  The homeowner could have left the ledge along the driveway bare, but, instead, came up with this attractive grouping of planter boxes.  Bicycle storage be damned!

A hunky guy greets visitors in the front garden of The Mews, a local restaurant.  That's Rhus typhina'Tiger Eyes' (a Sumac cultivar) glowing yellow on the right.

A pretty traditional look; I was attracted to the first floor window with its diamond panes and the model tall ship on display.  (Look closely.)  

This very shallow bed, smack dab against the street, got a semi-tropical treatment.  How nice that such a small space got such a thoughtful planting, including a red-leafed Bromeliad, black Mondo Grass, some succulents, and Lysimachia  nummularia 'Aurea.'  The granite posts and irregular stone add depth, plus drivers won't dare get too close.  

Just off of Commercial Street in front of a large Greek Revival house is another creative street planting.  This intricate wall is decorative on its own, but the strip of Zinnias adds a punch to the pink tones of the granite.  

This planter sits on top of the same wall pictured above.  There are many large sculptures dominating the garden and you can see one behind this planter.  It's a winged creature with a sort of creepy smile.  

An  attention-grabbing planter box forms the outer edge of  an outdoor seating area in front of a restaurant in central Provincetown.  It's across from the main wharf and next to one of the busiest intersections in town so a big blast of color may be necessary to get people to stop..  

Even if you have no place for an in-ground planting you can do this!  

This house sits at the back of the alley where the house above is located.  More hydrangeas -- you can't beat those big blooms.  

I'm not sure what the beads festooning the cat mean -- leftovers from Mardi Gras?  P-town is a party town so celebration is in the air.  There is a pair of these fancy cats at the entrance to the garden.  

A hanging basket and a tall container create a vertical planting.  

No ornamental plantings here, just the signs announcing the famous Julie Heller Gallery, located just to the right of the signs.  You can find the works of many famous Provincetown artists there such as Hans Hofmann, Karl Knaths, Ross Moffett, Robert Motherwell, Jim Forsberg, and others.  

More Hydrangea paniculata standards in front of a home decor shop.  Views of planters on the side porch follow.

A little vignette in front of a gallery.

It's been a dry summer on Cape Cod, but the Perovskia looks happy.  It flops a lot less in dry conditions.

Perovskia in a storefront garden; those yellow pants make a nice accent.

The garden extends to the garbage can storage area.

That's all folks!  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lotus Land

My first Wordless Wednesday post.  Well, not quite wordless.

Just to orient you, this is not the Lotusland of Santa Barbara, California, but the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in northeast Washington, DC.  After living just outside the capital city for more than 25 years, I finally got to see these lush water gardens in their summer glory.  Kenilworth's acreage is dense with native and exotic water lilies, but, to my mind, it's the blooming lotus (nymphaea) that are the most spectacular.

The photos below were taken during a visit I made almost 3 weeks ago on July 25th when flowering was near peak. (It was midday so the lighting was pretty harsh.)  You'll notice some Asian visitors (I think Vietnamese) in festive, traditional-looking garb.  The Lotus has special meaning for many Asian cultures.