Yellow and red Tulip flower.

Tulip flower – a sure sign of spring

Liz has lived in the Hudson Valley for 26 years – her father gave her first camera at 17 and he inspired her to go and explore!

Her favorite time to take pictures is when the seasons are changing.

Story Farm fields in the spring mist NY.

Story Farm

Story Farm is located in Catskill and has been farmed by the Story family since 1896.

Rip Van Winkle Bridge in the spring NY.

Rip Van Winkle Bridge from the grounds of the Beattie Powers House

The Beattie Powers Place is an 1837 Greek Revival Mansion in Catskill which hosts a program of live performances of classical music.

Pink and white Magnolia flower in the spring NY.

Magnolia – a tree that grows well in the Hudson Valley

Montgomery Place NY in the spring.

Avenue of trees at Montgomery Place

Montgomery Place is located in Annandale-on-Hudson and was built in 1805. It is one of many historic houses in the Hudson River valley which are now open to the public.

Orange Arunculus flowers.

Orange Ranunculus flowers



During Liz’s free time away from work and family, she will drive around and explore the sights of the Catskills, the Hudson River valley and surrounding areas.

Leaf in creek NY.

Mape leaf in creek

The beauty of the seasons inspires her work and sense of wonder and joy!… “I’ll get back in the car and explore-on!”

Pink Sweet Pea flowers.

Sweet Peas at Farmers Market

Liz will point out what she sees through her perspective to her friends who have always lived around here. “They tell me they never looked at this area that way before”.

Orange Poppy flower.

Orange Poppy – a deer resistant perennial

Liz plans to visit the grounds of Vassar College in May.

“It’s just beautiful with a stream running through it. Dutchess (County) is further along season-wise than Ulster County because it’s lower down the mountain. The change in altitude makes a big difference.”

Daffodil gift.

Daffodils self-sow in our area, and the wildlife does not eat the bulbs or plant

Liz’s photographs may be seen and purchased at the Dancing Tulip Floral Boutique in Saugerties New York.


Platte Creek Maple Farm, Saugerties NY. March 2014.

The Sugar Shack

From a distance I could smell the maple syrup in the air and see the clouds of steam in the sky. This was the second ‘weekend open house’ for the Platte Creek Maple Farm, owned by Chris Genson and Pete Lavalle.


Platte Creek Maple Farm is a member of the New York State Maple Producers Association

During the open house visitors were invited to observe the syrup production process and enjoy a scrumptious breakfast of pancakes with dark syrup. The process is fascinating and because of the limited harvest period (six to eight weeks), it requires long hours, dedication and hard physical work. Pete patiently explained the steps …

Maple syrup collection tap.

For a healthy tree with a 12-17″ diameter trunk, one spile (tap) is used. For an 18″ diameter trunk, no more than two spiles

Spiles (taps) are inserted into holes in the maple tree trunk.  The sap is clear and runny like water and it flows into a tubing system or bucket.

collecting maple syrup in metal bucket.

Metal sap bucket attached to trunk, the lid keeps rain and insects out

External temperature variations enable the sap to be harvested. When the temperature is above freezing, pressure inside the tree forces the sap out of the spile. When the temperature drops below freezing, internal pressure drops, suction develops and the roots take up water which replenishes the sap.  These fluctuating temperatures last about eight weeks during February and March.

maple syrup collection buckets and gravity tubing.

About 1,200 trees are tapped on the Lavalle Family farm

When the trees form buds the harvesting is over because the sap develops an unpleasant ‘buddy’ taste.   Red or Black Maple trees can be used, but the Sugar Maple has the highest sugar content, best flavor and longest season.

maple syrup collection using gravity tubing.

Gravity tubing collects between 10 and 20 gallons of sap per tree

A system of gravity tubing is in place. Gravity draws the sap down the tubes towards a stainless steel collection tank at the rear of the sugar shack.

maple syrup collection tank at the rear of the sugar shack.

You can see the blue vacuum pump atop the collection tank

The blue vacuum pump above the stainless steel collection tank increases the quantity and speed of syrup extraction. When there is about 1,000 gallons of sap in the tank, the evaporation process starts.

Firewood at Platte Creek Maple Farm, Saugerties NY. March 2014.

Firewood is harvested at the farm

Wood is used to heat the Evaporator which boils the maple tree sap.

sugar shack sign.

This style of sign is classic Hudson Valley

Inside the Sugar Shack…

reverse-osmosis machine.

Reverse-Osmosis machine

Behind these doors, a reverse-osmosis process forces the sap at high pressure through a membrane and removes some of the water. A pre-heater warms the sap before it goes into the evaporator.

Wood burning sap evaporator.

It’s nice and warm inside the sugar shack!

The evaporator boils the sap, removes water and concentrates the solids (primarily sugar). Sap is about 2% sugar –  syrup must contain 66% to 67% sugar on the Brix scale (a measure of the sugar content of an aqueous solution)

Adding firewood to the sap evap

Pete Lavalle adding firewood to maintain temperature

The correct boiling temperature for the sap varies by day according to the barometric pressure.  When I visited the optimum  boiling temperature was 218.5 degrees F.

Bucket of maple syrup.

This bucket will be filled with syrup from the evaporator.

maple syrup production equipment.

Maple syrup production equipment.

The sugar content of the sap determines how many gallons of syrup can be produced from it. For example, if the sap has 2% sugar it would take 43 gallons of sap to produce one gallon of syrup.

maple syrup Finisher.

Maple syrup finisher

The bucket of syrup is poured into the finisher.

maple syrup filter.

Maple syrup filter

The syrup is filtered.

maple syrup grading samples.

Maple syrup grading samples

These color standards are used to grade the syrup – the darker the syrup, the more intense the flavor.

holding tank for maple syrup.

Pre-bottling holding tank

Syrup is stored in bulk and then bottled in glass or plastic  containers.

bottle of pure maple syrup.

Pure Maple Syrup is considered an organic product and is rich in amino acids and minerals

This bottle contains Grade A Dark Amber syrup.  Dark Amber has the strongest flavor - a sweet caramel-maple flavor. It is great on pancakes or french toast and is the preferred syrup for making baked goods. Delicious!

Plattekill Creek, Platte Creek Maple Farm in S

Lovely clear water from the snow melt

The Plattekill Creek runs through the farm. It was named by the first European settlers who were from the Netherlands. ‘Plattekill’ translates as ‘Flat Creek’ in the Middle Dutch language.

Platte Creek Maple Syrup sign.

When the harvesting season is over the taps and tubes are removed, cleaned and stored for the following year.

Platte Creek Maple Farm

808 Glasco Turnpike, Saugerties New York

Tel: 845 853 4240


on Facebook


  • Would you like to try some Platte Creek Maple Farm syrup? Adams Fairacre Farms or other local stores carry a great selection.
  • If you are in New York during February/March, check out the Maple Weekend events. There are about 150 producers who host open weekends








Inside – the tulips are blocks of color that pop. Outside – two foot of snow, sheets of ice and sub-zero temperatures.

The Spring Garden shows at Adams are held every March. The shows are setup inside and last for one week. There is a different garden show at each of the four Adams stores (Kingston, Wappinger, Poughkeepsie and Newburgh).  Adams is a family business which developed from a 1900′s farm stand where they left a ‘cigar box’ for customers to leave payment for produce.

  • The shows in Newburgh and Poughkeepsie are usually scheduled for the last week of February
  • The shows in Kingston and Wappinger are usually scheduled for the first week of March
  • check store websites for details!
Wooden sculpture, black bear with blue jay,

Hand carved wooden sculpture of a black bear holding a blue jay

Phil Burley, the Garden Center Manager at the Kingston store was kind enough to explain how the show is produced.

“The Poughkeepsie Landscape Design team create the show. The Kingston staff, including Jason Becker, the Nursery Manager, clear the space and help with the planting, installation and finishing details. People really appreciated this year’s concept – the rustic Adirondack look.”

Weeping cherry tree,

Weeping cherry tree at the side of a ‘creek’ surrounded by spring flowers

“The bulb stock comes from a grower, when the plants arrive they are in the ‘tight bud’ stage, ready to bloom during the Spring Show.  They are placed in the flower beds still in their pots which are covered with mulch.”

Stream with waterfall,

Creek with waterfall

The show includes both natural and artificial stone, a fork lift is used to place the large boulders. There is usually a water feature, this year it’s a natural looking miniature creek with a waterfall.

Fish fountain with sparrow,

Fish fountain – the water flows into the creek

Water always attracts wildlife and there was a pair of sparrows flitting round the fountain. (Previous shows have included Mallard ducks)

Bird sculpture with pansies and chrysanthemums,

Bird sculpture with purple pansies

Fox sculpture,

Red Fox, often seen in the Hudson Valley

Wildlife sculptures are dotted among the flowers.

Garden wall made from stone,

Circular stone wall

Stone patio,

Stone patio with metal garden seat

This patio is constructed with broken blue stone and boulders. The grass in the cracks was planted by hand – one of the many finishing touches that makes the show so impressive. The larger plants are added on the Monday before the show and the bulbs are added last.

Cedar garden structure,

The rustic ‘log home’ is constructed from red cedar logs.

Wooden sculpture, bear and salmon,

Hand carved wooden bear sculpture

In front of the log home is a wooden sculpture of a grizzly bear holding a salmon, this is a hand-made piece. A local folk art tradition, bears are carved with axes or chain saws.

Daffodils and Lilac,

Daffodils and Lilac

You would not believe how lovely the fragrance is! Flowering shrubs such as lilac and small evergreen trees  were put in place about one week before the show opens.

“It’s the temperature that makes the shrubs and plants flower. Mark Adams (son of the owner of Adams Stores) runs five acres of wholesale greenhouses behind the store in Poughkeepsie where he grows some of the annuals used in the spring shows.  The landscape crews sets up small greenhouses in the larger poly house to force the trees and shrubs to bloom just in time. Over the years Mark has gotten the timing down to a science.”

Pieris Shrub in bloom,

Pieris Shrub in bloom

I asked Phil if he had any advice for gardeners in the Hudson Valley:

  • “At this point, it requires patience, it’s not a good idea to do too much work when the ground is very muddy because the soil can become compacted, forcing out air and water pockets that plants need. In Vermont they call this the Mud Season!”
  •  “The prolonged cold temperatures have caused White-tailed deer to be more of an issue this year. The snow has prevented them from finding food and they have traveled and browsed more than usual.”
  •  “The cold winter wind increases transpiration. This and the extra cold temperatures means the roots cannot supply moisture fast enough to the plant, which can cause single branches or possibly the entire plant to die. After determining this, it’s a matter of pruning and removing the dead material.”
  • “Local people are concerned about GMO crops and absence of pollinators such as butterflies and bees. Many seed companies stated that their seeds are ‘GMO free’ this year. Adams stores do not sell GMO crops and offer organic and traditional produce. They source from local farms wherever possible and the Adams family supports many local organizations and charities.”
rock sculpture and vines,

Rock sculpture in the creek with wild grape vines behind

I love the Spring Shows at Adams, to me they are a welcome sign that spring is on the way – keep an eye out for the Adams Spring Shows in 2015!

This class is first in a series of Backyard Chicken classes this spring.  Future classes will go more in depth into housing, health, egg production, manure management, breeding, and raising meat birds.  All ages welcome!

Topics include an overview of:

  • Your town’s rules and regulations for backyard chicken-keeping
  • Getting started with chicks or hens
  • Housing, feeding, and watering needs
  • Weather and predator concerns
  • And more!

Wed. April 2, 2014
6:00pm – 7:30pm

Ulster County Fairgrounds
4-H Youth Building
249 Libertyville Road
New Paltz, NY 12561

Register by March 28 – walk-ins are welcome but space is limited.  Cost is $5 per person, or $10 per farm/family.  

To register, fill out and send in registration form on our website at  

For more information on the workshop contact Erin Campbell-Craven  845-340-3990 x327 or email

For information on registering, contact Carrie Anne at 845-340-3990 x311 or email

Additional support for this program provided by Local Economies Project of the New World Foundation

CCEUC provides equal employment and program opportunities.  Please call our office at 845-340-3990 if you have any special needs.

16 different classes to choose from – each related to this year’s theme, ‘Edibles & Ornamentals’ 

Also Garden Marketplace and Door Prizes!

  • Hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County
  • Saturday, April 12   8:30 am – 4:30 pm
  • At SUNY Ulster, 491 Cottekill Rd, Stone Ridge, NY 12484
  • Pre-registration $35 or $40 at the door
  • Visit  for details and to register
  • FMI please contact Master Gardener Coordinator, Dona Crawford at 845-340-3990 x335

Sounds like a great event!

English Ivy arch and drystone wall garden, from

View from the street

The historic 1864 building was abandoned for 15 years before Rickie and James Tamayo, proprietors of the popular B&B Tamayo, renovated the building and transformed the adjoining vacant plot into a unique garden.

Dry stone garden wall and pillars, from

Garden entrance

English Ivy arch and metal garden gate, from

Enter the garden through an ivy covered arch

English Ivy Arch

Blue stone path, pergola in background

The garden was originally an outdoor dining area for their restaurant (now closed) – the blue stone patio with tables and chairs was screened from the busy road by a stunning dry-laid blue stone wall. The path in the center of the garden now leads to the B&B.

English Ivy arch covered in snow, from

Ivy arch, from within the garden looking out to the street

As Rickie explains “In the winter, the bold elements, the walls and arch hold the garden together. The ivy covered arch is most beautiful in the snow. All of us want to see the green ivy leaves peeking through the snow to remind us of spring.”

Dry stone wall, blue stone, from

Dry-laid blue stone wall,

“We value natural materials and blue stone is native to our area. We love working with different artisans.  Sean Fox (Master Stonemason) was a young stonemason when he built the wall. Several people we asked did not want to build a dry-laid wall with pillars to that height, but he is wonderful to work with and very talented, he built a work of art.”

Boston Ivy in Winter, from

Boston ivy (leafless in winter) on building wall

The building was originally covered in Boston Ivy (Parthenocissus tricuspidata) which is still flourishing today – in the fall the leaves turn a beautiful copper color which is a nice contrast to the English Ivy in the garden. Rickie and James chose English Ivy (Hedera canariensis) because it’s evergreen and there’s no leaf litter to pick up.

English Ivy and drystone wall, from

Beneath the arch, looking out at the wall

Jean Hunter a customer,  brought them eight cuttings of ivy from her beautiful garden on the Hudson River ; one cutting for each upright on the arch.

English Ivy from

The ivy is supported by chicken wire which is attached to the top of the arch

Rickie knows the old adage about English Ivy -

First year, it sleeps. Second year, it creeps. Third year, it leaps! 

“We bought the metal arch at Danny Malone’s old auction house on Livingston Street in Saugerties. The metal gate includes decorative ivy leaves – we wanted something that would look looked pretty before the ivy grew over the arch. It took about three years of careful work to get the ivy to fill in on the arch. We used butcher’s twine (from our restaurant kitchen) to carry the ivy from one metal run to the next until it covered the arch.”

vintage metal gate with ivy detail, from

Vintage metal gate with ivy leaf detail

“The metal gate includes decorative ivy leaves – we wanted something that would look looked pretty before the ivy grew over the arch. It took about three years of careful work to get the ivy to fill in on the arch. We used butcher’s twine (from our restaurant kitchen) to carry the ivy from one metal run to the next until it covered the arch.”

English Ivy, from

Elegant hanging ivy stems

A low maintenance garden, they periodically trim any low hanging strands of ivy and add flowering annuals in the summer.

vintage metal birdbath, from

Vintage metal bird bath from Danny Malone’s auction

vintage metal garden urn, from

Vintage metal urn, perfect for annuals in the summer

“There have been tons of different annuals over the years, recently we have been too busy dealing with renovations, but this year we will do more work on the annuals and the area around the pergola. It’s going to be an outdoor year! There’s way more shade than there used to be so we will take that into consideration.”

English Ivy covered pergola, from

Pergola with ivy and arborvitae evergreen trees from Augustine’s Nursery, Kingston NY

English Ivy stems, from

Ivy stems growing up the pergola, the aerial roots enable the ivy to cling to surfaces

Wind chime from Woodstock Chimes,

Wind chime hanging from the pergola roof

I asked Rickie if she had any advice for Hudson Valley gardeners:

“No advice! There are so many better gardeners, so many great gardeners in the Hudson Valley and Saugerties! I am a ‘Seat-Of-Your-Pants’ gardener, we used our imagination. For example we had a vision of how we wanted the arch to look and it turned out just as we envisioned it.”

“If you stand back down Jane Street (opposite the garden) and look at the wall and ivy arch – I just love the view. Tourists and locals come to the arch and take pictures, it makes them happy. It’s all about creating a great environment where you work and it’s important in a village like Saugerties to have beautiful space”.

Garden with blue stone wall and ivy arch,

This blue stone and ivy garden is an unusual and beautiful addition to the Saugerties Village business district.

* Thank you Rickie and James for being so generous with your time and talent,  and thank you for the interview! *

Here’s some relevant connections you may find helpful

Contact B&B Tamayo. James Tamayo is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. Services include cooking classes and parties, check out the website for details.

Contact Sean Fox, Master Stonemason at Authentic Stone Works, Hurley NY

Contact Augustine Nursery, Kingston NY

How to Propagate English Ivy

How to Prune English Ivy   

If you enjoyed this article, be a friend and share! 

My morning started with a giant donut in the backyard, powdered sugar everywhere.

Snowy day in the garden. Source:


River stone pillar in the garden. Source:

Pillar covered in stone from the Hudson River

Decided to leave my garden and walk down the road

Catskill Mountains and oak trees in the snow, Hudson Valley, NY. Source:

The snow on the Catskill Mountains turned pink in the morning sun

America Robins in a tree, Hudson Valley, NY. Source:

I saw a flock of about 50 American Robins eating berries in a tree

Bird bath in a snowy garden, Hudson Valley, NY. Source:

Their bird bath was not functional today

Garden sculpture in the snow, Hudson Valley, NY. Source:


The low temperatures make everyone shiver

Garden furniture in the snow, Hudson Valley, NY. Source:

Tea anyone?

Too chilly for breakfast ‘al fresco’ today

Back indoors for a cup of tea, thinking about how the snow makes the familiar look so different.

* With grateful thanks to the gardeners of Saugerties for allowing me to photograph their snow scenes *

Old stone farmhouse with maple trees, hudson valley NY

The red pointed structure to the right of the farm house is the original well cover.

Last summer, my friend Liz introduced me to her friends, Deb and Peter, who live in a stone farm-house built in the 1800s. The house was abandoned for many years and has been reclaimed and repaired by them.  The stone walls are beautiful and the north facing wall is covered in lichen.

stone wall with lichen

The colors and textures serve as inspiration for the owner’s art and design work.

The builders of this house incorporated fossils into the walls.

fossil coral, Hudson Valley, NY

These marine deposits date from before the time of the dinosaurs.

These fossil corals are from the Early Paleozoic era, 550 to 350 million years ago when shallow, warm seas covered New York state.

Fossil coral reef, Hudson Valley, NY

Fossil coral reef

Fossil fern, Hudson Valley, NY

Fossil fern leaf

While working in the garden, Peter pushed this rock over with his tractor and saw the fossil fern on the surface. He thinks it may have been intended as building material because this rock has similar building marks to those seen on the rocks in the house wall.

Bamboo in front garden


There are several different species of bamboo in the garden. Peter spotted this bamboo on the back of a truck in NYC, stopped the truck and purchased two bunches.

Bamboo and American Basswood tree, front garden

Bamboo – with the heart-shaped leaves of an American Basswood tree above

Bamboo may be invasive, to prevent this, Peter suggests planting it in a rubber trough which will contain the root system. It can take five years or so to establish then grows rapidly.

Rhubarb against stone wall in garden

The stonework is beautiful in its own right.

Ornamental rhubarb is growing against a sunny wall of the house.

Rhubarb and Yucca, side garden

The yucca grows well in this area (USDA zone 5)

Yucca intermixed with ornamental rhubarb.

plants in pots, front garden

Tender plants in pots in the front yard

In front of the house the tender plants thrive in the dappled shade from the maple tree. That’s Ruffian on the lawn, keeping an eye on things.

Euphorbia and tradescantia in front garden

The purple creeping plant is Tradescantia Pallida Purpurea

This fantastic stick-like plant is the ‘Pencil Cactus’ Euphorbia schimperi. Peter plucked a small stem from a nightclub (which charged $5.00 for a glass of soda!) and it has rooted and grown quite large.

Euphorbia pachypodioides

I think this spiky one is Euphorbia pachypodioides

spiky stem of Euphorbia pachypodioides


Euphorbia in pot

Until seeing this collection, I had no idea that the Euphorbia genus includes such a variety of forms – many plants that I thought were ‘cacti’ are actually Euphorbia.

a cultivar of Euphorbia lacte

This cultivar is usually grafted with another Euphorbia because it’s difficult to grow on its own roots.

This is a cultivar of Euphorbia lacte.

A rare euphorbia, in the family Opuntia

A rare Euphorbia, in the family Opuntia

Agave x Manfreda Bloodspots

Pretty agave with red spots, called Agave x Manfreda Bloodspots.

Agave paryii 'Truncatum'

In the background, Agave paryii ‘Truncatum’ which has long spines at the tips.

Monkey Puzzle tree, Araucaria araucana

‘Monkey Puzzle’ tree, Araucaria araucana

While growing up in London UK, I saw this 130′ tree growing in the tiny front gardens of Victorian terrace houses. We called it the Monkey Puzzle’ tree and seeing it here in New York brought back memories. It took Peter and Deb 14 years to find this one. Now rare in its native habitat, South America.

phalaenopsis orchid

This Phalaenopsis orchid was a gift from a friend. This 40-year-old plant bloomed with 19 flowers during the year that Peter was very ill. Prior to this, it had not bloomed for 22 years. Unfortunately their friend recently passed.

plant, flowers smell of carrion

The carrion-like scent of the flowers attracts insect pollinators

Deb affectionately calls this one the ‘Stinky Plant’ because the flowers smell a bit iffy.

Hoya Kerri

This Hoya ‘Kerri’ with heart-shaped leaves is also known as ‘Sweetheart Hoya’, from south-east Asia.

Prickly Pear cactus

A drought tolerant Prickly Pear cactus – one of several cacti that can survive the New York winters.

This palm tree has been in the garden for almost two years and is hardy to -10 degrees F.

This palm tree has been in the garden for almost two years and is hardy to -10 degrees F.

I was very surprised to see a ‘Windmill’ palm tree Trachycarpus fortunei. To protect the tree during the winter, a layer of mulch is applied, followed by a burlap cover and a layer of red bricks.

Red clay bricks in garden

Red bricks found on the property (cameo appearance by Liz’s dog)

Brick from the Washburn brick yard on the Hudson River NY

Brick from the Washburn brick yard on the Hudson River NY

Check out this Saugerties Times article for a little more info on Washburn local history.

Rugosa rose in back garden

Rugosa rose in back garden

Rugosa Rose with pink blooms

Chinese preying mantis insect on rugosa rose bush in back garden

Spot the bug…

This Chinese Mantis (Tenodera sinensis) originates from Asia and it usually stays a while on the rose-bush. The insect was introduced into America in the 1800s, perhaps it prefers this shrub because the Rugosa rose also originates from Asia and it is a ‘home from home’.

Check out these great pictures of cacti and succulents in an Italian garden on ‘The Pink House’ blog!

I hope you had an enjoyable Holiday Season!  Thank you very much for visiting my blog and for all your comments during 2013. I’d like to say a big ‘Thank you’ to the gardeners and artists who generously allowed me to interview them and take photos for this blog.

For me, one of the highlights of Christmas in the Hudson Valley was this handmade Christmas tree, which was displayed on the sidewalk outside ‘Kiss My Feet Salon and Spa’ in Saugerties NY.

Handmade Christmas tree and wreaths ouside Kiss My Feet Salon in Saugerties NY

The Kiss My Feet Christmas tree on Partition Street, Saugerties NY

The salon owner, Deb constructed this tree with the help of her friend who supplied the welding equipment and expertise.

Cannonball on handmade Christmas tree Kiss My Feet salon Saugerties NY

Cannonball welded onto rebar

Weighing over 500 lb, the trunk and base of the Christmas tree are constructed from metal pipe.  The branches and decoration on the trunk consist of lengths of rebar (steel rod used to reinforce concrete). The metal balls on the end of the ‘branches’ are actually cannon balls supplied by a friend!

Christmas tree ornament at Kiss My Feet Salon Saugerties NY

Snow on top of Christmas tree ornament

Metal chain ornament on handmade metal Christmas tree outside Kiss My Feet Salon in Saugerties NY

Heavy metal chain with just a touch of rust

Christmas tree ornament on handmade Christmas tree Kiss My Feet salon Saugerties NY

Sparkling in the winter sunshine

Decorated with lights, balls and metal chain.

Handmade grape vine wreath with Christmas bells at Kiss My Feet Salon

The wreath is made from wild grapevine that grew in the back yard

I love the way Deb added sleigh bells to her handmade wreaths.

Handmade grape vine wreath with Christmas ornaments at Kiss My Feet salon

The gardens at Kiss My Feet are really something special, here are some pictures of the entrance and patio from 2013.

I am looking forward to meeting more gardeners and to sharing their knowledge and aesthetics with you in 2014.There are some great items planned that I hope you will enjoy – including private gardens, sculpture and reviews.

Wishing you a happy, healthy New Year!

- Andrea

December in the Hudson Valley, time to sip hot chocolate and look at the snow outside. Chocolate… got me thinking about Lucky Chocolates an artisanal chocolate store. This summer (it seems like a long time ago now) I was on my way to Lucky Chocolates when I glanced up and noticed some large planters at roof level; the owner Rae, explained there is a roof garden above the store and she obligingly let me take a peek.

Roof Garden Lucky Chocolates Store

Lucky Chocolates. The best!

The roof garden is connected to a spacious rental apartment on the second floor of the 19th century building and was built three years ago when Rae lived in the apartment and wanted some outdoor space. At the entrance to the roof garden there is a raised deck area which provides privacy and shade.

Roof Garden Deck

View of the roof garden terrace from the deck

The deck was built by Nick Gugliametti who also constructed the bamboo screens.

Roof Garden furniture

A place to eat ‘Al Fresco’

Roof Garden Bamboo Screens with Boston Ivy

Boston Ivy growing on bamboo screens

Boston Ivy Parthenocissus tricuspidata grows up the screens from the alley below, stems are attached to vertical surfaces by sticky pads at the ends of tendrils.

Roof Garden  with Boston Ivy berries

Boston Ivy foliage and berries

In summer, tiny green flowers bloom followed by small black berries (food for birds).

roof garden, mint growing in a recycled container

A useful herb, Mint

Mint flourishes, growing in a reclaimed drinks cooler.

Roof Garden Plastic Pots with Sedum plants

Plastic pots are a lightweight choice for a roof garden

These vintage white pots contain various Sedum plants.

Roof garden deck

The deck from the terrace

Stepping down from the deck, the terrace is covered in pea gravel, a lightweight material that weighs less than soil and grass.

Roof garden lawn in raised bed

Mini Lawn!

However there is a small lawn in a raised bed, usually kept neat by hand-trimming with scissors! Roof Garden Chair and pea gravel The sides of the deck are enclosed by metal railings which are integrated with wooden box planters, custom built by carpenter, John Malloy.

Roof Garden Marigolds in Planter

Marigolds – lovely hot colors

The box planters have an 8″ layer of soil and are suitable for heat tolerant annuals such as marigolds, cosmos and zinnias.

Roof Garden Marigolds and Zinnias

Marigolds and Zinnias

Roof Garden Annuals in Pots

A pretty mix of annual plants

Rae explains “It’s been a good year for the annuals and there are lots bees up here. It’s nice to have lots of flowers because the bees are dying out and we need bees for pollination.”

Roof Garden Lantana in a pot

Pink Lantana flowers

Rae especially likes the Lantana “Lovely small blooms and leaves, exotic unusual fragrance.” Like many gardeners, Rae is concerned about the natural environment and the roof garden does have several environmental benefits.

  • Provides wildlife habitat
  • Storm water runoff is reduced (rain water is absorbed by plant material)
  • The roof temperature is lower (sunny roofs may be heat traps)
  • The roof surface is protected which increases the longevity of the roof
Roof Garden Japanese maple in a box planter

Japanese Maple foliage glows in the sunlight

Larger box planters contain 2′ of soil and are lined with rigid foam with foil on one side, this  insulates the soil from temperature extremes. The Japanese maple tree is thriving in one of these planters. Rae uses store bought lightweight organic soil and adds seaweed emulsion or organic plant food once a year, also Miracle Grow as needed.

Roof Garden Sempervivum succulant plant

Sempervivum grows at the base of the Maple in the planter

Rae has seen hummingbirds and squirrels on the roof garden and would like to add a water fountain for the birds. Future plans include a drip irrigation system. This roof garden is a private place to relax and enjoy nature and at the same time, provides a habitat for wildlife.

Roof Garden view of maple trees

A view from the deck – Maple trees look spectacular in the fall

Roof Garden Lucky Chocolates Sign

Follow the signs…

Lucky Chocolates is located in the village of Saugerties historic district at the top of Partition Street.


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