Drive with care and be aware

As you probably know, this time of year, turtles cross roads to go to their breeding areas. Please be careful when driving. If possible (where safe to do so) stop and move the turtle to it’s destination on the other side of the road (the direction it is headed).

Thank you!

Every day is ‘Earth Day’ don’t you think?

A painted turtle walking on the side of the road

A painted turtle on the side of the road

antique_painted_ gathering_garden_

Hand-made blue rice-gathering basket from Tibet. Made from bamboo and reeds

Rayann’s Creative Instinct is a store in the village of Saugerties in NY. It is chock-a-block with antiques from the Hudson Valley, a rural region of New York State, about 100 miles north of NYC.

The owner, Rayann Fatizzi has decades of experience procuring vintage furniture, decorative tchotchkes and antique sculpture from local sources and overseas. She also creates unique jewelry and pictures from recycled trinkets, fabrics and graphics. Here in the Hudson Valley, vintage items and historical artifacts are used as decorative items in gardens – there is a unique Hudson Valley style.

Garden Sculpture

I love sculpture in the garden because it provides interest even when the flowers and plants die back in the Fall. It provides a focal point in areas where it is hard to grow plants, such as dry shade.

In the winter  protect outdoor sculpture from the severe weather and low temperatures (click here for advice) or bring it inside.

This marble statue of a smiling monk is from Tibet.

A sculpture of Buddha

A stone sculpture of the head of Buddha. The stone contains marine fossils and is very heavy!

Head of Buddha – a calm presence in the garden.

Baskets and Containers

Vintage basket made from corn cobs hanging in the window of the shop

Vintage basket from New Hampshire hanging in the window of the shop.

This basket includes two rows of dried corn cobs. Rayann noted “This is a rare basket, I’ve never seen one like this before”.


Perfect for your garden tools – a hand-made wooden tool caddy.

Use wooden boxes and containers for garden storage or display as decorative items.

Gorgeous hand-carved wooden 'baskets' with smooth finish

Gorgeous hand-carved wooden rice gathering baskets from Tibet

Garden Furniture

Rocking Chair

Rocking Chair

According to Rayann “This Shaker rocking chair is over 100 years old, originally from Massachusetts. The basket is an apple gathering basket from a local farm in the Hudson Valley.”

The wooden rocker is a traditional piece of furniture on a porch. I love the faded zigzag woven seat and back.

Dark blue mini cabinet with drawers

Dark blue mini cabinet with drawers

Rayann provided some interesting history “This piece was hand-made by a gentleman in Kingston who repaired lamps. He worked in his home-shop. The drawers were made from vintage cheese boxes.”

For the gardener, this tiny cabinet could hold small tools, packets of seed and all those snippets of string and twine.

Vintage couch made from bamboo

Vintage couch made from bamboo

Relax in style! This beautiful bamboo sofa would look lovely on an enclosed deck where it would be protected from the elements. Rayann told me it came from the estate sale of a woman who collected Asian furniture.

Vintage Pepsi drinks cooler

Vintage Pepsi drinks cooler

A little rusty, but still brings back memories of happy summer days – this Pepsi drinks cooler could be refinished to it’s original paint scheme or left as is, depending on your preference.

Garden Lanterns

Pretty painted lantern

Hand made painted lantern with pressed glass side panels. Shabby Chic!

Light up your yard during the warm evenings of summer and fall.

Red oil lanterns

Red oil lanterns

Railroad workers used these red oil lanterns to send signals. (There was a huge rail system in New York State because people and goods traveled to and from NYC by rail. The system was dismantled in the 1970’s and now only two routes remain. Many of the routes were converted into ‘rail trails’ for walking)

Rayann mentioned “These lanterns are great for camping. In the summer people put them on their porches or hang them from a shepherd’s crook in the yard”.  Take a look at Jill Ruth’s wonderful blog for inspiration (below)

vintage oil lantern and galvanized tank used as flower bed

Vintage lantern as garden accessory. The large galvanized tank is a ‘raised bed’ planted with pretty annual flowers, cleome and african marigolds.

Tin lantern, country syle

Tin lantern, country style

Add a candle or tea-light to this tin lantern and enjoy a peaceful evening outside.

Garden accessories – Galvanized Steel or Rust?

Milk container from a Hudson Valley farm

Milk container from a Hudson Valley farm

Rusty milk container from a local farm.

Galvanized containers

Galvanized containers

Nowadays galvanized metal containers are very popular as decorative items and as planters for flowers and succulents. Galvanization is the process where  steel or iron items are coated with zinc to prevent rusting. These tubs and buckets were basic utility items on local farms, used for washing vegetables, laundry etc.

Here’s a collection of galvanized watering cans in a Hudson Valley garden – they are becoming harder to find as collectors snap them up (below).

vintage galvanized watering cans and buckets

Vintage galvanized water cans, buckets and oil cans in Hazel’s garden in the Hudson Valley

Rusty milk can

Rusty milk can

Out and about in the Hudson Valley, you’ll see a lot of these milk cans used as garden ornaments or bases for mail boxes. Here’s a newer one at Platte Creek Farm (below)

Milk can (with bird's nest!) at Platte Creek Maple Farm in Saugerties NY

Milk can (with bird’s nest!) at Platte Creek Maple Farm in Saugerties NY

Rayann explains “the milk cans often the have the name of the dairy on them.”

black vintage milk can with 'Southern Dairies Inc.' painted in white lettering

milk can from Southern Dairies Inc.

More rusty chic…

Wrought iron wall hook

Wrought iron wall hook

Hang a  small wind chime from this hand crafted wall hook.

Star anchor weights

Star anchor weights, some have been painted white and blue

These rusty cast-iron ‘star anchor weights’ were used to strengthen brick walls in old  buildings. How about using them to decorate your shed or deck?  According to Rayann “The stars in my shop came from Texas where they are nailed on barns for decoration. A friend had a country store in Texas that she closed up and I bought them from her. They are known as ‘Barn Stars’ down there.”

They can still be seen on the walls of industrial buildings in the Hudson Valley (below).

Anchor weight stars in a brick wall

Anchor weight stars in a brick wall

Bird Houses made from recycled materials

Cute bird house

Cute bird house

As Rayann explains “I designed this bird house and my husband built it – I pick out the bits and bobs and he nails them in place. There are two vintage tiles from the 1940’s on the roof of this bird house.”

Here’s the back-story behind the tiles. “My husband’s friend was a renovator and was working on a 1700’s stone house. Underneath the house he found hundreds of tiles, some were from the 1940’s and some from the 1700’s. I think the previous owners re-modeled their kitchen in the 1940’s and chucked the 1700’s tiles under the house. Then the kitchen was re-modeled again more recently and the 1940’s tiles were left under the house, which is where we found them”

A recycled cowboy boot made into a bird house.

A home in the country!

Reuse, recycle – this old cowboy boot is now a bird house. Re-purpose and provide habitat for birds!

Decorative Weather Vane

Rooster weather vane

Rooster weather vane

Looking for something for the garden shed or garage? This reproduction primitive metal rooster is a reference to the American farm-yard. Check out the spurs on his legs!

The Shop

The 'Rayann's Creative Instinct' store in Saugerties NY

The ‘Rayann’s Creative Instinct’ store in Saugerties NY

Rayann’s Creative Instinct is the place to go if you are looking for a real piece of Americana and Hudson Valley history.

* Thank you Rayann for taking the time to share the stories about the treasures in your shop *

Rayann's Creative Instinct antique shop, vintage

The bricks and mortar shop

Rayann’s Creative Instinct is located at 105 Partition Street, Saugerties NY 12477

(845) 246-4492 or  More finds on Etsy and Facebook.

Check out the excellent blogs from Empress of Dirt and Jill Ruth for ideas on recycled items for the garden. What vintage items do you use in your garden?

Thinking of getting some Spring Flowering Bulbs for your Garden?

The Hudson Valley Garden Association has a great choice of bulbs & you can support a local Not-For-Profit Organization.

A win-win for Hudson Valley Gardeners! Click here to take a look at their selection.

Allium aflatunense Gladiator

Shiny, green leaves of a drought-tolerant ornamental grass at the xeriscape garden at Ulster Community College in Stone Ridge NY

Ornamental grass in the ‘River’ bed at the xeriscape garden

Master Gardener’s Plant Sale to Benefit Xeriscape Garden

The Masters Gardener program of Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County (CCEUC) will be hosting a Plant Sale and free workshop

  • Saturday, September 20th
  • 9:00 am – 12:00 pm
  • At their Xeriscape Garden located on the SUNY Ulster campus on 491 Cottekill Road in Stone Ridge
  • Rain or shine
  • Cash, check or credit cards accepted
  • The sale will offer an array of plants from the xeriscape garden itself plus plants grown in the Master Gardener’s own gardens!
  • A free workshop “Photographing your Garden” will take place at the same location at 10:00 am

Please contact Master Gardener Coordinator, Dona Crawford at 845-340-3990 ext. 335 or for more information.

Please call the CCEUC office at 845-340-3990 if you have any special needs.

Click on the calendar  for more events and programs and follow CCEUC Facebook

Drought-tolerant monarda (red flowers) and ornamental grasses

Drought-tolerant monarda (red flowers) and ornamental grasses





The Master Gardeners of Ulster County Cornell Cooperative Extension created this garden at Ulster Community College in Stone Ridge. Donations were provided by several local businesses.Distant view of Ulster Community College garden, showing lawn, trees and flower beds

The garden is near the main entrance to the campus.

Wooden pergola with four posts, with a yellow trumpet vine growing up each post, covered in green foliage and yellow flowers

At the entrance to the garden there is a hand-built pergola covered in yellow trumpet vine campsis radicans

Close up of three clusters of yellow trumpet vine flowers and green leaves

The garden consists of 11 island beds. Each bed has a theme such as Viburnum Bed, Nursery Bed, Herb Bed… Garden bench made from concrete uprights with a bluestone slab on top Pink evening primrose flowers and green foliage

The ‘Bench Bed’ includes a bluestone and concrete bench surrounded by sun-loving pink primroses Oenothera speciosa. Chokeberry tree, sedum, ornametnal grasses in a garden with ornamental 'river bed' made from pebbles

One of my favorites was the ‘River Bed’ which included a ‘river’ of pebbles. This dainty tree is a Chokeberry. It is native to NY, has white blossom in the spring and small fruit in the fall. The bright green sedum in front of the tree grows well on dry gravel.

white datura flowers

This Datura is an annual in the Hudson Valley climate (USDA zone 5) the flowers are about 4″ long. Pale purple Echinops flowers with bees and other insects

The garden was teeming with pollinating insects, especially on this Globe Thistle Echinops

Prickly pear cactus with yellow flower

Many plants in the ‘River Bed’ were drought-tolerant species suitable for a xeriscape (minimal-water) garden, such as this Prickly Pear cactus Genus Opuntia in bloom. The fleshy pads are modified stems.

low growing euphorbia with grey leaves, growing next to pebbles

Grey Euphorbia Euphorbia myrsinites forms mats of slightly swirling stems, perfect for the ‘river’ themed bed.

Another of my favorites was the ‘Compost Bed’ I admired the way the compost bins were hidden – here’s the front, a planting of Spirea shrubs, silver-leaved Lambs Ears and beautiful grass Miscanthus Sinensis. spirea shrubs, lambs ears plants and ornamental grasses in a garden

And here’s the back of the bed. Plant pots, three compost bins and a tool box – all very neat and tidy unlike my garden. three garden compost bins, plant pots and tool  box in a garden

The ‘Mouse Bed’ (I couldn’t figure out the reason for this name!) included a tall rudbeckia and purple coneflowers Echinacea species.

yellow rudbeckia flowers

purple coneflowers and lambs ear plants

The ‘Milkweed Bed’ included Common or Swamp Milkweed which is food for the Monarch Butterfly caterpillar. The flowers smell like jasmine.

Common/swamp milkweed flower

. yellow achillea flowers

Yellow Achilea in the ‘Milkweed bed’.

The ‘Butterfly Bed’ includes plants such as purple coneflowers that are attractive to skippers and other butterflies.

skipper butterfly on purple coneflowers (echinacea species)


Gaillardia 'Goblin' yellow and red flowers

A butterfly favorite, Gaillardia ‘Goblin’ in the ‘Butterfly Bed’. This garden is functional as well as beautiful, because it

  • Enables people to see hardy, drought-tolerant plants
  • Includes plants and trees that are native to NY or cultivars of native plants
  • Provides wildlife habitat, especially for insects and hummingbirds
  • Reduces the use of water and fossil fuels (lawn mowing)
  • Creates a space for people to unwind and enjoy nature

A lady lying on a bench which is part of a pergola, with yellow trumpet vine growing on it.

Relax and enjoy the moment in the shade of the pergola…and watch the hummingbirds visiting the trumpet vine.

Do you have a favorite ‘public’ garden? Add a comment and share your thoughts.

The second week in July is New York Invasive Species Awareness Week

  • Events
  • Identifying Invasive species
  • Education
  • Advice
  • Resources and contacts

Click here for more information

Green foliage of a Barberry Shrub in summer showing detail of leaves and bright 'apple' green color of foliage

Barberry Shrub, a garden escapee, grows in woodland areas



A single white bell-shaped flower with yellow and purple stripes inside. The edges of the petals are ruffled. From the Southern Catalpa tree.

Southern Catalpa tree flower

In mid-June the Catalpa trees are in bloom and the lemon-vanilla fragrance is so pleasant on a hot day. Picture of a pinnacle of Southern Catalpa tree flowers which are white with pink stripes inside.

The flowers of the the Southern Catalpa  have stripes inside – landing strips for pollinating insects.

Many pinnacles of white flowers on a Southern Catalpa tree.

It is a common tree in the Hudson Valley, I often see them growing by the side of the road and in people’s gardens.

Mature Southern Catalpa tree covered in white flowers.

Southern Catalpa tree in bloom

The tree grows to about 60′ high.

Mature Southern Catalpa tree with massive drooping branches that almost touch the ground.

Mature tree with large branches

The branches on a mature tree are very thick (2′ or so wide) and curve, sometimes almost touching the ground.

A heart-shaped leaf from a Southern Catalpa tree.

Heat-shaped leaves

The leaves are large, up to 12″ long. A friend explained how these thick leathery leaves are difficult to rake in the fall.

Green and brown seed pods on a Southern Catalpa tree

Seed pods

Here are the green seed pods in July. The brown pods are from the previous year. The seed pods are about 15′ long.

Seed pods in winter

The seed pods remain on the trees during the winter

Many long brown seed pods hanging from the branches of the Southern Catalpa tree in winter, NY.

Seed pods hanging from the branches in winter

The Catalpa tree is also known as the ‘Cigar Tree’

Two seeds in the snow, fallen from a Southern Catalpa tree, winter in NY.

Seeds in the snow

Each seed pod is filled with hundreds of tiny seeds with fibrous ‘wings’ for dispersal by wind.

Two American Robins on the bare branches of trees in winter, NY

American Robins eating seeds

By winter, most of the seeds have disappeared, but some are still around and provide food for wildlife.

Whilst looking online for information about this tree, I discovered it is the host for the Catalpa Sphinx Moth

Brown colored Catalpa Sphinx Moth. Image by

Catalpa Sphinx Moth. Image by

According to online stories, the caterpillars make excellent bait for fish. Here’s a little more information about the caterpillar

I have not seen any caterpillars on the trees in my area (a result of pesticide use perhaps?)



Love this art, the patterns and the use of stones…

Originally posted on The Dancing Rest:

“LandArt – art in and with nature – has become an essential part of my work. Nature offers everything necessary for an aesthetic work of art, i.e. materials to create something, colours, light und a vast open canvas. Here I can live out my creative passion without limitation, enabling the movement of freedom and the pleasure of breathing deeply.

I express my love of landscape through the art of Photography. The impermanence of my work, however, is also a very appealing aspect of making Landart creations, as it is simply part of nature.

My installations blend seamlessly into the landscape and often it looks as if they had been there forever. The right frequency is important to me. Harmony and authenticity. My artistic work has something to do with stillness. Peace with nature, with the weather, the stones, the light and the ocean. Peace with myself. And if I can…

View original 27 more words

Here’s a great opportunity to learn about preserving and canning food…

Monthly Workshops beginning  July 1st – Kingston, NY

  • Canning food in your home is a safe and rewarding process that is fast becoming popular again! Learn how to preserve the season’s bounty from the experts at Cornell Cooperative Extension Ulster County’s (CCEUC) Nutrition Program beginning in July!
  • Learn research based methods of food preservation as well as the full range of products that can be safely preserved using boiling water bath, pressure canning, dehydrating and freezing methods of food preservation.
  • These workshops will be held at The Old Dutch Church located at 272 Wall Street in Kingston, NY.
  • The fee is $25 per person / per workshop, or you can take all five for $100 and save $25. Participants may bring their pressure gauge in to be tested for a fee of $2. You get to take home a jar of what we preserve in class!
  •  Each workshop includes detailed instructions, resources for safe and reliable recipes, and hands-on experience led by CCEUC’s Master Food Preserver, Janie Greenwald.
  • These workshops fill up quickly. Pre-register early to secure your seat!

Click here for a printable registration form and complete workshop descriptions. Sorry, no refunds. If you cannot attend you may send someone in your place. For more information call CCEUC Nutrition Educator and Master Food Preserver, Janie Greenwald at 845-340-3990 x 326.

Workshop Series Schedule All workshops are from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Tuesday, July 1 Boiling Water Bath Method of Preserving: Seasonal Jam

Tuesday, August 5 Dehydrating as Food Preservation Method: Fruit and Vegetable Leathers & other treats

Tuesday, September 2 Fermented and Quick Pickles to Love and to Preserve: Pickles

Tuesday, October 7 Pressure Canning to preserve all your Low Acid Foods: Tomatoes

Tuesday, November 4 Boiling Water Bath Method of Preserving: Orange, Cranberry Chutney

This series is hosted by Cornell Cooperative Extension Ulster County’s Nutrition Education Program. For more information about Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County’s community programs and events, visit the online calendar and follow on Facebook and Twitter. CCEUC provides equal program and employment opportunities. Please contact the CCEUC office at 845-340-3990 if you have any special needs.      

Japanese Knotweed shoots in April.

Japanese Knotweed shoots in the spring

Japanese Knotweed Fallopia japonica is growing well in the Hudson Valley. Too well – it’s everywhere, including people’s gardens. It forms large stands, preventing all other plants from growing and eliminating habitat for wildlife.

Japanese Knotweed shoots.

Spring shoots

If it’s growing on your property, remove it as soon as possible before it becomes a  large clump which is much harder deal with.

Japanese knotweed stems.

The semi-woody stem is hollow


  • A herbaceous perennial that can grow over 5′ tall with stems 2″ wide.
  • Hollow stems look a little like bamboo.
  • In spring the shoots are a reddish color
  • The green stems have enlarged leaf nodes and may have red spots
  • The green leaves are alternate, 6″ long, 3-4″ wide and broadly ovate
  • In August, the flowers are greenish-white panicles in the axils of the leaves
  • In the fall the foliage dies back, leaving the dead woody stems standing
Clumps of Japanese Knotweed in April.

Clumps of Japanese Knotweed in late spring


Barbara Bravo an experienced Hudson Valley gardener, Garden Coach and Master Gardener, recommends these steps for removing the plant.

  • Mowing or cutting to ground. To be effective, continue all season.
  • Use heavy black plastic sheets to smother plants
  • For large stands, the best method is to cut stems off at about 3′ high just below a stem node – use a squirt bottle and fill the hollow stem up ¼ of the way with 25 % Glyphosate (Use Rodeo if in a wetland or near water). Follow all instructions on the product label exactly to avoid contamination and over-use of chemicals.
  • In all cases, dispose of cut stems properly – the plant can resprout from stem or root pieces that are left on the ground.
  • Do not put the plant on a compost heap because it is possible to spread the plant when applying compost
  • Put the plant in a sealed bag in your trash can for garbage removal.
  • Complete removal may take several years, inspect the area often for regrowth and continue the removal process if needed.
  • Alternately, hire a professional Invasive Plant Removal company
Japanese Knotweed flowers in August.

Japanese Knotweed flowers in August

Japanese Knotweed dried flowers in November.

In the fall the foliage and flowers die back

Japanese Knotweed stem in October

Woody stem in the fall

How does this plant spread?

  • This plant has a horizontal, underground plant stem (rhizome) that produces a shoot and root system for a new plant. This rhizome can grow under surfaces such as concrete, bricks etc. until it finds a space to start a new plant.
  • It is also spread by seed
Japanese Knotweed sprouting in November.

New plants sprouting from rhizomes. These new plants are growing in October!

How did this plant arrive in the Hudson Valley?

Japanese Knotweed is native to Japan, China, Korea, and Taiwan and was brought to America in the late 1800s as a garden plant. It now grows wild because it can grow in a variety of soils, in sun or part shade and thrives in this climate.

Japanese Knotweed stems in October.

Japanese Knotweed stems in October

Japanese Knotweed in October. Hudson

Foliage has died back, leaving the dead stems.

Preventing the spread of Japanese Knotweed

In her excellent lecture about invasive plants in the Hudson Valley, Barbara Bravo explained “Gardeners are the first line of defense against invasive plants, if you see a plant that is thriving and you do not recognize it, do some research to identify the plant. If necessary, remove it”

Need some help with this plant?

Contact your local Cornell Cooperative Extension Office

Contact Barbara Bravo at Enter the Garden

For help identifying a plant, post a picture on the Plant Identification Facebook page

Foragers of wild plants can find recipes for eating Japanese Knotweed here

For professional plant removal, contact Poison Ivy Patrol, this business uses non-chemical removal methods


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