Garden Walk, August 2014

IN AUGUST, when the veggies are exploding, the coreopsis is blooming, and the hemlocks are hugging at least one scantily-clad statue, I like to spend a little leisure time outdoors. Would you like to see what’s shaking in the gardens here? Join me on this sip-and-stroll tour:

Our drink du jour is Limoncello. Think of it as Italian lemonade — with a kick. It makes a revivifying cocktail when served on the rocks.


First, let’s head up to the attic for a bird’s-eye view of the Rose Garden. Sadly, most of my rose shrubs succumbed to the bitter winter of 2014.  Others are still putting on growth before they can even think of flowering. Fortunately the boxwood (which I grew mostly from cuttings) and yews that surround the beds are all glowing with green pride.

We’re outside now, looking towards the north fountain, and a pair of weeping crabapple trees. The trees are heavy with fruit.

I sometimes use crabapple branches in flower arrangements. Otherwise the bounty is reserved for wintering birds.

On the slope at the north end of the rose garden is a very tall, very ancient, silver-leaved maple. I built a retaining wall around its base, and gave it an under-planting of pachysandra and spring-flowering bulbs. The field stone for the wall came from an old foundation I unearthed while digging in the Woodland Garden.

Opposite the tree is another bed of pachysandra and bulbs.

Can you tell that I like symmetry?

Continuing north, we climb a gentle blue stone path that leads us to a grove of white pines. Watch your step here — the stones are wet from this morning’s rainfall.

The top of the path. I cut an opening through the pines in order to continue the path westward.

As a focal point, the end of the path features a headless statue of Venus de Milo. How poor Venus lost her head.

If we make a right turn past Venus, we encounter the Kitchen Garden. Earlier this summer, I planted the garden’s four narrow central beds with dwarf zinnias. To bring a sense of unity to the mixed zinnia-palette, I edged the beds with white alyssum.

Here’s a quick look at some (though not all) of the vegetables in this garden:

The potatoes vines look a little…bedraggled. That’s because the tubers beneath are nearing maturity.

The onion tops have fallen over, signaling harvest-time. But I won’t pull the bulbs until after the August 16 Garden Conservancy tour.  After all, who wants to look at an empty bed?

Lovage and bell peppers share gossip in yet another bed. Did you know that lovage leaves are terrific for cooking? I sometimes use them in place of celery for such dishes as Duck Breasts Mirepoix. Because the young, celery-flavored stems are hollow, you can use them as drinking straws for Bloody Marys.

This year and last have been very good for pepper production.  I’ll let some of the fruit ripen to red, and then I’ll cut both the red and green subjects into julienne strips, and saute them for Piperade. Piperade is probably the most useful item you can have in your freezer. I keeps bags of it beside my bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin.

The ‘Red Russian’ kale is growing almost too well. I love it for smoothies, kale chips, and this awesome savory tart.

With a little assistance, the heirloom tomatoes are merrily climbing their Joan Crawford-Approved trellis…

And the vines are loaded with fruit.

And speaking of loaded — can I pour you another Limoncello cocktail?

The garlic tops have already yellowed, signaling the bulbs below are ready for harvest.  Shall we dig up a head? (Tip: garlic should never be pulled.  Always dig it from the bottom.)


Opposite the Kitchen Garden is the Pool Garden. I enlarged this area a few years ago, and framed it with hemlock.

To my eyes, hemlock makes a graceful green background for classical statuary, such as the cement replica of “Summer” you see pictured above. Other statues in the garden include a Satyr and a cement replica of “Autumn.”

Probably you are very bored right now. But please stay with me — I’ve just two more gardens to walk you through.

If we continue beyond the pool garden, we will pass beneath a rose arbor, and enter the Woodland Garden. How I designed this shady retreat.

Here, a gushing pond provides pleasant music.  Would you believe it took just one afternoon to dig, line, and fill this water feature? The pond is a magnet for thirsty woodland creatures as well as birds.

What’s that you ask?

You’d like to take a spin on the slatted wood swing?

Be my guest.

As you swing and sway your cares away, you will have a view of these New York ferns…

And several varieties of hosta, including ‘Wide Brim.’

Hopping off the swing, and waltzing to the edge of the Woodland, you’ll have a view of the Hudson River tributary that runs behind my property.  The tributary is filled to capacity now, thanks to the nearly weekly rain storms we’ve been blessed with this summer.

Not that torrential downpours are always a blessing. Our steep gravel driveway has washed away three times.

I think we can skip the Serpentine Garden today, because we’ve visited it so many times in the past. So let’s head down to the Herb Garden, which is located between the Music Room and the old Kitchen Wing of the house.

The Herb Garden may be tiny, but it is certainly productive.  Just now the beds are overflowing with lettuce, basil, Swiss chard, parsley, chives, and cabbage.

The cabbage is begging to be harvested. But again, I feel I should hold off until the public garden tour is completed.

A friendly reminder: My gardens will be open on Saturday, August 16 as part of the Garden Conservancy’s “Open Days” program. Live in or around New York’s Hudson Valley? I hope you’ll stop by and say hello! For details and directions, please visit the Garden Conservancy’s website.

Well, I hope you enjoyed our little walk-about. I certainly enjoyed your company. Let’s sit on a bench in the Herb Garden, and sip our Limoncello. Then you can tell me what’s happening at your own planted place.

Don’t miss anything at A Garden for the House…sign up for Kevin’s weekly email updates!

Related Posts:
Flowering Arranging: A Sumptuous Summer Centerpiece
Housekeeping 101: Cleaning the “Master” Bedroom
Easy Homemade Baguettes


  1. That was aa beautiful tour–notice to a’s (too much yummie Limoncello)

  2. susan sexton says:

    wish you could come to the Midwest and create a garden for me.

  3. Manette Gutterman says:

    You are very blessed to have such plentiful, lush gardens! I wish I had just one of them!

  4. Thank you! What fun!

  5. Thanks for the awesome tour, now I don’t fell so bad that I can’t make your tour, maybe next year

  6. Thank you for sharing. It is just beautiful. I love the zinnias and alyssum. I plan on borrowing that idea for my yard next year.

  7. My my my, Kevin,

    I can’t tell you how much I enjoy this blog. Each week (and sometimes sooner) I click the shortcut to see what you’ve been up too.

    I’ve made a few of the wonderful items of food you’ve posted about and have thoroughly enjoyed them and the moment.

    Take care, I just wanted to let ya know


  8. Kevin,

    What a nice relaxing tour of your lovely gardens. Your veggies look wonderful. The only way I can grow veggies is in pots on my deck, and I still have to put fencing around the pots to keep the deer and groundhogs away. Sadly, I don’t grow much in the way of veggies. ;-(

  9. Shirley B. says:

    What a lovely tour (again). I just love our visits! The lemoncello was devine!
    Most everything here is fried; I’m in South-East Texas and it’s HOT HOT HOT! Second-season is coming on fast though, yay.

  10. Peggy Herron says:

    Your garden looks all ready for the garden tour. All the flowers and veggies look fabulous which is not an easy feat in August . Congratulations to all of them.

  11. That was a beautiful tour. Thank you! One question though – how do you keep the cabbage worms from attacking your cabbages??

  12. Wonderful tour, as always!! Can you tell me the name of the cabbage next to the red cabbage? Is it savoy cabbage? If it is, it is hard to find here in (Kansas) stores. I grew up with it in Germany. My mother used to squeeze it through a manual food processor to turn it into a thick soup. It was one of my favorites! And its really healthy.

  13. Sandy – The cabbage in the herb garden was free of worms this year. I’m not sure why.

    Karin – It is indeed Savoy cabbage. If you have the recipe for your mother’s soup, by all means share it here!

  14. Beautiful Kevin!

  15. Thank you for the tour. I wish I could come live in your forest and dance in the gardens at night….. Nice work you’ve done.

  16. Thank you, Kevin. How lovely and charming.

  17. What a beautiful tour of the gardens, I love the arbor. Everything looks so healthy and doing well, great green thumb! Would love to have you stop by and share your link this weekend!

  18. Wow so beautiful and relaxing walk through your garden. I wonder how big is your garden and how many garden ears do you have. I am amazed on now much energy you have at all the work you do! You’re awesome! Thank you for sharing!

  19. Thanks for the tour. Your garden looks so peaceful. Where is Miss Lily?
    Kevin, have you ever planted daikon/white radish? How does one know when to harvest? Same question about carrots. This is the first time we’ve planted the radish, and a couple look like they are heaving (a few inches) out of the raised bed.

  20. I do so enjoy our Sunday “chats.” I sit here with my coffee, enjoying your commentary as you stroll about the gardens and whip up fine cuisine in your kitchen. I feel like I’m following your footsteps as you putter around in the gardens or kitchen. Your gardens and walks are in fine form!! The plants all appear to be responding well to the love you give them.

  21. Always a treat Kevin. Thank you for the tour and delish Lemoncello. Now I really must scroll through your site and search for WTH a Joan Crawford Trellis is 🙂 (I have modeled my rasied beds after you 🙂 *curtsies*

  22. Chuck Rasmussen says:

    You have put in so so much hard work for such a long time. The result is your great refuge and sanctuary from the world. Thank you for posting phots and word descriptions so others can enjoy this too. Very nice!

  23. Just amazing. So jealous of your tomatoes. The heat of the summer stops production down here in GA. Hoping I can get a late harvest. Planted some babies again.

  24. Lovely. Wish I could visit in person. I wonder do do you have deer visit too?

  25. Hi Ofelia – Yes, deer are frequent visitors. To protect my food crops, both herb and kitchen gardens are fenced.

  26. Beautiful, peaceful & serene. Thank you Kevin.

  27. What a delightful tour! Wish I could visit “for real” next week. 😉

    Question for you about tomatoes — I know you’ve shown how you can ripen them off the vine (such as at the end of the season when you need to pick any green ones still on the vine) but I’m wondering if you routinely pick them before they’re ripe? Do you think they ripen as well off the vine as on? Now that I’m getting tomatoes (finally!) I keep looking at them wondering whether it’s better to leave them on the vine until the ripest moment or yank ’em off whenever I happen to notice. Thoughts?

    Thanks, as always, for your wonderful site!


  28. I “walked” the entire property with you just now. It is grand that you are sharing it for the conservancy. Actually, it was more fun when we walked together in the spring. Enjoy!

  29. Thought you would like to know – you said: “First, let’s head up to the attic for a bird’s-eye view of the Rose Garden. Sadly, most of my rose shrubs succumbed to the bitter winter of 2014.”

    Think you meant to say winter of 2013.

  30. I really enjoyed that! In hot humid north Florida my shady vines and plants are threatening to grow over the house, but it’s not the best time of year for flowers or vegetables

  31. Hi Arden Rembert Brink – I prefer to let my tomatoes ripen indoors — this way they are safe from squirrels and chipmunks. Once a tomato exhibits its “first blush of color,” it does not require the vine.

    Elaine – Here, the bitterest months of winter were January/February 2014.

  32. Thanks Kevin for the tour.
    Last week someone ‘helped’ me with my garden and pulled out all Malva’s. I could have cried. But then I decided to see it as an opportunitie and I did sow ‘veldsla’ . I will be able to give it to my family in about 4 weeks till far in novembre 🙂

  33. Valerie C. says:

    Thank you. I loved it! Always a treat as I imagine myself there 🙂

  34. Kevin, regarding the wormless cabbage – do you have herbs nearby? The little green worms were eating my flat-leaf kale faster than it could rejuvenate so I moved several clay-potted curly parsley plants among the kale and voila – the worms have left the area. Companion planting is a great tool in the battle to harvest what you plant. Now I have voles – any suggestions? They are destroying my tomatoes each night. Short of leaving Sophie my Corgi out over night I am at a loss as to what to do. Such adventure to grow a garden!

    Made a marvelous Cauliflower, Swiss Chard, Chicken soup this weekend – yummmm!

  35. Wow. That was beautiful. Need an assistant?

  36. Judy Sides says:


  37. Alicia O'Neal says:

    You have an abundance of veggie growth!! Maybe it is because of the great weather y’all get in the Hudson River Valley area. Not too hot and you get a lot of rain.
    The soil and perhaps what you put into the soil. Compost, etc.
    I did not have this luck this year:(
    Very hearty and beautiful garden tour.

  38. Jody Mandel says:

    Kevin, I was wondering if you have a lot of deer in your area and if you have a lot of trouble with them.
    My brother lives in NJ and the entire bottom portion of his yews were totally consumed by deer.
    Of course, that’s not all they eat…

    Thanks, Jody.

  39. Beverly, zone 6, eastern PA says:

    I leave some of my tomatoes on the vines wrapped with tulle netting for protection while they are ripening.

    I picked three enormous German Johnsons over the course of 10 days, allowing each one to sit and ripen inside for many days after I picked them. Upon cutting, each one was still too white and undeveloped inside to be enjoyable on the palette. I wrapped more of them today and will force myself to wait longer to pick them.

    The early picking tactic has worked well for Sun Golds, Tomatoberry’s, Red Calabash’s and St. Pierre’s. All of these are smaller than the German Johnsons.

    Loved the tour ! Those purplish cabbages make that photo my favorite.

  40. Thanks, Kevin. That’s good to know (about picking before they’re ripe). Now I don’t have to hover over them on the vine and stress about picking them at just the right moment! Thanks so much for taking the time to answer.

    best to you!

  41. Simply beautiful! I had just decided to fill a bed with pachysandra and spring bulbs but was concerned about the height of the Spring flowers. What kinds did you plant with the pachysandra?

  42. Maxine Meach says:

    Just the right view of a lovely garden. Thank you.

  43. Oh I WISH mine was as productive! Sigh droughts are so not cool! Ah well. I am learning quite a bit as I try little things. The corn is doing really well in the containers! The ears are devloping nicely/ I am once again trying my hand at pumpkin…….Tomaotes have not really cooperated this year.

    I amgoing to keep trying and hopfully some day have something beautiful!

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