Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Many of the early spring flowers head into winter with their flower buds already formed. To me this seems to be a huge contradiction. One quite naturally assumes that flowers are frail and tender so how can their buds endure an entire cold and snow filled season? On the other hand open early blossoms need a head start to complete their development.
Arbutus has held me in its spell for years. Writings far more than a century old proclaim this plant's absolute resistance to being transplanted but pictured is a moved plant that has lived here for many years. Two different bud clusters are growing from the point where the stem end sends out leaves. Also in plain sight is a nearly totally dead leaf. Evergreen does not mean forever and the mystery of the life cycle of Arbutus leaves remains unknown.
Magnolia suggests a flowering tree that might be expected to grow in Georgia rather than New York. Miller Nurseries, now gone, ran a great business that provided me with plants for a very long time. This Magnolia is one of their special plants. Those fuzzy gray buds will open into beautiful early white and pink flowers. Here again the buds must survive winter. They handle our cold but the deer eat them when most of their food is buried under snow. A four foot high fence surrounds the tree but the deer simply eat higher buds. Lower cages are spread out next to the fence to deny the deer a close approach. We hope that this new twist will save more buds because the early blossoms are truly spirit lifting.
Pinxter is a native plant here as is Arbutus. This bush has been here for many years but yearly trimming by the deer has kept it rather small. Here again wire cages are piled to keep the deer away. Some may find this combination of cold stone near mostly bare branches unworthy of a second look but it is one of our treasures. When the air turns bitter cold and snow covers the ground, we will tramp about to check on our early flower buds.
Friday, November 22, 2019
With a lifetime of interest in New York State railroads, a model of the New York Ontario & Western became the one that I wanted to build. The pictures on the wall show the actual bridge that crossed the valley approaching Sidney Center. Maywood was the railroad name for this bustling town to avoid shipping confusion with nearby Sidney. Fourteen towers were needed to support the rails high above the valley floor. My model had room for only seven towers. This was the first part of the layout completed. Even the dust of moving coal is part of this train.
This picture is included here because of the photograph of the actual Hawk Mountain tunnel. Construction of the four lane route 17 obliterated all traces of this tunnel. When I drive the highway the nearby bridge abutments used to cross the Delaware River can still be seen and the end of the short trestle that approached the tunnel are in view. That is all that remains of this structure.
This model of the Hawk Mountain tunnel was the second section on the model to be completed. No information can be found to identify which end of the tunnel was photographed making finding the precise location of the real tunnel more impossible.
The real fieldstone foundation near the box car is all that remains of a freight house. There is also actual stone in two places at the tunnel entrance. The other stone and the tunnel portal are castings although the keystone above the arch was carved by hand. The trees were built using Autumn Joy sedum flowers grown on site.
The Lehigh Valley Railroad figured prominently in my youth. A tale repeated many times describes my first exposure to railroads. On the trip home from the hospital following my birth, we were stopped at a railroad crossing. My Father held me up so that I could see my first train. In later years memories of my Father driving out of the usual way home so that he could race the Black Diamond to Newfield Station are easily remembered.
The caboose pictured is the best of the train cars that I built from scratch. Plans taken from the prototype were drawn as the first step in building the model. Milled basswood shapes and sheathing were custom cut to build the model. Wire was bent to form handrails and bracing. Tiny bolt heads secured the diagonal braces at each end. Most of this stuff is being boxed and inventoried for the coming auction but this piece will stay with me after the rest is sold or trashed.
Sunday, November 17, 2019
It has been awhile because the garden has turned frigid. I have to wonder if I will see the lady's tresses again. Even if I don't I have enjoyed them so much. The last time I checked on them the cage had blown off and the flowers were gone, not gone to seed but gone, eaten, missing. I replaced the cage but we have all heard that picking wild flowers can destroy plants. What if the animals eat them off? What happens then?
The plant has been happy here. New growth shows at the base of the nipped off stems. Perhaps it will make it through the Winter and be back in the Spring. Plants are amazing and I think there is a good chance it will be back in spite of everything. I will be very excited if it is!
Saturday, November 2, 2019
Becky and I have owned our retirement land for more than twenty-five years. In that time I have had three near death experiences. In light of that reality, we hold the belief that we have enjoyed life in this isolated rural setting far longer than we had any right to expect. Now we are facing the undeniable reality that the time to move to new housing is drawing close.
Model railroads have been a passion of mine since childhood. Our new dry basement with a high ceiling looked perfect for a model railroad. The New York & Ontario and Western was to hold a major portion of the model. Some space was also planned for the Delaware & Hudson. Both railroads operated in this area.
This long view features a bridge crossing the Delaware River in the foreground and the legendary steel trestle in Sidney Center. The Lackawanna passenger train is totally out of place here but its picture was desired before the auction.
This view shows just how this layout was built. Since this blog focuses on our gardens, mention must be made that Autumn Joy sedum stems from our garden were used to grow the model trees.
The Pennsylvania coal mine belongs here. Pictures on the far wall show the real Sidney Center bridge. The passenger train is totally out of place.
I find it hard to believe that this steam engine did the work that later used two diesel engines. The cardboard guard rails were meant to prevent trains from falling to the floor should a derailment occur in the tunnels. A cloth drape would have been hung from the edge framework but we never got that far.
This control panel was lettered by my older brother. Directly above it is a Unadilla Valley Railroad passenger train similar to the real thing that ran just across the Unadilla River from our home. The milk train crossing the bridge illustrates a major commodity moved initially by railroad in this section of New York State. The Lackawanna train is totally out of place here but it sure looks good.
This view shows the river. The sandy area near the bridge abutment was a popular location for wild beach parties. Each of the milk cars were scratch built using basswood structural shapes following plans that I drew. The lettering on the prototype cars was yellow but no decals could be found in that color. Part of today was spent placing the Lackawanna train in a box that is now ready to be sent to the auction house. Perhaps by the end of winter all of these models will also be ready to go.