Firstly, in the blazing heat (or perhaps humidity is a better description), I added mulch to the garden plot that lies under a large evergreen and abuts the fence dividing our yard from the neighbors. Naturally I ran out of mulch, but managed to be pleased with the results anyway.
I am a fan of Coral Bells aka heuchera. I began growing them in Brooklyn, and when we moved here I thought this might be the perfect spot for them. I adore the foliage and the amazing color range you can find in the plants. So year one I planted two of these and, being perennials, they seemed to like the spot well enough to return in the spring. Year two I added another variety and it also seemed to thrive. This year I have added a couple more varieties, and more than likely any additions next year will have to be mail order. I haven’t seen any other varieties available locally.
This is how it looked when I finished, or “almost” finished. Naturally the area needs some more planting that will be happening forthwith.
You may notice the brick that defines the perimeter of the area. Indeed there is always a story and this brick edging is one.
When we moved to the Finger Lakes in 2008 my husband had lived in New York City some 30+ years, the majority of it in Manhattan, the final six years in Brooklyn. We moved from the Upper West Side to Brooklyn in 2002 and it was then, while packing house, I learned about Llewellyn’s interest in red brick.
In our 89th Street apartment, we had a slip of a back yard, a narrow alley at best. Shady and dark, even impatiens would not thrive in that space. Llewellyn would always try to grow them however and he had, over the years, acquired a rather large collection of red brick he used to “landscape” areas — lovely visually, though all plants seemed to wither and die. These bricks were acquired on the streets, when buildings were demolished. LOTS of brick. Take a look at his self portrait in the Bronx when he was a Checker Cab driver in the 1970’s and you will see what I mean about brick acquisition. I liked looking at the brick because most of them were pretty old with stamped logos.
Moving house can make the kindest spirited person cranky, and just when it seemed the majority of the apartment was packed for our Brooklyn move, Llewellyn announced he wished to take the bricks with us to our new house. I bristled … do you know how much a small box of bricks weigh? And I am talking about many boxes of bricks. I’ll spare you the discussion, but Llewellyn took on the packing and moving of them so how could I complain? We all lived happily in Brooklyn for six years, the bricks residing in our spacious backyard garden, driveway and basement.
Then we decided to move to the Finger Lakes and again the bricks issue became a focus point. Additionally we had acquired a number of Brooklyn bricks and I fully admit to having assisted in the acquisition of some. All of that rebuilding in Brooklyn and gentrification made a brick here and there pretty easy to find. Anyway the brick collection grew somewhat. Again moving crankiness, again brick packing and schlepping by Llewellyn– though a 6 hour drive this time rather than across the Brooklyn Bridge. But all those NYC bricks are country bricks now, and we use some of them in our garden.
Below are pictures of a selection of Llewellyn’s bricks. And of course there are legitimate brick collectors and even a website and yes, a Brick Blog. I fully admit in the here and now I couldn’t be happier that Llewellyn had the fortitude to get the brick here — gotta love someone who loves old things enough to save and preserve them.
And it makes me feel like I have a little piece of New York City in my own back yard.