Though out of order, due to my inexperience, here are a selection of photos from the recently finished trompe l’oeil niches at St. Luke’s in Raleigh, dedicated to the memory of Monsignor Tim O’Connor.
I have had the great fortune to have been introduced to Monsignor Tim O’Connor of St. Luke’s Church by Ellie Denecke, and thanks to them had been commissioned to paint these trompe l’oeil niches for the statues in that Church. Sadly, the good Monsignor passed away just before he got to see the final product. I have dedicated the work to him and his memory, in gratitude for his patronage and kindness. While I know his physical eyes did not get to see the finished work, the eyes of his spirit are looking on, and, I hope, are satisfied.
He was often with me during the last weeks of his life, watching the work progress, asking questions, making comments, sometimes just sitting quietly. I am glad to have been there when he came to see St. Luke’s niche as it was finished, and he expressed great joy at what he saw. I am just so sorry that I could not finish Mary’s niche sooner for him to have been able to see it too. Nonetheless, his love for art and beauty lives on in so many additions to his Parish, of which mine are but two, and while he will be greatly missed, he will be long remembered, as his touch is to be seen all around.
Requiescat in Pace, Monsignor. MNJ
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Watering our Vegetables, Herbs, Flowers and especially Container Plants, is our chief job with this early and persistent heatwave. Soaking deeply is a necessity now, no overhead sprinkling, no half-measures will do! Against the general rule of thumb, it is also advisable to water in the morning AND evening, keeping in mind that it is the soil we want to get wet, not the leaves and flowers. If a plant is dessicated, however, a spritzing of leaves is restorative and needed.
Mulch is also such a help at this time, since it helps retain the water we put down, and keeps the soil cooler and slows evaporation .
Doing a visual inspection of the Garden in the morning is essential to knowing whether or not your watering is effective and sufficient. Look for plants that are not recovered from yesterday’s wilt – these will tell you that they have not been given enough to recouperate, and will need watching. By morning everything should be back up to snuff, no curled, papery looking leaves, no wilted stems.
Leaving the hose to run at the base of plants, trees, shrubs is the best way to assure that they receive a deep watering. It requires us to get out earlier than we may like, but it will be worth it once the heat passes, and you will have gotten your Garden through it and come out the other side with all your tomatoes intact! Tomatoes and other fruiting veggies will often abort fruit when stressed. Keeping them happy, i.e watered, will head off their survival tactic of dropping.
Watch, too, for the fungus and wilts that inevitably begin harrowing us this time of year. Squash, cucumbers, and others, start to look yellowish and pallid. The affected leaves should be removed IMMEDIATELY, and a Garden-safe Fungicide should be sprayed on the leaves and soil under the plants. Spraying all has to be done before around eight o’clock in the morning to avoid damaging the leaves with sunlight.
Flea-beetles are probably lacing the leaves of your Eggplants. Again, remove the most severely affected leaves, and spray with any food-safe killer – Safer soap, Volck oil solution, Sevin. You will need to watch and anticipate re-spraying in a couple of weeks to kill the adorable hatchlings!
Garden culture suggests we spend a little time removing the bottom leaves off our Tomatoes and Peppers, and all other plants that trail to the ground. Those trailing leaves are a ladder by which fungus and bugs get up into the now elongating plants and do their damage. Removing all the leaves up to the one-foot point also allows better air-flow, which also helps reduce fungal and insect issues.
Let us do a proper Rain Dance, and hope that this stretch of high temperatures ends soon. Till then, Water, my friends, Water without ceasing!
Hey, fellow Garden- gnomes, the weather prediction for this week is for it to get into the 100′s! Don’t let it get ahead of us and our vegatative investments! Resolve to rise early to get your deep watering done BEFORE the heatwave crashes. Watering now, early and often, will help the garden withstand the rise in temperature. The glory of our summer is that, with enough water, it is exactly the conditions inside a greenhouse. If there is a paucity of it, it is like a humid desert. Let’s make it on the greenhouse side.
After the heat breaks, remember to fertilize again. The plants in containers will have nearly exhausted their last feeding unless it was done in the last two weeks, and even then, I would give them a weak solution just for the heck of it.
If your Mediterranean Herbs are in full bloom, let them finish before you harvest. The best time to harvest Thyme, Marjoram, Oregano, etc, is just as the flower heads begin to open. That is when they are most packed with the essential oils that give them their Virtue. After they bloom, cut them back fairly severely, dry or otherwise prepare them for use. The aforementioned herbs, along with Basil, and Parseley, can be stored in the freezer for a year or more in a Ziploc bag with enough Olive oil to cover them. When they are removed for use in soups, sauces and stews, they are nearly as fresh as the day they were picked.
Drying is the next best way to preserve herbal abundance. Laying down paper towel, out of the sun, rinse and shake out the herbs, held in bunches. Separating the stems and making sure there is airspace between all, leave them to dry. The time required can vary depending on how dry your home is, but it usually takes a week, maybe more. When they are crispy-dry, I strip the leaves and small stems from the larger stems and branches over a cookie sheet, and tip the remains over to the end to place in clean, re-used herb containers or jelly jars. Don’t forget to mark them: type of herb and year.
As the Basil harvest begins to overwhelm you, get out the food processor and my favorite Pesto recipe and get blending! It is a tad time-consuming, but it is one of the most thoughtful, healthful, and eagerly received gifts at the Holidays. And when you don’t feel like working too hard for a meal, getting out the little tubs of Goodness is an easy, delicious addendum to any meal, or to add to a Lasana, or spoon a dollop on the last tomatoes of the season, with some Mozzerella cheese and a little salt ground on top for a taste of Caprese.
If you would like to share recipes for preserving or for making, please feel free to add them here. Sharing is caring, and yummy!
Living Romantically is easy with a few quick tips: the old calssic of taking flowers in and secnting the room with them. For Gardenias, try to take them in the morning, just those that are beginning to open, and float them in a shallow bowl. One bowl in each room, if you have such abundance. Three to five blooms in each receptacle puts out alot of FlowerPower! Aromatherapy 101!