Sunday, May 8, 2011

Yaddo's Lovely Lawn

Yaddo, the famous artists' retreat at the edge of Saratoga Springs, is famous also for its beautiful formal gardens filled with roses and fountains and classical statuary. But I love to visit Yaddo for its beautiful weeds. There's a vast expanse of lawn below the landmark Victorian mansion, and today it was spangled with many kinds of pretty wildflowers. There were violets of several kinds -- Common Blue, Sweet White, and Dog Violet -- and just hundreds of these tiny Thyme-leaved Speedwells, almost as small as snowflakes and equally as pretty.

Some folks might not consider Pussytoes a beautiful wildflower, but it sure is fuzzy and cute when you view it up close.

Lawn fanatics consider Ground Ivy the bane and torment of their lives, but I wonder why anyone would want grass instead of these little blue orchid-like blooms and their ruffly, mint-scented leaves that fill the air with fragrance when they are mowed.

I'm glad the groundskeepers at Yaddo don't spread the kind of poisons that would kill these beautiful "weeds." I'll bet this Chipping Sparrow is glad the ground is not poisoned, too, since that's where this half-pint sparrow with a chestnut cap likes to spend most of its time, scratching among the gravel.

Of course, not all of Yaddo's wildflowers are weeds. They do have a shaded woodland garden planted with many varieties of native flowers. Rue Anemone was in bloom today, and while most of the flowers were the expected pristine white, one of the blooms was the palest, prettiest lilac.

Another violet was flowering today. This is Labrador Violet, distinguished by its dark-green leaves that look like their bases were dipped in purple dye.


Anonymous said...

The long termed 'groundkeepers' at Yaddo were all let go a week or two ago. Including one who lived on the grounds. A former employee of a local construction company (landscaping division)was hired.

Margaret Jacobson said...

I so enjoy your blog and look forward to it each day. I just wanted to let you know that it is the all volunteer Yaddo Garden Association which has maintained the Yaddo rose and rock gardens for the past twenty years. When I go in tomorrow to volunteer I will have to look for the weeds you mentioned.

Woodswoman Extraordinaire said...

Speedwell and ground ivy abound in my lawn, and I've always wondered what they were but never troubled to look them up. People wonder why our "lawn" is mostly weeds. It's a mix of not wanting to put down chemicals, and loving the weeds more than grass, anyway. My husband put off mowing the lawn for days because the speedwell was so sweet it seemed a shame to mow it. Thanks for the ID assistance!

Jacqueline Donnelly said...

Anonymous, I'm sorry to hear about the groundskeepers losing their jobs. They always did such a terrific job. I hope this new guy doesn't start using weed killers on the grass.

So nice of you to stop by with your kind comment, Margaret Jacobson. I often see the volunteers working in the gardens and I'm so grateful for you keeping things so beautiful. And for not being TOO diligent about pulling "weeds" like violets and speedwells. In a couple of weeks the Birdseye Speedwell will form gorgeous blue clouds in the grass. I especially love the rock garden with its emphasis on native plants. Keep up the good work.

Woodswoman, you are a woman after my own heart. And just think of all the essential little soil critters you have spared by not poisoning your lawn. Not to mention those dear cats and dog who share your space. One of the wonderful things about these pretty lawn "weeds" is, you can mow them down and they come right back.