Her Finest Knight

New Little Watercolor Study

This little painting is a study from a photo that I took at the farm two summers ago. The farm is laid out in strips to prevent erosion when plowing and fitting the ground. As an artist my eye is drawn to the patterns that are created by alternately planting different crops in these strips. In this image the fields of wheat are starting to turn golden and the oats have a lovely bluish-green haze. The undulating hills create movement. The little barn is perhaps too stark. Maybe I’ll push that back into the tree line a bit and bring more definition to the foreground. We’ll see!

Chickens, Gypsy Wagons and Marriage

Oh the trials and tribulations of a woman trying to talk a grown man into chicken ownership.  Unfortunately, Farmboy has particular “attack the egg-gatherer” poultry issues from his childhood. I like chickens, I think. My grandmother had them but I was always too scared to go near the coop because their sharp claws and beaks gave me the willies. But… that was then and this is now and if you haven’t already heard… chickens are all the rage. Conceptually, I LOVE the idea of having chickens! A groovy little hen house near the garden… maybe one of those nifty chicken tractors that we can move around the lawn. Are you feeling the chicken love?  I already have two topiary chickens. Henrietta and Rocco– boxwood topiaries that welcome visitors along our front walkway. They, however, do not lay eggs nor do they contribute to the fertilizer production for my potager.

One sunny day last year after church I convinced Farmboy to drive to a nearby town to check out a “gypsy wagon” that I had been keeping my eye on.  A gypsy wagon, you ask?  Let me explain.  As a child I grew up with a lovely book called “The Knobby Boys to the Rescue” by Wende and Harry Devlin . It told the story of a group of domino-playing, fib-telling friends (a fox, a raccoon and a crow) that found a baby bear who had lost his mother. One day while Crow was out gathering food for the baby he saw a Gypsy wagon with a very sad Mother Bear tethered nearby. Fried Feathers! She had been captured to take to the circus! Needless to say, the Knobby Boys devised a plan to scare the gypsies and save the bear. It worked and Mother Bear was reunited with her baby and finally sang the long, winter-lullaby to him. A happy snow-covered ending.

The wagon from the book

What does this story have to do with chickens you are wondering? For many years Farmboy and I drove back and forth through the Finger Lakes between Skaneateles and Rochester, New York.  Just outside of Auburn, New York there was a little grouping of houses with a rounded wooden wagon parked in a nearby field. It was very plain but it was in the shape of the wagon from the story. Years passed. All the while I kept my eye on that wagon. Years, I tell you. Do you see where I’m heading? Chickens… a cute hen house…. a movable chicken tractor… a strange fondness for gypsy wagons… do you see the beauty? Isn’t it one of the greatest ideas ever! Why didn’t I think of it sooner?

So, that beautiful Sunday morning last year I talked Farmboy into driving out to where the wagon was. He agreed (for some strange reason) that a gypsy wagon would make a cool hen house. Maybe it was because of a church “high”, or perhaps it was a “support your spouse’s “special” ideas even if they sound crazy sermon” that brought him to this chicken openness. Certainly the fact that you can move the gypsy wagon around the farm was a selling point, right?… am I right?  The kids were excited and let me tell you, I was ready to make an offer. I was SO close to having those fancy chickens walking around the yard laying those fancy pastel-colored Easter Eggs that I could TASTE the egg salad!

Would you believe that it was gone? Can you believe it? I still can’t! For all of those years I passed by that quietly decaying wagon thinking that it would always be there. I even mentioned it from time to time. “Michelle, what would make you really over-the-top happy for Mother’s Day? Your Birthday? In general? “Well, a pony and a gypsy wagon, of course”!  Even before I had “THE Great Chicken-coop epiphany” I was drawn to having a gypsy wagon.  Now, here I sit- lamenting the loss of the wagon, hence, my future chickens. What is a future home chicken farmer to do? For some reason Farmboy is open to the idea of chickens if there is a gypsy wagon involved. What is up with that? Maybe he realizes the impossibility of me finding another wagon.  Maybe the supernatural aspect of this is- if God miraculously provides the gypsy wagon, Farmboy would go into such a deep state of spiritual chicken fondness that he will overcome his poultry issues? No counseling required!  I trust that it will all work out and that I will soon be tweeting about having to go feed the chickens, hatch chicks or something all chicken-y like that.

So, if a gypsy wagon happens to fall out of the sky near you-  please call me. I have the perfect place for it. I promise I will not tether any chickens to it nor will I make them perform any ridiculous circus tricks if I can help it.


Part 2 of this story.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

Wishing you a little luck of the Irish today! Don’t forget to wear some green and for all things Ireland… stop in an visit my friends Cory and Liam at For more charming Celtic and Irish designs on stationery, fine linens and fine art prints- go to

Highlights from the 2010 Flower Show

Oh, it’s great to be home! Totally enjoyed my trip to Philadelphia for the Flower Show this year… lots of fun, friends, food and flowers! Did I say flowers? Oh, and there were flowers. Lots of them. Little ones, big ones, crazy ones, pink ones, fragrant ones and even one named “Snoopy”… who knew!? Next year’s theme for the show is “Springtime in Paris”. I’m already inspired. Put it on your calendar! I hope the following images provide motivation to attend next years’ show or just garden eye candy for those of us who have endured a hard winter! Please excuse the quality of some of the photos. I was reduced to using my iphone as a camera having left CNY in a flurry to avoid a snowstorm and managed to forget my good camera!

The theme for this years’ show was “Passport to the World”. Garden displays from India, Singapore, South Africa, Holland, Ireland and the US were featured. I think the India exhibit was my favorite. I loved all of the color and the openness of the design.

A giant hot air balloon depicting the globe greeted everyone as they entered the show. This photo was taken the night before the preview as the landscapers were in a shallow pond wearing waders while installing the most gorgeous and gigantic lily pads that I have ever seen.

The enormous giraffe in the South Africa exhibit was magical. The structure was made out of rebar and little glass vases with orchid blossoms were hanging throughout the sculpture. The photo was taken the night before the PHS preview.

The Ireland exhibit. Love the topiary Irish Harp and use of stone.

This “orchid tree” and the moss carpet at its base made up of various mosses and succulents was one of my favorite elements at the show. Gorgeous! Photo doesn’t do it justice.

These “icy” designs were for the the New Zealand exhibit if I rememeber correctly. It was very theatrical. This exhibit was Farmboy’s favorite due to his extreme love of all things cold and snowy. Crazy… I know!

Shown above are photos of the India display. The colors were so vibrant. The rose medallions surrounding the bubbling water features were very impressive. There were performances of a traditional Indian wedding under the canopy during the show.

There were a number of displays that featured “living walls”. Walls made completely of plants. The textures and colors were lush and I especially enjoyed this example. Sorry for the fuzziness of the photo!

The images above are of the Holland exhibit. Who doesn’t LOVE tulips, bicycles, daffodils and scented geranium topiary standards?! I want tulips growing in the tiles of my laundry room. How cool is that?

The two images above show the charming Beatles inspired garden created by volunteers to honor the retiring PHS president Jane G. Pepper.

I went gaga over this display… the colors, texture and lighting. It was featured inside a large shipping crate. A very interesting and “out of the box” exhibit. Anne and Mike from our dinner club came to the show and Anne suggested that I do something like this for our next dinner club! Ha! That’s a good one!

I always enjoy the fashion part of the flower show. The image above is an example of one of the combinations entered in the fashion and arrangement competition. The designers have to relate the garment and the flower arrangement to each other following a given theme. Fascinating.

Isn’t that the cutest?! Love the pussywillow umbrella and those lime green wellies with the purple anemones!

Flower lampshade anyone?

I sat in on a fascinating bee keeping lecture by Jim Bob the Beekeeper in the Gardener’s Studio.

I especially like the competition section of the show. It totally appeals to the plant geek in me. Shown below are some highlights from that part of the show.

A pretty succulent.

The Front Porch competition.

The orchids at the show are spectacular…

as well as the Bonsai.

Medium sized niche arrangement.

Ikebana Arrangement

Tiara made from plant materials! Can you believe that?

Another beautiful, sculptural tiara made from plants.

I always find the miniature rock gardens interesting. I’ve got to make one of those hypertufa containers and do one of these!

And last but not least… my latest little obsession. Terrariums. I purchased a few plants and a cloche and base at the show. Stay tuned for my first terrarium in many years!

Hope you enjoyed the photos! I’ll have a few more to post at a later time. If you were are the show… what was your favorite garden display? Do tell!

Wordless Wednesday

Topiaries at the Philadelphia Flower Show

There are many topiaries of note at the Philadelphia Flower Show. A number of them I have seen year after year here in competition. After seeing the myrtle entries it has inspired me to try myrtle as an indoor topiary specimen. I love the fine leaves and the tightness of form that it creates. Hope you enjoy seeing some of this years’ entries! Stop back by for highlights of the display gardens… coming soon.

Wordless Wednesday- Set up at the Flower Show


Hi, I'm Michelle. I am an artist/designer specializing in unique topiary themed illustrations for the Home & Gardener. I live on a farm in Upstate New York with my husband, aka Farmboy, my two children affectionately known as "La La" and "the Bean" and a small petting zoo of other family members.


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Upcoming Shows

Philadelphia Flower Show
PA Convention Center
March 5th-13th
Booth #Z-1002

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