Fabulous Friday Find: Linwood Gardens

Linwood Gardens were created by William Henry Gratwick II from Buffalo, New York as a country home in the years between 1901 and 1910. Architect Thomas Fox designed portions of the craftman style Big House and all of the original garden areas.

In 1933, William H. Gratwick III moved to Linwood with his family and set up the Rare Plants Nursery. The Japanese Tree Peony became a feature of the nursery and the gardens. As an artist, landscape architect and horticulturist, WHG III contributed sculpture and new garden areas to the Linwood landscape. His wife, Harriet Gratwick, directed a community music school on the property from 1946-1963. Linwood also hosted a wide variety of cultural activities during those years.

Lee Gratwick, WHG III’s daughter, is now living at Linwood and is working to preserve the Tree Peony Collection, the gardens, and the Big House.  (From promotional literature.)

The Craftsman style Big House. The interior spaces are sparse with wide wood floors, large mouldings, a beautiful fireplace and craftsman style furniture-  simple, weighty and honest.

The view from the house looking through the side portico.

The Italian Garden with a stone sculpture by WHG III.

Inside the Italian Garden.

The arbor next to the swimming pool.

The stone Labyrinth on the grounds of the old tennis court.

The Perennial and Vegetable Gardens.

The Lily Pool with a sculpture by WHG III of a tree peony blossom.

The view from the Italian Garden.

And… last but not least Oscar, the energetic people greeter.

For more information on the Tree Peony Festival of Flowers and Linwood Gardens click Here.



Americana Climbing Rose

One of my favorite climbing roses. I planted this many years ago on the Fourth of July and it never disappoints. The last bloom of the season I had to cut and bring in to enjoy on the window sill. : ) What is your favorite climber?

Plein Air Oil Painting Workshop

Wow. It’s been awhile… the kids have returned to school, the Clothesline Festival is behind me. I am beginning to be able to focus again. Most of the tomatoes from the potager have been harvested and made into sauce, salsa, pico de gallo and gazpacho. My freezer is stacked full for a delicious reminder of summer 2011.

Junebug and Poppa visited Linwood Gardens this spring for the Tree Peony Festival wherein they found out the gardens were open throughout the summer season for artist’s workshops. Guess what I got for my birthday??? Yay. A weekend workshop in Plein Air painting! Such a treat… on so many levels.

Stay tuned for more info on Linwood Gardens. Hoping to post a Fabulous Friday Find on that this Friday. You won’t want to miss it. A hidden gem.

Jean Stephens taught the workshop. I had visited her website and seen her work before the workshop and thought that her style/vision was just what I needed to help me get over my block in oil painting. Jean’s demonstration Saturday morning was so informative and helpful.

Saturday morning demonstration. Jean does a quick value sketch of her subject (left) then creates a monocromatic  underpainting on her canvas.

 A limited palette with warm and cool primaries (left). The sky value goes in first then Jean builds the painting out into the foreground based on her original value sketch.

I am not an experienced oil painter and I have never painted in the plein air style before (painting in plain air). It was marvelous. I was inspired by the beauty of the gardens and challenged to use that lovely french easel that I had sitting around in the studio. Jean was so professional in her set up. I am a messy painter. Its the only time I have ever painted in oils and NOT been covered in paint when I was done. Her “house keeping” made me feel so organized (not an easy feat)!

Bringing out the values/hues in the middle and foregrounds (left). At the end of the day we put up our work and had a lovely critique.

Our lesson on atmospheric perspective was a turning point for me. You will see. Some of you know how I love to paint the view from my studio. Now… I get it. Just wait and see.

It was such a treat to talk art, technique and social media with other artists. The weekend encouraged me to get involved again with my local art community. I was so impressed with Jean’s demonstrations and her open, giving style of teaching.

Sunday morning demonstration on painting trees… a good thing to learn when painting landscapes!

I have a few changes to make to the paintings that I worked on there. Perhaps I will post them when I feel like they are done. Until then I may be showing up with my french easel all over town!

For more information on Jean Stephens artwork and classes please visit her website. Also, if you are in the Rochester, NY area be sure to visit Jean’s upcoming show at The Arts & Cultural Council October 12th – November 3rd. Her work is amazing!



A Fall Trip to Cape Ann

Do you ever just need to hear the ocean? I do. Having been raised in Mississippi, the Gulf Coast and its ocean-like waves and breezes were never very far away. Living in Upstate New York on a farm feels pretty land-locked. Last year I NEEDED to hear the ocean. Needed to, I tell you.

It was my turn to plan our anniversary trip. Ocean waves were a priority… preferably within hearing distance from the hotel with the window open. After much research we packed our bags, made sure kids, dogs, cats, horses, rabbit and everyone else was all set and headed East. While traveling across I-90 towards Albany I informed Farmboy that we had important dinner reservations that evening outside of Boston… step on the pedal, Gretel!!  He freaked out because of course we left later than we planned- not uncommon.

Luckily, we found a lovely historical grain mill erected by Thomas Edison on the way wherein we changed into our dinner clothes and later pulled up just in time for our reservations at Blue Ginger in Wellesley, MA. Having watched Top Chef Masters last season, it was fun to eat at Ming Tsia’s restaurant!

Our final destination was still a surprise for Farmboy. We drove an hour or so northeast… until the land was nearly gone. Only crashing waves were visible in the cast light of the streetlights.

Bass Rocks Ocean Inn. I highly recommend it- more family oriented than romantic getaway. We hope to take the kids back there one day. The propritores were delightful. Helpful. Kind and funny. Our room was basic… what can I say… after my stay at Hotel le Germain in Toronto I am positively ruined for most normal travel. Nevertheless, with the windows open I COULD hear the waves and it felt like we were on the edge of MY known world.

Breakfast in the Inn was included and substantial. Farmboy was delighted at our location and we left to find our adventures for the day. I read online about Babson’s Boulders… created in an old abandoned settlement called Dog Town. It was rather bizarre but a nice hike, good exercise and pretty foliage even though there was a good possibility of getting lost out in the middle of nowhere. What are adventures for!?

There was a Fall festival in Rockport and we had a great time listening to a band that we had never heard: Brad Byrd. Saw some amazing artwork in the local galleries and  just had a good time shopping, looking, taking it all in and being in the present.

That evening we went to a small beach up the road from the hotel called Good Harbor Beach (pictured below). A beautiful beach protected by a little cove. Can’t wait to play with the kids there one day.

We ended the evening at a small restaurant in Gloucester- The Franklin Cafe, that we found on TripAdvisor or Yelp. Oh my goodness. One of the best meals we’ve ever had… who knew?! Dare I say that it was better than our meal at the acclaimed chef’s fancy restaurant?? I do dare!!!

So the next morning our hostesses at the Inn encouraged us to take the Captain Bill’s Whale Watching expedition out of Gloucester Harbor. Now, mind you… earlier in the year I had been working on some new designs for the Bar Harbor Whale Museum in Bar Harbor, Maine. I studied and learned all about whale flukes, markings, various species to come up with the following designs. One of the reasons I love being an artist… I always get to be a student through research.

Imagine my delight at the idea of going whale watching!? Have I ever told you about my fear of open water? That being said… Farmboy and I are all about making memories and new experiences. So we did it! Really… it is amazing- their size, their grace. I was afraid that we wouldn’t find them. But we did and it was truly unlike anything I have ever experienced before.

Distant view of Boston skyline.

A spray/blow sighting.

A female and her calf.

A memorable trip for sure.

For more information on Cape Ann, Bass Rocks Ocean Inn and Captain Bill’s Whale Watching please click on their names for their individual websites. Happy Whale Watching!






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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