Whenever I go to Skylands, my home in Seal Harbor, Maine, the days are always filled with lots of great activities - hiking, shopping, and touring local gardens are often on my list. I also love spending time with my family and good friends while preparing and sharing some of the best meals of the season.
This year has been especially memorable. I’ve hosted and enjoyed numerous gatherings - large cocktail receptions as well as smaller, more casual breakfasts, lunches and dinners. The flowers from my gardens have been abundant and gorgeous, and with the vegetable gardens, both in Bedford and at Skylands, producing so much bounty, our meals have been sensational! Here are a few more photos from my most recent visit to Maine - enjoy.
The hydrangeas have been very beautiful this year- strong, long lived. But the ‘Tardiva’, which I used this weekend, although lovely, drops little white dots constantly. They are not as good for arrangements as the superior Incrediball.
The later blooming lilies are also good cut flowers- these looked very good arranged in my antique tiered brass vases. I used two of these arrangements in the dining room.
A closeup of the lilies, which are abundantly placed on sturdy stems and good for cut flowers because the scent is not too strong for the house- some people find the very fragrant lilies too strong.
Kevin used a similar photo of the dining room leaded window on his @seenbysharkey Instagram. He thought it was as fabulous as any Tiffany window.
The place setting for our lobster linguine dinner was simple- grass mats, linen napkins, and Peruvian clay dishes and glasses on the dining room table, made of faux bois concrete by Carlos Cortes in San Antonio, Texas.
More ‘Tardiva’ hydrangeas were arranged in an amber Steuben vase on a side table. I love how the light from the mercury glass lamps cast great shadows of the lamp shades on the walls.
Kevin’s moss arrangement, sprayed daily with cool water, lives on and on in the house. It is made in a massive stone bowl and fits the rustic nature of the place.
Pure white lilies, a late variety, were very pretty in an arts and crafts vase in the big living hall.
Outside, the big pots on the terraces continue to thrive in the hot days and cool nights. These palms have flourished as have the underplantings of Lysimachia, dichondra and other spreading plants.
The succulents, cactus and agaves are also thriving.
We hosted Garden Design magazine this weekend- Clare, a photographer from England, worked for three days in all types of weather to capture her version of my property for a future issue.
Golden Lysimachia and bi-colored agave grow well on the terrace.
Most of the forest is quite old- fir and spruce are probably 75-100 years old and there is some decline occuring. With the advent of warmer weather, and less rainfall, the forests tend to suffer- some of the tallest trees on my property are losing their tops.
The highest point of my property (Ox Hill) is reached by hiking up a pine needle path past the lost pools. Jens Jensen, the original landscape designer, placed a native stone bench right at the apex.
Some of my guests wanted to pose on the bench- Bruno, Clare, Dennis, Melissa and Bill enjoyed learning about the gardens, the woods and the property in general.
I recently added another nine-acres to the original park like grounds of Skylands- and another entrance to the property, really impressive rock outcroppings, lots of moss and even a walled lawn and lookout.
it is so wonderful to see all these natural rock formations.
This is the walled lawn. It measures 134-feet by 36-feet.
On my house, the kiwi vines-Actinidia-are thriving- there are lots of olive sized kiwis and I cannot wait until they are ripe and juicy.
Breakfast for my friends was served in the kitchen on the large galvanized topped table. I have many sets of dishes and on this morning I used the plates of Mount Desert, a Staffordshire pattern of transferware depicting the scenes of Acadia Park. The pink cafe au lait cups are Limoges, and the pink glasses come from Glassy Baby. The modern plates piled high with fruit were made for me by Rob Wynne, a New York artist. “A beautiful sound alone is not enough”, says this plate.
Around the table- left to right- Bruno, Melissa, Raymond Strout- the Island historian, me, Claire, Bill, Hannah and Dennis.
Oh yes, we cannot leave out my two wonderful friends, Cheryl DuLong and Gretchen Sweet, who manage the house.
In the vegetable garden, the artichokes have started producing meaty and tasty artichokes. So good!
Down by the stable and workshops is the lobster cooker- we are having a big lobster roast in September, so we are working to make sure the entire location is groomed and pretty.
Home baked cookies and muffins keep coming out of the ovens, so guests always have something homemade to eat.
For lunch we made tomato tarts- the recipe is in my “Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook”.
Boiled new potatoes ready for the salad- we dress each item individually and then assemble the salads for each person.
Harboiled eggs ready for the individual salad nicoise.
Fresh varied lettuces are washed and trimmed for the salads.
Brioche croutons lightly oven-toasted are ready for the fresh cauliflower soup.
Ginger-sugar topped sugar cookies are chewy and delicious.
Everyone loved the cauliflower soup- just a tad of milk- no cream- no stock.
Finally the guest of honor arrived- Dan Hinkley in the green shirt- he was on the Island to speak at the Beatrix Farrand Society and at the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.
On Monday this fish was delivered prior to our visit to the True North Fish Farm.