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Last year I wrote and article for Port City Life magazine about “sidewalk gardens” – planting in the strip of soil between the sidewalk and street.

Walk on the Flower Side

“Over the last several years, residents here have planted lush and vigorous “sidewalk gardens” in the narrow strip of earth along the curb, encouraging passers-by to stop and reflect on the now-softened line between private and public. And in spite of their exposure to car exhaust, winter salt and sand, foot traffic, and unruly dogs, the sidewalk gardens all around Deering Highlands are thriving.”

Just last week the New York Times took up the same subject. (Who says Maine isn’t on the cutting edge of trends?)

Planting the Strip Between Sidewalk and Street

At the end of the article there is a list of recommended plants but I found from the gardeners here in Maine that in spite of the winter salt and sand, foot and dog traffic, just about anything you can grow in your garden will grow in the “hell strip.” Plant away!

The magnificent gardens of James Aponovich and Beth Johansson are featured in the Garden Conservancy’s “Open Days” on June 26 and 27.

From the Garden Conservancy’s website:

Oakstead-James and Elizabeth Aponovich

46 Fairfield Road
Hancock, New Hampshire
Regular Hours:

At the end of dirt road, a shingled house stands surrounded by romantic gardens that two artists designed as extensions of their home, reflecting and nourishing their art. Owners James and Elizabeth Aponovich plan, maintain, and harvest their gardens together. They paint its peonies, eat its vegetables, and perfume their rooms with its lavender. The “Borgo Pinti” garden, with its geometric design and boxwood, arborvitae, and sitting area, reflect their trips to paint in Italy. A peony and lavender-lined walk leads to the front door and rose garden. From there, granite steps lead down to the terrace garden and then to an allée defined by rows of arborvitae and lush borders including phlox, delphinium, and foxglove. The kitchen window looks out to a mixed border. The Aponovichs’ garden is featured in The Inspired Garden by Judy Paolini and photographer Nance Trueworthy.

Directions:  From south/Peterborough, take Route 101 to Route 202/Route 123 north/Peterborough for about 7 miles to Route 123/Hancock. Go 1.5 miles and turn right onto Fairfield Road. Then go 0.25 mile to end, and park along right side of road. Number 46 is on left.  From north, take Route 9/Route 202 to Hillsborough, then Route 202 towards Peterborough. After Bennington, turn right onto Route 137 into Hancock. At water fountain/stop sign, bear left onto Route 123 towards Peterborough. Go 1 mile to Fairfield Road and turn left. Go 0.25 mile to end to #46. Please park on right side of road.

The Bangor Daily News reviewed The Inspired Garden this past Monday just in time for my book talk at the Blue Hill Library.

Tiny, magnificent, and often more outrageous than our wildest imaginings, nudibranchs are among the least recognized ocean inhabitants to the general, non-diving public. These sculptures celebrate the extraordinary colors and forms to be found in the world of opisthobranchs.

“This succulent specimen, carved in a pale green striated Afghani onyx, is modeled after the suborder Arminina nudibranch Dermatobranchus, found exclusively in the Western Pacific in deep water around the Island of Vanuatu. The oral veil, or velum, is the only feature that Arminid nudibranchs have in common. Note the suggestion of annulate rhinophores.

This and the other nudibranch sculptures whose images I have been promiscuously promulgating by email will appear in Boston this November in a special exhibit. Along with underwater photographs of the real things by some of the best u/w photographers around, the exhibit will be a part of the award ceremony for the Pinedo Award, a very prestigious event attended by many of the CEO’s of the world’s biggest pharmaceutical companies. The Pinedo Award is given annually to an individual for achievement in translational oncology. In the world of cancer related medicine, it is one of the highest awards out there. For those of you who might be wondering what the connection is, many nudibranchs are highly toxic, their aposematic coloring serving to warn away predators. Their toxins are the subject of research in the development of drugs to treat cancer and a number of other diseases, so the nudibranch you see just might one day save your life.

Following the Pinedo Award event, the sculptures and photographs will become part of an exhibit that will travel to Science Museums and Aquaria here and abroad. A spotlight will shine on these exquisite creatures, and the exhibit’s unique mix of art and science will seek to add its voice to a critical call for marine conservation and the importance of maintaining biodiversity.”

. . . how I wish I was posting this about myself! It’s actually the subtitle of a new blog by Inspired Garden artists James Aponovich and Beth Johansson: Aponovich and Johansson At Home and Away.

“We’re artists, gardeners, food lovers, frequent travelers to Italy. A day at home starts in the studio or garden and ends in the kitchen. A day away starts with coffee, sketching, lunch at a carefully selected place, then on to viewing a great work of art, architecture or garden, topping the day with dinner and conversation.”

The gardens at their New Hamshire home are equally beautiful in winter and summer:

March 12 – 10:30 am & 1:30 am – Portland, ME – Portland Flower Show: Gardens Gone Wild – Visit the Flower Show Website

March 25 – 1:00 pm – Harrison, ME – Harrison Village Library – Visit the Library Website

April 13 – 6:30 pm – Newburyport, MA – Newburyport Horticultural Club – Newburyport Library –Visit the Library Website

May 17 – 2:00 pm – Freeport, ME – Freeport Community Library – Visit the Library Website

June 3 – 2:00 pm – Rockport, ME – Rockport Garden Club – Visit the Opera House Website

August 19 – 12:00 noon – Brunswick, ME – Harpswell Garden Club – Curtis Memorial Library – Visit the Library Website

October 1 & 2 – Times TBA – Bangor, ME – Bangor Book Festival – Visit the Festival Website

Photographer Caryn B. Davis has a new blog, The Desire to Journey. Her first post begins, “Dorothy said “There’s no place like home.” It turns out, Dorothy was wrong.” And although I live in an idyllic setting on the coast of Maine, I couldn’t agree more. Travel shows us aspects of the world, and of ourselves, we didn’t know existed. I’m looking forward to her following this blog – hope you are, too.