Planting ahead

PeeGee Hydrangea in full Fall glory!

It’s been so lovely to feel Fall come in, to take my early morning walk at o’dark thirty increasingly when it IS still dark and need a jacket and even — yikes! — gloves. And then there’s today, when at 6:00 AM a light cloud cover increased the temperature 20 degrees over the previous day: 65 vs. 46. No jacket on my walk. And for the next couple of days, maybe my last chance to wear flip flops.

Perfect weather for starting a new garden.
As I’ve explained to nearly everyone who knows us, Chris is the gardener and my only contribution is to point and suggest. To that end, we have been discussing for a few months now how to do a long border garden opposite the pool.This past weekend began the digging and clearing of miles of ivy. We’ve been the beneficiary of a load of small buddleia (butterfly bushes) which will form anchors in the garden. Existing Annabelle and lacecap hydrangeas, a smoke bush, and a backdrop of forsythia will remain. To this we plan to add more groups of rudbeckia (black eyed Susans), grasses great and small, and a host of cannas, dahlias, and roses in shades of yellows and oranges, with touches of deep blue. Here’s the space.

(sigh.) We’ve got a looooong way to go!

On a different note: I’ve written before about times when it seemed all the guests were from the United Kingdom, or Australia, or otherwise international. Well, this week, the tables turn — all of our guests are from, or have ties to, Southern California. A foursome traveling from Arizona met while at Chapman College (now Chapman University) in the City of Orange, my home town. Another guest now lives in Northern California but grew up in Orange too…only a couple of miles from me. Another couple arrive today from San Clemente, on the southern tip of Orange County. And another guest lived in Huntington Beach and La Jolla for years and years. So this will be the week of the “non-accent” that folks from the East Coast still swear is recognizable as West Coast, ha! (What accent, dude?)

A recent guest from Australia shot this photo of us against our autumn mantle. I should have dressed to match the season better…

Speaking of the season, as the weather cools, our tastes begin to crave the comfort food associated with fall and winter. Now is the time for the scent of cinnamon and cloves and ginger, and so I am making and serving breads, muffins, french toasts and pancakes with ingredients such as pumpkin, apples, pears. cranberries, and egg nog. This truly is my favorite season of the year.

Happy Fall!

Quote of the day: Work is love made visible.
And if you can’t work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you
should leave your work and sit at the gates of the temple and take alms of the
people who work with joy. —-Kahlil Gibran

Press Matters

It’s been exciting around here, publicity-wise; we’ve been fortunate lately to have caught the attention of some of the local media. Just before Memorial Day, writer Cathy Meinhold did a profile on A Butler’s Manor for On The Jitney magazine (a classy little mag that is distributed on the Hampton Jitney coach service between Manhattan and the Hamptons). A week later, we were listed (with a photo!) as a Southampton Bed and Breakfast “worth the splurge!” in Long Island’s Newsday. And today, writer T.J. Clemente from Dan’s Papers came by to interview Chris about life as a butler…and how that has led to opening A Butler’s Manor. Chris is a difficult interview, determined that it is not cricket to identify former employers (as any good butler would agree), but the stories are always fun, even without the “name” behind the name. And an hour after the interview, the Master Butler was back to his alter ego as the Master Gardener (above, tying up his lilies).

Speaking of gardening, I’ve posted a June picture of one of our more unusual perenials: This is a form of allium (onion family) called Sherbertii. I call it the Firecracker Allium, because in full bloom (in the photo above it isn’t quite there), each of its stick-like stalks sport a tiny star-like flower…sort of like one of those aerial fireworks where each of the exploding rays of color then launches a secondary sparkler. The blue flowers that surround the Sherbertii are Johnson Blue geraniums, happily in bloom (and probably loving the rains we’ve had this past week).

We’re enjoying catching up with returning guests this weekend — three of five of the rooms are repeat guests, each having been here at least three times before.

And yay! the weather warmed up enough to warrant trips to the beach, and laps in the pool!

Quote of the Day: Success is getting what you want. Happiness is liking what you get. —H. Jackson Brown

Operation Shed Rescue

Chris and I come by our inability to see anything wasted genetically. Chris was born in an England still under rationing (did you know? — until 1954! His parents were still dealing with it in the late 1950’s!) and my parents came of age during the Great Depression which, I have learned, marks those who have been through it (and the generation beyond!) for life.

What this has translated into for us is a propensity for rescuing things, repurposing things, and recycling things. Our latest endeavor involves our newest neighbors — a lovely couple who have become friends. They’ve done an incredible job restoring the period house up the street from A Butler’s Manor. Now they’re working on the back yard, in which they’re planning to put a pool. The existing backyard was designed by a landscape gardener, and Chris had seen it prior to the house being sold. When our new neighbors told us they planned to clear most of the yard and offered us anything we could use, Chris jumped at the chance.
So we are now proud new owners of dozens of shrubs, perennials, and even an ornamental tree or two (–!!!), but the thing Chris is most thrilled with is that we rescued a garden shed from demolition. It took some doing to figure out how to move it, but in the end, he took down the fencing at the back of the property, hired a friend with a big forklift, and the pair of them muscled that little potting shed down a narrow driveway, down the street, up behind our house, and plop! into the very back of our garden, behind the pool (about 20 feet straight back behind the Japanese maple). We spent most of last Saturday evening reinstalling the stockade fence at the back of the property. The little shed will be perfect for summer storage of winter essentials, such as a snowblower, a generator, a chipper shredder, etc., and come winter, will house what is now essential to Chris’s summer gardening efforts so that the latter items can be housed closer to.
Our neighbors now have a clean slate on which to dig their new pool, and we have even more of a lush garden…and a place to pot those lush plants up…and we are grateful!!

Quote of the Day: There can be no other occupation like gardening in which, if you were to creep up behind someone at their work, you would find them smiling. —Mirabel Osler

Breakfast in the garden

Guests who visit A Butler’s Manor during the warmer months know that weather permitting, we serve breakfast in Chris’s stunning garden, on the patio beside the fountain. But it isn’t often we have the opportunity to do such in early Spring, yet this week Nature smiled upon us and gave us a couple of gorgeous days where temps rose into the mid-70’s. So for the first time all year, breakfast was served outside, and everyone agreed that with the magnolia in full bloom and all the birds busy tending their nests in the birdhouses, it couldn’t have been more perfect.

One of the things we enjoy most about innkeeping is seeing our guests enjoy themselves, and each other. And on an unexpectedly warm day in April, the laughter and chatter over breakfast was especially happy. Heartwarming indeed!

Now I see the secret of the making of the best persons. It is to grow in the open air and to eat and sleep with the earth. -Walt Whitman

Kim Allen