Rutgers Gardens

Tea Parties and Teapot Sketches

tea party, Alice performance in Rutgers Gardens
Back in July we attended a performance in Rutgers Gardens. Well, maybe performance isn’t the right word. We were told as we entered the woods on the edge of the gardens that we were Alice. Then we met characters such as the Cheshire Cat and the Red Queen. This table displayed the tea party. I really liked the set up. What do you see? I see a tablecloth that looks like a chess board. And teacups. Thank you to reThink Theatrical for a fun evening.

dormouse, mad hatter in Rutgers Gardens
The Dormouse and Mad Hatter were right next to us. In the photo you can see the March Hare approaching. The large green chairs are part of the regular Rutgers Gardens display.

A friend posted her colorful teapot on Facebook this summer. I was inspired. I had a busy summer of work and family events, but while riding as a passenger in a car on the way to see my daughter perform in sleepaway camp as the Wicked Witch of the West, I produced this teapot sketch:

teapot sketch

A few weeks later while in a hotel room I did a colored pencil sketch of the teapot:
teapot colored pencil sketch

I am a fan of fanciful teacups and teapots – to sign up to read more of these posts by email, please click on the teacup in the sidebar of this blog (should be down at the bottom if you are reading on a phone).

Thank you for visiting – I plan more sketches in the future!

Shakespeare at Rutgers Gardens

Shakespeare in Rutgers Gardens - character scene 1
Last week we had the great pleasure of seeing Midsummer Night’s Dream (yes, the play by Shakespeare) in Rutgers Gardens. The play was low budget with wonderful acting, simple modern summer clothes for costumes, and a Starbucks cup was a prop. I am not sure which character was which, but the above female whom I think played a male was the first actor on the stage. The first scene was outside the log cabin. We the audience had to move around with the actors from scene to scene within Rutgers Gardens. It seemed OK at first, but by our tenth time moving, it was a little bit too much up and down. I went with my daughter who had never seen Shakespeare before. I think she might enjoy the kind where you sit in one spot, and the actors wear costumes. When I grew up in a Boston suburb, we used to watch Shakespeare plays by the Charles River (I remember The Tempest, for example). And when my husband lived in Manhattan, he had the opportunity to see Shakespeare in the park.

Duke and Lysander
This is from the first scene – I am fairly sure the woman on the right is the Duke. The guy in the back is Lysander (the other main male lead was Demetrius – I get the two confused. One was in love with Hermia, and the other was loved by her). My daughter was even more confused – she had no idea what was going on at all. But she was happy to see one of her theater friends there. She said everyone was laughing at certain parts, and she did not know why. We figured some of the audience knew the play well (one of my friends did), and others like us were fairly clueless.

Nick Bottom
This actor was Nick Bottom. I enjoyed his antics. I think he was supposed to be putting on a play within a play. We never got to see the end of this production because it started to thunder and lightning at the end. But we did see a lot.

Hermia and Helena
The actress on the left is Hermia (note the Starbucks cup). The one in the blue who is on her knees is Helena. And in the back is much of the audience!

Queen of the Fairies
Here is the Queen of the Fairies (Titania).

Puck with King of the Fairies
On the left is the fairy Puck (he causes a lot of trouble, putting people to sleep and having them fall in love with the wrong people). On the right is the King of the Fairies. I am pretty sure that is a woman dressed like a man.

Here is Puck, who causes (or seems to) a lot of the mix ups and inconveniences. Spraying fairy dust is a dangerous art form.

Nick Bottom donkey
I believe Puck is one who turns Nick Bottom (above) into a donkey. That’s a pretty good donkey, isn’t it?

Hermia and Oberon
This is the finally scene we were able to see. After this, it started to rain. Soon came thunder and lightning. Hermia (the one with a Starbucks cup who is in love with Lysander and loved by Demetrius) is on the left; and Oberon, King of the Fairies, is on the right. I had to use my flash on my camera because it was getting dark.

You can learn more about Shakespeare at Rutgers Gardens on the Rutgers Gardens website. The theatrical group is called re-Think Theatrical – I hope they do more.

Have you ever seen Shakespeare performed outside? Which play?

Rutgers Plant Sale: Snapdragon, Petunia

Rutgers Plant Sale - Rutgers Gardens
Every year in early May there is a wonderful plant sale at Rutgers Gardens. I went with a friend on Friday and met another friend there. I bought: snapdragons, petunias, Rutgers tomato plants (I’ve been growing those for the past few years – not too big, not too small, and they are developed at Rutgers!), two kinds of rosemary and some broccoli plants. Here’s to praying that the broccoli plants do not get eaten by a ground hog or by deer. A friend sent a link to wolf urine packs – should I try those? Another idea was sticking garlic near them. We shall see. One friend bought swiss chard and eggplant; another friend purchased a variety of cilantro. All the plants at the sale are top quality. Last year I bought a hydrangea plant – the leaves got eaten by a deer before it flowered, but happily this year despite being only sticks in the winter it is now full of green leaves again.

snapdragon yellow in front of magenta
Here is one of the snapdragon plants now in front of my house. I got a mix of yellow and magenta/pink snapdragons.

My petunias are now planted in a sunny corner of my yard, at the edge of the sidewalk and the driveway.

This tulip is growing in front of my porch. No, I did not get at the Rutgers Plant Sale, nor did I plant it last fall. The tulips that are growing on my block seem to be the ones that survived being eaten up by deer.

strawberry plants
Finally, my strawberry plants (which I planted about ten years ago?) have those white flowers. Next step: juicy red strawberries! No more hunting for half decent organic strawberries in the store. For two weeks, we get a marvelous treat. Must make sure to pick them – last year we were too busy and neglected to pick the last bunch (they turned to mush on the plant).

Good news! I got my watercolor paints out again today (they’ve been away in the closet far too long). I did a quick painting of my garden using an exercise from One Watercolor a Day. Soon enough, I will have a watercolor that I will post on this blog. Stay tuned!

Rutgers Gardens in October

Rutgers Gardens flowers
Last week I had the pleasure of visiting one of my favorite places in central New Jersey: Rutgers Gardens. Rutgers Gardens is maintained by staff, students and volunteers. You can learn more on the website for Rutgers Gardens.

bench garden area
There are various garden areas within Rutgers Gardens. The one above with the bench is part of the rain garden. Vegetation in a rain garden area needs to be acclimated to prolonged periods of inundation, followed by equally prolonged periods of drought. From the Rutgers Gardens website:

Rain gardens look attractive when newly planted, but can and often deteriorate over time with the invasion of unattractive weeds and a resulting decline in vigor from the ornamental plantings as they become ‘choked-out’. The intent at Rutgers Gardens was to design and develop a garden that had all the positive environmental aspects, yet remained attractive throughout the year with minimal maintenance.

yellow flowers Rutgers Gardens
These attractive yellow flowers are part of the Donald B. Lacy Display garden. Wish I knew the name of the yellow flowers (and those red pom ones as well – maybe a kind of Gomphrena – maybe Gomphrena globosa ‘Fireworks’). I believe the magenta/purple pom ones I showed last week are Gomphrena globosa. Some of the flowers and vegetables are grown inside a fence with a gate, and the public is not allowed to enter, but it is easy to peek in and view.

fall foliage raritan river
One of the great features of Rutgers Gardens are the hikes you can take – we like taking the walk that goes along the Raritan River. There was some colorful foliage but not a lot. I like the pretty colorful reflections in the river.

As I said on the Rutgers Gardens post last week, we saw two chipmunks. Here’s one more photo of the chipmunk in the woods:
chipmunk at Rutgers Gardens in woods

Thursday Theme: Blurry

pom pom flowers
Today I visited Rutgers Gardens with my friend Hannah Katsman. I don’t know the name of these delightful purple flowers, but I nicknamed them pom pom flowers (maybe Gomphrena globosa). My photograph originally had more blur in front; I cropped out some of the front flowers. Now you can see more of the blur of the background flowers.

Hannah has a good eye, and thus twice we saw chipmunks. Chipmunks are quick and thus a subject for movement. His eyes were white from my flash, so I toned them down a bit with some brown. I hope it doesn’t look unnatural.

This was the other chipmunk we saw. Here we have a little more of our theme: as the chipmunk moves away, I get blur in my photo.

Thursday Challenge theme is: “BLURRY” (Unfocused, Moving, Foggy,…)
Next Week: LANDSCAPE (Mountains, Trees, Forest, Lake,…)

I’ll post more photos from today’s trip next week for Nature Notes. See an older post of Rutgers Gardens (or click the tag at the bottom for many Rutgers Gardens posts).

Rutgers Gardens March Reds

red shed
Yesterday we visited Rutgers Gardens. It is mostly winter bare, but if you look carefully, you can find some signs of spring.

plants with red berries
These plants with red berries were growing by a stream.

red buds in trees
Red buds were in many of the trees. Some of the trees at Rutgers Gardens have little signs stating what type of tree it is, but most don’t.

red budded trees
And more red buds in trees!

pink magnolia bud
If you take red and white on a paint palette and mix them together, you get pink, like the pink bud of this saucer magnolia tree.

For more red, visit Ruby Tuesday:
Ruby Tuesday

Thursday Challenge: Golden

Goldenrod growing by the Raritan River in Central New Jersey

Goldenrod was growing by the Raritan River near Rutgers Gardens. Goldenrod is blamed for allergies, but that’s because it blooms at the same time as ragweed.

Thursday Challenge theme is GOLDEN (Jewelry, Coins, Sun, Leaves, Fields, Hair,…).

Next Week: MESSY (Children, Rooms, Garage, Yard, Disorganized, Hair,…)

Nature Notes: Rutgers Gardens

There are some lovely paths by the Raritan River in the back of Rutgers Gardens. We enjoyed walking through nature last Sunday.
red leaf among greenery
Some leaves were changing to red; not all the leaves looked so healthy. I wondered if it was because of the dry summer we had.

lily pads
Is this what Monet saw before he painted his famous lily pads?

I believe this pretty lavender flower by the river is a cleome.

I was excited to see milkweed, as Michelle of Rambling Woods has talked about it on her blog as attractive to butterflies. And I even saw some milkweed aphids, too.


girl man nature
And since many of you enjoy seeing my family, here’s my husband and daughter. The chocolate around her mouth is probably from an Oreo cookie, which may not be a very natural food, but it’s in her nature to enjoy cookies.
For more Nature Notes:
Nature Notes

Gateway in Rutgers Gardens

gate at rutgers gardens
Here’s how some of the plots at Rutgers Gardens looked in early May. I expect in one month those piles of dirt will be showing flowers and/or vegetables.

sun on a gate in Rutgers Gardens
I like how they didn’t just put up a gate; this doorway with a sun is a welcoming feature.

For more windows and doors, visit:
Window Views

BIG green chair – SOOC

big green chair at Rutgers Gardens
This lime green chair at Rutgers Gardens is *really* big. It has a twin facing it, too. I saw some “tiny” people sitting in the chair but didn’t get a photo of them. These sculptures must be fairly new – I don’t remember them from previous years.

For more shots straight out of the camera:
Straight Out of the Camera Sunday