Twelve years ago, I left behind a life and career in New York City to move full time to our farm in rural Bucks County, Pennsylvania, a new career, and a calmer, "greener" existence. Planting and gardening, animals and wildlife, building and repairing, harvesting and cooking, writing and lecturing, joy and contentment are all integral parts of this wonderful new existence. It has been a revelation to me, and one I would not only like to share with you but urge you towards. I look forward to your comments.

Friday, July 15, 2011


I've been traveling a great deal for the last couple of months to photograph gardens for the new book I'm working on, but have had a blissful week on the farm this past week before I take off again, and just in time to really start reaping the benefits of all the wonderful things I planted in the vegetable, herb, and fruits gardens in the spring. Surely, we've been harvesting lettuces and early crops like beets, Asian greens, peas, and radishes for months, but right now is when the gardens truly start kicking in.

The tomatoes are just starting and yesterday I harvested two each of Great White, Caspian Pink, and Yellow Mortgage Lifter, with the first Monomakh's Hat (a superb Russian Bull's Heart variety) just about ripe on the vine. Not only are each of these heirloom varieties beyond tasty, but their colors are wonderfully vibrant, especially when tossed together in a salad (why not give feta and mint a try instead of the usual mozzarella and basil?). All I need is a nice verdant type like Green Zebra to complete my edible Solanum spectrum!

My kales are looking absolutely glorious right now. I planted two favorite types: Dwarf Blue Curled Scotch and Dinosaur or Lacinato (also called "Tuscan Palm Tree). To me, kales are tremendously undervalued as a food plant as they are usually harvestable even out of the snow and, like all Brassicas, are packed with vitamins. I love them sautéed with garlic, pancetta and olive oil until nicely wilted, but I've recently discovered kale chips, which make a wonderful hors d'oeuvres: toss leaves with salt and olive oil, place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet, sprinkle with grated parmesano, and bake at 350 for about 40 minutes, until totally dehydrated and crisp.

We pulled up the onions this morning (one yellow sweet and one red variety) as their tops had collapsed and turned brown, signaling harvestability. We set up one of our big wire grid nursery tables out in the garden and have spread the harvested onions on it to cure for a bit before we store them. I'm looking forward to some rich and warming French onion soup come fall -- is there anything easier or more soul-satisfying? The potatoes in the main garden are nearing readiness, too (waiting for their tops to collapse...) and, when the time comes, we'll spread them out on the grid table to cure as well.

Our four kinds of basil are also currently in full flush -- so much so that I need to trim the flower heads practically daily in order to keep them from going to seed. As the chives are planted right next door, I think I'll whip up some tasty green sauce to slather on meat or vegetables (process with garlic, olive oil, pitted green olives, and a tin of anchovies). And, as we have just harvested a bumper crop of cucumbers, I think I'll also slice up a big batch of cucumber salad with the chives and lemon basil: peel, seed, and slice the cucumbers, salt them in a colander for about an hour, rinse, and toss with olive oil, rice vinegar, s&p, and the chopped herbs. A crunchy delight!

The second flush of strawberries (Tristar) had also started, which is a very happy thing, and the Magnolia Vine's incredibly nutritious berries are just beginning to color up (wonderful to dry and make tea), also a very winning idea, but the big fruit excitement right now is our first crop of the hardy kiwi Issai four years from planting. They are still ripening but what a horticultural coup to be able to enjoy bite-size, fuzzless kiwis right off the vine as handily as plucking a grape (and self fertile and hardy to zone 4!).

And, still, so much left to come! The visual triumph of the Asian long beans (Yard Long White Snake and Red Noodle)... eggplants Rosa Bianca and Thai Green... bush beans Beurre de Rocquencourt and Royal Burgundy Pod, peppers hot and sweet (Purple Cayenne, Peach Habanero, Jimmy Nardello), summer squash Eightball... and loads more tomatoes! Ah, nature is bountiful and life is good!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


This month, we've been moving potted plants out of the greenhouses like crazy, not only to decorate our precincts with some early leaf and bloom but to give the plants themselves the healthy dose of fresh, circulating air they've been craving after a long winter of close confinement under glass.

Pots are wonderful for adding an instantaneous and difficult to achieve otherwise swat of hard architecture and contrasting leaf and blossom texture to a garden environment. They fill in empty spaces, flank entries, sparkle up shady nooks, are wonderful grouped around water features, and add a becoming softness to walls and steps. We usually pair them with some other hard architecture like flagged or gravel terraces, stone steps, etc., but have even seen them set on plinths in the middle of perennial borders to great effect, as one would place a rose tuteur or statue.

Many of our most prized potted specimens, including our collection of begonias, find their way down to the stone terraces below the house, overlooking the creek and little milk pond,. Grouped multiply on tables and in corners, they soften all the surrounding stone and add spectacular architecture and punch. For those of you unfamiliar with begonias, they are the perfect houseplant: undemanding, tolerant of low light, offering the most stunning foliage imaginable, and blooming year round with a modicum of feeding.

In the courtyard garden outside the front door, we've placed both a big pot of Conca d'Or lilies with a bamboo rail to help keep then upright, and a handsome glazed pot of variegated acanthus. The former will stun with it's tall, tall stems of sunny, wildly fragrant blossoms, while the former is surely one of the most extravagantly foliaged plants around. Both add just the right complement of form and color to this fern-y, mossy space.

Out in the summer borders, flanking the steps to our Temple Canus, we always place two pots of immense, truly show-stopping tropical furcraeas. Each of these plants is five feet high and wide and it takes a ride in our backhoe to set them in place each year. However, their unique, strappy, sharply pointed tropical form and pale yellow striation makes them the perfect formal foil to the surrounding, decidedly non-tropical perennial plantings.

Further out in the Mediterranean Garden, we enhance the Mediterranean mood by grouping pots of succulents and tropicals around the Italian village fountain at the center. With these unlikely specimens scattered beneath a pair of non-bearing pear standards, true body doubles for the un-hardy olive trees we lusted after for this space, one could well imagine one was somewhere in the Tuscan hills.

But surely our most remarkable potted specimen is the 100 year old bonzai forest we purchased in Little China in Los Angeles over twenty years ago. We bought this miniature grove of eastern red cedar from a family of Japanese nurserymen whose elder, then in his nineties, had been training it for more than 75 years. We had a special table built for it and it is the pride and joy of the summer terrace, where it can be enjoyed by our garden visitors passing through.

Speaking of which, isn't it time you paid us a visit? Do keep in mind, we're open Wednesdays and Saturdays, May to October, 9-4, for self-touring and we'd love to see you!

Monday, April 18, 2011


Although, so far, April has been drenching with the showers for which it is so justly famous, there has also been an amplitude of the brilliant blue days necessary to getting the gardening juices flowing as Mother Nature wields her artful brush and starts to transform the stark silhouettes and gray tones of winter. First, the greening of the lawns and the clouds of daffodils that start drifting across their flanks, and the earliest stellata magnolias, with their white pinwheel blossoms born on bare limbs, creating magical, ghostly forms in the woods. Now the muscaris, so intensely blue, encircling the trunks of trees and lining woodland paths, and the fruit trees -- cherries and pears and crabs -- bursting into pastel bloom.. Soon, the dogwoods and azaleas and bluebells: a world of the purest white and green and yellow and blue imaginable. Make no mistake: spring has sprung!

This year, in part, our thoughts have turned to our birds. The farm would be a very hollow place without the scores of fowl we keep to enliven our precincts: chickens and ducks, geese and pheasants, pigeons and peacocks. Now is nesting time and the farm is flurry of noisy bustle as the females take to roost, the various husbands and aunties and uncles standing clamorous sentry about them. At this moment, our female whooping swan has decided to plant herself firmly in a quadrant of the cutting garden and elected to pick out all the blue pansies I planted in the central urn to better feather her nest. Our new female Australian swan has taken up a post in the protective curve of the lowest step to the lake pavilion, and we are rabid with excitement over that possibility.

Over any winter, however, there is always some attrition. Unpinioned ducks and geese fly off. Others fall prey to foxes and raccoons. Chickens and peacocks and pheasants expire from old age or a panoply of avian diseases almost impossible to detect. So, this spring, we are in the happy position of ordering some new friends for the farm from two of our favorite purveyors, the Murray McMurray Hatchery in Webster City, Iowa and Stromberg Chicks & Game Birds Unlimited in Pine River, Minnesota. Both offer an impressive assortment of eggs, chicks, and even full grown pairs of everything from racing pigeons to quail, guinea fowl, and turkeys.

This year, we're particularly intent on expanding our family of pheasants and ducks, and our intention is to purchase full grown pairs. Fowl of almost any sort mate for life, and the widow or widower of a lost bird is a plaintive sight indeed, so it pays to buy devoted couples: they'll be happier and so will you. We have transformed our former corn crib into a pheasant run, one which became sadly depleted after the rigors of the past winter, so we have set our sights on a pair each of Lady Amhersts, Red Goldens, and Yellow Goldens: all flamboyantly, even surrealistically colorful, the last two being exotically Chinese in origin.

In the duck category, we have fallen in love with White Crested Ducks, which sport a tamoshanter-like pompom atop their heads, so we ordered a pair of those, as well as some Chocolate and Fawn Runners, tall and slim and tipped forward like they're about to fall on their beaks, and a pair of startling black/green Cayugas. These will join the White Muscovies, Mallards, and White Pekins all ready on the pond, as well as our large family of White Chinese, gray Toulouse, Canadian, and White Emden geese.

It's easy to forget that birds are cold-blooded creatures (a friend says "like snakes with feathers"), so they can withstand winter temperatures with surprising ease with a modicum of shelter, open water for the water fowl, and a daily feeding. Our chickens, pheasants. pigeons, and peacocks we keep caged, mainly to avoid the tragic results of a chance meeting with a fox, raccoon or hawk, but our water fowl wander freely all year round so, if you have a pond or lake, give some waterfowl a try. And, of course, if you can keep chickens, there's nothing more appealing than a fresh from the henhouse omelette and the happy morning cacophany of a resident rooster.

Murray McMurray Hatchery can be reached at (800) 456-2380 or at, and Stromberg Chicks & Gamebirds at(800) 720-1134 or at Both are happy to mail you a catalogue, which is almost as much fun to thumb through as getting a favorite seed catalogue this time of year. Happy Spring!

Monday, August 2, 2010


“I wish Englishmen to content themselves with meats and sauce of our own country than with fruit eaten with apparent peril; for doubtless these Raging Apples have a mischevious qualite, the use whereof is utterly to be forsaken”
- John Gerard 1687

I have been extremely remiss in keeping up with this blog this last month as I have been suffering from a pesky case of vertigo which has still left me walking a bit like a drunken sailor and made close examination of anything (like a computer screen) a bit of a trial. However, i am back with a combined July/August effort extolling the virtues of the vegetable (actually fruit) I have been gorging on these past weeks from the garden.

Eggplants probably had to wage a more considerable uphill battle towards culinary acceptance than any other edible plant, although tomatoes are a close contender. Reputedly originating in India, they are first recorded as being cultivated in China as long ago as 500 BC, although it is entirely possible they were originally grown purely decoratively, as was their solanum cousin the tomato. We know the small, white, egg-shaped variety was perhaps the earliest incarnation of this vegetable, but the Chinese had certainly developed their signature long, thin purple-tinged varieties by the 2nd Century AD, and the Arabs, who had been growing them since at least the 4th century AD, introduced eggplants to Europe in the Middle Ages in that familiar silk/spice road scenario of import and trade typical to cultivars originating in the Far East. However, the eggplant did not really permeate greater Europe until the 16th century and, even then had to twiddle its thumbs around the Mediterranean basin until people managed to surmount the various solanum-related suspicions attached it.

These suspicions find their origins in this controversial fruit's close kinship to deadly nightshade. Accordingly, the eggplant was known across many early cultures as the “mad” or “rage” apple, and, consequently, was thought to induce madness and even death, and as late as 1586, Rembert Doedoens, the Dutch herbalist, claimed they induced “evil humors” and called the eggplant “unwholesome”, as if it could and would influence children’s tender psyches adversely if consumed. Additionally, because eggplants were believed to have originated near the Dead Sea and the imagined site of Sodom & Gomorrah, they were also known popularly, or perhaps unpopularly, as “apples of Sodom”. Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian, wrote that he had himself seen the beautiful purple “apples of Sodom” which, magically and clearly with divine purpose, vanished in smoke when they touched one’s lips. This bit of ancient lore was also employed by John Milton in Paradise Lost, when he spoke of the singularly disappointing diet of the fallen angels. Oddly, this fanciful legend of shining aubergine skin cloaking an interior of bitter ashes may be based in fact. Excavated remains have revealed that, very possibly, it was an invasive insect that begot this particular brand of heavenly magic, boring into the flesh of the eggplant and causing it to powder and decay interiorly while the skin remained beautifully intact. Thus, it would seem it was entirely possible to bite into what appeared to be a glossy bit of heaven only to come up with a mouthful of everlasting repentance.

The eggplant entered Spain in the 12th Century, where four varieties of the controversial plant were grown by the Spanish Moor Ibn-al-awam. The eggplant was then introduced into France by that great gastronome Louis XIV, where it enjoyed fairly wide culinary success, although it seems to have retained some of its “mad” associations and was still listed by Carl Linnaeus as late as 1753 as solanum insanum. Thomas Jefferson is often credited with introducing the eggplant to the Americas, but more likely is its arrival on the southern coast of the Americas via slave ships in the late 16th Century, where it became known as “guinea squash”.

There are countless beautiful varieties of eggplant in a host of wonderful sizes and colorations, from the signature large, stocky shape to the long, thin Oriental types to eggplants like "Fairy Tale" and "Turkish Orange" that are as tiny and winsome as can be imagined. I'm growing four varieties this summer: the gorgeously and voluptuously striated "Listada de Gandia", "Green Long", a light green scimitar of a fruit, "Thai Green" a lovely little striated orb, and "Striped Toga", another little beauty tiger-striped orange and green. As with tomatoes, i view every growing season as an excellent opportunity to trial a new one.

Eggplants are desperate lovers of warm temperatures and grow best in full sun, so wait until nighttime temperatures are consistently above 60 degrees before transplanting outdoors in the spring. Regular watering will help avoid bitter tasting fruit and repeated harvesting will stimulate continuous fruit production. At harvest, the skin of an eggplant should be taut and shiny: fruit that has lost its shine and begun to change color (usually from purple to a bronze-y tone) is overripe and most likely bitter. A good rule of thumb is if you press the fruit with your finger and the skin springs back, then the eggplant is ready for picking. My favorite summer recipe came from our friends Melissa and Christopher at if you have not seen their cookbooks, make haste!

Cut eggplants into slabs no thicker then 3/4". Marinate in lemon juice, good olive oil, and salt. Grill, turning occasionally, until softened and nicely covered with grill marks on all sides. Return them to the marinade, adding more olive oil, lemon juice and salt, plus a good handful of fresh mint, and a couple of tablespoons of red pepper flakes. Stir to combine and serve.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


I am lucky enough to currently be working on a book that has afforded me a glimpse into two dozen or so spectacular gardens along the east coast. The book is tentatively entitled Private Edens and my intention is to try to identify the personal motivations and influences behind the choices each garden owner made in creating their “paradise”. It is my thesis that, while they undoubtedly share commonalities in defining “Eden”, to wit green-ness and blossom and a connection to nature’s calming, comforting embrace, each, individual view might be based on any manner of things. Where and how the owners grew up. Places they have visited or longed to visit. The beginning or end of relationships. Problems or traumas turned to new understanding and vision. Choices burnished by nostalgia or fired by the desire for change.

As I have traveled from Virginia up through Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, to as far north as Connecticut, New York state, and Massachusetts, what has struck me the most as I have toured and chatted is the resilience of the human spirit and the zeal with which these seekers of paradise pursue their dream. All have a personal story to tell. One, a garden designer, suffered a debilitating stroke some years ago so his garden has had to adapt to gardening from a motorized wheelchair and with a little help from his friends. His garden remains his greatest solace. Another suddenly found her garden of twenty years surrounded by a flotilla of MacMansions and it became all about screening what had been, in the past, a breathtaking rural view. Yet another, a widow and mother of eight, remarried in her 70’s and built a new house and garden to create and share with her new husband. And another, after gardening his property for thirty years, was so loathe to see all his passion for the task disappear after his demise that he has entered into an agreement to sustain it as a public garden in perpetuity.

I have visited everything from hilltop mansions in Virginia with fairy tale views of great horse farms and expansive, heart-stoppingly unspoiled acreage to quaint Connecticut farmhouses perched on the side of dirt roads, only revealing their cloistered green charms out the back door, to spare, new constructions where a minimalist hand paints a restrained and contemplative vision of harmony and contentment. All have understood and executed the intricate balance of hard structure to green sprawl to perfection, carving steps and terraces and pathways into the landscape with the precision and artistry of the most brilliant of surgeons. Most have introduced a feeling of water, be it intrinsically in their situation on the banks of a pond or stream, or as simple as the addition of a fountain or rill or reflecting pool. Many have included an edible idea in everything from a stand of berries to a small orchard to a real decorative and productive potager, as what would Eden be without a nod to nature’s bounty?

After exploring all these various and, to me, fascinating parsings of paradise, it seems that, in the end, the point is really to be with the land, not against it – to understand the unique soul and potential of that singular piece of property and seamlessly interpose your presence, even if you are the defining element. To forge a partnership with Mother Nature based on equal amounts respect and ardor, which, in their commingling, embody your unique vision of the beauties with which the natural world can surround you. To feel embraced, calmed, connected, contented, protected. To not only feel attached to, but, in your very essence, be as one with the living earth around you. To delight in the sun on your back, the song and sparkle of water in motion, and a thousand shades and shapes of green. Surely, then, all of us have the chance to dwell in Eden.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Welcome to Spring 2010! What a joy to be back in Pennsylvania on yet another glorious spring day with the azaleas, vibernums, lilacs, and bluebells painting the lawns in shades of cream and blue and dusty purple as elegantly as a William Merritt Chase painting. We are currently gearing up for our big TOMATOFEST! at the nursery, where we’ll be offering 25 really superb varieties of seedlings for sale (upwards of 1,500 plants), and so I think I’ll start off this season off with a few words about America’s favorite homegrown food for, according to the USDA, tomatoes are preferred by four out of five Americans to any other edible plant, and over 90% of American home gardeners grow them.

The tomato originated spontaneously in the coastal highlands of western South America and small, straggly wild tomatoes can still be found growing in the coastal mountains of Peru, Chile and Ecuador. The wild tomato was a simple, tiny, two-celled creature until a friendly genetic mutation occurred, resulting in the large, ruffled and lobed, multi-celled fruit with which we are all now so familiar. The tomato was domesticated by the Mayans and Aztecs and, in the early 16th Century, carried into the Mediterranean basin of Europe by the returning conquistadores. In 1544, Pietro Andrae Matthioli, the Italian herbalist, classified the suspicious new import as one of the mandrake family, which were close cousins to deadly nightshade, which is exactly when the centuries of suspicion and misinformation surrounding the tomato began to pick up steam.

Tomatoes were given the original European designation of “wolf’s peach” or Lypersicon, by the Greek physician Galen, as nightshades were legendarily linked to werewolves. Karl Linnaeus later added the esculentum, meaning "edible", although this was an issue clearly up for debate as, while winning some culinary popularity in Spain and Italy, tomatoes were introduced into England only as questionable ornamentals. In fact, the English herbalist John Gerard, who planted them in the College of Physicians gardens in Holborne in 1590, concluded that “the whole plant” was possessed “of ranke and stinking savour”. The Pilgrims were also early tomato-bashers, considering them “an abomination”, and, 200 years later, Joseph T. Buckingham, editor of The Boston Courier was still calling the tomato ”the mere fungus of an offensive plant, which one cannot touch without an immediate application of soap and water… deliver us, oh, ye caterers of luxuries, ye gods and goddesses of the science of cookery! Deliver us from tomatoes!” Even as late as 1836, A.D. Wilcox, editor of The Florida Agriculturist, pronounced his first tomato: “an arrant humbug” that “deserved forthwith to be consigned to the tomb of all the Capulets”. My: how the worm can turn…

Early tomatoes came in a huge variety of sizes, shapes, and colorations, ranging for currant-sized to 2 pound mammoths, round to “ox-hearted” to totally misshapen, black and dark purple to red and orange, to yellow, green and white, and they were all either ribbed or lobbed or both. In fact, it wasn’t until the turn of the 18th Century that Joseph Pitton de Tournefort, botanist to Louis XIV, described a Lycopersicum rubro non striato, or “red wolf’s peach without ribs”. Now of course, there are literally hundreds of choice varieties of every hue, dimension, and savor and for every climatic consideration imaginable, so here I will stop to romance you with some of my favorites.

For sheer taste, to my mind there is nothing like the black Russian types, like “Black from Tula” and “Black Krim”. Not actually black but more a deep purple/red, usually with a green shoulder, these are beyond richly complex in terms of taste, and there’s even a “Black Cherry” for easy snackability. Also notable are the “Hillbilly” (sometimes referred to as “Pineapple”), a mammoth beefsteak with marbled red and yellow flesh and superb sweet/acid savor, and “Great White”, the Moby Dick of tomatoes, another sizeable beefsteak the color of old ivory and loaded with flavor. Two varieties that are actually green when ripe and chockablock with tangy/fruity flavor are the Amish heirloom “Aunt Ruby’s German Green” and “Green Zebra”, the immensely popular new striated kid on the block developed by Tom Wagner of Tater Mater Seeds in 1983. And for that sugar sweet zinginess we all crave in a pop-in-your-mouth cherry, there’s nothing to beat the varieties “SunGold”, a large-ish yellow type, “Reisentraube”, a deeply robust red heirloom, and “Sweet Million”, a tiny but true powerhouse of flavor.

Start tomato seeds indoors 4 weeks before your last frost (or stop by the weekend of May 22-23 at the nursery!), transplanting at least once into a deeper pot and burying the plant right up to its neck to insure good root development. Harden off by carrying plants outside for a few hours each day for 2 weeks before planting to get them acclimated to the outdoors, then plant out 2 weeks after your frost date, when soil is well warmed up, in your sunniest location. All tomatoes love compost, old manure, a Ph of about 6.5, and a good, deep watering, and a shot of fish emulsion once halfway through the season will be extremely popular. Also, do provide some stout trellising for these mainly indeterminate, vigorous vines to clamber up and keep your plants “desuckered” to a nice, strong, single trunk by removed the auxiliary vines that develop in each leaf crotch: a tangle of vines in the humidity of August can surely be the devil’s playground!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009


I'm going to make this the last blog of the season as I'm about to have my right shoulder repaired (yes: probably a bit of over zealous gardening...) and will be in a sling for a month or so, which will make both gardening and blogging a bit of a trial. However, a pain-free and more mobile future awaits, so I'll certainly be chomping at the gardening bit with renewed vigor come May.

Luckily, the day will soon be upon us when the first frost arrives and the gardens will be put to bed for a bit of R&R. I don't know about where you are, but the leaves are just starting to color up here in PA: especially the dogwoods, which are turning that marvelous deep shade of claret and, today, the sky is exquisitely blue: surely, a perfect fall day to be wrapping this up for the season.

In any event, I thought I would leave you with something to sustain you through the blustery days to come, as we've been working awfully hard at rebuilding our nursery operation over the past spring and summer and have just published our Fall 2009 Catalogue, some of which I thought I would share with you, as well as extending an invitation to come visit us here in Wrightstown over the winter whenever you feel in need of a little R&R yourself.

To me, visiting a cozy, well-stocked greenhouse in the chill of January or February is a surefire cure for what ails you. To be surrounded by tropical greenery and lavish blossom when all the world outside is blanketed in white, to inhale the damp, fragrant, fertile air, drive the chill from your bones for a moment, and come away with a little bit of green to enliven your window sill till spring reappears: what could be more soul-satisfying than that?

We are proud to say we feel our Hortulus Farm Collection is pretty much unique in our neck of the woods, and that we have carved out for ourselves a bit of a proprietary horticultural niche. What we love to grow are unusual trained specimens, like 8 foot solanum and solandra standards, 4 foot tall caged begonias, plumbagos trained on 6 foot balls, single, double, and triple topiaries of hibiscus, liqustrum, lantana, and heliotrope, ivies grown on wonderful frames, giant polypodiun ferns, plus a fantastic assortment of unusual begonias and tropicals. All are guaranteed to add a nice jolt of color and life to your home in the always too long months that lie ahead.

We're only 45 minutes from Philadelphia and under two hours from New York City, and I know Karen, Chris, Colon, and Donna, our stalwarts in the greenhouses, would be thrilled to see you (please call 215.598.0550 for our winter hours). In any event, Renny and I wish you a wonderful winter and hope you'll take us up on our invitation to visit. I will look forward to reconnecting with you come May!