Thoughtful musings on various topics by interesting people at Blithewold

Textile Conservation in Marjorie’s Bedroom

Blithewold’s Collections Committee decided last year that it would develop a project to repair and conserve the textile collection in the Mansion, including bed coverings, furniture upholstery, and window treatments.  Everything, by definition, is more … Read more.

Dreamy dahlias

Happy autumn!  The light shifts and the nights get cooler, but there is still so much color here in the gardens.  A lot of that color comes from dahlias and sages (Salvia spp.), which are … Read more.

Gone to Seed

While the light changes and we keep up with the last deadheading of the season, seeds begin to appear in the garden.  They are everywhere, in every shape and size.  Each plant has its own … Read more.


August is exhausting, it has to be said.  The extreme heat and humidity drains every desire I have to linger in the garden.  It seems as though, here in little Rhode Island, everyone and their … Read more.

Color vision

  Every once in a while, the plans we make for a garden turn out just as we hoped.  That perfection doesn’t happen quite as often as I would like, but the unpredictable factor in … Read more.

Educating Marjorie

Marjorie Van Wickle was born in 1883 in Cleveland, Ohio.  Little is known about her early education until the family moved back to Hazleton, Pennsylvania, in 1892.  There her parents, Augustus and Bessie Van Wickle, … Read more.

Night Blooming Cereus

  Night Blooming Cereus One hundred years ago, on August 1, 1916, The Bristol Phoenix announced to the town that a rare horticultural event was taking place at Blithewold.  Bessie had been cultivating a Night … Read more.

The News

I love new plants.  It always feels a little bit like Christmas morning when I see a new plant come into flower for the first time–except I have to be patient as it unwraps itself. … Read more.

Cosmos on my mind

    It’s been a hot and humid July week.  Any delusions I had of enjoying a cool, temperate summer have evaporated into the extreme humidity.  However, on the bright side, flowers are bursting out … Read more.

Happy Years At Blithewold

In the summer of 1978, eighteen months after the death of Marjorie Lyon, the East Bay Bulletin interviewed Tillie McDonnell, Marjorie’s long-time cook. Tillie had worked for Marjorie for more than forty years, and remained … Read more.