January Journal

Dear Friends and Family,

It's the middle of January and we've had a tremendously beautiful snowfall here in the Hudson River Valley. It's a great time to get going with our seed catalogues and inspiration for ideas about what spring projects we will be doing.

Since we have wonderful light here at the house, I pot scented geraniums in the fall and let them go wild! I clipped them back a bit in November and they reach for the light, never failing to amaze us. I also put in a few mint plants in the pots, and the mint is doing the same thing—just reaching for the light and sun.


Ten years ago in March of 2009, I presented a fashion collection that also included young farmers and The Hudson Valley Seed Company. They were just starting out and I felt very strongly about the work they were doing. I have continued watching in awe of how great a company they’ve become and how truly focused they are on their ethics and strong commitment to the natural world.


Many years ago, I met C.Z. Guest, who wrote wonderful books about gardening and also had a syndicated gardening column. I cherish the books I have from her and always reference them for both good tips and beautiful style. Her book "C.Z. Guest's 5 Seasons of Gardening" has a fantastic photo of her in a formal garden with a huge row of corn behind her. She once told me on the phone that the most important things were her children, her dogs, and her gardens. An extraordinary woman, to say the least. I will always cherish those conversations.

C.Z. wrote about using egg cartons to start seeds and I know that everyone probably has a few of them so it's just an easy way to start planting some seedlings. Even if you just start with one variety, don't be afraid to get some potting soil and just go for it!

Spinach is a great thing to start early because it stands up to the cold. An old gardeners' rule is "plant the peas at easter". For the beginning gardener, planting peas and spinach is really easy and rewarding. They are both very hardy plants and you will not fail.

For an amazing lettuce, try Black Seeded Simpson. We have grown that for years and it's easy as pie: keeps coming as long as you harvest it by pinching it back. Sowing it directly into your garden is easy (no need to start in a flat). Plant every 10 days for a continuous supply over the early summer.


I love catching up on correspondence when I am at home up here. I save letters and notes people send. Germantown has a nice group of small, independent shops on Main Street, including the florist Athabold. The name comes from the word Athabold [ˈa-TH(ə)-bōld], which traveled to the states with co-owner Dan Djuplin’s Icelandic ancestors and translates to “everyone welcome”. The shop has wonderful style and seems to have everything I love. I keep their wonderful note paper on my desk and use it to dash off thank-you notes and short correspondence.

Here is also my pick of a must-see-and-do this month in the Northeast:

The Rafa Esparza show at Mass Moca is at the top of my list. Entitled "Staring at the Sun" it promises to be an extraordinary show. I first learned about him as an artist thru Ballroom Marfa in Marfa, Texas, and have been following him and his work since. It's a short drive from where I live and it's always nice to get out to see the landscape. I will be traveling soon out to the southwest and will report back with some really fun, unique stuff that I hope you will also enjoy.

Looking forward to hearing from you and finding out whats growing in your gardens!

John Patrick

P.S. We will shortly launch some great new designs in the web shop. I think it's about time for some wonderful dresses again. I know it's been a while but good things take time. 

P.S.S. I know many of us think about the weather also. My dear friend Ann Marie Gardner is launching a weather site and it should prove to be rather interesting. Everything else she's ever done has also been amazing.



John Patrick