Diana Hall -Mother Nature’s Child

Diana Hall has lived in the Delaware County village of Franklin for thirty two years. That makes her a newcomer, by some standards. But she has built a community, and a life, that helps to bind this small town together; one she hopes will welcome the influx of newcomers who have arrived in the past couple of years.

Hall is the owner of a small shop called Botanical Treasures. She is the founder of the Franklin Garden Club. She is an artist. Tucked into an old garage behind her historic home is a magical, tranquil space full of wonders. Hall has a collection of unusual, interesting and beautiful objects created by herself and other artists, all designed to either be displayed in a garden, or to bring the beauty of nature indoors.

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Trained in gold and silversmithing at SUNY New Paltz, the Westchester County native put art aside for years and worked in an office full time to, as she describes it, “survive.” When she and her husband discovered their current home in the village of Franklin it was, she says, “a ruin.” There had been a fire. But it had clearly once been lovely. When she found an old house with the symmetry and detail she loved, with a price tag of forty thousand dollars, a little charred lumber wasn’t going to put her off.

“We were very poor. And my husband is a contractor.” And she is a self-confessed old house fanatic.

The in-town property had some lilacs, mature maples, and a euonymous. It had been vacant. There were no gardens. Hall, working full time with people recovering from addiction to drugs and alcohol, discovered gardening was good therapy after a day at work.

“I wanted to be out in nature. I missed it. I love people, but my dream would be to work outside.”

There was no plan, no map for the new gardens.

“I bought plants and started sticking them places. For me, it’s all about movement in my artwork. I wanted movement in the garden borders. It just got bigger as I added more plants and kept obsessively reading about gardens.”

Today, Hall’s home boasts two stunning bordered gardens, each a mixture of formality and cottage English garden flamboyance. Overgrown asparagus create lovely, spindly height, while poppies, iris, hellebores, roses and other garden staples mingle with wildflowers and groundcover.

One garden is all straight lines and right angles, while the other swoops and turns, revealing surprises and color that cannot all be seen from one vantage point.

“My mother was an artist, and everything was about composition, even the way our dinner table was set. I’ve got that, too,” Hall admits. “I like things not too cluttered. Aesthetics are important But I find myself moving more toward a meadow-y feel, one that’s better for the earth.”

She smiles. “Nature is not about minimalism. If you plant something, it’s going to grow and spread.”

More than ten years ago, Hall and a few friends decided that they’d like to find other neighbors who were as interested in gardening as they were. The Franklin Garden Club became a community building exercise, growing and contracting as the town’s population changed, but taking on more responsibilities for making the village a place to be proud of. The club persuaded stone artist Robert Johnson, who lives in the village, and local mason Jack Simon to help create the outlines of a village park from the ruins of an old boarding house on Main Street. The garden club did the planting and maintains the park. The members also plant flowers in barrels along Main Street each year and hold an annual plant sale. This year there is a Blueberry Festival planned for August, an event Hall hopes will help connect the village with the wider town.

After twenty seven years working in an office job, Hall’s life took a sharp right turn.

“I had a heart attack,” she explains. “After that, I knew, clearly, that I wanted to pursue art. I wanted to get out of sitting in a a chair all day. So I quit my job.”

She had no Plan B at that point. She admits it was scary at the time. But she never looked back. “It was the best decision I ever made. You know how it is, you get on the treadmill….I have probably would have tried to stay there until retirement.”

Instead, she started studying sculpture at The Smithy in nearby Cooperstown.

“I loved working with clay there. It’s a very supportive atmosphere, not competitive. And I am still completely learning.”

She started throwing pots, then adding details. Then she began making flowers. She’s only been doing the human form, she says, for about a year. But in that year she has created beautiful, haunting elementals, magical creatures who incorporate nature into their form. Each has a personality, each feels incredibly alive.

“You can fall in love with a flower as you make it,” Hall said, “but as I make the people it feels like they have a soul. And clay feels a lot like working in the garden. It’s life. It’s nature.”

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She’s getting commissions for her work and people are responding positively.

“It’s so important to feel like your work is connecting to other people. It must be very hard to do experimental art, only to hear that no one ‘gets’ it. The battle of being human. I always say confidence is an illusion. It can be shattered in a moment.”

That gentle touch, that kindness, permeates the Franklin Garden Club. They meet monthly, sharing a potluck dinner and garden ideas.

“The thing is community,” Hall says. “Enjoying a shared love of something. We want to make people feel welcome.”

Her goal for the club’s future is to create even more connections in the community.

“It’s such a beautiful town, an architectural era captured in time that hasn’t changed. That’s what makes it a gem. I’m hoping the businesses thrive on Main Street, building energy for even more preservation.”

Her goal for her art is equally sunny.

“I just want to keep doing what I’m doing. I’m so happy. I have no idea what I might do next. My brain could go anywhere.”

Botanical Treasures

11 Maple St Franklin NY 13775

607-434-3076

https://www.botanical-treasures.com

https://www.instagram.com/botanicaltreasures01/ Instagram is her preferred site.

Want to find out more about Franklin and surrounding communities? Visit my real estate website, https://upstatecountryrealty.com

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Susan’s Caffeine Tour June 2019 – Franklin

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Bea’s in Franklin

Could there possibly be better news than when a great new coffee shop opens in your own home town?

No. There really couldn’t.

Bea’s opened its doors in Franklin right after Memorial Day and it’s already hard to imagine how we got along with it until now.

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Bea’s has another location in Bovina, but the opening of two new shops in Franklin also brought along a Franklin version of that well-loved cafe, and Franklin has become even more wonderful because of it.

No longer need we drive to Delhi for a great cup of coffee and a scone. We’ve got ’em right here at Bea’s. I’d have taken a picture of the scone when it was all pretty and stuff, but it looked too good. I ate it.  Scones are irresistible.

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Scones….ahhhhh.

KB, who likes scones but not to the level of addiction, had an egg sandwich. Freshly baked ciabatta bread, a buttery egg, your choice of add-ons. He was very, very happy.

Who else is new in town? Sean Scherer’s Kabinett & Kammer  for one. It’s a very hip, very cool curiosity shop – vintage items displayed in unexpected combinations. Think antique meets artistic sensibility. This isn’t your mom’s antique shop.

And right beside them all at 422 Main is Gary Graham at 422, a place you have to explore and investigate to really begin to understand. Graham is a fashion designer, I suppose, but in reality he tells stories with clothes. And they’re my kind of stories. A bit macabre, a little melancholy. He combines historical fact with fictional characters, uses vintage fabric patterns  and fabrics, or newly woven copies of vintage fabrics, to create clothes that evoke an event or a mood. That sheer overdress made out of what looked, to my untrained eye, like organza, had a price tag on it that seemed out of place away from Graham’s former Tribeca location. But then I read what inspired it….a double suicide in the Delaware River known as the Ophelia drownings…two young men persuaded to dress up in diaphanous gowns and drown themselves by a charismatic madman. Graham has another collection inspired by the Bedheads…a group of young locals who terrorized their neighbors and may have committed a murder.

I admit it — I have a macabre streak. So I’m loving this stuff.

If you have a macabre streak, too, come visit Franklin. Check out Gary Graham at 422.

And after you grab coffee at Bea’s go next door to Franklin Durable Goods at 438 Main Street. Neil and Tom currently have a truly disturbing collection of wax death masks for sale. Disturbing in the best way possible. Or perhaps you’d like a collection of porcelain baby doll faces. I have twelve, and I have not yet decided what to do with them. They creep me out in a very good way.

And then you can explore racks and racks of vintage clothes to create your own slightly dark fashion statement.

When you’re done, it’s a short walk back down Main St. to Blue Farm Antiques and Letterpress Printing. Whatever you find there won’t be there long. Phil has an amazing eye and things fly out of his shop.

And if it’s time for a serious meal, never forget The Tulip & The Rose, Franklin’s creative and welcoming food hub. The menu is varied and delicious and if you want to meet this town’s artists, here’s where you’ll find them at meal time.

Franklin – come for the New England-y charm, stay for the weirdness.

 

Getting Ready For Spring

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Yes, I know. There are a million things wrong with this photo for this post. First, apples ripen in the fall, not the spring. Second, we got about three inches of snow last night.  Beyond that? I didn’t take the picture.

But there is spring light, we’ll turn the clocks forward soon, the local maple guy has hung his buckets on trees all over town, and the Franklin Library has announced it is hosting a session on “How to prune trees” next week.

Can spring be far behind?

I didn’t know that fruit trees need to be pruned in the winter, not in warm weather. Armed with this information, I did my best with the wildly overgrown pear tree (I think it’s pear, anyway) in the field. It bore no fruit at all last year and I suspect it’s because all its energy went into sprouting branches at an incredible rate. The problem is it is quite tall. So I did what I could.

The apple trees are closer to the ground and I trimmed some of their overgrowth, too. Maybe, in time, it’ll be a real orchard.

Inside, the brighter light isn’t kind to dirty windows but there’s no point in attacking that issue until the weather improves. The dust and the clutter we accumulated over the winter is another matter. Marie Kondo would be proud.

How about real estate, you ask? Or not. But if you’re thinking of  selling, tackle whatever projects you can before the good weather lures you outside to work in the yard. And if you think you want to buy, now’s a great time to get yourself pre-qualified by the lender of your choice. That way, when you go hunting, you’ll know just what you can afford.

Wondering where the coffee review went? It’ll be back. It was too darned messy out to explore. But coffee beckons…

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