“What Makes The Hydrangeas So Blue?”

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Every summer at this time we all hear it at least once, “What Makes Nantucket Hydrangeas so blue?” We have pink and white colors but it’s the blue that knocks the socks off everyone. They ooh and aah and take lots of pictures. There are many theories, from the experts and the amateur gardeners. But when I contacted Graig Beni, owner and operator of Surfing Hydrangeas Nursery on Somerset Road, he said the color is affected by the relative acidity of the soil. Agents such as aluminum or iron will usually produce a bright blue color so we can assume that Nantucket soil gets all the credit. If you add aluminum to the soil they can go from pink to blue. An alkaline soil will produce flowers more pink.


Last year my hydrangea bushes that border the back deck did not blossom. I chalked it up to maybe too much pruning in the fall. But then this year, I’ve got a bonanza of blossoms. It can’t be the result of our horrible winter. But I’m grateful for whatever reason, especially since the hudrangea bushes are not only very old but have been transplanted several times while doing work on my house. So I’m not exactly the expert to advse anyone how to get the best and bluest hydrangeas but I do know how to ask the experts which I did for my book, Nantucket Cottages & Gardens. No cottage garden is complete without a hydrangea bush.


If you want to cultivate hydrangeas you can do better than taking the advice from the American Hydrangea Society. Yes, there really is such an organization and they are the last word in all things hydrangea. Here’s what they have to say about rooting cuttings from hydrangeas included in my book. I like these directions because they’re simple and easy to follow.

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Flower Boxes On Petticoat Row

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Isn’t Nantucket at it’s best right now? The window boxes all over town are brimming and gorgeous. There are people on the streets but it’s manageable. We still see friends and have to to stop for a chat. Yesterday I noticed a woman taking pictures of the front of my house. I have containers filled with flowers and they look pretty good for the little effort I put into them. She came right up onto my porch to shoot the flowers up close. I opened the door and said hello. She was quite chatty and complimentary. When she left I realized I was missing a photo op downtown. So, right then and there I decided it was time for my daily walk to town to do errands and snap some pictures. I was definitely not disappointed.
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Everything’s coming up roses

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Roof roses sm
The roses are popping all over town. Everything looks good, smells good and feels good. Last Sunday we took part of the day off the go to the beach. All in all Summer is here.
We had our first beach day last Sunday and it was glorious. Of course Jon “found” perfect photos. The shadows of the fence at Surfside created the perfect pictures. Jon says, “the photos are always there, you just have to find them.” So if you’re out and about this is a great time to look for what’s all around us – a picture perfect island! Read More


4th of July

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It’s the fourth and time for a red, white and blue celebration. Have a party. Dress up your table. The following are some quick and easy tried and true tips.


  1. When planning the food think color. For example there is nothing better than a white bowl filled with bright red strawberries and blueberries.
  2. For a barbecue use washcloths for napkins, white with blue or red stripes. Roll each one around the utensils and tie with a flag ribbon. Insert the rolled cloths into a bright red or blue paint bucket. This is one time when paper or plastic is totally acceptable.
  3. Another napkin idea is dishtowels. The over size is great for a barbecue and easy to launder. Choose the linen dishtowels in a red or blue check.
  4. For a table cover, I love to use quilts. A red and white or blue and white quilt is perfect for this holiday.
  5. Red roses or geraniums with blue Bachelor Buttons in a white pitcher for a centerpiece. Tie red, white, and blue grosgrain ribbon around the handle.
  6. My friend Rose always serves a salad Read More


By | Creative Ideas, Entertaining, Leslie's blog from the Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror | No Comments

At Home

When working on a book we always take a lot more photographs than we ultimately use. We look for 8 good shots in a house so we have choices for full page shots and detail shots as well as intimate shots of rooms. But ultimately there are always cuts just as the words also get edited for space. My books are usually 224 pages. There are always sacrifices. Do we make photos smaller so we can include more or do we cut words to make photos larger. The process of putting a book together once it’s been written and the photo have been taken is an exercise in compromise.

When I was in grad school, I had one of those teachers you remember all your life. She said, “If you want to be a writer, you have to learn to be an editor” So, you do the creative work and then you put all emotion aside and become the editor. The more unemotionally and professionally you can do this the better the finished project. It’s always hard. What’s worth keeping? What has to go?

I have a file of the photos that weren’t used in all of my books and now, with this blog I get to select from this group whenever I need an illustration.

The other day I was trolling through that file, One of Terry’s gorgeous photos popped up. It was taken on a beautiful summer day on the back deck at Ginny Kinney’s house on Silver St. Her daughter-in-law Lief had styled a table to suggest a lazy afternoon party. I think it would be a delightful theme for a bridal shower – “Come for cupcakes, strawberries and lemonade”.
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Nantucket Cottages

By | Creative Ideas, Decorating, Leslie's blog from the Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror | No Comments

I’ve been home for three weeks and it’s hard to re-enter what I refer to as my real life. As I do my errands, shopping at the Stop and Shop, the post office, bank, etc. I bump into people who have their own tales of woe about this past winter. Mostly they survived and seem a little shell-shocked. – not quite believing that the worst is over. I’ve decided that “How was your winter?” is not a good way to greet people.

Many folks were able to get away for a brief respite from the relenting weather. What started out as a novelty, a time to hunker down and enjoy being at home, turned into “enough all ready!” by the third big storm. Coming back when it’s all over seems a bit like cheating. My property doesn’t look too bad and miracle of miracles our car started right up when we turned the key in the ignition.

Now I too am embracing the spring and with it a new book launch is about to happen. This is the hard part of my work. The planning, the execution of it, is what I enjoy. Promoting a book, planning talks and coordinating book signings is harder. All my writer friends agree. We are used to being behind the scenes. We are cowardly, hiding behind our names printed on the jacket of our books. Coming out, so to speak, is a bit harder. Talking about a book is always fun because it’s a chance to share the experience of how it was created, and a chance to relive that experience. I’ll be sitting at a table for the Nantucket Book Festival on June 20. On the 19th at 2:00 in the library park I’ll be talking about how this particular book came about.. Producing a book is an exciting project and, I am often asked how I find the houses for my style books and how we go about planning the photographs and interviews and all the behind the scenes tidbits. In July Terry and I will present a slide show in the Great Hall. Two of the articles featured in the first two issues of Nantucket Today magazine are on cottages included in the book.

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Spring Is Coming Everywhere!

By | Creative Ideas, Leslie's blog from the Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror | No Comments

This is the month for celebration. There is, of course, the prospect of spring. It seems, no matter how cold or miserable the weather has been, the Daffodils never disappoint. How is this possible? A million Daffodils all discussing the matter underground and then, on cue, popping through the hard, muddy, wet earth in unison all over the island. Why is it we have become so cocky sure that they will arrive that the Chamber of Commerce has put a lot of stock into promoting this weekend? Every B&B and hotel room is filled, stores are stocked and decorated, restaurants use this as a target reopening date and most of all, in all good faith, the ferries are booked. Not only with visitors coming to the island but with antique cars coming from far and near to be in this most celebrated of parades. It’s enough to boggle the mind of the most skeptical among us. What if there’s a snowstorm? It’s possible. What if the daffodils just can’t struggle through the still frozen earth. Could happen. But it never has, so we collectively see the glass half full and plod along getting ready for the big event. Most of us are just happy to welcome spring – at last.

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Be Mine!

By | Crafting, Creative Ideas, Leslie's blog from the Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror | No Comments

Using a holiday as an excuse to make gifts is great. You already have a theme or color scheme. Since it’s Valentine’s Day this month think red and white and hearts. Think romantic! There are lots of projects that take very little material and cost . Best of all they are quick!. I’ve written many tips books. Depending on the times, some have addressed money issues and focused on projects that cost next to nothing. At other times “easy” was the focus like “Leslie Linsely’s Quick and Easy Decorating Tips”. At another time I wrote, “Leslie Linsley’s High Style Low Cost Decorating Ideas”. Everyone wanted, and maybe still do, a great look for little money. But right now everyone is time conscious. Saving time, instant gratification, but great results! Today in the New York Times I read that the high-powered business lunch in a fine restaurant is dead. No one wants to take the time. And after a two-hour lunch they have to devote twenty minutes to catching up on twitter and emails and such. Seems a lunch at the drugstore counter (ideally with your computer along) is the way to have it all: lunch and business on the go. Sure doesn’t beat a lovely, slow lunch at the Centre Street Bistro.

Crafting and quick gratification seem to be an oxymoron. However in the spirit of the current sentiment I’ll try to respond accordingly. The following projects were designed to be easy, quick, money-saving and satisfyingly good enough to give as a gift. Make something for yourself. These are good winter projects. These craft projects are good for any time of year. But, since it’s Valentine’s month why not make something red and white from the heart?

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Crochet vs Knitting

By | Crafting, Creative Ideas, Leslie's blog from the Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror | No Comments

Today I had lunch with my friend Gretchen. It’s a monthly ritual to can play catch-up and to celebrate our birthdays – two weeks apart. We always go to Miacommet Golf Club. In summer we sit out on the patio and watch the putters. In winter we’re often the only ones in the dining room. At some point we began to talk about creativity. Gretchen does many things. In spring her gardens take most of her leisure time. In the winter she crochets. “When I don’t have a project,” she said “I’m a little off kilter.” Most people who do a craft feel this way. Creativity in your life makes it fuller. When I’m in my studio doing decoupage I literally lose myself for hours at a time. I imagine many people who work on a computer feel the same way. The creative process does involve concentration whether on technique or during the design process, but when you get good at it, you enter a calm zone with time for thinking. Crafting relieves stress..

When I decoupage I design by instinct because I’ve been doing it for so long. Sometimes I have conversations in my head with my deceased mother who taught me the craft, or my grandfather who made the original boxes I am still working on. It’s an interesting little “time out” from everyday stuff.

Over the holidays I met a knitter. I asked if she also crocheted. I always think of crochet as a craft from another generation, perhaps our grandmothers’ or their mothers. I also think of crochet as something belonging to women in the Midwest. The woman I spoke to she herself was from Racine, Wisconsin. “Two things matter out there,” she said. “Crafting and sports. No one misses a high school football game.” And most women are familiar with crochet. Crochet and knitting instructions are reduced to the very basic form of communication, much like mathematics. For this reason I’ve never really liked designing projects or writing about that craft although I have often. I’m too wordy.

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Think Pink!

By | Creative Ideas, Decorating, Leslie's blog from the Nantucket Inquirer & Mirror | No Comments

            The other day I was thinking about colors that change our mood, in particular pink. Pink comes in so many shades. It’s such a happy color. So many products rely on color as their reason for existing. Think lipstick and of course, paint. Cars could be all black and white and still sell, But – would you buy a box of black and white crayons? Would you be happy to wear black and white all your life? There’s an entire industry of “professionals” who create shades of color for products and a slew more that make up the names. What a cool job!.

While natural textures and shades of white are soothing, most people need color to be happy. Even those with all white rooms eventually add colorful paintings and accessories.

The absence of color is really hard to accept in an interior design, but it’s extremely difficult to keep this way. Color creeps into our spaces whether we want it to or not. Most people want flowers in their home. Floral fabrics or paintings dominate and create a pretty room. It’s as simple as that. I like my dose of flowers to come from the real thing. But most people don’t find this a satisfying quotient of “flower power.”

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