By the time this prints, the sun may finally be shining and we can all come out and play. Gear up your garden and primp that patio, Hudson Valley style.
Pimp Your Grill
There are grills and there are grills, note the outdoor cooking experts at Michael's Appliance in Middletown. If you want to shoot the moon, Wolf makes professional-caliber grills that turn kabobs into fine art, including bells and whistles like a smoker box, a 25,000 BTU sear zone, and interior halogen lights. Or, avoid sticker shock by opting for the high-rated Weber Genesis. This immensely popular model has stainless steel burners, is fully equipped (including warming and tool rack), and comes in red, black, or stainless. Wolf 30" grills with cart start at $6,300. Weber Genesis Grill, $749.
Show Some Spirit
Kick your barbecue up a notch with a hand-fabricated Stars and Stripes spatula from Valley Variety in Hudson. The USA-made spatula is cleverly cut with an American flag pattern, a great way to flip a burger (or Portobello mushroom) and make a pop-meets-patriotism statement at the same time. Crafted of solid American walnut and stainless steel and 19.5" long, it's a quality tool, too. $65. Valleyvariety.com
Lounge in Color
Make relaxing fun with color-drenched lawn furniture in super-durable, heavyweight recycled plastic, from Aquajet Pools in Lake Katrine. You'll find revved-up Adirondack chairs, lounges, and dining sets, in hot pink, peacock blue, neon green, dove gray, and more. These are no hardware store takeaways—they're made to last, built so sturdily that the wind can't blow them over. In styles from Mountain Moderne to al fresco traditional, you can leave them outside in all seasons without worrying that they'll fade or chip.
Fancy Some Lunch
Turn an ordinary picnic into a fancy tea party with linens by Coral and Tusk from Paper Trail in Rhinebeck. Designed by RISD grad Stephanie Housley, they start as original illustrations of flowers, animals, birds and bugs, natural artifacts, and beguiling patterns, are translated stitch by stitch into a computer program, and then hand finished into whimsical linen pillows, tea towels, napkins, runners, and dolls. $40 and up.
Step Lightly and Brightly
Victoria Gardens in Rosendale has great indoor-outdoor rugs by Mad Mats. Made of 100 percent recycled polypropylene (from plastic milk jugs, containers, and more), these rugs lay riots of color and pattern at your feet. Easy to clean—just hose them off—they come in sizes from mats to runners to grand area rugs, and if you don't see what you want, you can order what you do. And let the sun light your lights with Allsop Soji solar lanterns in weatherproof fabrics: solid colors, patterns, and two-tones, they're festive and practical. Mad Mats, $28 and up. Allsop lanterns, $30 and up.
Give your plants some prime real estate of their own in glazed ceramic, fiber resin, or concrete pots from Adam's Fairacre Farms. A cluster of urns can transform a patio; a grouping of planters can turn a path into an allée. Adam's garden centers in Poughkeepsie, Newburgh, Kingston, and Wappingers Falls have every size and shape: oblong, conical, circular, berry pots, basins, as well as stylish urns and massive containers with enough room for a small tree. $10-$150.
The Phantom Gardner in Rhinebeck stocks gardening tools by A. M. Leonard from small and mighty to really, really big. All bear a lifetime guarantee—they're made for work, not show, though in kicky orange and with sleek designs, they're handsome, too. An extralong, steel-handled shovel offers great leverage with no splinters. An oversize wheelbarrow has flat-free wide rubber tires for a stable ride in any terrain. You'll also find Swiss-made Felco 2 hand pruners, the favorite of many a horticulturist. Larger tools, $30 and up. A. M. Leonard pruners, $39. Felco 2 pruners, $89. A. M. Leonard poly wheelbarrow, $250. Thephantomgardener.com
Dig That Dirt
Awesome soil, a new tray of petunias—all well and good, but what you really need to dig in the dirt is protection. Story's Nursery in Freehold stocks gloves and hats that are gardeners' BFFs: An array of well-made gloves by Atlas includes bamboo versions and impenetrable rose gauntlets. Made to last far more than a season, they're soft, pliable, and come in endless colors (so they're easy to find in the ivy). Don a Sloggers hat in dozens of styles from classic panamas to broad-brimmed raffias, many with that all-important neck covering. Atlas gloves for men, women, and kids, $5.99 and up. Sloggers hats, $14.99 and up. Storysnursery.com
Thanks in large part to The Traveling Buddha, Hudson Valley gardens are becoming even more enlightening. TTB sources its hand-carved stone statues and figurines directly from Asia, from giant Buddhas in marble and bluestone to towering pagodas that can be retrofitted into lanterns or fountains. There are all manner of animals and totems, bodhisattvas and assorted deities, exotic architectural pieces, and meditation benches. Depending on size, TTB will deliver and install. With locations in the Poughkeepsie Galleria and Mower's Flea Market in Woodstock, or Olivebridge by appointment. Nine-foot pagoda, $3,000. 20" bluestone Buddha, depending on ornamentation, approx. $125. 6" carved bluestone horse, $20. Thetravelingbuddha.com
Make It Rain
Hudson Valley Rain Barrels in Milan is changing the way we save water, one—or a dozen—repurposed olive barrel at a time. It's a sustainable way to rescue your garden on dry days: Collecting the runoff from a 1,000 square-foot-roof can garner up to 600 gallons per inch of rain. These are heavy, high-density, food-grade polyethelyene barrels—60 gallons big, and a far cry from that jerry-rigged garbage can under the gutter. They come with spigot, drain plugs, mosquito mesh, twist arm lids, rain diverters, and optional first-flush diverters to screen out particulates and overflow elbows. You'll get plenty of guidance on logistics and setup, as well as clear instructions. $154 for one unit. Delivery rate depends on zip code. Hudsonvalleyrainbarrels.com
From delightful water features to glorious tomatoes, two local live gems.
When frogs go a courtin' they may wind up on your patio if you've got a water feature setup from Catskill Native Nursery in Kerhonkson. These are practically foolproof, either filled with bog plants (such as native pitcher plants, sedge, and arrowhead) or lily pads, and serve as self-contained reminders of the watery habitat all around us. Don't be surprised if tadpoles take residence. When cold weather returns, you can overwinter your plants: The only thing not hardy is the pot. Plants, $6-$20; pots, $35 and up. Catskillnativenursery.com
Win your own private tomato Olympics with seedlings from the Greene Bee Greenhouse in Cornwallville. Among its five greenhouses are the best tomatoes around: Each season, more than 45 varieties are started here in certified organic soil. Among the tried and true: Black from Tula heirlooms—dark maroon tomatoes that are deliciously chocolately; Jaune Flamme orange tomatoes are apricot-size and tangy, perfect for roasting; Aunt Ruby's German Green is a hefty green beefsteak with a fruity flavor that's perfect in a sandwich; and much-favored Sungolds are sweet golden clusters of cherry tomatoes. Every variety is grown by the Greene Bee gardeners, so no question goes unanswered. 4.5" seedling pots, $4.50; 2-quart seedling pots, $8. Greenebeegreenouse.com.