Author Archives: Kim Smith

The Dreadfully Despicable and Despised Poison Ivy

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Eastern Bluebird and Poison Ivy Berries

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“Leaflets three, let it be!”

Perhaps the most disliked plant of all is poison ivy, despised throughout its range for the blistering rash that oozes and itches when one has the misfortune to come in contact with any part of the plant. What is the substance that causes that most dreaded of unpleasant of rashes? Poison ivy is infused with urushiol, a compound that not only wards off humans, but caterpillars, too (generally speaking, caterpillars are a plant’s number one enemy).

Toxicodendron_radicans_01Poison Ivy in Flower

Several of my landscape design projects are located on Plum Island. I laughed initially when it was first brought to my attention that poison ivy was one of the “approved” plants permitted on Plum Island. Of course, whether approved or not, I wouldn’t dream of planting poison ivy on a client’s property, but I did want to learn more about why it was on the approved list. And here’s the reason why we might want to rethink our disdain towards poison ivy: Plum Island is home to and breeding ground for hundreds of bird species and small animals. The blossoms of poison ivy are a rich nectar source for many pollinators and the berries are a prime winter staple for dozens and dozens of song birds, including cardinals, mockingbirds, and robins.

800px-Toxicodendron_radicans_(L.)_Kuntze_-_eastern_poison_ivy,_poison_ivy,_poisonivy_(3778180456)“Berries white, run in fright.” ~ More than 60 species of birds eat the fruit of poison ivy.

Malign poison ivy if you will for its dreadful rash and clamoring habit. Lets rip it out of our backyard play spaces and public pathways. But knowing it holds an important place in our ecosystem, lets allow it to continue to grow wild in wild and appropriate places. Poison ivy is one of the essential reasons why we are privy to the legions and legions of beautiful birds that dwell, nest, and migrate through our region.

140256018.pF0PzVtqYellow-rumped Warbler and Poison Ivy Fruits

Yellow-rumped warblers are able to withstand our cold winters by switching from a diet of primarily insects, to one of poison ivy berries, bayberry, and other small fruits.

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“Red hairy vine, no friend of mine!”

The telltale reddish hairs of the vine are clearly evident in the above image; leaves, vines, stems, and hairs are all toxic to humans. As I am constantly exposed to poison ivy due to landscape design projects, and oftentimes filming and photographing in locations where poison ivy is prevalent, my number one solution to avoiding contact is to identify its presence and to wear protective clothing. Knowing poison ivy’s mnemonic rhymes will help with its identification: “Leaves of three, let it be!”, “Berries white, run in fright!”, and “Red hairy vine, no friend of mine!”

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My sincere thanks to John Snyder for the use of his photos. Permission to post the bluebird and poison ivy berry photo was requested and John not only graciously allowed the photo, he also forwarded along the photo of the Yellow-rumped Warbler. You can see more of his beautiful photos here: John Snyder Photography.

All other images are courtesy Wiki Commons Media. 

October Nor’easter Storm Snapshots

Eastern Point Seagulls ©Kim Smith 2014Out on Eastern Point this morning great flocks of seagulls were riding the waves while the Niles Pond swans and ducks were tucked into their shoreline retreats. The cormorants were many and could be seen clustering on rocky perches all around the inner harbor.

Niles Pond Swans ©kim Smith 2014Gloucester’s DPW crews were out and about clearing the streets from downed limbs.Gloucester DPW ©Kim Smith 2014

I only stayed for a moment at the Brace Cove berm because the waves were so tremendous that it really didn’t feel safe. I am glad to report though that at 10:30 this morning the narrowest slip of land that prevents Niles Pond from becoming Brace Cove’s salt marsh appears to have weathered this October nor’easter.

Brace Cove seagulls ©Kim Smith 2014

storm damage Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014Downed Tree Mangles Portable Potty

Steve Almond Writer’s Book Club Event at Duckworths

Stever Almond Duckworths ©kim Smith 2014Sunday evening’s Writer’s Book Club event featured best selling author Steve Almond and the sublime cuisine of Chef Ken Duckworth. Steve Almond is a gifted storyteller and wonderfully entertaining, as well as a superb moderator. He could teach any book and make it interesting!

SAteve Almond, Ken Duckworth, Chris Anderson ©Kim Smith 2014

Next month’s Writer’s Book Club event features Ken Duckworth moderating The Catcher in the Rye. This event will sell out quickly so purchase your tickets today.

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Cape Ann TV with Henry Cooper

Henry Cooper ©Kim Smith 2014A tremendous turnout today for Henry Cooper’s presentation on Adobe Premiere!

Marty Luster, James Eaves, Lisa Griffiths (That Nutty Redhead), John Grant, Kathy Chapman, and Charlie Caroll were just some of the guests attending Henry’s well-presented tutorial. Henry comes from a background of using Final Cut, Avid, and Adobe, which made his take especially informative and interesting on the (mostly) pros of using Adobe Premiere.

I’d love to hear from our readers on their experience with different editing programs, and why they chose the system they most frequently work with.

Cape Ann TV ©Kim Smith 2014Lisa Smith, Wally, Lisa Griffiths, and John Grant

Motif No. 1 Day from Henry Cooper

Pollinator Gardening Tip: Deadheading

Tufted titmouse Baeolophus bicolor ©Kim Smith 2014Tufted titmouse ~ Baeolophus bicolor

In my garden design practice, the topic of deadheading flowers comes up often, especially at this time of year. The habitat garden is designed for people and for pollinators and the objective is to find a balance between the two. Esthetically speaking, to some, a garden only looks its best when every plant is tidily trimmed and every spent flower blossom removed. But to a hungry bird on the wing, an expiring sunflower or cosmos is bird food. Some plants should be deadheaded and pruned however, the next time you get a jones to neaten a plant, take a moment to look at it from the perspective of a songbird.

Black-capped Chicakdee Poecile articapillus ©Kim Smith 2014

Black-capped Chicakdee ~  Poecile articapillus

I like a bit of unruliness in the garden and don’t even deadhead cosmos any longer. They will continue to flower whether deadheaded or not. A few weeks ago while working with several of our wonderful HarborWalk volunteers, I was explaining what plants to deadhead and what plants not to deadhead, and why, when at the very moment that I was speaking those very words, three brilliant cadmium yellow goldfinches flew on the scene and began devouring the seed heads of a nearby coneflower!

American Goldfinch male Cosmos bipinatus ©Kim Smith 2014

American Goldfinch Eating Cosmos Seeds

And too, a batch of Echinacea not only provides mid-winter sustenance to hungry birds, the seed heads sure look pretty silhouetted by new fallen snow.

Coneflowers in the snow ©Kim Smith 2012Gloucester HarborWalk

Breaking News: The Lobster Pool Restaurant HAS BEEN SOLD and is Only Open for Two More Weekends with Myalisa and Company

Lobster pool Restaurant-rockport-sunset-©Kim Smith 2012Open for two more weekends only, this weekend and next. We’re going to miss you Lisa and Family! Best wishes in all your future endeavors!

lobster-pool-restaurant rockport ©Kim Smith 2012

The Lobster Pool is open for lunch and for dinner Friday and Saturday 11:30 to 8pm and Sunday 11:30 to 7pm. Their last day is October 26th.

Call (978) 546-7808 for more information.

Reminder: the Lobster Pool is BYOB.

See previous GMG post here.

lobster-pool-rockport-panorama sunset ©Kim Smith 2012

 

 

 

Report Monarch Sightings Here!

Monarch Butterfly Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014More Monarch sightings reported on Cape Ann by GMG readers over the past several days, October 14th and 15th!

Monarchs640Maggis Rosa submits this photo from The Scientist Magazine, which was their Image of the Day and was shot by Luna Sin Estrellas at El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve, where the butterflies are arriving earlier than usual and in greater numbers than last year.

photo (2)To the reader who sent the above photo, I unfortunately accidentally deleted the email. Please forgive and please let us know your name and where the photo was taken. Thank you!

Ed Note: Nancy Dudley writes, “The photo in the post w/o a caption was at the Essex Shipbuilding Museum. We are seeing a couple a day this week. Thanks! I am looking for the milkweed seeds I got from you to plant in my marsh soon!”

Monarchs on the Wing ©Kim Smith 2014The Monarchs are back! Cape Ann GMG FOBs are continuing to report their Monarch sightings.

After taking a break during the rain of last week (butterfly’s wings don’t work very well in foul weather), the Monarchs are again moving through our region. Check the comment section to see all the recent sightings in our community. The above photo was taken yesterday, Monday, October 6th on Eastern Point. The photo below was shot last week, before the rain’s onset.

Monarch in flight ©Kim Smith 2014Monarch in Mid-Flight and New England Asters

Tip ~ This morning I ran into my friend Maggie and her husband who had just rescued a Monarch from the middle of the road. Butterfly wings don’t work very well in cool temperatures. If you find a Monarch in a seemingly quiet and weakened state, it could quite possibly simply be cold. Place the butterfly in a sheltered and sunny spot and it may very well revive!

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In 1975, in Angangueo, at the time when the butterflies winter grounds were first located by Mexican citizen Catalina Aguado and her American husband Ken Brugger, they not only discovered billions roosting on the limbs of the oyamel fir trees but also millions quietly at rest on the forest floor. Thinking that the butterflies were dead, some members of the discovery group brought the butterflies back to their homes. Later in the day, after the butterfly’s flight muscles had warmed, they awoke and began to fly. Today at the butterfly biosphere reserves it is against the rules to pick up or touch a sleeping butterfly.

Monarch Butterfly Nectaring Joe Pye ©Kim Smith 2012Joe-pye Weed (Eupatorium)

In Sunday’s podcast (September 21st), Joey made the super suggestion to create a place where GMG readers can report their Monarch butterfly sightings. I’ll repost this post every night for the next week or so. Please report any sightings to the comment section of this post, that way we can keep all sightings in one collective spot. You can send in a photo capture if you’d like, too.

Today as I was leaving our home, around noon time, I spotted a Monarch in our garden in East Gloucester. Let us know what you see. Thank you!

Monarch Butterfly Eastern Point Gloucester ©kim Smith 2012

 

That Nutty Redhead is Going Places!

52e023c288499e38ed518ad47d011b14_largeThat dynamo Nutty Redhead is every where! See Lisa’s latest video here: That Nutty Redhead Kickstarter Update, today’s issue of The Gloucester Daily TimesGetting Nutty,” this coming Saturday at the Rockport Harvest Festival, and this winter, she will be featured in the holiday issue of Edible Boston. Am I leaving anything off this multi-talented woman’s long list of recent accomplishments? Oh, yes, she also has an award winning show on Cape Ann TV, “All Things Victorian” (I am looking forward to watching the upcoming Victorian baking episode!)

Lisa is another friend who we are going to be saying, “We knew her when!”

Please help a truly dynamic up and coming local business woman grow her business. Read more and click here to donate to Lisa’s Kickstarter campaign!

7b3654f66ec079ed4f756c0dde77118e_largeMouthwatering, all natural, praline gourmet nut blends.

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Video: Hawk Attacks Drone

If the weather cooperates we are going to be filming with a drone all around the shoreline of Eastern Point this coming week, capturing Cape Ann from the perspective of a Monarch butterfly’s migratory path.

With so many seen along our local beaches, I hope a hawk attack doesn’t happen to us!

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