Category Archives: Home and Garden

Poor Little Lost Bat

Bat trapped ©Kim Smith 2014Around and around the room flew the bat, neatly missing walls and chandelier. My husband’s response was calm and collected–and to me–you’re my nature girl he said. Not when it comes to bats trapped in our dining room I wailed in dismay. After a few unsettled moments, I realized the bat wasn’t going to bite him or me and it truly was just a poor little lost bat struggling to find its way out. I ran and got our trusty butterfly net that, although it has never been used to catch a butterfly with any success, has rescued myriad songbirds and hummingbirds. Tom caught the little bat in a flash and out into the night it flew.

How did it get in we wondered, with all the doors closed and the windows screened?

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Butterfly net ©Kim Smith 2014When our children were very young, I made each a net using  a dowel, piece of wire bent into a hoop-shape, fabric remnant, and recycled leather shoelace. The nets conveniently live in the mud room and they sure have come in handy over the years!

Peaches Ripening in the Warm Sun ~ Do I Hear Bellinis, Anyone?

Belle of Georgia peach ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

Bellinis would make a festive addition to your Labor Day/Schooner Festival weekend brunch or dinner, especially at this time of year when the farmer’s markets and grocer’s shelves are brimming with tree-ripened fresh fruit.

Our ‘Belle of Georgia’ white-flesh peach tree never disappoints. Each and every year since first planting, this semi-dwarf peach tree gives us mouth-watering sweet peaches. Not all of the peaches are perfect and the ones that are not eaten out of hand are whipped into smoothies, cooked in confections, or macerated with Prosecco.

~ Bellini Recipe ~

Marinate peeled, pitted, and sliced (halved or quartered) peaches in Prosecco for several hours. Just before serving, puree the peach-Prosecco mixture. Spoon the puree into champagne glasses, about 1/3 to 1/2 filled, and to taste. Gently add more Prosecco to the puree. Add a drop of raspberry liquor, Chambord, or a few fresh raspberries to the puree, to give the drink that beautiful pinky-peach glow.

Bellinis are traditionally made with white-flesh peaches such as ‘Belle of Georgia,’ but any variety of sweet peach will do.

Peach tree blossom Belle of Georgia ©Kim Smith 2011‘Belle of Georgia’ Peach Blossoms

In flower and in fruit, the peach is a pretty tree for your landscape ~

Belle of Georgia peach -2 ©Kim Smith 2014.j

Read an excerpt about the ‘Belle of Georgia’ from my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden here ~

Read more

Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow

Niles Pond Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014
Niles Pond ~ Rose Mallow Natural Habitat

GMG FOB Allen Sloane writes with the subject line White, Floppy, and Big:

It was a pleasure to meet and talk with you on Saturday.

Thanks for all the info on poke weeds. My dog doesn’t seem to have any interest in the berries so some day I’ll get around to removing it.

Last night I went to look at it and right next to it is this plant which has decided to blossom. I have seen a couple of other plants in the neighborhood so I don’t know if they are from seed or it is a cultural decision to grow them. Be my guest if you want to answer via your daily post.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Above photo courtesy Allen Sloane

Hi Allen,

The gorgeous flower in the photo that you sent is the North American native Hibiscus moscheutos, also known by many common names, including rose mallow, swamp mallow, eastern rosemallow, and crimson-eyed rose mallow. Crimson-eyed rose mallow blooms in shades of pure white to cheery pink and deepest rose red.

To answer your question, the seeds are dispersed by birds, and they are also readily available in nurseries. Locally, Wolf Hill always has a lovely selection. I plant rose mallows widely in my client’s native plants gardens as well as in Arts and Crafts period gardens because they are beautiful, easily tended, and are a terrific source of nectar for ruby-throated hummingbirds. H. moscheutos grow beautifully along marsh edges as well as in gardens. There’s a sweet patch growing at Niles Pond, and I am sure we would see many more if phragmites weren’t supplanting all our marsh wildflowers.

We planted a patch at the HarborWalk, but sadly they were stolen. Next year I am hoping we can replace the lost plants!

Rose Mallow Marsh Mallow ©Kim Smith 2013Rose Mallow Growing at Niles Pond

The following is an excerpt from an article that I wrote awhile back, titled “Growing Native:”

“…Throughout the American Arts and Crafts movement, and well into the 1930’s, home and garden magazines, among the most influential sources of ideas for the homeowner, espoused the use of native plants in the landscape. Perhaps the most notable was Gustav Stickley’s The Craftsman, which was published for fifteen years, beginning in 1901. Stickley revered the North American white oak (Quercus alba), admiring it for its majestic role in the eastern forest and for its unique strength and figuring of the wood for furniture making. A sense of connectedness to nature is at the heart of the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement and the popular writing of the era reflects how to create this relationship.

I am reminded of a lovely and memorable cover of Country Living for the September 1905 issue featuring a drift of rose mallows (Hibiscus moscheutos), which resemble and are closely related to hollyhocks (Alcea rosea). Both are members of the Malvaceae or Mallow Family. Hibiscus moscheutos are commonly referred to as crimson-eyed rose mallow and also marsh mallow, because the roots were used to make marshmallows. Rose mallows are a practical and economical native perennial as they reliably return year after year, unlike hollyhocks, although charming and beautiful, are short-lived (with the exception of Alcea rugosa). Rose mallows bloom in shades of pale pink to deeper rosey pink, from July through the first frost. Although found growing in marshy areas along stream and river banks, rose mallows will flourish in the garden when provided with rich moist soil and planted in a sunny location. New growth is slow to emerge in the spring. When cutting back the expired stalks after the first hard frost of autumn, leave a bit of the woody stalk to mark its spot for the following year. The leavesof Hibiscus moscheutos are a host plant for the Gray Hairstreak butterfly and the flowers provide nectar for Ruby-throated hummingbirds.”

Crimson-eyed Rose mallow ©Kim Smith 2010Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow

Provocative Pokeweed

The charming note posted below was in my inbox today. I thought Fred would enjoy, as would our GMG readers find interesting.

Allen writes:

Dear Madame Butterfly,

(You may recognize my name as an infrequent commenter on

GMG. More importantly, I am an FOF, Friend of Fred Bodin, although he NEVER invited me to his gallery soires !!!!!)

I always read your GMG posts and enjoy and learn from them.

I have a plant that comes up in my back yard and grows to a height of 5 or 6 feet. This week it fell down. Do you know what it is? Can I cut it up safely and dispose of it? Should I throw it over the fence in the back and let wildlife eat the berries?

Any help, thanks,

Allen

Phytolacca_americana_Sugarcreek_Ohio

Hi Allen,

Allen, as an FOF and FOB, of course you are invited to ALL GMG soirées. I hope you’ll come to the mug-up this Saturday morning at E.J.’s new summer gallery on Rocky Neck. I am planning to go, but will not get there until closer to 11:00. I look forward to meeting you!

American Pokeweed (Phytolacca americana) is what you have growing in your backyard. Pokeweed possesses nearly as many common names as the birds that find nourishment from its fruit, including pokeberry, Virginia poke, inkberry, ink weed, bear’s grape, American spinach, and American nightshade. The American Robin, Northern Mockingbird, Mourning Dove, Gray Catbird, Eastern Bluebird, Northern Cardinal, Great-crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-bellied Sapsucker, European Starling, Brown Thrasher, Cedar Waxwing, and Pileated Woodpeckers are some of the birds that dine on the fruits of pokeberry. Many mammals such as Red Fox, Virginia Opossum, Raccoon, White-footed Mouse, and Black Bear eat the berries, too.

Phytolacca_americana_Clinton_MI_2

Pokeweed can grow to ten feet, with an equally as long taproot as is it is tall in height. It typically grows in disturbed areas, pastures, roadsides, fencerows, open woods, and woodland borders. All parts of the plant are toxic to people and livestock, and especially to children. The root is the most toxic and the berries the least. It is not recommended to add to you compost. If you have children visiting your garden, I would suggest that you talk to them about the plant’s toxicity, and only throw it over you fence if beyond your fence is part of your property. To control a plant, cut below the root crown. An older plant may have a ten foot taproot, which would be very difficult to dig up.

 

 

Images courtesy wiki commons.

Please Don’t Weed the Milkweed

Common Milweed Asclepias syriaca ©Kim Smith 2014Once established, native Common Milkweed grows vigorously and rambunctiously, making itself known even in the thinnest of sidewalk cracks. Here’s a patch growing along East Main Street. I think it beautiful! What do you think?

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If you caught Tom Ashbrook’s On Point broadcast on NPR this morning you heard Doctor Lincoln Brower, Karen Oberhausser, and Rick Mikula, three of the world’s leading butterfly experts, speaking about the disappearance of the Monarch and the main reason why–most notably because of the sterilization of the American landscape through the use Monsanto’s Roundup and GMO corn and soybean crops. The episode is airing again tonight at 8pm.

The following is a list of a few suggestions on ways in which we can all help turn the tide:

Plant milkweed and wildflowers. Teach members of your family and friends what milkweed looks like and why we don’t want to weed it out of the garden. The above patch of milkweed is growing next to a shop on East Main Street. About a month ago, I went into the store and, very, very politely inquired as to whether or not they knew that the plant growing outside their doorway was a terrific patch of milkweed. They had no idea. I explained what the benefits were to the Monarchs and have since noticed that the milkweed patch is still growing beautifully!

Ban GMO crops. Genetically modified seeds have been altered to withstand megadoses of Roundup. Millions and millions of tons of herbicides are poured onto Roundup Ready fields of crops, preventing any other plant that has not been genetically altered from growing (in other words, wildflowers). The application of Monsanto’s deadly destructive herbicide Roundup is creating vast sterilized agricultural wastelands, which will, over time, only need heavier and heavier does of their lethal chemicals to continue to be viable.

Don’t apply herbicides and pesticides in your own gardens.

Create wildflower corridors in backyards and highways.

Reduce salt wherever possible (and where it wouldn’t cause harm to human life). Large amounts of road salt, as was needed during this past snowiest of winters, is detrimental to wildlife habitats.

Dedication of the Pathways Butterfly Garden

This morning the dedication of the new butterfly garden at Pathway’s for Children was celebrated with speeches of thanks, and a song and poem performed by the Pathways children. The sun was shining, the bees and butterflies were on the wing, and there were lots of smiles of joy on the faces of the children and attendees. My most heartfelt thanks and deepest appreciation to all who have given so much to make the garden a success!

Pathways for Children butterfly garden -3 ©Kim Smith 2014

Pathways for Children butterfly garden -4 ©Kim Smith 2014

Just some of the wonderful people who made the garden possible: Andrew, Bernie Romanowski, Beth Graham, and Peter Van Demark

Pathways for Children butterfly garden sunflower ©Kim Smith 2014

Pathways for Children butterfly garden before ©Kim Smith 2014

Before Photo Pathways for Children

Pathways for Children butterfly garden -8 ©Kim Smith 2014

Pathways for Children butterfly garden -7 ©Kim Smith 2014

See previous GMG post on the new butterfly garden at Pathways here: HOORAY FOR PATHWAYS FOR CHILDREN’S BRAND SPANKING NEW BUTTERFLY GARDEN

Aerial Yellowjacket Nest and Why Yellowjackets are Considered Beneficial Insects

Aerial Yellowjacket nest ©Kim Smith 2014Aerial Yellow Jacket Nest

Recently at one of my landscape design project sites, which is located within a public space, a very distraught woman approached exclaiming that there was a wasp nest in a tree down the road aways. She was sure it needed to be destroyed, despite that it was at least 30 feet high up in the tree and not any where near where guests might wander. I calmly explained to her that the tree was not in my jurisdiction and even if it was, my first impulse would not be to destroy the nest. I thought it best to learn more about wasps in case there were more calls for its annihilation and after she left, I photographed the nest. I was glad she had pointed it out because it was so interesting to observe the rhythms of the comings and goings of the wasps, which after looking at the images through my camera’s lens, determined that it was the nest of the Aerial Yellowjacket (Dolichovespula arenaria).

Aerial Yellowjackets are often confused with honey bees (Apis mellifera) becasue of their similar color. In contrast, the body of the yellow and black striped wasp is less hairy and thinner than that of a honey bee’s, and yellowjackets do not transport pollen.

Side-by-side comparison of an Aerial Yellowjacket and honeybee:

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Aerial Jellowjacket

http://www.besplatne-slike.net Potpuno besplatne slike visokog kvaliteta.Honeybee with Pollen Sacs on Hind Legs

The native Aerial Yellowjacket is considered beneficial because it preys on many insect crop pests. It is also serves as food for a variety of animals including frogs, skunks, birds, and other insects (I can’t imagine eating a wasp!). Yellowjackets typically sting in defense of their colony and can also be a pest at picnics, especially in late summer and fall when they switch their diet from that of a protein-based diet rich of the meat of chewed up caterpillars and insects, to a sugar-based diet.

Aerial Yellowjackets ©Kim Smith 2014

The nest is is a papery-like material constructed from the worker yellowjacket’s chewed wood and saliva pulp and is typically only used for one year in our region. The Aerial Yellowjacket is so named because it builds its nest high up, as opposed to underground.

We left the nest alone, and so far, no more calls have gone out for its destruction.

Aerial Yellowjacket nest -2 ©Kim Smith 2014Honeybee and Aerial Yellowjacket photos courtesy wiki commons media.

For all the Tuna Sushi Eaters ~ How to Make Jasmine Rice

Jasmine plants are one of the easiest house plants to grow. Ours spend the summer on the sunny kitchen patio and the winter in a south-facing window. All winter long our Jasminum sambac  ‘Maid of Orleans’ throws us blossoms enough to flavor tea and rice whenever needed. At this time of year it provides handfuls and they can be used fresh or dried.

A half a dozen fresh jasmine flowers is all that is needed to scent a large pot of rice. Simply toss the flowers in with the rice, along with a pinch of salt, splash of olive oil, and water to boil. You don’t need to remove the flowers when done as they are perfectly edible. And its just that easy with a pot of tea, hot or cold. Add the flowers while the tea is seeping. For maximum jasmine flavor, rub the rim of the glass or cup with a freshly plucked blossom.

Jasmine flower ice tea Jasminium sambuc ©Kim Smith 2014

Jasmine Flower Ice Tea

Within the pages of my book on garden design, you’ll find a wealth of information about edible flowers, as well as information on growing herbs.

Excerpt from Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden

“Moonlight of the Groves”

Jasmine is among the loveliest of plants used to cover vertical structures—walls, arbors, porches, pergolas, bowers, and what you will. To my knowledge, and sadly so, none of the fragrant Jasminum are reliably hardy north of zone seven, and therefore must be potted up to spend the winter indoors.
Jasminum sambac, a woody evergreen shrub with vining tendencies, flowers freely throughout the year, covered with small (3⁄8 ̋), white, single or double flowers that fade to pink as they age. The perfume is similar to lilacs and orange blossoms, an exhilarating combination of scents that insinuates itself throughout garden and home.

Jasminum sambac is the flower that the Hindus gave the poetic name of “Moonlight of the Groves.” An ingredient often utilized to make perfume and flavor tea, J. sambac is also called bela when used to make garlands by women to wear in their hair during in Hindu worship ceremonies.

Although originally native to India, J. sambac grows throughout southern China. Confucius wrote that scented flowers were strewn about on all festive occasions. Houseboats and temples alike were hung with fragrant blossoms of peach, magnolia, jonquil, and jasmine. Gardens were devoted solely to the cultivation of jasmine to make fragrant oils and perfumes, to scent wines and teas, and to adorn the wrists and hair for women to wear in the evening. Each morning the unopened buds would be collected before dawn and brought to market for the city flower sellers to string into garlands and bracelets. Enhancing the tea experience by adding aromatics began during the Song Dynasty (a.d.960-1279). A single, newly opened blossom of J. sambac is all that is needed to perfume and flavor a pot of tea.

Read More Here Read more

Monarchs at the HarborWalk Zinnia Patch!

Monarch Butterfly Gloucester HarborWalk ©Kim Smith 2014This past week while I am home enjoying a staycation (why would anyone ever want to leave Gloucester during the summer?), I have been working on HarborWalk butterfly garden improvements, alongside some outstandingly helpful volunteers. Imagine our delight when a beautiful Mama Monarch flew on the secene. After nectaring from the zinnias, I was hoping she would deposit her eggs on the Marsh Milkweed, strategically planted next to the nectar-rich zinnias, but no, not on her day’s agenda.

Many Hands Make Light Work ~ If you would like to join the Friends of the HarborWalk volunteers, please email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com. You don’t need to be an expert gardener to join us; on the job-training is provided. We also need sweepers, trash-picker-uppers, and weedwhackers!

I understand from Matt Coogan, Gloucester’s Community Development Senior Planner, that there were over 800 people attending the free Summer Cinema on Wednesday night!! This coming Wednesday, a showing of Goonines is scheduled. I hope to see you there!

Monarch Butterfly Glucester HarborWalk Zinnia patch ©Kim Smith 2014The Monarchs we see in our gardens at this time of year are not the Methuselah Monarchs that travel to Mexico, but the parents of the generation that will.

 

Thank You So Much to Our Friends, New and Old, of the HarborWalk!

American Lady Butterfly New York Ironweed Gloucester house HarborWalk ©Kim Smith 2014Thank you Beth, Lynn, Frieda, Catherine, Mary Jo, Lise, Susan, Deborah, and Roger for a super meeting and weeding this morning. Thank you to all our newest “Friends of the HarborWalk” members who, although could not make it this morning, have expressed interest in helping.

If you would like to join the Friends of the HarborWalk, please email me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com. In September I am giving a close-up photo workshop, in the garden, to all our Friends of the HarborWalk members. Date to be determined.

You do not need to be an expert gardener to join. Membership is open to all, and we’ll give you on-the-job training, no worries!

Note to Lucinda: I could not retrieve your email address from the comments. Please send me an email and I will add you to the mailing list. Thank you.

American Lady Butterfly New York Ironweed -2 ©Kim Smith 2014Look who joined us while weeding and meeting this morning at the gardens, an American Lady Butterfly (Vanessa virginiensis), and she was nectaring from the ginromously tall New York Ironweed (Veronia noveboracensis), a true North American native beauty and fabulous source of nectar for butterflies and bees. 

American Lady Butterfly New York Ironweed ©Kim Smith 2014American Lady Butterfly

Groundhog or Woodchuck (or Whistle-pig)?

Groundhog woodchuck ©Kim Smith2014

Marmota monax

That’s precisely what I wondered when I encountered this large member of the order Rodentia at a job site recently. Our eyes locked for several moments as we both stood perfectly still, it trying to disguise itself as an inanimate object and me trying to take a snapshot. I took a step forward and off it burrowed back into its tunnel.

Google search reveals that groundhogs and woodchucks are one and the same species (Marmota monax) and the critters also go by the names of whistle-pig (I like this one best) and land-beaver. The name whistle-pig is derived from their behavior of emitting a high-pitched whistle to alert members of their colony of impending danger. Woodchuck stems from either an Algonquin or Narragansett name for the animal, wuchak.

Whistle-pigs are the largest members of the Squirrel Family, although you can’t see that in the above photo as this is a juvenile. They dwell in areas where woodland meets open space. All summer long whistle-pigs stuff their little furry faces with wild grasses, other wild plants, tree bark, berries, and agricultural crops to build their fat reserves for the long winter hibernation. They are notoriously destructive in gardens. We have yet to see any damage in the gardens at Willowdale due to the resident woodchuck family. I imagine they are finding enough food in the surrounding forest.

Follow Kim on Twitter @kimsmithdesigns and be her friend on Facebook.

Hooray for Pathways for Children’s Brand Spanking New Butterfly Garden!

Pathways for Children we ©Kim Smith 2014HOLY CANNOLI and WOW–look how fantastically the Pathway’s Staff is taking care of their brand new one-month old butterfly garden–every plant looks well-loved!!!

Pathways for Children Butterfly Garden ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

Pathways for Children Butterfly Garden BEFORE ©Kim Smith 2014 copySpring 2014 Before Photo

Pathways for Children Butterfly Garden  After ©Kim Smith 2014.

Same View After Photo ~  July 18, 2014

Elizabeth's Toad ©Kim Smith

Toads Welcome!

My sincerest thanks to Caroline Haines for her vision to create a butterfly garden for the children at Pathways. 

Thank you to the many donors who have made the butterfly gardens at Pathways possible. 

Thank you to the Manchester Garden Club for their tremendous assisitance in planting the garden.

Thank you to the volunteers from Liberty Mutual for tearing out the old plantings.

And special thanks to Bernie Romanowski, Pathways for Children facilities director, for all his hard work and his extraordinary care and attention to detail, from the project’s inception through its continued maintenance. Pathways for Children Butterfly Garden Zinnia ©Kim Smith 2014. Pathways for Children Butterfly Garden Sunflower ©Kim Smith 2014.Pathways for Children Butterfly Garden Milkweed ©Kim Smith 2014.Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) ~ Notice the pretty moth nectaring from the milkweed in the upper right. The gardens are alive with pollinators of every species imaginable, including butterflies, bees, hummingbirds, songbirds, moths, and sundry insects!Bernie Romanowski ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

 Bernie Romanowski

Manchester Garden Club at Pathways ©Kim Smith 2014Manchester Garden Club

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Antennae for Design ~

The architectural details of the trellis and picnic table were designed to be a coordinated focal point in the garden and planned to be stained a classic seaside blue. Why would we want to paint or stain the trellis and not simply allow it to gain a weathered patina? From an aesthetic point of view, the wood used for both the picnic table and trellis are two different types and will age very differently from each other. If this were a very large garden, it wouldn’t matter so much, but in a cozy garden room such as this, the difference will become quite noticeable and unappealing over time. Additionally, the blue will offset the flowers and foliage handsomely and is a cheery choice with children in mind.

From a very practical standpoint, untreated wood will quickly degrade in our salty sea air and neither piece will last more than ten years without protection. An opaque stain is the best solution because as the trellis and picnic table age, the obvious differences in wood will be disguised. An opaque stain also requires the least amount of effort to maintain over time.

Rotting untreated trellis ©Kim Smith 2014The above is a photo of untreated trellis, allowed to weather, and was installed approximately ten years ago.

_DSF8394 Pathways for Children Butterfly Garden school bus ©Kim Smith 2014.

Snapshots from Whirlwind 24 Hours in NYC

UN Headquarters Dove of Peace ©Kim Smith 2014

UN Headquarters, NYC

Wednesday and Thursday were spent on a whirlwind trip to NYC for my husband Tom to meet with literary agents. Giovanni rana ©Kim Smith 2014Upon arriving Wednesday night, our daughter Liv took us to a wonderful Italian restaurant at Chelsea Market, Giovanni Rana Pastificio and Cucina, which specializes in pasta dishes. Every bite of every dish was out-of-this-world delish however, she and I both agreed that the Squid Ink Linguine, Broccoli Rabe, and Lobster entrée was extra-extraordinary. Giovanni Rana squid ink pasta broccoli rabe lobster ©Kim Smith 2014After dinner we explored the HighLine, which is only a short walk from the Market and is especially festive and fun at dusk.

HighLine Skyline ©Kim Smith 2014View from the HighLine

HighLine Night NYC ©Kim Smith 2014

The HighLine was bustling with young couples, old couples, families, friends meeting for dinner and drinks after work, and tourists, too. The gardens are exquisitely maintained and beautiful any time of year, day or night. How well the gardens are cared for is reflected in how very much they are enjoyed by visitors. The HighLine gardens are so appreciated that they even illuminate the flowers! Coneflowers HighLine night ©Kim Smith 2014

Chrysler Building night Highline ©Kim Smith 2014View of the Chrysler Building from the HighLine

The following morning, Thursday, I walked around Tudor City Parks in the UN headquarter’s neighborhood and then took Liv to a charming French restaurant near the theatre where she works.

Eastern Redbud foliage Cercis canadensis ©Kim Smith 2014Bold and beautiful heart-shaped foliage of our native Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) at the Tudor City Greens

The trip was too brief but very successful though I have to warn our readers that if you are traveling by car to New York City, the construction traffic homeward in the northbound lanes was horrendous, on both Routes 15 and 95. It took us seven hours to get home!

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Lambrusco %22Pruno Nero%22 Cleto Chiarli ©Kim Smith 2014 copy If you go to Giovanni Rana Pastificio and Cucina, you have to try their Lambrusco “Pruno Nero” Cleto Chiarli, a wonderful sparkling red wine that is round and flavorful of fruit and berries, but not at all sweet. The color is an inky purple red and the wine is equally as rich tasting as its hue. Lambrusco “Pruno Nero” Cleto Chiarli is not your grandfather’s Lambrusco.

Lambrusco Pruno Nero is definitely worth seeking out and makes a refreshing summer beverage. I’ll mention it to Kathleen at Savour Wine and Cheese and perhaps she’ll give it a try at the shop. We’ll let you know if she does.

Wildly Wonderful Wisteria ~ When to Prune?

Wildly wonderful wisteria can quickly become wild and wicked wisteria. Reader Alicia writes, “when is the best time of year to prune wisteria?”

willowdale-estate-spring-©kim-smith copy

Taming the wisteria (before photo). The first photo shows what the ancient wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) looked like when first I took over the gardens at Willowdale Estate. I removed much of the plant and bent one long trunk over and down, attaching it to a thick bamboo stake, to create the wisteria “arch.” The next photo shows what the wisteria arch looked like by mid-summer that same year.

willowdale-estate-zinnia-patch-©Kim Smith copy

Alicia asks: “Much to my surprise the wisteria is blooming and has never been this late. I really gave up on it and am wondering why? When is the best time to prune it?”

Hi Alicia,

Wisteria throughout our region bloomed later than usual I think becasue spring got off to such a slow start this year.

Wisteria grows beautifully and is easiest to control when pruned biannually, or twice a year; a summer pruning and a winter pruning.

Summer Pruning: Cut the long shoots after the flowers fade to about six inches.

Winter Pruning: In late winter, before the buds begin to swell, prune all the shoots that have since grown after the summer pruning. The shape of the leafless wisteria is more clearly visible and you can easily see the unruly, long shoots at this time of year. Cut the branches to about 3 to 5 buds and over time, these shortened flowering branches will resemble a wisteria “hand.”

photo-1Photo submitted by Alicia Mills

World’s Best and Zippiest Tartar Sauce Recipe ~ Made with Maitland Mountain Farm’s Holly’s Spicy Pickles

Best tartar sauce for your summer’s grilled fish dishes ~ and simplest, too!

Maintland Mountain Farm Pickles ©Kim Smith 2014Have you tried locally made Maitland Mountain Farm’s Holly’s Spicy Pickles? Not only are they super yummy, but when craving crunch they are fabulously satisfying. Using Maitland Mountain Farm’s pickles in tartar sauce makes for a wonderfully flavorful condiment, not the usual sticky sweet stuff more typically found.

Holly’s Spicy Pickles are available for sale at the Cape Ann Farmer’s Market on Thursdays as well as wherever fine pickles are sold!

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Recipe makes approximately 2 cups.

8 Maitland Mountain Farm’s Holly’s Spicy Pickle Spears, finely chopped

2/3 Cup Hellmann’s or homemade mayonnaise

1/3 Cup whole milk yogurt

1 teaspoon pickle juice

S & P to taste.

Combine all ingredients and serve with fresh fish. The remainder can be stored in an airtight container for several days.

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Visit Maitland Mountain Farm’s Facebook Page Here 

Maintland Mountain Farm Pickles ©Kim Smith 2014.-2

Rockport Stuff: FREE Ice Cream & Awesome Pesto (Not Together)

This Week Downtown: Free Ice Cream AND the Rockport Farmers Market.

TODAY: Thursday, June 26th at the Ice Cream Store on Bearskin Neck: Enjoy ice cream provided by the Ice Cream Store with all donations to benefit Rockport Fireworks! For more info go to the Rockport Fireworks Facebook page. Don’t miss the chance to eat some very tasty ice cream for a fun cause.

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SATURDAY, June 28th: Pesto is back at the Rockport Farmers Market! We’re thrilled that Paolo Laboa’s award-winning pesto will be featured this week, along with scones and tea from Heath’s Tea Room, produce from Vintage Greens, First Light Farm and Grant Family Farm. Baked goods, from whoopie pies to anadama bread to focaccia bread will be at the market, along with fudge sauce, fresh salsa, maple syrup, tomato plants, amazing Trupiano’s Sausage, hot coffee and much more! The Farmers Market is located in Harvey Park, downtown Rockport and runs from 9am to 1pm. Did you see this post on the value of Farmers Markets? It really captures what makes the Rockport Farmers Market so special. (Plus it offers a really awesome Trupiano’s sausage recipe.)

Upcoming Events:
Lobster Day
at the Rockport Farmers Market: July 19th
Ice Cream Social at the Rockport Farmers Market: August 9th

Interested in volunteering at the Farmers Market? Click HERE (and thank you!)

Sea Biscuit Fine Baked Goods Sasquatch Smoked Fish Wally's Blackburn Bistro

Have You Picked Up Your Summer Issue of Cape Ann Magazine?

What a terrific issue and the perfect read to bring to the beach (and not just because my story about the Cape Ann to Mexico Monarch connection is featured on the cover!).

Cape Ann Magazine’s Summer 2014 issue provides a wonderful window into summer living on our beautiful North Shore. I throughly enjoyed reading all the articles, including Gail McCarthy’s about Essex sculptor Shelly Bradbury and the beautiful work she does designing for Mariposa; Alexandra Pecci’s two articles, one about Mariposa, aptly titled “Elegance for Everday,” and a second interesting story about Woodman’s celebrating their 100th year in business; Andrea Holbrook’s story featuring Gloucester’s only sailmaker Josh Bevins; and Sean Horgan’s article about tuna-chasing Johnny Johnson. Pick up the Summer 2014 issue of Cape Ann Magazine. I guarantee, you won’t be disappointed!

Cape Ann Magazine Summer 2014 butterfly ©Kim Smith 2014

Luxuriating before work with Cape Ann Magazine’s summer issue and Brother’s Brew fab house-made doughnut! 

Excerpt from “Cape Ann to Mexico: The Monarch Butterfly Connection”

Like many communities throughout North America, Cape Ann shares in the interconnected web of the wondrous migration of the monarch butterfly. The very same monarchs that we see nectaring in our gardens and along the shoreline in late summer make a journey of over 2,500 miles south to Mexico to spend the winter in the unique and magnificent oyamel fir and pine tree forests of the Trans-Mexican Volcanic Belt, known locally as the Sierra Nevada (Snowy Mountain Range).

Last December, reports began to pour in from Mexican and American scientists that the number of monarchs overwintering was the lowest ever documented, representing a 90% decline from population numbers recorded in the 1990s. This coincided with the lamentably few monarchs seen breeding and feeding in our Cape Ann gardens during the summer of 2013. For the past three years I have been filming the monarchs in Gloucester, and all around Cape Ann, for my forthcoming film, Beauty on the Wing—Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. I came to the realization that if I did not travel to Mexico at this moment in time, there may never again be the opportunity to film the monarch butterfly migration.

Read more in the Cape Ann Magazine Summer 2014 issue available at the following shops: 

Gloucester

The Gloucester Times, 36 Whittemore St., 978-283-7000

The Book Store, 61 Main St., 978-281-1548

Good Harbor Liquors, 340 Main St., 978-281-7100

Harbor Loop Gifts, 1 Harbor Loop, 978-283-3060

Jeff’s Variety, 71 Eastern Ave., 978-281-5800

Richdale, 410 Washington St., 978-281-4670

Richdale, 120 E. Main St., 978-283-2179

7 Eleven, 50 Bass Ave., 978-283-6868

Savour, 76 Prospect St., 978-282-1455

 

Rockport

Hershey Frame Shop, 8 Rr Pleasant St., 978-546-2655

Rockport Market, 21 Broadway, 978-546-3684

Toad Hall Book Store, 47 Main St., 978-546-7323

Tucks Candy, 15 Main St., 978- 546-6352

 

Manchester

Richdale, 8 Beach St., 978-526-7294

 

See Joey’s funny post about GMG Media Moguls here.

Cape Ann Magazine Cover Kim Smith. Summer 2014

 

Huge Hugs and Ninety-Nine Thank Yous to the Amazing and Super Hard-Working Friends of the HarborWalk Crew

Thank you to our most awesome crew today. We had friends from as far away as Spain (the Ryan’s cousins), Rosemary Banks from Boca Raton, and Kim from Medford, all lending a hand with the gardens today and it was a joy to meet you all. And special thanks to our Gloucesterites Maggie Rosa, Ed, Catherine, George, Charles, Lisa Smtih, April,and Sam.Friends of the HarborWalk Gloucester ma © Kim Smith 2014

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