Tag Archives: Topsfield

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

Flutter From Bill O’Connor

Hi Joey,

On a recent trip to Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary in Topsfield, I was followed by a couple of chickadees that would fly very close to me as I walked along the trail.  On a whim, I stopped and stretched out my arm with the finger extended and they would actually land on my finger and quickly fly away!  I tried to get numerous shots but found it hard to manage the camera while the bird was standing on my finger. I snapped this at the moment that one fluttered away.

Enjoy!
~Bill O’Connor
North Shore Kid

Flutter

Willowdale Estate Peacock

I never know what interesting species I am going to encounter when at Willowdale– usually tending to find more of the native variety—-

From wiki: Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus, is a resident breeder in South Asia. The peacock is designated as the national bird of India and the provincial bird of the Punjab. The term peafowl can refer to the two species of bird in the genus Pavo of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. Peafowl are best known for the male’s extravagant tail, which it displays as part of courtship. The male is called a peacock, and the female a peahen. The female peafowl is brown or toned grey and brown.

Come join us tomorrow evening in the garden at Willowdale.

Special Events At Willowdale Estate

As many know from reading my posts, my dear friend, and one of my favorite design clients, is Briar Forsythe, proprietor of Willowdale Estate, located in Topsfield. I was delighted to attend Briar’s birthday party, which was a wine and food tasting event, and held in the new conservatory at Willowdale. Usually when there I am up to my elbows in design projects so it was a real pleasure to get a sense of how it feels to be a guest. I’ll write more in a future post about the history of, and rebuilding of, the conservatory.

The party started at 4:00 and the late afternoon sunlight streaming through the conservatory windows lent a warm and welcoming glow to the event. The service was absolutely impeccable (do you find that is not often easy to say?). Chef Joe Joyce and staff had prepared simply the most divine courses, paired with wines that perfectly complemented each dish. All the wines were delicious and I can imagine they would be great paired with any number of meals. Unfortunately, I did not take a snapshot of the first course, which was a  Duxbury Oyster with Champagne Foam and Blood Orange Caviar, served with a sparkling Dibon Cava Brut. I love sparkling wines and found this perfectly not overly sweet. I am not going to go on and on telling you how super delicious was all–it was–and hope the photos give an idea. The wines were provided by Geoffrey Fallon.

Sweet Pea Agnolotti, Lobster Tail, Vanilla Aioli and Pea Shoots
Paired with Lamoreaux Chardonnay
Crispy Pork Belly, Poached Apple, Celeriac Puree, Micro Dijon Greens
Paired with Arabanta Rioja

Seared  Tenderloin of Beef, King Oyster Mushroom, Bone Marrow Cracker, and Bordelaise Paired with Pietrantonj Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

Braised Lamb Shank, Grilled Polenta, Mustard Greens and Baby Turnip Paired with Armandiere Cahors 

Visit Willowdale’s website—they are a full service special events venue, specializing in their own in-house fabulous catering. Tours are offered throughout the year and many Gloucester companies do business with Willowdale, including several of our local florists and photographers.

Click last photo to see slideshow of all party pics.