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.
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Bluebird Nesting Box and Bluets
At this time of year, when you pass by a field with patches of white, stop and have a closer look. The Bluet’s tiny florets are actually a dreamy azure blue; the little bunches also “quake” in the seasonal breeze! Also called Quaker Ladies, the sweet petite blossoms attract Little Carpenter bees, Green Metallic bees, small butterflies, and the Meadow Fritillary Butterfly (Boloria bellona). Both nectar and pollen are the pollinator’s floral reward!
Azure Bluets (Houstonia caerulea)
Ipswich River Canoers and Bluets at Willowdale Estate
On Tuesday, May 13th, at 6pm, I will be giving a free guided tour of the butterfly gardens at Willowdale Estate, located in Topsfield. After the garden tour, we will have a screening of my film, Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, and serve a selection of Willowdale’s exquisite refreshments. I hope you can join us!
For ticket information and to RSVP click here.
To learn more about Willowdale, visit their beautiful new website here.
The Power of Flowers!
Pink Carolina Silverbell is a native flowering tree (Halesia tetraptera var. rosea)
Temple of Beauty
Click to see more spring beauties here ~ Read more
On Tuesday, May 13th, at 6pm, I will be giving a free guided tour of the butterfly gardens at Willowdale Estate, located in Topsfield. After the garden tour, we will have a screening of my film, Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, and serve a selection of Willowdale’s exquisite refreshments. I hope you can join us! For ticket information and to RSVP click here.
To learn more about Willowdale, visit their beautiful new website here.
For the month of April I, along with Noah Quist, Willowdale’s new Director of Businesss Development, are featured in the Willowdale newsletter’s Meet the Team. Sarah Boucher, Willowdale’s Senior Sales and Marketing Director asked several questions of me for the feature. The following answer is in response to a question about creating welcoming habitat gardens, “My passion for creating butterfly and habitat gardens developed initially because I think butterflies and songbirds are exquisitely beautiful creatures and I wanted to draw these wild things to the gardens that I was designing. Butterflies and songbirds bring a garden to life with their grace in movement and fascinating life stories. The more that I learn, the greater the need becomes apparent for sharing information about the connection between native wildflowers and the web of life that they support.”
Read more here: Meet the Team
My friend, Briar Fandetti Forsythe, is a not only a fabulous baker, but also a movie buff. In April she is attending the Turner Film Festival, Los Angeles, where a huge celebration is scheduled for the 75th anniversary of The Wizard of Oz (1939). In anticipation of her upcoming trip she’s combined two of her passions, whipping up a batch of cookies for her friends, featuring Dorothy, from The Wizard of Oz!
Early Wizard of Oz Poster
As you’ve read here in previous posts, Briar is the proprietor of Willowdale Estate. Several times throughout the year, Willowdale holds fun family nights (free) with screenings of classic movies. It’s a great way to see the Estate, sample Briar’s exquisite cooking, and experience Willowdale’s welcoming hospitality!
Willowdale Estate, Topsfield
Note ~ My daughter Liv read, and reread, L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and the novel’s many sequels. It’s a fabulously captivating series not to be overlooked for your young reader!
Briar Fandetti-Forsythe cookie photos; The Wizard of Oz promotion posters courtesy google image search.
See more The Wizard of Oz original posters, lobby cards, and info about the 75th anniversary screening here: Read more
I hope to see you there!
For more information about Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly click here.
Tuesday, April 29th, 2014 at 6:30 pm Lowell Eco-Film Festival ~ More details to follow.
Tuesday, May 13th, 2014 at 6:00 pm. Willowdale Estate, Topsfield Massachusetts: Artist Spotlight Event
Mary Foss Murphy writes ~
I am a faithful GMG reader and enjoy your posts and pictures. Thank you for sharing your talents with us. Knowing of your work at Willowdale and your work as a video producer, I thought you would enjoy this wedding trailer from Long Haul Films of a recent wedding there. The intro to the trailer mentions the beautiful setting; I wish a few more scenes of Willowdale had made it into the trailer. I love the cranes as the backdrop for their vows. I have been following the Long Haul blog for a few years. I’m always cheered by watching two people in love get married!
Mary Foss Murphy
P.S. My mom bought me your book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! for Christmas a few years ago. I garden, though have not had time to do your book justice. I love having it anyway.
My response ~ Thank you so much for sharing Mary and thank you for your good words regarding my book. I loved seeing this film and am so glad to become acquainted with Long Haul Films! The video must have been created very recently as I planted the sunflower window boxes just a month or so ago!
* * *
Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! is currently selling for only $15.00 on my publisher’s website which is a $20.00 value off the list price of $35.00.
Click here to purchase a copy of Oh Garden.
My dear friend Briar sent this photo very late last night; well past midnight. I imagine she must have just finished making the cookies and was excited to share her beautiful creation with friends. I’m am so glad she did and believe this is the prettiest, and most yummiest-looking, pumpkin patch ever seen!
Reminder: Plant your bulbs before the chilly weather is upon us!
These upcoming weeks, until Christmastime, I am nonstop with my business. My interior design client’s homes need readying for the holidays and I am very much straight out with landscape design client’s gardens; planting ephemeral spring magic and putting all to rest for the winter. I am a little bit ahead on posts planned and will do my best to keep up with all, but I may be calling on our Editor-in-Chief to fill in the gaps. I so very much appreciate all of your comments, but if your always kind and much appreciated comments are not answered immediately please do not think that I did not notice. I enjoy reading them and will respond to your comments as soon as possible. Thank you for understanding.
Trunk loads of this…
Willowdale Estate Courtyard ~ A Special Events Venue Unlike Any Other
Join us as we feature two accomplished artists that are very close to the Willowdale Estate family. Showing for one night only!
Jay Forsythe graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design. With a background in graffiti, his current work is about engaging with the idea that traditional methods of art making can lead to a deeper understanding of formulating new processes. Once traditional methods are understood these methods act as a guide to explore and discover uncharted areas.
Audi Souza is an artist working primarily in acyrlics. Her focus is the beauty of the landscape and figures in that landscape. She has her BFA from Montserrat College of Art and studied abroad with the college in Viterbo, Italy in 2000. She then retuned to Italy in 2003, this time in Trieste, where she studied and painted for nine months. Since then she has been painting here in New England and lives in Gloucester, Ma.
Notice the two gardenia trees in the large planters in the background. Weren’t we startled several weeks ago to find a nest tucked in the crook of the gardenia branches, with an egg!! The planters are moved often enough to accommodate wedding ceremonies, but that didn’t deter in the least the highly adaptable Chipping Sparrow from building its nest.
Baby Chipping Sparrow
Parent Chipping Sparrow. The mom/pop waited anxiously, with a fat green caterpillar dangling from its mouth, for me to stop photographing. As soon as I moved away, it flew to the nest to deposit the worm into the hungry baby’s wide-open mouth. The entire time I was there delivering plants Sunday afternoon, the baby never closed its mouth!
The song of the Chipping Sparrow is a lovely trill and you can hear it well on this video. They also make a piercing flight call, a characteristic sound of the evening sky during their annual spring and fall migration.
I have shared many photos and stories about the garden and events that take place at Willowdale Estate. Not only because I love working with everyone there, but also because several people who live in Gloucester work at Willowdale (Michele and Audi) and because everyone in the Willowdale offices reads GMG on a daily basis. The following glowing review was recently published in The Knot and I thought perhaps prospective brides looking for a venue would like to read about one bride’s beautiful experience at Willowdale.
Spring Tulips at Willowdale Estate
Butterfly Courtyard with Native Dogwood (Cornus florida)
Thank you so much to everyone who came to the Willowdale Estate Artist Spotlight Garden Tour Monday night. We had an absolutely wonderful turnout. I would especially like to thank Senator Bruce Tarr who, although he could not make it, sent his liaison, Gloucester’s Barry Pett. Mr. Pett is Senator Tarr’s Director of Community Outreach and Constituent Services, and also has a background in architecture. He lives in a historical Queen Anne on Middle Street and was especially appreciative of Willowdale, which is a stunning example of an exquisitely restored Arts and Crafts stone mansion.
Courtyard window box with anemones
Thank you Briar and Sarah for your gracious hospitality and for all that you did to make last night’s event such a singing success. There were gift bags for all who attended and the staff prepared a wonderful array of Briar’s signature cookies, as well as a delicious selection of fruit and cheese, topped with a favorite sparkling wine!
The tulips were in full, glorious bloom, as were many of our native flowering trees and spring ephemerals. Both the Eastern Redbud and Carolina Silverbell were abuzz with myriad species of bees and tiny winged-pollinators.
Eastern Redbud (Cercis canadensis)
Please join me tonight for a tour of the butterfly gardens I designed for Willowdale Estate. Come experience a taste of Briar’s gracious hospitality and enjoy refreshments served in the conservatory. I stopped by the gardens yesterday and the spring blooms are at their peak and simply spectacular this year–not only the tulips but many natives as well, including Eastern Redbud, Cornus florida, and Carolina Silverbell. I will also be showing several of my short films. Please RSVP to Sarah at: Sarah@WillowdaleEstate.com ~ 978-887-8211.
I hope to see you there!
Please join me Monday evening for a tour of the butterfly gardens I designed for Willowdale Estate. Come experience a taste of Briar’s gracious hospitality and enjoy refreshments served in the conservatory. The tulips are at their peak and look simply spectacular this year. I will also be showing several of my short films. Please RSVP to Sarah at: Sarah@WillowdaleEstate.com ~ 978-887-8211.
I hope to see you there!
Pink Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida rubra)
China Town Viridiflora Tulip
Kay Tompson sings “Think Pink!” in Funny Face (1957, starring Audrey Hepburn and Fred Astaire). The character of Dick Avery, played by Fred Astaire, is in part based on the real life fashion photographer Richard Avedon.
The Supervising Editor for my Black Swallowtail film, Craig Kimberley, and I, spent Saturday afternoon adding titles and color correcting. I have been looking at lots of films to study how some of my favorite film titles are created and discovered that Richard Avedon designed the opening title sequence and provided the stills for Funny Face, including this famously over-exposed iconic photo of Hepburn.
Bleeding Heart and Tulips
All photos Willowdale Estate, Topsfield.