Tag Archives: Willowdale estate

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

Orange Poppies in the Rain

Planter Urn with spring flowers ©Kim Smith 2014jpgWednesday while planting at Willowdale in the on-again off-again rain, the luminesce orange of the crinkly tissue paper-like poppy petals kept catching my eye. They seemed especially incandescent juxtaposed against the drizzly gray light. I don’t really mind planting in the rain for a few hours and actually much prefer it to the heat of planting at mid-day on warm sunny days. The only thing with planting in the rain is that on long, non-stop nine- to ten-hour planting days, I get very chilled, which leads to a tired muddy mess that arrives home to my husband, who has actually been looking forward to my coming home. “Please don’t talk to me,” I say when first arriving but, after a solid half hour soak in a steamy tub, I cheer up and am ready to converse and get dinner underway.

orange iceland poppy ©Kim Smith 2014Look at all these buds yet to come!

We planted this urn back on May 1st, and it has filled out handsomely. The sweet peas are climbing up the pussy willow basket handles and their fragrance, along with the scent of the dianthus, Viola ‘Etain’ and sweet alyssum is really very enchanting. From one initial bud to dozens still yet to come, going on six weeks now this little poppy plant just keeps on bestowing her gift of great beauty!may-basket-c2a9kim-smith-2014-copy

May First May Basket

Sarah Boucher’s Baby Shower at Willowdale Estate

_DSF2690Could there be a more perfect venue to hold a bridal or baby shower on the North Shore than Willowdale Estate? In fairness, and as GMG readers are aware, I am the landscape designer for Willowdale, and completely unbiased. :)  The staff that works in the planning and production departments that create the events at Willowdale are so sweet, helpful, and capable; the home and gardens are meticulously cared for by James and his crew; and Executive Chef Ben Lightbody’s exquisite cuisine is beyond sumptuous.

_DSF2319 _DSF2346_DSF2384_DSF2327_DSF2328 Last Wednesday, Willowdale’s events planning and production team threw a beautiful surprise baby shower for their co-worker Sarah Boucher, Senior Sales and Marketing Manager. The color theme was a gorgeous soft buttery yellow with anthracite gray accents–ideal for the couple not sure whether their bundle of joy will be a boy or girl.

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_DSF2416_DSF2421_DSF2533Is that Madeline’s Coat?

_DSF2508All good wishes and love to Sarah, Jeff, and their new baby daughter-on-the-way! We can’t wait to meet her!!!

_DSF2678 The following are links for more information about several upcoming events at Willowdale Estate where you can explore the venue and experience Willowdale’s welcoming hospitality

Tuesday evening, May 20th, from 6:00 to 8pm is a free wedding open house for recently engaged couples. RSVP to receive a gift bag to help you get started with your planning.

On Thursday evening, June 12th, from 7:30 to 10pm, Chef Bennie is serving an Arabian Nights inspired three-course Moroccan Dinner. Click the link to read the menu–it sounds divine! Reservations are required.

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See more pictures from Sarah’s baby shower here

Read more

Beautiful Creamy Panna Cotta by Willowdale’s Chef Bennie Lightbody

Panna Cotta ©Kim Smith 2014JPGToday at Willowdale we celebrated our dear friend Sarah’s new baby-on-the-way. Lots of fun was had by all and Sarah was truly surprised. I’ll post photos tomorrow after I have a few minutes to sort through, but wanted to share about this fabulous, elegant and simple desert that Bennie Lightbody, Willowdale’s Executive Chef extraordinaire, created for the shower.

Panna Cotta, which means cooked cream in Italian, is made by simmering cream, milk, and sugar with a very small amount of gelatin. The pudding is eaten all around Italy, but is thought to have originated in Piedmont. Bennie served the Panna Cotta with a coulis of mixed berries along with the whole fruit. Pure Heaven!

Willowdale Estate Noah, Bennie, Sarah ©Kim Smith 2014Noah Quist, left, Bennie Lightbody center, and Sarah Boucher right

Spring Has Sprung at Willowdale! FREE Event in the Garden Tuesday Night!

Pink Tulips Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2014The tulips are at peak perfection, and just in time for my Artist Spotlight Event! The warm weather this weekend coaxed many to bloom, and the cooler temperatures predicted will keep them very pretty.

Tulips Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2014.

I hope you can come and enjoy  an evening of Willowdale’s hospitality and signature refreshments, the garden tour, and screening of my film, Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

For ticket information and to RSVP click here.

Spring Tulips Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2014.

Happy Spring!

Pure Whimsy!

Revelation. Productions Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2014What a treat to see Willowdale’s event tent decorated in Anthony D’Elia’s wonderfully fun and whimsical design for Thursday’s “Power of the Purse.”  Upon arriving, I felt as though I had stepped into a Georges Lepape French fashion illustration from the early 1900s, when Orientalism was all the rage and summer garden fêtes were decorated in kind, and to the nines. Revelation Productions Design Willowdale Estate Anthony D'Elia Revelations Productions ©Kim Smith 2014 copyThe morning after the event, while the Willowdale crew and I were installing a new embroidered velvet curtain for the tent, I had the opportunity to meet Anthony as he and his staff were dismantling the decor. Anthony and his company, Revelation Productions, are responsible for many of the most stunning and beautifully produced special events held at Willowdale and venues throughout the North Shore and New England. Their creative and technical event services included imaginative décor, custom audio design, full spectrum video services, and gorgeous lighting. Visit their website for more information about Revelation Productions here.

gazette_du_bon_ton_1913_n6_avril_georges_lepape_des_ombrelles_

The first two photos show how the parasols and lighting looked in daylight; below you can see how they appeared after sunset. I wasn’t the only one utterly captivated by the décor and Anthony received high praise from Briar, the Willowdale staff, and all attendees for his magical parasol and branch design.

parasols -2 ©Kim Smith 2014 Revelations Productions Parasols Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2014. copyBriar Forsythe, proprietor of Willowdale, donated the tent, her signature refreshments, and stellar staff to the “Power of the Purse,” as did Anthony donate his time and décor to the event. See previous posts about the Power of the Purse here.

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Georges Lepape (1887-1971) was a French fashion designer and illustrator, engraver, poster artist, book illustrator, costume, and textile designer. He collaborated and designed many covers for leading magazines of the day including Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, Femina, and The Art Sheets. See several more Georges Lepape illustrations here: Read more

CONGRATULATIONS to The Women’s Fund of Essex County for a Fabulously Successful “Power of the Purse”!!!

Lana Rudym, Current President of North Shore Women in Business and Sarah Boucher © Kim Smith 2014jpg copyLana Rudym, current President of the North Shore Women in Business and Sarah Boucher, Senior Sales and Marketing Manager, Willowdale Estate

Last night’s The Women’s Fund of Essex County’s “Power of the Purse” event, hosted by Willowdale Estate, was a smashing success. There were over 200 guests in attendance and you could feel the positive energy emanating from women helping women. Since 2003, The Women’s Fund of Essex County has awarded $825,000.00 in grants promoting and empowering women and girls. Read more about The Women’s Fund of Essex County here.

Willowdale Estate Poaer of the Purse copyBriar Forsythe, proprietor of Willowdale Estate, generously donated the venue, Willowdale signature refreshments, and outstanding staff.

Revelation Productions Design Willowdale EstateAnthony D’Elia, owner of Revelation Productions, donated the stunning lighting and parasol design decor for the event. More about Anthony in an upcoming Antennae for Design post.

May Basket ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

Kim Smith “May Basket” design for the courtyard urns.

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“Little House” Cookies

Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies -6 ©Ki Smith 2013 .Don’t these cookies remind you of the Virginia Lee Burton children’s story The Little House?

Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies ©Ki Smith 2013

My friend Briar made this gorgeous gift of fabulously delicious baked treats for my family. The bursting-full-of-yumminess box contained gingerbread cookies, Willowdale signature cookies, pumpkin bread, and apple cake (her Italian grandmother’s recipe), which Briar enhanced to include cranberries.

Imagine, as the prorpietor of Willowdale (she employs over 100 local people), Briar still makes time to bake and hand decorate cookies and treats for her friends and family. Very fortunately for we, her friends, she bakes throughout the year, not just at Christmastime!Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies  -4©Ki Smith 2013 .

Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies -2 ©Ki Smith 2013 .

Briar Forsythe Willowdale Cookies -3 ©Ki Smith 2013 .Briar has perfected her gingerbread cookie recipe. The “Little House” cookies not only look amazing, they are actually super delicious as well (which isn’t always the case with gingerbread house dough).

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Several years ago, I took Briar to the Cape Ann Museum to show her the wonderful Virginia Lee Burton exhibit. I love Briar’s gingerbread house cookies and they remind me greatly of Burton’s extraordinarily beautiful children’s book The Little House. What do you think?

I imagine that if a local baker wanted to make the connection between Virginia Lee Burton, Gloucester, and Little House cookies, it would fill a terrific niche and they would have a ready made market!

IMG_3175What The Little House would look like on a snowy day just like today!

sun The Llittle HouseVirginia Lee Burton daisy sun detail.

The Little House images are courtesy of a google image search.

Willowdale Estate Annual Holiday Concert Monday December 2nd, 7-9 pm

Willowdale Estate Holiday ConcertJoin us for our 7th Annual Holiday Concert at Willowdale Estate! Monday, December 2nd from 7-9pm with light refreshments to follow. Our concert will feature traditional holiday music with selections from Handel’s Messiah.

Our Soloists:

Lora Suzanne Tamagini – Mezzo Soprano

Ms. Lora Tamagini holds both degrees from New England Conservatory of Music and the Boston University College of Performing Arts. Ms. Tamagini has toured through Europe, Asia, and the United States as an oratorio and operatic soloist. She currently serves as the Director of Performing Arts at Nazareth Academy in Wakefield, and the Director of Music at St. Thomas of Villanova in Wilmington. Ms. Tamagini has published, directed, and recorded her original arrangements and compositions of contemporary music. Her music and choirs can be heard on three CDs; Joy in my Soul (1998), Sing to the Lord (2000), and Sing Gloria (2010).

Lisa Anne Tamagini – Soprano

After receiving her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Vocal Performance at the Eastman School of Music where she studied with Jan DeGaetani, Ms. Tamagini began her career on the operatic stage. Her leading roles range from Monteverdi to Mozart to Verdi, but she has specialized in singing Puccini Heroines, such as Mimi in La Boheme, Magda in la Rondine, Cio-Cio San in Madama Butterfly, and the title role in Tosca, with opera companies throughout the United States including: The Arizona Opera, Opera Omaha, National Lyric Opera, Houston Grand Opera and The New York City Opera. Equally comfortable on the concert stage, Ms. Tamagini has been featured in song recitals and concerts singing such works as Mozart’s Exultate Julibate, Bach’s Mass in Messiah, and Barber’s Knoxville: Summer is 1915 venues including: Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., New York’s Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie Hall. As well, she has been a regularly featured Artist in the “Meet the Artist” series at Lincoln Center. Ms. Tamagini has been a Fellowship Recipient and Featured Artist at the Aspen Music Festival, and has received awards from the MacAllister Awards, The Puccini Foundation, Metropolitan National Council Auditions and the Liederkranz Foundation in New York City.

Briar Rose Forsythe – Soprano

Ms. Briar Rose Forsythe-Fandetti studied at New England Conservatory of Music, continued her studies at Longy School of Music, giving several Recitals and performing in Opera Workshops around New England.

Ms. Briar Rose is the Curator and the Owner of Willowdale Estate. Together with her family, she opened a bed and breakfast in 1992, a historic 1832 Greek revival house in Cambridge, MA, where she learned very valuable lessons about the essence of hospitality. Forsythe-Fandetti Family grew and expanded in 2002 to include a renovated 1895 fire station and converted it into a boutique hotel. At the Kendall, Briar was able to open and operate the “lobby-style” hotel restaurant, The Black Sheep, where they served up classic American favorites with the best chili in the neighborhood. In 2007, Ms. Forsythe started her own business at Willowdale. It was Briar’s dream to be able to host Musical Concerts of her own. Briar is passionate about supporting local artists. The success of the business at Willowdale made it possible to create unforgettable Holiday Performances for everybody to enjoy.

Have questions about Annual Holiday Concert? Contact Willowdale Estate

Rare Footage of a Luna Moth Taking Flight

 Beauty on the Wing ~ A Luna Moth takes Flight

My friend James, the facilities director at Willowdale Estate, sent a photo of a newly emerged moth on Sunday afternoon. He initially thought it was a paper napkin stuck to one of the lampposts, but upon inspection, discovered that it was a Luna Moth (Actias luna). With high hopes the moth would still be there, I dropped everything and raced over to Willowdale to photograph and film the moth. It is not that the moths are particularly rare, but that they are most often seen in flight at night.  Lucky me, to have had such a wonderful encounter with one of the most beautiful moths in all the world!

The Willowdale Luna Moth is a male of the species; you can tell by his bushy and feathery plumosa (or antennae). The female’s antennae are more thread-like. Notice too, just before he takes flight, how his body vibrates, which helps warm and energize the wings in preparation for flying.

Luna moths are members of the Saturniidae, subfamily Saturniinae. With a wingspan of typically up to four and a half inches, atypically up to seven inches, they are one of North America’s largest moths. Luna Moths are most often seen in the earlier part of summer in our region; this Luna Moth encounter took place on August 11, 2013. Luna Moths, like all members of the Saturn family of moths, eclose without mouthparts. They emerge solely to mate and deposit eggs of the next generation and live for only about one week.

Luna Moth larvae (caterpillars) feed on wide variety of broadleaf plants and different geological populations of Luna Moths are adapted to different hostplants. Northernmost populations most often feed on white birch (Betula papyrifera). More southerly populations feed on persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), hickories (Carya), walnuts (Juglans), and sumacs (Rhus).

The damage done by Luna Moth caterpillars on host trees is never significant enough to harm the host trees. Please don’t spray your trees with pesticides or herbicides!

Male Luna Moth Actias Luna ©Kim Smith 2013

A note about the music playing in the background ~

Ave Maria, Ellens Gesang III, D. 839, No 6, 1852, was composed by Franz Schubert in 1852 and is a setting of seven songs from Walter Scotts epic poem The Lady of the Lake. Performed by Barbara Bonney.

Read More: Read more

GMG FOBs Don’t Forget Kim Smith’s Evening Tour Of Willowdale Estate’s Butterfly Gardens Which She Designed Monday!

Kim writes-

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!

Willowdale Kim Smith Artist spotlight event 2013

Willowdale Estate is the Perfect Place to Hold Your Bridal Shower!


Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2013

Spring is Springing at Willowdale 

Briar Forsythe, proprietor of Willowdale Estate, and her staff, threw a lovely bridal shower for Audi Lane. Audi works at Willowdale and is getting married this weekend to Gloucester’s Peter Sousa, the sea shanty singer.

Audi Lane Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2013

Willowdale Estate Conservatory ©Kim Smith 2013

The light in the conservatory is stunning all year round and provides an elegant setting for any type of private event.

Deserts Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2013JPG

The luncheon was to die for and the deserts, well, I think the photo tells the story. The chocolate mousse was heavenly!!!

Chocolate mousse Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2013Willowdale Estate Mousse au Chocolat

Willowdale Estate Wins TV Show TLC Four Weddings!!!

Four Brides Judge Each Other’s Weddings. Even with Superstorm Sandy threatening to dampen Enza and John Procopio’s day, Willowdale takes the cake!

“In Italian tradition, rain is supposed to be good luck. We have the hurricane, so that means we are going to have life-long happiness.”  said groom John Procopio.

Willowdale Estate Topsfield ©Kim Smith 2012

Willowdale Estate pulled out all the stops to make the event a success. The competing brides were blown away by the catering “My sea bass was fantastic!” said one competing bride. Willowdale received a perfect score for the catering and also achieved the highest score for guest experience. The couple walked away with a luxury vacation in the Caribbean Islands and a wedding story that will be in the family for many years.

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/tv/four-weddings/and-the-winner-isenza.htm

Watch the full episode:

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/tv/four-weddings/videos/and-a-super-storm.htm

Willowdale Estate is a special events venue in Topsfield Massachusetts that provides celebrated restaurant style catering for all events, as well as complementary planning services. Willowdale’s fieldstone mansion is surrounded by over 700 acres of forest, the Ipswich River, and beautiful flowering gardens, with sweeping views, privacy, and endless possibilities for any event. Willowdale Estate is a full service venue with many amenities including a pristine Sperry Tent, equipment, and guidance from our experienced event planners.  For more information about planning your wedding, corporate event, or fundraiser contact Info@WillowdaleEstate.com or call 978-887-8211

Holiday Concert at Willowdale and Leven at the Sawyer Free

Willowdale Holiday Concert©Kim Smith 2012

Lisa, Lora, and Briar sang to a packed house last night. Their solos, and voices in unison, of traditional classic songs, made for a beautiful evening of holiday music. My favorites were Carol of the Bells and the tender lullaby by Paul Williams and Joseph M. Martin: Still is the Night; also by  Joseph Martin was the joyful O Come Emmanuel and Listen to the Stars, both from The Voices of Christmas.

Lisa and Lora TamaginiMezzo Soprano Lisa Tamagini and Soprano Lora Tamagini

Sisters Lisa and Lora Tamagini and Briar have known each other since they began their opera careers in Boston. Lora and Lisa have toured the world over and Lora’s original music can be heard on three CDs: Joy in My SoulSing to the Lord, and Sing Gloria. Briar is passionate about supporting local artists and it has been her dream to host musical concerts. The success of Willowdale has made it possible for her to create unforgettable holiday performances for everyone to enjoy!

Willowdale Holiday Concert-4©Kim Smith 2012

Willowdale Holiday Concert-3©Kim Smith 2012Briar’s festive and delicious Chocolate Cupcakes with Peppermint Frosting

For more holiday musical treats Leven is performing on Saturday at the Sawyer Free from 3:00 to 4:00, main floor.

Leven sawyer free

Holiday Concert at Willowdale Estate

Come celebrate the holidays at Willowdale Estate, Tuesday night, December 4th at 7:00.

I’ve come to look forward to attending Willowdale’s Annual Holiday Concert. The traditional carols and beautiful music put me in the holiday spirit, along with the splendid ambiance, and Briar’s beyond-delicious refreshments! I hope to see you there!

Willowdale Estate

For ticket information call 978.887.8211 or email info@WillowdaleEstate.com.

 

Dinner and a Movie Tomorrow Night to Benefit The Open Door

Cape Ann Community Cinema Presents Greece’s #1 all time box office hit movie A Touch of Spice, with a light Greek dinner from Brothers Kouzina, on Sunday, the 11th (tomorrow) at 6:00. Tickets are 17. 50 and 15.00 for members. The evening’s ticket sales will be donated to The Open Door, Cape Ann’s food pantry. To purchase tickets for dinner and movie.

Save the date ~

American Red Squirrel Midden

Pine cone eaten clear to the core, photographed at a Pine Squirrel midden. The mid-day light was very harsh and too contrasty-click images to view details.

Adjacent to where we noticed the Japanese maple tree, Dale Resca, the Facilities Manager at Willowdale, discovered an American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) midden.

American Red Squirrel Midden

A squirrel midden is essentially a squirrel’s favorite place to eat; the fallen scales from consumed seed cones collect in piles, called middens. Sitting on their claimed stump, fallen log, or branch, the squirrel pulls the scales off the cones to get to the seeds.

American Red Squirrel Cache of Pine Cones

You can see from the above photo why the American Red Squirrel is often referred to as the Pine Squirrel. Ripening in late summer, the squirrels collect pine cones and store in a central cache. American Red Squirrels do not hibernate during the winter months; the caches of cones supply nourishment when food supplies are running low.

The American Red Squirrel is widely distributed throughout North America. They are smaller than a gray squirrel and somewhat larger than a chipmunk, with reddish fur and white venter, or underbelly.

American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) ~ Image courtesy Google images 

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