Category Archives: Home and Garden

Hooray It’s Tomato Season! Time to Make Sista Felicia’s Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup

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Last night I whipped up a delicious “Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup” and batch of “Oven-Dried Tomatoes”, (recipe highlighted on page 62 in my cookbook “Gifts Of Gold In A Sicilian Kitchen With Sista Felicia; Harvest”)  using freshly picked tomatoes, from gardens in the backyard garden that neighbor Deanna and I share!

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 To Order Cookbook on line Click link below

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To purchase “Gifts Of Gold” Cookbook Locally in Gloucester ; Visit “The Cave Cheese Shop” Located on Maine Street Gloucester Ma.

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 “Roasted Heirloom Tomato Soup Recipe”

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CRAZY ABOUT CATERPILLARS!

Atticus Monarch caterpillar ©Kim Smith 2015An integral part of the Monarch film is to show the connection between wildflowers and caterpillars. Emma, Pilar, Atticus, and Meadow were fantastic with the caterpillars and a huge help with the project. We are so blessed to know these bright and curious kids, and their incredible parents!Pilar Atticus Meadow Emma monarch caterpillar ©Kim Smith 2015

Pilar Atticus Meadow Emma monarch caterpillars ©Kim Smith 2015Thank you Pilar, Atticus, Meadow, and Emma for all your help filmmaking!

Meadow monarch caterpillar ©Kim Smith 2015 copy

CAPE ANN WILDFLOWERS BLOOMING TODAY!

Summersweet (Clethra alnifoloa( ©Kim Smith 2015

Summersweet

There is an exuberant abundance of wildflowers blooming in marsh and meadow all along the shores of Cape Ann and here are just a few snapshots. When out and about on a wooded walk, you may notice a wonderful sweet spicy fragrance. What you are smelling is more than likely our native summersweet (Clethra alnifolia), which also goes by the common name sweet pepperbush; perhaps a more apt description of its potent and zippy honey-spice scent.

Sweet pepperbush ©Kim Smith 2015Plant summersweet for pollinators–bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies love the nectar-rich florets.

Jewelweed ©Kim Smith 2015Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis), also loved by hummingbirds

Cattail flowers ©Kim Smith 2015 copy

Catinninetails

Northern Crescent ©Kim Smith 2015

Male Northern Crescent Butterfly Basking
Pearl Cresent nectaring at Marsh Milkweed ©Kim Smith 2015Female Pearl Crescent Nectaring at Milkweed

MONARCH BUTTERFLY EGG BONANZA!

Milkweed Field ©Kim Smith J.PGNancy’s Milkweed Field

Ninety-nine thank yous to Nancy Lutts of Salem who responded to my plea for Monarch butterfly eggs. She follows both GMG and my blog and emailed immediately after reading the posts. Nancy has the most amazing farm and fields located along the Danvers River. She and her family have been farming the land for decades. Nancy invited me to come and collect eggs. She had been to one of my lectures, but you hardly get to know people at the programs so it was a delight to meet her and super fun to peruse her fields for eggs while chatting and sharing butterfly info. milkweed butterfly eggs ©Kim Smith 2015 Interestingly, Nancy’s plow wasn’t working as well as usual, so the mowing of her fields, which usually takes place in early summer, happened later than usual. Good thing! The two-inch tall emerging milkweed shoots were the females’ preference. This goes to a topic that is often brought up in the lectures that I give and one of the most frequently asked questions, “When is the best time of year to plow my fields?” I recommend plowing in early fall, well after the monarchs have emerged from their chrysalides and headed to Mexico. Although, the very, very best practice for the pollinators is to mow half a field annually, alternating from one side of the field to the other every other year. This allows for the pollinators to complete their life cycle within a two year time frame. The single greatest threat to Monarchs, as well as all bees and butterflies, is habitat destruction in the United States, whether it be from Monsanto’s Roundup or from mismanagement and loss of fields and meadows. Nancy Lutts Salem ©kim Smith 2015Nancy has a truly fabulous butterfly and hummingbird garden that I’ll be back to photograph on a sunnier day. Nancy Lutts garden ©kim Smith 2015

The Welcoming Mary Prentiss Inn

Welcoming guests from all walks of life!

Cosmos American Goldfinch ©Kim Smith 2015Hmmm, looks tasty…

Cosmos Goldfinch ©Kim Smith 2015

don’t mind if I do!

Last week on my Mary Prentiss Inn garden check up I was greeted by a fine pair of goldfinches. They were breakfasting on the expiring cosmos and weren’t at all bothered my presence tidying up the garden. The garden is coming into full summer bloom and has become the neighborhood mecca for pollinators. See the Mary Prentiss Inn website with a new video showcasing the Inn’s many outstanding architectural features and lovely decor: The Mary Prentiss Inn.

Hibiscus ©Kim Smith 2015 copy

A pair of red hibiscus topiaries greet the guests at the entryway.

Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge -3 ©Kim Smith 2015

Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge -2 ©Kim Smith 2015Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge -4 ©Kim Smith 2015Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge ©Kim Smith 2015jpgProprietor Jennifer Fandetti’s colorful pots at the Inn’s secret garden courtyard.

Roses of Reunion for Gloucester Gardens

Bourbon Rose ‘Variegata di Bologna’ ©Kim Smith 2015

‘Variegata di Bologna’

With Reunion so much in the news, I thought readers might be interested to learn that Reunion is home to some of the most highly scented roses in the world, the Bourbon roses. Bourbon roses grow very well in Gloucester gardens and have the wonderful combined qualities of fabulous fragrance and repeat blooming. I wrote a bit about them in my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities (see chapter 14). Bourbon roses are so named because Reunion was formerly called Isle de Bourbon.

Excerpt from Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! 

A sepal, a petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer’s morn—
A flash of Dew—A Bee or two—
A Breeze—
A caper in the trees—
And I’m a Rose!

Emily Dickinson

Rosa bourboniana

The Bourbon roses (Rosa bourboniana) comprise one of the most extravagantly scented class of roses, along with having a wide range of growth habit in form and height. From the shrubby and compact ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison,’ growing to about two feet, to the thornless climbing ‘Zephirine Drouhin,’ there is a suitable Bourbon rose available to fill nearly every conceivable desired effect in the landscape.

Named for the island of Reunion, formerly called Isle de Bourbon, Rosa bourboniana is a natural crossing of the China rose (repeat blooming) with the Autumn Damask rose. Reunion belongs to the archipelago of Mascareignes in the Indian Ocean and lies east of Madagascar. Originally discovered by the Portuguese, then colonized by the French in the seventeenth-century, Reunion had a diverse population of settlers from around Africa, Asia, and southern Europe. The Bourbon rose was discovered growing wild in Reunion in approximately 1817.

Hybridized Bourbon roses flower in hues of white to china pink to cerise and purple. The flowers are quartered at the center and filled with overlapping petals. With their sublime fragrance, tolerance for cold temperatures, and freedom of flowering (‘Louise Odier’ remains in bloom from June until the first frost), Bourbons are amongst the most distinctive of all roses.

The following is a list of Bourbon roses successfully growing in our garden, along with one failure noted.

‘Louise Odier’ ~ 1851 ~ Bourbon ~ Delicate china pink, camellia-style flowers, enchanting and intensely fragrant. Blooms lavishly throughout the season, from early June to November, with a brief rest after the first flush of June flowers. Grows four to five feet.

‘Zéphirine Drouhin’ ~ 1868 ~ Bourbon ~ Clear hot pink. Thornless. The sensuous Bourbon fragrance is there, only not as intense relative to some others noted here. Repeat blooms. Twelve feet.

‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ ~ 1881 ~ Bourbon ~ Deep raspberry-magenta. Considered to be one of the most fragrant roses. Six to seven feet. Note: We no longer grow Madame Isaac Pereire as its buds usually turned into brown, blobby globs that rarely fully opened due to damp sea air.

‘Souvenir de Victor Landeau’ ~ 1890 ~ Bourbon ~ Deep rose pink, richly fragrant and consistently in bloom through October and into November. Pairs beautifully with Louise Odier. Four to five feet.

‘Variegata di Bologna’ ~ 1909 ~ Bourbon ~ Creamy pale pink with rose-red striations. Suffused with the heady Bourbon fragrance. The foliage becomes tattered-looking later in the season. Slight repeat bloom, although it initially flowers for an extended period of time, four to six weeks in all. Tall growing, best supported against a pillar.

‘Souvenir de Saint Anne’s’ ~ 1916 ~ Bourbon ~ Ivory flushed with warm pink and cream single to semi-double blossoms. Sensuous Bourbon fragrance. Compact growing, ideal for the garden room. Continually blooming. Two feet. Note: ‘Souvenir de St. Anne’ is a sport of ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (1843), with the similar lovely colorway. The unopened buds and blooms of ‘Malmaison’ have the tendency to be ruined in damp air, whereas ‘St. Anne’s’ do not.Bourbon Rose ‘Variegata di Bologna’  Gloucester Garden ©Kim Smith 2015Tips for improved rose culture:

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HUGE SHOUT OUT AND THANK YOU AMAZING TEAM OF ANDREW BUTLER LEATHERNECK LANDSCAPING AND SEAN NOLAN EXTREME TRUCK AND AUTO REPAIR

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I only wish we had before photos but trust me when I say the weeds were waste high!

Thank you to Harbor Walk Friend and Volunteer Amy Kerr, who contacted Sean Nolan of Extreme Truck and Auto Repair, who got in touch with Andrew Butler of Leatherneck Landscaping. Sean, Andrew, and a crew member mowed, weed whacked and raked, despite the extreme heat and humidity. They did this on a volunteer basis, absolutely free of charge. Andrew and Sean plan to stop by several times a month to lend a hand and I just can’t tell you how grateful we are for the help.IMG_0289

Amy also reports that Sean and Andrew help greatly with many community clean ups around town.

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Thank you, thank you, thank you, and ninety nine thank yous more, to Lynn Bird, Amy Kerr, Andrew Butler, and Sean Nolan for your tremendous help with the HarborWalk.

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THE FRIENDLY RED ADMIRAL


Red Admiral Butterfly Niles Pond ©Kim Smith 2015Red Admiral Basking at Niles Pond

So named Friendly because he’ll alight on your arm or head, attracted to the minerals in perspiration. This Red Admiral was found warming its wings in the early morning sun at Niles Pond. Butterflies wings do not work very well in cool, rainy temperatures. I hope the upcoming heat wave brings a batch of butterflies!

Niles Pond Sunrise ©Kim Smith 2015Niles Pond 

GOOD MORNING IN THE GARDEN!

Two pollinator attracting beauties for your garden, bougainvillea and native spiraea, or meadowsweet (Spiraea latifolia). We keep our bougainvillea’s in the basement during the colder months and bring them outdoors after all danger of frost has passed. Both swallowtails and Ruby-throated hummingbirds nectar from the blossoms. Our native meadowsweet is a fantastic shrub for creating wildlife habitats. Not only does it attract a bevy of pollinators, it is also a food plant for the beautiful Blue Azure Butterfly caterpillars.

Bougainvillea for Swallowtails and hummers!

A video posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Bougainvillea and Canadian Tiger Swallowtail

Meadowsweet (Spiraea latifolia)

Kim Smith Lecture Tuesday Evening at the Chelmsford Public Library

Please join me Tuesday evening  at 7pm at the Chelmsford Public Library for my lecture The Pollinator Garden. The event is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!

11a. Pipevine EggsPipevine Swallowtail Butterfly Eggs, East Gloucester

Common Milkweed Abloom, Here, There, and Everywhere!

Common Milkweed and Bee Asclepias syriaca ©Kim Smith 2015A patch of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) in bloom has a wonderfully sweet honey-hay scent. Look for it growing along the sand dunes, roadside edges, fields, meadows, and where ever there is a neglected patch. And keep your eyes peeled for Monarchs; the earliest arrivals (for the most part) are synchronized to the flowering of Common Milkweed.

Comsos 12 ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

Friend me on Facebook and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly, Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

O’MALEY INNOVATION SIXTH GRADE BUTTERFLY GARDEN A SMASHING SUCCESS!!!

Plant and They Will Come!

The proof is in the caterpillars!

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2nd Instar Black Swallowtail Caterpillar ~ Willa Brosnihan Photo

Monday I had the great joy of being given the grand tour of the O’Maley Innovation School Butterfly Garden recently installed by Mrs. McGrath’s sixth grade class. We first had a screening of my film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly and then went out to the garden to see the very same caterpillars!

The garden hits all the right notes with caterpillar food plants and colorful nectar-rich, butterfly attracting flowers. With the bed dug entirely by the students (you can see by the surrounding beds that the soil must have been incredibly compacted), prepped, and all planting done by the kids it is truly a fabulous accomplishment. You’ll see amazingly adorned handmade and beautifully painted informational signs and butterfly baths.

The garden was made possible though an award winning project created by students Emma Duckworth, Willa Brosnihan, and Kelsey Lowthers. For more information see the Awesome Gloucester Foundation O’Maley Butterfly Garden project page here .

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Emma Duckworth Photo

Emma, Willa Kelsey Butterfly Garden ©Kim Smith 2015

Project creators Emma, Willa, and Kelsey

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Hand painted water dish for butterflies and birds. 

Willa photographing caterpilarsWilla photographing caterpillars

O'Maley Sixth Grade Butterflyy Gardeners ©Kim Smith 2015

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Liv’s Wedding in Less Than Three Weeks and Checking Off My To-do List!

Love this beautiful linen in shades of sea and sand. As a general guideline, table runners are usually about 1/3 the width of the table. I was able to cut three runners out of each length and have some leftover fabric, more than enough to make a few pillows–they will be a lovely reminder of Liv and Matt’s wedding!

 

Comsos 12 ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

WOW! What a Team ~ Thank You Friends of the HarborWalk Volunteers!

My best #GloucesterMA HarborWalk Helpers Charles and George!

A video posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Thank you Lynn Bird, Amy Kerr, Catherine Ryan, Charles and George for an awesome and fabulous job! We spent the morning weeding and getting the HarborWalk beds ready to plant butterfly attracting annuals. Lynn, Amy, and Catherine are just amazingly helpful and super hard workers. With special thanks to Charles and George for their enthusiasm and wonderfully positive attitude. The boys pitch right in and just really attack the worst of the oversized weeds–we especially enjoyed the funny names they’ve assigned the most offensive weeds, names such as tidy whities!

Gloucester HarborWalk volunteers ©Kim Smith 2015

Gloucester HarborWalk Volunteers Lynn Bird, Amy Kerr, Catherine Ryan, George, and Charles

Baby Bunny Nest ~ An Enchanting Discovery!

Look what we uncovered while working at a client’s garden ~ 

A baby, baby bunny nest!!!

A photo posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Baby rabbits are called kits or kittens and these look like they are Eastern Cottontails, the most common and widespread species of rabbits in North America.

Discovered a bunny nest at a client's garden this morning. Sooooooo adorable!

A video posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

In the future if I accidentally come upon a similar looking nest, I think I would leave it undisturbed. We were very startled by the sight of the baby wild rabbits after pulling away leaves and the downy soft “lid,” or protective covering, and they very nearly were almost raked!

Guess what this is?!? @livviiiiii @mabdeluxe @djsarrouf @laurelanneb

A photo posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

 

Inside a Birdhouse ~ Patrick Dougherty’s Stickwork!

Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -5 w ©Kim Smith 2015Today driving along Route 1A I passed the fabulous and fantastic Patrick Dougherty enormous two-story tall birdhouses in the midst of downtown Salem. I did a double take and turned around. They are simply extraordinary. Although a work in progress, it must have been lunch break because the site was empty of people. I would have loved to have met the artist and see the volunteers at work but it was a magical experience to walk through and around the birdhouses with no one present. Especially captivating was peering out from the round windows towards the passersby from inside the structures–evoking the feel of being a bird in its nest. GO SEE!!!!

Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -10 ©Kim Smith 2015

Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -1 w ©Kim Smith 2015Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -4 w ©Kim Smith 2015

Looking up through the skylight.

“Stickwork” by Patrick Dougherty is under construction, with the help of local volunteers, through May 23rd. The finished structures will remain on the grounds of the Crowninshield-Bentley House for one year. The Crowninshield-Bentley House is located at the corner of Essex and Washington Streets and is owned by the Peabody Essex Museum. “Stickwork” is the first environmental art installation under the museum’s Present Tense Initiative. For more information visit pem.org/stickwork.

Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -9 w ©Kim Smith 2015

The birdhouses are made of saplings from unwanted wood such as Norway maple and buckthorn.

Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -7 w ©Kim Smith 2015

 

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