Category Archives: Home and Garden

Gloucester Motif Monday: coastal homes with cut out shutters

From where I was standing in Gloucester neighborhoods, here are several homes (and one gallery) with cut out shutters; beginning with the green shutters seen on the Beauport, Sleeper-McCann house, one of Gloucester’s two National Historic Landmarks, and a Historic New England property.

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Beyond shutters: beginning with “Lookout Hill”, estate built by Natalie and John Hays Hammond, Sr :

SUGAR SKULL DRAWING BY LOCAL ARTIST JEFF CLUETT

jeff-cluett-sugar-skullThe above drawing was created by local artist Jeff Cluett. We purchased it from him several years ago. Jeff works at Surfari on Main Street if you’d like to get in touch with him.

Last evening, All Hallow’s Eve, marked the beginning of the three day celebration of Dia de los Muertos. Today, November 1st, is Dia de los Angelitos, the day when deceased children are honored (All Saints Day). Tomorrow, November 2nd, is referred to as Dia de los Muertos or Dia de los Difuntos, the day when deceased adults are honored (All Souls Day). We’ve created an ofrenda on our front porch and neighbors are welcome to place a photo of a loved one who has passed on the altar.

DIA DE LOS MUERTOS PAPEL PICADO

I love the designs of the Papel Picado, especially the Dia de los Muertos skeletons doing everyday things. I found some at Nomad in Cambridge. Deb Colburn, the owner, curates gorgeous folk art for her shop from all around Mexico, and from all around the world. She’s a very sweet person to stop in and visit with, and is also very knowledge about Mexican culture. Nomad is located at 1741 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge.

LEARNING ABOUT DAY OF THE DEAD TRADITIONS

There is a beautiful ofrenda at the Peabody Museum at Harvard, which is where I learned about the Mexican Purépecha indigenous people’s name for the Monarch butterfly, the “Harvester.” The altar is part of the Museum’s permanent collection and is on display year round.

dayofthedeadaltar1_webFrom the Peabody Museum at Harvard’s Dia de los Muertos exhibit.

The Peabody Museum’s exhibition of a Day of the Dead ofrenda or altar is located in the Encounters With the Americas gallery. The exhibit features pieces from the Alice P. Melvin Collection of Mexican Folk Art and represents the Aztec origins of the holiday and the Catholic symbols incorporated into the tradition, from skeletons to plush Jesus figures.

The altar is contained within a box covered with panels that were decorated by local students and regional and international artists. The altars were designed by the Peabody exhibitions staff and Mexican artists Mizael Sanchez and Monica Martinez.

Originating with the Aztecs, the Mexican Day of the Dead is a unique blend of Mesoamerican and Christian rituals. The holiday, which is celebrated on November 1, All Saints’ Day, is usually dedicated to children; November 2, All Souls’ Day, is dedicated to adults.

Traditions vary from region to region, but generally families gather at cemeteries to tend and decorate the graves of their departed loved ones and remember them by telling stories, eating their favorite foods, and dancing in their honor. Many families build altars at home, decorated with flowers and food, especially pan de muerto or “bread of the dead.” A festive and social occasion, the holiday welcomes the return of those who have died and recognizes the human cycle of life and death.

The Peabody’s permanent altar features items from the Alice P. Melvin collection of Mexican folk art. To see these items, click here.

Curated by Davíd Carrasco, Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America and Mexican artist Mizael Sanchez.

To watch a video interview with Mizael Sanchez, click here.

CELEBRATING DIA DE LOS MUERTOS

marigolds-flor-de-muerto-copyright-kim-smithThis morning when I stopped by to say hello to ELise and Tucker at Cedar Rock Gardens they were hard at work planting a humongous field of tulips, planned to bloom for next Mother’s Day. Elise generously shared pots of fresh marigolds dug from their fields, not in good enough shape to sell, but perfect for our first ever Day of the Dead altar, Ofrenda de Muertos.

The vibrant colors and fresh citrusy scent of marigolds lure the spirits–marigolds are strewn about and placed around the altar so the souls can find their way. There is a wild version of marigolds that blooms in October and the Spanish name for the flower is flor de muerto, or flower of death.

The altar, or “offering to the dead,” is a sacred Mexican tradition where those who have passed away are honored by the living. The celebration takes place on November 1st and 2nd, on the 1st to honor the souls of children and on the 2nd, to honor adults. I became fascinated with the tradition after learning that Monarchs arrive in Mexico about the same time as Dia de los Muertos is celebrated. In Mexican folklore, butterflies represent the returning souls of departed loved ones. In the native language of the Purépecha, the name for the Monarch is the “harvester” butterfly. The Purépecha are a group of indigenous people centered in the northwestern region of the Mexican state of Michoacán, the very region to where the Monarchs return every year! 

There is a beautiful ofrenda at the Peabody Museum, which is where I learned about the “Harvester” butterfly. The altar is part of the Museum’s permanent collection and is on display year round. Here is a link to the exhibit.

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 716cca8662eab19228a8cb0bd3060dc3Images courtesy google image search

MAGICALLY WONDERFUL HARVEST PARTY AT CEDAR ROCK GARDENS

pam-samantha-franny-woody-elise-jilson-copyright-kim-smithElise, Samantha, Pam, Woody, and Franny

Snapshots from Elise and Tucker’s fabulous and fun harvest party, just getting underway. Where earlier the produce had been planted, long tables with tantalizing pot luck offerings were arranged. Bales of hay with planks laid across made for practical seating. An assortment of lights and lanterns illuminated the grounds and the big oak tree was ready for moonlight dancing to begin beneath its boughs. cedar-rock-garden-harvest-fest-copyright-kim-smith

pam-samantha-franny-woody-copyright-kim-smithFavorite photo from the party, Big Sister Franny giving Woody the “pesky little brother look,” with Mom Samantha Goddess, and Samantha’s Mom, Pam Wood.

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I had to leave Cedar Rock Gardens early to attend the Cape Ann Plein Air gala, which Catherine covered. Scroll down to see her photos posted earlier today. The Rockport Art Association was overflowing with art enthusiasts, friends, and family and it was so exciting to see beautiful scenes from all around Cape Ann rendered by these master painters. Congratulations to Karen Ristuben, the project manager, and to all who helped make Cape Ann Plein Air a fabulously successful event. I do have to say though that Cape Ann’s own JEFF WEAVER rocked the house with his stunning paintings of the waterfront and downtown. 

GARDEN OF DISSIPATING BEAUTY

sunflowers-1-cedar-rock-gardens-copyright-kim-smithSunflowers at Cedar Rock Gardens

Thank you to Elise and Tucker at Cedar Rock Gardens for a super year in the garden. This was the couple’s first season opening the garden to the public and they did an outstanding job. Cedar Rock Gardens are a welcome addition to a fantastic and growing group of local farms. Their organic nursery and farm are brimming with a wonderful array of fresh flowers, produce, and seedlings. Every one of the plants from their nursery grew beautifully for me. Cedar Rock Gardens is closed for the year but I am so excited to be working again with them next year and will definitely be enrolling in their CSA 2017. See you in the spring!

marigolds-cedar-rock-gardens-copyright-kim-smithDid you ever wonder why marigolds play such a prominent role in Day of the Dead celebrations? They are referred to as “flowers of the dead” and with their vivid hues and citrusy fresh scent, marigolds are thought to guide spirits to the altars. And, too, flowers represent the ephemerality of life. 

yellow-marigolds-cedar-rock-gardens-copyright-kim-smithYellow Marigoldssunflower-seed-head-cedar-rock-gardens-copyright-kim-smith

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BEWARE!

poison-ivy-vine-in-fall-toxicodendron-radicans-copyright-kim-smithPoison Ivy Run Amok

Oh how pretty! Doesn’t this bucolic scene look interesting? I had to stop and take a photo. And then began to walk toward, wanting a closer look, before catching myself. If poison ivy even looks at me, or I look at it, that most unpleasant of itchy rashes finds a home on my person.

Poison ivy is in full glorious color right now, dissipating in shades of golden yellow, tangerine, and crimson scarlet. The oils found in the foliage and stems are just as potent at this time of year as they are during the summer months.

poison-ivy-in-autumn-toxicodendron-radicans-copyright-kim-smithLeaves of three, let it be, 

Berries white, run in fright,

Red hairy vine, no friend of mine!

Cape Ann shores and meadows are rife with poison ivy and the best defense is to recognize the leaves and wear protective clothing. Not a plant one desires for the home garden, it is an important bee and bird food. The flowers provide nectar for pollinators in the spring and the small white berries are a winter staple for our some of our most beloved songbirds, including American Robins, Northern Cardinals, and Mockingbirds.

DOWN THE GARDEN PATH

monarch-new-england-aster-coneflower-copyright-kim-smithThe New England Asters and Quilled Coneflowers blooming in our garden during the months of September and October were planted to provide sustenance for migrating Monarchs. Although both are native wildflowers, the bees and butterflies visiting gardens at this time of year are much more interested in nectaring at the New England Asters.

Plant the following four native beauties and I guarantee, the pollinators will come!

New England Aster (Aster novae-angliae)

Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens)

Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

monarch-butterfly-depositing-egg-milkweed-copyright-kim-smithFemale Monarch curling her abdomen to the underside and depositing eggs on Marsh Milkweed foliage.

THE ONLY FLAG THAT DOESN’T FLY

07_big floral_flagThis amazing floral flag was sent by my friend Jan. I thought it especially appropriate in light of the recent attack on NYC/NJ and the uncontrolled wildfire at Vandenberg Air Force Base.

About the flag: Between the fields where the flag was planted, there are 9 plus miles of flower fields that go all the way to the ocean. The flowers are grown by seed companies. It’s a beautiful place, close to Vandenberg Air Force Base (Lompoc, California).

Check out the dimensions of the flag. The Floral Flag was 740 feet long and 390 feet wide and maintained the proper flag dimensions, as described in Executive Order #10834.

This flag was the first Floral Flag to be planted with 5 pointed stars, comprised of white Larkspur. Each star is 24 feet in diameter, each stripe is 30 feet wide. This flag is estimated to contain more than 400,000 Larkspur plants with 4-5 flower stems each, for a total of more than 2 million flowers.flag

VOTE TODAY TO CHOOSE THE MASSACHUSETTS STATE BUTTERFLY!

Here’s how you can help choose the Massachusetts state butterfly –

The choice is between the Black Swallowtail, the Great Spangled Fritillary, and the Mourning Cloak butterflies. All three are beautiful species of Lepidoptera, but as you know from my work, I am partial to the Black Swallowtail. I cast my vote for the Black Swallowtail and here is why. Both the Great Spangled Fritillary and Mourning Cloak are less commonly seen. I’d like children who are developing an interest in butterflies to have the opportunity to get to know their state butterfly easily. Black Swallowtails are widespread and very well-known. In a good year, Black Swallowtails will have two broods. The caterpillars eat plants kids can easily identify and plant, such as carrots, dill, fennel, parsley, and the common wildflower Queen Anne’s Lace. Black Swallowtails are typically on the wing throughout the summer, beginning in early spring through late summer.

On the other hand, the Great Spangled Fritillary caterpillars eat strictly violet plants. This butterfly is usually only seen for about a month, during mid-summer, and has one brood of caterpillars. In our region of Massachusetts, the Mourning Cloak may have a second brood, if we have an early spring, but I only see them in spring, near pussywillows, and again in the fall when they are getting ready to hibernate.

Black Swallowtails are found in backyards, gardens, meadows, marshes, and along the shoreline. They love to drink nectar from wildflowers, including milkweed (as you can see in the short film below) and many, many common garden plants such as lilacs, coneflowers, zinnias, and butterfly bush.

Please vote here: VOTE MASSACHUSETTS STATE BUTTERFLY

great-spangled-fritillary-coneflower-gloucester-harborwalk-copyright-kim-smithGreat Spangled Fritillary at the Gloucester Harbor Butterfly Garden
mourning_cloak_butterfly_in_south_central_alaskaMourning Cloak image courtesy wiki commons media

Kim’s Upcoming Lectures and Workshops September/October

Dear Friends,

Please join me tonight at 7pm at the Sea Spray Garden Club where I will be giving my “Habitat Garden” workshop and screening several short films. This event is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!

I am looking forward to presenting the “Pollinator Garden” program for the Winter Garden Club of Marblehead on the morning of October 4th. On October 17th. I am the guest speaker for the Sharon Garden Club and will be presenting the lecture “Beauty on the Wing; Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly.” For more information please visit the  Events Page of my website.

I am currently booking programs for 2016-2017-2018 and would be delighted to present to your club, library, school, and private or public event. See the Programs Page of my website and feel free to contact me at kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com with any questions.

Read what Mim Frost, the Program Chair for the Ipswich Town and Country Garden Club, had to say about the Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly film and program that I recently gave to her club:

Hi Kim.

How often does something you’ve looked forward to for a long time live up to your expectations? Not often. But last night at Ebsco your presentation, including your film, your comments and your Q&A were just about perfect in my book! I’ll smile as I remember the evening.

I liked having the trailer for the monarch film first. You gave the group something to look forward to. Jesse Cook’s music is an excellent choice, I think. I drum to his music often. I was pleased with the questions and with your answers. It’s obvious you’ve done a lot of research. The way you answered questions made the group comfortable. Very nice! And the film. What can I say. I’d seen clips, but seeing the whole thing was something I won’t forget. I especially liked your reference to other butterflies and your comparison of the swallowtail with the monarch. Liv’s voice was just right for the commentary!

I know from experience that the presenter is the harshest critic of the presentation. I hope you were feeling pleased with your work last night. I’d be happy to repeat the whole evening!

All the best to you,

Mim

SNEAK PEAK AND SUPER EXCITING NEWS FOR CAPE ANN KNITTERS AND CRAFTERS!

Alpaca yarn Marshalls -3 copyright Kim SmithAngela Marshall is going to be carrying ALPACA YARN FROM HER ALPACAS!!! As far as I know, this is the very first time ever that gorgeous Alpaca yarn from Alpacas raised right here on Cape Ann will be available for sale. Not only will she be carrying skeins of yarn, but also beautiful, warm (and very importantly, not itchy) Alpaca hats, mittens, scarves, socks, and hand warmers. I bought two pair of hand warmers on the spot! More information about when the yarn and goods will be ready to purchase, and a complete list of where to purchase, will be coming soon.

Alpaca yarn Marshalls copyright Kim SmithEach basket of yarn shows from which Alpaca the fiber was shorn. Dakota’s coat is a beautiful soft buff brown.

Alpaca yarn Marshalls -2 copyright Kim SmithThis buttery cream comes from Magnolia. The baby hat made by Angela was crocheted with yarns from both Dakota and Magnolia. 

Last year I had the joy of visiting Island Alpaca on Martha’s Vineyard and think that the Marshall’s are running their growing Alpaca Farm with similar integrity. This could be a fantastic local industry and I think it will be great if we all support Angela and Pat in this exciting endeavor. They now have 23 Alpacas, including the four adorables born this summer. Harumby is the last of the summer babies and today she is one week old. Go see!

Harumby Marshall's Alpaca Farm copyright Kim SmithHappy Birthday Harumby

PIGEON COVE FERMENTS OPENS IT’S DOORS! Free Beer and samples tonight!

Last night I got the chance to sample the absolute best sauerkraut I’ve ever tasted, no doubt! After talking with Kristin and Dylan Lindquist, the owners and creators, you quickly realize how much passion and excitement has gone into creating this very unique product right here in Cape Ann. It’s small batches, hand made, locally sourced, and damn tasty. What’s not to love?  For more on their story please go to their new website http://www.pigeoncoveferments.com  and have a look, or like them on Facebook.

Meanwhile, plan on going down to see them for free beer and samples tonight Aug.6th from 5:30 until @ 10 Blackburn Center, Gloucester Ma 01930. 

With 4 flavors for sale, and another on the way, you will not be disappointed!  TRUST ME!

http://www.pigeoncoveferments.com

CECROPIA MOTH CATS

Cecropia caterpillar on the move 🌻

A video posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Beautiful caterpillar of the beautiful Cecropia moth, North America's largest species of Lepidoptera

A photo posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Don’t you love the colors of the third stage, or instar, of the Cecropia Moth caterpillar? Only about an inch and a half long in the photo, in the final fifth instar, before it pupates into a cocoon, the caterpillar will be as large as a large man’s thumb.

Cecropia moth Caterpilla mid instar. copyright Kim SmithIn its second instar in the above photo, the caterpillar resembles the developing birch flower catkins. This is an evolutionary form of mimicry against predation by birds. Cecropia Moth caterpillars eat not only the foliage of American White Birch trees, but also other species of birch trees, apple, ash, beech, elm, lilac, maple, poplar, Prunus and Ribes species, white oak, and willow.

Cecropia Moth caterpillar early instar copyright Kim SmithFirst instar Cecropia Moth Caterpillars

Thank you so much again to my friend Christine for the gift of the Cecropia moth eggs. 

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