Category Archives: Home and Garden


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.


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. 


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



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.


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.


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


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.


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 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,



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  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!


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. 


Plant and they will come!

Female Monarch depositing eggs -1 copyright Kim Smith

Alighting on the buds of our Marsh Milkweed plants, you can see in these photos that the female Monarch is curling her abdomen to the underside to deposit eggs. She will go from bud to bud and leaf to leaf ovipositing one egg at a time. A female, on average, deposits 700 eggs during her lifetime, fewer in hot, dry weather.Female Monarch depositing eggs copyright Kim Smith

Female Monarch Butterfly and Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)

Butterflies do not “lay” eggs; we say oviposit or deposit. And you wouldn’t describe a caterpillar as hatched, but that it has emerged or eclosed.

Grow Marsh Milkweed and Common Milkweed and you most definitely will have female Monarchs calling your garden home!Female Monarch depositing eggs -2 copyright Kim SmithIn the above photo you can see how she is contorting her abdomen to correctly position the eggs

VIDEO: PASTAIO VIA CORTA- Fresh Hand Made Pasta in Glosta!

It’s a dream come true! Yes, fresh daily-made by hand pasta has come to 11 Center Street in downtown Gloucester. I had some last night, and OMG! It’s stunning! Support our local businesses folks!!


Iceland Poppies orange copyright Kim SmithAlthough called Iceland Poppies, Papver nudicaule is a boreal beauty native to North America, Asia, and Europe, not Iceland. They don’t care much for our hot summers and are generally short-lived. I don’t mind and plant them anyway, the colors are just too exquisite to not grow!

Iceland Poppies copyright Kim Smith

Iceland Poppies -1 copyright Kim Smith


Iris versicolor copyright 2016Blooming today all along the shoreline, pond bank, marsh, and meadow Iris versicolor goes by many charming common names including Sweet Blue Flag, Harlequin Blue Flag, and Northern Blue Flag. The specific epithet versicolor refers to the fact that it flowers in a range of blue to purple hues. No matter what shade of purple-blue, the falls are always yellow. Whatever one calls our native iris, it sure is beautiful, much prettier I think than hard-to-get-rid-of Siberian iris or the top heavy and overly showy bearded iris. And this American beauty is a hummingbird attractant!Iris versicolor -2 copyright 2016


Our alphabet garden at the Children’s Campus at Phillips Andover is coming along beautifully. In its second year, I’ll post photos later in the season as the garden begins to fill out and come into full bloom.

Thanks to Pam and her wonderful staff at Wolf Hill for locating our letter Q  plant, the towering ‘Queen of the Prairie.’ She is a gorgeous beauty for the back of the border, growing 5 to 7 feet tall, with panicles of deep pink and purple streaked lacy foliage. Can’t wait to see this native bee and butterfly attracting beauty in bloom!

P is for Peach leaf Bellflower copyright Kim SmithP is for Peachleaf Bellflower




Mary Prentiss Inn copyright Kim Smith copy Triadic color copyright Kim Smith Playing with triadic color–the planters at the Mary Prentiss Inn are a great example of a classic triad. Triadic color schemes use colors that are evenly spaced around the color wheel. When successful, they are really quite vibrant and seem to sing. In these arrangements, the orange color dominates while the shades of purples and greens are the accents.

Mary Prentiss Inn poppies copyright Kim Smith

Iceland Poppies orange copyright Kim SmithVibrant orange Iceland Poppies steal the show!


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