Category Archives: Home and Garden
Last week after presenting my Pollinator Garden program in Orleans and visiting the Nauset lighthouses, the next stopover was to my grandparent’s beach in Dennis, or I should say, the beach where my family summered as our grandparents are no longer living. It was close to sunset and I had the overwhelming wish to watch the sun go down from the same place where we perched atop the bluff and had watched the sunset thousands of times as children. It was more than a little dismaying upon arriving to see my Grandmother’s glorious seaside garden gone, replaced by grass, but even more so, to see that the great stairwell and wild rose-lined path to the beach, once enjoyed by all the neighbors, had been privatized. Despite all that and feeling very melancholy, I had a lovely walk along the shore, watched the spectacular sunset from the cliff’s edge, and came upon a gorgeous mixed flock of shore birds. They stayed awhile resting and feeding in the surf at the high tide line and none-too-shy, allowed for both filming and photographing in the fading rosy light.
You can read an excerpt about my Grandmother’s Cape Cod garden in my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities in the chapter titled “My Grandmother’s Garden.”
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Shopping for design clients in Essex and Ipswich today and ran into these charming geese.
Please join me tomorrow night in Nashua, New Hampshire for a screening of my film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. For more information visit the Events page of my website. I hope to see you there!
Next week I am giving programs in Brockton and Nauset however in early November I’ll be home, with a screening of the Black Swallowtail film for the Seaside Garden Club at the Manchester Community Center on the 10th, and on the 12th of November I am the guest speaker at the Sawyer Free Library!
Black Swallowtail Caterpillar
Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is a 45-minute narrated film that takes place in a garden and at the sea’s edge. Every stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is experienced in vibrant close-up, from conception to pupation to metamorphosis. The film is suitable for all ages so all can gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between wildflowers and pollinators and the vital role they play in our ecosystem. Filmed in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Discussion and Q & A with the filmmaker to follow screening.
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Kate Willwerth sends us the following ~
The Seaside Garden Club kicks off their 46th Season on September 8th at the Manchester Community Center with Propagating Perennials Demonstration presented by Joan Butler and Cherry Fenton of Enchanted Gardens (http://www.enchantedgardensdesign.com/). Social time begins at 7:00 pm and program starts promptly at 7:30 pm. Light refreshments will be served.
Increase your perennial collection, replace mature plants, grow varieties that may not be offered for sale, and even produce new hybrids! Learn different propagation skills including growing from seed, cuttings, and divisions of a wide range of perennials in this combination lecture and demonstration.This is a perfect time of year to propagate your perennials and what better way to learn than to have experts show you how!
Today was simply a fabulous day, and it began very early with picking the first batch of ripe peaches from our peach tree. While washing the peaches, I turned to the large terrarium on our kitchen table and there were Monarchs galore beginning to emerge from their chrysalides. I had asked our gang of neighborhood kids if they would like to watch the butterflies as they emerge and help me with my film project and soon our home was filled with their wonderful selves. I’ll post the photos from our Monarch Day after the long weekend and don’t have time to get a new post together so here’s a favorite post from last year’s Schooner Festival/Labor Day weekend.
Our ‘Belle of Georgia’ peach tree never disappoints. Each and every year without fail, and always around Labor Day, this semi-dwarf white-fleshed peach tree gives us mouth-watering sweet peaches. Not all of the peaches are perfect and the ones that are not eaten out of hand are whipped into smoothies, cooked in confections, or macerated with Prosecco.
Bellinis make a festive addition to your Labor Day/Schooner Festival weekend brunch or dinner, especially at this time of year when the farmer’s markets and grocer’s shelves are brimming with tree-ripened fresh fruit.
Marinate peeled, pitted, and sliced (halved or quartered) peaches in Prosecco for several hours. Just before serving, puree the peach-Prosecco mixture. Spoon the puree into champagne glasses, about 1/3 to 1/2 filled, and to taste. Gently add more Prosecco to the puree. Add a drop of raspberry liquor, Chambord, or a few fresh raspberries to the puree, to give the drink that beautiful pinky-peach glow.
In flower and in fruit, the peach is a pretty tree for your landscape ~
Read an excerpt about the ‘Belle of Georgia’ from my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden here ~
Prunus persica ‘Belle of Georgia’
Cultivated by the Chinese for thousands of years, the peach tree is grown for its fruit as well as for its exquisite flowers and gracefully shaped branches. To better understand the significance of the peach tree in the Chinese culture it is worth noting that the development of the Chinese garden with its ying-yang symbolism was essentially Daoist in origin.
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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!
To Order Cookbook on line Click link below
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”
An 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!
Wildflower field on Music Street, West Tisbury, Martha’s Vineyard
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.
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. 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 has a truly fabulous butterfly and hummingbird garden that I’ll be back to photograph on a sunnier day.
Welcoming guests from all walks of life!
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.
A pair of red hibiscus topiaries greet the guests at the entryway.
‘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 caper in the trees—
And I’m a Rose!
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.Tips for improved rose culture:
HUGE SHOUT OUT AND THANK YOU AMAZING TEAM OF ANDREW BUTLER LEATHERNECK LANDSCAPING AND SEAN NOLAN EXTREME TRUCK AND AUTO REPAIR
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.
Amy also reports that Sean and Andrew help greatly with many community clean ups around town.
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.
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!
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 and Canadian Tiger Swallowtail
Meadowsweet (Spiraea latifolia)