Category Archives: Home and Garden
Angela 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.
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!
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!
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.
In 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.
Thank you so much again to my friend Christine for the gift of the Cecropia moth eggs.
Plant and they will come!
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 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!In the above photo you can see how she is contorting her abdomen to correctly position the eggs
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!!
Although 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!
Blooming 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!
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!
Time for a bathroom break. Love this video being shared by Facebook friends! “Just PEE” penned by Cindi Lauper and performed by the Broadway cast of the hit musical Kinky Boots.
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.
Thanks to Elise Jillson from Cedar Rocks Gardens for a tremendously positive shopping experience. Every Cedar Rock plant is grown on the farm and every plant is lush, happy, and healthy. I had to ferry around several car loads of plants this afternoon and Elise was a fantastic help.
Cedar Rock Gardens will be open tomorrow, Monday, Memorial Day. For more information on their flowers and vegetables, CSA, and upcoming season of gorgeous cut flowers, check out Cedar Rocks Gardens website here and see a recent GMG post here: Fantastic Organic North Shore Veggie and Flower Farm Cedar Rock Gardens is Rockin!
Lilacs from our garden blooming in shades of pink, purple, blue, white and lavender
With our lilacs in full glorious bloom, and nearly knocking me out with their wonderfully delicious fragrance when walking down our garden path, I thought I’d post this excerpt from my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden. Not all lilacs are fragrant and some not at all. Based on my years of planting lilacs for client’s gardens, and my own garden, with any one of the lilac cultivars listed here, you will not be disappointed. For information on how to grow lilacs, the chapter devoted to lilacs in Oh Garden! goes into greater detail.
Colour of lilac
Heart-leaves of lilac all over
Roots of lilac under all the soil
of New England,
Lilacs in me because I am
Because my roots are in it,
Because my leaves are in it,
Because my flowers are for it,
Because it is my country
And I speak to it of itself
And sing of it with my own voice.
Since certainly it is mine.
—from Lilacs by Amy Lowell (1874–1925)
Surely at the top of the list of shrubs to grow for creating the framework of an intimate garden or garden room are lilacs, in particular Syringa vulgaris and their French hybrids. Syringa vulgaris are grown for their exquisite beauty in both form and color of blossoms, although it is their fragrance flung far and throughout gardens and neighborhoods that make them so unforgettable.
Not all species of Syringa and cultivars of Syringa vulgaris are scented. The early French hybrids and hybrids of Leonid Kolesnikov have retained their fragrance. Syringa oblata has a similar fragrance, though is not nearly as potent. Several of the Chinese species have a spicy cinnamon scent, while many of the Asian species and their hybrids have very little, if any, fragrance. To find your personal preference, I suggest a visit to a local arboretum, or take your nose to the nursery during the extended period of time (six to eight weeks, or so) in which the different cultivars of S. vulgaris are in bloom.
Nearly everywhere lilacs are grown (and here I am only referring to S. vulgaris), they are called by some variety of the word lilac. Perhaps the word lilac stems from the Persian word Lilak or Lilaf meaning bluish. The French say Lilas, the Spanish say Lila, and the Portuguese Lilaz. In old English lilacs were called Laylock, Lilack, and Lilock.
Lilacs are native to and found growing among the limestone rocks on the hillsides and mountainsides throughout southeastern Europe, in the Balkans, Moldavia, Serbia, Macedonia, and Yugoslavia. Cultivated by local mountain herdsmen, they were taken from the peasant villages of central Europe to the garden courts of Istanbul. In 1563, the Flemish scholar and traveler Ogier Ghiselin, Count de Busbecq, Ambassador of Ferdinand I of Austria to the court of Suleiman the Magnificent, brought back to Vienna gifts from the sultan’s garden. Attracting much attention was the lilac. Seven years later, in 1570, Ogier Ghiselin, Count de Busbecq, and then Curator of the Imperial Court Library, accompanied the Archduchess Elizabeth from Vienna to Paris where she was betrothed to King Charles IX of France. Count de Busbecq journeyed to France with a shoot of Syringa vulgaris, where it soon began to fill the gardens of Paris.
Two color variants sprang up in European gardens beside the wild blue- flowered lilac, a nearly white flowered variant with lighter foliage and a taller- growing variant with deeper purple flowers. Hybridizers quickly set about to create different forms and color versions from these two variants.
Blue lilac – ‘President Grevy’
Victor Lemoine of the famed nursery Victor Lemoine et Fils at Nancy in Lorraine Province continued the work of hybridizing lilacs. From 1878 to 1950, Victor and his wife, their son Emile, and their grandson, Henri, created 214 lilac cultivars. The cornerstone of the Lemoine’s lilac hybridizing program was a nat- ural sport that bore two corollas, one inside the other, making it the first dou- ble. This double was subsequently named ‘Azurea Plena.’ Because of the Lemoine family’s success in turning ordinary lilacs into fancy double-flowered lilacs in nearly every hue imaginable, they became known as the “French lilacs.” Spreading throughout Europe, the French lilacs were brought to the Russian court by French travelers. Well suited to the soil and climate of Russia, they soon spread far and wide. Several decades later, the Russian hybridist Leonid Kolesnikov continued the successful work of the Lemoines with his own exquisite variants.
The French and Dutch colonists transported lilacs to North America. These cherished cuttings, wrapped in burlap and wet straw tucked into suitcases for the long journey across the Atlantic, traveled well and were soon growing throughout the colonies. By 1753 the Quaker botanist John Bartram of Philadelphia was complaining that lilacs were already too numerous. One of two of the oldest col- lections of lilacs in North America are at the Governor Wentworth home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, planted by the governor in 1750. The second collection, perhaps one hundred years older, is at Mackinac Island in Michigan, where French Jesuit missionaries living in the area are thought to have planted them as early as 1650.
Pink lilac – ‘Maiden’s Blush’
With their traveling fragrance, versatility in the landscape, and their ability to live tens, perhaps even hundreds of years, lilacs are garden heirlooms. When selecting lilacs to grow for creating the framework of the garden, take the time to choose wisely. Some lilacs grow readily into a tree shape (‘Beauty of Moscow’), while others are somewhat relatively lower growing cultivars; ‘Wedgwood Blue’ comes to mind, and still others, the common white lilac (Syringa vulgaris var. alba), sucker more freely. And bear in mind that different lilacs bloom over an extended period of time. If you wish to have a blue lilac blooming simultaneously with a white lilac, then it is worthwhile to determine whether a specific cultivar is an early, mid, or late season bloomer. The following is a selection of lilacs growing in our garden, arranged in their sequential progression of flowering, with considerable overlapping. They are all highly scented or we wouldn’t grow them. The last photo below shows the different colors in lilac blossoms of white, pink, blue, lavender, magenta.
S. x hyacinthiflora ‘Maiden’s Blush’ (1966) Skinner ~ Single, pale rose pink; shows different colors of pink under different soil conditions. In a warmer climate and lighter soils it is a paler shade of pink, in heavier soils ‘Maiden’s Blush’ has more lavender undertones.
‘Krasavitsa Moskvy’ translated to ‘Beauty of Moscow.’ Leonid Alexseevitch Kolesnikov (1974) ~ Double, lavender-rose tinted buds opening to white-tinted pink. Grown throughout Russia. Vigorous upright habit, useful for growing into a tree-shape. Very extended blooming period.
Syringa vulgaris var. purpurea. Common purple lilac ~ Lavender, the wild species seen growing throughout its native land. The common purple is the most widely distributed form of lilac. The lilac of old gardens.
‘Wedgwood Blue’ John Fiala (1981) ~ Hanging panicles of beautiful true blue florets. Lilac-pink hued buds. Somewhat lower growing.
‘Madame Florent Stepman’ (1908) ~ Satiny ivory white florets from rose- washed buds. Pure white when fully opened. Tall and upright growing. One of the most extensively cultivated for the florist trade.
‘President Grevy’ Lemoine (1886) ~ Pure blue, immense panicles of sweet starry florets.
‘Marie Legraye’ (1840) ~ Single, diminutive florets, radiant white, lighter green foliage.
‘Monge’ Lemoine (1913) ~ Vivid, intense plum wine fading to deepest rose.
‘Andenken an Ludwig Spaeth’ Nursery of Ludwig Spaeth (1883) ~ Single, rich purple-violet with a smaller pointed-head panicle.
Above excerpt from Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden (David R. Godine, Publisher), written and illustrated by Kim Smith.
Link to David R. Godine website for more information Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden
Poppies popping, tulips resplendent, and flower pots poised to bedazzle, The Mary Prentiss Inn, conveniently located near Harvard University, is an utterly charming bed and breakfast, outfitted with all modern amenities (and a secret garden around back). Homemade breakfast is served daily, along with freshly baked treats for afternoon tea. Jennifer, the proprietor, and Lisa, who runs the front desk, could not be more welcoming. For graduation, business, or simply a romantic get away in the heart of Cambridge, The Mary Prentiss Inn is tops!!
Tulips in the city were hard hit by a cycle of freezing and thawing, after they had started to emerge. Nonetheless the tulips at the Inn are still blooming great guns!
This beautiful Robin’s nest is located at the lovely home of the Del Vecchio family. Daughter Clara noticed that a sprig of lavender was used in nest building so they left out some colorful bits of yarn. The Robins built the nest atop a rolled up rug that was left standing beside their well-trafficked front door. Mama Robin doesn’t seem to mind a bit the constant comings and goings of the household. I’ve seen robins build nests in some crazy places, but this has to take the cake!
Thank you to Michele for allowing me to come and film what has to be the world’s most charming Robin’s nest!
Update on the Robin’s nest: Sadly, Michele reports that the nest was knocked over and the eggs have been scavenged. In our region, Robins typically have several broods and often use the same nest, so perhaps the nest can become reestablished.
Tulips in our garden
Kate Wikwerth writes –
It’s time for the much anticipated Seaside Garden Club Annual Plant Sale and Auction!
Note to gardeners: Are you having problems with winter moths? Trees in the Rose Family (Rosaceae), cherry trees, plum trees, peach trees, and apple trees, for example, are especially devastated by the larval stage of these voracious eaters. There is no perfect solution. The worst thing to do is to spray your trees with chemical pesticides and herbicides because that will kill the good insects (bees, butterflies, and other beneficials) and not fully destroy the bad.
After blooming, spray horticultural oil on the branches, foliage, and trunk. This won’t totally wipe out the winter moths (nothing does), but it will act as a deterrent. Apply the horticultural oil about once every month or two, through January, as the adult moths deposit their eggs in the chinks of bark during the winter months.
Cedar Rock Gardens is an 18.5 acre farm conveniently located at 299 Concord Street, in Gloucester, a few short miles off Route 128. Plants and produce grown only at Cedar Rock Gardens are sold here, with a wide offering of organic veggies, herbs, and gorgeous flowers.
The welcoming handmade sign sets the scene. A modern farm, with its focus on organic practices, but the setting is pure old-time farm charm. Rambling stone walls delineate the fields of flowers, trays of seedlings are tucked under gnarled ancient apple trees, and an equally as distinguished catalpa tree grows alongside the drive as you enter the garden.
Dormant flower field
Elise and Tucker have many combined years of experience in organic farming. Read more about the two here. Opening the farm to the public is a new step for Cedar Rock Gardens in their growing business. I can’t wait to see what they’ll be offering in plants, as well as cut flowers, throughout the season (think peonies, zinnias, and sunflowers, to name only a few!). Stop in and say hello to Elise and Tucker and pick up your seedlings today!
Plant Nursery Hours: 8am to 5pm Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday, and 9am to 3pm Sunday.
Thank you so much to Nubar Alexanian for the tip to visit Cedar Rock Gardens!