Category Archives: Home and Garden


Would you like to help us spruce up the pollinator gardens at the HarborWalk? The wonderful Maggie Rosa called last week expressing interest in helping care for the garden. We had a nice walk through the HarborWalk and talked about weed versus wildflower.¬†Maggie has already made a tremendous improvement.¬†If you would like to volunteer, I’ll be at the HarborWalk on Sunday morning from 7am to 8:30, before the podcast, and happy to show anyone interested how to identify the wildflowers. Please feel free to comment in the comment section or email me at if you have any questions.¬†Thank you.


Just like sheep, alpacas need to be shorn at least once a year. Their beautiful fleece is so thick by the time spring comes along, the animals would suffer tremendously in warmer weather if not shorn.

Family and friends lend a hand for alpaca shearing day.

Malcolm Cooper arrived Sunday morning with his assistant Krystian Hoszkiewicz.

Expert shearing, with a firm but kind touch. 

Andrew Spinney from Paynter Saltwater Farm in Essex brought three of his alpacas for shearing, along with Maggie the sheep. Maggie likes getting shorn, so much so that she turned into an acquiescing blob of jello.

Angela administers a monthly shot to prevent parasites.

Here’s Nikki helping with the Paynter alpacas. Next is an after-shearing photo, with the Marshall’s daughter Jennifer. What a difference!

Alpaca lower teeth and upper dental pad.

Alpacas only have bottom teeth. On the top they have a hard dental pad. Alpacas eat by trapping grass between their teeth and the dental pad, and then nipping it off. Some alpacas are genetically pre-disposed to misaligned teeth and need to have their teeth trimmed. If the teeth were not trimmed, it could lead to eating disorders and starvation. A protective guard is placed in the mouth and the teeth are quickly ground with an electric grinder. It takes all of about 30 second for an alpaca’s dental treatment!

Pippi Longstocking’s first dental check up.

One-year-old alpacas Maisy, Rascal, and Pippi Longstocking had their first shearing. The yarn made from the first shearing is referred to as baby alpaca, and it is silky soft, luxurious, and super warm.

Maggie’s wool is more course and contains lanolin. After she was shorn, you could feel the sticky lanolin on her skin. Because alpaca fleece bears no lanolin, the yarn is hypoallergenic.

Pippi Longstocking’s first buzz cut.

Phew, I was exhausted just filming the Marshall Family corral twenty plus alpacas and one tubby little Maggie. The Marshall’s alpacas are beloved family members, each named, and each with a unique personality to go with their name–Pokey, Magnolia, and Rascal, to mention just a few. Animal farming is super hard, non-stop work, especially when the animals are as well taken care of as are the Marshalls.

The public is welcome to come stop by and visit the alpacas. Yarn from the Marshall’s alpacas is available to purchase.¬†At the present time, Angie‚Äôs¬†Alpacas is open by appointment.¬†Call 978-729-7180 or email Angela at¬†Marshall’s Farm is located just next to Marshall’s Farm Stand at 148 Concord Street in West Gloucester.


Today was alpaca shearing day at the Marshall’s farm. We have lots of photos to share and I’ll have time to post them tomorrow. All the while alpaca shearing was taking place, Perry, the Marshall’s peacock, was struttin’ his stuff. There was no peahen in sight, but a certain chicken seemed to have caught Perry’s attention. The peacock mating call sounds more like a piercing scream, very startling the first time heard. Have a listen!

Baby alpacas Pippi Longstocking, Maisy, and Rascal had their first shearing today.


Happy Memorial Day from Wolf Hill!

Wolf Hill has just about everything under the sun to make your garden sing, and then some. If not in stock, they will order it and have the item to you in a few short days. Choose from a gorgeous and super healthy selection of native perennials, shrubs, trees, flowering vines, annuals, tropicals, and every kind of garden tool and accessory needed.

Grace and owner Pam

The staff is beyond helpful at Wolf Hill. I hear customers asking questions non-stop and they always provide a pleasant and knowledgeable response. Whether answering questions, loading your car, or assisting with placing orders, the customer service at Wolf Hill is simply stellar. You can always tell when the owners are super special people when the same staff are there year after year.

These Guys! Always lending a helping hand РJacob, Rick, and Ricky. Not only is Rick the tree and shrub manager, for which he has a wealth of information, but he is also very knowledgeable butterflies. Ask him what butterflies have been in the garden lately.

Late spring is the best time of year to pick out roses because most flower earlier at nurseries than they would in our Cape Ann gardens. You take the guesswork out and test the roses for fragrance and for color when in bloom. Wolf Hill has an extensive selection of shrub, climbing, and topiary roses.

We are so blessed to have not one, not two, but three fabulous garden centers here on our small island.

Happy Memorial Day and Happy Gardening!


Happy Memorial Day from Marshall’s Farm Stand

Marshall’s Farm Stand is chock-a-block full of a tremendous¬†assortment of annuals and perennials just waiting to be planted.

Owners Melissa and Karen created the colorful red, white, and blue Memorial Day themed display and all the pots are ready to set out in the garden, no fuss, no muss.

While there, wish the Marshalls a happy fiftieth year in¬†business! Check out the 2017 Farmer Bob cards, with daily deals¬†on just about everything at¬†the farm stand. The photo on the¬†flip side of the card is a wonderful¬†family portrait. What a beautiful family! I¬†wonder what year and am guessing, based on the outfits, the 1970s. I forgot to ask and hope a family member writes and lets us know. Marshall’s Farm Stand is located at 144 Concord Street in Gloucester, and they are open seven days a week, from 9am to 6pm.

Ann and Dolly loading up their truck to plant red and white flowers at her relative’s¬†grave sites.

One more of adorable Dolly.



Come see the ever expanding selection of gorgeous flower and veggie seedlings at Cedar Rock Gardens. Not only are they offering annual flowers, herbs, and vegetable this year, but they are also growing native perennial wildflowers such as New England Aster and milkweed.

It was so cloudy and overcast when I was there picking up an order;¬†these photos don’t do the garden justice. Come on down and see for yourself, Cedar Rock Gardens¬†is bursting with beauty and fully¬†stocked for the¬†Memorial Day weekend.

Open seven days a week, from 8am til 5pm, Cedar Rock Gardens is located at 299 Concord Street in Gloucester.

Marigold Mania!

Sweet William

Loads and loads of peppers, in every degree of heat imagineable.

I love stopping by just to say hello, Elise and Tucker are so friendly and helpful. Tucker built the new office shed.

Coming later this spring are pick your own peonies!! And after that, sunflowers, zinnias, and straw flowers ūüôā


Elise and Sunshine

Cedar Rock Gardens is bursting with a fabulous selection of blossoms and veggies and all would be much loved by Mom. Load up now on milkweed, petunias, pansies, snapdragons, dianthus, violas, osteosperum, alyssum, thyme, cilantro, parsley, dill, and much, much, much more.

Check out Cedar Rocks Gardens updated and complete plant list here.



Tucker is building dozens of new tray tables to hold all the fantastic seedlings coming along.

Jeffrey Thomas, Tucker Smith, and Irv Falk

Join Betsy Williams at the Stevens Coolidge Place

Join Betsy Williams¬†Sunday, May 21 at the beautiful¬†Stevens Coolidge Place in North Andover to¬†create a Fragrant Flowering Garden in a 14‚ÄĚ pot.
We’ll plant a combination of 6 sweetly scented annual and perennial plants, such as nicotiana, stock, heliotrope, nepeta, lavender, sweet alyssum, violas and miniature roses, accented with climbing, twining vines and fragrant variegated greens. 
With proper care, your pot will bloom happily all summer long on a patio, porch, sunny balcony or doorstep.
Please bring an apron and floral scissors to class.
Sunday, May 21, 2017.  1-3pm
To register contact Kevin Block <> 


A  very huge thanks going out to all of the hard-working folks at for helping add some amazing beauty to our little island. Keep up the great work!


One of the teeniest¬†butterflies you’ll see at this time of year¬†is the Spring Azure,¬†with a wing to wing span¬†of less than one¬†inch.¬†Found in meadows, fields, gardens, and along the forest edge, the celestial blue¬†flakes pause to drink nectar from clover, Quaker Ladies, crabapples, dandelions, and whatever tiny floret strikes¬†her fancy.

You can find the Azures flitting about Crabapple blossoms.

Native wildflowers Quaker Ladies, also called Bluets, are an early season source of nectar for Azures.

If you’d like to attract these spring beauties to your garden, plant native flowering dogwood * (Cornus florida), blueberries, and viburnums; all three are¬†caterpillar food plants of the beautiful Spring Azure Butterfly.

The female butterfly curls her abdomen around in a C-shape and deposits eggs amongst the yellow florets of the flowering dogwood. Pink or white, both are equally attractive to the Spring Azure.

Cornus florida ‘rubra’

*Only our native flowering dogwood, Cornus florida, is a caterpillar food plant for Azure butterflies. Don’t bother¬†substituting¬†the non-native Korean Dogwood, it won’t help the pollinators.

Native Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) at Willowdale Estate Butterfly Garden


While looking for bandanas to make Charlotte, our baby granddaughter-on-the-way, a bandana baby quilt, I came across wonderfully whimsical animal inspired navy and white bandanas at J.Crew. The elephant bandana has little elephant heads in the corners and the whale bandana has an overall pattern that includes fishes, anchors, and a compass rose. The bandanas are printed on an ultra soft, almost batiste-like quality cotton fabric. Recalling that newborns can mostly only see black and white for the first three months, and that the J.Crew designs are so charming, I abandoned the pink idea and went for blue and white. And, a portion of the sale from the bandanas goes to support wildlife foundations.


1) Prewash bandanas, cotton batting, and backing fabric. Press.

2) Stitch together the four bandanas. Bandanas are not a woven design and oftentimes are not printed on the square perfectly. You have to fudge it a little and not be too fussy at this stage.

3) Press the bandana quilt top seams flat. Place the quilt top over cotton quilt batting. Pin or baste the batting in place. Trim batting close to quilt top edge.

4) Place quilt top and batting unit on top of cotton backing. Pin or baste through all three layers to keep in place. Trim to neaten edges.

5) Cut 4 bias strips, in desired width, in backing fabric, the length of each edge, plus two inches. I like to cut my bias strips 2 and 7/8 wide inches for binding a quilt. Fold bias strips in half and press.

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Gloucester foreclosures include one of the 100+ Gloucester MA houses that Edward Hopper painted

Hopper by lees

Edward Hopper, Gloucester Houses, 1923, Whitney Museum of American Art, Josephine N Hopper bequest.¬†You can match the boulders in Hopper’s drawing that the domiciles were built upon; Lee’s Breakfast Restaurant at the far right; ¬†and the stacked granite blocks¬†to the left of #7.

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74 Long Beach front row cottages in less than a minute

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The view from the boardwalk on a spring day – can you spot the two new homes?


Long Beach cottages from the boardwalk 1 of 3

animation 1 of 3 (first 24 homes, just past the old hotel)


Long Beach cottages from the boardwalk 2 of 3

animation 2 of 3 ( Laughing Water and next 25 homes )


Long Beach cottages from the boardwalk animation 3 of 3

animation 3 of 3 (next 24 homes)

coastal living: a Long Beach walk combines ocean view, front row cottages, and beach

Long Beach panoramic (click picture to enlarge) view at low tide, April 2017. The barrier rip rap is mightily exposed. At other times the large boulders are buried beneath deep sand.



This spring awakening is calm. Most of the homes remain prepped for winter.

Do you know how many front row cottages line Long Beach?

The view from the beach at low tide (ocean at my back) in two parts.


Long Beach animation front row cottages beach appeal 1 of 2


Long Beach animation front row cottages beach appeal 2 of 2

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