Category Archives: Home and Garden


Plant and They Will Come!

The proof is in the caterpillars!


2nd Instar Black Swallowtail Caterpillar ~ Willa Brosnihan Photo

Monday I had the great joy of being given the grand tour of the O’Maley Innovation School Butterfly Garden recently installed by Mrs. McGrath’s sixth grade class. We first had a screening of my film Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly and then went out to the garden to see the very same caterpillars!

The garden hits all the right notes with caterpillar food plants and colorful nectar-rich, butterfly attracting flowers. With the bed dug entirely by the students (you can see by the surrounding beds that the soil must have been incredibly compacted), prepped, and all planting done by the kids it is truly a fabulous accomplishment. You’ll see amazingly adorned handmade and beautifully painted informational signs and butterfly baths.

The garden was made possible though an award winning project created by students Emma Duckworth, Willa Brosnihan, and Kelsey Lowthers. For more information see the Awesome Gloucester Foundation O’Maley Butterfly Garden project page here .


Emma Duckworth Photo

Emma, Willa Kelsey Butterfly Garden ©Kim Smith 2015

Project creators Emma, Willa, and Kelsey


Hand painted water dish for butterflies and birds. 

Willa photographing caterpilarsWilla photographing caterpillars

O'Maley Sixth Grade Butterflyy Gardeners ©Kim Smith 2015

See More Photos Here

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Liv’s Wedding in Less Than Three Weeks and Checking Off My To-do List!

Love this beautiful linen in shades of sea and sand. As a general guideline, table runners are usually about 1/3 the width of the table. I was able to cut three runners out of each length and have some leftover fabric, more than enough to make a few pillows–they will be a lovely reminder of Liv and Matt’s wedding!


Comsos 12 ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

WOW! What a Team ~ Thank You Friends of the HarborWalk Volunteers!

My best #GloucesterMA HarborWalk Helpers Charles and George!

A video posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Thank you Lynn Bird, Amy Kerr, Catherine Ryan, Charles and George for an awesome and fabulous job! We spent the morning weeding and getting the HarborWalk beds ready to plant butterfly attracting annuals. Lynn, Amy, and Catherine are just amazingly helpful and super hard workers. With special thanks to Charles and George for their enthusiasm and wonderfully positive attitude. The boys pitch right in and just really attack the worst of the oversized weeds–we especially enjoyed the funny names they’ve assigned the most offensive weeds, names such as tidy whities!

Gloucester HarborWalk volunteers ©Kim Smith 2015

Gloucester HarborWalk Volunteers Lynn Bird, Amy Kerr, Catherine Ryan, George, and Charles

Baby Bunny Nest ~ An Enchanting Discovery!

Look what we uncovered while working at a client’s garden ~ 

A baby, baby bunny nest!!!

A photo posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Baby rabbits are called kits or kittens and these look like they are Eastern Cottontails, the most common and widespread species of rabbits in North America.

Discovered a bunny nest at a client's garden this morning. Sooooooo adorable!

A video posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

In the future if I accidentally come upon a similar looking nest, I think I would leave it undisturbed. We were very startled by the sight of the baby wild rabbits after pulling away leaves and the downy soft “lid,” or protective covering, and they very nearly were almost raked!

Guess what this is?!? @livviiiiii @mabdeluxe @djsarrouf @laurelanneb

A photo posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on


Inside a Birdhouse ~ Patrick Dougherty’s Stickwork!

Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -5 w ©Kim Smith 2015Today driving along Route 1A I passed the fabulous and fantastic Patrick Dougherty enormous two-story tall birdhouses in the midst of downtown Salem. I did a double take and turned around. They are simply extraordinary. Although a work in progress, it must have been lunch break because the site was empty of people. I would have loved to have met the artist and see the volunteers at work but it was a magical experience to walk through and around the birdhouses with no one present. Especially captivating was peering out from the round windows towards the passersby from inside the structures–evoking the feel of being a bird in its nest. GO SEE!!!!

Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -10 ©Kim Smith 2015

Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -1 w ©Kim Smith 2015Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -4 w ©Kim Smith 2015

Looking up through the skylight.

“Stickwork” by Patrick Dougherty is under construction, with the help of local volunteers, through May 23rd. The finished structures will remain on the grounds of the Crowninshield-Bentley House for one year. The Crowninshield-Bentley House is located at the corner of Essex and Washington Streets and is owned by the Peabody Essex Museum. “Stickwork” is the first environmental art installation under the museum’s Present Tense Initiative. For more information visit

Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -9 w ©Kim Smith 2015

The birdhouses are made of saplings from unwanted wood such as Norway maple and buckthorn.

Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -7 w ©Kim Smith 2015



Instagramming My Garden

Running around like crazy today and in need of a post to fill my 6 o’clock time slot, I had a few moments of fun instagramming in my garden, but oh my, does it need a good weeding! And by the way, our garden truly smells like how you might imagine heaven would smell. My book on garden design, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!, is chock-a-block full of information on how to create a fragrant garden–a garden that will keep you wrapped in beautiful scents from early spring through autumn.

Heavenly Sea lily-of-the-valley

A photo posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

True Blue!

A photo posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

D'Anjou Pear Blossoms

A photo posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on


A photo posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Pink Lily-of-the-valley

A photo posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Silk Satin Doll

A photo posted by Kim Smith (@kimsmithdesigns) on

Milkweed Seedpod ©Kim Smith 2014

Friend me on Facebook and follow me on TwitterInstagram, and Vine. You can also subscribe to my design website at Kim Smith Designs, and film’s websites at Beauty on the Wing ~ Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly, Gloucester’s Feast of Saint Joseph Community Film Project, and Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

Don’t Miss the Seaside Garden Club’s Plant Auction on Tuesday, May 19th at the Manchester Community Center

Doors open for a preview at 6:00 and the Auction begins promptly at 7:00. Don’t miss the chance to purchase the garden club’s prized perennials and beautiful one of a kind garden art. Donations from many local businesses will be auctioned off as well. Ryan & Wood Distilleries, Marshall’s Farm Stand, North Coast Too! Goose Cove Gardens, Sea Meadow Gifts are among the generous businesses that have donated their goods to the auction. A NOVA Star Cruise, including passage for 2 adults, a vehicle, dinner, breakfast and lunch will also be on the auction block!

Our board members and members have been hard at work dividing their tried and true perennial plants and creating garden art. Support the Seaside Garden Club and come home with great plants and garden art that will grace your garden with beauty for years to come! Light refreshments will be served.

This is the Seaside Garden Club’s only fund raiser and 100% of the proceeds go to fund our terrific programs throughout the year. The Seaside Garden Club meets the second Tuesday of every month, September through June at the Manchester Community Center.  Membership is open to all. Visit our blog at:

SGC 2015 Auction poster_lg



The Uncommonly Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat Warbler ©Gloucester MA -2 ©Kim Smith 2015

Male Common Yellowthroat fluffing and drying feathers after his many baths.

Splashing, and then dashing to a nearby tree, splashing and dashing again, and then returning for yet a third bath, this little male Common Yellowthroat seemed to relish in the fresh water at our birdbath. His more subduedly colored mate stayed well hidden and close to the ground and I was thrilled to see them both. This sweet pair of warblers have been in our garden for several days now and perhaps they’ll build their nest here!

Common Yellowthroat Warbler ©Gloucester MA -1 ©Kim Smith 2015Common Yellowthroats were at one time common however, their numbers have been steadily decreasing since the 1960s. Throughout the yellowthroat’s range they are suffering from habitat degradation and loss. Because they live in wetlands and eat primarily insects they, like countless wild creatures, are adversely affected by pesticides and poor water quality.Common Yellowthroat Warbler ©Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2015

Don’t Miss Backyard Growers Summer Seedling Sale Tuesday May 19th and Thursday May 21st

Come down to Backyard Growers HQ (269 Main St.) on TUESDAY 5/19 OR THURSDAY 5/21 from 3-6 PM to pickup $1 seedlings.

For seedlings we will have slicing tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, sauce tomatoes, pepper varieties, eggplant, basil, parsley and more! We also have some High Mowing seed packets for sale.



Backyard Grower’s Photo


Tulip Garden Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge ©Kim Smith 2015The Mary Prentiss Inn was named Yankee Magazine’s Best Inn, Greater Boston Area, and deservedly so!

As many of our readers have come to know from photos I’ve posted here, the beautiful family-owned and operated Inn is one of my landscape design projects.

Tulip Garden Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge -6 ©Kim Smith 2015

Jennifer Fandetti, the Inn’s proprietor, and daughter-in-law of Cambridge artist Charlotte Forsythe and architect Gerald Fandetti, maintains The Mary Prentiss to the highest standards. The welcoming hospitality, combined with the gracious decor of the meticulously restored Greek Revival manor, along with their famously delicious breakfasts and afternoon tea, will make your stay truly memorable. During warmer months guests are invited to dine and relax in the exquisite secret garden.

Centrally located in the heart of Cambridge, and appointed with every modern amenity, when planning a trip to the Greater Boston/Cambridge area I highly recommend a stay at The Mary Prentiss Inn!

Tulip Garden Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge -4 ©Kim Smith 2015

In autumn I mix a special custom collection of spring flowering bulbs for my clients, based on their preferences and the architectural features unique to their business or residence. The colors of the tulips in this year’s collection for The Mary Prentiss Inn are simply scintillating and especially beautiful juxtaposed against the warm creamy yellow tones of the exterior paint, emerald green of the boxwoods, and forest green of the hollies. You have to be very cautious in managing the colors though because a symphony can easily become a cacophony!

Tulip Garden Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge -5©Kim Smith 2015

Tulip Garden Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge -3 ©Kim Smith 2015

The orange parrot tulip in the above photo is a very old cultivar. Unlike the vast majority of tulips today, which are mostly scentless, this has a dreamy fragrance of citrus and honeysuckle.

Tulip Garden Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge -7 ©Kim Smith 2015

For more information visit The Mary Prentiss Inn Facebok Page here and website here.




Magnolia soulangeana ©Kim Smith 2015Yesterday while in Boston to meet with clients at their home on Comm. Ave, I couldn’t help but take a snapshot of the glorious saucer magnolias blooming along the avenue. I wished I’d had more time because just as I was leaving, the sun began to poke out. The stunning display that you see lining the south-facing side is the genius of one woman and when I have time, will write more about her brilliant accomplishment to which we are all the beneficiaries, more than fifty years after planting!

Commonwealth Avenue Boston Magnolia soulangeana ©˚im Smith 2015

Magnolia soulangeana Commonwealth Avenue Boston

At the Gloucester HarborWalk Gardens, we planted two species of magnolia adjacent to each other. Many arboretums, such as Harvard’s Arnold Arboretum, plant several species within the same plant family in close proximity to provide an opportunity to learn by comparing the differences and similarities. I wanted our community to enjoy a mini-arboretum experience by planting two of the most beautiful magnolias that grow well in our region, the saucer magnolia (Magnolia x soulangeana) and sweetbay magnolia (M. virginiana). Stop by in the coming weeks to visit our gorgeous magnolias in bloom. M. soulangeana will bloom first, followed by M. virginiana.

The Friends of the HarborWalk will be back at the HarborWalk this Sunday (tomorrow morning), beginning at 9am. We’ll meet in front of the Gloucester House. Come lend a hand–its work, but fun with this growing great group of community-spirited friends. Everyone is welcome!

Please leave a comment in the comment section or feel free to contact me if you have any questions at



My Pollinator Garden Talk and Short Films Screening at the Hamilton Wenham Public Library

Male Luna Moth ©Kim Smith 2013Male Luna Moth and Phlox davidii

Please join me on Wednesday evening, April 29th, at 7pm at the Hamilton Wenham Public Library where I will be giving my Pollinator Garden program and screening several short films. This event is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!

Catbird eating  dogwood fruits ©Kim Smith 2014Catbird and Dogwood Fruits

Monarch Butterfly depositing egg ©Kim Smith 2012Female Monarch Butterfly Depositing Egg on Milkweed 

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

©Kim Smith 2014Willowdale Estate Topsfield

Rain Forest Publications and Mourning Cloaks

Posting hurriedly today. My darling daughter is arriving Friday for a wedding dress fitting, and I am sooo behind in wedding dress making that I am sure I will be up half the next two nights!

Recently brochures from Rain Forest Publications arrived. Don’t you love pocket guides, for the very reason the name infers–so easy to tuck along when traveling and hiking. That’s my photo on the cover of “Mexico Butterflies.” The photo was taken not in Mexico, but in Gloucester!

Rain Forest Publications Butterfies of Mexico Guide Kim Smith cover photo ©Kim Smith 2015Be on the lookout for the first butterfly of spring, which will most likely be the Mourning Cloak Butterfly. Mourning Cloaks do not spend the winter in the cool volcanic mountains of Mexico as do the Monarchs, or as a chrysalis in our gardens, like the Black Swallowtail, or as a caterpillar rolled up in a tight little ball under a leaf, as does the Wooly Bear, but as an adult butterfly!

Pussy Willows, Salix discolor ©Kim Smith 2014Pussy Willow (Salix discolor)

During the winter months Mourning Cloaks live tucked away in cracks and crevices, between chinks of tree bark, for example. At the first warm breath of spring they begin to take flight, searching for a mate. You’ll often see them on the wing around Pussy Willows, one of the Mourning Cloak caterpillar’s food plants.

Mourning_Cloak_Butterfly_in_South_Central_AlaskaMourning Cloak image courtesy wiki commons media



Helping Our Fine Feathered Friends Make It Through These (Hopefully) Last Weeks of Bitter Cold

American Robin Crabaplle ©Kim Smith 2015

Outside my office window is a pair of stately hollies, our “Dragon Ladies;” aptly named for their prickly foliage, and adjacent to the hollies is a sweet scented flowering crabapple. The autumn fruits of this particular crabapple are chunkier than most and, I simply assumed, must bear the worst tasting fruit imaginable because year in and year out, the fruit is never, ever eaten by the birds. When flocks of robins arrive in our garden in late January, the winterberry and hollies are stripped bare of their fruits in a day, or two, at the most, after which the robins head to our neighbor’s sumac and then further down Plum Street to our other neighbor’s smaller and much better tasting crabapples.

American Robin eating in crabaplle tree Turdus americanus ©Kim Smith 2015Not this year! A pair of robins is setting up house along the garden path and they vigorously defend the crabapples from other robins. In late winter, robins typically switch over to worms, but with the ground still frozen solid, they are continuing to look for tree fruits. Unfortunately, much of it has been consumed.

American Robin eating crabaplle Turdus migratorius ©Kim Smith 2015

Repeatedly, I noticed that our robin couple was struggling to eat the crabapples. They would snip off a stem and then drop it onto the brick path below and peck and peck and peck. A robin’s bill did not evolve to crack open grains and as it seems in this case, nor for penetrating our unusually hard crabapples. A great deal of energy was being spent to get a morsel of food, which is never a good thing because it can leave a creature weakened and at risk of freezing to death.

Robin flying ©Kim Smith 2015Robin in flight

I picked a few berries and made a crabapple mash, placed it under the tree and, within hours, all the fruits were devoured! Now when feeding the pets and filling the bird feeders each morning I pluck a small handful of crabapples, mash, and place in the pie tin below the tree. I’ve experimented with adding blueberries and raspberries to the dish, but the robins prefer the crabapples.

If we move very slowly when walking down the path, they now allow us to come quite close—and what a treat to observe from this distance—beautiful, beautiful robins!

American Robin Turdus americanus ©Kim Smith 2015JPG

Do you think we will be rewarded with a nearby nest? I hope so!

Crabapple in snow ©Kim Smith 2015

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