Category Archives: Home and Garden

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

Toyo-nishiki!

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: http://seasidegardenclub.wordpress.com/

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.

IF YOU ARE A FIRST OR SECOND YEAR PARTICIPANT THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY TO GET YOUR FREE SEEDS/SEEDLINGS and shop for anything additional you may want.

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Backyard Grower’s Photo

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE MARY PRENTISS INN ~ YANKEE MAGAZINE BEST OF!

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.

 

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MAGNOLIAS AT THE GLOUCESTER HARBORWALK GARDEN (AND CLEANUP SUNDAY MORNING)

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 kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com.

 

 

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 kimsmithdesigns@hotmail.com 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

Kim Smith Event for Essex County Greenbelt, Thursday March 5th: Planting An Essex County Pollinator Garden

Catbird eating Pagoda dogwwod fruits ©Kim Smith 2014. Catbird Eating Dogwood Fruits

Please join me at the Essex County Greenbelt’s Cox Reservation headquarters on Thursday, March 5th, from 6:30 to 8:30. I will be presenting my pollinator garden program. The event is free.

RSVP to alice@ecga.org.

I look forward to seeing you!

American Lady Butterfly New York Ironweed ©Kim Smith 2014

 Painted Lady Butterfly and New York Ironweed, Gloucester HarborWalk Butterfly Garden

From the ECGA website:

Our second session to our pollinator film/lecture series will feature local designer, writer, filmmaker and gardening expert Kim Smith. Kim specializes in creating pollinator gardens, as well as filming the butterflies that her plants attract. She will present a 90-minute slide show and lecture about how to create a welcoming haven for bees, birds, butterflies, and other wildlife. Native plants and examples of organic and architectural features will be discussed based on their value to particular vertebrates and invertebrates. Kim will also discuss specific ways to be sure your gardening practices are not harming pollinators. There will be time for questions from the audience about particular problems and quandaries they may have with pollinators and their gardens.

To learn more about Kim Smith’s work, visit her website here. This lecture will take place at our headquarters on the Cox Reservation in Essex, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. Light refreshments will be served. Please RSVP to alice@ecga.org.

monarch-butterfly-c2a9kim-smith-2012-1Monarch Butterfly Nectaring at New England Asters

Harbor Walk Butterfly Garden ©Kim Smith 2012Gloucester HarborWalk Butterfly Garden

A Splash of Color for Winter Weary Eyes!

Cosmos ©Kim Smith 2014Cosmos bipinatus

In preparation for the upcoming season of programs that I give, which are centered around designing gardens to support pollinators, one of my jobs is to refresh and update the photos that are an integral part of the presentation. This past month I have been immersed in colorful images and tomorrow I am giving my new monarch butterfly presentation at (the other) Cape. Here are some of the outtakes from my pollinator habitat programs for our winter weary eyes.

For more information about programs and upcoming events, please visit my website at kimsmithdesigns.com

Luna Moth Phlox David

 Phlox and Luna Moth

©Kim Smith 2015

Sunflower and Joe-pye  ©Kim Smith 2014

Sunflower and Joe-pye Weed

Goleta Monarch Butterfly Santa Barbara California Cape Honeysuckle ©Kim Smith 2015.

Monarch Butterfly and Cape Honeysuckle, Goleta California

Cosmos -1 Donovan Field ©Kim Smith 2013

Kimsmithdesigns.com

Chocolate Amaretto Truffles and Men Trying on Valentine’s Lingerie

Happy Valentine‘s Day!

 

A chocolate lover’s delight ~ handmade truffles, super simple and kid fun-favorite-to-make, too!

Choclolate Amaretto Truffles ©Kim Smith 2011

 

Making truffles for my friends and loved ones tonight and keeping my fingers crossed that despite the ominous forecast, we’ll still get together this weekend. Please stay warm and cozy and safe!

Reposted from 2011.

Ingredients

Mini baking cups

2 ounces Baker’s sweet German chocolate, broken into small bits

6 ounces Ghiradelli semi-sweet chocolate chips

¼ C. Disaronno Amaretto liqueur

2 Tbs. strong coffee

Few drops almond extract

2 ounces (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened

1 Tbs. vanilla extract

½ C. pulverized Jules Destrooper almond thins (or Anna’s, or any super fine, thin cookie)

Confectioner’s sugar to taste (approx. ¼ cup)

½ C. Ghiradelli unsweetened cocoa powder for final powdering

 

Melt sweet chocolate bits and semi-sweet chocolate chips over a gently simmering double boiler.

Whisk in liqueur, coffee, almond extract, and vanilla. Whisk vigorously, over gentle heat, a few minutes more until mixture is shiny and smooth. Gradually add the butter by tablespoons. With a wooden spoon, beat in the pulverized cookies. Beat in sifted confectioner’s sugar, to taste. Remove the pan from the double boiler and place in a bowl of ice with water. Stir until well chilled and firm enough to form into balls.

By teaspoonful, gather up a gob and form into a rough, truffle-like shape. Roll in cocoa powder and drop into frilled paper cup.

Makes about 22, depending on size. Refrigerate in an airtight container. They will keep for several weeks or they may be frozen. Very loosely adapted from Julia Child’s Chocolate Amaretti Truffles The Way to Cook Page 485.

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Hilarious Adendum!

What to Feed the Robins

American Robin in the Snow ©Kim Smith 2014The robins in our community have several different habits for surviving winter. There are year round resident robins that breed throughout Cape Ann during warmer months and also spend the winter here.  A second group only breeds in our region, then migrates further south during the winter months. A third group, the robins that we see flocking to our shores beginning round about January 28th, are migrating from parts further north. They are very hungrand are looking for berries, fruit, and small fish.

In early spring, robins begin to disperse from flocks. The ground thaws and worms, insects, and snails once again become part of the robin’s diet. Spring, too, is when we begin to hear the beautiful liquid notes of the male robin. He is singing to attract a mate. The robin’s song is one of the of most beloved and it is his music with which we associate the coming of spring.

With several edits and updates since I first wrote the following article, I think you’ll find the information helpful in knowing what to feed and to plant for the robins.

American Robin Sumac ©Kim Smith 2014Flock of American Robins Eating Sumac, Halibut Point Rockport

Food for the American Robin

During the winter months Cape Ann often becomes home to large flocks of robins, and we have had the joy of hosting numerous numbers in our garden. I can’t help but notice their arrival. Their shadows descend, crisscrossing the window light, followed by a wild rumpus in the ‘Dragon Lady’ hollies. This pair of hollies is planted on opposing sides of the garden path, alongside my home office. I have learned to stealthily sneak up to a window, as any sudden activity inside startles birds that are investigating our garden, and they quickly disperse. Dining not only on berries of the ‘Dragon Ladies’, but also the ‘Blue Princess’ Meserve holly and winterberry bushes, I find dozens of noisy, hungry robins.

These winter nomads flock to trees and shrubs that hold their fruit through January and February, feasting on red cedar, American holly, Meserve hollies, chokecherries, crabapples, sumac, and juniper. Robins traveling along the shores of Cape Ann also comb the shoreline for mollusks, and go belly-deep for fish fry. Depleting their food supply, they move onto the next location. Gardens rife with fruiting shrubs and trees make an ideal destination for our migrating friends.

Year round resident robins will call your garden home when provided with trays of chopped fruit and raisins, supplemented with meal worms.

What to Plant for Robins

The garden designed to attract nesting pairs of summer resident robins, as well as flocks of winter travelers, would be comprised of trees and shrubs for nest building, plants that bear fruit and berries that are edible during the summer and fall, and plants that bear fruits that persist through the winter months. Suburban gardens and agricultural areas provide the ideal habitat, with open fields and lawns for foraging insects as well as trees and hedgerows in which to build their nests.

The following plants, suggested with robins in mind, will also attract legions of songbirds and Lepidoptera. The list is comprised primarily of indigenous species with a few non-native, but not invasive, plants included.

Trees for nesting ~ American Holly (Ilex opaca), Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida).

Summer and autumn fruit bearing trees, shrubs and vines for robins ~ Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), Blackberry (Rubus spp.), Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), Gray Dogwood (C. racemosa), Red-osier Dogwood (C. sericea), Silky Dogwood (C. amomum), Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), Apple (Malus pumila), Virginia Rose (Rosa virginiana), Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), Wild Grape (Vitis spp.).

Trees and shrubs with fruits persisting through winter ~ Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana), Crabapple (Malus spp.)Sargent’s Crabapple (Malus sargentii), American Holly (Ilex opaca), Meserve Hollies (Ilex meserveae), Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Common Juniper (Juniperus communis), Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra), Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina).

American Robin winter crabapple turdus migratorius, americanus ©kim Smith 2015American Robin Eating Crabapples

I Love Sumac

Worms!

The American Robin and Bird Food

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