Monthly Archives: June 2011

Fujifilm x100 Ferris Wheel Fiesta

Fabulous Ferris Wheel, Gloucester Waterfront, St. Peter’s Fiesta

Ferris Wheel Gloucester St. Peter's Fiesta Fujifilm x100Shutter 1/60, f 2.2, ISO 4000

Ferris Wheel St. Peter's Fiesta Gloucester Fujifilm x100Shutter 1/2, f 14.0, ISO 4000

Ferris Wheel St. Peter's Fiesta Gloucester Fujifilm x100Shutter 125, f 2.o, ISO 4000

Ferris Wheel St. Peter's Fiesta Gloucester Fujifilm x100Shutter 125, f 2.8, ISO 400

Ferris Wheel St. Peter's Fiesta Gloucester Fujifilm x100Shutter 125, f 2.2, ISO 4000

Ferris Wheel St. Peter's Fiesta Gloucester Fujifilm x100Shutter 125, f2.0, ISO 4000Ferris Wheel St. Peter's Fiesta Gloucester Fujifilm x100

Ferris Wheel St. Peter's Fiesta Gloucester Fujifilm x100Shutter 1/60, f 2.5, ISO 4000

Thanks to husband Tom for helping me overcome my fear of heights. I so wanted to see the city from the top of the ferris wheel–stunning, fabulously fun, and all too brief–I didn’t want the ride to end!

Our Beautiful Native Sweet Bay Magnolia

Magnolia virginiana ~ Sweet Bay Magnolia

Located in the heart of Ravenswood Park in Gloucester there is a stand of Magnolia virginiana growing in the Great Magnolia Swamp. It is the only population of Magnolia virginiana known to grow this far north. I took one look at the native sweet bay magnolia and breathed in the fresh lemon-honeysuckle scent of the blossoms, fell in love, and immediately set out to learn all I could about this graceful and captivating tree. Recently having returned from a trip to visit my family in northern Florida, I had tucked the bud of a Magnolia grandiflora into my suitcase. I was dreaming of someday having a garden large enough to accommodate a Magnolia grandiflora and was overjoyed to discover the similarities between M. virginiana and M. grandiflora. For those not familiar with the Southern magnolia, it is a grand, imposing specimen in the landscape, growing up to fifty feet in the cooler zones five and six, and one hundred feet plus in the southern states. M. grandiflora is the only native magnolia that is reliably evergreen in its northern range, flowering initially in the late spring and sporadically throughout the summer. The creamy white flowers, enormous and bowl-shaped (ten to twelve inches across), emit a delicious, heady sweet lemon fragrance.

Sweetbay Magnolia virginiana Gloucester Massachusetts

In contrast, the flowers of the sweetbay magnolia are smaller, ivory white, water-lily cup shaped, and sweetly scented of citrus and honeysuckle. The leaves are similar in shape to the Magnolia grandiflora, ovate and glossy viridissimus green on the topside, though they are more delicate, and lack the leathery toughness of the Southern magnolia. The lustrous green above and the glaucous silvery green on the underside of the foliage creates a lovely ornamental bi-color effect as the leaves are caught in the seasonal breezes.

Sweetbay Magnolia virginiana bud Gloucester Massachusetts

Magnolia virginiana is an ideal tree for a small garden in its northern range growing to roughly twenty feet compared to the more commanding height of a mature Southern magnolia. Sweet bay grows from Massachusetts to Florida in coastal freshwater wetland areas as an understory tree. The tree can be single- or multi-stemmed. Sweet bay is a stunning addition to the woodland garden with an open form, allowing a variety of part-shade loving flora to grow beneath the airy canopy. The leaves are a larval food for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. Almost immediately after planting we began to notice the swallowtails gliding from the sunny borders of the front dooryard, where an abundance of nectar-rich flowers are planted specifically to attract butterflies, around to the shady border in the rear yard where our sweet bay is located.

Our garden is continually evolving and part of our garden has given way to a limited version of a woodland garden, for the shady canopy created by the ever-growing ceiling of foliage of our neighbor’s trees has increasingly defined our landscape. We sited our Magnolia virginiana in our diminutive shaded woodland border where we can observe the tree from the kitchen window while standing at the kitchen sink. Gazing upon the tree bending and swaying gracefully in the wind, displaying its shifting bi-color leaves, provides a pleasant view when tending daily chores and the dreamy fragrance emitted from freshly opened blossoms make the chores all that less tiresome.

Excerpt from “Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!” Notes from a Gloucester Garden (David R. Godine Publisher), written and illustrated by Kim Smith.

Magnolia virginiana in Gloucester, Massachusetts

Magnolia virginiana in Massachusetts written by Peter Del Tredici.

Sweetbay Magnolia virginiana Gloucester Massachusetts Fujifilm x100


The sweet bay magnolia swamp in Gloucester, Massachusetts has been a botanical shrine since its discovery in 1806. Early New England naturalists and botanists of all types, from Henry David Thoreau to Asa Gray, made pilgrimages to the site of this northern- most colony of Magnolza virginiana. The local residents of Gloucester were so impressed with a “southern”plant growing this far north that they changed the name oft he Kettle Cove section of the town to Magnolia in the mid-1800s. It is probably no coincidence that this name change occurred at the same time the area was starting up its tourist trade.

In addition to its isolation, the Gloucester Magnolia population was remarkable for having escaped notice until 1806 in an area that was settled in 1623. This fact has led at least one author to speculate that the colony was not wild but escaped from a cultivated plant (Anonymous, 1889). However, the overwhelming consensus of earlier botanists is that the population is, in fact, native. Whatever its origin, the swamp remains today the unique and mysterious place it has been for almost 200 years.

Very little has been written about the magnolia swamp in recent years. The latest, and best, article about it was wntten by Dr George Kennedy, and appeared in 1916 in Rhodora, the Journal of the New England Botanical Club. Dr. Kennedy summarized the history of the stand, and cleared up the confusion about who discovered it by publishing a letter he found, written by the Honorable Theophilus Parsons to the Reverend Manassah Cutler in 1806. The letter captures the emotion of the moment of discovery:

Reverend and Dear Sir:

In riding through the woods in Gloucester, that are between Kettle Cove and Fresh Water Cove I discovered a flower to me quite new and unexpected in our forests. This was last Tuesday week [July 22, 1806]. A shower approaching prevented my leaving the carriage for examination, but on my return, on Friday last, I collected several of the flowers, in different stages, with the branches and leaves, and on inspection it is unquestionably the Magnolia glauca Mr. Epes Sargent has traversed these woods for flowers and not having discovered it, supposes it could not have been there many years. It was unknown to the people of Gloucester and Manchester until I showed it to them. I think you have traversed the same woods herborizing. Did you dis-cover it? If not, how long has it been there? It grows in a swamp on the western or left side of the road as you go from Manchester to Gloucester, and before you come to a large hill over which the road formerly passed. It is so near the road as to be visible even to the careless eye of the traveler. Supposing the knowledge of this flower, growing so far north, might gratify you, I have made this hasty communication.

Your humble servant, Theoph. Parsons

To read Mr. Del Tredici’s fascinating article in full click here Magnolia virginiana in Massachusetts, including an excerpt from when Henry David Thoreau visited the swamp and wrote about it in his Journal.

Peter Del Tredici is a Senior Research Assistant at the Arnold Arboretum and Lecturer at Harvard Graduate School of Design. Peter writes the following for the Arnold Arboretum: “My research interests are wide ranging and mainly involve the interaction between woody plants and their environment. Over the course of thirty plus years at the Arnold Arboretum, I have worked with a number of plants, most notably Ginkgo biloba, conifers in the genera Tsuga and Sequoia, various magnolias, and several Stewartia species (family Theaceae). In all of my work, I attempt to integrate various aspects of the botany and ecology of a given species with the horticultural issues surrounding its propagation and cultivation. This fusion of science and practice has also formed the basis of my teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (since 1992), especially as it relates to understanding the impacts of climate change and urbanization on plants in both native and designed landscapes. Most recently, the focus of my research has expanded to the subject of spontaneous urban vegetation which resulted in the publication of “Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast: A Field Guide” (Cornell University Press, 2010).”

Willowdale Estate Peacock

Driving into Willowdale this morning I encountered our neighborhood Indian Blue Peacock. Daily sightings have been reported and the entryway sign is his choice perch. The Fujifilm x100 performed remarkably, despite the lack of sunlight and steady drizzle.

From wiki: Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus, a resident breeder in South Asia. The peacock is designated as the national bird of India and the provincial bird of the Punjab. The term peafowl can refer to the two species of bird in the genus Pavo of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. Peafowl are best known for the male’s extravagant tail, which it displays as part of courtship. The male is called a peacock, and the female a peahen. The female peafowl is brown or toned grey and brown.

 Peacock Fujifilm x100

 Peacock Fujifilm x100Peacock Fujifilm x100

More from Eastern Point Garden Tour

A dozen, or more, carved wooden heads, each unique, adorning the unions where posts meets lintel.Eastern Point Yacht Club Garden Tour

Eastern Point Yacht Club Garden Tour

Eastern Point Yacht Club Garden Tour

Eastern Point Yacht Club Garden TourEastern Point Yacht Club Garden Tour

Snapshots from Eastern Point Yacht Club Garden Tour

Thank you Good Morning Gloucester blog for posting the flyer for the Eastern Point Yacht Club Garden Tour. I am so wrapped up in work and would have missed it otherwise. I could only get away for the last several hours of the tour and did not get to see all. From what I did see, English cottage garden and English country manner is the dominant style, with a heavy reliance on plants originating from Europe and Asia. I am always on the look out for design inspiration, particularly a creative and natural use of native plants, however, all the gardens were lovely and beautifully maintained. Often put forth is the argument that older American homes need be planted with popular European and Asian plants in order to maintain historical accuracy. Many of the estates along Boston’s North Shore were built during the period of the late 1800’s through the first several decades of the 20th century, when in fact, a great passion for native plants and wildflowers, and their use in the landscape, developed amongst home owners and landscape professionals alike.

Eastern Point Yacht Club Garden Tour Gloucester MA

Eastern Point Yacht Club Garden Tour Gloucester MA

Eastern Point Yacht Club Garden Tour Gloucester MA

Lonicera 'Firecracker' Eastern Point Yacht Club Garden Tour Gloucester MAThis beautifully growing and vigorous specimen of native Lonicera ‘Firecracker’ is a wonderful hummingbird magnet

Eastern Point Yacht Club Garden Tour Gloucester MA

Eastern Point Yacht Club Garden Tour Gloucester MA

Eastern Point Yacht Club Garden Tour Gloucester MAEuropean Copper Beech

Fujifilm x100 Butterflies!

I had planned to use my x100 for nearly everything–except butterflies and songbirds–what a pleasant surprise! Jpgs straight from the camera.

With an average wingspan of just under 1.5,” and because the butterfly was so well camouflaged in the  leaf litter, the x100 struggled to focus, but I and it persevered and eventually got an acceptable identifying shot. This is a problem I have often encountered when photographing small butterflies on the wing, whether using my Canon DSLR or very fast Panasonic Lumix.

Common Ringlet butterfly (Coenonympha tullia)    Common Ringlet (Coenonympha tullia) Shutter 200, Aperture f3/6, ISO 200

Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) Fujifilm x100Question Mark (Polygonia interrogationis) Shutter 200, f3/2, ISO 400