Monthly Archives: August 2011

Fujifilm x100 Bracketed for Film Simulation

Quechee Gorge, Vermont, photographed two days before Hurricane Irene

Fujifilm x100 Provia

Fujifilm x100 Velvia

Fujifilm x100 Black and White Film Simulation

The snapshots were taken from the overlook at the Trap Door Bakery and Cafe, two days before Hurricane Irene reached New England, on August 27, 2011.

Same view: You Tube video from eringray37 shot on August 28, 2011.

Moving Days (Part One)

Liv moves to Brooklyn to study voice and opera at NYU Steinhardt graduate program.

Liv HauckThe Dreamer

What more could go wrong this month? Both kids totaled a car each and my best camera was left outdoors during a monsoon (saving that tale for another post). Mmmm, let’s see–oh yes, an earthquake occurs while moving Liv into her new apartment in Brooklyn. Although, I could look at as “every cloud has a silver lining,” or in the “glass is half full” vein–with both auto accidents, neither child was maimed or scarred, nor did either child injure another.

Tuesday morning we awoke at 5:oo and were well on our way by 6:30. The trip to Brooklyn was delightfully uneventful. After unloading the car and exploring the neighborhood, we headed over to Ikea for mattress and bookshelves. As we pulled into the parking lot, we were surprised to see hundreds of Ikea staff, clad in their unmissable bright yellow polo shirts, milling around the outside, and with faces buried deep in their cell phones. As Tom tried to pull into Ikea underground parking a furious fellow came charging over animatedly demanding “what are you doing.” Tom replied “parking.” The fellow informed us that an earthquake had occurred. We all three just looked at each other in disbelief and said to ourselves what more can go awry this month?

While waiting for the fire marshall’s ‘all clear’ to allow the store to re-open, we had the opportunity to explore the Erie Basin Park adjacent to Ikea Plaza. The Erie Basin Park is a waterfront walkway and park, and museum of sorts, dedicated to the former use of the site, which was a place with giant berths where mending of great ships took place. The enormous tools, cranes, bolts, and compass are displayed as sculpture and the exhibits are interactive and playful, yet formidable in the way they speak to the great history of the shipping industry.

Erie Basin crane formerly used to move great ships

Ikea remained closed so we drove back to Brooklyn to formulate an alternative plan for locating a mattress. Tom recalled seeing two Ikeas within driving distance of Brooklyn on Googles’ maps and Liv’s friend Dave recommended lunch at the very charming and classic Niçoise restaurant Pates and Traditions–with the most fabulous waitress and dessert–crêpes with homemade chocolate and cream, fresh pears, and almonds.

 Crêpes Helene 

We then headed to the Ikea in Elizabeth, NJ, where we became stuck in a two hour, gridlocked traffic jam at the entrance to the Holland Tunnel. We finally gave up and were fortunately, able to turn around. By this time, the Ikea in Brooklyn had reopened. We just made it there by 7:30, in time to do all our shopping before the 9:00 closing time, otherwise Liv would have spent her first night in her new apartment on the floor. After assembling bed, bookcase, and lamps, we didn’t get back on the road to Gloucester until after 10:00–of course we got lost trying to navigate the parkways out of Brooklyn and arrived home nearly twenty-four hours later. A very long day–our bed has never felt so luxurious as it did that early morning.

The glass really is half-full and we are counting our blessings. Our daughter is living her dream!
Pates Traditions Restaurant
Moving Days (Part Two): Alex Goes to College, see next post.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Emerges During Hurricane Irene

This gorgeous female Black Swallowtail butterfly emerged during Hurricane Irene. What to do when a butterfly ecloses during inclement weather? Take a moment to enjoy it’s beauty close-up, provide food in the way of nectar plants, and wait until the storm abates before releasing.

Newly Emerged Female Black Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio polyxenes)

When to Mow Fields for Butterflies and Beneficial Insects

Recently a design colleague wrote inquiring as to the best time to mow her client’s fields as she was concerned about disrupting the breeding cycle of the Monarch butterfly. I am often asked this question and it is well worth considering, not only for the sake of the Monarchs, but for the survival of the myriad species of butterflies, bees, and other pollinating and beneficial insects that find food and shelter in untilled fields.

Newly Emerged Monarch Butterfly

Dear Laurel,

I generally advise my readers and design clients that own similar untilled fields to alternately mow in stages–half a field at a time. The Monarch is a large, charismatic butterfly with an easily observed life cycle.  The typical field comprised of native (and introduced) wildflowers and grasses creates a rich biodiversity, supporting innumerable species of butterflies and beneficial insects. It is hard to know when exactly to mow for each different species and when to mow for even one single species because, from year to year, depending on many variables including temperature and air currents, the insects breeding times are somewhat variable. For example, this year I have had three broods each of both Monarchs and Black Swallowtails, when in a more typical year I may only have two broods.
Monarch Butterfly Caterpillars Attached to Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)
I think of not too long ago when we were primarily an agrarian society. Farmers then would have mowed different fields at different times during the growing season. A woman in our community, whose field is rife with common milkweed, always mows in late June or early July. Initially I thought that this was perhaps not good practice for the Monarchs, but the thing with Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is that when mown to the ground in early summer, it shoots right back up again. By the time the late July, early August Monarchs have arrived and are breeding in our region, her milkweed has re-sprouted, grown at least a foot, is lush and green, and flowering.
That your client is interested in caring for the flora and fauna that abounds in her fields is wonderful! We want weeds (wildflowers) growing in our fields–they provide food and shelter for benefiel insects and wildlife and also help to retain moisture in the soil.
The single greatest threat to the Monarch butterfly is the use of Monsanto’s Roundup Ready genetically modified corn and soy bean seed, which are designed to tolerate potent does of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup, however, Roundup kills all other surrounding plants and all beneficials insects and their larvae. Additional threats include the extreme weather condiitons caused by climate change, overdevelopment in the US, which has led to loss of habitat, and the unrelenting poverty in rural Mexican villages, which is leading to the deforestation of the butterflies habitat in Michoacán
Monarch Butterfly Chrysalids
At a lecture I attended presented by Doug Tallamy, Professor and Chair of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, he also suggested mowing fields in alternate stages, so we are in good company!
An additional suggestion is to give a corner of your field or garden over to a patch of milkweed, which would then insure a steady supply for the Monarchs. We grow both Common Milkweed and Mash Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) side-by-side. The marsh flowers slightly earlier, attracting earlier Monarchs. The males intently patrol the milkweed patch and after mating, the females flit from flower to leaf, alternatively depositing eggs on both species of milkweeds, while taking sips of nectar from whichever milkweed is in flower.
Kind regards,
Note form Laurel:
Hello Kim,
I have a new client who has both cultivated ornamental gardens, which I am caring for, and open meadows, which she has mown once or twice per season. There is lots of milkweed in the field, with some seedlings sprouting in the garden. We pulled the seedlings and brought them home to later place in a field near where I live. We had them in jars in water and were surprised and delighted when a few days later we discovered 7 tiny Monarch larvae. We have raised them to the butterfly stage and released them. Fascinating! During the process I did some reading about the Monarch and learned that there are 4 or 5 generations each season, with the final butterflies, in September, making the trek to Mexico for the winter, and then flying north in the spring to start the cycle over again. My question is about the timing of the mowing of the fields. If it is mown at any time during the breeding season (May – September?), isn’t the current generation almost or completely wiped out? Do you  know when the best time is to mow for the butterflies? I assume it is late fall, but since the mowing of meadows has been happening for centuries, is it perhaps ok to mow during the season? (or perhaps this is one contributing reason for the demise of these lovely creatures….) Thank you in advance for any info!

Merry Summer Days!

Dear Gardening Friends,

At this time every year readers write in to inquire about the mysterious and startling “furry shrimp” flying in their gardens. Perhaps you have a Hummingbird Clearwing Moth I write back? They are often seen nectaring at our North American native wildflowers bee balm (Monarda didyma) and white flowering summer phlox ‘David’ (Phlox paniculata), as well as the butterfly bushes and Verbena bonariensis.  Scroll down through several posts to see article..

I find August and September are the very best months for butterflies in our region. Only three days into August and this year is not disappointing. And then there is the resplendent light that surrounds here on Cape Ann. Gorgeous, warm, luminous light–I find, too, that August and September are some of the best months for photographing the natural beauty found on Cape Ann.
We had a wonderful turnout at the Sawyer Free Library for my children’s program Butterflies of the World. Not only did we show and tell about the library’s new collection of Neotropic butterflies, but I (very fortunately) had a batch of a dozen or so Black Swallowtail caterpillars, eggs, and chrysalis to share with the children and Moms. I met some fantastic kids–junior naturalists–and parents. Many thanks to Christy Rosso, the Children’s Librarian for all her help!
To Merry Summer Days!
Warmest wishes,

Summer Phlox and Towering Lilies

“At this point, it is the summer phlox and, above all, the towering lilies that are providing the scent in our garden in Milton. And very heady it is, too- especially on still, hot days.”  – My friend David Godine writes of his beautiful garden in Milton, Massachusetts.

I am wonderfully fortunate that Mr. Godine is both my publisher and editor for my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!. Not only does David have a deep love for all things books, he is passionate for gardens and gardening.

 Phlox paniculata ‘David’ and oriental lily, with Hummingbird Clearwing Moth, photographed at the butterfly garden at Willowdale Estate.