Category Archives: Antennae for Design

DESIGN INSPIRATION – DUXBURY’S PERFECT TREE

My daughter Liv and I love to just hop in the car and go exploring along the coast. Far off in the distance we passed this extraordinarily beautiful tree and I just had to take a few snapshots. Isn’t the shape stunning!?! We took lots of photos wherever we stopped and will try to find the time to post later this week.

Edited update: After Googling around, this tree is well-known as the ‘Perfect Tree’ and also the ‘Gumdrop Tree.’ The Perfect Tree has been pruned to its perfect shape and may be an American Linden it possibly a Copper Beach. I’m looking for more information and will contact the Duxbury Historical Society 🙂

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 2015Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -1 w ©Kim Smith 2015Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -4 w ©Kim Smith 2015Looking 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 pem.org/stickwork.

Patrick Dougherty Stickwork Peabody Essex -9 w ©Kim Smith 2015The birdhouses are made of saplings from unwanted wood such as Norway maple and buckthorn.

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

SEE MORE PHOTOS HERE Continue reading

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 program 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

Dreaming of Spring Ephemerals at the Mary Prentiss Inn!

Spring Tulips Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge MA. ©Kim Smith 2014JPGLoads of earth-moving in the fall equals a world of beauty in the spring. Thanks to my awesome crew, Patrick from the Mary Prentiss Inn and Jackson from the Kendall Hotel!

Jackson and Patrick Mary Prentiss Inn ©Kim Smith 2014jpg copy

The Mary Prentiss Inn is truly the most welcoming of guest houses and yesterday while there planting the smell of the cook’s apple muffins baking wafted through the garden. A bit later, plates of warm muffins greeted guests; I couldn’t resist when offered. They were divine and are without a doubt the best muffins I’ve ever tasted! I’ve been promised the recipe and can’t wait to give it a go and to share!

mary-prentiss-inn-c2a9kim-smith-2013

For more information on the project, visit my Design Projects page here.

Link to The Mary Prentiss Inn here.

Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow

Niles Pond Gloucester ©Kim Smith 2014Niles Pond ~ Rose Mallow Natural Habitat

Reader Allen Sloane writes:

It was a pleasure to meet and talk with you on Saturday.

Thanks for all the info on poke weeds. My dog doesn’t seem to have any interest in the berries so some day I’ll get around to removing it.

Last night I went to look at it and right next to it is this plant which has decided to blossom. I have seen a couple of other plants in the neighborhood so I don’t know if they are from seed or it is a cultural decision to grow them. Be my guest if you want to answer via your daily post.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAbove photo courtesy Allen Sloane

Hi Allen,

The gorgeous flower in the photo that you sent is the North American native Hibiscus moscheutos, also known by many common names, including rose mallow, swamp mallow, eastern rosemallow, and crimson-eyed rose mallow. Crimson-eyed rose mallow blooms in shades of pure white to cheery pink and deepest rose red.

To answer your question, the seeds are dispersed by birds, and they are also readily available in nurseries. Locally, Wolf Hill always has a lovely selection. I plant rose mallows widely in my client’s native plants gardens as well as in Arts and Crafts period gardens because they are beautiful, easily tended, and are a terrific source of nectar for ruby-throated hummingbirds. H. moscheutos grow beautifully along marsh edges as well as in gardens. There’s a sweet patch growing at Niles Pond, and I am sure we would see many more if phragmites weren’t supplanting all our marsh wildflowers.

We planted a patch at the HarborWalk, but sadly they were stolen. Next year I am hoping we can replace the lost plants!

Rose Mallow Marsh Mallow ©Kim Smith 2013Rose Mallow Growing at Niles Pond

The following is an excerpt from an article that I wrote awhile back, titled “Growing Native:”

Crimson-eyed Rose mallow ©Kim Smith 2010Crimson-eyed Rose Mallow

“…Throughout the American Arts and Crafts movement, and well into the 1930’s, home and garden magazines, among the most influential sources of ideas for the homeowner, espoused the use of native plants in the landscape. Perhaps the most notable was Gustav Stickley’s The Craftsman, which was published for fifteen years, beginning in 1901. Stickley revered the North American white oak (Quercus alba), admiring it for its majestic role in the eastern forest and for its unique strength and figuring of the wood for furniture making. A sense of connectedness to nature is at the heart of the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement and the popular writing of the era reflects how to create this relationship.

I am reminded of a lovely and memorable cover of Country Living for the September 1905 issue featuring a drift of rose mallows (Hibiscus moscheutos), which resemble and are closely related to hollyhocks (Alcea rosea). Both are members of the Malvaceae or Mallow Family. Hibiscus moscheutos are commonly referred to as crimson-eyed rose mallow and also marsh mallow, because the roots were used to make marshmallows. Rose mallows are a practical and economical native perennial as they reliably return year after year, unlike hollyhocks, although charming and beautiful, are short-lived (with the exception of Alcea rugosa). Rose mallows bloom in shades of pale pink to deeper rosey pink, from July through the first frost. Although found growing in marshy areas along stream and river banks, rose mallows will flourish in the garden when provided with rich moist soil and planted in a sunny location. New growth is slow to emerge in the spring. When cutting back the expired stalks after the first hard frost of autumn, leave a bit of the woody stalk to mark its spot for the following year. The leaves of Hibiscus moscheutos are a host plant for the Gray Hairstreak butterfly and the flowers provide nectar for Ruby-throated hummingbirds.”

 

 

Apple Street Farm

Apple Street Farm ©Kim Smith 2014Located in Essex, conveniently only a few scenic miles off Route 128, every Saturday from 10am to 2pm the farmstand at Apple Street Farm is open for business. Stopping for fabulous and fresh organically fed free-range eggs, heirloom veggies, fruits, and herbs has become a favorite Saturday morning ritual.

Apple Street Farm tomatoes ©Kim Smith 2014Frank McClelland is the owner of Apple Street Farm. Not only that, he is also the proprietor and chef of one of Boston’s most beloved and famous restaurants, L’Espalier. Apple Street Farm is the primary source of produce, poultry, pork and eggs for L’Espalier.

Apple Street Farm -2 ©Kim Smith 2014Each month throughout the summer and fall Apple Street Farm celebrates seasonal harvests with special dinners held on the farm’s spacious lawn. The five-course dinner is prepared by the L’Espalier chefs and includes cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and wine pairings. September 5th and 6th is the Fire Pit Fiesta and October 3rd and 4th is the Essex Harvest Feast. Call L’Espalier to make a reservation at 617-262-3023.

Apple Street Farm Pick Your Own ©Kim Smith 2014Pick You Own Flowers

Apple Street Farm hummingbird ©Kim Smith 2014Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird in the Zinnia Patch

Apple Street Farm Goldfinch and Cosmos ©Kim Smith 2014American Goldfinch Eating Cosmos Seeds-A Great Reason NOT to Deadhead!

Farm and poultry shares are available from June through September. For more information about Apple Street Farm’s CSA program, visit their website here.

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Photographing the Nubian goats was a delight. The little ones are very playful and affectionate and, when first let out of their pen in the morning, are super rambunctious. Apple Street Farm’s manger Phoebe explains that Nubian goats are great milking goats and wiki informs that Nubians are known for the high butterfat content of their milk.

Apple Street Farm  Nubian Goat Eating apple©Kim Smith 2014Apples for Breakfast

Apple Street Farm  Nubian Goats ©Kim Smith 2014The Nubians climbed upon each other to reach the fruit and seeds.

Apple Street Farm Eating Catalpa Seeds ©Kim Smith 2014Nubian Goat Eating Catalpa Seedpods

Apple Street Farm Nubian Gots airborn ©Kim Smith 2014JPGSEE MOE PHOTOS HERE Continue reading

Snapshots from Whirlwind 24 Hours in NYC

UN Headquarters Dove of Peace ©Kim Smith 2014UN Headquarters, NYC

Wednesday and Thursday were spent on a whirlwind trip to NYC for my husband Tom to meet with literary agents.

Giovanni rana ©Kim Smith 2014Upon arriving Wednesday night, our daughter Liv took us to a wonderful Italian restaurant at Chelsea Market, Giovanni Rana Pastificio and Cucina, which specializes in pasta dishes. Every bite of every dish was out-of-this-world delish however, she and I both agreed that the Squid Ink Linguine, Broccoli Rabe, and Lobster entrée was extra-extraordinary.
Giovanni Rana squid ink pasta broccoli rabe lobster ©Kim Smith 2014

After dinner we explored the HighLine, which is only a short walk from the Market and is especially festive and fun at dusk.HighLine Skyline ©Kim Smith 2014

View from the HighLine

HighLine Night NYC ©Kim Smith 2014The HighLine was bustling with young couples, old couples, families, friends meeting for dinner and drinks after work, and tourists, too. The gardens are exquisitely maintained and beautiful any time of year, day or night. How well the gardens are cared for is reflected in how very much they are enjoyed by visitors. The HighLine gardens are so appreciated that they even illuminate the flowers!Coneflowers HighLine night ©Kim Smith 2014Chrysler Building night Highline ©Kim Smith 2014

View of the Chrysler Building from the HighLine

The following morning, Thursday, I walked around Tudor City Parks in the UN headquarter’s neighborhood and then took Liv to a charming French restaurant near the theatre where she works.

Eastern Redbud foliage Cercis canadensis ©Kim Smith 2014Bold and beautiful heart-shaped foliage of our native Redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) at the Tudor City Greens

The trip was too brief but very successful though I have to warn our readers that if you are traveling by car to New York City, the construction traffic homeward in the northbound lanes was horrendous, on both Routes 15 and 95. It took us seven hours to get home!

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Lambrusco %22Pruno Nero%22 Cleto Chiarli ©Kim Smith 2014 copy

If you go to Giovanni Rana Pastificio and Cucina, you have to try their Lambrusco “Pruno Nero” Cleto Chiarli, a wonderful sparkling red wine that is round and flavorful of fruit and berries, but not at all sweet. The color is an inky purple red and the wine is equally as rich tasting as its hue. Lambrusco “Pruno Nero” Cleto Chiarli is not your grandfather’s Lambrusco.

Lambrusco Pruno Nero is definitely worth seeking out and makes a refreshing summer beverage. I’ll mention it to Kathleen at Savour Wine and Cheese and perhaps she’ll give it a try at the shop. We’ll let you know if she does.

Fringetree on Rocky Neck ~ American Native Beauty in Our Midst

Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus  Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014jpgFringetree (Chionanthus virginicus)

Fringetree (Chionanthus virginicus), the American native small tree, is so rarely planted today. Trees and plants trend at nurseries and, unfortunately, Fringetree has become one of those beauties that we need reminding of its great merits. The above specimen can be seen today in full glorious bloom on Rocky Neck, across the street from Judith and Gordon Goetmann’s Gallery. The botanical name translates lossely as snow flower, aptly describing the fluffy panicles covering the Fringetree when in bloom.

Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus Rocky Neck Gloucester MA -2 ©Kim Smith 2014The sweetly scented airy blossoms are attractive to bees and butterflies and the ripened fruits are a wonderful food source for songbirds and small mammals. In autumn, the foliage turns a brilliant clear golden yellow. Fringetree grows from Canada to the Gulf Coast, and famously tolerates air pollution, making it ideal for urban landscapes. Grow Fringetree in sun to part sun, in moist fertile soil. At maturity, the tree tops out at twelve to twenty feet high and equally as wide.

The one negative is that Fringetree is slow to leaf out in spring, with a tendency to look dry and woody. Don’t plant it with your spring ephemerals and you won’t notice!

Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus  Gloucester MA -2 ©Kim Smith 2014Fringetrees are dioecious, which means they have separate male and female plants, similar to hollies. Some flowers are “perfect,” meaning they have male and female parts. The male’s flowers are showier than the females, and the female and perfect flowers give way to blackish-blue fruit in late summer. Chionanthus virginicus is a member of the Oleaceae, or Olive Family, and the fruits of Fringetree are similar looking to that of Olea eruopea, the olive tree cultivated throughout the Mediterranean, Africa and Asia for its edible fruit.

I ran into Anne Malvaux while photographing the Rocky Neck Fringetree and she reports that she doesn’t recall seeing any fruit, which means it is most likely a male of the species, or that the fruit is so delicious it is quickly devoured by wildlife (often the case with native trees and shrubs). Or if it is a female and doesn’t bear fruit, it may because there is no males growing nearby. We’ll have a another look in late summer.

Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus Rocky Neck Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014

Orange Poppies in the Rain

Planter Urn with spring flowers ©Kim Smith 2014jpg copyWednesday while planting at Willowdale in the on-again off-again rain, the luminesce orange of the crinkly tissue paper-like poppy petals kept catching my eye. They seemed especially incandescent juxtaposed against the drizzly gray light. I don’t really mind planting in the rain for a few hours and actually much prefer it to the heat of planting at mid-day on warm sunny days. The only thing with planting in the rain is that on long, non-stop nine- to ten-hour planting days, I get very chilled, which leads to a tired muddy mess that arrives home to my husband, who has actually been looking forward to my coming home. “Please don’t talk to me,” I say when first arriving but, after a solid half hour soak in a steamy tub, I cheer up and am ready to converse and get dinner underway.

orange iceland poppy ©Kim Smith 2014Look at all these buds yet to come!

We planted this urn back on May 1st, and it has filled out handsomely. The sweet peas are climbing up the pussy willow basket handles and their fragrance, along with the scent of the dianthus, Viola ‘Etain’ and sweet alyssum is really very enchanting. From one initial bud to dozens still yet to come, going on six weeks now this little poppy plant just keeps on bestowing her gift of great beauty!

may-basket-c2a9kim-smith-2014-copyMay First May Basket

Pure Whimsy!

Revelation. Productions Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2014What a treat to see Willowdale’s event tent decorated in Anthony D’Elia’s wonderfully fun and whimsical design for Thursday’s “Power of the Purse!” Upon arriving, I felt as though I had stepped into a Georges Lepape French fashion illustration from the early 1900s, when Orientalism was all the rage and summer garden fêtes were decorated in kind, and to the nines.Revelation Productions Design Willowdale Estate

Anthony D'Elia Revelations Productions ©Kim Smith 2014 copyThe morning after the event, while the Willowdale Estate crew and I were installing a new embroidered velvet curtain for the tent, I had the opportunity to meet Anthony as he and his staff were dismantling the decor. Anthony and his company, Revelation Productions, are responsible for many of the most stunning and beautifully produced special events held at Willowdale and venues throughout the North Shore and New England. Their creative and technical event services included imaginative décor, custom audio design, full spectrum video services, and gorgeous lighting. Visit their website for more information about Revelation Productions here.

gazette_du_bon_ton_1913_n6_avril_georges_lepape_des_ombrelles_

The first two photos show how the parasols and lighting looked in daylight; below you can see how they appeared after sunset. I wasn’t the only one utterly captivated by the décor and Anthony received high praise from Briar, the Willowdale staff, and all attendees for his magical parasol and branch design.parasols -2 ©Kim Smith 2014

Revelations Productions Parasols Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2014. copyBriar Forsythe, proprietor of Willowdale Estate, donated the tent, her signature refreshments, and stellar staff to the “Power of the Purse,” as did Anthony donate his time and décor to the event. Visit Willowdale Estate’s website here.

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Georges Lepape (1887-1971) was a French fashion designer and illustrator, engraver, poster artist, book illustrator, costume, and textile designer. He collaborated and designed many covers for leading magazines of the day including Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, Femina, and The Art Sheets. See several more Georges Lepape illustrations here: Continue reading

Top Ten Tips for Attracting and Supporting Native Bees

Bees, butterflies, and songbirds bring a garden to life, with their grace in movement and ephemeral beauty.Bee and Monarch Butterfly ©Kim Smith 2012

Many of the plants that are the most highly attractive to butterflies are also the most appealing to bees, too!

Bees are also a “keystone organism,” which means they are critical to maintaining the sustainability and productivity of many types of ecosystems. Without bees, most flowering plants would become extinct, and fruit and seed eating birds and mammals (such as ourselves) would have a much less healthy and varied diet.

Native bees come in an array of beautiful colors, size, and shapes. Some are as small as one eighth of an inch and others as large as one inch. They may wear striped suits of orange, red, yellow, or white, or shimmer in coats of metallic iridescene. Their names often reflect the way in which they build their nests, for example, carpenter bees, leafcutter bees, mason bees, plasterer bees, digger bees, and wool carder bees.

Approximately 4,000 species of native bees have been identified north of Mexico. They are extremely efficient pollinators of tomatoes, apples, berries, pumpkins, watermelons, and many other crops.

Native Bee Pollinating Apricot Tree ©Kim Smith 2009Native Carpenter Bee and Apricot Tree

Listed below are what I have found to be the most successful tips for supporting and attracting native bees to your garden.

1). Choose plants native to North America. Over millennia, native bees have adapted to native plants. If planting a non-native plant, do not plant invasive aliens, only well-behaved ornamentals.

2). Choose non-chemical solutions to insect problems, in other words, do not use herbicides or pesticides.

3). Choose plants that have a variety of different flowers shapes to attract a variety of bees, both long-tongued and short-tongued bees.

4). Avoid “fancy” plants, the hybrids that have been deveolped with multiple double frilly layers. This only confuses bees when they are looking for nectar and gathering pollen.

5). Provide a succession of nectar-rich and pollen bearing blooms throughout the growing season. Select plants that flower during the earliest spring, during the summer months, and until the first hard frost.

6.) Plant a clover lawn, or throw some clover seed onto your existing grass lawn to create a mixed effect.

7.) Bee Friendly–bees only sting when provoked. When encountering an angry bee, stay calm and walk away slowly.

8.) Plant lots of blue, purple, and yellow flowers, a bees favorite colors.

9). Provide a source of pesticide-free water and mud in your bee paradise.

The first nine tips are for any garden, large or small. The last is for people with larger land areas.

10). Establish hedgerows, or clumps of native woody shrubs and trees, and wildflower fields. Contact the USDA NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Services) for available funding opportunities.

Tomorrow I’ll post our top ten native plants for attracting and supporting native bees.

Cornus alternifolia ©Kim Smith 2009One of the most elegant of all native trees is the not-widely planted Cornus alternifolia, or Pagoda Dogwood. Where ever I plant this tree of uncommon grace and beauty it becomes a magnet for all manner of bees and butterflies.

Why Bees Are Disappearing and More Importantly, HOW YOU CAN HELP~ Marla Spivak TED Talk

MUST SEE! ~a timely, informative talk accompanied by stunning photos!

Bee and Sunflower ©Kim Smith 2013

Design Inspiration ~ Iceland Poppies

Iceland Poppies ©Kim Smith 2013 copyIceland Poppies 

Driving home at dusk and coming from a client’s in Beverly Farms, I passed this gorgeous poppy-filled window box at Gladstone’s jewelry shop on Union Street in Manchester, and just had to stop and take a snapshot. I thought the poppies would be beautiful in full sun, too, and made sure to drive the same route the next sunny day.

Iceland Poppies sunny day ©Kim Smith 2013 copyIceland Poppies (Papaver nudicaule)

Lecture Tuesday Night at the Seaside Garden Club

Lecture Tuesday night, April 9, at 7:30 at the Manchester Community Center: Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden.

Cabbage White Butterflies mating in Cornus florida ©Kim Smith 2009

Cabbage White Butterflies Mating in the Native Flowering Dogwood Foliage 

The lecture tonight is based on the book of the same name, which I wrote and illustrated. In it I reveal how to create the framework, a living tapestry of flora, fauna, and fragrance that establishes the soul of the garden. Using a selection of plant material that eliminates the need for pesticides and herbicides, and guided by the plants forms, hues, and horticultural demands, we discuss how to create a succession of blooms from April through November. This presentation is as much about how to visualize your garden, as it is about particular trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, and annuals. Illuminated with photographs, and citing poetry and quotations from Eastern and Western cultural influences, this presentation engages us with an artist’s eye while drawing from practical experience.

For a complete lit of my 2013 – 2014 programs and workshops, visit the Programs and Lectures page of my blog.

Cecropia Moth ©Kim Smith 20009

The Cecropia Moth, or Robin Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is the largest moth found in North America, with a wingspan of up to six inches. He is perched on the foliage of our beautiful native Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay Magnolia), one of several of the caterpillar’s food plants. You can tell that he is a male because he has large, feathery antennae, or plumos, the better for detecting scent hormones released by the female. This photo was taken in our garden in early June.

The Manchester Community Center is located at 40 Harbor Point, Manchester.

Thank you Anna and James Eaves for Hosting the First Ever GMG–FOB–Cape Ann Gilcee Photography Show!

GMG-Cape Ann Giclee ©Kim Smith 2013

Snapshots from last night’s fabulously fun opening at Cape Ann Giclee.

Madeline and Joey GMG-Cape Ann Giclee ©Kim Smith 2013Eaves Family GMG-Cape Ann Giclee ©Kim Smith 2013

Eaves Family left to right ~ Yianni, Anna, Dimitri, and James

Thank you Anna and James Eaves for hosting the First Ever Good Morning Gloucester/FOB/Cape Ann Gilcee photography show, running now through April 7th. The quality of work in the show is simply outstanding. Come on over and have a look, meet Anna and James, and learn about the services Cape Ann Giclee provides for all your photography and fine art reproduction needs. Cape Ann Giclee is open Monday through Friday from 10am to 5pm. While the GMG show is up through April 7th, they are also open on Saturdays from 10am to 5pm.

Atticus and Meadow GMG-Cape Ann Giclee ©Kim Smith 2013

Craig and Joey GMG-Cape Ann Giclee ©Kim Smith 2013Craig and Joey

Atticus and Meadow butterfly GMG-Cape Ann Giclee ©Kim Smith 2013Atticus and Meadow

Congratulations Emily Forshay Crowley-Winner of Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!

Dear Friends,

I truly wish I could give each and everyone of you who wrote your thoughtful and cherished comments a copy of Oh Garden. Thank you.

Warmest wishes for a joy-filled holiday season and many thanks again for your participation.

Kim

Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! .jpg

Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! On sale for 15.00 at David R. Godine, Publisher

Win a FREE Copy of Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail©Kim Smith 2010

Tuesday through Friday of this week I will be bringing you expert gardening advice excerpted from my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester GardenMy book is currently on sale on my publisher’s website (David R. Godine) for the unheard of price of 15.00 (the list price is 35.00.) In response to Godine’s super sale, I am offering a free copy of my book.

Leave a comment or question on any of the posts by Friday at 8PM to be entered into the drawing to win. Multiple entries are allowed. One person will be chosen at random. The book will be shipped on Monday, the 17th, which should allow time for it to arrive by Christmas. Shipping is included to addresses within the United States and Canada.

Praise for Oh Garden: Smith’s writing is lithe and clean and her experiences in conjuring beauty out of her garden in Gloucester make for excellent reading.
Hawk and Whippoorwill

Excerpt from Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Part One: Creating the Framework, Chapte Three ~ Planting in Harmony with Nature

Magnolia virginiana ~ Sweetbay 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 sweetbay magnolias known to grow this far north. I took one look at the native sweetbay magnolia and breathed in the fresh lemon-honeysuckle bouquet of the blossoms, fell in love, and immediately set out to learn all I could about this graceful and captivating tree.

Magnolia virginiana ©Kim Smith 2012 copy

Returning from a trip to visit my family in northern Florida, I had tucked the bud of a the Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) into my suitcase to paint upon my return. I was dreaming of someday having a garden large enough to accommodate a Magnolia grandiflora and was elated to discover how similar our sweetbay magnolia is to the Southern magnolia. 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 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.

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 rich 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.

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. M. virginiana grows from Massachusetts to Florida in coastal freshwater wetland areas as an understory tree. The tree can be single- or multi-stemmed. Sweetbay 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 sweetbay is located.

Garden designs are continually evolving. 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 neighboring trees has increasingly defined our landscape. We sited our Magnolia virginiana in the center of our diminutive shaded woodland garden 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 to daily chores.

See Tuesday’s excerpt about pear trees

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail ©Kim Smith 2010Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Win a FREE Copy of Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!

Tuesday through Friday of this week I will be bringing you expert gardening advice excerpted from my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester GardenMy book is currently on sale on my publisher’s website (David R. Godine) for the unheard of price of 15.00 (the list price is 35.00.) In response to Godine’s super sale, I am offering a free copy of my book.

Leave a comment or question on any of the posts by Friday at 8PM to be entered into the drawing to win. Multiple entries are allowed. One person will be chosen at random. The book will be shipped on Monday, the 17th, which should allow time for it to arrive by Christmas. Shipping is included to addresses within the United States and Canada.

 

Praise for Oh Garden! from The Boston Globe’s Carol Stocker ~ Oh Garden! is a treasure, and perhaps the best garden gift book of the season. Both dream-like and practical, it captures the gardener’s journey by integrating personal essays, hand’s-on advice, and paintings.
—The Boston Globe

Monarch Butterflies Mating ©Kim Smith 2010.jpgA Pair of Monarchs Mating in Our Pear Trees 

Excerpt from Part One: Creating the Framework, Chapter One

He who plants pears, Plants for heirs

Pyrus communis, or common European pear, is not seen growing in the wild. The cultivated pears as we know them today are thought to be derived from Pyrus nivalis and P. caucasia. Few pears ripen well on the tree and that may be one reason they have not been grown as extensively in America as apples and peaches, although apple and peach trees are not as long lived as pear trees. A healthy pear tree can live and bear fruit for several centuries.

The trick to harvesting pears is to pick them as they are ripening, while they are still quite firm. If you wait until the flesh yields with pressure on the outside, the fruit will be rotted inside. Each individual variety of pears has an estimated ripening date from when the tree blooms. Note the date when the tree begins to flower and count the days forward to the approximate ripening time. The quality of the soil, where the tree is sited, as well as changes in the weather from year to year will influence the number of days until the pears are ready to be harvested. Bearing in mind that this is only an approximation, begin monitoring the fruit closely as the day approaches. Nearing the correct time of harvest, the color of the fruit will begin to change. For example, the ‘Beurre Bosc’ begins to turn a light golden yellow beneath its russet skin. Carefully hold the stem of the pear in one hand and the fruit-bearing spur in the other hand. Gently twist with an upward turn. Remove the pear and stem, not the bumpy, fruit-bearing spur. It takes several years for a spur to develop, and if damaged or accidentally harvested with the pear, the crop will be significantly decreased the following year.

Stack the fruit in the coldest section of a refrigerator and store for several weeks. After two to three weeks, remove a pear or two and let it ripen at room temperature for several days. At this point the pear will ideally be fully ripe and ready to eat. Depending on the cultivar, pears will keep for weeks to several months when kept well chilled.

My Book On SALE for ONLY 15.00!!! “Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden”

Just in time for your holiday gift giving, my book, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden, which I both wrote and illustrated, is on sale on my publisher’s website for only 15.00. The price is unbeatable as the list cost is 35.00.  Oh Garden! makes an ideal gift for the garden-maker and nature lover on your holiday gift list and at this price, I recommend you buy one for yourself and one for a friend!

Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! .jpg

Praise for Oh Garden ~

Anyone who gardens along the Eastern Seaboard from Maine to South Carolina will appreciate Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! (David R. Godine, $35). This book is filled with design ideas and plants that work well in this coastal region, as author and garden designer Kim Smith relates her experiences with her garden in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The first part of the book, “Creating the Framework,” delves into trees, shrubs, and other elements for creating structure in the garden, while the second section addresses how to fill out the framework to create a harmonious living tapestry in your garden. —Viveka Neveln, The American Gardener

Oh Garden! is a 250 page hardcover book crammed full of the most excellent gardening advice you will find anywhere, guiding you through the four seasons, and woven throughout with over 85 illustrations, and fabulous plant lists. All week I will be bringing you excerpts from my book, with more praises from The Boston Globe and other literary reviewers.

TWO NOT-Outrageously Priced Eye Glass Solutions

Solution #1 for Women

Kate Spade Eyewear

It was recommended that I purchase a pair of reading glasses one level less than my ordinary prescription, to help prevent eye strain while at the computer. I was utterly dismayed at the outrageously expensive price of eye glasses at the optometrist, as well as at the retail shops. I simply do not understand why a slender sliver of mass produced plastic has to cost $300. plus dollars, without the lens. Less expensive alternatives can be found at the pharmacy and places like Target, but I have never had much luck with fit or in finding an attractive style.

Without much searching I entered the Kate Spade website. Price for reading glasses: sixty-eight dollars. I ordered several versions thinking that I would keep the one I liked best. I absolutely loved them–comfortable, well-made, and in beautiful shades of tortoise shell. I liked both so much I kept the two pairs. The glasses come in a cheery apple green case, which makes them easy to locate within the deep depths of your purse.

Solution #2 For Men and Women

When my husband asked for help in finding a new pair of glasses, I was more than happy to assist. He has owned the exact same Buddy Hollyish style glasses for well over thirty years. To emphasize how non-materialistic is my husband–he has also owned, and it has been in continuous use, the very same key chain, a brass tag from the Savoy Grill at the Savoy Hotel in London, for over thirty-five years.

I had read about Warby Parker eyewear and thought Tom would love the fact that he did not have to go shopping (his absolute least favorite activity). He went to the Warby Parker website and picked out five pair in five minutes, part of their home try-on system. The trial glasses arrived in a few days. Shipping is entirely free, both directions with both the trial glasses, and with the pair ordered. Tom’s eye doctor phoned in his prescription and the glasses arrived within two weeks, for the grand total of 95.00. The new glasses look great and he reports they are much lighter and more comfortable than the heavier glass of his old frames. And they come with a smart looking hard clamshell case and cleaning cloth.

For every pair of glasses sold by Warby Parker, a pair is provided to someone in need.

iPhone 4s self photo

Kent Christman, Master Carpenter

Several weeks ago I visited my friend Kent at his wood working shop in Cambridge. You may recall that we featured his wife Lyda Kuth and her beautiful new film, Love and Other Anxieties, this past summer.

It was my lucky day because Kent had just completed a commission for this exquisite table and was setting it up to show his friend Norm Abram (This Old House). The table is both a dining table, when fully assembled, and a collection of stand alone side tables. I thought readers would like to see not only snapshots of the table, but the way in which Kent documented the fabrication of the custom table–an exceptional example of both an instructional how-to and marketing tool for designers and builders. From the initial concept mock-up to the laser engraved labels, Kent beautifully photographed every step of the construction process in Link to Custom Table Fabrication Process.

Kent Christman

Quilled Sweet Coneflower

Introducing ‘Henry Eiler’s’ Quilled Sweet Coneflower ~

New to our garden this year is the Quilled Sweet Coneflower. The finely quilled sunny yellow petals are simply lovely, as is the overall shape of the plant. The wildflower is a North American native and bears the name of the southern Illinois horticulturist and prairie restoration specialist who found it growing in a railroad prairie remnant.

When lightly rubbed, the leaves of Rudbeckia subtomentosa reveal their sweet vanilla scent. I’ll let you know if it attracts bees, butterflies, and songbirds when the center florets open.

Railroad Prairie Remnants

“…the only remnant of any virgin, unplowed prairie that remains is along railroad tracks. When the railroads were originally built in the 1800′s, if they were going over a natural prairie, all they had to do was lay down the wooden crossties, pack in bed fill, and lay the rails….the remaining right-of-way remained essentially undisturbed. In many locales, a road also was constructed parallel to new tracks, so that the few hundred feet of railroad right-of-way trapped between the tracks and the road remained unplowed to this day, and in many areas has reserved a remarkable diversity of prairie species. In most areas, accidental fires happen fairly regularly, which enhances the vigor of the prairie vegetation.” Larry Lowman, Arkansas nurseryman and native plants specialist.

‘Henry Eiler’s’ Sweet Coneflower (Rudbeckia subtomentosa)

Butterfly Garden Tour at Willowdale Estate!

Reminder to save the date ~ A week from Tuesday, on the evening of  June 12th, I am giving a tour of the butterfly gardens at Willowdale Estate.  We will be showing my short film about the gardens at Willowdale and Briar’s delicious refreshments will be served. I am very excited to share the gardens and show how to translate this information to your own garden. I hope you can join us for what promises to be a lovely evening!

R.S.V.P. to Info@WillowdaleEstate.com.

 

A Hummingbird’s Perspective

Hummingbirds can easily distinguish red contrasted against green.

Trumpeting the Trumpet

Early blooms are an important feature for the vine planted to lure hummingbirds. You want to provide tubular-shaped flowers in shades of red and orange and have your hummingbird feeders hung and ready for the earliest of the northward-migrating scouts. If nothing is available, they will pass by your garden and none will take residence. Hummingbirds can easily distinguish red contrasted against green. We go so far as to plant vivid Red Riding Hood tulips beneath our hummingbird feeders, which hang from the bows of the flowering fruit trees. Although hummingbirds do not nectar from the tulips, the color red draws them into the garden and the flowering fruit trees and sugar water provide sustenance for travel-weary migrants.

Lonicera sempervirens, also called Trumpet and Coral Honeysuckle, is a twining or trailing woody vine native to New England. Trumpet Honeysuckle is not at all fussy about soil and is drought tolerant. Plant in full sun to part shade. If Trumpet Honeysuckle becomes large and ungainly, prune hard to the ground—it grows rapidly and a vigorous pruning will only encourage more flowers.

Lonicera sempervirens John Clayton

‘Major Wheeler’ flowers in a deeper red than that of the carmine of ‘Dropmore Scarlet.’ ‘John Clayton’ is a cheery, cadmium yellow, a naturally occurring variant of Lonicera sempervirens, and was originally discovered growing wild in Virginia. The blossoms of ‘Mandarin’ are a lovely shade of Spanish orange.

Trumpet Honeysuckle has myriad uses in the landscape. Cultivate to create vertical layers, in a small garden especially. Plant Lonicera sempervirens to cover an arbor, alongside a porch pillar or to weave through trelliage. Allow it clamber over an eyesore or down an embankment. Plant at least one near the primary paths of the garden so that you can enjoy the hummingbirds that are drawn to the nectar-rich blossoms. I practically bump into the hummingbirds as they are making their daily rounds through the garden flora. Did you know they make a funny squeaky sound? I began to take notice of their presence in our garden, when at my office desk one afternoon in late summer, with windows open wide, I heard very faint, mouse-like squeaks. I glanced up from my work, fully expecting to see a mouse, and was instead delighted to discover a female Ruby-throat outside my office window, nectaring at the vines. Trumpet Honeysuckle not only provides nectar for the hummingbirds, it also offers shelter and succulent berries for a host of birds.

While planting the summer gardens at Willowdale this past week we observed dozens of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds nectaring at the Trumpet Honeysuckle embowering the courtyard doors.

Lonicera sempervirens is a caterpillar food plant for the Snowberry Clearwing moth.

North Shore Wedding Magazine

Click any photo to view slideshow-

For weeks I had planned to photograph the tulips in bloom at Willowdale, but only in the late afternoon sun. Each afternoon I headed out, the sky grew overcast. Last Monday the sun shown gloriously the entire day.

Fortunately I caught the tail end of North Shore Wedding Magazine photographing their Premier Issue in the gardens at Willowdale. North Shore Wedding Magazine is a brand new biannual publication featuring quality North Shore wedding professionals and venues, and is the sister publication to New Hampshire Wedding Magazine.

Sarah Boucher’s (Willowdale’s Planning Manager) lovely table styling for the North Shore Wedding Magazine photo shoot.

Kristina Hathaway with model

I hope this does not sound boastful however am mentioning because I just love it when people understand the design intention of a project. Kristina Hathaway remarked that she loved the feminine quality of the garden’s design juxtaposed against the masculine architecture of the stone mansion—music to my ears! The design challenges at Willowdale are multifold, yet rewarding, and from April 1st to until the first week of November you will find the gardens in bloom!

Tuesday evening, June 12, at 7:00 pm come join me in the gardens at Willowdale Estate. Enjoy refreshments and a tour of the garden, followed by a showing of my film “The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale Estate.”  RSVP to Info@Willowdale Estate.

Click any photo to view slide show-