What 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.
The 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.
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.
Briar 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 →
In preparation for my adventure to Mexico to film the Monarchs, nearly every afternoon I have been “hiking” around Eastern Point. According to my car odometer, from the Niles Beach parking lot to the lighthouse and back is just a little over two miles. I realize that I must look fairly comical with headphones, hiking boots, and loaded down with a full backpack, all while trying to dodge the black ice. The walk is always beautiful–the freezing temperatures and icy roads not so much!
Wednesday morning East Gloucester was especially beautiful although, is anywhere not magically beautiful after a new fallen snow? While photographing around the neighborhood, I nearly ran into Frieda on her way into her shop, Again and Again (with lots of terrific gift items for last minute shoppers). After photographing down by the North Shore Art Association I stopped in to say hello to Frieda and Beth at Again and Again (see yesterday’s post).
Leaving the shop, and while admiring Duckworth’s wreath and lovely holiday decor, I met Ken Duckworth outside his bistro. We had a friendly chat and I was reminded of what a fabulous neighborhood is ours. At that moment I was thinking not of the beauty that surrounds, but of our wonderful neighbors.
Maritime Center from Smith’s Cove
Duckworth’s in the Snow
Dinner at Duckworth’s Bistrot anytime of the year, but most especially during the holidays, is always a very special treat. Plan to go soon for your Duckworth’s fix because I believe they close for several weeks during. January.
On Wednesday evening, November 13th, at 7 pm, I will be giving my program, “The Pollinator Garden,” for the Pepperell Garden Club. Following the rhythm of the seasons, I present a slide show and lecture demonstrating 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. I hope you will come join me!
Great Spangled Fritillary at the Gloucester HarborWalk
Snapshots from a recent trip to Brooklyn and NYC to visit my darling daughter Liv.
We had a wonderful time walking everywhere and dining out. Liv always takes me to the most fun restaurants with fabulously yummy food, and they are never too pricey; the prices are comparable to our favorite Gloucester restaurants.
Native Honeysuckle for the Hummingbirds at the HighLine
For our HarborWalk Gardens, I had wanted to to see what’s in bloom at the HighLine gardens during the late summer and early fall, as well as what was blooming at Piet Oudolf’s designs for the Battery Gardens of Remembrance and The Bosque.
At the HighLine, we paused for some length at the stunning grove of Japanese Clerodendrum (Clerodendrum trichotomum); whose one of several common names befits it’s great beauty–Harlequin Glorybower Tree. The stop-dead-in-your-tracks-deliciously-fragrant blossoms float atop a canopy of fluttering leaves. The blooms are similar looking to jasmine flowers, but are even more sweetly scented. A magnet for butterflies and hummingbirds, the tree blooms at a time of year when much of the rest of the garden is winding down. The glorious glorybower is on my wish list for next year and, as it is just barely hardy through zone 6, I’ll find a sheltered and protected spot in which to experiment.
The Spiral Fountain at The Bosque (Spanish for a “grove of trees”), with the Statue of Liberty in the background, Battery Park Park, New York City.
My friend James, the facilities director at Willowdale Estate, sent a photo of a newly emerged moth on Sunday afternoon. He initially thought it was a paper napkin stuck to one of the lampposts, but upon inspection, discovered that it was a Luna Moth (Actias luna). With high hopes the moth would still be there, I dropped everything and raced over to Willowdale to photograph and film the moth. It is not that the moths are particularly rare, but that they are most often seen in flight at night. Lucky me, to have had such a wonderful encounter with one of the most beautiful moths in all the world!
The Willowdale Luna Moth is a male of the species; you can tell by his bushy and feathery plumosa (or antennae). The female’s antennae are more thread-like. Notice too, just before he takes flight, how his body vibrates, which helps warm and energize the wings in preparation for flying.
Luna moths are members of the Saturniidae, subfamily Saturniinae. With a wingspan of typically up to four and a half inches, atypically up to seven inches, they are one of North America’s largest moths. Luna Moths are most often seen in the earlier part of summer in our region; this Luna Moth encounter took place on August 11, 2013. Luna Moths, like all members of the Saturn family of moths, eclose without mouthparts. They emerge solely to mate and deposit eggs of the next generation and live for only about one week.
Luna Moth larvae (caterpillars) feed on wide variety of broadleaf plants and different geological populations of Luna Moths are adapted to different hostplants. Northernmost populations most often feed on white birch (Betula papyrifera). More southerly populations feed on persimmon (Diospyros virginiana), sweet gum (Liquidambar styraciflua), hickories (Carya), walnuts (Juglans), and sumacs (Rhus).
The damage done by Luna Moth caterpillars on host trees is never significant enough to harm the host trees. Please don’t spray your trees with pesticides or herbicides!
A note about the music playing in the background ~
Ave Maria, Ellens Gesang III, D. 839, No 6, 1852, was composed by Franz Schubert in 1852 and is a setting of seven songs from Walter Scotts epic poem The Lady of the Lake. Performed by Barbara Bonney.
Thanks to Kate and the team at Wolf Hill for giving me a second Black Swallowtail caterpillar of the season. And, as I was getting ready to discard the parsley plant from the first caterpillar they had found at the garden center earlier in May, I discovered yet a third caterpillar.
Chrysalis #2 eclosed yesterday in the early morning hours. The butterfly in the photo above is newly emerged, so much so that you can see its abdomen is still swollen with fluids as it is expelling a drop. After first drying his wings on the zinnias, he flew off in search of nectar and a mate. I just can’t thank Kate, and everyone at Wolf Hill, who has taken an interest in the caterpillars!
To celebrate Earth Day (Earth Week-Earth Month-Everyday is Earth Day!), I am beginning a new series on both my blog and on Good Morning Gloucester titled Habitat Gardening 101. The series is based on the lectures that I give to area conservation groups, libraries, garden clubs, and schools and is designed to provide information on the relationships between our native flora and fauna, and how to translate that information to your own garden. You will find in this series information on how to support and encourage to your garden a wide variety of wildlife, including songbirds, butterflies, bees, moths, skippers, hummingbirds, and small mammals, and the trees, wildflowers, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers that sustain these beautiful creatures.
This series could just as well be titled Beauty in Our Midst because there are so many gems to be found along our shoreline, meadows, fields, wetlands, dunes, woodlands, and roadsides. Although the series will cover a wide array of flora and wildlife, the first posts will be about several butterfly attracting trees and shrubs because they are currently in bloom. Coming Wednesday, the North American native Pussy Willow will be featured. For today, the following is one of my Top Ten Tips for Attracting Lepidoptera to Your Garden.
Habitat Gardening 101 Tip #1: Plant Caterpillar Food Plants
So you want to attract tons of butterflies to your garden and you plant lots of gorgeous, colorful nectar-rich plants—and that is wonderful. To your garden will come many beautiful, albeit transient, butterflies, along with an array of many different species of beneficial pollinators. However, if you want butterflies to colonize your garden, in other words, to experience the grand beauty of the creature through all its stages of life, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult, you must also plant caterpillar food plants.
Black Swallowtail Butterfly Egg on Fennel (the pinhead-sized golden yellow dot)
Each species of butterfly caterpillar will only eat from a family of plants it has coevolved a relationship with over millennia. We call this a caterpillar food plant, host plant, or larval food plant.
Perhaps you may recall that the Monarch Butterfly only deposits her eggs on milkweed plants. The Black Swallowtail Butterfly deposits her eggs on, and the caterpillars feast on, members of Umbelliferae (Apiaceae), or carrot family of plants, including carrots, parsley, fennel, dill, and Queen Anne’s Lace. Some caterpillars, like the stunning Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feed from several plant families, like those of Magnoliaceae and Rosaceae, which species include the Wild Black Cherry, the Tulip Tree, and the Sweet Bay Magnolia.
If you see a green, black and yellow striped and spotted caterpillar munching on your parsley plant, it is not a Monarch caterpillar; it is a Black Swallowtail caterpillar (I am often asked this question). Monarch caterpillars are striped yellow, black, and white, always. You will never find a Black Swallowtail caterpillar munching on milkweed; likewise you will never find a Monarch caterpillar eating your parsley and fennel.
Another question frequently asked is, if I invite caterpillars to my garden, will they devour all the foliage. The answer is, for the most part, no. The damage done is relatively minimal, the plant generally recovers quickly, and bear in mind too, that plants have evolved with many mechanisms to discourage their complete destruction. Remember, the plant was responsible for inviting the butterfly to its flower in the first place!
Note too, that if you invite butterflies to your garden to deposit their eggs, please don’t turn around and spray pesticides, which will kill all, indiscriminately. A habitat garden, by its very definition, is an organic garden, which means no herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers.
Feel free to send any and all questions, suggestions for a topic, or curiosity, to the comment section under each post.
Cape Ann Milkweed Project Update: Because of the chilly spring weather, milkweed shoots are slow to emerge.
An embarrassment of riches ~ Whether dawn or dusk, when standing on the footpath between Niles Pond and Brace Cove, sometimes I can’t decide which direction to point my camera. When that happens I focus the video camera in one direction and turn and face the opposite direction with the still camera.
This batch of photos was taken on a chilly afternoon in early January, looking first toward the pond, and then heading down to the beach at Brace Cove after a wedge of eight Mute Swans flew overhead and landed in the cove.
The bevy was comprised of six cygnets and parents. The bill of the adult Mute Swan is vivid red-orange whereas the cygnet’s bill ranges in shades from dark gray through muted browns. A black knob at the base of the cob’s (male) bill bulges prominently during mating season; the rest of the year it is often difficult to distinguish pen from cob. Anyone who has ever encountered a hissing, snarling, gnarling, and whistling Mute Swan wonders why they are called mute. Mute Swans lack the vocal trumpeting when compared to other members of the genus. The most beautiful sound the Mute Swan makes is the vibrant throbbing of their wingbeats in flight. I believe this sound is unique to Mute Swans. Click photos to view larger.
Eight Mute Swans (Cygnus olor) at Brace Cove, Gloucester
The narrow strip of land that separates freshwater Niles Pond from the Atlantic Ocean was severely damaged during Blizzicane Nemo.
In several places along the footpath, there are cuts clear through the granite dune and a sandy beach is forming on the Niles Pond side. Shrubs, wildflowers, and ground covers that help retain the sides of the causeway have been uprooted and washed away.
The morning after the beautiful snowfall (I hope it isn’t the only real snow of the season!), I took several snapshots of our garden before heading over to the Harbor Walk, then ended by photographing at Niles Pond. The Harbor Walk photos are postedhere, and I am just getting to the rest of the images.
The waves that can be seen crashing in the distance beyond the narrow strip of land are at Brace Cove. Click photos to view larger.
The Harbor Walk was beautiful yesterday morning at dawn after the first significant snowfall, with a deceptively warm-appearing orange sherbet sunrise. Despite frozen fingers and toes, I couldn’t help but feel blessed by the beauty that surrounds.
Several weeks ago I posted experiments taken with the new Fujifilm X-E1 multiple exposure setting. I really like this feature although I received some flack from a photographer friend reminding me that double exposures can be created in Photoshop. Of course I know that, I just like the immediacy of composing in the camera and in the moment and think the feeling that is achieved is reminiscent of accidental effects in film photography. These photos were all shot in very low light indoors and I am looking forward to playing more with this feature outdoors on a warm sunny spring day, with butterflies and other living creatures for muses, rather than imaginative Christmas fairies!
To create a double exposure select the Multiple Exposure mode in the shooting menu. Take your first shot, and if acceptable, press ok. The first photo is now visible in both the viewfinder and the LCD monitor, which allows you to easily compose the finished photo. Take the second shot and press ok to exit. If you do not like the second shot, you have the option to retry.
Multiple Exposure shooting mode allows you to change focal length, degree of focus, and aperture between shots. I absolutely adore this feature and can think of a hundred thousand images. Creating double exposures is always possible post production although I prefer the ephemerality of composing in the moment.
Over the past several months I have spent many mornings at Eastern Point trying to film the resident swans in their pre-dawn flight. My hope was to capture 20-30 seconds of swans silhouetted against the red rising sun. For the most part I have been unsuccessful and have only managed a mere snippet or two. The swans eye me warily and then head to the far side of the pond. Yesterday morning I went to my usual observation point to experiment with the Fujifilm X-E1 multiple exposure shooting mode. Perhaps because I was so focused on my exposure experiment and wasn’t paying a lick of attention to them or perhaps because I did not have my tripod with me (I am convinced now more than ever after today that the swans think my tripod is a rifle), but for whatever reason, two decided to groom themselves within arms reach.
In this image you can see the typical first photo from my little experiment.