Category Archives: Home and Garden

PRODUCE ORDERS AT CEDAR ROCK GARDENS OPEN TODAY UNTIL 10 PM

Produce Ordering at Cedar Rock Gardens 

Today, October 19th, our website will be open for ordering farm fresh produce and some sweet treats from Mayflour Confections. Orders must be in by Tuesday, October 20th @ 10 pm.

We’ll be assembling everyone’s order during the day Wednesday, then opening pick-ups on Thursday between 2 PM and 6 PM

We will be adding more produce and variety as it becomes available each week.

We are open for produce orders to be placed online and picked up curbside (Farm side). We have some wonderful items from Iron Ox Farm listed also and a wonderful sweet treat from Mayflour Confections. Check out our produce page here https://cedarrockgardens.com/fresh-produce

Please be wearing a mask when you arrive to pick up your order. Come to the farm, park in the designated parking area and walk to the big red barn to pick up your order. We will be opening our website for produce orders throughout the season and will alert you to such in these emails. We look forward to seeing you soon!

SMILEY FACE SUNFLOWERS

Smiling Sunflowers – Paul W of School Street Sunflowers and local kids have been having fun with the sunflower seed heads.

What a special place is School Street, and special owners – more tomorrow!

BABY CEDAR WAXWINGS IN THE HOOD!

Life at the Edge of the Sea – Cedar Waxwing Baby Masked Bandits

For over a month I have been filming a flock of Cedar Waxwings. Exquisitely beautiful creatures, with their combination of soft buffy and brilliantly punctuated wing patterning, along with graceful agility, it’s been easy to fall in love with these birds and they have become a bit of an obsession. 

I filmed some wonderful scenes and will share the photos and story as soon as there is time but in the meantime I wanted to share these photos of a juvenile Cedar Waxwing so you know what to look for. Waxwings are often found high up in the treetops. They are most easily seen on limbs bare of leaves. Their repetitious soft trilling song gives them away and if you learn the sound you will begin to see Cedar Waxwings everywhere. They have an extended breeding period in our region and because it is so late in the season, this juvenile may be one of a second brood.

While I was shooting for my short short story, the Waxwing flock was mostly on the ground in a wildflower patch devouring insects. Cedar Waxwings are more typically berry-eating frugivores. During the summer they add insects to their diet and I think it may have to do with keeping the hatchling’s bellies filled. It wasn’t until they moved back up into the treetops that this little guy began appearing amongst the flock. He has the same masked face, but the breast is softly streaked. You can see the yellow feathers tips beginning to grow in.

Juvenile Cedar Waxwing

Adult Cedar Waxwing

RAGWEED VS GOLDENROD – WHAT IS CAUSING MY SEASONAL ALLERGIES?

Migrating Monarchs and Seaside Goldenrod

So often I hear folks blaming goldenrod as the source of their allergy suffering, when they really mean to say ragweed. The three species of goldenrod that we most often see in our coastal north of Boston fields, meadows, woodland edges, and dunes are Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), Tall Goldenrod (Solidago altissima), and Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis).  All three have beautiful yellow flowers, Seaside blooming a bit after Canada and Tall, and all are fabulous pollinator plants, providing nectar for bees, butterflies, and migrating Monarchs.

In our region, we most often encounter Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisifolia), with Plain Jane tiny green flowers and raggedy looking foliage. Goldenrods and ragweeds both bloom at roughly the same time of year, in mid- to late-summer, but why is ragweed the culprit and goldenrods are not? The colorful showy flowers of goldenrods are attractive to pollinators and they are both insect and wind pollinated. The drops of goldenrod pollen are too large to fall far from the plant. Ragweed’s tiny flowers are not of interest to most pollinators and the plant has evolved to rely on the wind to disperse its pollen from plant to plant. Ragweed produces massive amounts of teeny, breathable pollen to travel widely on the wind.

Cedar Waxwing foraging in weed patch with Common Ragweed

Although many of us are fortunate not to be bothered by ragweed, I completely empathize with friends who are. If it is any consolation, I recently learned two good uses for Common Ragweed. Shetland sheep love to eat it and it is good for their wool. And I have been following a flock of  Cedar Waxwings for over a month. I often see in the morning the Waxwings descend on patches of mixed weeds, mostly Common Ragweed. Waxwings change their diet in summer to include insects and I think the birds are attracted to the plant for the host of insects it supports. So next time you are ragging on ragweed remember, it is a native plant and it does support a community of insects and birds.

MORE WONDERMENT AT SCHOOL STREET SUNFLOWERS -BABY COWS AND THE SWEETEST SHEEP YOU WILL EVER MEET!

School Street Sunflowers has once again added a wonderful element to their ever expanding ideas about creating a joyfully fun nature experience for visitors. Paul has added three baby Belted Galloway cows and three of the sweetest, most friendly Shetland sheep imaginable. Our bright and curious three year old granddaughter Charlotte was thoroughly engaged with both the sheep and the baby cows but it was Deanna Gallagher’s adorable and super child friendly Shetland sheep that stole our hearts.

We have met the kindest people at School Street Sunflowers and Charlotte and I were completely taken with Deanna, owner of a flock of nine Shetland sheep. Her farm is just around the corner from School Street Sunflowers. Her three sheep that are currently at Paul’s sunflower field are Detective Jimmy Perez, Abu, and Alistair. Jimmy is the leader of the herd, funny, smart, and outgoing, and he is famous in Ipswich as an “escape mastermind. ” You can read about his most recent escapade here: Smart and determined, sheep on the lam knew exactly what they were doing

Shetland sheep are smaller than what you may typically think of as a sheep, more goat like in size. Deanna’s sheep love to be stroked and hand fed the weeds growing in and amongst the sunflowers, especially Common Ragweed. This is the second time over the past week I have learned of or seen Ragweed used in a great way. The first was earlier when I watched a flock of Cedar Waxwings hungrily descend on a patch of Ragweed, looking for tiny insects to devour.

When you go – the baby cows are at the field all day; the Shetland sheep are on the premises from approximately 9am to 1pm. The sunflower trail  is one way, which is great for avoiding mashups on the pathway during the pandemic. Paul and his staff all wear masks, so please wear your mask as well. This year, the tractors are not available for playing on because they would need to be disinfected after each use. There are picnic tables and wonderful vignettes for family photos.

School Street Sunflowers is located on School Street in Ipswich, behind the high school. For more information visit –

Website: www.schoolstreetsunflowers.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/schoolstreetsunflowers

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/schoolstreetsunflowers

 

 

SUNFLOWER DREAMS

I am dreaming nightly about sunflowers. Thanks to the mystical beauty found at School Street Sunflowers, it’s no wonder why <3

Nature rarer uses yellow
Than another hue;
Saves she all of that for sunsets,—
Prodigal of blue,

Spending scarlet like a woman,
Yellow she affords
Only scantly and selectly,
Like a lover’s words.

Emily Dickinson

Don’t miss School Street Sunflowers while the field is in full, glorious bloom. There are still hundreds of buds yet to open. Pay online in advance to reserve a time – see below.

Paul Wegzyn is the genius behind School Street Sunflowers

With Paul’s Dad, Paul.

Sunflowers, freshly cut each morning, are for sale. Only $10.00 a half  dozen and they last a very good long while.

When you go -the sunflower trail is one way, which is great for avoiding mashups on the trail during the pandemic. Paul and his staff all wear masks, so please wear your mask as well. This year, the tractors are not available for playing on because they would need to be disinfected after each use. There are picnic tables and wonderful vignettes for family photos. I went with three year old Charlotte on a sunny morning and she led the way through the winding trail. Last year, Charlotte only ventured a few feet into the field; this year it was “COMEON, hurry up Mimi!”

Live in the Sunshine, Swim the Sea, Drink the Wild Air – Ralph Waldo Emerson

School Street Sunflowers is located on School Street in Ipswich, behind the high school. For more information visit –

Website: www.schoolstreetsunflowers.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/schoolstreetsunflowers

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/schoolstreetsunflowers

Live music with Paul’s friend and first year Berkeley College of Music student, Jade Hua

Sunflowers are heliotropic when they are young. By the time they mature, sunflowers generally face toward the East throughout the day. The scientific name for Common Sunflowers is Helianthus annus – helios for resembling the sun, anthos for flower, and annus for yearly.

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360 degrees of Sunflowers 🌻 #schoolstreetsunflowers

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MINIATURE HUMMINGBIRD, ENORMOUS FURRY BEE, FLYING LOBSTER, OR MUTANT NEW WORLD CREATURE?

Hummingbird and Snowberry Clearwing Moths

By Kim Smith

Startled! is an apt description of the reaction most gardeners experience when first they encounter a clearwing moth. Hovering while nectaring, with wings whirring rapidly and audibly, is it a miniature hummingbird, enormous furry bee, flying lobster, or mutant new world creature?Verbena and Hummingbird Clearwing MothHummingbird Clearwing Moth  (Hemaris thysbe) nectaring at Verbena bonariensis 

The family Sphingidae are easily identified in both their adult and caterpillar forms. The medium-to-large-sized sphinx, or hawk, moths have characteristic robust, chunky bodies tapering to a point, and slender wings, which are adapted for rapid and sustained flight. Often mistaken for hummingbirds, the Hummingbird Clearwing Moth (Hemaris thysbe), with green tufted body and ruby colored scales, suggesting the male hummingbird, and the Snowberry Clearwing Moth (Hemaris diffinis), with the gold and black striped color pattern similar to that of a fat bumble bee, mimic both the bees and birds they fly with during the day. The ability of certain Sphingids to hover in mid air while nectaring is unusual in nectar feeders and has evolved in only three species: Sphingids, bats, and hummingbirds. Sphinx moths also do an exceptionally unusual movement called “swing-hovering,” swinging from side to side while hovering, it is thought, in an effort to escape predators lying in wait amongst the flora.

Snowberry Clearwing Moth (Hemaris diffinis), nectaring at Buddleia

Sphinx moths are grouped together because their caterpillars hold their head and thorax erect in a sphinx-like fashion. Most larvae have a horn protruding from their last segment. For this reason, they are often called hornworms. The adult sphinx moth is a powerful flier and usually has a long proboscis suitable for tubular-shaped flowers with a deep calyx, such as trumpet vine. The slender wings must beat rapidly to support their heavy bodies. The names of many sphinx or hawk moth species correlate to their caterpillar host plant, to name but a few examples: Catalpa Sphinx, Huckleberry Sphinx, Paw Paw Sphinx, Cherry Sphinx, and Elm Sphinx.

The order Lepidoptera is comprised of butterflies, moths and skippers. The name is derived from the Greek lepidos for scales and ptera for wings. Their scaled wings distinguish them as a group from all other insects. Shortly after the Hummingbird and Snowberry Clearwings are born, they immediately begin to shed their wing scales, hence the common name clearwing moth. While nectaring, moths receive a dusting of pollen as they brush against the pollen-bearing anthers. Their fuzzy, fur-like scale-covered bodies are an excellent transporter of pollen. Because moths are on the wing primarily at night, moth-pollinated flowers are often white and pale, pastel-hued and tend to be sweetly scented. White flowers are more easily distinguished in the evening light, whereas colorful flowers disappear. Adult clearwing moths are diurnal (day flying) and nectar at a variety of flowers. In our garden, they are most often spotted at our native Phlox ‘David,’ bee balm (Monarda didyma), purple-top Verbena bonariensis, and butterfly bushes with blue and white flowers. The larvae of Hummingbird Clearwings feed primarily on viburnum, honeysuckle, and snowberry (all Caprifoliaceae), and less commonly on hawthorn, cherry, and plum (Rosaceae). Snowberry larvae feed on honeysuckle and snowberry.

Hummingbird Clearwing Moth nectaring at native Phlox paniculata ‘David’
(Click photo to see full size image)

For the most part, Sphinx moths are on the wing at night, although the beautiful White-lined Sphinx (Hyles lineata) is often seen at dusk. The forward wings are dark olive brown streaked with white. The hind wings are black with a vivid band of rose-pink. Found throughout North America, both larvae and adults are consummate generalists. The caterpillars feed on the foliage of apple trees, four-o’clocks, evening primrose, elm, grape, and tomato. The adults nectar at a wide variety of flowers including larkspur, gaura, columbine, petunia, moonflower, lilac, bouncing bet, clover, Jimson weed, and thistle. White-lined Sphinxes are drawn to lights and those that remain in the garden the next morning are quite subdued, and may come to your finger.

Snowberry Clearwing

Orchids often have a symbiotic relation to very specific sphinx moths. The starry white, six-petalled Comet Orchid (the French common name, “Etoile de Madagascar” means “Star of Madagascar”) produces nectar at the bottom of an extremely long corolla, nearly a foot in length. Star of Madagascar (Angraecum sesquipedale) was predicted by Charles Darwin to have a highly specialized moth pollinator with a proboscis at least that long.  “Angraecum sesquipedale has nectaries eleven and a half inches long, with only the lower half filled with very sweet nectar…it is, however, surprising, that any insect should be able to reach the nectar: our English sphinxes have probosces as long as their bodies; but in Madagascar there must be moths with probosces capable of extension to a length of between ten and twelve inches!” (Darwin). The giant hawk moth Xanthopan morganii praedicta (“the predicted one”) was named appropriately upon its discovery, after Darwin’s death.

Etoile de Madagascar and Hawk Moth Xanthopan morganii praedicta

Image courtesy wiki commons media

Co-evolution, the specialized biological embrace of two species, bears both benefits and risks. Each partner benefits in that no energy is wasted on finding ways to reproduce. The risk lies in becoming too dependent on a single species. If one half of the co-evolved partnership perishes, the other will surely become extinct as well.

This article was first published on August 3, 2011 and was subsequently republished by the New England Wildflower Society.

 

WHERE HAVE ALL THE BUTTERFLIES GONE?

In thinking about where have all the butterflies gone, I am reminded of the poignant song written by Pete Seeger “Where Have All the Flowers Gone,” which although a song about the futility of war, sums up much about the environmental impact of habitat loss. Without wildflower habitat, there will be no pollinators of any sort.

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago.

Buckeye and Seaside Goldenrod

Where have all the butterflies gone? Different species of butterfly populations fluctuate from year to year. For example, some years you may see far greater numbers of Buckeyes, the next year not so much. That same year you may hardly see any Tiger Swallowtails but will the following.

That being said,, everyone must realize that every year there are fewer butterflies than the year before. Butterflies thrive in meadows, the very same topography that is the easiest to build upon. Every time a new house or shopping mall is built on a meadow, we decrease not just butterfly habitat, but a whole community of wildlife habitat.

In the above photo you can see a Monarch with a Black Swallowtail flying overhead. This stunning patch of wildflowers and nectar plants was sited in Gloucester at a prime spot for Monarchs to rest and refuel after migrating across Massachusetts Bay. The new home owners ripped out most of the wildflowers and planted the site in a more formal style, with non-native perennials and shrubs. At this location, I would often see Monarchs, Tiger Swallowtails, Black Swallowtails, Painted and American Ladies, Sulphurs, and many other species. That is no longer true.

Tiger Swallowtail drinking nectar from Joe Pye-weed at the same wildflower patch, no longer in existence.

Butterfly and bee populations are declining overall, not only because of habitat loss, but because of the unbridled use of herbicides and pesticides in agriculture and home lawn care.

Butterflies are especially sensitive to fluctuations in weather, and also to overall climate change. This year we had a long, cold wet spring. The inclement weather is continuing, too, from a butterflies perspective, because although we are seeing some warmer temperatures the past few days, it has mostly been rainy, foggy, or overcast. Butterflies thrive during long stretches of sunny, hot weather. Their wings don’t work very well in the damp and cold. Because of global climate change, we have seen a seven percent increase in precipitation worldwide.

One of the best years I have ever seen for dozens and dozens of species of butterflies, including Monarchs, in the Northeast, was the summer and fall of 2012. That year, we had a warm winter followed by a warm spring, then a warm, dry summer, and a long, warm Indian summer. It was butterfly bonanza that summer and autumn!Adding to people’s concern is the fact that last year, there was an abundance of spring rain that in turn created an extraordinary wildflower bloom in Texas, which got all the butterflies off to a good start. In 2019, we were seeing Monarchs as early as early June, which was very unusual for Cape Ann. Folks are comparing this year to that of 2019, however, 2019 was not an average year.

Monarchs are a case unto themselves. Their spring and summer numbers depend upon a variety of additional conditions, including how successful was the previous year’s autumn migration, whether or not there were nectar providing wildflowers on their northward and southward  migrations, and wind and weather conditions from Canada to Mexico.

Note the bar graph in that the eastern population of the Monarchs plummeted by half, according to this year’s spring count by the World Wildlife Fund Mexico.

Particularly in the northeast, the wind patterns during the Monarchs spring northward migration matter tremendously. My friend Charmaine at Point Pelee, in southern Ontario, which is 49 degrees latitude (we are 43 degrees latitude) has been raising and releasing Monarchs for over a month now, while most of us on Cape Ann have only seen a smattering. The Monarchs moved this year in a straight northward trajectory. If the wind does not blow from west to east during some part of their northward migration, far fewer will end up along the eastern shores.Monarchs and Seaside Goldenrod

All is not lost. I am 90 percent certain we will soon be seeing some of our migratory and non-migratory local populations, we just need some good weather. They are later than usual, but not gone entirely.

For so many more reasons, I am hopeful for the future of wildlife and their habitats and see such tremendous, positive change. Despite the current administration’ s extremely harmful stance against the environment, many, many individuals and organizations are gaining a deeper appreciation about the importance of habitats and taking positive action. Many have made it their life’s work. These individuals and organizations are creating wildlife sanctuaries and conserving existing habitats. If the Monarch is declared an endangered species, that will surely bring an added awarenesses and increased federal spending for protecting and creating habitats.

How can you help the Monarchs, which in turn will help myriad species of other butterflies and pollinators? Plant wildflowers! Both Marsh and Common Milkweed for their northward migration, and lots of nectar-rich later summer blooming wildflowers for their southward migration, including New England Aster, Smooth Aster, Purple-stemmed Aster, Seaside Goldenrod, and Canada Goldenrod.Monarchs and New England Aster

TWELVE NATIVE MILKWEEDS

Did you know that there are over two hundred species of milkweed (Asclepias) found around the world? Seventy different species are native to North America.

Milkweeds, as most know, are the host plant for Monarch Butterflies. A host plant is another way of saying caterpillar food plant.

Monarchs deposit eggs on milkweed plants. Some milkweeds are more productive than other species. For the Northeast region, the most productive milkweed is Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). The second most productive is *Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata). What is meant by productive? When given a choice, the females choose these plants over other species of milkweed and the caterpillars have the greatest success rate. In our own butterfly garden and at at my client’s habitat gardens, I grow both side-by-side. The females flit from one plant to the next, freely depositing eggs on both species.

This fun chart shows some of the most common species of milkweeds found in North America. *Swamp Milkweed is another common name for Marsh Milkweed.

WEEK TWO OF SHINGLES – BUT OUR ROSES ARE LOOKING BEAUTIFUL!

Uggh, it’s tough. Get the vaccine if you can. I had tried several times but it was never in stock and then I would lose track. Today is the first day trying to go without the pain medication. Practically anything is better than feeling ditzy all the time. It’s worse at the end of the day.

I’ve been home so much this spring and don’t usually get to enjoy our roses. Charlotte and I have been loving sitting in her tent having tea parties and reading storybooks and you can smell the roses while we are reading, it’s really so sweet <3

SINGING THE PRAISES OF CAPE ANN’S WINGED AERIALISTS- Please join Kim Smith, John Nelson, and Martin Ray for a fun zoom hour of conversation!

Please join John Nelson, Martin Ray, and myself for an hour of talk about the many birds and habitats found on Cape Ann. The event is hosted by Literary Cape Ann and will be moderated by Eric Hutchins, Gulf of Maine Habitat Restoration Coordinator for NOAA.

From Literary Cape Ann’s newsletter-

TRY BIRDING IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD!

Singing the praises of Cape Ann’s winged aerialists

Families are invited to join some of our favorite local naturalists and authors —  John Nelson, Kim Smith and Martin Ray — for a fun hour talking about the many birds and natural habitats found on Cape Ann. Wildlife biologist Eric Hutchins will moderate this-one hour conversation.

Zoom in this coming Friday, June 19, at 6:30 p.m. for an hour of fun as you celebrate the long-awaited summer solstice. See and hear birds, ask questions, learn some birdwatching tips and discover ways to document your bird sightings using your camera, notebook, blog or sketch pad.

This event is brought to you by Literary Cape Ann, a nonprofit group that provides information and events that support and reinforce the value and importance of the literary arts. LCA commemorates Toad Hall bookstore’s 45 years of service on Cape Ann. LCA’s generous sponsors include: SUN Engineering in Danvers, Bach Builders in Gloucester and The Institution for Savings.

Use this link next Friday: 
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81423552319?pwd=VU5LU21Ga09wVE5QYWpsRnlhRCtFUT09

Order books by our guest authors at The Bookstore of Gloucester. For those interested, bird books make great Father’s Day gifts. Further down in this newsletter, you’ll find lots of great information about books and birdwatching organizations.

Thank you, Kim Smith and Martin Ray, for providing us with some of your beautiful photography to help promote this event. And thank you, John Nelson, for the annotated lists of books and birding organizations.
Meet our panel!

Meet our panel!

Artist, author/blogger, and naturalist Martin Ray will talk about maintaining his fine blog, “Notes from Halibut Point,” and share stories discovered in that magical place.

Filmmaker, naturalist, and activist Kim Smith will share her own adventures chronicling Cape Ann’s vibrant bird life including the work she does advocating for the endangered piping plovers that nest at Good Harbor Beach.

Author-naturalist John Nelson will start things off with some birdwatching basics before getting into a few stories about local birds, their habits and habitats from his new book, “Flight Calls: Exploring Massachusetts through Birds.”

Our moderator, Eric Hutchins, is the Gulf of Maine Habitat Restoration Coordinator for the NOAA Restoration Center located in Gloucester. He  has worked as both a commercial fisherman and government biologist on domestic and foreign fishing vessels throughout the Northeast and Alaska.

Books by our speakers are available through The Bookstore of Gloucester:

Martin Ray
“Cape Ann Narratives of Art in Life” — A collection of interviews and images tracing the creative lives of 28 contemporary artists.
“Quarry Scrolls” (2018)— 24 photographs of Halibut Point natural life and scenes with accompanying Haiku poems

Kim Smith:
“Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!” — Written and illustrated by Kim Smith.

John Nelson:
“Flight Calls: Exploring Massachusetts through Birds”

More books, recommended by John Nelson:

  1. Sibley, David. The Sibley Guide to Birds
  2. Kroodsma, Donald. The Singing Life of Birds. 2005. On the science and art of listening to birds, by a professor emeritus at the University of Massachusetts and a foremost authority on bird vocalizations.
  3. Leahy, Christopher, John Hanson Mitchell, and Thomas Conuel. The Nature of Massachusetts. 1996. An excellent introduction to the natural history of Massachusetts by three prominent Mass Audubon Society naturalist-authors.
  4. Sibley, David. What It’s Like to Be a Bird. 2020. Just published, a study of what birds are doing and why, by a longtime Massachusetts resident and renowned author/illustrator of a series of bird and nature guides.
  5. Weidensaul, Scott. Living on the Wind: Across the Hemisphere with Migratory Birds. 2000. A Pulitzer Prize finalist study of bird migration by the naturalist and author of Return to Wild America, the subject of his memorable 2020 BBC lecture.
  6. Zickefoose, Julie. Baby Birds: An Artist Looks into the Nest. 2016. Where art meets natural history, by a talented author/artist, former student of biological anthropology at Harvard, and keynote speaker at the 2014 Massachusetts Birders Meeting.

If you’d like to learn more or get involved in the birding life, here are some recommendations from John Nelson:

An excellent overall resource is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, especially the “All About Birds” sections, which includes free access to the MaCauley Library (the country’s best collection of vocalizations of birds and other animals), the free Merlin bird identification app, live bird cams, and other resources for beginners and intermediates. Some programs, like their “Joy of Birdwatching” course, require an enrollment fee, but many of their resources are free to anyone.

For bird conservation, the most active national organizations are the American Bird Conservancy and National Audubon. For state bird conservation, Mass Audubon (not affiliated with National Audubon) is most active and the best source of information, but many other organizations are involved in preservation of habitats, often with a local focus.

For birding field trips, Mass Audubon and the Brookline Bird Club both offer frequent trips at different seasons to Cape Ann, sometimes for just a morning, sometimes for a whole day. Both organizations welcome novices, and both have trip leaders who make an effort to be particularly helpful to beginners. Mass Audubon trips, generally sponsored by MAS Ipswich River or MAS Joppa Flats, require advance registration and some payment.

Brookline Bird Club trips are free, without any registration, but regular participants are encouraged to join the club with $15 as the annual dues. The name of the BBC is misleading; the club originated in Brookline in 1913 but is now one of the largest, most active clubs in the country and offers field trips across and beyond Massachusetts.

John Nelson is on the BBC Board of Directors and leads a few Cape Ann trips in both winter and spring. John reminds us that this is a strange time for beginners, since Mass Audubon has cancelled many field trips and the BBC has cancelled all trips through June, but eventually field trips will open up again, especially in places where social distancing is most possible.

The very active Facebook page, Birding Eastern Mass, has over 2,000 subscribers, from novice birders to experts. It’s a great site for sharing bird photos.

 

About Birding in Our Backyard

This Zoom event is for friends and families who are looking for safe, fun things to do close to home. Cape Ann’s abundance of natural wonders are here for us to enjoy and protect. Try chronicling your experiences in a new blog or a photo journal.

• • •

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.
— John Muir, from “Our National Parks”

BEAUTIFUL CEDAR ROCK GARDENS IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS AND THEY ARE DOING PANDEMIC PRECAUTIONS SPOT ON!

Cedar Rock Gardens retail shop is now open. Tucker and Elise have created a super safe shopping experience. All customers and employees wear masks.

Elise’s parents, Juile and Jim Jilson, are lending a helping hand during the pandemic. 

The checkout area is protected by plexiglass.

Come shop their organically grown gorgeous selection of veggies, herbs, annual seedlings, and perennial plants. Everything looks healthy and beautiful! And the refrigerator is stocked with their famously super delicious farm to table produce.

Cedar Rock Gardens is located in West Gloucester at 299 Concord Street.

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HAS ANYONE SEEN MONARCHS YET?

Although Monarchs have been sited as far north as 46 degrees, it is still very early for us even though we are at 43 degrees latitude because we are so far east. Please write if you see one in your garden. And feel free to send a photo. I will post photos here. Thank you so much!

Keep your eyes peeled, especially on emerging milkweed shoots. In the photos below, Monarchs are drinking nectar from, depositing eggs on, and also mating on the milkweed plants. Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) and Marsh Milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) are the two most productive milkweeds for the Northeast region.

STUNNING AND INTENSELY FRAGRANT BLOOMS OF ROCK’S TREE PEONY

Not only are the blossoms enormous and stunning, the sweetly delicious fragrance of a single Rock’s Tree Peony will fill an entire room with its potent scent. Our Rock’s Peony has taken quite a few years to become happily established because unfortunately it had to transplanted awhile back. At last, our treasured beauty is throwing us more than one or two blooms a year. This spring we have had Five!

Lots more information about Rock’s Peony can be found in my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden

NEW YOUTUBE SHOW – BEAUTY BY THE SEA EPISODE #7

 

Timelapse Sunrise Twin Lighthouses at Thacher Island

To clarify about My Blog. Several friends have written with confused questions re my blog. I have been writing, filming, designing, photographing, and painting all my life. I started my own blog long before I began contributing to a local community blog. I both wrote and illustrated a book on garden design, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!, which was published by David R. Godine, and have written many articles for numerous publications including a weekly column on habitat gardening. Here is a link to my blog and to my book, Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden.

If you would like to follow or subscribe to my blog, click the Follow button in the lower right hand corner. Thank you so much if you do! http://www.kimsmithdesigns.com.

Baltimore Orioles arrive when the pears and crabapples come into bloom in our garden. Great idea for an Oriole feeder from friend Robin!

Shadblow (Amelanchier canadensis) question from Morgan Faulds Pike

Caffe Sicilia reopening May 20, Wednesday. What are you going to order?

We Love the Franklin Cape Ann

Castaways Vintage Cafe

Gloucester Fisherman’ Wharf

Cedar Rock Gardens

Piping Plover Chronicles –

Piping Plover Smackdowns

Still no threatened/endangered species signage. Please write to your councilor.

How can you help raise the next generation of PiPls? It’s a great deal to ask of people during coronavirus to care for, and write letters about, tiny little shorebirds, but people do care. For over forty years, partners have been working to protect these threatened creatures and it is a shame to put them at risk like this needlessly.  We have been working with Ward One City Councilor Scott Memhard and he has been beyond terrific in helping us sort through the problems this year; however, I think if we wrote emails or letters to all our City Councilors and asked them to help us get signs installed it would be super helpful. Please keep letters kind and friendly, or just simply copy paste the following:

Subject Line: Piping Plovers Need Our Help

Dear City Councilors,

Gloucester Plovers need our help. Please ask the Conservation Commission to install the threatened species signs at the symbolically cordoned off nesting areas and at the entrances at Good Harbor Beach.

Thank you for helping these birds raise their next generation.

Your Name

Link to all the City Councilors, but I believe that if you send one letter and also cc to Joanne Senos, a copy will be sent to all the City Councilors. Her address is: JSenos@gloucester-ma.gov

Piping Plover Smackdown

CEDAR ROCK GARDENS NOW TAKING ONLINE ORDERS

Warm Weather Seedlings Are Here!

Please note that due to the high demand involved with the release of our warm weather seedlings — and our desire to provide a comfortable pick-up experience for our customers — OUR RETAIL LOCATION WILL BE TEMPORARILY CLOSED TO THE PUBLIC to allow us time to assemble hundreds of orders. We are accepting online orders at this time, and offering pick up dates starting on May 21.

When you place an online order, we will immediately email you an Order Confirmation that contains a link where you can schedule a pick up date and time between Wednesday, May 21 and Sunday,  May 31.  Please be sure to arrive at Cedar Rock Gardens within your scheduled time slot to help us efficiently get you on your way with your seedling order. You will also be helping us to minimize large crowds and optimize our limited parking, so thanks!

Call us from your mobile when you arrive at the farm on your scheduled pick-up day, then pop the trunk and we’ll gently place your garden treasure right in for you to take home and plant, no in-person transaction or contact required!

But here’s something REALLY exciting: we hope to be opening for regular retail sales again on May 28. Until that time, only employees are allowed in the retail area of Cedar Rock Gardens, so if you wish to do some shopping in person, save the date of May 28!

SHOP NOW

WARM WEATHER SEEDLINGS AT CEDAR ROCK GARDENS!

Warm Weather Seedlings!
Starting May 15, our website will feature all the warm weather vegetable, flower and herb seedlings that we’ll be releasing from the green house later that week. This will be your first chance to scroll through the bounty and fill your online shopping cart!

We’ll be assembling everyone’s order during the week, then opening for pre-scheduled pick-ups beginning May 22.

You can schedule your preferred pick-up day when you checkout online. Call us from your mobile when you arrive at the farm on your selected pick-up day, then pop the trunk and we’ll gently place your garden treasure right in for you to take home and plant, no in-person transaction or contact required!

If you have some favorites in mind that you just can’t live without, May 15 will be your opportunity to be first in line to lay claim to that heirloom tomato or special nasturtium that you’ve been dreaming about all winter! So mark your calendar for May 15 to visit our site and get your garden started!

Vegetables
Artichoke Imperial Star
Beets Chiogga
Beets Red Ace
Beets Touchstone Gold
Broccoli Imperial
Broccoli Dicicco
Brussels Sprouts Dagan
Cabbage Faro
Cabbage Omera
Cauliflower Mix
Celery Conquistador
Collards
Corn lucious
Cucumber Corinto
Cucumber Diva
Cucumber Lemon
Cucumber Marketmore 76
Cucumber Northern pickling
Cucumber Tasty Jade
Eggplant Beatrice
Eggplant Clara
Eggplant fairytale
Eggplant Nadia
Eggplant Orient Charm
Eggplant Orient express
Eggplant Patio Baby
Escarole Natacha
Greens
Kale Red Russian
Kale Toscano
Kale Winterbor
Kale mix Continue reading

GARDENING FRIENDS – ITS TOO EARLY TO PLANT YOUR WARM WEATHER SEEDLINGS OUT DOORS

Each year customers ask nursery growers for plants earlier and earlier in the season. Yes, purchase if you are worried about stock, but do not plant outdoors until after May 31st. Keep in a protected location and gradually acclimate to outdoor temps (hardening off*).  In the old days, after Memorial Day was the standard rule of thumb for New Englanders. We’ve gotten away from that. It’s risky business to plant your annual flowers, eggplant, peppers, tomatoes, and herbs such as basil oregano outdoors too early, especially this year when we may have a snowfall this coming Mother’s Day weekend.

The following is a handy chart specifically for Cape Ann from the Farmer’s Almanac, although I would modify, ignore the frost date, and plant my warm weather seedlings closer to the June1st – June 5th Moon dates. The first date in each box is based on frost dates, the second line is based on Moon dates. Follow the Moon dates, especially this year when we are having an unusually cool spring.

*What does hardening off your seedlings mean? Think of it this way – seedlings are weaklings. They have delicate slender stalks that are easily blown over and their tiny tender leaves will freeze in a heart beat or shrivel in the penetrating sun of May. Seedlings need time to toughen up before planting out in the garden.

Hardening off is the practice of gradually exposing the seedlings to outdoor conditions. Place plants in a protected area for a few hours a day, out of the way of wind and direct sun. On cold nights bring indoors to a garage, shed, or back inside. Gradually increase the plant’s time spent outdoors. Keep moist and don’t let the soil dry out. In a week or so you will see the stalk and leaves have visibly thickened. House plants and herbs that have been grown indoors all winter (essentially babied) will also benefit from hardening off if you are planning to move outdoors.

Crop Based on Frost Dates   Based on Moon Dates
Start Seeds Indoors Plant Seedlings

or Transplants

Start Seeds Outdoors
Basil Mar 13-27
Mar 24-27
May 8-29
May 22-29
N/A
Beets N/A N/A Apr 24-May 15
May 8-15
Bell Peppers Feb 27-Mar 13
Feb 27-Mar 9
May 22-Jun 12
May 22-Jun 5
N/A
Broccoli Mar 27-Apr 10
Mar 27-Apr 7
Apr 17-May 8
Apr 22-May 7
N/A
Brussels Sprouts Mar 27-Apr 10
Mar 27-Apr 7
Apr 10-May 1
Apr 22-May 1
N/A
Cabbage Mar 13-27
Mar 24-27
Apr 10-24
Apr 22-24
N/A
Cantaloupes Apr 10-17 May 22-Jun 12
May 22-Jun 5
N/A
Carrots N/A N/A Apr 3-17
Apr 8-17
Cauliflower Mar 27-Apr 10
Mar 27-Apr 7
Apr 10-24
Apr 22-24
N/A
Celery Feb 27-Mar 13
Feb 27-Mar 9
May 15-29
May 22-29
N/A
Chives N/A N/A Apr 10-17
Cilantro (Coriander) N/A N/A May 8-22
May 22
Corn N/A N/A May 8-22
May 22
Cucumbers Apr 10-17 May 22-Jun 12
May 22-Jun 5
N/A
Dill N/A N/A Apr 3-17
Apr 3- 7
Eggplants Feb 27-Mar 13
Feb 27-Mar 9
May 22-Jun 12
May 22-Jun 5
N/A
Green Beans N/A N/A May 15-Jun 5
May 22-Jun 5
Kale Mar 27-Apr 10
Mar 27-Apr 7
Apr 10-May 1
Apr 22-May 1
N/A
Lettuce Mar 27-Apr 10
Mar 27-Apr 7
Apr 24-May 22
Apr 24-May 7, May 22
N/A
Okra N/A N/A May 22-Jun 5
May 22-Jun 5
Onions N/A N/A Apr 10-May 1
Apr 10-21
Oregano Feb 27-Mar 27
Feb 27-Mar 9, Mar 24-27
May 8-29
May 22-29
N/A
Parsley N/A N/A Apr 10-24
Apr 22-24
Parsnips N/A N/A Apr 17-May 8
Apr 17-21, May 8
Peas N/A N/A Mar 27-Apr 17
Mar 27-Apr 7
Potatoes N/A N/A May 1-22
May 8-21
Pumpkins Apr 10-24
Apr 22-24
May 22-Jun 12
May 22-Jun 5
N/A
Radishes N/A N/A Mar 13-Apr 3
Mar 13-23
Rosemary Feb 27-Mar 13
Feb 27-Mar 9
May 15-Jun 5
May 22-Jun 5
N/A
Sage Mar 13-27
Mar 24-27
May 8-22
May 22
N/A
Spinach N/A N/A Mar 27-Apr 17
Mar 27-Apr 7
Squash (Zucchini) Apr 10-24
Apr 22-24
May 22-Jun 12
May 22-Jun 5
N/A
Sweet Potatoes Apr 10-17
Apr 10-17
May 22-Jun 12
Jun 6-12
N/A
Swiss Chard Mar 27-Apr 10
Mar 27-Apr 7
Apr 17-24
Apr 22-24
N/A
Thyme Feb 27-Mar 27
Feb 27-Mar 9, Mar 24-27
May 8-29
May 22-29
N/A
Tomatoes Mar 13-27
Mar 24-27
May 15-Jun 5
May 22-Jun 5
N/A
Turnips N/A N/A Apr 10-May 1
Apr 10-21
Watermelons Apr 10-17 May 22-Jun 12
May 22-Jun 5
N/A

MAY’S MAGNOLIA MOON

May’s full Moon is most often called the Flower Moon. Other names include the Corn Planting Moon, and Milk Moon. How beautiful the Flower Moon looked last night rising through our Magnolia blossoms!

GOOD NEWS CAPE ANN! – EPISODE 5

Good News Cape Ann! – Episode #5

 Sounds of Cape Ann, fog horn, songbirds, boats

Red-winged Blackbird singing across the marsh and calling to his mate in the reeds below.

Musing over name of show-  Good News Cape Ann, Finding Hope, my friend Loren suggested Beauty of Cape Ann, and husband Tom suggests Coastal Currents – what do you think?

Loren Doucette beautiful pastels and paintings. Follow her on Facebook and Instagram.

Castaways gift certificate

Fishermans Wharf Gloucester now also selling lobsters in addition to scallops, haddock, and flounder. Our son made a fabulous scallop ceviche this week, so easy and delicious.

Cedar Waxwings, Hummingbird, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Baltimore Orioles, and Palm Warbler

Mini tutorial on how to plant a hummingbird garden

TWO MONARCH CONTORVERSIES! Is it okay to raise Monarchs at home? What is the problem with Butterfly Bushes?

Jesse Cook new release “One World One Voice”

Beautiful Piping Plover courtship footage – Piping Plovers in the field, what are they doing right now?

Charlotte stops by.

Take care and be well <3

Alex’s Scallop Ceviche Recipe

1 lb. sea scallops completely submerged in fresh lime juice

Dice 1/2 large white onion. Soak in a bowl with ice water to the reduce bitterness.

Dice 1 garden fresh tomato, 1 jalapeño, and cilantro to taste

Strain the onions.

Strain scallops but leave 1/4 of the lime juice.

Gently fold all ingredients. Add cubed avocado just prior to serving.

 

 

CEDAR ROCK GARDENS VEGETABLE, HERB, AND FLOWER SEEDLINGS!

Warm Weather Seedlings!

Starting May 15, our website will feature all the warm weather vegetable, flower and herb seedlings that we’ll be releasing from the green house later that week. This will be your first chance to scroll through the bounty and fill your online shopping cart!

We’ll be assembling everyone’s order during the week, then opening for pre-scheduled pick-ups beginning May 22. You can schedule your preferred pick-up day when you checkout online. Call us from your mobile at 978-471-9979 when you arrive at the farm on your selected pick-up day, then pop the trunk and we’ll gently place your garden treasure right in for you to take home and plant, no in-person transaction or contact required!

For more information, VISIT CEDAR ROCK GARDENS WEBSITE HERE

 

NEW YOUTUBE SHOW “GOOD NEWS CAPE ANN!” EPISODE #4

Good News Cape Ann! 

Topics Episode #4

Thank you Friends for watching! Links to topics provided below

 Timelapse sunrise over Salt Island (see end of video)

Ospreys catch a Skate!

Coronavirus – Sending much love and prayers to my family of friends who are suffering so greatly.

Nicole Duckworth’s birthday parade

Time to put your hummingbird feeders out -how to attract hummingbirds and keep them coming to your garden

Cape Ann List of ToGo Curbside Pickup TakeOut Restaurants

Fisherman’s Wharf Gloucester and Sole Amandine Recipe

Gloucester Bites

Allie’s Beach Street Café

Turner’s Seafood

Castaways Vintage Café

Melissa Tarr’s Naan bread

Monarch Butterflies Mating

Piping Plovers nestling

Project SNOWStorm shares

Turkeys in the morning sun and Turkey bromance (correction – there was one hen with the group of toms).

Chocolate-dipped almond biscotti recipe

Please write if there is a Good News topic you would like to share. I am thinking about changing the name of the show to Finding Hope, what do you think about that?

THE TENACITY OF TREES

This was sent to me by my friend Susan and I cannot find the author to credit , but sharing nonetheless because it has lifted my spirits and I hope it does your, too.

The tenacity of trees
#1 A Place Of Enchantment
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#2 This Palm Tree Fell Over And Curved Right Back Up

 
#3 This Tree Fell Over And Cloned Four More Trees!  

 
#4 The Only Tree That Survived The Tsunami In Japan
Now Protected And Restored.
      trees-refuse-to-give-up-24-59846122a265c
 
#5 Tree Of Life – Olympic National Park, Washington  

#6 A Tree’s Root Spill Over The Sidewalk  

#7 An amazing tree grows out of a rock!
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#8 This Tree is Growing Through Speed Limit Sign  
trees-refuse-to-give-up-17-59831833509f6