Category Archives: Home and Garden


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.


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 ❤

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-


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:

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”


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.

Suggest an edit


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.


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



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!

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:

Piping Plover Smackdown


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!



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!

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
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
Kale Red Russian
Kale Toscano
Kale Winterbor
Kale mix Continue reading


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
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
Broccoli Mar 27-Apr 10
Mar 27-Apr 7
Apr 17-May 8
Apr 22-May 7
Brussels Sprouts Mar 27-Apr 10
Mar 27-Apr 7
Apr 10-May 1
Apr 22-May 1
Cabbage Mar 13-27
Mar 24-27
Apr 10-24
Apr 22-24
Cantaloupes Apr 10-17 May 22-Jun 12
May 22-Jun 5
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
Celery Feb 27-Mar 13
Feb 27-Mar 9
May 15-29
May 22-29
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
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
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
Lettuce Mar 27-Apr 10
Mar 27-Apr 7
Apr 24-May 22
Apr 24-May 7, May 22
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
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
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
Sage Mar 13-27
Mar 24-27
May 8-22
May 22
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
Sweet Potatoes Apr 10-17
Apr 10-17
May 22-Jun 12
Jun 6-12
Swiss Chard Mar 27-Apr 10
Mar 27-Apr 7
Apr 17-24
Apr 22-24
Thyme Feb 27-Mar 27
Feb 27-Mar 9, Mar 24-27
May 8-29
May 22-29
Tomatoes Mar 13-27
Mar 24-27
May 15-Jun 5
May 22-Jun 5
Turnips N/A N/A Apr 10-May 1
Apr 10-21
Watermelons Apr 10-17 May 22-Jun 12
May 22-Jun 5


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

 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 ❤

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.




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!




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?


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

#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.
#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!
#8 This Tree is Growing Through Speed Limit Sign  
#9 This Tree Refuses To Die  
#10 This Tree Still Has Its Leaves Because Of
The Light Shining On It
#11 Life Finds A Way  
#12 Tree Roots Extend To The Mainland For Nutrients
#13 Life Finds A Way  

#14 Ta Promh Temple In Cambodia  
#15 Never Give Up!  

#16 Someone Hung His Skates On A Small Tree. The Tree Grew Around Them       trees-refuse-to-give-up-103-598418ba6df7
#17 A Tree Growing On Another Tree  
#19  As Tree Grew Out Of The Stump Of A Dead Tree  — Then The Stump Rotted Away       
#20 A Tree Grows From Third Floor Window  

#21 A Lone Tree Found a Way to Live Surrounded by Rock
#22 A   Tree Grows Out of a Rock
#23 A Floating Island Grew At The End Of A Sunken Tree
#24 A Wooden Chair Sprouted Leaves
#25 This Tree Grew Through A Piano
#27 This Tree Refused To Accept Winter  

#28 This Tree Is Eating A Fence  
#29   This Tree Grew Through A Fence  
#30   Trees Will Find A Way  

 It goes to show that when we are determined to survive and persist ,despite the impediments , we can do it.
Like birds, let’s leave behind what we don’t need to carry…grudges, sadness, pain, fear and regrets. Fly light. Life is beautiful .


I look forward to the appearance of these beautiful lavender crocus, a patch that blooms without fail every spring. It has naturalized from a garden probably planted long ago and now springs up along the road’s edge at Niles Pond.

And we had our first sighting of plovers, not Piping Plovers mind you, but Kildeers!


If your skin breaks out in rashes from harsh chemical additives to personal care products, or you aren’t always near a sink for a thorough 20 second hand washing, here is a simple recipe for homemade hand sanitizer.

1/3 C. Aloe vera gel

2/3 C. Rubbing alcohol (99%)

Few drops of essential oil.

Combine all ingredients.

I had neroli oil on hand, but lavender oil, which has natural antiseptic properties would be even better.

Both essential oils and aloe are available at Common Crow.

Common Crow’s DIY Hand Sanitizer

8 oz.. Isopropyl alcohol, no lower than 70 percent OR Witch Hazel

4 oz. Aloe Vera gel

15 drops of your choice, can combine:

Medieval Mix (Aura Cacia)

Lemon Eucalyptus



1.Put essential oils in glass jar and swirl to mix

2. Add alcohol

3. Add Aloe Vera and shake well.

4. Pour into squirt bottles.Natural antiseptic Lavender


My sweet, dear friend Colleen has a wonderful way with young children. She teaches the art classes for tiny people that are outdoor and seasonally themed. We can’t wait until Charlotte turns three!

PLEIN AIR ♥️Crocuses
Montessori Art Kitchen ages 3 and up
weekdays 10:15-11:15


The brilliant red-orange Mexican Sunflower (Tithonia rotundifolia) is a beneficial pollinator magnet. Plant and they will come! Grow a patch of milkweed next to your Mexican Sunflowers and you will not only attract Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and an array of bee species, but every Monarch Butterfly in the neighborhood will be in your garden.

Its many common names include Red Torch Mexican Sunflower, Bolivian Sunflower, Japanese Sunflower, but one of the loveliest is ‘Golden Flower of the Aztecs.’ Tithonia rotundifolia grows wild in the mountains of Central Mexico and Central America.

Mexican Sunflower is one of my top ten favorites for supporting Monarchs, is extremely easy to grow, and deer do not care for its soft, velvety leaves. Plant in average garden soil, water, and dead head often to extend the blooming period. Ours flower from July through the first frost. Collect the seedheads after the petals have fallen off, but before they dry completely and the songbirds have eaten all the seeds.


The brand new beautiful School Street Sunflower field is not to be missed. With gently rolling hills, abundantly planted rows, and a wide, easy path to stroll (easy enough for a two-year-old to navigate), the 5 acres of sunflowers is a wildflower lover’s dream.

Paul Wegzyn and his Dad, also Paul Wegzyn, shared their enthusiasm for this exiting new venture.

There are picnic tables for those who would like to take lunch, and positioned artfully around the fields are photo props such as tractors and bales of hay, but for the most part, the scene is straight up gorgeous sunflowers (and bees!).

The variety planted blooms in 50 to 60 days from when planted and today is day 61. Only a few flowers have droopy seed-laden heads, or have passed. NOW is the time to go as the blooms will all have expired in another two weeks.

Kissable Butterflies

School Street Sunflower Farm

At the corner of Linebrook Road and School Street (for google maps type in – 79 Linebrook Road)

Ipswich, Massachusetts

Open 8am to sunset.

The cost is eight dollars during the week, ten dollars on weekends, and the ticket covers a full day. Wristbands are available if you would like to return the same day. Children under five are free.

Instagram: @schoolstreetsunflowers

Facebook: @schoolstreetsunflowers

Thoughtful sayings posted throughout the field ~

“Wherever life plants you, bloom with grace.”


Our planters for the Kendal Hotel and Black Sheep Restaurant, located at 350 Main Street in Kendal Square, Cambridge, are planted up in late spring. We keep them going with daily watering and fertilizing.

The hydrangeas look more and more beautiful as the summer progresses and I found a wonderful complementary purplish-blue and white striped petunia at Cedar Rock Gardens this year. With a name like ‘Blueberry Muffin,’  how could one resist purchasing. ‘Blueberry Muffin’ is holding its own and filling out nicely. It’s a keeper and on the list for next year.

Next time you’re in Cambridge, stop by and check out the Kendall Firehouse Hotel and come on in for a delicious breakfast, lunch, or dinner. The food is simply outstanding and the staff are wonderfully friendly and professional.


Snapshots from a butterfly gardening workshop that I recently participated in at Philips Andover Children’s Campus. This wonderful program was coordinated with the Andover Gardening Club and Andover Memorial Hall Library. Many thanks to SHED educator Julie for inviting me to participate and for taking such great care of Charlotte while I worked with the kids!


A friend with a lovely garden just loaded with milkweed would like help this summer raising Monarchs. She is located in the Annisquam area. Last year Jane had so many eggs and caterpillars, she had a real time of it trying to take care of all. This year promises to be as good as, if not better than, last year.

If you would like Monarch eggs and information on how to take care of the eggs and caterpillars, please comment in the comment section, and we will provide you with Monarch babies!

Raising Monarchs with kids is the best!

Quick snapshot of Jane’s garden



1. emitting or reflecting glowing or suffused light. Also, clear, enlightening.

Spring Ephemeral garden at the Mary Prentiss Inn, Cambridge

One of the ‘blue’ lilacs, both heavenly and heavily scented

My all time favorite narcissus, mostly for its fabulous fragrance, but also because it is super long blooming.