Take in the wonderful fragrance of the flowering Black Locust trees adjacent to the footbridge entrance. The air is redolent with the scent of orange blossoms and honey, along with the Rosa rugosa blooming nearby.
The stand at Good Harbor Beach has been increasing in size and I don’t ever recall the scent quite as potent as it is this year. You can smell the flowers halfway down Nautilus Road!
Black Locust are native to the Appalachian Mountains. The leaves are a host to over 67 species of Lepidoptera, including Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Mourning Cloak, Red-spotted Purple, Viceroy, Giant Leopard Moth, and the Elm Sphinx Moth. A host plant is a caterpillar food plant. And they offer nectar to pollinators, including Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.
There are a surprising number of butterflies this year at Cape Hedge Beach. Several days ago an American Lady was warming on the popples and today, a female Black Swallowtail.
An easy way to see the difference between an American Lady Butterfly and a Painted Lady Butterfly
American Lady (Vanessa virginiensis) ~ Note the two large eyespots on the underside of the hindwing, close to the outer margin.The Painted Lady (Vanessa cardui) has four smaller eyespots on the underside of the hindwing.
This past week after enjoying a delicious lunch of clam chowder and fried clams at Woodman’s, Charlotte, my friend Claudia, and I stopped by Greenbelt’s Cox Reservation en route home. Claudia moved to CapeAnn a year ago and had never been. She was delighted to know about Cox Reservation for future beauty walks through meadow and marsh and of course Charlotte had a fantastic time as she always does when running about in nature. While there, we spied a Monarch depositing eggs on Common Milkweed shoots emerging in the grassland meadow.
I returned the following day to see if the female Monarch was still afield and to try also to capture an audio recording of the music where ‘seaside marsh meets grassland meadow.’
I found so much more. A photo tour for your Memorial Day weekend –
Bobolinks in the Chokecherry Tree (Prunus virginiana)
There are several fields at Cox Reservation that are maintained grassland habitat to help nesting birds such as Bobolinks; a beautiful songbird in steep decline.
We’re accustomed to hearing and seeing male Red-winged Blackbirds; it’s not often we see the females as they are usually on the nest. This pretty female flew into a tree, waved her wings, and stuck out her very showy cloaca. I wasn’t sure what she was up to and when a male came from nowhere and suddenly jumped on her back to mate, I was startled and unfortunately jerked the camera, but you get the idea.
Female Red-winged Blackbird
Male and Female Eastern Bluebirds feeding their brood
Osprey pair nesting in the far distant marsh
With deep appreciation and thanks to Essex County Greenbelt Association’s Director of Land Stewardship Dave Rimmer for his continued help with Cape Ann’s Piping Plovers. Dave has been providing free of charge guidance, along with exclosing the Plover nests, since 2016.
Please share your Monarch sightings. We would love to hear from you <3
This Mama Monarch photographed yesterday was zeroing in and depositing eggs on the freshly emerging shoots of Common Milkweed sprouting in the grassland meadows at Cox Reservation.
On May 21st the first Monarch was spotted; this is the earliest many of us have seen Monarchs in our gardens, dunes, and meadows. MJ observed one on the 21st in Lanesville, Patti in East Gloucester on the 23rd (she has tons of milkweed), Duncan spotted one at Brier Neck, they are in the dunes at Good Harbor Beach in the Common Milkweed patches, in my garden (also lots of milkweed), and have been seen at several Greenbelt sanctuaries, both Castle Neck River Reservation and Cox Reservation.
The butterflies at Cox Reservation were drinking nectar from the Red Clover
The Marvelous Magnificent Migrating Monarch – share with kids!
Please join us Wednesday, June 22nd at 7pm for a free in-person screening and Q and A of Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly at the Salem Visitor Center, as part of Essex National Heritage Pollinator week-long series of events.
Starting May 18th, our warm weather seedlings will be available to come shop at the nursery.
With the next four nights predicted to be above 50 degrees and Saturday night predicted to be above 60 degrees it is a perfect time to bring the warm season vegetables, flowers, and herbs out of the greenhouse.
We have fully stocked the garden center with 40 varieties of tomatoes, a handful of cucumbers, squash, 33 varieties of sweet and hot peppers, eggplants, zinnias, basil, rosmary and much more. We are very excited for another summer growing season and are excited to play in the dirt under the warm sun. We have added some new varieties this year so take some time and ask any questions you may have on new items and staff favorites.
We will have sunflowers, sweet potatoes and melons coming out of the greenhouse along with some varieties of zinnias over the next couple of weeks.
If we do get any nights that go under 45 degrees F we recommend that you cover basil, cucumbers and squash with row cover.
We also have a great selection of hanging baskets and annual and perennial herbs and flowers. Our native perennials selection is stocked up and attracting all the pollinators you can imagine – bring them home to your gardens!
Hope you are having a wonderful spring!
We have posted all the Flower, Herb and Vegetable varieties we are growing this year on our website for you to check out and get excited for! Visit Cedar Rock Gardens Here
Cedar Rock Gardens is carrying both Asclepias (milkweed) and Eupatorium (Joe-pye). Both of these wildflowers are two of the best plants for supporting native pollinators and creating a wildlife friendly garden.
Please join me Wednesday evening, April 20th, at 6:30pm for “The Hummingbird Garden” virtual lecture and slideshow. We’ll talk about how to create a beautiful hummingbird habitat and how to be good stewards of the tender tiny Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Massachusetts smallest breeding bird. We’ll also touch on hummingbirds found in other parts of North America.
I have a full schedule of lectures and program this upcoming week for Earth Day week (Earth Day is Friday, April 22nd). On Tuesday I will be screening Beauty on the Wing in Quebec and screening again later in the week in Connecticut (all virtual presentations!). The public is invited to the Mass Hort presentation, but I am not sure about the screenings. Please email at email@example.com if you would like to attend and I will find out more.
CEDAR ROCK GARDENS Opening for the season: April 13th, 2022!
Starting Wednesday, April 13th we will be open for you to come shop the nursery for all the early spring – cold weather seedlings.
We have posted all the Flower, Herb and Vegetable varieties we are growing this year on our website for you to check out and get excited for!
Welcome Spring 2022!
We are very excited to be welcoming you back to shop with us for our 9th season. We have added some great new varieties of tomatoes, peppers and flowers to our growing list this year (including some bush varieties specifically for containers on your patio or deck) and we have a rockstar crew making sure all plants are happy, healthy and watered! We have already sent some Neptunes Harvest organic fish fertilizer through our hoses to the seedlings so they have the best possible start. We will be starting with cold weather seedlings on opening day even though this spring has proven to be about 2 weeks ahead of its self in terms of soil temperature and average day time temp – you can never be to sure in New England what next week will bring. They are alll currently hardening off in our unheated high tunnel before bring them outside today to start acclimating to the wind and elements.
We hope you are enjoying these longer days and taking some time to plan your garden layout we are always here to help with planning questions and any direct seeding questions you may have as you start to get into your veggie gardens. Right now we are direct sowing our sugar snap peas into the ground along with spinach. We are also direct sowing our arugula, mesclun mix and broccoli rabe under row cover for a little added protection from cold nights. We have organic seeds for sale and are happy to demonstrate how to get those going.
We look forward to seeing you and happy growing!
All the best,
Elise, Tucker, Fae and the whole Cedar Rock Gardens Crew
Covid 19 protocols:
We will be opening this season for you to come shop the nursery in person. Please continue to wear a mask if you don’t feel well while shopping with us at this time.
If you can not shop in person due to health concerns please call or email and we will happily facilitate you. We will not be accepting pre orders, all orders must be for plants that are currently available.
-Thank you for understanding
Mark your Calendars:
Warm Weather seedlings will begin to be available May 18th!
This includes Tomatoes, Peppers, Eggplant, basil, loads of flowers and so much more!
For everyone that wished us well in our endeavors as new parents, thank you! Fae is wonderful and loves being in the greenhouses with us so far.
Super great news update from my friend and American Public Television Vice President Judy. She shares that since our documentary premiered a month ago, Beauty on the Wing has been broadcast 276 times, reaching 48.95 percent of the UStv households. She thinks we will have even greater activity in April because of programming centered around Earth Day! We have received emails and messages from viewers around the country, many inspired to create a Monarch habitat.
With thanks and gratitude to our many generous contributors, without whose help this film would not have been possible.
To the lovely woman in Idaho whose name I think is Shelly – if you are reading this – I accidentally deleted your note but would be happy to advise you on how to establish a Monarch habitat at your field. Please feel free to email so we can connect. Thank you!
We are are receiving many wonderful comments from viewers who have seen the film on their local public television channel, viewers from coast to coast! For we in Massachusetts (and everywhere), if you are a member of PBS Passports, here is the PBS.org Passports link to watch Beauty on the Wing:
Note about the photos – I took a bunch of these Monarch and Buoy photographs as there were several flying around the buoys one day (only on Cape Ann = Monarchs + buoys!). They were taken during this year’s autumn migration on a hazy October afternoon. I didn’t put two and two together until finally having a chance to look at the images several days ago, that one of the buoys was painted orange and black 🙂
Thank you Friends for your continued support and for your love of Monarchs!
Today Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly is scheduled to begin premiering on over 180 public television across the US. From cities coast to coast (including New York, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Seattle, Charlotte, Raleigh, Kansas City, Cincinnati, Columbus, Hartford, and many more), you can check your local listings to find out when Beauty on the Wing is scheduled to air. Additionally, if you don’t see your city listed this week, more stations are planning to add the documentary to their schedule in the coming days.
If you happen to watch Beauty on the Wing on television, please write and let us know. We would love to hear from you!
The one major market that at this date is not planning to air Beauty on the Wing is Boston (??). However, if you are a member of your local PBS station and have contributed more than $60.00, shows are available to stream through PBS Passports. I believe the streaming option for Beauty on the Wing begins this week.
My deepest thanks and appreciation once again to all who so kindly donated to Beauty on the Wing. With your support we were able to complete our documentary, showcase at film festivals, and now bring to a nationwide television audience. Huge special shoutouts to my dear friend Lauren Mercadante who is not only extraordinarily generous, she also loves creating butterfly magic in her garden, and to Jesse Cook, who gave so generously of his music. Thank You Friends <3
Official 30-second promo for American Public Television
During the winter months Cape Ann hosts large flocks of American Robins, and we have recently had the joy of numerous numbers in our garden. I can’t help but notice their arrival. Their shadows descend, crisscrossing the window light, followed by a wild rumpus in the ‘Dragon Lady’ hollies. This pair of hollies is planted on opposing sides of the garden path, alongside my home office. I have learned to stealthily sneak up to a window, as any sudden activity inside startles birds that are investigating our garden, and they quickly disperse. Dining not only on berries of the ‘Dragon Ladies’, but also the ‘Blue Princess’ Meserve holly, Winterberry (Ilex verticillata) and ‘Sargent’s crabapple (Malus sargentii), finds dozens of noisy, hungry robins.
Throughout the year our garden hosts Robin singletons and pairs. During the warmer months, Robins are laser focused on pinpointing worms in the flower beds and grass. At the onset of cooler temperatures insect availability decreases. The winter nomads flock to trees and shrubs that hold their fruit through the cold weather months, feasting on Red Cedar, Winterberry, American holly, Meserve hollies, chokecherries, privet, crabapples, juniper, and sumacs. Robins traveling along the shores of Cape Ann also comb the shoreline for mollusks, and go belly-deep for fish fry. Depleting their food supply, they move onto the next location. Gardens rife with fruiting shrubs and trees make an ideal destination for our visiting friends.
Habitat Gardening Tip:
The garden designed to attract flocks of winter Robins as well as nesting pairs of spring and summer resident Robins, would be comprised of trees and shrubs for nest building, plants that bear fruit and berries that are edible during the summer and fall, and plants that bear fruits that persist through the winter months. Suburban gardens and agricultural areas provide the ideal habitat, with open fields and lawns for foraging insects as well as trees and hedgerows in which to build their nests.
The following plants, suggested with Robins in mind, will also attract legions of songbirds and Lepidoptera. The list is comprised primarily of indigenous species with a few non-native, but not invasive, plants included.
Trees for nesting ~ American Holly (Ilex opaca), Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Red Maple (Acer rubrum), Sugar Maple (Acer saccharum), Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida).
Summer and autumn fruit bearing trees, shrubs and vines for robins ~ Black Cherry (Prunus serotina), Blackberry (Rubus spp.), Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida), Gray Dogwood (C. racemosa), Red-osier Dogwood (C. sericea), Silky Dogwood (C. amomum), Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis), Apple (Malus pumila), Virginia Rose (Rosa virginiana), Highbush Blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum), Lowbush Blueberry (Vaccinium angustifolium), Wild Grape (Vitis spp.).
Trees and shrubs with fruits persisting through winter ~ Winterberry (Ilex verticillata), Mountain Ash (Sorbus americana), Crabapple (Malus spp.), Sargent’s Crabapple (Malus sargentii), American Holly (Ilex opaca), Meserve Hollies (Ilex x meserveae), Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana), Common Juniper (Juniperus communis), Chokecherry (Prunus virginiana), Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra), Staghorn Sumac (Rhus typhina).
Conserve Wildlife NJ senior biologist Todd Pover makes a site visit to Cape Ann beaches, summer long updates from “Plover Central,” GHB Killdeer dune family raise a second brood of chicks, Cape Hedge chick lost after fireworks disturbance and then reunited with Fam, Great Black-backed Gulls are eating our Plover chicks, thousands of Moon Snail collars at Cape Hedge, Monarchs abound, #savesaltisland, missing Iguana Skittles, and Earwig eating Cecropia Moth cats.
New short film for the Sawyer Free Library The Marvelous Magnificent Migrating Monarch!, Coastal Waterbird Conservation Cooperators meeting new short Piping Plover film, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in the garden, why we love Joe-pye and other wildflowers, butterfly friends, Monarch cats in the garden, what is the purpose of the gold dots found on Monarch chrysalides?,Black Beauty came calling, Tigers in the garden, School Street sunflowers, Hoverflies, luminescent Sea Salps return to Cape Ann beaches, Petal Dancers and lemony Yellow Sulphurs on the wing.
Flower Fairies, irruptive Green Darner migration, mini glossary of late summer butterflies, what to do if you find a tagged Monarch, Painted Ladies, White-tailed Deer family, Monarchs mating, Tangerine Butterflies, yellow fellow in the hood, and Beauty on the Wing first ever live screening at the Shalin Liu.
Bee-sized butterfly the American Copper, Monarch conga line, Thunder and Cloud, abandoned Piping Plover egg, School Street Sunflowers, Monarchs migrating, quotidian splendor, Monarch fundraiser updates, collecting milkweed seeds, the Differential Grasshopper, Cooper’s Hawk – a conservation success story, #ploverjoyed, and nor’easter from the EP Lighthouse.