Category Archives: The Fragrant Garden

CAMBRIDGE’S MARY PRENTISS INN URBAN POLLINATOR GARDEN!

All are welcome at The Mary Prentiss Inn, people and pollinators!

Pollen-dusted Honey Bee

We’ve planted the front dooryard garden with an array of eye-catching, fragrant, and nectar rich flora for both guests and neighbors to enjoy, and to sustain the growing number of bees, butterflies, and songbirds frequenting the garden.

Fabulously fragrant Oriental Lilies are planted adjacent to the front door to welcome visitors as they enter the Inn.

The Mary Prentiss Inn, from the pollinators point of view ~

The Mary Prentiss is a stunning twenty-room Greek-Revival style inn located on a quiet street minutes away from Harvard Square. Elegant, comfortable, and charming, with period architectural detail and decor, the Inn is outfitted with all modern amenities. Visit The Mary Prentiss Inn website for more information.

Enjoy a delicious made-to-order breakfast or afternoon tea at the Inn’s secret garden.

The Mary Prentiss Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the proud recipient of the Massachusetts Historical Commission Preservation Award for 1995.

The Mary Prentiss Inn is located at 6 Prentiss Street, Cambridge. Call 617-661-2929 or visit maryprentissinn.com

Wild and Wonderful Wisteria ~ When to Prune?

Wild and wonderful wisteria can quickly become wildly wicked wisteria. Reader Alicia writes, “when is the best time of year to prune wisteria?”

willowdale-estate-spring-©kim-smith

Taming the wisteria (before photo). The first photo shows what the ancient wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) looked like when first I took over the gardens at Willowdale Estate. I removed much of the plant and bent one long trunk over and down, attaching it to a thick bamboo stake, to create the wisteria “arch.” The next photo shows what the wisteria arch looked like by mid-summer that same year.

willowdale-estate-zinnia-patch-©Kim Smith

Alicia asks: “Much to my surprise the wisteria is blooming and has never been this late. I really gave up on it and am wondering why? When is the best time to prune it?”

Hi Alicia,

Wisteria throughout our region bloomed later than usual I think becasue spring got off to such a slow start this year.

Wisteria grows beautifully and is easiest to control when pruned biannually, or twice a year; a summer pruning and a winter pruning.

Summer Pruning: Cut the long shoots after the flowers fade to about six inches.

Winter Pruning: In late winter, before the buds begin to swell, prune all the shoots that have since grown after the summer pruning. The shape of the leafless wisteria is more clearly visible and you can easily see the unruly, long shoots at this time of year. Cut the branches to about 3 to 5 buds and over time, these shortened flowering branches will resemble a wisteria “hand.”

photo-2Photo submitted by Alicia Mills

Fringetree on Rocky Neck ~ American Native Beauty in Our Midst

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fringetree Chionanthus virginicus Rocky Neck Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2014

Incredible Wedding at Willowdale Estate

Spring Tulips ©Kim Smith 2013

I have shared many photos and stories about the garden and events that take place at Willowdale Estate. Not only because I love working with everyone there, but also because several people who live in Gloucester work at Willowdale (Michele and Audi) and because everyone in the Willowdale offices reads GMG on a daily basis. The following glowing review was recently published in The Knot and I thought perhaps prospective brides looking for a venue would like to read about one bride’s beautiful experience at Willowdale.

Incredible Wedding!

Review - May 2013 Healey

Spring Tulips ©Kim Smith 2013 -1Spring Tulips at Willowdale Estate

The Mary Prentiss Inn

mary prentiss inn ©Kim Smith 2013 copy

Last fall I began a new project, The Mary Prentiss Inn, located on Prentiss Street off of Harvard Square. The old garden had grown up and out and the plants had become too over-sized for the little borders out front of the Inn.

mary prentiss inn before ©Kim Smith 2012Mary Prentiss Inn ~ Before

Jennifer Fandetti, who runs her family’s Inn, had wanted more color throughout the growing season, as well as flowers to bring indoors to decorate the rooms.

Jennifer fandetti and helper ©Kim Smith 2012Jennifer and bulb-planting helper

Mary prentiss Inn fall planting ©Kim Smith 2012Our awesome fall crew planting the bulbs

We are all so weary of winter’s drab hues that when spring at long last arrives the tulips and jonquils are a wonderfully welcome sight. I make a special mix of color and variety for each client and later this season we’ll add perennials and annuals. The boxwoods give the borders a neat appearance and the hollies and magnolia provide structure and beauty throughout the year. Coming soon is a little cutting garden along the side of the building. For now, everyone, including guests and neighbors, are enjoying the new look at the Inn!

Mary Prentiss Inn spring tulips ©Kim smith 2013

Harvard and MIT are just around the corner from the Mary Prentiss, and with all the graduations and events, if you need a wonderful place to stay, or recommend to a friend, The Mary Prentiss Inn is an absolutely perfect and delightful inn in the heart of Cambridge. The staff is gracious and helpful, the building has been beautifully renovated and restored (and is meticulously maintained) and all the rooms are charming and beautifully appointed, with decor by Charlotte’s Forsythe. Amenities include high speed internet service (wired and WiFi), cooked to order breakfasts, and 100 percent cotton bed linens. Every afternoon tea is served with super delicious homemade cookies and other sweet treats. Around back is a stunning secret garden and sunny courtyard used for breakfast, afternoon tea, and relaxing.

Mary Prentiss Inn spring tulips -1 ©Kim smith 2013

I watched as these two women were were walking down Mass Ave. They looked down Prentiss Street, and continued to walk by, but on second thought turned around and came back to photograph the flowers!

Mary Prentiss Inn spring tulips -2 ©Kim smith 2013

WOW and WONDEFUL—190 milkweed plants ordered!!!

Thank you to everyone participating in the Cape Ann Milkweed Project!

Monarch Butterfly milkweed Good harbor Beach ©Kim Smith 2011

Monarch Butterfly Nectaring at Common Milkweed ~ Good Harbor Beach

Milkweed may not be for everyone’s garden; even if you did not order plants, you are welcome to come on down to the dock Saturday morning, the 18th of May, and learn more about the Monarch-milkweed connection. The plants are being shipped on Monday the 13th and I will keep you updated on their progress.

Lecture Tuesday Night at the Seaside Garden Club

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

Cabbage White Butterflies mating in Cornus florida ©Kim Smith 2009

Cabbage White Butterflies Mating in the Native Flowering Dogwood Foliage 

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

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

Cecropia Moth ©Kim Smith 20009

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

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