Category Archives: Through the Garden Gate

A Splash of Color for Winter Weary Eyes!

Cosmos ©Kim Smith 2014Cosmos bipinatus

In preparation for my upcoming season of programs, which are centered around designing gardens to support pollinators, one of my jobs is to refresh and update the photos that are an integral part of the presentation. This past month I have been immersed in colorful images and tomorrow I am giving my new monarch butterfly presentation at (the other) Cape. Here are some of the outtakes from my pollinator habitat programs for our winter weary eyes.

For more information about programs and upcoming events, please visit my website at kimsmithdesigns.com

Luna Moth Phlox DavidPhlox and Luna Moth

Sunflower and Joe-pye  ©Kim Smith 2014Sunflower and Joe-pye Weed

Goleta Monarch Butterfly Santa Barbara California Cape Honeysuckle ©Kim Smith 2015.Monarch Butterfly and Cape Honeysuckle, Goleta California

Cosmos -1 Donovan Field ©Kim Smith 2013

Congratulations Emily Forshay Crowley-Winner of Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!

Dear Friends,

I truly wish I could give each and everyone of you who wrote your thoughtful and cherished comments a copy of Oh Garden. Thank you.

Warmest wishes for a joy-filled holiday season and many thanks again for your participation.

Kim

Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! .jpg

Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! On sale for 15.00 at David R. Godine, Publisher

Win a FREE Copy of Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail©Kim Smith 2010

Tuesday through Friday of this week I will be bringing you expert gardening advice excerpted from my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester GardenMy book is currently on sale on my publisher’s website (David R. Godine) for the unheard of price of 15.00 (the list price is 35.00.) In response to Godine’s super sale, I am offering a free copy of my book.

Leave a comment or question on any of the posts by Friday at 8PM to be entered into the drawing to win. Multiple entries are allowed. One person will be chosen at random. The book will be shipped on Monday, the 17th, which should allow time for it to arrive by Christmas. Shipping is included to addresses within the United States and Canada.

Praise for Oh Garden: Smith’s writing is lithe and clean and her experiences in conjuring beauty out of her garden in Gloucester make for excellent reading.
Hawk and Whippoorwill

Excerpt from Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! Part One: Creating the Framework, Chapte Three ~ Planting in Harmony with Nature

Magnolia virginiana ~ Sweetbay Magnolia

Located in the heart of Ravenswood Park in Gloucester there is a stand of Magnolia virginiana growing in the Great Magnolia Swamp. It is the only population of sweetbay magnolias known to grow this far north. I took one look at the native sweetbay magnolia and breathed in the fresh lemon-honeysuckle bouquet of the blossoms, fell in love, and immediately set out to learn all I could about this graceful and captivating tree.

Magnolia virginiana ©Kim Smith 2012 copy

Returning from a trip to visit my family in northern Florida, I had tucked the bud of a the Southern magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora) into my suitcase to paint upon my return. I was dreaming of someday having a garden large enough to accommodate a Magnolia grandiflora and was elated to discover how similar our sweetbay magnolia is to the Southern magnolia. For those not familiar with the Southern magnolia, it is a grand, imposing specimen in the landscape, growing up to fifty feet in the cooler zones five and six, and one hundred feet plus in the southern states. M. grandiflora is the only native magnolia that is evergreen in its northern range, flowering initially in the late spring and sporadically throughout the summer. The creamy white flowers, enormous and bowl-shaped (ten to twelve inches across), emit a delicious, heady sweet lemon fragrance.

In contrast, the flowers of the sweetbay magnolia are smaller, ivory white, water-lily cup shaped, and sweetly scented of citrus and honeysuckle. The leaves are similar in shape to the Magnolia grandiflora, ovate and glossy viridissimus green on the topside, though they are more delicate, and lack the leathery toughness of the Southern magnolia. The lustrous rich green above and the glaucous silvery green on the underside of the foliage creates a lovely ornamental bi-color effect as the leaves are caught in the seasonal breezes.

Magnolia virginiana is an ideal tree for a small garden in its northern range growing to roughly twenty feet compared to the more commanding height of a mature Southern magnolia. M. virginiana grows from Massachusetts to Florida in coastal freshwater wetland areas as an understory tree. The tree can be single- or multi-stemmed. Sweetbay is a stunning addition to the woodland garden with an open form, allowing a variety of part-shade loving flora to grow beneath the airy canopy. The leaves are a larval food for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly. Almost immediately after planting we began to notice the swallowtails gliding from the sunny borders of the front dooryard, where an abundance of nectar-rich flowers are planted specifically to attract butterflies, around to the shady border in the rear yard where our sweetbay is located.

Garden designs are continually evolving. Part of our garden has given way to a limited version of a woodland garden, for the shady canopy created by the ever-growing ceiling of foliage of our neighboring trees has increasingly defined our landscape. We sited our Magnolia virginiana in the center of our diminutive shaded woodland garden where we can observe the tree from the kitchen window while standing at the kitchen sink. Gazing upon the tree bending and swaying gracefully in the wind, displaying its shifting bi-color leaves, provides a pleasant view when tending to daily chores.

See Tuesday’s excerpt about pear trees

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail ©Kim Smith 2010Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Coming Soon: Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly tells the story of the ubiquitous and stunning Black Swallowtail butterfly.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly

My new documentary film captures the beauty and mystery of the Black Swallowtail, through all its life stages, and in it’s surrounding habitats. I think you will be amazed and captivated by this garden-variety and seemingly ordinary, extraordinary butterfly!

From Egg to Caterpillar to Chrysalis to Adult

Black Swallowtail Eggs

 Black Swallowtail Caterpillar Everting Osmeterium

Black Swallowtail Emerging from Chrysalis

Newly Emerged Black Swallowtail Butterfly

Male Black Swallowtail Butterfly Nectaring at Fennel

Female Black Swallowtail Butterfly

One of several preferred Black Swallowtail habitats—Gloucester’s sandy wildflower meadow at Good Harbor Beach. The milkweed provides nectar for swallowtails on the wing and Queen Anne’s Lace is a food plant of the Black Swallowtail caterpillars.

Premiere Episode of Through the Garden Gate

The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale Estate

Aloha and Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Friends,

A Thanksgiving column for you–about the sublime rose ‘Aloha,’ for which I am most thankful. Even more so, I am thankful for my family—our son Alex is arriving home from college this afternoon, then later in the afternoon, my dear mother-and father-in-law from Cincinnati, and then darling daughter tonight on the train from NYC. I count my blessings each and every day, but I am especially grateful that this Thanksgiving my husband and I can share this most special of holidays with our family. I hope with all my heart you have a joyful Thanksgiving.

Warmest wishes, Kim

P.S. Programming notes ~ Two specials that I produced are airing on Cape Ann TV this week and they are The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale Estate and The Greasy Pole Fall Classic (see previous post re Greasy Pole schedule).

Program schedule for The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale Estate airing on Channel 12, Cape Ann TV:

Monday, November 21 at 8:00 pm

Tuesday, November 22 at 2:30 am and 10:30 pm

Saturday, November 26 at 8:00 pm

Aloha Blooming Mid-November

Rosa ‘Aloha’

The French have a beautiful sounding word for a repeat flowering rose and, without doubt, the most remontant rose that we grow is ‘Aloha.’ Embowering our front porch pillars, she welcomes with her fresh-hued beauty.‘Aloha’ begins the season in a great flush, followed by a brief rest, and then continues non-stop, typically through November, and in one recent, relatively mild autumn, into December. I like her so very much that I planted a second and then third and they are all three sited where we can enjoy her great gifts daily.

‘Aloha’s’ buds are full and shapely, and colored carmine rose with vermilion undertones, giving us a preview of nuanced shades to come. She unfurls to form large, quartered, and subtly two-toned blossoms, initially opening in shades of clear rose-pink with a deeper carmine pink on the reverse, or underside of the petals. The blossoms are long lasting, fading to a lovely shade of  pale coral pink. And the petals fall loosely, never becoming balled clumps. With luxuriously long stems and shiny emerald foliage, ‘Aloha’ also makes a divine cut flower.

Oh, and I can’t believe I am several paragraphs in and haven’t yet mentioned her fragrance. She not only welcomes with her great beauty, but also with her potent and dreamy scent. I’ve often heard ‘Aloha’ described as having a green apple fragrance, but find that description only partially accurate; the scent is really much more sophisticated, with notes not only of fresh Granny Smith apple, but also the warm sensuous undertones of the old Damask and Bourbon roses.

Passers-by may think she looks a bit peculiar, ruining my color scheme with her fresh-hued cluster of pink amongst a tumble of drying stalks and seed heads in the beige and brown hues of late autumn, but I don’t mind—to be welcomed by her scent on a cold November morning is simply to be welcomed by a gift—and ‘Aloha’ is a rose that just keeps giving and giving and giving.

I first took note of Aloha, arching along a split-rail fence and growing in the path of drying winter winds and sand. A rose that can withstand winter along the Cape Ann seashore is a rose worth noticing. I asked the owner of the garden if she minded if I took a cutting and she very graciuosly allowed me to take several (see Chapter 14, page 117, in my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities on how to propagate a rose from a cutting).  ‘Aloha’ is one of the easier roses to propagate and I soon had several viable plants. I kept one and gave the rest to friends. Roses grown on their own roots are far superior to those grown on a commercial rootstock. The grafted joint is susceptible to disease and damage. Not only that, in the case of a very severe winter, the growth above the graft is often completely destroyed. The growth that returns in the spring is that of the rooting stock, not of the originally desired rose.

‘Aloha’ was hybridized by Eugene Boerner in 1949 and is in the class Large Flowered Climber. Her parents are the Climbing Hybrid Tea ‘Mercedes Gallart’ and ‘New Dawn.’ Although classified as a climber, the versatile ‘Aloha’ is easily grown as a shrub. The foliage is vigorous and leathery, and rarely visited by pests or disease. ‘Aloha’ is the parent or in the ancestry of many gorgeous roses and has contributed greatly to the development of the David Austin roses.

Roses seen in paintings by the old Dutch masters are the Damask, Bourbon, Gallica, Alba, and Portland roses. Hybrid Perpetuals were derived to a great extent from the Bourbons. Hybrid teas are a cross between the winter-hardy Hybrid Perpetual and the tender, yet repeat blooming, Tea rose; hence the winter-hardy and repeat blooming class called Hybrid Tea. These were cross-pollinated with large flowered climbers, culminating in roses that inherited what are considered by rosarians to be the most desirable qualities—that of repeat flowering, strong fragrance, strong stems, hardiness, and disease resistance.

‘Aloha’ grows vigorously in full sun or a very light bit of shade. A compact climber, she is ideal for planting alongside porch pillars and fences. It is easier to train the canes to grow up a porch pillar or to arch along a fence when they are young as the canes become stiff with age. After the first flush of flowering, deadhead and remove any weak or twiggy growth. Pruning is not mandatory for flowering because ‘Aloha’ blooms on both old wood and on the current season’s growth, however, I like to prune again lightly at the end of the growing season, to shape and to remove twiggy growth. In early spring fertilize and lightly prune yet again, removing any dead winter damage (usually minimal). ‘Aloha’ is not prickle free; be mindful to plant where she won’t create a nuisance (I should heed my own advice, although if planted in a heavily trafficked site she is very easy to keep in check).

Because of her ease in culture, remontant habit, arresting fragrance, and seemingly endless variations in color from within each flower, I would have to say ‘Aloha’ is in my top ten category of favorite roses, if not top five. If you have a rose that you cherish—a rose you grow, or perhaps one you recall from childhood—please write and tell me what it is that you find lovely in your rose.

Aloha (left pillar) Early June

Aloha Late June

Reminder Thursday Night Premiere

Dear Friends,

A full schedule is planned this week–fall plantings, the premiere of The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale, and my lecture in New Hampshire. Rather than cooking half the night away, I planned ahead and spent the weekend making lots of treats for Thursday’s premiere. I hope you can come!!

Thursday morning’s lecture in Amherst, Butterfly Gardening, promises to be a joyful, and informative, program. This summer my Fujifilm x100 gave me many new photos that I can include in my lecture series and I couldn’t resist creating an entirely new slide show. I sorted though thousands of new photos over the weekend. And now, to tackle the video footage shot this summer and autumn—a daunting task ahead, but one I am sure will be  rewarding!

I hope you are warm and cozy and not without power. Sixty-degree temperatures are predicted for the weekend! New England weather—so very predictably unpredictable!

Warmest wishes, Kim

 Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Willowdale Estate

Oriental Lily Casa Blanca

Monarch Butterfly Emerging from Chrysalis

Black Swallowtail Pooping and Eating Fennel Simultaneously

Black Swallowtail Newly Pupated, Discarded Skin-Caught Mid-air!