Tag Archives: Cape Ann wildflowers

MORE ABOUT CREATING COMMONS COLLECTIVE IN THE GLOUCESTER DAILY TIMES!

Check out the excellent commentary featured in the Gloucester Daily Times on Wednesday –

Commentary: Creating Commons

“If this land be not rich, then is the whole world poor.”

So wrote Thomas Morton upon his arrival on Cape Ann in 1624. In a treatise published in London, Morton described the coast he encountered as a “New English Canaan,” a promised land filled with flora and fauna the likes of which Europeans had not yet known. Morton’s description of the area’s bounty was not singular. For example, John Smith’s report back to the imperial center preceded Morton’s and John Josselyn’s was published shortly after Morton’s. Such 17th-century writings inspired the English occupation of what would become the New England colonies and the accompanying genocide of the Native populations that had been here for centuries before the first European set foot on Cape Ann.

We begin with a return to this early settler history not to celebrate the violence and destruction it inspired, but to recall how awestruck Europeans were by the abundant natural beauty of the place that we call our home. Cape Ann was beautiful then, and it is beautiful now. This hardly needs saying. Artists have captured its twilight, poets have described its “granite teeth,” and mystics have meditated on its shores. But even as the land has been celebrated over the centuries, it too has been exploited. This story is not unique to Cape Ann, of course; it is the American story of land. On this island, the merchants of the 18th century were replaced by industrialists who then gave way to the 20th century’s financiers, all of them extracting, privatizing, and profiting from Cape Ann’s abundant timber and granite. With the dawning of beach tourism in the mid-19th century, the extensive coastline with its generous beaches led to further cordoning off and construction.

Now, in the 21st century, as we stare down the barrel of climate collapse, we must consider how, over four centuries of European occupation, we have grown so estranged from the land, so out of step with its natural rhythms and cycles. We are invited, in the spirit of the Potawatomi environmental biologist Robin Wall Kimmerer and others who advocate for new paradigms of land stewardship, to consider how we might live in relationships of reciprocity with the place we inhabit and with its many abundances. We seek, to borrow a phrase from the novelist Catherine Bush, “not control, but the agency to engage in acts of repair.”

This is the common cause that unites our collective of artists, avant gardeners, arborists, historians, and thinkers. We are all longtime residents of Cape Ann, and we share an endless fascination — even infatuation — with its local flora. READ MORE HERE 

Golden Ragwort (Packera aurea) currently blooming at Millbrook Meadow, Rockport

WHEN A WEED IS NOT A WEED and Why Joe-Pye is So Darn Lovable!

A bodacious beauty possessing the toughest of traits, Joe-Pye Weed (Eutrochium) is the stalwart star of the eastern native plants garden. Large, airy dome-shaped flowerheads blooming in a range of shades from pink to lavender to purple provide food, by way of nectar, foliage, and seed heads to myriad species of bees, butterflies, and songbirds. Beginning in mid-July and continuing through mid-October, pollinators on the wing can find sustenance in a garden planted with Little Joes and Big Joes.

Joe Pye, the person, is thought to have been a North Carolina Native American medicine man who used these wildflowers to cure many ailments, including typhoid fever. The plants became know as Joe Pye’s weed.

A name changer from weed to wildflower would be a game changer for numerous species of native plants. Why do so many native wildflowers have the suffix weed? Because when the colonists arrived from Europe, they wanted their crops, as well as European cultivated flowers, to grow in their new gardens. Anything native that interfered with their plans was deemed a “weed.” Examples of beautiful and invaluable North American native pollinator plants with the name given weed are milkweed (Asclepias), sneezeweed (Helenium), ironweed (Veronia), and jewelweed (Impatiens capensis).

Three favorite and fabulous species for the New England landscape are Eutrochium purpureum, E. maculatum, and E. dubium. Joe-pye grows beautifully in average to moist soil, in full sun to light shade. Plant Joe-pye in the back of the border. E.purpurem grows five to seven feet tall, while Little Joe grows three to five feet. With their beautiful blossoms, robust habit, winter hardiness, and disease resistance, these long blooming members of the sunflower family are treasured for their ability to attract an array of butterflies, bees, and songbirds to the garden during the mid- to late-summer season.

Just look at this sampling of the different species of Lepidoptera finding noursihment from the blossoms of Joe-Pye!


Tiger Swallowtail

Painted Lady
Black Swallowtail

 

Monarch

Joe-Pye does especially well in a coastal native plants garden.

If you enjoyed reading this post, I hope you will consider donating to the completion of my documentary film Beauty on the Wing: Life Story of the Monarch Butterfly. Every contribution is tremendously appreciated. For more information on how you can help, please visit the film’s website at http://www.monarchbutterflyfilm.com

Call for Wildflower Locations

While I am finishing editing my Black Swallowtail film, I am also shooting footage for my film about the Monarch butterflies. I am looking for scenes of wildflower meadows and drifts–milkweed, asters, and goldenrod, for example. If you have a favorite place and know of such a scene on Cape Ann (accessible to the public) or are willing to allow me to come film and photograph on your property, please let me know. There is no extensive equipment involved, just me and my camera and tripod. Please feel free to email me directly at kimsmithdesigns1@gmail.com. Thank you.

Eastern Point Gloucester Seaside Goldenrod