School Street Sunflowers will be in peak bloom over the next week or so, the field is dried out from all the rain, and there are armfuls of flowers to take home! For tickets (which include sunflower stems!) visit School Street Sunflowers here
School Street Sunflowers is located at 16 School Street in Ipswich.
With a broken leg unfortunately still preventing me from visiting my friend’s farm fields, Paul Wegzyn from School Street Sunflower and Dahlia Fields writes that despite the pending storm, the fields are opening today!!!
School Street Sunflower Field and Dahlia Field
Open Saturday, August 21st – 9am until sunset.
16 School Street, Ipswich
With our sunflower field, we have lost over 50% of the field because of all the rain in July. With another 2.5 inches of rain yesterday, our sunflower field is very muddy right now. It looks like even more rain on Sunday and Monday with Tropical Storm Henri.
We still have thousands of beautiful sunflowers in bloom and there are some excellent spots for photos.
Usually we have an admission fee and don’t cut sunflowers in this field, but with the many sunflowers that were flooded, we will have no admission fee. We will be selling tickets for bunches of sunflowers.
Each ticket will get you one bunch of sunflowers (3 stems) and you can walk around and find the best spots to take photos.
Our dahlia field is looking amazing and we will be open on Saturday. The location of the dahlia field is also on School Street. Almost across the street from the tennis courts at Ipswich High School.
There is no admission fee to the dahlia field and you can buy dahlias there.
We will have events throughout the summer and fall where Paul and award winning Dahlia grower, Bart Kellerman aka “Doc Dahlia” give talks about growing dahlias.
The hours for the dahlia field are still TBD, but you can find us there on the weekends and some weeknights.
For everyone that loves sunflowers, we have another sunflower field planted that will open up in Mid September! We are really excited to open up this field to the public for the first time and we will have more information in September.
See you Saturday!
Father and son School Street Sunflowers proprietors, Paul Wegzyn and Paul Wegzyn
Photo gallery from past years at School Street Sunflowers
Tip Top Tulips promises to be a show stopper this Mother’s Day weekend with fields blooming in prime glorious beauty! My friend Paul has created yet another enchanting and magical flower experience for the community (see School Street Sunflowers). Visiting Tip Top Tulips to celebrate Mother’s Day is a wonderful way to spend time with your Mom, wife, girlfriend, and family. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome, too. And on a recent visit, if you can imagine, I ran into half a dozen fairy princesses <3
Only a very few varieties of tulips have gone past and there are loads and loads of fresh flowers to pick (I can attest that Paul’s freshly picked tulips last a good ten days!). The array of colors is beyond exquisite, from brilliant jewel tones to softly-hued pastels, along with every imagined shape and pattern, from dippled and dappled, to striped and ruffled. Deanna Gallagher’s adorable and family friendly Shetland Sheep are visiting Tip Top Tulips as well, along with a beautiful young calf.
Paul and friend Liam
There are plenty of times available on Saturday, May 8th. Sunday, Mother’s Day, times are available between 9 and 10, and after 4:30ish. After this weekend, the fields will still be beautiful so I would check with Paul on how much longer Tip Top Tulips is planning to stay open.
Tip Top Tulips is located at 71 Town Farm Road in Ipswich.
You may recall that I have written a number of times about my friend Paul Wegzyn and his stunning and enchanting School Street Sunflowers. Paul has created another magically enchanted flower experience for the community! This past autumn, Paul, and his Dad Paul, planted several hundred thousand tulips at two different fields.
Early red tulips in bloom today!
The smaller field at 22 School Street, Ipswich, is opening on Sunday, April 18th. This field is planted for pick-your-own tulips. Charming wicker baskets are provided and the cost is $1.00 per stem.
The second field, named Tip Top Tulips (located at 71 Town Farm Road, Ipswich ), is going to be the show stopper. Rows and rows of beautiful multi-colored tulips, from early flowering varieties to late flowering cultivars will be blooming over the next two months. Tip Top Tulips is scheduled to tentatively open the following week, approximately April 24th, depending on the weather.
The theme this first year for Tip Top Tulips is Love, in honor of Paul’s Mom, and as with School Street Sunflowers, there will be beautiful photo vignettes positioned around the field.
Deanna Gallagher will have her adorable and friendly Shetland Sheep and cows at Tip Top field, providing even more fun and wonderful photo moments for the family. Charlotte had the best time with Deanna and her goats at School Street Sunflowers last summer and I cannot wait to take her to Tip Top Tulips this spring!
Bluebird courtship is as beautiful as is the bird! Last week my daughter Liv joined me on a film scouting mini adventure. She loves learning about wildlife and living in Southern California as she does, Liv is surrounded by beautiful wild creatures and wild lands. We had a fantastic morning of it. Brant Geese, Piping Plovers, Great Egrets, Tree Swallows, and Eastern Bluebirds were just some of the creatures we observed.
The Eastern Bluebirds were especially stunning in the crisp early morning sunshine. One particular gent had not yet secured his partner’s affections. From tree branches adjacent to nesting boxes, he sang softly and flashed his glorious blue wings to a female that had flown in on the scene.
At first we thought he was preening, but no, the bachelor was clearly enticing his lady friend with lapis lazuli flags, gesturing with quick up and down lifting movements. Called wing-waving, these gestures are part of Eastern Bluebird courtship.
The male first sings loudly from treetops. If a female shows interest, he further shows off his skill sets with wing-waving and soft warbles. He then entices her to join him at a nesting box or cavity, he entering first. After he flies out of the box and if all goes well, she enters the cavity, a sure sign the pair are hitting it off!
Consistently when out in fields, I see Bluebird pairs that appear strongly committed to each other. I wondered, do Bluebirds mate forever? In our region, we see Eastern Bluebirds. Ornithologists found from a long term study of Western Bluebirds that the great majority stay together for life. No such studies exist for Eastern Bluebirds however, field observations suggest that about 95 percent mate for life when both are still alive.
Eastern Bluebird female, left, male, right
Interestingly though, mating for life does not exclude extra pair copulations. Genetic studies of broods show that about twenty percent of nestlings are sired by more than one male.
Pairs softly warble to each other early in the morning, the male brings nesting material to a chosen site, and once she has entered his nesting cavity, she will begin to bring nesting material and he will bring food to her to “seal the deal.” In our north of Boston region, you can see the courtship behavior beginning as early as February and March.
Eastern Bluebirds re-mate with another partner if one dies.
In the photos below, it’s very easy to see the difference between a male and female Bluebird. The female’s blue is a more subdued grayish hue while the male’s blue feathers are brilliantly hued.
Rich and Stephanie Galicki have created a wondrous Magical Kingdom (as our granddaughter calls the display). For over fifty years, the family has kept the tradition going, each Christmas adding more lights and whimsical scenes. You’ll find a snowman and towering candy cane lined driveway, heralding angels, nutcrackers, a patriotic display created after 911, the Grinch, elf sleigh riders, and much, much more.
The Galicki’s were planning to take 2020 off, but because of the global pandemic they decided to go ahead. Spanning nearly five acres, the display is so brilliant, it can be seen from outer space.
The Galciki’s Magical Kingdom is located on Linebrook Road in Ipswich, just before you get to Marini Farm if coming from Cape Ann. With an electric bill at roughly $2,000.00, donations are greatly appreciated 🙂
Posting a bunch of photos for my friend Paul’s Mom, Debbie Wegzyn. Paul, and his Dad Paul, own and operate School Street Sunflowers. I love photographing at their fields, not only because the fields and all the wildlife attracted to the fields are beautiful but because Paul and his Dad love sharing the beauty of the fields with their community.
The photos were taken in September and October. The hay was being harvested and the winter cover crop planted. Most of the sunflowers had been cut down to plant rye, but Paul left several rows standing. The sunflower seed heads were Mecca for every songbird in the neighborhood, including a beautiful flock of Red-winged Blackbirds, Goldfinches, Song Sparrows, Bobolinks, and Blue Jays.
On December 21st, School Street Sunflowers is planning to share wonderfully exciting news that I think all of Essex County and the North Shore will be overjoyed to learn. Please stay tuned <3
While filming at my friend Paul’s School Street Sunflowers late in the summer, a gorgeous flock of Bobolinks appeared on the scene. The sunflowers were just the right height for the birds to perch upon to eat the seed heads of the wildflowers and grasses growing in and amongst the field. Bobolinks perch while carefully extracting the seeds and fly-hop to the base of the plant for insect treats. I love Paul’s fields because unlike many flower fields, wildflowers and grasses grow in with the sunflowers. The insects attracted and the ripening seeds and berries provide a wealth of food for songbirds and all manner of wild creatures.
Especially beautiful to hear from the fields, every evening bells ring. I would love to learn to more about the bells. If any readers have more information about the bells, please write!
Sparrow-like, with more finch-like bills, Bobolinks are wonderfully fun to watch and listen to when seen in fields, with a range of songs and calls from metallic buzzy to chenks and zeeps. In the footage you will see females, juveniles, and males in non-breeding plumage.
The males are amazing looking during the breeding season, sporting striking black and white feathers with a straw colored crown.
Bobolink Male, image courtesy wiki commons media
Bobolinks are a migratory grassland songbird bird in decline. From Cornell – “Long-distance migrant. Bobolinks travel about 12,500 miles round-trip every year, in one of the longest migrations of any songbird in the New World. From their northern breeding grounds they fly in groups through Florida and across the Gulf of Mexico toward their wintering grounds in South America.”
Monarchs are currently migrating, albeit in small numbers, throughout the North Shore. The butterflies arrived several days ago and because of the rainy weather, they are in a holding pattern. When the sun reappears, look for Monarchs on any still-blooming garden favorites such as zinnias, as well as wildflowers. Please send an email or comment in the comment section if you see Monarchs in your garden or while outdoors over the weekend and upcoming week. Thank you!
Many species of asters and goldenrods have finished flowering; instead the Monarchs are fortifying for the long journey by drinking nectar at Black Mustard flowers, and even Dandelions.
Although not native to North America, Black Mustard (Brassica nigra) is beneficial to bees and butterflies for late season sustenance. Don’t you love its lemony golden beauty in the autumn sunlight?
Black Mustard is not the easiest nor most efficient plant for Monarchs to draw nectar from. I never see the butterflies on Black Mustard unless it is very late in the migration and there are few other choices available.
The ray flowers of asters provide a convenient landing pad for butterflies. Panicle-shaped flowering plant, such as goldenrods, also provide a convenient landing pad while supplying a smorgasbord of nectar rich florets. Black Mustard provides neither. You can see in several photos in an upcoming post that the Monarchs are nectaring with their legs gripped tightly around the base of the flower.
Black Mustard is an annual plant native to Eurasia and North Africa. Cultivated widely as a condiment, medicinally, and vegetable, it came to North America via the early colonists. The plant is in bloom from May through October, or until the first hard frost, and grows well in disturbed man-made sites.
Black Mustard is a member of the Brassicaceae, also classically called the Cruciferae (Latin, meaning ‘cross-bearing’) in reference to its four ‘crossed petals’, which is commonly known as the mustard family. Black Mustard is related to cabbage, broccoli, Brussel sprouts, kohlrabi, kale, turnips, and watercress.
Over time historic ditching processes have compromised the resilience of the Great Marsh by destroying its natural draining process, leaving it increasingly vulnerable to floods. The Trustees and partners are working to fortify 330 acres of the marsh in Newbury, Essex, and Ipswich using an innovative nature-based method of “ditch remediation” that, to date, has only been piloted on a very limited basis on the neighboring USFWS Parker River Wildlife Refuge.
Hard to miss in the wintertime both at Crane Beach and at Plum Island are the layers and swirls of pink and purple sand. On a recent visit to Revere Beach I noticed there were also rivulets of pink and purple sands.