Beautiful, beautiful School Street Sunflowers is in full glorious bloom and will continue blooming for several more weeks. There is even a whole section that has not yet flowered!
The 7.5 acre sunflower field is simply spectacular and there are lots of picture taking moment for families, with cows (including the calf that we saw at TipTop Tulips in the spring, now a little more grown) and adorable sheep. Not too many sunflower fields offer pumpkins in the photo moments. And at the entrance to the field is a life size pair of sphinxes.
This newer, even more splendid sunflower field is located at the very end of Lowes Lane. Lowes Lane is right behind the Dairy Queen on Rt. 133 in Ipswich. The field is open from 9am til sunset and DOGS are welcome!
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!
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
Expiring sunflower seed heads provide nourishment for flocks of songbirds, including Blue Jays. A Blue Jay’s diet consists mostly of insects, seeds, nuts, and grains. And they love acorns, too (yet another reason to plant oak trees!).
Blue Jays are year round residents throughout their range however, thousands do migrate along the Atlantic Coast and Great Lakes. Their migration is a bit of a mystery and one thought is perhaps that juveniles are more likely to migrate than the adults. The flock visiting the sunflower field this morning was about twenty or so in number. Blue Jay range map
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.”
Foraging energetically amidst the expiring sunflower stalks and then darting to the thicketed woodland edge, a mixed flock of adult and juvenile Common Yellowthroats is finding plenty of fat bugs to eat in these early days of autumn.
Common Yellowthroat female juvenile
Yellowthroats breed in cattail patches at our local North Shore marshes and will soon be heading south to spend the winter in the Southeastern US, Mexico, and Central America.
The above male in breeding plumage was seen taking a bath in our garden several years ago.
Recently I asked my friend Paul Wegzyn, owner of School Street Sunflowers, if I could poke around his sunflower field after it had closed for the season. The field had not yet been turned over to prepare for planting a winter cover crop and with all the expiring flowers, I thought perhaps it might be a wonderful place to photograph. He is so kind and said surely, no problem.
Suffice it to say, Paul’s field far exceeded my expectations for dreamy “expiring” beauty. The sunflowers not only provide myriad species of wildlife with seeds, but the tall, sturdy heads and leaves make for an outstanding songbird perch. The Song Sparrows use the sunflower heads to both forage and groom, the warblers for cover as they are hunting insects, and the most ingenious of all is how the Bobolinks make use of the seed heads. The grass that grows in and amongst the sunflowers is nearly as tall as the flower heads. The Bobolink lands on the sunflower and after thoroughly eyeballing the surrounding landscape for danger (hawks, I imagine), she slides a mouthful of grass seeds down the stalk and into her beak.
Over a period of several days I counted between half a dozen to a dozen Bobolinks, all females and immatures, not a single adult male amongst the flock. I wonder if the males migrate earlier than the females and immatures or if this was just a fluke. The males are striking in their crisp coat of black, white, and yellow, while the female’s feathers look nothing like the male’s wing patterning. (Thank you to author John Nelson for the positive bird ID!)
Male and female Bobolink, image courtesy The Bobolink Project
School Street Sunflowers has been providing a fantastic source of fuel for this super long distant migrant. At this time of year Bobolinks eat seeds and grains, switching over to insects during the breeding season.The Bobolink’s journey is an impressive 6,000 mile trek and they can fly 1,100 miles in a single day. Each year Bobolinks fly approximately 12,500 miles round trip and during the course of an average Bobolink’s life span, they will have traveled a distance equal to circumnavigating the earth four to five times.
Bobolinks are, as are many species of grassland birds, in overall decline. In some areas of New England they are recovering, due in large part to the success of The Bobolink Project. Because Bobolinks nest on the ground and because hay fields are typically planted and mowed earlier than in previous decades, the nest, eggs, and nestlings are churned up in plowing. The Bobolink Project is non profit organization that pays farmers to plant and to mow a little later in the season, which allows the birds to mature to fledge.
Note how well hidden is the Bobolink nest
Above photo gallery courtesy The Bobolink Project
Because of habitat loss, the use of neonicotinoids, and global climate change, grassland species need our help. Like other charismatic species of wildlife–Monarchs, Snowy Owls, and Piping Plovers come to mind–perhaps the Bobolink can be that grassland flagship species that people get excited about. Understanding a wild creature’s life story and lending a helping hand also provides habitat conservation for other species of wildlife as well.
So often I hear folks blaming goldenrod as the source of their allergy suffering, when they really mean to say ragweed. The three species of goldenrod that we most often see in our coastal north of Boston fields, meadows, woodland edges, and dunes are Seaside Goldenrod (Solidago sempervirens), Tall Goldenrod (Solidago altissima), and Canada Goldenrod (Solidago canadensis). All three have beautiful yellow flowers, Seaside blooming a bit after Canada and Tall, and all are fabulous pollinator plants, providing nectar for bees, butterflies, and migrating Monarchs.
In our region, we most often encounter Common Ragweed (Ambrosia artemisifolia), with Plain Jane tiny green flowers and raggedy looking foliage. Goldenrods and ragweeds both bloom at roughly the same time of year, in mid- to late-summer, but why is ragweed the culprit and goldenrods are not? The colorful showy flowers of goldenrods are attractive to pollinators and they are both insect and wind pollinated. The drops of goldenrod pollen are too large to fall far from the plant. Ragweed’s tiny flowers are not of interest to most pollinators and the plant has evolved to rely on the wind to disperse its pollen from plant to plant. Ragweed produces massive amounts of teeny, breathable pollen to travel widely on the wind.
Cedar Waxwing foraging in weed patch with Common Ragweed
Although many of us are fortunate not to be bothered by ragweed, I completely empathize with friends who are. If it is any consolation, I recently learned two good uses for Common Ragweed. Shetland sheep love to eat it and it is good for their wool. And I have been following a flock of Cedar Waxwings for over a month. I often see in the morning the Waxwings descend on patches of mixed weeds, mostly Common Ragweed. Waxwings change their diet in summer to include insects and I think the birds are attracted to the plant for the host of insects it supports. So next time you are ragging on ragweed remember, it is a native plant and it does support a community of insects and birds.
School Street Sunflowers has once again added a wonderful element to their ever expanding ideas about creating a joyfully fun nature experience for visitors. Paul has added three baby Belted Galloway cows and three of the sweetest, most friendly Shetland sheep imaginable. Our bright and curious three year old granddaughter Charlotte was thoroughly engaged with both the sheep and the baby cows but it was Deanna Gallagher’s adorable and super child friendly Shetland sheep that stole our hearts.
We have met the kindest people at School Street Sunflowers and Charlotte and I were completely taken with Deanna, owner of a flock of nine Shetland sheep. Her farm is just around the corner from School Street Sunflowers. Her three sheep that are currently at Paul’s sunflower field are Detective Jimmy Perez, Abu, and Alistair. Jimmy is the leader of the herd, funny, smart, and outgoing, and he is famous in Ipswich as an “escape mastermind. ” You can read about his most recent escapade here: Smart and determined, sheep on the lam knew exactly what they were doing
Shetland sheep are smaller than what you may typically think of as a sheep, more goat like in size. Deanna’s sheep love to be stroked and hand fed the weeds growing in and amongst the sunflowers, especially Common Ragweed. This is the second time over the past week I have learned of or seen Ragweed used in a great way. The first was earlier when I watched a flock of Cedar Waxwings hungrily descend on a patch of Ragweed, looking for tiny insects to devour.
When you go – the baby cows are at the field all day; the Shetland sheep are on the premises from approximately 9am to 1pm. The sunflower trail is one way, which is great for avoiding mashups on the pathway during the pandemic. Paul and his staff all wear masks, so please wear your mask as well. This year, the tractors are not available for playing on because they would need to be disinfected after each use. There are picnic tables and wonderful vignettes for family photos.
School Street Sunflowers is located on School Street in Ipswich, behind the high school. For more information visit –