During early morning walks it has been a joy to observe the many beautiful songbirds breakfasting on the array of autumn foods readily available, truly a smorgasbord of seeds, berries, and fruits.
My wild creature habitat radar has been especially drawn to a wonderful spot, so nicknamed ‘Four Berries Corners.’ Always alive at this time of year with chattering songbirds, there is a lovely crabapple tree, bittersweet, a small tree with black berries, privet I think, and two scraggly, but highly productive, Eastern Red Cedar trees.
In thinking about the about the most successful habitats for songbirds, a combination of seed-producing wildflowers, grasses, and garden flowers are planted along with primarily native flowering and fruiting trees and shrubs. The shrubs and trees also play the important role of providing nesting habitat and protective cover. The photo collection is a small sampling, and meant for design inspiration.
Native Eastern Red Cedar (Juniperus virginiana) and Male House Finches
A male and female House Finch feeding each other in the Crabapples!
Grass seeds, much beloved by many including Song Sparrows, Bobolinks, and even Snow Buntings
Poison Ivy berries – by no means am I suggesting to plant, just mentioning that over 60 species of birds have been documented eating Poison Ivy drupes.
Cattail seed heads for male Red-winged Blackbirds
Sunflower Seeds fo all!
Along with songbirds, come their predators. Look for Merlins, Red-tailed and Cooper’s Hawks
Blue Jay preening after a morning of berry eating
The berries of Spindle Tree are the most beautiful part of the tree, but the tree is not recommended as it reseeds freely and is notorious for pushing out species of native trees and shrubs.
Seed heads make great perches for dragonflies and damselflies
Coyotes getting in on the action– much of their scat at this time of year has plainly visible partially digested fruits and berries.
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
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
The exquisite Greek Revival architecture of The Mary Prentiss Inn complements perfectly our lively pollinator paradise, bursting with blossoms and bees. We’ve layered the garden in an array of nectar-rich perennials and annuals that bloom from spring through fall and the garden has become mecca for neighborhood pollinators (including seed-seeking songbirds).
Plant for the pollinators and they will come!
Three-bee-species scene at The Mary Prentiss Inn pollinator garden.
The Mary Prentiss Inn Owners Nicholas and Jennifer Fandetti.
Perfectly lovely prior to turning the old garden into a pollinator paradise, but everyone agreed, it was time for a change.
Bee and blossom alike dusted in a fine golden shower of pollen.
This beautiful lady in the pick-your-own peony patch.
Cedar Rock Gardens, the fabulous organic and homegrown nursery owned by Elise Jilson and Tucker Smith, is opening on Thursday April 19th. They will be open everyday. See below for hours of operation and the complete selection of flower, vegetable, and herb seedlings that will be available to purchase this spring. Cedar Rock Gardens is located at 290 Concord Street in West Gloucester, just minutes off of Route 133.
A small sampling of just some of the flowers and veggies you will find at Cedar Rock Gardens, and a reminder that spring truly will be here soon.
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
Although only able to visit just two of the incredible Backyard Growers Gardens, the two that I did attend were fabulous and beautiful and overflowing with deliciousness. Lara Lepionka, founder of Backyard Growers, and Amy Clayton (one half of the Crazy Hat Lady sisters fame) are across-the-street neighbors. As a matter of interest, Amy grew up in what is now Lara and Steve’s home, and Lara’s first Backyard Growers garden customer was Amy!
This was the first ever Backyard Growers garden tour. In case you missed, don’t despair, a second is planned for next summer.
Bea, Lara, and Jen
Lara’s Beacon Street terraced front border is a series of raised beds. Every spare inch is devoted to growing veggies, herbs, and flowers; no high maintenance lawn here. Lara supplies the fresh greens for three local restaurants, Duckworth’s Bistrot, Short and Main, and the The Market on Lobster Cove.
Lara’s California Poppies
Amy’s pumpkin on the vine
Amy’s towering sunflowers.
Both Lara and Amy’s gardens are abuzz with pollinators!
Thank you to Elise and Tucker at Cedar Rock Gardens for a super year in the garden. This was the couple’s first season opening the garden to the public and they did an outstanding job. Cedar Rock Gardens are a welcome addition to a fantastic and growing group of local farms. Their organic nursery and farm are brimming with a wonderful array of fresh flowers, produce, and seedlings. Every one of the plants from their nursery grew beautifully for me. Cedar Rock Gardens is closed for the year but I am so excited to be working again with them next year and will definitely be enrolling in their CSA 2017. See you in the spring!
Did you ever wonder why marigolds play such a prominent role in Day of the Dead celebrations? They are referred to as “flowers of the dead” and with their vivid hues and citrusy fresh scent, marigolds are thought to guide spirits to the altars. And, too, flowers in general represent the ephemerality of life.
I spent the afternoon in New Hampshire today at my publisher’s warehouse picking up a batch of books. Although there was evidence of the drought all along the route, the lack of rain didn’t seem to effect these roadside beauties (or the intoxicated bee, see Instagram video below).