Tag Archives: Willowdale Estate

THE LUXURIOUS AND ELEGANT BRIAR BARN INN IS OPEN!

Briar Forsythe, owner of the Briar Barn Inn, recently took me on a grand tour of her newly opened inn. I had visited several times while under construction and I have to say, now that it is open, the Inn is even more beautiful than imagined. Elegant, luxurious, serene, relaxing, and welcoming are just some of the many superlatives that come to mind. Briar Barn Inn is just off Route 1A in scenic Rowley, minutes away from Route 95, yet as you head down the long driveway, you feel as though you have entered another world.

Gerald Fandetti, architect; Charlotte Forsythe, artist and interior designer; and art and antiques curating firm Electric Iris, have created a stunning first-rate inn and special events venue. The interior rooms are an eclectic mix of contemporary art, the fine antique furniture once found in ship captain’s homes, curious collections, luxurious bedding and textiles, folk art, and Arts and Crafts period inspired furnishings.

Coffee and a light breakfast can be had in the common areas found on each floor. The gathering areas are furnished with comfort in mind (think down cushioned chairs and settees you can sink into). Did I mention every guest room and gathering area has a cozy working fireplace? No two guest rooms are alike and each one either faces into a lovely central courtyard or has a bucolic woodland view. It’s an easy stroll from the Inn to the restaurant, through the expansive terraced alfresco dining area, which surrounds a large fire pit.

The fabulous country barn restaurant, boasting stunning post and beam construction, is opening very soon. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner will be served to hotel guests, and to the public, seven days a week. I (and my husband) simply can not wait to experience the cuisine! Chef Ben Lightbody, Briar Barn Inn’s executive chef, has gained a reputation for the wonderfully delicious and seasonally fresh food served at Willowdale Estate. The Fandetti-Forsythe Family is renowned in the Cambridge area for their hospitality (The Kendall Hotel and The Mary Prentiss Inn). With Willowdale Estate, and now Briar Barn Inn and Restaurant, I think you will see why.

The pool, spa, and art gallery are opening this summer.

Briar Barn Inn is located in Rowley on the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway at 101 Main Street (Route 1A). For more information about the Inn visit the Briar Barn Inn website here. To book your stay call 978-653-5323.

BRIAR BARN INN PREVIEW – LUXURIOUS NEW COUNTRY INN ESTATE COMING TO THE ESSEX COASTAL SCENIC BYWAY (AND WOMAN-OWNED BUSINESS, TOO!)

My friend Briar Fandetti Forsythe is building a luxurious country inn estate in Rowley, on the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway. The grand opening for Briar Barn Inn is scheduled for November. Last week I toured the Inn with Briar, while it is still under construction.

Set against a bucolic background, everything about Briar Barn Inn embodies relaxation, luxury, and comfort, from the full service restaurant to the art gallery, spa, and swimming pool. Designed by architect Gerald Fandetti, with interiors by artist Charlotte Forsythe, stunning and elegant architectural details abound.

Each wing of the Inn has a unique theme, and design to suit the theme–an elegant silo turned library for example–and each wing has a common area with gorgeous soaring vaulted ceilings. The guest rooms surround an inner courtyard; every guest room is actually a suite, with beautiful arching entryways leading from bedroom to living area, and every room has its own fireplace!  

Stay tuned- more updates on the Inn’s progress to come!

Construction photos of the Inn ~

The restaurant at the Inn is a beautifully designed post and beam barn, and will not only be open year round, but the rustically elegant decor also makes the perfect setting for weddings and special events. Ben Lightbody, Willowdale Estate’s renowned executive chef, partners with local farms, including Cedar Rock Gardens and Aprilla Farm, to offer the freshest seasonal produce and seafood. The full service restaurant will be open to hotel guests and the community, serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, seven days a week, the year round.

Briar Barn Inn is located in Rowley on the Essex Coastal Scenic Byway at 101 Main Street (Route 1). For more information about the Inn visit the Briar Barn Inn website here. To book your stay call 978-653-5323.

Artists renderings of Briar Barn Inn ~ 

Wild and Wonderful Wisteria ~ When to Prune?

Wild and wonderful wisteria can quickly become wildly wicked wisteria. Reader Alicia writes, “when is the best time of year to prune wisteria?”

willowdale-estate-spring-©kim-smith

Taming the wisteria (before photo). The first photo shows what the ancient wisteria (Wisteria sinensis) looked like when first I took over the gardens at Willowdale Estate. I removed much of the plant and bent one long trunk over and down, attaching it to a thick bamboo stake, to create the wisteria “arch.” The next photo shows what the wisteria arch looked like by mid-summer that same year.

willowdale-estate-zinnia-patch-©Kim Smith

Alicia asks: “Much to my surprise the wisteria is blooming and has never been this late. I really gave up on it and am wondering why? When is the best time to prune it?”

Hi Alicia,

Wisteria throughout our region bloomed later than usual I think becasue spring got off to such a slow start this year.

Wisteria grows beautifully and is easiest to control when pruned biannually, or twice a year; a summer pruning and a winter pruning.

Summer Pruning: Cut the long shoots after the flowers fade to about six inches.

Winter Pruning: In late winter, before the buds begin to swell, prune all the shoots that have since grown after the summer pruning. The shape of the leafless wisteria is more clearly visible and you can easily see the unruly, long shoots at this time of year. Cut the branches to about 3 to 5 buds and over time, these shortened flowering branches will resemble a wisteria “hand.”

photo-2Photo submitted by Alicia Mills

Orange Poppies in the Rain

Planter Urn with spring flowers ©Kim Smith 2014jpg copyWednesday while planting at Willowdale in the on-again off-again rain, the luminesce orange of the crinkly tissue paper-like poppy petals kept catching my eye. They seemed especially incandescent juxtaposed against the drizzly gray light. I don’t really mind planting in the rain for a few hours and actually much prefer it to the heat of planting at mid-day on warm sunny days. The only thing with planting in the rain is that on long, non-stop nine- to ten-hour planting days, I get very chilled, which leads to a tired muddy mess that arrives home to my husband, who has actually been looking forward to my coming home. “Please don’t talk to me,” I say when first arriving but, after a solid half hour soak in a steamy tub, I cheer up and am ready to converse and get dinner underway.

orange iceland poppy ©Kim Smith 2014Look at all these buds yet to come!

We planted this urn back on May 1st, and it has filled out handsomely. The sweet peas are climbing up the pussy willow basket handles and their fragrance, along with the scent of the dianthus, Viola ‘Etain’ and sweet alyssum is really very enchanting. From one initial bud to dozens still yet to come, going on six weeks now this little poppy plant just keeps on bestowing her gift of great beauty!

may-basket-c2a9kim-smith-2014-copyMay First May Basket

Spring Has Sprung at Willowdale! FREE Event in the Garden Tuesday Night!

Pink Tulips Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2014The tulips are at peak perfection, and just in time for my Artist Spotlight Event! The warm weather this weekend coaxed many to bloom, and the cooler temperatures predicted will keep them very pretty.

Tulips Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2014.I hope you can come and enjoy an evening of Willowdale’s hospitality and signature refreshments, the garden tour, and screening of my film, Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly.

For ticket information and to RSVP click here.

Spring Tulips Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2014.Happy Spring!

 

Pure Whimsy!

Revelation. Productions Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2014What a treat to see Willowdale’s event tent decorated in Anthony D’Elia’s wonderfully fun and whimsical design for Thursday’s “Power of the Purse!” Upon arriving, I felt as though I had stepped into a Georges Lepape French fashion illustration from the early 1900s, when Orientalism was all the rage and summer garden fêtes were decorated in kind, and to the nines.Revelation Productions Design Willowdale Estate

Anthony D'Elia Revelations Productions ©Kim Smith 2014 copyThe morning after the event, while the Willowdale Estate crew and I were installing a new embroidered velvet curtain for the tent, I had the opportunity to meet Anthony as he and his staff were dismantling the decor. Anthony and his company, Revelation Productions, are responsible for many of the most stunning and beautifully produced special events held at Willowdale and venues throughout the North Shore and New England. Their creative and technical event services included imaginative décor, custom audio design, full spectrum video services, and gorgeous lighting. Visit their website for more information about Revelation Productions here.

gazette_du_bon_ton_1913_n6_avril_georges_lepape_des_ombrelles_

The first two photos show how the parasols and lighting looked in daylight; below you can see how they appeared after sunset. I wasn’t the only one utterly captivated by the décor and Anthony received high praise from Briar, the Willowdale staff, and all attendees for his magical parasol and branch design.parasols -2 ©Kim Smith 2014

Revelations Productions Parasols Willowdale Estate ©Kim Smith 2014. copyBriar Forsythe, proprietor of Willowdale Estate, donated the tent, her signature refreshments, and stellar staff to the “Power of the Purse,” as did Anthony donate his time and décor to the event. Visit Willowdale Estate’s website here.

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Georges Lepape (1887-1971) was a French fashion designer and illustrator, engraver, poster artist, book illustrator, costume, and textile designer. He collaborated and designed many covers for leading magazines of the day including Vogue, Vanity Fair, Harper’s Bazaar, Femina, and The Art Sheets. See several more Georges Lepape illustrations here: Continue reading

CONGRATULATIONS to The Women’s Fund of Essex County for a Fabulously Successful “Power of the Purse”!!!

Lana Rudym, Current President of North Shore Women in Business and Sarah Boucher © Kim Smith 2014jpg copyLana Rudym, current President of the North Shore Women in Business and Sarah Boucher, Senior Sales and Marketing Manager, Willowdale Estate

Last night’s The Women’s Fund of Essex County’s “Power of the Purse” event, hosted by Willowdale Estate, was a smashing success. There were over 200 guests in attendance and you could feel the positive energy emanating from women helping women. Since 2003, The Women’s Fund of Essex County has awarded $825,000.00 in grants promoting and empowering women and girls. Read more about The Women’s Fund of Essex County here.

Willowdale Estate Poaer of the Purse copyBriar Forsythe, proprietor of Willowdale Estate, generously donated the venue, her fabulous refreshments, and outstanding staff.

Revelation Productions Design Willowdale EstateAnthony D’Elia, owner of Revelation Productions, donated the stunning lighting and parasol design decor for the event. More about Anthony in an upcoming Antennae for Design post.

May Basket ©Kim Smith 2014 copyKim Smith “May Basket” design for the courtyard urns.100 18-04-54