Monthly Archives: March 2011

Through the Garden Gate with Kim Smith

Dear Gardening Friends–What do think about this title for my tv show? Through the Garden Gate with Kim Smith

I am working with Lisa Smith over at Cape Ann TV and she is terrific. Lisa is teaching me Final Cut Pro. Extraordinary, don’t you think, that the same editing program used by major Hollywood film makers (Francis Ford Coppola, to name one giant in the industry) is available to any resident of Cape Ann to learn (for free!) at Cape Ann TV?

Additional candidates for the title:

Kim Smith’s American Gardener’s Journal

Welcome to the Wild Garden

Wild Gardening with Kim Smith

P.S. I am under strict orders not to mention by name who is the person singing Bizet’s La Chanson du Fou, uncovered in my itunes account. I am sure you can guess. Don’t you think the evocative layer of warmth and beauty added by her voice compliments perfectly the lush gardens and movement of the pollinators?


Save the date for C’est la Vie!

C’est la Vie! ~ Wednesday May 25th, 1:00 to 5:00

The North Shore Garden Club is hosting a beautiful exhibition of all things flowers, which will be held at historic Willowdale Estate in Topsfield, Massachusetts. The grounds are open to the public and the event includes classes in flower arranging, photography, and horticulture, and all is free.

Butterfly Courtyard at Willowdale EstateButterfly Courtyard at Willowdale Estate

The North Shore Garden Club (established in 1915) is a member of the Garden Club of America and was created for the purpose of stimulating interest in all aspects of gardening as well as to support civic beauty and conservation of natural resources.

Viridiflora Tulip 'Greenland' at Willowdale Estate.Viridiflora Tulip ‘Greenland’

Lavender and Cabbage White Butterfly at Willowdale EstateLavender and Cabbage White Butterfly

Iris versicolor at Willowdale EstateNative Iris versicolor

Pinkshell azalea and carpenter bee at Willowdale EstateNative Pinkshell Azalea and Golden Pollen-Dusted Carpenter Bee

Willowdale EstateSpringtime at Willowdale Estate

In the Garden

Prepare to bid early and often at the annual on-line auction In the Garden at Community Outreach Group, April 5 -12. All proceeds help bring gardens and parks to the greater Boston area

In the Garden focuses on specialty goods and services for the discerning gardener and homeowner and attracts great interest and spirited bidding. The theme for the auction is everything for the garden and the gardener, from garden ornaments and tools, to specialty trees and shrubs, fine dining and wine, travel and tickets, and an array of one-of-a-kind items. Retail values for auction selections range from $25 to $500.

The Dreamer by Luis Aira

I am dreaming of blue crabs that talk and dance...

The Dreamer by Luis Aira. Book review posted by guest writer Tom Hauck, “Luis Aira is a gifted writer and his prose is timeless and poetic. The Dreamer will enchant and inspire you to look at the world with new eyes.”

The Dreamer Luis Aira

Congratulations to my friend Luis Aira on the publication of his new novel The Dreamer. This richly imagined story begins in a place called Eden Orchards. Dozing under an apple tree is a local wino named Old Slim. A young stranger suddenly falls through, or out of, the tree and lands with a thump on the ground. This man who fell to earth is like a child with no memory: he doesn’t even have a name, so they agree that he should be called Apple. The stranger has no knowledge of human society, doesn’t know what dreaming is, and is able to talk to animals.

And so begins this magical fable that unfolds with a series of vignettes as Apple, curious to learn more about this world into which he has fallen, leaves Eden Orchards in search of answers. As he travels he meets people; from each he learns something and to each he gives transformative insight.

The underlying philosophy of The Dreamer is exactly what the title implies: that God or the Creator (call it what you will) is not a scientist or an uber-designer in the sense that most Western religions believe, but is a dreamer, and we are all part of a magnificent and ever-changing dream. As Apple proclaims later in the book, “The Dream lives through the Dreamer; the Dreamer lives through the Dream.” Time is not linear, and all things are interconnected – not physically, but by this vast cosmic dream.

One is reminded of the great poem by Edgar Allan Poe, “A Dream Within a Dream,” which evokes a similar if much more melancholy view:

Take this kiss upon the brow!
And, in parting from you now,
Thus much let me avow-
You are not wrong, who deem
That my days have been a dream;
Yet if hope has flown away
In a night, or in a day,
In a vision, or in none,
Is it therefore the less gone?
All that we see or seem
Is but a dream within a dream. 

I stand amid the roar
Of a surf-tormented shore,
And I hold within my hand
Grains of the golden sand-
How few! yet how they creep
Through my fingers to the deep,
While I weep- while I weep!
O God! can I not grasp
Them with a tighter clasp?
O God! can I not save
One from the pitiless wave?
Is all that we see or seem
But a dream within a dream?

In The Dreamer, hope does not fly away; it is always in our hearts. The dream brings not weeping, only joy. Luis is a gifted writer and his prose is timeless and poetic.The Dreamer will enchant you and inspire you to look at the world with new eyes.

Thanks Good Morning Gloucester!

Every morning after our son heads off to school I finish my cup of tea in front of the computer with my favorite blog, Good Morning Gloucester. I love this blog, not only because of the terrific content created by first-rate contributors Joey, EJ, Manny, Felicia, Kathleen, Laurie, et al., but because Joey, the creator of GMG, is truly a genius when it comes to using social media for what I believe to be it’s intended and very best purpose.

Joey Ciaramitaro Gloucester Massachusetts

I am new to blogging from an iPad and cannot for the life of me figure out how to add a handy link to GMG here, but scroll down my blog roll, to the right, to find a link to GMG, where, for example, you will find recent postings on the beautiful and gloriously decorated St. Joseph novenas, along with Sefatia Romeo Thekan telling the stories that accompany the tradition, video footage and information about the dolphin and harbor porpoise seen recently swimming in the harbor, a follow up letter from the meeting with the architects, Cambridge Seven Associates, who are designing the new Gloucester Harbor Walk, and much, much more, and always illuminated with photos and paintings of our gorgeous surrounds, created by GMG contributors.

Thanks Joey for the inspiration, for sharing your view of Cape Ann’s beautiful culture, and for always keeping it real!

Fabulous Review for Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!

My deepest thanks and appreciation to Pat Leuchtman for her wonderful review. Pat has been writing a weekly garden column for The Recorder in Greenfield since 1980. She has been blogging for the past several years and has posted and archived all her columns on her blog Commonweeder. Read more of Pat’s review and spend time perusing her blog, which is brimming with useful information, book reviews, insights, and missives– all beautifully organized.

Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!

Pat’s Review: Fresh Possibilities are just what I am looking for at this time of the year, so it is no surprise that I have been spending happy evenings with Kim Smith’s beautiful book that includes so many of her own delicate paintings of flowers, birds and butterflies.

Kim Smith gardens, and paints, in Gloucester.  Over the years her garden has grown, as has her concern about conservation and her delight in the roads to literature and art that her garden has opened to her. Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities: Notes from a Gloucester Garden (David R. Godine Publisher) combines all these aspects of her life in the garden in the most beautiful way.

With its delicate paintings of individual flowers, and butterflies, the book does not look like a how-to book, yet it includes plant lists to attract butterflies, of fragrant flowers and plants through the seasons, seasonal blooms and useful annuals. I can hardly decide which I enjoy more, the charming prose of chapters titled The Narrative of the Garden, Flowers of the Air and The Memorable Garden, the exquisite paintings, or the poetry that ranges from our own Emily Dickinson and Dorothy Parker to Li Bai (701-762 CE),  a famous Chinese poet of the Tang Dynasty. I enjoy knowing that Kim has found the same delight  in the connections to history and the arts that I find in the garden.

One of the two chapters I particularly found useful as well as beautiful right now is Flowers of the Air which includes information about a variety of butterflies, and the plants that they need for their life cycle. We have to remember that butterflies are not only lovely, they are important pollinators.

It is no surprise that I also enjoy Roses for the Intimate Garden. Kim’s climate is a bit more gentle than mine and she can grow more tender roses that I can, but we are both devoted to the fragrance that roses bring  to our gardens and to the uncorseted exuberance of old fashioned roses.

If you want information, but also want the kind of delicious prose you find in evocative essays, an aesthetic sensibility, and beautiful illustrations, this is the book for you.  Kim is an inspired gardener and writer, but she isn’t stopping there. Watch for more news about Kim and her latest project soon.

Liv Unearthing Old Family Photos

Liv Hauck Kim Smith

I think I’ll poke around and have a look, too. Love the matching polka dot outfits, which I designed and stitched–when did I have the time do that!? I made her dress and mine in the last photo, too. And saving them all so my granddaughters can have fun vintage clothes shopping in Grandma’s closet, just as I did in my Mother and Grandmother’s closets.  I love my girl! xo Mom

More photos at Dessert or Disaster

My Television Show

Dear Gardening Friends,

We are sending our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Japanese people. Viewing the broadcasts reminds me that it was just over a year ago that the devastating earthquake struck Port au Prince. Can a person ever fully recover from such an event? The utter destruction of the tsunami is confounding, now coupled with threats of nuclear meltdown. My wish for the people of Japan and their nation is as speedy a recovery as is possible.

We are so very blessed living where we do. Perhaps I mentioned that I am developing a television series, which will air on our local cable television station, Cape Ann TV, as well as other cable stations. I believe it was early last summer that Donna Gacek, the director of Cape Ann TV, approached me about the possibility of creating a show based around my writings and butterfly photos. A tv show would be a magnificent medium to share about the joys of creating organic habitats designed for people and pollinators. We can visit gardens, fields, meadows, and wildlife sanctuaries–and connect how to translate habitat information found there to our own gardens, examine gardening trends, loves, and literature, conduct interviews, undertake how-to projects–the possibilities are limitless. I hope, too, for some room for spontaneity and fun–once I get a handle on the process. I knew what I was getting myself into and knew it would be enormously time consuming, which it is, however I am so pleased with our initial progress and thought I would bring you this trailer for the first episode as well as behind the scenes updates.

Instinctively it was clear that the first step in development would be to film and photograph as much as time would allow, especially as this past summer, gratefully so, was THE summer to photograph Lepidoptera–day after day of hot, dry, sunny weather–a butterfly, and a butterfly photographer’s, dream conditions The past few months have been spent organizing all photos and footage from this summer, as well as footage and photos from previous summers, into handy categories from which I can draw, while simultaneously writing the first script, and thinking about future scripts.

I chose the butterfly garden I designed at Willowdale to be my first subject for several reasons. I know the grounds and garden intimately; the Lepidoptera seen there are the same species seen all around the northshore, and throughout New England for that matter; the setting is undeniably gorgeous; over the past few years I have shot many photos there and some video footage; and because the garden is on occasion open to the public.

While writing the script I tried to imagine how the information would relate to, and be of interest to, a wide audience. Creating ‘wild gardens’ (by wild gardens I mean to say gardens that utilize native wild flowers that support wild life) is meant to be joyful and easy for everyone– for the millions as well as the millionaire! The next phase was to organize the video and still photos, loosely, around the script. Then, and this part was really new and challenging for me, came layering the narrated voice tracks and precisely synching it to the footage, and still retain existing ambient nature sounds audibly. Much tweaking was necessary. Have you ever wondered where your speaker is on your computer? It took me the longest time to locate mine (iMac)– a pinhead-sized hole in the center of the top, right above the camera lens–and they do not produce very good or usable quaility input sound. All the audio will have to be redone at the tv studio, however, it was time well spent as I was able to experiment and learn the basics on my own time.

The first production meeting with Donna went really well. The next phase will be to redo the audio tracks, under the guidance of the staff at the tv station, and continue to work on the next two episodes. In developing a series, it is suggested that you have at least three to begin with – getting all your ducks in order, so to speak. I am working furiously on all because spring and summer are my peak seasons for garden design work and for presenting lectures and programs.

So far, everything has fallen into place, from the gorgeous weather of last summer, to finding a beautiful recording for the into and outro, to working with Donna and the staff at CATV!

My mission for this wonderful project is to create as vibrantly beautiful, and as informative and interesting, a viewing experience as is possible. I am also very interested in working in collaboration with anyone who may have an interest.

Perhaps after reading the above you can help me decide the title of the show–so important to get it right! I love the title of my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! because there is no other like it. Perhaps I shall call it The Garden of Fresh Possibilities Show.

Some other candidates:

The American Gardener’s Journal

Through the Garden Gate

Garden for All Seasons

Welcome to the Wild Garden

Any comments, thoughts, or suggestions would greatly appreciated.

Happy Spring-is-around-the-Corner!

Warmest wishes,


Brooke O’Donnell Shares Monarch Photo from Michoacán

Monarchs in Michoacán, Mexico

Brooke O’Donnell Photo from Michoacán

From Brooke’s Mom, Janet:

Hi Kim,

When I looked at the photo, I immediately thought of your inspiring exhibit at the Sawyer Free Library.  Brooke had an eight or more hour bus trip, then an hour horseback ride up to the 10,000 foot elevation in Michoacan state to see the migration.  I wouldn’t be surprised to find you up there!

Back down here at sea level, I wish you a glorious Spring!

Sorting through photos for upcoming programs and thinking about summer!

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and New York Ironweed  (Vernonia noveboracensis)

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and New York Ironweed  (Vernonia noveboracensis)