Monthly Archives: April 2011

Alex to the Culinary Institute and Liv to NYU Steinhardt!!!!!!!

My husband and I are so very blessed…

I count my blessings everyday, but nothing, absolutely nothing could possibly have given me more joy than to see both our children heading this fall to their dream schools–Alex to the Culinary Institute of America and Liv to NYU Steinhardt graduate program. I am going to miss my darlings every single day although, knowing they have created these wonderful opportunities for themselves and are both pursuing their dream educations, proud beyond measure.

Liv, Alex, and Hannah at Grandparents 60thLiv, Alex, and cousin Hannah at Grandparents 60th Wedding Anniversary

Alex is graduating from high school in only a month. He has spent the last four years, now in his fifth, earnestly and indefatigably learning the business at local restaurants, from dishwasher to cook. Liv, with her usual initiative, began studying with a wonderful voice teacher at NYU last fall. It is not an easy trek to the Big Apple, via the insane Fung Wah bus, and all in a day’s time in order  to make it back the following day for work–especially in the blizzardiest of winters!

As an added plus, the CIA is located in Hyde Park, New York, and Steinhardt in Manhattan, a mere one hour and fifty two minutes apart–again, we are so very blessed!


Alex did not receive an acceptance by email, just the usual snail mail package, but here’s Liv’s email from NYU:

Dear Olivia,

I am delighted to inform you that you have been accepted into our MM degree in Vocal Performance concentration in Classical Voice for the Fall 2011 semester!  Official notification is in the mail and should arrive to you shortly.  Congratulations!




Where to Place Your Hummingbird Feeders

Another great hummingbird question from my friend Kate:

Where do you place the feeders? Are they okay out in the open and, if so, do the hummingbirds become too nervous to feed if they can be seen by birds of prey?

Ruby-throated Hummingbirds prefer feeding at a station where they perch and observe the landscape, and then zoom in. Typically, I recommend hanging the feeders on the lower limbs of trees and on shepherd’s hooks close to shrubs and above perennial wildflowers, about four to five feet off the ground.  I haven’t read or heard too much about birds of prey in regard to hummingbirds; they move too fast, however, bluejays are said to attack nestlings. House cats and praying mantis pose a more serious threat to hummingbirds.
Native Honeysuckle Lonicera 'Dromore Scarlet'Native Honeysuckle Lonicera ‘Dropmore Scarlet’
The greatest threat to hummingbirds is development resulting in loss of habitat and nectar-rich wetland plants. By placing hummingbird feeders in the garden during the months when little nectar is available (April, May, and October), creating habitats in our backyards, and planting their preferred nectar-rich wildflowers help mitigate the loss of hummingbird habitat, and greatly increases their chance of survival.

My Workshop at Tower Hill Botanic Garden this Sunday, May Day

Come join me this Sunday at 1:00 at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Worcester for the perfect May Day event–How to Create a Butterfly Garden. Pre-registration is required:

Monarch Butterflies Nectaring at Smooth AstersMonarch Butterflies Nectaring at Smooth Aster

I will be presenting the necessary elements to help you create a beautiful and welcoming haven for butterflies. Once you begin to think about your garden as food source and shelter, it will influence all your horticultural decisions. Native and well-behaved non-native plants, along with examples of architectural features, will be discussed based on their value to attracting specific butterflies. This lecture and slide presentation will help you gain a deeper understanding of the interconnected world that we human beings share with plants and butterflies and how to translate that information to your own garden. Butterfly gardening plant list included with workshop.

From wiki: The Floralia, also known as the Florifertum, was an ancient Roman Festival dedicated to Flora the goddess of flowers and vegetation. It was held on the IV Calends of May, April 27 to May 3, and symbolized the renewal of the cycle of life, marked with dancing, drinking, and flowers. While flowers decked the temples, Roman citizens wore colorful clothing instead of the usual white, and offerings were made of milk and honey to Flora.

Maurice Prendergast May Day Central Park 1901Maurice Prendergast May Day Celebration Central Park 1901

AND

May Day is synonymous with International Worker’s Day and Labour Day. Read Howard Fast’s May Day – 1947, well-worth revisiting with the continued and increasing efforts to destroy organized labor.

Howard Fast May Day 1947 Rockwell KentRockwell Kent

Recommended Hummingbird Feeders

From my friend Kate in Tiverton, Rhode Island–I cant bear plastic but this seem to do the trick. Ive seen hummingbirds hover angrily here and gesture “Where’s the Feeder!!!!!!??????” I’ll have to get one this year! What do you recommend? XO

Hi Kate, My two favorite hummingbird feeders, both purchased from the Duncraft website, are the Four Flower Frolic Feeder (see previous post) and the Humm Zinger. My sister-in-law, whose old farmhouse property is approximately the same size and shares many similar characteristics to yours (including an inviting front porch), also has both these feeders. Hers are placed about twenty feet apart, adjacent to the porch. When sitting on the porch at nearly anytime throughout the day, whether having morning coffee or dinner and drinks in the evening, the “hummingbird alley” provides enchanting entertainment. And both feeders are super easy to clean.

Humm Zinger Feeder

Stay tuned for more about what to plant to attract and sustain the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. This snapshot of our patio garden was taken in late summer and all in bloom pictured are wonderful hummingbird attractants. It is a delight to see the hummers make their thrice daily rounds from one flowering plant to the next, hovering and nectaring simultaneously.

Flowers for Ruby-throated HummingbirdsDipladenia, Bougainvillea, Fuschia Gartenmeister Bonstedt, Hibiscus moschetos, and Phlox ‘David’

Gloucester Reads Poetry at the Sawyer Free Library Thursday, Aril 29th

Gloucester Reads Poetry Sawyer Free Library

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Dear Gardening Friends, Happy Easter! In a future post I plan to bring you more about the Ruby-throated Hummingbird, today however I will be brief as I have more holiday preparations to tend. This is a reminder to set your hummingbird feeders out as soon as possible. This past week, sightings of the Ruby-throated Hummingbird have been reported as far north as Maine–the northward hummingbird migration is full underway!

A hummingbird’s diet is comprised of nectar and insects. We can lure them to our gardens by providing nectar-rich tubular-shaped flora in shades of red and orange, along with flowers comprised of small florets that attract small insects. At this time of year there isn’t much to offer in the way of flowering sustenance for the hummingbirds. Several weeks ago I took our feeders out of storage, gave them a good wash with vinegar, soap, and water, filled them with a sugar and water mixture, and hung them throughout the garden.

Red Riding Hood Tulip gregiiRed Riding Hood (Tulip gregii)

The eye-cathing Red Riding Hood tulips (although not a particularly good source of nectar, will attract by the sheer brilliance of their color) are a wonderful species tulip that reliably returns year after year, and multiplies. The tulips are planted beneath the boughs of flowering and fruiting trees and shrubs, in hopes, that they too will lure the hummingbirds to our garden during their northward migration. And then, again with high hopes, that the hummingbirds will nest in our garden. For the past five years or so, it has been our great good fortune to host throughout the nesting season female Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and offspring.

Four Flower Frolic Feeder

Hummingbirds, along with bats and certain species of moths, have an unusual method of drinking nectar called swing-hovering, which allows them to nectar while in mid-air. Ruby-throated hummingbirds expend vast amounts of energy during their migration–averaging approximately 52 wingbeats per minute. For this reason, I find the best hummingbird feeders are those that also offer a a place to perch while feeding (see photo and videoclip).

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Sugar water recipe: 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. Stir to dissolve thoroughly. Never add red dye or replace the sugar with honey. Provide fresh sugar/water every 4 – 5 days.

Warmest wishes, for spring and for chocolate in your Easter basket!

Stranded Marine Animals

Mendy Garron and her team from NOAA handle the Maine to Virginia corridor for stranded marine animals She recommends contacting the first responders for our region at the Whale Center hotline, 978.281.6351.

Atlantic White-sided Dolphin Lagenorhyncus acutus

Migration of the Atlantic White-sided Dolphin from the Convention on Migratory Species website: “There may be inshore-offshore movements with the seasons in some areas (Carwardine, 1995). Selzer and Payne (1988) suggested that L. acutus moves south along the continental shelf edge in winter and spring, in association with the relatively cold, less saline Gulf of Maine water flowing southwards through Northeast Channel during these seasons. Seasonal variation in sea-surface temperature and salinity and local nutrient upwelling in areas of high sea floor relief may affect preferred prey abundances, which in turn may affect dolphin distribution. The occurrence of Atlantic white-sided dolphins off Newfoundland seems also to be seasonal, mainly from July to October (Reeves et al. 1999). Data from one satellite-monitored dolphin indicated an ability to travel long distances at a speed of at least 14 km/hr (Mate et al. 1994).”

Distribution Map of the Atlantic White-sided Dolphin (Lagenorhyncus acutus)Distribution Map of the Atlantic White-sided Dolphin (Lagenorhyncus acutus)

Map courtesy of the Convention on Migratory Species