Monthly Archives: May 2012

The Friendly Red Admiral Butterfly

I am receiving a mountain of emails about the beautiful butterfly with underwings of mottled brown and upper surface banded brilliant fiery orange-red.

The Red Admiral butterfly is having an “irruptive” year and millions are streaming northward through gardens from Texas to Canada. An irruption for a species of butterfly can best be described as a sudden sharp increase in the relative numbers of a population.

This has been an amazing spring for butterflies, not only because they emerged earlier, but because they are present in much greater numbers than is usual. I have also been filming many more Question Mark and Painted Lady butterflies than is typical for this time of year.

The following is excerpted from an article about the Red Admiral that I wrote several years ago. Click here to read the complete text.

Red Admirals are Holarctic, a term used by zoologists to define the ecozone covering much of North America and Eurasia, which share many faunal characteristics. In our region Red Admirals are a migratory species that cannot withstand cold winter temperatures. Their numbers in any given year vary, from uncommon to abundant, and their abundance depends on the nature of that year’s migration and the success of the resulting breeding season. In the first week of May, Red Admirals begin to appear from overwintering populations in North Carolina and southward. Males perch from advantageous lookouts and will dart out to investigate passersby— prospective mates, other insects, and humans. Famously friendly, the Red Admiral readily alights on people, attracted by the salts in perspiration. They are on the wing almost continuously from May to October. The second, and quite possibly third generation,  from the initial spring flight, begins the southward migration in late August to October.

Red Admiral Nectaring at Common White Lilac (Syringa vulgaris)

The caterpillar’s primary food source is nettles—in New England these include Stinging, Tall, False, and Wood Nettles, all of which are unsuitable for the garden, particularly a small garden. The caterpillars “sew” the edges of the nettle leaves together with their silk and feed from within the shelter. The adults nectar at a wide variety of plants and are attracted to sap flows, rotting fruit, bird droppings, and wet soil.

Nabokov referred to V. atalanta as the Red Admirable and they appear several times in his novels to foreshadow death. “Its coloring is quite splendid and I liked it very much in my youth. Great numbers of them migrated from Africa to Northern Russia, where it was called ‘The Butterfly of Doom’ because it was especially abundant in 1881, the year Tsar Alexander II was assassinated, and the markings on the underside of its two hind wings seem to read 1881.”

Read More: The Red Admirable ~ Vanessa atalanta rubria


Good Morning Gloucester First Mug Up of the Season

Wonderful fun at the E.J. Kahn and Good Morning Gloucester Gallery first Mug Up of the season. It was great to see the old gang and all the new faces. As is usual, guests brought the most delectable breakfast treats. The gallery walls and shelves are chock-a-block full of gorgeous new paintings, photographs, and pottery. Thank you E.J. for opening your gallery (and heart) to this crazy group and for creating a wonderfully positive weekly Sunday get-together! I have a feeling its going to be a GREAT summer! Everyone is always welcome and we hope to see you at the next Mug Up!

Joey and Craig

Ed, Greg, Barry, and E.J.

Joey and Donna

The Flower Eater

Joey Ciaramitaro demonstrating the flower and foliage of the chive (Allium schoenoprasum) plant are edible.

Allium schoenoprasum is the only member of the Allium genus native to both the Old and New Worlds. Bees are attracted to the flowers and the plants are often grown amongst beds and borders to help ward of insects, the dreaded Japanese beetle, for example.

North Shore Wedding Magazine

Click any photo to view slideshow-

For weeks I had planned to photograph the tulips in bloom at Willowdale, but only in the late afternoon sun. Each afternoon I headed out, the sky grew overcast. Last Monday the sun shown gloriously the entire day.

Fortunately I caught the tail end of North Shore Wedding Magazine photographing their Premier Issue in the gardens at Willowdale. North Shore Wedding Magazine is a brand new biannual publication featuring quality North Shore wedding professionals and venues, and is the sister publication to New Hampshire Wedding Magazine.

Sarah Boucher’s (Willowdale’s Planning Manager) lovely table styling for the North Shore Wedding Magazine photo shoot.

Kristina Hathaway with model

I hope this does not sound boastful however am mentioning because I just love it when people understand the design intention of a project. Kristina Hathaway remarked that she loved the feminine quality of the garden’s design juxtaposed against the masculine architecture of the stone mansion—music to my ears! The design challenges at Willowdale are multifold, yet rewarding, and from April 1st to until the first week of November you will find the gardens in bloom!

Tuesday evening, June 12, at 7:00 pm come join me in the gardens at Willowdale Estate. Enjoy refreshments and a tour of the garden, followed by a showing of my film “The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale Estate.”  RSVP to Info@Willowdale Estate.

Click any photo to view slide show-

Le Gamin Brooklyn

We had a very successful move and my daughter Liv is loving her new apartment. See her blog Boston to Brooklyn for several photos. For a lovely belated Mother’s Day treat, she took me to one of her favorite restaurants in Brooklyn, a sweet and authentic French cafe, Le Gamin. The charming patio was open, despite the soft evening mist, and we dined in the garden under the arbor. On Monday nights they serve the most exquisitely fresh and sweet, all-you-can-eat mussels, poached in Chardonnay and fresh herbs, along with a glass of wine, along with absolutely the most perfect fries; crisp outer skin, tender and hot inside–and all for only 20.00!!  Liv and I shared the mussels and salade Niçoise and it was ablsoltuely perfect. She had her favorite mousse au chocolat and I had the most divine crème brûlée  ever tasted. I am so taken with Robert Ardor’s recipes, I’ve just this moment ordered his cookbook, in its third printing, Joie de Vivre: Simple French Style for Everyday Living.

Brooklyn balcony above Le Gamin garden, with fresh herbs. Cleverly, the dweller of this flat has draped a bag of soil over the balcony’s edge, reinforced the slashes with industrial tape, and planted four different herbs; with what looks like oregano, thyme, parsley and dill. I am reminded of the beautiful story A Tree Grows in Brooklyn.

We assembled four pieces of Ikea (table, bureau, desk, clothes rack) and although it took approximately 8 hours, we are so proud of ourselves!

Super Moon Photos

I am a little behind in posting my Super Moon May 2012 photos. I thought I hadn’t anything worth posting and didn’t bother uploading. Unfortunately, I broke my tripod taking the first shot. Photographing in the dark is not my specialty and the venture was my usual comedy of disasters.

Perigree Moon at Niles Pond

Birch Trees at Niles Pond for Maggie Rosa

I arrived at the Good Harbor foot bridge early and waited for the moon to rise, and waited, and waited. Nothing. Had I read the time incorrectly? Impatiently I left and as I was coming around the crest of the hill on the back shore, there was the perigree moon , in full glorious orange rising across sea. I hadn’t gotten the timing wrong, only the location. In my hurriedness to set up, I parked poorly and almost got run over getting out of the car. Struggling with my tripod in the dark I tripped and crashed and snapped off a leg; tripod is now a monopod. After all that, I was surprised to see the night wasn’t a complete waste of time. Note to self–bring flashlight and go with a friend when photographing late at night!

Joey Ciaramitaro Harbor Walk Video

Video Walking Tour of Gloucester Harbor Walk with Good Morning Gloucester creator Joey Ciaramitaro