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

Meet Chris Muskopf

Chris Muskopf and the newly planted Tulip Trees at St. Peter’s Square

Friday late afternoon I took a stroll along the Harbor Walk to have a look at the newly planted gardens. I heard a friendly hello from behind and there was Chris Muscopf, primary architect and project manager for the Harbor Walk, stopping by to check on the gardens, too. Chris was later meeting JD MacEachern and they were on their way to a running race at Good Harbor Beach.

Chris Muskopf and JD MacEachern

Chris lives in Jamaica Plain with his wife and young daughter Beatrix and rides his bike, or runs, to his job at Cambridge Seven Associates nearly everyday, rain or shine. I’ve gotten to know Chris a little bit over the past year and he is an all around great guy, with a wonderful sense of humor. Chris is working tirelessly, and always with much enthusiasm, to make the Harbor Walk a success. Stop in and see the work in progress. I think you’ll agree, the Harbor Walk is coming along beautifully!

Camilla Jerome at Monsterrat Artrageous! 26

Camilla Jerome

Before heading out to dinner last Saturday night my husband Tom and I stopped in briefly at the Monsterrat College of Art annual fundraiser, Artrageous! 26. Tom had donated several paintings, as are all the works of art donated, and we had a great time looking at the paintings, prints, photos, mixed media, and sculpture. My favorite piece in the show was a self portrait by a young artist from Wenham, Camilla Jerome.

Camilla Jerome’s Weigh Me Down  -Click to view larger image

Panorama Monsterrat Artrageous! 26    -Click to view larger.

Winter King Planted in the Harbor Walk Gardens

Jay Ramsey with his crew Mauriocio Tuquerres and Mike Rogers planting hawthorn Crategus viridis ‘Winter King’ at Gus Foote Park.

Last week Jay Ramsey and his crew planted the garden at I4-C2 and two trees at Gus Foote Park. Jay (Farm Creek Landscaping) suggested the hawthorn ‘Winter King’ and project architect Chris Muskopf and I agreed it was a great suggestion. Jay has had good success with ‘Winter King;’ notably with the several he planted along a windswept bank of the Annisquam River. ‘Winter King’ is relatively disease and pest free (atypical for members of the Rose Family) and is noted for its profusion of white flowers in May and tight clusters of bright red fruits that persist through the winter. The fruits are usually not eaten by birds until late winter. Crategus viridis is tolerant of poor soils and urban conditions. Crataegus means strength and viridis refers to the greenish bark of the species, however ‘Winter King’s’ bark is more silvery.

Save the Date ~ June 12

I hope you can come join me in the courtyard garden I designed for Willowdale on Tuesday June 12th at 7pm. The event is free and should be lots of fun. I am looking forward to showing my film and the garden and Briar will prepare her wonderful array of refreshments, within the setting of the beautifully restored Arts and Crafts mansion and gardens that is Willowdale!

RSVP to Info@WillowdaleEastate.com

Tulip Tree

Welcome Tulip Trees!

The magnificent Tulip Tree (Liriodendron tulipifera), also called Tulip Poplar or Yellow Poplar, is named and noted for its tulip-shaped flowers. Tulip Trees are native to the eastern United States and are relatively fast growing, without the problem of weak wood strength and the short life span typical of fast growing trees.

Tulip Tree foliage of the newly planted Tulip Trees at St. Peter’s Square, Gloucester

The foliage of the Tulip Tree has a distinct four lobed shape, with a beautiful fluttering habit when caught in the wind. Come fall, the tree is ablaze in brilliant clear yellow. Rich in nectar, Tulip Trees are a major honey plant of the east. In our region the tree typically flowers in June. The nectar also invites songbirds Cardinal and Gold Finch, as well as Ruby-throated Hummingbird.

Liriodendron tulipifera is one of only two species in the genus Liriodendron in the Magnolia Family.

Fun fact from wiki: Native Americans so habitually made their dugout canoes of its trunk that the early settlers west of the Appalachian Mountains called it Canoewood.

Planting Underway at the Gloucester Harbor Walk Gardens

Tulip Trees (Liriodendron tulipifera)

Monday the Tulip Trees were planted at St. Peter’s Square and Tuesday was devoted to Whale Watch and General Store planting areas. Today we are tackling Gus Foote Park. You may notice a few bare spots; not all plants have been delivered. We’ll be adding more to the gardens as they arrive.

Jay Ramsey and his crew from Farm Creek Landscpaping are doing a top-notch job—professional and so enthusiastic. We are all so excited to see the installation of the city’s Harbor Walk gardens underway. I’ll be bringing you information on some of the native beauties we have planted and their value to the landscape and to wildlife. People often ask me why they have so few bees in their garden and I respond, “What have you planted for the bees and for all the pollinators?”  When you plant for the pollinators, they will come!

Message from Chris Leahy about the Mass Audubon Bird-a-thon

Spring has finally returned to New England! It is arguably the most exciting birding season of the year, when it is possible to find over 100 species in a day with relative ease – many of them in stunning breeding plumage!  And each year I organize a small group here on Cape Ann to bird for conservation as part of Mass Audubon’s Bird-a-thon. It’s great fun, involves some friendly competition, and supports bird conservation.

Here’s how it works.

This year Bird-a-thon takes place May 11-12 and consists of having as much birding fun as we can stand in the 24 hours between 6:00 PM Friday until 6:00 PM Saturday. Back in 2004, I thought it would be fun to see how many species we could find without leaving Cape Ann (Gloucester, Rockport, Essex and Manchester). In addition to the geographical challenge, this reduces birding time lost to driving (one of our team birds by bicycle!) and of course shrinks the team’s carbon footprint. In the 7 years that Cape Ann has fielded a team, we have ticked 183 species total with an average of 132 species per year –dragged down by monsoon rains in two years! In our best single year we found 156 species.

The Cape Ann Bird-a-thon team is back this year with its (catchy?) nickname, “Twitchers with a Purpose” to emphasize the fact that all funds raised will go to specific bird conservation projects. The conservation dollars that can be raised can be significant. For example, last year, Drumlin Farm’s team won the prized Hathaway Cup for raising the most money ($34,820) and a dedicated individual on that team was the statewide top fundraiser with $15,309 raised. My team is trying to hit the $5,000 mark this year.

This, as you’ve probably guessed, is where you come in by pledging to my team as generously as you can. You can either pledge an amount per bird ($1/species @ 132 species = $132) or just pledge a set amount. Pledging is a snap. Just go to my webpage:http://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/chrisleahy/bird-a-thon-2012 , click on the green DONATE button and just follow the simple pledging instructions. OR you can just send a check made out to Mass Audubon and designated for the Bertrand Chair (that’s me), attn: Ellen McBride, Mass Audubon, 208 South Great Rd., Lincoln, MA 01773. No gift is too small (or too large!) and all are eligible for a charitable deduction.

I hope you can help. Remember, your pledge will be dedicated to specific bird conservation efforts undertaken by my colleagues and me at Mass Audubon, such as the recently publish and authoritative State of the Birds report. I can assure you on the best existing evidence that our birds need all the help you can give them.

Thank you Chris for all you do to help the birds of Massachusetts!

Gray Catbird 

In looking through my photo library for an image for this post, I am reminded of when the Catbirds and Mockingbirds began to call our garden home–when our first batch of blackberries ripened! Catibirds dine on fruits and berries and are year-round frequent visitors to the feast we provide, including blueberry, Juneberry, winterberry, and holly berry.  As the fruits of our magnolias approach their ripening time, the Catbirds noisily guard the trees in anticipation of the ripened fruit.

For more information about the Gray Catbird:

Mass Audubon: Gray Catird (Dumetella carolinensis)

All About Birds: Gray Catbird

The Cornell website has excellent crisp, clear recordings of the Catbirds “mew” sound. Anyone who has heard the repetitious male catbird vocalizing at daybreak knows exactly why they are called Catbirds. From Cornell, “The Gray Catbird belongs to the genus Dumetella, which means “small thicket.” And that’s exactly where you should go look for this little skulker.”

Love the beautiful shade of blue of Catbird eggs!

Gray Catbird Eggs image courtesy Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Outlook for Commercial and Residential Real Estate Markets for the North Shore

Wednesday I attended the North Shore Chamber of Commerce “Outlook for Commercial and Residential Markets by Industry Leaders,” sponsored by the Boston Lobsters Professional Tennis Team and held at the Peabody Marriott Hotel.

 Bahar Uttam (center), owner, Boston Lobsters Tennis Team 

The event was moderated by Karen Andreas, publisher of the Salem News. The featured industry leaders were Lee Dellicker, president, Windover Construction; Alan Berry, vice president, C.P. Berry Construction; Ted Tye, managing partner, National Development; Steve Drohosky, general manager, Cummings Center, and Stephen Connolly IV, president, Connolly Brothers.

Each speaker gave their forecast from the perspective of their business. The overall projections for the North Shore were very positive, thanks to rising employment  figures and the vastly improved financial market. Massachusetts is ahead of the curve and Governor Patrick is working to help streamline the permitting process. All five speakers agreed the market will continue to support sustainability and LEED-certified building. Alan Berry provided great graphics on the rising and falling worth of homeownership over the past 100 years.

Lee Dellicker (center), president, Windhover Construction

When the panel was asked about the permitting process, Lee Dellicker, president, Windhover Construction advised the audience that when you believe a project is beneficial to your community, to let your voice be heard because, as is often the case in a great majority of projects, community leaders only hear from the small, but very vocal, anti-development minority.

Ted Tye’s firm, National Development, is developing Lynnfield Market Street

Exciting NewsDavios Restaurant, along with a super deluxe Whole Foods, are two of the much anticipated anchors coming to Market Street Lynfield. Davios Newbury Street is one of my very favorite restaurants and when we lived in the Back Bay it was our special restaurant for a romantic evening out. Steve DeFillipo, owner of Davios, is a former longtime resident of Lynnfield and currently resides in Wenham with his family.

Love and Other Anxieties

My friend Lyda Kuth’s film Love and Other Anxieties played to a packed house yesterday at the Independent Film Festival Boston. Beautiful and heartfelt, Love and Other Anxieties is a personal exploration about the meaning of love and long-term commitment.

Click photo to view a larger image.

You can see in the above photo the line for Love and Other Anxieties stretched the length of a city block, wrapping around the corner, and ending behind the theatre.

Arriving early allowed a few minutes to have fun with street photography. My x100 is terrific for photographing people without being noticed and for the most part, passers-by don’t mind even if they do notice. Davis Square was teeming with people and the restaurants were jam packed.

Somerville Theatre

Somerville Theatre

With 98 films playing over the course of a week, and the greatest number of films shown during the weekend, I was impressed with how well organized is the festival–run entirely by volunteers.

Somerville Theatre

I was hoping to take a snapshot of Lyda with her family after the film, but we were hurried out of the theatre to make way for the next film. Lyda was surrounded by a throng of well-wishers and friends and I was so happy to see her happiness. Congratulations to Lyda for the successful launch of her beautiful and touching film, first of many I hope!

Love and Other Anxieties Trailer 

Interview with Lyda from New England Film

Sweet Scents of Spring

Flowering Crabapple

Fragrant Snowball Viburnum (Viburnum x carlecphalum)

Narcissus’ Geranium’

Dwarf fothergillaFothergilla ‘Mount Airy’