Monthly Archives: June 2012

Chasing Rainbows (and Storm Clouds)

The beautiful double rainbow late Saturday afternoon had faded, but I did see this on my way home.

Rainbow over Bass Rocks

The sky was so gorgeous I next stopped at Smith’s Cove to catch the end of the setting sun. The hues quickly changed from vivid yellow-orange to orange-violet-pink.

Smith’s Cove East Gloucester

Click photos to view larger-more dramatic looking!

Polyphemus Moth

Perhaps you may recall the photo of the wild silkworm cocoon that was posted back in April. I was becoming a little discouraged at the lack of activity and wondered if we should place the cocoon, which was housed in a terrarium and protected from the sun by our shaded porch, into full sun. My worries were for nothing because during the heat wave Thursday, sometime in the mid-morning hours, a gorgeous female Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus) emerged from her cocoon.

Female Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus)

The Polyphemus Moth is so named because of the giant eyespots ringed with yellow, blue, and black on the hindwings. In Greek mythology Polyphemus is the one-eyed Cyclopes and son of Poseidon and Thoosa; the name means “much spoken of” or “famous.”

The Polyphemus Moth has also transparent spots on the forewings. Antheraea polyphemus is one of North America’s largest moths with a wingspan of four to six inches. Like the Luna Moth and Cecropia Moth, the Polyphemus Moth belongs to the Giant Silkworm Family or Saturniidae.

Male Polyphemus Moth (Antheraea polyphemus). Note the comb-like feathery antennae of the male, which are nearly double the size of the female. The large antennae can more easily detect pheromones released by the female. 

I was hoping a female would emerge, knowing that she would release pheromones, which would attract a male. Thursday night we set up the terrarium outside in a sheltered area around back. The following morning, sure enough, I discovered a perfect male specimen clinging to the back door. They don’t fly very well when their wings are not warmed sufficiently so he was easy to capture. I placed him into the terrarium with the female. Her abdomen is bursting with eggs and she had already begun to deposit unfertilized eggs everywhere—on leaves, her old cocoon, and the glass walls of the terrarium. That night I woke up every hour on the hour to try to photograph their mating, but I don’t think a pairing took place.

Female Polyphemus Moth with abdomen swollen with eggs.

She is continuing to deposit eggs each evening. Her abdomen is still quite swollen. I am keeping my hopes up that they will get it together so the male will fertilize her eggs and we can then rear the caterpillars! Both male and female emerge without mouthparts; they do all their eating in the caterpillar stage.

Polyphemus Moth Cocoon found on White Birch  (Betula papyrifera) April 1, 2012.

Butterfly Gardening with Eloise and Madeline

Madeline and Eloise

Last summer the Ciaramitaro girls stopped by our garden to see a newly emerged Monarch butterfly.  After releasing the butterfly, Eloise wanted to learn more about the Monarchs, and butterflies in general. This year she remembered from their visit the previous year that the Monarch caterpillar food plant is milkweed. Eloise, who I am convinced is a budding naturalist and artist, is an avid gardener (just ask her about her vegetable patch!), so I promised her milkweed plants. We scouted out a sunny a corner of the family’s yard and, after mom Jill helped dig up the sod, we planted a petite butterfly garden, with Common Milkweed for the Monarchs, parsley and fennel for the Black Swallowtails, and marigolds to attract the nectaring insects. We’re looking forward to their first butterfly sightings!

Sunday Brunch at the Seaward Inn

What more could one ask for in a fine dining experience–inviting location and ambience, beautifully prepared food, and welcoming service. A recent trip to enjoy The Seaward Inn’s Sunday brunch provided all of the preceding, and then some.

The Seaward Inn is located on Marmion Way, which runs along Rockport’s picturesque shoreline. Sunday brunch is served from 10:30 to 1:30. The cost is 18.95 per person--really quite reasonable considering coffee,  juice, freshly baked breads and croissants, organic yogurt, and homemade granola are all included with the three course prixe fixe menu.

Savory Tart Tartin

Roasted Beet Salad

For starters my husband had the exquisite wild mushroom, caramelized onion, goat cheese, and watercress Savory Tart Tartin and I had the Roasted Beet Salad with spring greens, blue cheese, toasted walnuts, and balsamic vinaigrette. We were both hard-pressed to decide which was the more fabulous. Cheese blintzes, with citrus ricotta and seasonal fruit, as well as the classic Caesar salad are also offered for the first course.

Omelet to Order

Eggs Florentine

The entrees were equally as difficult to chose between. Roasted breast of chicken, pan-seared salmon, grilled flank steak, waffles, French toast, and quiche of the day were the entrees to which we had to say no. Tom had the Omelet to Order with a wonderful medley of fresh veggies and I had their gorgeous Eggs Benedict with exquisitely creamy, lemony Hollandaise and perfectly cooked spinach. I am looking forward to another visit soon to the Seaward Inn for brunch as every item on the menu sounded irresitible. Guinness Chocolate Cake Tom loved the homemade basil ice cream with fresh strawberries and I had the simply divine Guinness chocolate cake–the cake’s texture was amazingly light and perfectly sweetened. Key Lime pie is another favorite offered–I guess the next visit won’t come soon enough!

Guinness Chocolate Cake 

Tom loved the homemade basil ice cream with fresh strawberries and I had the simply divine Guinness chocolate cake–the cake’s texture was amazingly light and perfectly sweetened. Key Lime pie is another favorite offered–I guess the next visit won’t come soon enough!

John Lamarinde and Nancy Cameron-Gilsey

The Seaward Inn opened for its 68th year in business in May of this year, and has been continually in operation under the same family for all these many years. Nancy Cameron Gilsey, the youngest daughter of the original proprietors Roger and Ann Cameron, has partnered with the renowned chefs of Beach Gourmet Catering for their brunch menu, special events, and continental breakfast; their weekly continental breakfast is also open to the public.

See Joe Ciaramitaro’s Good Morning Gloucester video posted earlier this year for a first look with John Lamarinde at the new Savour Wine and Cheese and Beach Gourmet Catering, opening very soon, and located at 76 Prospect Street, across from St. Ann’s School.

Sunset Swim

We’re having a heat wave,

A tropical heat wave,

The temperature’s rising,

It isn’t surprising,

She certainly can-can.

Niles Beach

First day of summer and first swim of the season!  Last night we packed a picnic and went for a swim–the perfect antidote to a heat wave. Tonight–more of the same!! We’re so fortunate to live in Gloucester, moments away from any number of beautiful beaches.

Snowy Egret Niles Beach

“Heat Wave” ~ Irving Berlin, from the musical “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”

Boston Globe Garden Reporter Carol Stocker

Boston Globe garden writer Carol Stocker stopped by to visit my garden today. I made lobster salad,  purchased fresh from Captain Joe’s earlier in the morning. She thought the lobsters so delicious she wanted to bring some home to her family and also meet fellow blogger Joey Ciaramitaro.

Carol Stocker and Joey Ciaramitaro

Check out Carol’s outstanding gardening blog where several times weekly she posts information and updates about all things gardening for our region–horticultural advice, garden tour and plant sale schedules, design tips, and with links to her weekly live gardening chat.

Jewel of the Night ~ The Luna Moth

The Luna Moth, one of the most stunning and easily recognized moths, belongs to the Giant Silkworm Family or Saturniidae. Moths in the Sautrniidae are generally medium to large, with bulky bodies, dense, fur-like scales, and eyespot patterns on the wing. There are roughly forty species of Saturniidae in North America, including the Promethea Moth, often seen at twilight, and the giant Cercropia Moth, with a wingspan of a half-foot or more! The caterpillars of the Luna Moth feed on many trees including alders, beech, cherries, sweet gum and willows.

Luna Moth ~ Actias luna

Male Luna Moth found at Willowdale Estate early Thursday morning. Photo courtesy Dale Resca.

Madeline Sings What a Wonderful World

What a Wonderful World, sung by five-year old Madeline Ciaramitaro at her great-grandmother’s memorial. Surrounded by her loving family, Madeline does’t miss a lyric, despite the baby crying (on cue) and a great deal of background noise. I think Madeline’s world is pretty wonderful!

Smiths Cove Sunset

Smiths Cove East Gloucester

Neighbor Dave eating lobster on his boat and watching the setting sun. He very generously offered Rosa several bites of lobster–something she never gets at home because her owners are too stingy when it comes to sharing lobster!

Willowdale Estate Peacock

I never know what interesting species I am going to encounter when at Willowdale– usually tending to find more of the native variety–

From wiki: Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus, is a resident breeder in South Asia. The peacock is designated as the national bird of India and the provincial bird of the Punjab. The term peafowl can refer to the two species of bird in the genus Pavo of the pheasant family, Phasianidae. Peafowl are best known for the male’s extravagant tail, which it displays as part of courtship. The male is called a peacock, and the female a peahen. The female peafowl is brown or toned grey and brown.

Come join us tomorrow evening in the garden at Willowdale.

The Eastern Carpenter Bee

3 minute video featuring the Eastern Carpenter Bee. The music is the opening movement of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring, performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

The Eastern Carpenter Bee (Xylocopa virginica) is an important pollinator for many open-faced spring flowers including the blossoms of fruiting trees—crabapple, apple, pear, peach, plum, and wild cherry—as well as holly and brambles. X. virginica has an especially bad reputation with blueberry growers because they have strong mouthparts (capable of boring into wood), which will easily tear flowers with a deep corolla—blueberries and azaleas, for example. In the video you can see the bee probing into the sides of, and in some instances tearing, the petals to gather nectar from the blossoming Japanese Andromeda (Pieris japonica). The damage done to wood is usually minimal and cosmetic.

Carpenter Bees are regularly mistaken for bumblebees. Their shiny black abdomen most easily distinguishes them. Male and female carpenter bees can easily be differentiated at a glance. The male has a patch of yellowish-white cuticle at the top its head; the females face is entirely black.

Male Eastern Carpenter Bees are aggressively territorial. They will fly at you noisily and vigorously when in their territory, but it is all just show—they are incapable of stinging!

Butterfly Garden Tour at Willowdale Estate!

Reminder to save the date ~ A week from Tuesday, on the evening of  June 12th, I am giving a tour of the butterfly gardens at Willowdale Estate.  We will be showing my short film about the gardens at Willowdale and Briar’s delicious refreshments will be served. I am very excited to share the gardens and show how to translate this information to your own garden. I hope you can join us for what promises to be a lovely evening!

R.S.V.P. to Info@WillowdaleEstate.com.

 

Ultramarine Allison ~ Carol

The beautiful French ultramarine blue of the Allison ~ Carol. The word ultramarine is derived from Middle Latin ultramarinus, meaning “beyond the sea,” because it was imported from Asia by sea.

The Allison ~ Carol lobster boat in the travel lift at Rose’s Marine.

From wiki: Ultramarine is a blue pigment consisting primarily of a zeolite-based mineral containing small amounts of polysulphides. It occurs in nature as a proximate component of lapis lazuli.

A Hummingbird’s Perspective

Hummingbirds can easily distinguish red contrasted against green.

Trumpeting the Trumpet

Early blooms are an important feature for the vine planted to lure hummingbirds. You want to provide tubular-shaped flowers in shades of red and orange and have your hummingbird feeders hung and ready for the earliest of the northward-migrating scouts. If nothing is available, they will pass by your garden and none will take residence. Hummingbirds can easily distinguish red contrasted against green. We go so far as to plant vivid Red Riding Hood tulips beneath our hummingbird feeders, which hang from the bows of the flowering fruit trees. Although hummingbirds do not nectar from the tulips, the color red draws them into the garden and the flowering fruit trees and sugar water provide sustenance for travel-weary migrants.

Lonicera sempervirens, also called Trumpet and Coral Honeysuckle, is a twining or trailing woody vine native to New England. Trumpet Honeysuckle is not at all fussy about soil and is drought tolerant. Plant in full sun to part shade. If Trumpet Honeysuckle becomes large and ungainly, prune hard to the ground—it grows rapidly and a vigorous pruning will only encourage more flowers.

Lonicera sempervirens John Clayton

‘Major Wheeler’ flowers in a deeper red than that of the carmine of ‘Dropmore Scarlet.’ ‘John Clayton’ is a cheery, cadmium yellow, a naturally occurring variant of Lonicera sempervirens, and was originally discovered growing wild in Virginia. The blossoms of ‘Mandarin’ are a lovely shade of Spanish orange.

Trumpet Honeysuckle has myriad uses in the landscape. Cultivate to create vertical layers, in a small garden especially. Plant Lonicera sempervirens to cover an arbor, alongside a porch pillar or to weave through trelliage. Allow it clamber over an eyesore or down an embankment. Plant at least one near the primary paths of the garden so that you can enjoy the hummingbirds that are drawn to the nectar-rich blossoms. I practically bump into the hummingbirds as they are making their daily rounds through the garden flora. Did you know they make a funny squeaky sound? I began to take notice of their presence in our garden, when at my office desk one afternoon in late summer, with windows open wide, I heard very faint, mouse-like squeaks. I glanced up from my work, fully expecting to see a mouse, and was instead delighted to discover a female Ruby-throat outside my office window, nectaring at the vines. Trumpet Honeysuckle not only provides nectar for the hummingbirds, it also offers shelter and succulent berries for a host of birds.

While planting the summer gardens at Willowdale this past week we observed dozens of Ruby-throated Hummingbirds nectaring at the Trumpet Honeysuckle embowering the courtyard doors.

Lonicera sempervirens is a caterpillar food plant for the Snowberry Clearwing moth.

Fragrant Daylilies

Oftentimes well-meaning hybridizers neglect fragrance, instead favoring a particular color or over-sized blooms. Hemerocallis dumortieri is a species daylily, which means the plant you see growing in the garden is exactly as you would find it growing in fields of wildflowers in Manchuria, eastern Russia, Korea, and Japan. The golden yellow-orange flowers have a scent to match their color; the fragrance is a heavenly combination of orange blossoms and honeysuckle.

H. dumortieri  is one of the earliest daylilies to flower, beginning to bloom in May in eastern Massachusetts.  The plants are compact, with narrow, arching leaves and the copper-hued buds open to warm marigold-yellow, star-shaped flowers; the backs of the tepals are washed with reddish brown striations.

Adored

 

This past week at Willowdale we planted the stunning tree peony ‘Keiko’, which means “adored.” Briar’s favorite color is pink so I am always on high alert for rose-hued blossoms. I took one look at this drop dead gorgeous plant and just had to have it for Willowdale. Don’t you find in nature there are seemingly infinite shades of pink? The beautiful blowsy blossoms of  ‘Keiko’  possess myriad.

Did I mention ‘Adored’ is delightfully fragrant? The fragrance is sweet, but not cloying–very light and fresh.