May 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Please join me Monday evening for a tour of the butterfly gardens I designed for Willowdale Estate. Come experience a taste of Briar’s gracious hospitality and enjoy refreshments served in the conservatory. The tulips are at their peak and look simply spectacular this year. I will also be showing several of my short films. Please RSVP to Sarah at: Sarah@WillowdaleEstate.com ~ 978-887-8211.
I hope to see you there!
May 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Thank you to everyone participating in the Cape Ann Milkweed Project!
Monarch Butterfly Nectaring at Common Milkweed ~ Good Harbor Beach
Milkweed may not be for everyone’s garden; even if you did not order plants, you are welcome to come on down to the dock Saturday morning, the 18th of May, and learn more about the Monarch-milkweed connection. The plants are being shipped on Monday the 13th and I will keep you updated on their progress.
April 30, 2013 § 1 Comment
Order Your Milkweed Plants Today!
In case you missed the details see Sunday’s Post: Cape Ann Milkweed Project
Tonight I am placing the order for the milkweed plants. Please get your orders in.
Thank you, thank you to Everyone participating in our Cape Ann Milkweed Project!!!
Newly Emerged Monarch Butterflies. I called these two butterflies the” Twins,” because they completed every stage of their life cycle within moments of each other, including pupating and emerging from their chrysalides.
April 29, 2013 § 1 Comment
Order Your Milkweed Plants Today!
Monarch Chrysalis on Rib of Common Milkweed Leaf
Everyone who wrote in yesterday and placed an order has been recorded. Anyone interested in ordering either Common or Marsh Milkweed today, please place your order in the comment section of this post or yesterday’s post, which explains the project, and includes all details. Don’t forget to specify whether you are interested in Common or Marsh Milkweed and how many plants you would like.
Thank you so much to everyone who is participating. Keep the orders coming!
Monarch Caterpillars Feeding on Milkweed in the Summer…
Equals Millions of Monarchs in the Fall!!!
April 29, 2013 § 2 Comments
Order Your Milkweed Plants Today!
In March I shared an article about bringing back the Monarch Butterflies. Great interest in planting milkweed was expressed by many. The way to bring as many Monarchs as possible to our region is to help recreate the butterfly’s habitat in our own gardens. The number one way to do this is by planting native wildflowers, milkweed for the summer caterpillars, and asters and goldenrod for the fall migrants. Number two is to make a commitment not to use pesticides, which will indiscriminately kill all the creatures that your milkweed plants invite to your garden.
Milkweed is the only food plant of the Monarch caterpillar and the flower is a fantastic source of nectar for myriad species of bees and butterflies.
So many readers wrote in requesting milkweed plants that my friend Joey from Good Morning Gloucester blog has very generously offered his place of business—Captain Joe and Sons—as our go-to-place for picking up plants!! It’s going to be a super fun morning–stop by with your coffee, visit, learn about milkweed and Monarchs, and pick up your order.
Please place your order today or tomorrow. I am not pre-collecting the money and am fronting the funds to purchase plants. I don’t want to have dozens of homeless plants, so I am asking everyone to please be on the honor system.
We are ordering two types of milkweed. The cost is 7.00 per plant, which will come in a 3.5 inch square pot. The plants are on the smallish side however, that is the ideal size for shipping and transplanting milkweed. I am writing instructions for planting and they will be provided at the time of purchase.
Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is the milkweed we see most typically growing in our dunes, meadows, roadsides, and fields. It grows quickly and spreads vigorously by underground runners. This is a great plant if you have an area of your garden that you want to devote entirely to milkweed. It prefers full sun, will tolerate some shade, and will grow in nearly any type of soil. The flowers are dusty mauve pink and have a wonderful honey-hay sweet scent.
Marsh Milkweed (Aclepias incarnata) is more commonly found in marshy areas, but it grows beautifully in gardens. It does not care for dry conditions. These plants are very well-behaved and are more clump forming, rather than spreading by underground roots. The flowers are typically a brighter pink than Common Milkweed.
Monarchs deposit their eggs readily on both types of milkweed and in my garden I grow Common Milweed and Marsh Milkweed side-by-side.
The cost of the plants includes shipping from Missouri. Hopefully everyone will be good and if they place an order, will honor their commitment. If there is any money beyond what was spent on plants and shipping we will donate it to the ongoing fundraising drive for the Rocky Neck Cultural Center purchase of the beautiful center on Wonson Street.
Plant pick-up is at Captain Joe and Sons, 95 East Main Street, Gloucester, on Saturday, May 18th from 9:00am to 12noon. If you cannot pick up your plants at that time, please ask a friend.
My order to the nursery is being placed on Tuesday night, so please get your orders in asap. Place Your Milkweed Order in the comment section of this post. Be sure to indicate which type of milkweed, Common or Marsh, and number of plants.
Our deepest thanks to everyone who is participating.
Rain date pick up: Sunday, May 19th from 9am to 12noon.
April 26, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Habitat Gardening Post #2 ~ Beauty in Our Midst
Blooming now along the water’s edge and wetlands is our native Pussy Willow (Salix discolor). The first photo is cropped (click to view larger) so that you can easily see the Pussy Willow tree on the far right at the pond’s edge– a pretty pale yellowish-green. The small tree, or large shrub, can either easily be pruned to a standard shape, or allowed to grow in its more unruly, wildy way. Prune the branches down to the ground and the following year you will be rewarded with straight shoots for cutting and bringing indoors. Salix dicolor grows easily in average, wet, and moist areas, and grows best in full- to part-sun.
Pussy Willows are pollinated by wind and by insects and produce a very high-sugar nectar. They are an important early food source for native bees. One Pussy Willow catkin contains about 200 fruit-bearing flowers. Cardinals and finches find the flower buds tasty, too. Willows are dioecious, which means some twigs produce beautiful golden stamens (male parts), while others bear slender greenish pistils (female parts).
I often see Mourning Cloak butterflies around the berm between Niles Pond and Brace Cove; the leaves of the Pussy Willow are a larval host plant (caterpillar food plant) for both the Mourning Cloak and Viceroy butterflies. The Mourning Cloak is one of the earliest butterflies seen in our region because they overwinter in the adult form.
The bark and roots of Pussy Willow contains a compound called salicin, and the herb is used similarly to aspirin in treating mild fevers, cold, infections, headaches, and pain. Aspirin (acetylsalicylic acid) is a synthetic replacement for salicin.
Mourning Cloak Butterfly nectaring from milkweed, image courtesy Google image search
April 25, 2013 § Leave a Comment
COMING SOON! WORLD PREMIER at the
CAPE ANN COMMUNITY CINEMA
FRIDAY JUNE 21, 2013 at 7:30 pm
ADVANCE TICKETS available at Cape Ann Community Cinema
Come celebrate the premier of my film, Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, on the Summer Solstice, Friday, June 21st at 7:30pm, at the Cape Ann Community Cinema.
As everyone who knows me knows, I have been working on developing this film for nearly two years. It is the first to be completed in the trilogy and I am overjoyed to announce the premier will be held at the Cape Ann Community Cinema. Many thanks to Rob Newton for inviting me to have the premier at his wonderfully unique and super fun movie theatre. I hope everyone will come celebrate this special night with me. I think you will love seeing scenes of our native flora and fauna, filmed all around Gloucester and Cape Ann, on the Big Screen.
The Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly is a 45-minute narrated film. Every stage of the butterfly’s life cycle is experienced in vibrant close-up, from conception to pupation to metamorphosis. The film is for adults and for children so that all can gain a deeper understanding of the symbiotic relationship between wildflowers and pollinators and the vital role they play in our ecosystem. Filmed in Gloucester.
Note ~ The beautiful music that you hear is my daughter Liv singing and friend Kathleen Adams on the accompanying organ. The song is their improvisation of the Quaker dance song “Simple Gifts.” The soundtrack was recorded at the Annisquam Village Church on the organ built by Gloucester’s own Jeremy Adams. Thank you Liv and Kathleen!
ADVANCE TICKETS available at Cape Ann Community Cinema
Light refreshments, including wine, and beer will be served. I hope to see you there!
April 22, 2013 § Leave a Comment
To celebrate Earth Day (Earth Week-Earth Month-Everyday is Earth Day!), I am beginning a new series on both my blog and on Good Morning Gloucester titled Habitat Gardening 101. The series is based on the lectures that I give to area conservation groups, libraries, garden clubs, and schools and is designed to provide information on the relationships between our native flora and fauna, and how to translate that information to your own garden. You will find in this series information on how to support and encourage to your garden a wide variety of wildlife, including songbirds, butterflies, bees, moths, skippers, hummingbirds, and small mammals, and the trees, wildflowers, shrubs, vines, and groundcovers that sustain these beautiful creatures.
This series could just as well be titled Beauty in Our Midst because there are so many gems to be found along our shoreline, meadows, fields, wetlands, dunes, woodlands, and roadsides. Although the series will cover a wide array of flora and wildlife, the first posts will be about several butterfly attracting trees and shrubs because they are currently in bloom. Coming Wednesday, the North American native Pussy Willow will be featured. For today, the following is one of my Top Ten Tips for Attracting Lepidoptera to Your Garden.
Habitat Gardening 101 Tip #1: Plant Caterpillar Food Plants
So you want to attract tons of butterflies to your garden and you plant lots of gorgeous, colorful nectar-rich plants—and that is wonderful. To your garden will come many beautiful, albeit transient, butterflies, along with an array of many different species of beneficial pollinators. However, if you want butterflies to colonize your garden, in other words, to experience the grand beauty of the creature through all its stages of life, from egg to caterpillar to chrysalis to adult, you must also plant caterpillar food plants.
Black Swallowtail Butterfly Egg on Fennel (the pinhead-sized golden yellow dot)
Each species of butterfly caterpillar will only eat from a family of plants it has coevolved a relationship with over millennia. We call this a caterpillar food plant, host plant, or larval food plant.
Perhaps you may recall that the Monarch Butterfly only deposits her eggs on milkweed plants. The Black Swallowtail Butterfly deposits her eggs on, and the caterpillars feast on, members of Umbelliferae (Apiaceae), or carrot family of plants, including carrots, parsley, fennel, dill, and Queen Anne’s Lace. Some caterpillars, like the stunning Eastern Tiger Swallowtail feed from several plant families, like those of Magnoliaceae and Rosaceae, which species include the Wild Black Cherry, the Tulip Tree, and the Sweet Bay Magnolia.
If you see a green, black and yellow striped and spotted caterpillar munching on your parsley plant, it is not a Monarch caterpillar; it is a Black Swallowtail caterpillar (I am often asked this question). Monarch caterpillars are striped yellow, black, and white, always. You will never find a Black Swallowtail caterpillar munching on milkweed; likewise you will never find a Monarch caterpillar eating your parsley and fennel.
Another question frequently asked is, if I invite caterpillars to my garden, will they devour all the foliage. The answer is, for the most part, no. The damage done is relatively minimal, the plant generally recovers quickly, and bear in mind too, that plants have evolved with many mechanisms to discourage their complete destruction. Remember, the plant was responsible for inviting the butterfly to its flower in the first place!
Note too, that if you invite butterflies to your garden to deposit their eggs, please don’t turn around and spray pesticides, which will kill all, indiscriminately. A habitat garden, by its very definition, is an organic garden, which means no herbicides, insecticides, pesticides, and chemical fertilizers.
Feel free to send any and all questions, suggestions for a topic, or curiosity, to the comment section under each post.
Cape Ann Milkweed Project Update: Because of the chilly spring weather, milkweed shoots are slow to emerge.
Link to a list of lectures and workshops at Kim Smith Designs
April 18, 2013 § 2 Comments
Over the weekend and next several days, when you have a moment, please watch my newest video. I have submitted it to a video contest sponsored by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis from their debut album The Heist. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis created the beautiful “Same Love” video that I posted previously. The winner will be announced after April 8th.
March 30, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Lecture Tuesday night, April 9, at 7:30 at the Manchester Community Center: Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! ~ Notes from a Gloucester Garden.
Cabbage White Butterflies Mating in the Native Flowering Dogwood Foliage
The lecture tonight is based on the book of the same name, which I wrote and illustrated. In it I reveal how to create the framework, a living tapestry of flora, fauna, and fragrance that establishes the soul of the garden. Using a selection of plant material that eliminates the need for pesticides and herbicides, and guided by the plants forms, hues, and horticultural demands, we discuss how to create a succession of blooms from April through November. This presentation is as much about how to visualize your garden, as it is about particular trees, shrubs, vines, perennials, and annuals. Illuminated with photographs, and citing poetry and quotations from Eastern and Western cultural influences, this presentation engages us with an artist’s eye while drawing from practical experience.
For a complete lit of my 2013 – 2014 programs and workshops, visit the Programs and Lectures page of my blog.
The Cecropia Moth, or Robin Moth (Hyalophora cecropia) is the largest moth found in North America, with a wingspan of up to six inches. He is perched on the foliage of our beautiful native Magnolia virginiana (Sweetbay Magnolia), one of several of the caterpillar’s food plants. You can tell that he is a male because he has large, feathery antennae, or plumos, the better for detecting scent hormones released by the female. This photo was taken in our garden in early June.
The Manchester Community Center is located at 40 Harbor Point, Manchester.
March 29, 2013 § 3 Comments
The above photo of a male (right) and female (left) Monarch Butterflies on Marsh Milkweed is part of the GMG/Cape Ann Giclee Photography show, opening tonight, Friday. Hope to see you there!
I am often asked the following question at my butterfly and pollinator garden design lectures. How exactly are Monsanto’s products ravaging the Monarch Butterfly population?
First, it is important to understand that all butterfly caterpillars rely on plant foods specific to each species of butterfly. For example, Monarch caterpillars only eat members of the milkweed family, Black Swallowtail caterpillars eat plants in the carrot family, and Heliconian butterflies eat plants in the passionflower family. Some caterpillars, like the larvae of the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail eat plants from a wide range of plant families. That being said, it is worth repeating that Monarch caterpillars only survive on members of the milkweed family.
Imagine a farm with row upon row of corn. Growing amongst and around the edges of the cornfields are wildflowers of all sorts, including milkweed. The wildflowers draw to the fields myriad pollinators such as bees, butterflies, and birds.
Monsanto has genetically modified the seed of corn and soybeans so that it will withstand extremely heavy doses of its herbicide, called Roundup. Monsanto’s corn and soybean seed is actually called Roundup Ready. Roundup Ready plants can withstand massive doses of the herbicide Roundup, but the milkweed and other wildflowers growing in the corn and soybean fields cannot.
Each year massive amounts of Roundup are sprayed on the corn and soybean fields, killing everything in sight, except the Roundup Ready corn and soybean. Additionally, Monsanto’s Roundup contains the active ingredient glyphosate, which has been tied to more health and environmental problems than you can possibly imagine.
Now imagine you are a Monarch Butterfly, having flown hundreds of miles northward towards breeding grounds of milkweed. But there is no milkweed to deposit your eggs. The circle in the chain of life is broken.
Since the use of genetically modified Roundup Ready began, milkweed has disappeared from over 100 million acres of row crops, or a roughly 58 percent decrease. Milkweed is not only the Monarch caterpillar host (or food) plant, the nectar-rich florets provide nourishment for hundreds of species of bees and other Lepidoptera.
The Monarch Butterfly migration is one of the great migrations of the world. Climate change and the loss of habitat are also factors in the decrease of butterflies. The Mexican government and the people of Mexico have enacted policies to help protect from logging the remaining oyamel fur trees in the Monarchs winter habitat.
There are several steps that we in the United States can undertake. 1) Avoid as much as possible genetically modified food, especially corn and soybean products. 2) If you own shares of Monsanto stock, get rid of it (Monsanto also developed Agent Orange). Thirdly, we need to start a national movement to cultivate milkweed and to create awareness about the important role wildflowers play in our ecosystem.
Calling Everyone: Plant Milkweed! No matter how small or large your garden, give a spot over to milkweed and watch your garden come to life!
March 21, 2013 § 1 Comment
March 8, 2013 § 1 Comment
Four Brides Judge Each Other’s Weddings. Even with Superstorm Sandy threatening to dampen Enza and John Procopio’s special day, Willowdale takes the cake!
“In Italian tradition, rain is supposed to be good luck. We have the hurricane, so that means we are going to have life-long happiness.” said groom John Procopio.
Willowdale Estate pulled out all the stops to make the event a success. The competing brides loved the catering “My sea bass was fantastic!” said one competing bride. Willowdale received a perfect score for the catering and also achieved the highest score for guest experience. The couple walked away with a luxury vacation in the Caribbean Islands and a wedding story that will be in the family for many years.
Watch the full episode:
Willowdale Estate is a special events venue in Topsfield Massachusetts that provides celebrated restaurant style catering for all events, as well as complementary planning services. Willowdale’s fieldstone mansion is surrounded by over 700 acres of forest, the Ipswich River, and beautiful flowering gardens (designed by me!), with sweeping views, privacy, and endless possibilities for any event. Willowdale Estate is a full service venue with many amenities including a pristine Sperry Tent, equipment, and guidance from our experienced event planners. For more information about planning your wedding, corporate event, or fundraiser contact Info@WillowdaleEstate.com or call 978-887-8211
March 8, 2013 § Leave a Comment
Lilac ‘Maiden’s Blush’ (Syringa vulgaris) and the Friendly Red Admiral
Tomorrow night I am presenting one of my garden design lectures in West Newbury. For a complete list of programs that I offer, see the Programs page on my blog. For a list of upcoming lectures and programs, see the Events page on my blog.
Note: Program Rescheduled for June 6th.
The Oyama Magnolia is often planted adjacent to tea gardens in Japan because the blossom of the small tree nods downward, allowing the seated person to look up into the face of the flower. The first time I saw (or should say smelled) Magnolia sieboldii was in a wholesale nursery close to the Rhode Island border, where a single large specimen was tucked in with other more common species of magnolia. The divine fragrance emanating from the tree had drawn me towards it. The tree was unmarked, but since I so strongly value fragrance in plants, I had read about it and knew exactly what it was. Spring had not yet sprung in Gloucester and the honeysuckle sweet and citrus fragrance was intoxicating to my winter weary brain. I tied my tag around to claim it and have adored this tree since the day our Oyama Magnolia arrived to our garden.
October 30, 2012 § 1 Comment
Blooming today are the gorgeous Korean daisies. From a tiny little rooted-cutting passed along from a friend, we have masses and masses of these old-fashioned beauties. I share them with all my clients and not only do they love them for late season color and fragrance, but so do the bees and butterflies on the wing in autumn.
Click to view larger to see the pollen clinging to its eyes and body.
Korean Daisy (Chrysanthemum ‘Single Apricot Korean’) and Pollen-dusted Bee
October 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
I am often asked about the Banded Wooly Bear caterpillar and questions range from, “Why am I seeing a Monarch caterpillar in the fall” (the Wooly Bear is not a Monarch caterpillar) to “how will the Wooly Bear survive the winter?”
The Wooly Bear caterpillar is the larva stage of the Isabella Tiger Moth. They are typically seen in autumn as they search for a place to curl up for the winter–under a rock, log or leaf debris or in the chinks of bark. The heavy coats of members of the Acrtiid family of moths help them overwinter, along with their ability to produce a natural sort of antifreeze called cryoprotectant.
The following spring, the caterpillars emerge from their winter nap, begin to feed, form a cocoon (pupate) and emerge as the adult form of the Isabella Tiger Moth. Female Isabella Tiger Moths deposit their eggs on a wide variety of plants including birch, elm, maples, asters, sunflowers, spinach, cabbage, grass, and plantain; all caterpillar food plants. In our region there are usually several generations per year and it is the last generation of the growing season that over winters, nestled in, well-hidden and wrapped in their furry coats.
Fun fact from wiki: Caterpillars normally become moths within months of hatching in most temperate climates, but in the Arctic the summer period for vegetative growth and hence feeding is so short that the Woolly Bear feeds for several summers, freezing again each winter before finally pupating. Some are known to live through as many as 14 winters.
Isabella Tiger Moth image Courtesy wiki
October 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
In preparing for the lecture I presented for the Manchester Garden Club, which was held at Long Hill in Beverly, I came across several “before” photos of Willowdale Estate, from the spring of 2008, which was the year I began working on the gardens. By the way, the Manchester Garden Cub ladies could not have been more welcoming, and enthusiastic about my program. Thank you Constance and Marne for inviting me to speak to your lovely group, and for all your kind assistance!
I’ve learned over the years to always take the all-important “before” photos. My lecture attendees, clients, and prospective clients, love, love to see the transformation documented!
August 20, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Painted Lady–never a more aptly named butterfly! Although ubiquitous, the sheer number of Painted Ladies found in gardens this summer is simply astonishing.
This morning in our postage-stamp-of-a-lot, there were quite possibly over one hundred newly emerged Painted Ladies nectaring from the Joe-pye, Baby Joe, zinnias, butterfly bushes, phlox, and Rudbeckia.
August 17, 2012 § 1 Comment
Introducing ‘Henry Eiler’s’ Quilled Sweet Coneflower ~
New to our garden this year is the Quilled Sweet Coneflower. The finely quilled sunny yellow petals are simply lovely, as is the overall shape of the plant. The wildflower is a North American native and bears the name of the southern Illinois horticulturist and prairie restoration specialist who found it growing in a railroad prairie remnant.
When lightly rubbed, the leaves of Rudbeckia subtomentosa reveal their sweet vanilla scent. I’ll let you know if it attracts bees, butterflies, and songbirds when the center florets open.
Railroad Prairie Remnants
“…the only remnant of any virgin, unplowed prairie that remains is along railroad tracks. When the railroads were originally built in the 1800′s, if they were going over a natural prairie, all they had to do was lay down the wooden crossties, pack in bed fill, and lay the rails….the remaining right-of-way remained essentially undisturbed. In many locales, a road also was constructed parallel to new tracks, so that the few hundred feet of railroad right-of-way trapped between the tracks and the road remained unplowed to this day, and in many areas has reserved a remarkable diversity of prairie species. In most areas, accidental fires happen fairly regularly, which enhances the vigor of the prairie vegetation.” Larry Lowman, Arkansas nurseryman and native plants specialist.
August 16, 2012 § 1 Comment
Last week the Giant Swallowtail butterfly visited our garden for a brief moment. I ran indoors to get my camera but it had departed by the time I returned. This morning my my friend John, who lives across from Folly Cove, emailed to say he too has spotted a Giant Swallowtail. John and I correspond regularly about butterfly sightings–I love to hear about what he is seeing on the other side of the island– and this is the first time both he and I have observed Giant Swallowtails in our gardens.
One of my readers, Marti Warren, wrote in on Monday that she spotted a Giant Swallowtail Butterfly last week in her garden in Amherst, New Hampshire.
Three easy ways to know whether you are seeing the more common male Black Swallowtail or the Giant Swallowtail.
1) The wingspan of the male Black Swallowtail is approximately 3.2 inches; the Giant Swallowtail’s wingspan nearly five inches.
2) Both the male and female Giant Swallowtails have a band of yellow spots that converge near the apex.
3) Additionally, the only blue irredescence on the Giant Swallowtail is a semi-circular “eyebrow” over the orange and black eyespots.
Let me know if you think you have seen a Giant Swallowtail in your garden recently. If you have a photo, even better!
August 13, 2012 § Leave a Comment
In full bloom this month at the Harbor Walk is the fabulous North American native ‘Baby Joe’ (Eupatorium). While maintaining the Harbor Walk gardens, Jay Ramsey of Farm Creek Landscaping reported seeing no less than half a dozen species of butterflies nectaring simultaneously at the ‘Baby Joe’ on a warm sunny morning this past week. Given your average warm sunny summer day, butterflies are typically on the wing throughout the day; I find the very best time of day to see the very most is between 10:00 am until 12 noon.
August 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Tomorrow, Sunday, at noon, is the dedication of the Gus Foote Park. Following the dedication, I will be giving a mini-talk about the butterfly gardens along the walk. A yummy clam chowder tasting is planned, provided by the Gloucester House Restaurant. At 12:45, we’ll Walk the Walk with Mayor Kirk. The theme of Sunday’s walk is Gloucester’s maritime heritage.
Sunny skies are predicted for tomorrow–perfect weather for strolling through the gardens while listening to sea stories. I hope you’ll come join us!
From left to right Peter Sollogub, Principal; Ethan Lacy, Chris Muskopf, Tim Mansfield, and Rosie Weinberg.
Gus Foote, now 82 years young, is a retired Gloucester City Councilman. He represented Ward 2 for more than three decades. In 2011, Gus was reappointed by Governor Deval Patrick to serve another five-year term on the Gloucester Housing Authority .
Gus Foote Image Courtesy GMG 2009
August 5, 2012 § 1 Comment
For Devera, who wrote in asking how to tell the difference between a male and female Monarch Butterfly ~
Click photos to view large.
The first photos shows all male Monarch Butterflies necatring at Seaside Goldenrod. Notice the pair of little black pockets, or dots, on the inner vein of the hind wings. These are pockets of pheromones, or what scientists actually refer to as “love dust,” which the male sprinkles on the female during courtship.
The female Monarch Butterfly lacks the the black pockets on her hind wings. Notice too that her wing veination is thicker and smokier.
During courtship, male and female join, and he carries her to higher ground. This photo shows the male and female mating, with the male above.
July 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This striking Baltimore Checkerspot was photographed last week in a field of Common Milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). The field is located in Ipswich’s town center.
Notice the Baltimore Checkerspot’s vivid orange antennal clubs and white and orange dotted abdomen. The caterpillar’s food plant, or host plant, is mainly turtlehead (Chelone glabra) in low lands and gerardias upland, e.g., Smooth False Foxglove (Aureolaria flava).
I find absolutely the most interesting creatures in fields where grows Common Milkweed, which tells us that the plant provides a wealth of nourishment for a diverse range of organisms.
Note: The underside of butterfly wings are referred to as ventral; the upper surface as dorsal. An easy way to remember the difference between the terms dorsal and ventral is to think of the dorsal fin of a dolphin.
June 25, 2012 § Leave a Comment
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!
June 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
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.
June 4, 2012 § Leave a Comment
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.
June 3, 2012 § Leave a Comment
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.
‘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.
Lonicera sempervirens is a caterpillar food plant for the Snowberry Clearwing moth.
May 24, 2012 § Leave a Comment
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.”
May 18, 2012 § Leave a Comment
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.
May 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
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
May 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
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!
April 20, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Is there a tree more lovely in flower than the North American native dogwood?
Whether flowering with the classic white bracts, the stunning rubra bracts, or the less often seen pale, creamy rose-tinted bracts, our native dogwood (Cornus florida) never ceases to give pause for beauty given.
At this time of year when traveling along southern New England roadways we are graced by the beauty of the dogwood dotting sunny roadside borders where meets the woodland edge. The bracts and flowers emerge before the leaves, serving only to heighten their loveliness. The fresh beauty of the bract-clad boughs is offset by the impressionistic symphony of tree foliage unfurling, shimmering in hues of apple green, chartruese, moss, and lime peel.
*Bract – A bract is a leaf-like structure surrounding a flower or inflorescence. The colorful bracts of poinsettias, the hot pink bracts of bougainvillea, and the bracts of dogwoods are often mistaken for flower petals.
The open florets (pea-green colored) and unopened buds are surrounded by the rose red-shaded bracts.
Read about how to help prevent an attack by the lethal dogwood anthracnose.
April 17, 2012 § Leave a Comment
You’ve heard me talking about my butterfly documentary (for Months now!). I began filming the black swallowtails last July and am only now close to premiering my film. I am so excited to share this project with you and hope you enjoy the trailer.
My daughter Liv and our dear friend Kathleen Adams collaborated on a beautiful rendition of “Simple Gifts.” The music in the background is an improv interlude from their recording session.
Coming soon: Documentary about the Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly, from egg, to caterpillar, to chryrsalis, to adult. Filmed in a garden and along the seashore, Gloucester, Massachusetts. Featuring the black swallowtail butterfly, wildflowers, pollinators, the sun, the garden, and more.
February 28, 2012 § 3 Comments
I am looking for a Black Swallowtail chrysalis to film. The last generation of the previous summer’s black swallowtail caterpillars spends the winter in their chrysalis form. Often times the winter chrysalis is a woody brown, not green. The late season caterpillar may pupate under the eaves of a house, along a porch or deck rail, or on a fence. I am hoping that amongst all my many readers, someone has a brown Black Swallowtail chrysalis in their garden.
There are several distributors from where butterfly and moth chrysalis may be purchased, but I would prefer to film a Cape Ann specimen in its natural habitat (or at least a Black Swallowtail chyrsalis from the New England area). Please let me know if you think you have the brown form of the Black Swallowtail chrysalis. THANK YOU!!!
February 7, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Coming Soon: Life Story of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly tells the story of the ubiquitous and stunning Black Swallowtail butterfly.
My new documentary film captures the beauty and mystery of the Black Swallowtail, through all its life stages, and in it’s surrounding habitats. I think you will be amazed and captivated by this garden-variety and seemingly ordinary, extraordinary butterfly!
From Egg to Caterpillar to Chrysalis to Adult
One of several preferred Black Swallowtail habitats—Gloucester’s sandy wildflower meadow at Good Harbor Beach. The milkweed provides nectar for swallowtails on the wing and Queen Anne’s Lace is a food plant of the Black Swallowtail caterpillars.
November 30, 2011 § 1 Comment
The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale Estate
October 31, 2011 § Leave a Comment
A full schedule is planned this week–fall plantings, the premiere of The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale, and my lecture in New Hampshire. Rather than cooking half the night away, I planned ahead and spent the weekend making lots of treats for Thursday’s premiere. I hope you can come!!
Thursday morning’s lecture in Amherst, Butterfly Gardening, promises to be a joyful, and informative, program. This summer my Fujifilm x100 gave me many new photos that I can include in my lecture series and I couldn’t resist creating an entirely new slide show. I sorted though thousands of new photos over the weekend. And now, to tackle the video footage shot this summer and autumn—a daunting task ahead, but one I am sure will be rewarding!
I hope you are warm and cozy and not without power. Sixty-degree temperatures are predicted for the weekend! New England weather—so very predictably unpredictable!
Warmest wishes, Kim
October 23, 2011 § 2 Comments
Come join us Thursday, November 3rd, at 7:00 pm at the Friend Room of the Sawyer Free Library for the premiere of my new series of video specials titled Through the Garden Gate, featuring “The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale Estate.” The event is free and open to the public and refreshments will be served. I hope you can come!
Premiere Sponsored by the Sawyer Free Library
Just a few of the many butterflies, and their nectar plants and native host plants, featured in The Butterfly Garden at Willowdale Estate:
October 12, 2011 § 3 Comments
In the garden of mid-Ocotober’s dissipating beauty ~
And the fabulously fragrant remontant roses ‘Souvenir de Victor Landeau’ and’Aloha’
October 12, 2011 § 4 Comments
October 7, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Views from Eastern Point and Raymond’s Beach with wildflowers Smooth Aster, Common Milkweed, and Seaside Goldenrod. Time lapse of Seven Seas Navigator cruise ship turning in the harbor.
Click on panorama and horizontal photo to see full photo. WordPress distorts horizontally oriented images.
September 28, 2011 § 1 Comment
Eloise and Madeline Send Monarch to Mexico
The Ciaramitaro family graciously agreed to pose for me for a video project. On the way to the beach to film, the girls stopped by our home to give a send off to a newly eclosed male Monarch, our last butterfly of the season to emerge from its chrysalis. Farewell Monarch ~ Safe Journey to Mexico!
September 1, 2011 § 2 Comments
Eye to Eye
A butterfly’s eyes are relatively enormous, spherical structures referred to as compound eyes. Consisting of thousands of hexagonal shaped omatidea, each omatidea, or mini-sensor, is directed at a slightly different angle from the others. Collectively they are directed forwards, backwards, left, right, up, and down. For this reason, butterflies are able to see in nearly every direction simultaneously.
Vision is well developed in butterflies and most species are sensitive to the ultraviolet spectrum. The ability to see colors may be widespread but has been demonstrated in only a few species.