April 18, 2013 § 1 Comment
Briar Forsythe, proprietor of Willowdale Estate, and her staff, threw a lovely bridal shower for Audi Lane. Audi works at Willowdale and is getting married this weekend to Gloucester’s Peter Sousa, the sea shanty singer.
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
December 5, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Lisa, Lora, and Briar sang to a packed house last night. Their solos, and voices in unison, of traditional classic songs, made for a beautiful evening of holiday music. My favorites were Carol of the Bells and the tender lullaby by Paul Williams and Joseph M. Martin: Still is the Night; also by Joseph Martin was the joyful O Come Emmanuel and Listen to the Stars, both from The Voices of Christmas.
Sisters Lisa and Lora Tamagini and Briar have known each other since they began their opera careers in Boston. Lora and Lisa have toured the world over and Lora’s original music can be heard on three CDs: Joy in My Soul, Sing to the Lord, and Sing Gloria. Briar is passionate about supporting local artists and it has been her dream to host musical concerts. The success of Willowdale has made it possible for her to create unforgettable holiday performances for everyone to enjoy!
November 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Adjacent to where we noticed the Japanese maple tree, Dale Resca, the Facilities Manager at Willowdale, discovered an American Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) midden.
A squirrel midden is essentially a squirrel’s favorite place to eat; the fallen scales from consumed seed cones collect in piles, called middens. Sitting on their claimed stump, fallen log, or branch, the squirrel pulls the scales off the cones to get to the seeds.
You can see from the above photo why the American Red Squirrel is often referred to as the Pine Squirrel. Ripening in late summer, the squirrels collect pine cones and store in a central cache. American Red Squirrels do not hibernate during the winter months; the caches of cones supply nourishment when food supplies are running low.
The American Red Squirrel is widely distributed throughout North America. They are smaller than a gray squirrel and somewhat larger than a chipmunk, with reddish fur and white venter, or underbelly.
November 9, 2012 § Leave a Comment
“Green leaves ignite, transformed by a kaleidoscope of incinerating colors—devil-red, burnt tangerine, caramelized amber, searing saffron, and smoldering crimson-purple. The air is impregnated with the aromatic perfume of orchard fruits ripening in the fleeting flush of the sun’s warm light. Hazy, slanting rays gild the late season glory in the garden. Surrounded by flowers of dissipating beauty and juxtaposed against the dazzling brilliance of autumn foliage, we are urged to spend every possible moment savoring our gardens before the onset of winter.”
Excerpt from my book Oh Garden of fresh Possibilities! Notes from a Gloucester Garden. Written and Illustrated by Kim Smith, David R. Godine, Publisher. To read more of this excerpt, click link: Exquisite Flora in Autumn.
I believe this little tree is a Japanese maple tree, not typically found in a forest of North American native trees.
November 7, 2012 § Leave a Comment
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!
October 7, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Last evening was a combined celebration of the ribbon cutting ceremony for the completion of the Willowdale Estate Coach House AND the 5th Anniversary party for the estate. Willowdale is a shining example of the Massachusetts Historic Curatorship Program. Senator Tarr was there to show his support for the curatorship program and to congratulate the family on their tremendous success.
The hostess and guests were dressed in smashing 1920′s inspired costumes, champagne and crazy delicious refreshments kept the party-goers energized, a swing band had the joint jumpin’, the tent was beautifully illuminated and aglow, and the garden glistened in the warm misty rain. A roaring time was had by all!
The Roaring Twenties, or as the French dubbed the period “Années Folles” (“Crazy Years”), was the time during which Bradley Palmer entertained in high style at Willowdale Estate, formerly referred to as the Bradley Palmer Estate. Willowdale Estate is the absolutely ideal venue for a twenties inspired celebration!
September 11, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Willowdale Estate Courtyard
Monday night I was filming at Willowdale as we are in the early stages of creating a web page about the butterfly gardens for the Willowdale Estate website. I was hoping to film the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds at dusk and did succeed! They were nectaring from the Rose Mallow, hosta, Snowberry Bush, and butterfly bushes.
I love the new bistro lights in the courtyard garden–so romantic!
September 10, 2012 § Leave a Comment
The Ciaramitaro Family stopped by Willowdale for a tour of the butterfly gardens. We were lucky to see several Monarchs and dozens of Painted Ladies.
Madeline was determined that a butterfly would climb onto her finger–first trying the Painted Ladies and then very, very patiently, and holding very, very still, encouraging the Monarchs. She was thrilled when one did–and it did so several times–very sweet to see her joy. Madeline and Eloise were expertly identifying the male and female Monarchs and explaining to all in how to tell the difference.
June 17, 2012 § Leave a Comment
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.
Male Luna Moth found at Willowdale Estate early Thursday morning. Photo courtesy Dale Resca.
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.
May 19, 2012 § Leave a Comment
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-
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
April 26, 2012 § Leave a Comment
This is a view into the courtyard garden I designed for Willowdale Estate. The tulips are at their peak. I call this mix of colors my ‘Bridal Mix,’ because it provides a symphony of watercolor hues for the April and May weddings. Don’t you think too that the satiny sheen of the tulip petals looks like the silk satin gowns of wedding parties?
Click photo to view larger image. More from Willowdale spring to come.
February 16, 2012 § Leave a Comment
Happy Birthday Briar!
As many know from reading my posts, my dear friend, and one of my favorite design clients, is Briar Forsythe, proprietor of Willowdale Estate, located in Topsfield. I was delighted to attend Briar’s birthday party, which was a wine and food tasting event, and held in the new conservatory at Willowdale. Usually when there I am up to my elbows in design projects so it was a real pleasure to get a sense of how it feels to be a guest.
The party started at 4:00 and the late afternoon sunlight streaming through the conservatory windows lent a warm and welcoming glow to the event. The service was absolutely impeccable (do you find that is not often easy to say?). Chef Joe Joyce and staff had prepared simply the most elegant and divine tasting courses, paired with wines that perfectly complemented each dish. All the wines were delicious and I can imagine they would be great paired with any number of meals.
Unfortunately, I did not take a snapshot of the first course, which was a Duxbury Oyster with Champagne Foam and Blood Orange Caviar, served with a sparkling Dibon Cava Brut. I love sparkling wines and found this perfectly not overly sweet. I am not going to go on and on telling you how super delicious was all–it was–and hope the photos give an idea. The wines were provided by Geoffrey Fallon.
Visit Willowdale’s website—they are a full service special events venue, specializing in their own in-house fabulous catering. Tours are offered throughout the year and many Gloucester companies do business with Willowdale, including several of our local florists and photographers.
Click last photo to see slideshow of all party pics.
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:
August 4, 2011 § Leave a Comment
“At this point, it is the summer phlox and, above all, the towering lilies that are providing the scent in our garden in Milton. And very heady it is, too- especially on still, hot days.” - My friend David Godine writes of his beautiful garden in Milton, Massachusetts.
I am wonderfully fortunate that Mr. Godine is both my publisher and editor for my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities!. Not only does David have a deep love for all things books, he is passionate for gardens and gardening.
June 24, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Driving into Willowdale this morning I encountered our neighborhood Indian Blue Peacock. Daily sightings have been reported and the entryway sign is his choice perch. The Fujifilm x100 performed remarkably, despite the lack of sunlight and steady drizzle.
From wiki: Indian Peafowl, Pavo cristatus, 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.
June 6, 2011 § 2 Comments
Dear Gardening Friends,
Come join me this Tuesday, June 7th at Willowdale Estate, from 4:00 to 6:00, for a house and garden tour of this beautiful, and beautifully restored, historic Arts and Crafts manse. Members of the Willowdale staff will be giving guided tours of the house and I will be available to talk about the garden, including how the Arts and Crafts movement influenced our horticultural decisions. Admission is free and the event is open to the public.
Thank you for all the thoughtful comments and praise for last week’s column “The most highly scented lilacs…” Next week I will send you information on lilac culture as this is the ideal time of year to trim and shape your lilacs for maximum blooms next year.
Reader Irma wrote the following: I picked my lilacs at their height. In water, in the vase they lasted 2 days and drooped! Last year the same. I couldn’t believe it. Do you know why?
Hi Irma, Lilacs have woody stems and do not easily absorb water in the vase. Depending on whatever tool is handy, I do one of two things,. With a hammer, crush the stems, at least six inches along the length, and immediately place in a vase filled with tepid or warm water. Over the years I have also discovered that peeling the stems with a vegetable peeler is just as effective, and less messy. Peel away the woody outer layer, all around the stem, again at least six inches up the stalk (peel down to green). Still, even with treating the stems, the arrangement will be fleeting and only look beautiful for several days. The scent of the lilacs permeating throughout your home is worth the extra effort!
Many wrote last week to say they enjoyed the excerpt from Amy Lowell’s gorgeous poem Lilacs. Here it is in entirety:
May 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Congratulations North Shore Garden Club and Willowdale Estate for a fabulously successful show!
A wonderful time was had by all and Willowdale looked gorgeous. The expert hands of seasoned event organizers Helen Glaenzer (North Shore Garden Club president) and NSGC event co-chairs Susan Barry, Didi Blau, and Cathy Ebling were in evidence throughout with their beautiful design touches and thoughtfully presented exhibits.
Many thanks to the staff at Willowdale–Emily, Lenna, Chef Joe, Dale, Sarah, Greg, and James– to name only a few of the hardworking crew that makes Willowdale sing. The new conservatory is exquisite and will allow Willowdale to host larger events throughout the four seasons. Stunning light was cast from the conservatory skylight, illuminating the exhibits beautifully.
May 21, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Dear Gardening Friends, Think Spring! Come join the North Shore Garden Club for what promises to be a wonderful event. I will be there and available to answer questions about the butterfly garden. Hope to see you there! Warmest wishes, Kim
March 26, 2011 § Leave a Comment
C’est la Vie! ~ Wednesday May 25th, 1:00 to 5:00
The North Shore Garden Club is hosting a beautiful exhibition of all things flowers, which will be held at historic Willowdale Estate in Topsfield, Massachusetts. The grounds are open to the public and the event includes classes in flower arranging, photography, and horticulture, and all is free.
The North Shore Garden Club (established in 1915) is a member of the Garden Club of America and was created for the purpose of stimulating interest in all aspects of gardening as well as to support civic beauty and conservation of natural resources.
March 15, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Dear Gardening Friends,
We are sending our most heartfelt thoughts and prayers to the Japanese people. Viewing the broadcasts reminds me that it was just over a year ago that the devastating earthquake struck Port au Prince. Can a person ever fully recover from such an event? The utter destruction of the tsunami is confounding, now coupled with threats of nuclear meltdown. My wish for the people of Japan and their nation is as speedy a recovery as is possible.
We are so very blessed living where we do. Perhaps I mentioned that I am developing a television series, which will air on our local cable television station, Cape Ann TV, as well as other cable stations. I believe it was early last summer that Donna Gacek, the director of Cape Ann TV, approached me about the possibility of creating a show based around my writings and butterfly photos. A tv show would be a magnificent medium to share about the joys of creating organic habitats designed for people and pollinators. We can visit gardens, fields, meadows, and wildlife sanctuaries–and connect how to translate habitat information found there to our own gardens, examine gardening trends, loves, and literature, conduct interviews, undertake how-to projects–the possibilities are limitless. I hope, too, for some room for spontaneity and fun–once I get a handle on the process. I knew what I was getting myself into and knew it would be enormously time consuming, which it is, however I am so pleased with our initial progress and thought I would bring you this trailer for the first episode as well as behind the scenes updates.
Instinctively it was clear that the first step in development would be to film and photograph as much as time would allow, especially as this past summer, gratefully so, was THE summer to photograph Lepidoptera–day after day of hot, dry, sunny weather–a butterfly, and a butterfly photographer’s, dream conditions The past few months have been spent organizing all photos and footage from this summer, as well as footage and photos from previous summers, into handy categories from which I can draw, while simultaneously writing the first script, and thinking about future scripts.
I chose the butterfly garden I designed at Willowdale to be my first subject for several reasons. I know the grounds and garden intimately; the Lepidoptera seen there are the same species seen all around the northshore, and throughout New England for that matter; the setting is undeniably gorgeous; over the past few years I have shot many photos there and some video footage; and because the garden is on occasion open to the public.
While writing the script I tried to imagine how the information would relate to, and be of interest to, a wide audience. Creating ‘wild gardens’ (by wild gardens I mean to say gardens that utilize native wild flowers that support wild life) is meant to be joyful and easy for everyone– for the millions as well as the millionaire! The next phase was to organize the video and still photos, loosely, around the script. Then, and this part was really new and challenging for me, came layering the narrated voice tracks and precisely synching it to the footage, and still retain existing ambient nature sounds audibly. Much tweaking was necessary. Have you ever wondered where your speaker is on your computer? It took me the longest time to locate mine (iMac)– a pinhead-sized hole in the center of the top, right above the camera lens–and they do not produce very good or usable quaility input sound. All the audio will have to be redone at the tv studio, however, it was time well spent as I was able to experiment and learn the basics on my own time.
The first production meeting with Donna went really well. The next phase will be to redo the audio tracks, under the guidance of the staff at the tv station, and continue to work on the next two episodes. In developing a series, it is suggested that you have at least three to begin with – getting all your ducks in order, so to speak. I am working furiously on all because spring and summer are my peak seasons for garden design work and for presenting lectures and programs.
So far, everything has fallen into place, from the gorgeous weather of last summer, to finding a beautiful recording for the into and outro, to working with Donna and the staff at CATV!
My mission for this wonderful project is to create as vibrantly beautiful, and as informative and interesting, a viewing experience as is possible. I am also very interested in working in collaboration with anyone who may have an interest.
Perhaps after reading the above you can help me decide the title of the show–so important to get it right! I love the title of my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! because there is no other like it. Perhaps I shall call it The Garden of Fresh Possibilities Show.
Some other candidates:
The American Gardener’s Journal
Through the Garden Gate
Garden for All Seasons
Welcome to the Wild Garden
Any comments, thoughts, or suggestions would greatly appreciated.
May 6, 2010 § Leave a Comment
The bridal season has begun and the grounds are topfull of tulips and sweetly scented jonquils. While photographing with eyes and nose at flower height, I am intoxicated by the the heady perfume emanating from the narcissus and the splendorous hues and broken patterns of the shimmering satin tulip petals–and dreaming about making cocktail dresses in every colorway! Lenna (from Willowdale) and I are creating a book of garden photographs for the brides, and because all the flowers and butterflies are so gorgeous, it is a challenge to decide what photos to include. Dan Pritchard, who works for my publisher, David Godine, suggested that I post regular updates on what is currently in bloom at Wdale and I think it is a great idea. The following are a few potential candidate photographs to add to the spring section of our photo book.
The new pergola designed by Gerald Fandetti, Architect
Native dogwood (Cornus florida) with tulips
Wisteria Arbor in the Butterfly Courtyard