Category Archives: Home and Garden

Roses from the French Isle Reunion

Bourbon Rose ‘Variegata di Bologna’  -2 ©Kim Smith 2015‘Variegata di Bologna’

With Reunion in the news, I thought readers might be interested to learn that Reunion is home to some of the most highly scented roses in the world, the Bourbon roses. Bourbon roses grow very well in Cape Ann gardens and have the wonderful combined qualities of fabulous fragrance and repeat blooming. I wrote a bit about them in my book Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities (see chapter 14). Bourbon roses are so named because Reunion was formerly called Isle de Bourbon.

Excerpt from Oh Garden of Fresh Possibilities! 

A sepal, a petal, and a thorn
Upon a common summer’s morn—
A flash of Dew—A Bee or two—
A Breeze—
A caper in the trees—
And I’m a Rose!

Emily Dickinson

Rosa bourboniana

The Bourbon roses (Rosa bourboniana) comprise one of the most extravagantly scented class of roses, along with having a wide range of growth habit in form and height. From the shrubby and compact ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison,’ growing to about two feet, to the thornless climbing ‘Zephirine Drouhin,’ there is a suitable Bourbon rose available to fill nearly every conceivable desired effect in the landscape.

Named for the island of Reunion, formerly called Isle de Bourbon, Rosa bourboniana is a natural crossing of the China rose (repeat blooming) with the Autumn Damask rose. Reunion belongs to the archipelago of Mascareignes in the Indian Ocean and lies east of Madagascar. Originally discovered by the Portuguese, then colonized by the French in the seventeenth-century, Reunion had a diverse population of settlers from around Africa, Asia, and southern Europe. The Bourbon rose was discovered growing wild in Reunion in approximately 1817.

Hybridized Bourbon roses flower in hues of white to china pink to cerise and purple. The flowers are quartered at the center and filled with overlapping petals. With their sublime fragrance, tolerance for cold temperatures, and freedom of flowering (‘Louise Odier’ remains in bloom from June until the first frost), Bourbons are amongst the most distinctive of all roses.

The following is a list of Bourbon roses successfully growing in our garden, along with one failure noted.

‘Louise Odier’ ~ 1851 ~ Bourbon ~ Delicate china pink, camellia-style flowers, enchanting and intensely fragrant. Blooms lavishly throughout the season, from early June to November, with a brief rest after the first flush of June flowers. Grows four to five feet.

‘Zéphirine Drouhin’ ~ 1868 ~ Bourbon ~ Clear hot pink. Thornless. The sensuous Bourbon fragrance is there, only not as intense relative to some others noted here. Repeat blooms. Twelve feet.

‘Madame Isaac Pereire’ ~ 1881 ~ Bourbon ~ Deep raspberry-magenta. Considered to be one of the most fragrant roses. Six to seven feet. Note: We no longer grow Madame Isaac Pereire as its buds usually turned into brown, blobby globs that rarely fully opened due to damp sea air.

‘Souvenir de Victor Landeau’ ~ 1890 ~ Bourbon ~ Deep rose pink, richly fragrant and consistently in bloom through October and into November. Pairs beautifully with Louise Odier. Four to five feet.

‘Variegata di Bologna’ ~ 1909 ~ Bourbon ~ Creamy pale pink with rose-red striations. Suffused with the heady Bourbon fragrance. The foliage becomes tattered-looking later in the season. Slight repeat bloom, although it initially flowers for an extended period of time, four to six weeks in all. Tall growing, best supported against a pillar.

‘Souvenir de Saint Anne’s’ ~ 1916 ~ Bourbon ~ Ivory flushed with warm pink and cream single to semi-double blossoms. Sensuous Bourbon fragrance. Compact growing, ideal for the garden room. Continually blooming. Two feet. Note: ‘Souvenir de St. Anne’ is a sport of ‘Souvenir de la Malmaison’ (1843), with the similar lovely colorway. The unopened buds and blooms of ‘Malmaison’ have the tendency to be ruined in damp air, whereas ‘St. Anne’s’ do not.

Bourbon Rose ‘Variegata di Bologna’  Gloucester Garden ©Kim Smith 2015

Tips for improved rose culture:

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Beautiful New Cookbook from Heather Atwood ~ In Cod We Trust

In Heather Atwood’s inimitably beautiful style of writing, she presents a treasure trove of coastal Massachusetts history told through the culinary lens of cuisine and customs. I am looking forward to delving into In Cod We Trust: From Sea to Shore, the Celebrated Cuisine of Coastal Massachusetts!

91bsqXbjENLPublished by Globe Pequot Press, In Cod We Trust is available to purchase from Toad Hall Bookstore, the Bookstore Gloucester, and from Amazon.

For a sampling of recipes, read this recent Boston Globe article.

From the Back Cover

A Culinary Journey Along the Massachusetts Coastline

The Massachusetts seacoast is as varied as the coast of France. Built on whaling oil and hauls of cod, fishing villages from New Bedford to Rockport emerged as distinctively different cultures––different accents, different customs, different recipes––like strewn pearls along the tidal marshes and granite promontories that make up the Massachusetts shore.

When people think of dock-side dining in Massachusetts they imagine buttery toasted lobster rolls, steaming bowls of creamy fish chowder, and alabaster-white slabs of baked cod piled with bread crumbs, but its rich and varied cuisine reflects all who have come to call these seaports home.

Cultures––including, Sicilian, Portuguese, Finnish, and Irish––were so tightly bound that generations have stayed and continue to leave their culinary mark on coastline. Their culinary influence shows in the sweet smells coming from the bakeries and restaurants. It’s a cuisine almost frozen in time, but ever reflecting the Atlantic Ocean.

In Cod We Trust features over 175 recipes that celebrate the area’s unique place in the culinary world, and is a photographic journey for both people who love the area and those who hope to visit one day.

About the Author ~

Heather Atwood writes the Food for Thought column in The Gloucester Daily Times. She lives in Rockport, once a part of Gloucester, now a small fishing village at the far northern tip of Cape Ann. She loves learning about local food traditions from Cape Ann families who have lived here for generations. Heather also has a food blog at, and produces cooking videos for the production company, MPN.

She writes:  Unlike most of the world which thrives on tradition, I don’t really like making the same thing twice. I return to a few recipes – pizzocheri, Tourteau Fromage, Asian noodle soups, butternut squash and sage lasagna, Nico and Amelia’s smoked fish – but I get restless.

I always ask people what they’re eating, because it tells me a lot about them, and it might give me an idea of something new to make for dinner, or it might remind me of some old standard I’d forgotten. Even better, what they choose to tell me might lead to a story. I like stories about food almost as much I like lunch, my favorite meal of all. Lunch might mean meeting a friend, eating with a daughter, or eating alone, but it’s still part of the day’s beginning and not yet its end.

I live in a house with a name – Howlets – a century-old stone house once owned by a family of painters. We have a cat named Clara who sleeps a lot, Martha, a brave Corgi, a large yard with old crabapple trees, two quarries, and a view of Ipswich Bay. I give dinner parties. Sometimes we make cooking videos here. I also write a syndicated weekly food column, Food for Thought, for the Gloucester Times. I’m not a trained cook, but I love bringing people together with wine and a meal.


Kim Smith Lecture Chelmsford Public Library

Please join me Tuesday evening  at 7pm at the Chelmsford Public Library for my lecture The Pollinator Garden. The event is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!

Pipevine Swallowtail Eggs ©Kim Smith 2012Pipevine Swallowtail Eggs, East Gloucester

Queen Anne’s Lace

Queen Annes's Lace -3 ©Kim smith 2015Queen Annes's Lace ©Kim smith 2015Although not a native North American wildflower, Queen Anne’s Lace has adapted to our climate well, reportedly growing in every state save for Idaho, Alaska, and Hawaii. A member of the Umbelliferae, or Carrot Family, Queen Anne’s Lace also goes by the common names Wild Carrot, Bird’s Nest, and Bishops’s Lace. The root of young plants, although white, tastes like a carrot, and when rubbed together between fingers, the foliage smells of parsley (also a member of the Umbel Family).

Black Swallowtail osmeterium ©Kim Smith 2011 copyQueen Anne’s Lace is a caterpillar food plant of the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. Don’t despair butterfly lovers. Although the butterflies have been slow to awaken this year, I have high hopes that just as flowering plants are several weeks behind, so too will the the butterflies emerge–only later than expected.

Black Swallowtail Butterfly Zinnia Male ©Kim Smith 2013.Please join me Tuesday evening  at 7pm at the Chelmsford Public Library for my lecture The Pollinator Garden. The event is free and open to the public. I hope to see you there!

Queen Annes's Lace -4 ©Kim smith 2015

Addendum ~

Reader Wendy Beer writes and submits terrific photo of a Black Swallowtail caterpillar on Queen Anne’s Lace:

Hi Kim,

I came across your web site when I was trying to find out what kind of caterpillar I had in my back yard. I was thrilled to find your website and now am following your updates. Thank you so much for answering my question about the Queen Anne’s lace and the Black Swallowtail Butterfly. I have attached the picture I took in my back yard (London, Ontario) for you.


Wendy Beer

Black Swallowtail Butterfly June 2015

Thank You Lynn Bird, Catherine Ryan, Charles, and George

For giving up another Sunday morning to help at the HarborWalk. I am so thankful for your continued help, especially this spring with our daughter’s upcoming wedding. You are doing a tremendous job. I just can’t express how greatly appreciated is your time, energy, hard work, and thoughtfulness. Thank you also to Lise Breen, Amy Kerr, Leslie Heffron, and Beth Chiancola for your help many Sunday mornings this spring.

Through working on the HarborWalk I have met some of the nicest and most kind hearted people one could ever hope to meet. If you would like to lend a hand and come work with the amazing Friends of the HarborWalk, email me at

Charles and George King ©Kim Smith 2015Today we planted patches of butterfly, bee, and songbird attracting annuals. I am so proud of the job George and Charles accomplished–64 plants all on their own!

The Uncommonly Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat Warbler ©Gloucester MA -2 ©Kim Smith 2015Male Common Yellowthroat fluffing and drying feathers after his many baths.

Splashing, and then dashing to a nearby tree, splashing and dashing again, and then returning for yet a third bath, this little male Common Yellowthroat seemed to relish in the fresh water at our birdbath. His more subduedly colored mate stayed well hidden and close to the ground and I was thrilled to see them both. This sweet pair of warblers have been in our garden for several days now and perhaps they’ll build their nest here!

Common Yellowthroat Warbler ©Gloucester MA -1 ©Kim Smith 2015Common Yellowthroats were at one time common however, their numbers have been steadily decreasing since the 1960s. Throughout the yellowthroat’s range they are suffering from habitat degradation and loss. Because they live in wetlands and eat primarily insects they, like countless wild creatures, are adversely affected by pesticides and poor water quality.

Common Yellowthroat Warbler ©Gloucester MA ©Kim Smith 2015


Tulip Garden Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge ©Kim Smith 2015The Mary Prentiss Inn was named Yankee Magazine’s Best Inn, Greater Boston Area, and deservedly so!

As many of our readers have come to know from photos I’ve posted here, the beautiful family-owned and operated Inn is one of my landscape design projects.

Tulip Garden Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge -6 ©Kim Smith 2015Jennifer Fandetti, the Inn’s proprietor, and daughter-in-law of Cambridge artist Charlotte Forsythe and architect Gerald Fandetti, maintains The Mary Prentiss to the highest standards. The welcoming hospitality, combined with the gracious decor of the meticulously restored Greek Revival manor, along with their famously delicious breakfasts and afternoon tea, will make your stay truly memorable. During warmer months guests are invited to dine and relax in the exquisite secret garden.

Centrally located in the heart of Cambridge, and appointed with every modern amenity, when planning a trip to the Greater Boston/Cambridge area I highly recommend a stay at The Mary Prentiss Inn!Tulip Garden Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge -4 ©Kim Smith 2015

In autumn I mix a special custom collection of spring flowering bulbs for my clients based on their preferences and the architectural features unique to their business or residence. The colors of the tulips in this year’s collection for The Mary Prentiss Inn are simply scintillating and especially beautiful juxtaposed against the warm creamy yellow tones of the exterior paint, emerald green of the boxwoods, and forest green of the hollies. You have to be very cautious in managing the colors though because a symphony can easily become a cacophony!Tulip Garden Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge -5©Kim Smith 2015

Tulip Garden Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge -3 ©Kim Smith 2015The orange parrot tulip in the photo above is a very old cultivar. Unlike the vast majority of tulips today, which are mostly scentless, this has a dreamy fragrance of citrus and honeysuckle.

Tulip Garden Mary Prentiss Inn Cambridge -7 ©Kim Smith 2015For more information visit The Mary Prentiss Inn Facebok Page here and website here.11182134_670991599673112_5821006340464767566_n