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A Colonial Style Summer

A walk through the small historic district of Holden, MA allows time to view many details of colonial architecture and landscaping.

This home in the historic district of Holden, MA, displays the simple beauty of early American design and decoration. Lilies, phlox and daisies, traditional New England perennials, become the “front lawn”. No mowing needed.
The rest of the “lawn” is dominated by common ferns. Look closely to the left of the door. A golden colored “guard” is on duty there.
Door guards such as this one have been popular in China for centuries. This might be a representation of a lion, dragon or dog. Although I was unable to find direct links from this style of ceramics to early America, The Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum notes that: In 1741, ships belonging to the British, Danish, French, and Swedish brought a total of 1,200,000 pieces of Chinese porcelain into the European ports. A good portion of those pieces ended up in the fine homes of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston. I welcome comments if you have expertise in this area!
A recent trend in primitive decorating is the use of gourds. Here, eye-catching Italian gourds (or possibly small snake gourds) hang on the side door underneath panes of traditional bull’s eye glass. The five-pointed star atop the door was a symbol of good luck in colonial America. A side lantern in colonial style utilizes faux candles.
The smaller golden guard of the side door sits next to a pot of basil. Basil was brought to the New World in the 1620s. Along with flavoring food, it was used as a strewing herb. Additionally, the leaves were dried for use in snuff to relieve headaches and colds.
Whitewashed picket fences were popular in colonial days. These fences were expensive and harder to maintain than plain wooden fences, so they became a symbol of prosperity.
This rooster weather vane, with its tail perfectly shaped to catch the wind, stands proudly atop the house. Weather vanes were popular in colonial times, but were first used centuries before this era.

Yellow Celebration

A coat of paint on one small structure can sometimes uplift a whole yard.

A coat of paint on one small structure can often uplift a a whole yard.
A fresh coat of yellow paint on the backyard hut led me to consider the many shades of yellow vegetation to be found throughout the yard.
A coat of paint on one single structure can sometimes change a whole area.
The yellow stair rail extends the color theme. Queen Anne’s lace, orange daylilies, and red bee balm pop out against the bright backdrop with white accents.
Queen Anne’s lace seems to float on a yellow wall.
A lemon yellow daylily remains vibrant after yet another shower.
Erin Lea lilies show ruffled yellow petals tinged with brown.
Stella d’Oro daylilies, white yarrow and rose campion contrast with the cobalt blue birdbath.
Amber and gold-toned calendulas are companion plants throughout the vegetable gardens.
The blue chair lends a “primary colors” touch to this area.
Erin Lea daylily.
Purple D’Oro lily with a buttery yellow center.
Pineapple yellow non-stop begonia with blue hydrangea in the background.
One final touch: a mint green ladder hung on the back wall lightens up the shady side of the hut, and provides a year round color contrast.

Wachusett Meadow

A meadow is an area with shallow ground water that allows grasses and wildflowers to flourish. Meadows support a wide range flora and fauna that could not thrive in other habitats, including flowers for native bees and other pollinators.

A recent ramble through this habitat at Mass Audubon’s Wachusett Meadow enabled me to study and appreciate the flowers and grasses up close. In turn, three common meadow creatures kept an eye on me as I walked.

Eastern Bluebird
Common Purple Vetch and Other Meadow Grasses
Wild Turkey

Red-winged Blackbird
Common Milkweed

For more information visit: https://www.massaudubon.org/get-outdoors/wildlife-sanctuaries/wachusett-meadow

To learn more about meadow habitats, visit http://www.magnificentmeadows.org.uk/conserve-restore/importance-of-meadows

A Home For All Seasons

A beaver lodge is built for any kind of weather.

A summer evening is the best time to view beavers cruising the Wildlife Pond at Wachusett Meadow Audubon, but the beaver lodge at one corner of the pond is picturesque in all seasons. Canada geese are especially attracted to this home on the water.
Lodge in Summer
Fall
Winter
Spring

Orange You Glad…

An extravaganza of orange.

…that there are easy to grow flowers?
I planted Pacific Beauty Calendula seeds in early April, and they survived a Spring snowstorm.
Orange Ton Asiatic Lily
The Asiatic Lilies started as one plant a few years back, and expand every year without my help.
Common or Orange Daylily
Just to to stop those orange daylilies!

Peony Present

My neighbor, a fellow plant enthusiast, appeared in my garden yesterday with this gorgeous peony bouquet. What an exquisite gift for me and my garden!

During the pandemic, neighbors have been walking by my yard more frequently than in years past. This has offered us all opportunities for friendly chats and shared interests, making the year much more pleasurable.

Nature’s Stitchwork

The Mountain Laurel is native to the eastern United States, and was first recorded in America in 1624.

Mountain Laurel is in full bloom in Massachusetts this week.
Cup-shaped buds open up to display tiny blossoms. These blossoms are sometimes said to look like miniature origami rice bowls .
Each blossom has five fused petals that surround ten stamens. Each stamen looks like a tiny half-pulled stitch.
The leaves are evergreen, providing year-round interest to the New England landscape.
The purple tones of a nearby rhododendron contrast with the pinkish laurel blossoms.
Mountain Laurels usually live for fifty to seventy-five years. Happily, this laurel in my yard is at least seventy years old, and is still going strong.

Ancient Irises

Iris means “rainbow” in Greek.

In Greek mythology, the goddess Iris carried messages from heaven to earth on the arc of the rainbow. Beautiful flowers appeared wherever she set foot on the ground.

Irises in a rainbow of colors are blooming in my garden this week!

Beautiful Blossoms

Apple blossoms abound in Central Massachusetts this week!

Meadowbrook Orchards, Sterling, MA
Brookfield Orchards, North Brookfield, MA

It is a banner blossom year for the Baldwin apple tree in my backyard.

Enchanted Architecture

The Enchanta Bridge at the Moore State Park in Paxton, MA was given its name by owners who felt the property was so beautiful, it must be enchanted. Originally a mill, the park features an enormous display of rhododendrons, stone mill foundations, a restored sawmill, and networks of wooded paths.

The recently updated Enchanta features traditional New England woodwork with Adirondack chairs for relaxing. Wooden ramps on either end of the bridge allow easy access for all, providing views of the waterfall, pond and woods. The park is free of charge and open year-round.

The Enchanta Bridge, Moore State Park, Paxton, MA
One side of the bridge overlooks a large pond.
Generous ramps blend in with the traditional architecture while making the bridge universally accessible.
Adirondack chairs invite visitors to relax.
The pond provides opportunities for fishing, canoeing and skating.
The waterfall as viewed from the bridge.

A Grand Design: Beaver Architecture

Beavers build lodges from woven sticks, grasses, and moss plastered with mud. These architectural marvels can be up to 8 feet wide and 3 feet high inside. A lodge is designed with at least two underwater “doors” to provide instant swimming access, while a “skylight” hole at the top lets in fresh air. There are two main rooms inside – one near the entrance that is used for eating and drying off and another used for sleeping and raising the young. On average, between four and eight beavers live in a lodge.

Beaver Lodge, Wildlife Pond, Wachusett Meadow Audubon, Princeton, MA

Otter Pond

This photograph recently appeared on Massachusetts Audubon’s weekly Facebook feature, “Weekend Goals”. Wishing you a relaxing weekend!

Otter Pond, Wachusett Meadow Audubon, Princeton, MA

Icy Experience

Ice fisherman armed with sleds, pails, augers, fishing gear, tents and chairs don’t seem to notice the low temperature and bitter winds.

Rutland State Park Boat Ramp, Rutland, MA

An Ancient Companion

The Great White Oak at the Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary stands in a clearing on a popular forest hiking trail. It is considered a “near champion” at over fifteen feet in girth and over 250 years old. The nearby bench lends a quiet place to view it more closely.

Summit Trail, Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary, Princeton, Masachusetts

Winter Woods Gem

Encountering this unexpected “treasure” enhanced a recent Winter hike.

Beaver Bend Trail, Wachusett Meadow Audubon Sanctuary, Princeton, MA

Through the Seasons

This beloved Northern Red Oak at the Wachusett Meadow Audubon in Princeton, MA delights all year round.

Spring
Summer
Fall
Winter

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