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A Century Farm

Central Massachusetts boasts well over forty apple orchards. Sagatabscot is among the oldest.

Sagatabscot Orchards in Sterling, MA was established in the 1740s. This historic farm has been owned by only two families; the present family has been operating it since 1912.
A self-serve stand offers many apple varieties, including heirloom, as well as cider.
The antique cider press has been preserved in the farm barn along with other historical relics. Note the World War I helmet, worn by an ancestor of the present owner.
In the Algonquin Indian language sagatabscot means “place of the hard rock”.
Since the 1700’s the owners have built numerous additions to the original buildings on the rocky hillside.
The farmhouse is painted in the original 1700s color.
The “six over six” windows and side entry are appealing details for colonial architecture enthusiasts.
Lucky and Lucky, the chickens, were named as a consequence of being the last chickens left after a fox found the hen house.
The barn is a treasure trove of antique farm implements, historical items and family lore.
Cart wheels and traditional Ojibwa Indian snowshoes are displayed in the barn rafters.
This bobsled was used to deliver milk when roads were impassable in the winter.
The present owner created this replica of the barn for his young daughters.
Generations of cousins have gathered at the farm for family festivities.
Small rooms carved out from the larger structure include historical items and family heirlooms.

Wetland Colors

The vegetation surrounding the Beaver Wetlands is bursting with gold, orange and crimson this week.

Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, Princeton, Massachusetts

Heron Hike

Vibrant ponds and the sight of a Great Blue Heron stepping out across the meadow combined to make a memorable fall hike at Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary.

Rock Fire Pond
Great Blue Heron
Wildlife Pond

An Appealing Orchard

Brookfield Orchards has served generations of Central Massachusetts residents during its one hundred and two year history.

Brookfield Orchards in North Brookfield, MA is one of New England’s oldest orchards, and a perfect setting for a fall picnic.

Corn, Clouds and Crows

Early fall in Central Massachusetts is the perfect time to explore and photograph the beauty of the region’s local farmlands.

Jordan Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts is a fifth generation farm. In addition to its long history, it is highly regarded as one of the first farms in Massachusetts to produce clean energy.
This is only a small section of the cornfields that provide food for their 375 cows.
On this early fall day, fast moving cloud formations lent a constantly changing counterpoint to the landscape.
The windswept tassels on top of the corn were elegantly silhouetted against the clouds.
I was startled by what appeared to be a rising moon behind the corn.
It is actually a receptacle for storing corn silage (corn used to feed the cows in Winter).
The corn is sown and harvested with mechanical precision, resulting in perfectly neat rhythmic rows.
Corn loving crows are almost always found in undulating groups, creating fascinating patterns in the sky.

A group of crows is often called a murder, but I prefer a less frequently used collective noun for these intelligent and social creatures– a parcel.
Crows aren’t fussy. They will eat corn on or off the cob, as well as seeds and seedlings.
The proud old farmstead sits at the edge of a country road, at the very top of a long hill.
The classic New England red barn across the street stands as a testament to a beloved bygone era.
This historic and progressive farm is only ten miles away from Worcester, MA, New England’s second largest city.

Heron Celebration With Bonuses

Statuary from a local yard sale celebrates the recent surprising visit of a Great Blue Heron to our Zen garden.

A few weeks ago, a Great Blue Heron graced our Zen garden for a few moments before flying into the nearby woods. We began hunting for a heron statue to commemorate that event.
Serendipitously, a friend spied a pair of small heron statues at a yard sale shortly after the extraordinary visit.
In pride of place, the first heron now stands patiently in the “reeds” of the white stone river .
The second heron found a home in the zinnia garden.
As another bonus, a pair of wandering ducks was also found at the sale.
They are energetic and curious.
We never know where the ducks will wander. Hurrah for yard sales!

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.

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