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Wetland Colors

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

Wachusett Meadow Wildlife Sanctuary, Princeton, Massachusetts

Pumpkin Puzzle

The clever combination of pumpkins and corn perplexes and delights in this inventive architectural seasonal “home” design.

Bemis Farms Nursery, North Brookfield, MA

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.

Lunch Break

From apples to zinnias: visitors can choose from a wide variety of tasty treats in my garden this week.

Eastern Cottontail Rabbit/ Scarlet Emperor Greens
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird/Scarlet Emperor Bean Blossoms
Eastern Chipmunk/Acorns
Downy Woodpecker/Baldwin Apple
Monarch Butterfly/ California Giant Zinnia

Painted (Turtle) Portrait Redux

Out with the old, and in with the new: a turtle sheds its shell.

Last June, I photographed a turtle on this exact log at Mass Audubon Wachusett Meadow. Yesterday, the turtle I saw there was shedding its shell. As a turtle grows larger, the outer portion of the shell, called the scutes, must fall off to make way for the newer, larger scutes.

Meadow Magic Hour

Late August meadows in New England foretell the bold autumn tree colors yet to come.

On a late August evening, Wachusett Meadow in Princeton is awash in gold tones and green shadows. The top of the boathouse rises up mysteriously behind tall wildflowers.
Looking across the stone wall to the North Meadow, raking light accentuates patches of green mown grass that contrast with alternating waves of white asters and goldenrod.
In storybook fashion, a shady path descends into the South Meadow.
Autumnal reds and yellows carpet the landscape.
Corridors of Joe Pye Weed capture the eye.
Wild asters surprise with their spiky yellow globes.
Unsurprisingly, I am not alone in admiring this magical habitat.

Digging for Gold

How fortunate that many of nature’s treasures are edible.

What’s in the bag?
Let’s see. . .
Looks promising. . .
Keep digging. . .
All is revealed!
Edible treasure:
Yukon Gold potatoes!

Now and Then

The transformation of a garden in just three months is delightful to consider.

Even though it’s been a summer of extreme weather here in Central Massachusetts, most parts of the garden have thrived. Below, recent pictures are paired with those from late May, when the garden was first planted.

The pole beans are luxurious. The squash is holding its own, despite not being in full sun and hosting a mole that samples ground level fruits nightly.
Squash seedlings were barely visible in late May. Beans had yet to sprout.

Hard working Scarlet Emperor beans are on double duty attracting hummingbirds with jewel-like red blossoms and providing a screen from the road beyond. Additionally, the beans are tasty if picked when they are small.
The beans were planted in high planters as protection from hungry rabbits. Fortunately, rabbits have been few and far between during the past weeks.
The “Christmas tree” look of the heirloom Boston Pickling cucumber lends visual interest to the garden with its height and large leaves. A prolific grower, it is sprawling out on the ground in back of the “tree” as well.
Growing cucumbers vertically on bamboo canes makes harvesting produce much easier.
Eggplants that are ready to harvest are surrounded by marigolds for support. The plants cover the blue bucket they are growing in.
Marigold seedlings are barely visible in this picture. They bloomed so prolifically around the eggplant, I had to remove one to give the eggplant more room.
Kale has been continually harvested throughout the summer. Nasturtium and marigolds make good companion plants, as well as surrounding it with spots of edible color.
Lettuce (that had not germinated when this photograph was taken) was planted in between the kale. The kale provided shade for the lettuce during the hot July days.

Apple Art

Apple leaves that had fallen on a white table were the inspiration for this still life.

Apple leaves that fell from my Baldwin apple tree onto a white table inspired me to add garden flowers and windfall apples to create this still life.
Keeping the leaves exactly where they had fallen, I experimented with the addition of a small garden bouquet of freshly picked flowers.
Windfall apples added contrast in keeping with the theme.
A gravel “frame” was a simple addition.
Baldwin apples trees usually bear fruit every other year, but this will be the second year in a row I am looking forward to harvesting Baldwins for applesauce, muffins, pie and other delights.
Central Massachusetts holds a special affinity for apples, as Johnny Appleseed was born in Leominster, Massachusetts.
Close-up photography highlights different aspects of the artwork.
The Baldwin apple is one of New England’s oldest, and was first discovered in Massachusetts.
Apple season is coming soon to Central Massachusetts!

In the Pink

Pink is a-poppin’ in my garden this week.

Tall Phlox
Luminosa Zinnias, Butterfly Bush and Morning Glories
Echinacea or Purple Cone Flower
Butterfly Bush
Candy Pink Morning Glory
Grandpa Ott Morning Glories

Bees, Please

Doing my part to make my yard pollinator friendly.

Echinacea, calendula, zinnia and marigold blossoms are bedecked with bees this week.

Mindfulness

Photographs from a visit to the grounds of the Barre Center For Buddhist Studies in Barre, Massachusetts.

At the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in Barre, MA thoughtful landscaping and architecture are designed to encourage reflection and contemplation in or out of doors.
Stone walls, sturdy trees, benches and other wooden elements recur throughout the grounds. Circular and domed shapes enhance architectural elements.
The large domed bell with striker is hung from a aged tree. In Buddhism, the bell is sometimes said to be the sound of the Buddha’s voice.
A dome-shaped stupa (a Buddhist monument housing sacred relics associated with the Buddha) is surrounded by greenery and stone walls.
The Meditation Hall features large circular windows. Circles are associated with enlightenment in Buddhist thought.
Wooden floors and exposed beams enhance the inside of the hall.
The vegetable garden is enclosed by a handmade willow fence. Garden sections are now being planted, as the Center will welcome on-site students once again this fall.
A wooden Thai Spirit House sits at the edge of the garden.

Sparky, Marietta, Petite and Crackerjack

It’s marigold time in my garden.

I usually buy six-packs of marigold plants around Memorial Day. But last winter, dreaming of spring, I bought a set of four different types of marigold seeds. It turns out that four packages contain thousands of seeds. Now I have an explosion of color and texture weaving through the yard. And what a bargain! I have seeds left over to plant next year.
Sparky Mix Marigolds have wavy petals of orange, yellow, crimson, gold and bicolor. They are mid-sized, at around fourteen inches tall. These popular companion plants attract pollinators; they are “on duty” as a border around the squash garden.
As their name suggests, Dainty Marietta Marigolds are quite small, and known for the bright yellow petals with maroon centers. They have been the most difficult marigolds for me to nurture, but their delicate flowers are delightful.
Petite Mix Marigolds are only 8 to 10 inches in height, but they bloom in all colors. They are in containers around the yard, and used as annual borders. They are so abundant, that even if the rabbits find them, there is enough to share.
At three to four feet tall, the Crackerjack Marigolds are eye-catching, with large ruffles of yellow and orange blooms. They lend a festive feeling to the yard.

Hide and Seek

An Eastern Cottontail rabbit has arrived in my garden.

Knowing rabbits appear each summer, I protect my garden plants as much as possible. Still, many plants are within reach of curious furry friends.
Little feet and ears are hiding just behind the cucumber and basil plants. Tomatoes, lettuce, herbs, eggplants, beans, peppers, marigolds, calendulas and more are nearby–a veritable feast for a half-grown bunny.
It ventures out from its undercover safety, and surveys one side of the garden….
And then the other.
What will it choose?
Sweet, green clover left in the lawn just for rabbits.
Good choice, little bunny!
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