Check out the poster for the 2014 Gloucester Garden Tour – July 12, 2014!

Click on the image to enlarge.


Gloucester Garden Tour flyer from Jonathan


Our 2014 garden event dates have been set.

 PLANT SALE      – Saturday, May 17th  8:00 – 12:00  

GARDEN TOUR  -Saturday, July 12th 10:00 – 4:00 

 PLANT SWAP     -Saturday, October 4th 8:00 – 11:00

A lot of garden event planning is underway in the Gloucester, Massachusetts area. 

Come join in the fun.

It's been a long winter. THINK SPRING!
It’s been a long winter.

A Longwood Christmas

On View Through January 12, 2014

A brilliant design of floating Red Rome and Granny Smith apples in the Exhibition Hall.

A brilliant design of floating Red Rome and Granny Smith apples in the Exhibition Hall.

Fresh and in Season is this years theme at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania and it is pleasingly graceful.

Staff and volunteers create awe-inspiring displays during every season at Longwood, but Christmastime is celebrated with a half million glittering lights and colorfully lit fountains around the thousand acre outdoor gardens.

My favorite first stop is always going to the exhibition hall in the four acre indoor conservatory. Each year, I can’t imagine any display being better than the previous year, but once again –it is stunning!

This year a brilliant design of floating apples (Red Rome and Granny Smith) are contained within an in-house specially made concealed frame.  The display is very artistic, imaginative and extrordinarily festive.

All these locally grown apples will eventually be used for cattle feed.

All these locally grown apples will eventually be used for cattle feed.

Longwood’s School and Youth Program serves 15,000 regional students yearly.

Several local students decorated Fraser Fir trees with their fruit themed ornaments.

Several local students decorated Fraser Fir trees with their fruit themed ornaments.

Clever orchid wreath designed with moth orchids and spleenwort ferns.

Clever orchid wreath designed with moth orchids and spleenwort ferns.

For over two years the gardeners at Longwood trained a Euphorbia pulcherrima 'Annette Hegg Brilliant Diamond' into a massive Poinsettia Standard.

For over two years the gardeners at Longwood trained a Euphorbia pulcherrima ‘Annette Hegg Brilliant Diamond’ into a massive Poinsettia Standard.

Always a pleasure to visit the beautiful bathrooms along North America's longest living wall.

Always a pleasure to visit the beautiful bathrooms along North America’s longest living wall.

Holiday Tea is set.

Holiday Tea is set.

Fruit-adorned tree.

Fruit-adorned tree.

Everyone must buy a timed ticket! Purchase online before arriving. Go early on non peak days for best viewing. Check the  performance, event, class and display schedule; there always seems to be something fun or informative going on.
Dress in layers as parts of the conservatory are very warm and walking the grounds can be chilly. Plan on a lot of walking to see everything. Outdoor gardens have a light display after 3:30pm.
On the way out be sure to visit the exceptional gift shop.
For detailed information visit
Irregular Incurve Chrysanthemum x morifolium 'Susono-no-Hikari'

Irregular Incurve
Chrysanthemum x morifolium

This is the first yellow chrysanthemum with over 1400 blooms to be showcased at Longwood and the largest in North America

 The 2013 Annual Chrysanthemum Festival held in the spectacular indoor conservatory at Longwood Gardens just finished on Nov. 24.  It displayed a collection of over 20,000 blooming chrysanthemums.
Miracle of a Thousand Blooms

Miracle of a Thousand Blooms

The Miracle of a Thousand Blooms is the main showpiece everyone wants to see during the Chrysanthemum Festival.
Dedicated horticulturists train this chrysanthemum with wires.

Dedicated horticulturists train this chrysanthemum with wires.

The horticulture experts at Longwood Gardens have been to Japan to train in the technique of growing the Thousand Bloom. This mum starts from one single stem cutting and with diligent and patient training it grows to a blooming dome of a thousand equally spaced flowers. This process takes seventeen months and approximately 1,500 staff hours.
Single stem in the middle.

Single stem in the middle.

 Not all chrysanthemums are capable of being trained like this. Only a few cultivars will produce a thousand blooms.
Red Flame

Red Flame

Amazing detail.

Amazing detail.


Longwood Gardens - Chrysanthemum Festival 2013

Longwood Gardens – Chrysanthemum Festival 2013

Special thanks to my friend Sue for taking and sharing such great photos.
Happy Thanksgiving to all today!
For more information visit
Longwood Gardens is located in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania
Tea is served at the gardens

Tea is served at the gardens

Last week I had the good fortune to visit the lovely city of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada and viewed the Butchart Gardens with a special behind the scenes look at their greenhouses.   The Butchart Gardens are a National Historic Site although they are still owned by the Butchart Family.  They are open 365 days a year and maintain year round beauty.  November is probably the most “off season” for them, so they give weekend greenhouse tours just during this month.  It requires sign up in advance and they fill up early.

The gardens are host to more than a million visitors a year and have a staff of gardeners that is around 250 in the off-season and can grow to over 600 during the peak months of July and August.  They are open 365 days a year and due to their location in a sheltered valley with 215 frost free days and 30 inches of rain, it is more of a Mediterranean climate than one would expect this far North.

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It is hard to pick among the many lovely views, but I thought the cove was particularly picturesque that day.

one view of the sunken garden

The sunken garden is particularly dramatic and was created by carting loam into an abandoned limestone quarry.   There is a “before” and “after” picture from a sign at the gardens that gives some idea of the dramatic change.  The inspiration behind these gardens was Jennie Butchart who began the project in 1904 and is a reflection of the early 20th century beautification movement.

picture of old limestone quarry

picture of old limestone quarry

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one view of the sunken garden

one view of the sunken garden

The Greenhouse tour was quite interesting.  They have 25 greenhouses and use beneficial insects to help with pest management.  I learned a new use for Sprite.  Apparently a diluted mixture when sprayed on ladybugs will keep them from flying off to care for your neighbor’s gardens.  They don’t use ladybugs themselves,  but buy beneficial insects from a local company that propagates them.  Here is an example of a container of Brown Lacewings that they received.

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I am sure it is much more lovely in summer, but it was still a dramatic and interesting visit.

Perennial Series along Stacy Blvd. Gloucester, MA

Perennial Series along Stacy Blvd. Gloucester, MA

Gloucester, MA

Perennial Plant Swap, Sale and Give Away!

October 5th, 2013 10:00 – 12:00

(on Stacy Blvd. next to Bocce and Tennis Courts)

Bring a plant and get a plant or just get a great deal for new perennial plant color in your next year’s garden.

Now is the perfect time to dig and divide. Bring your extra plants to swap!

The first 50 attendees will receive a free coneflower plant. Proceeds will be used to help maintain the public planting areas in Gloucester, MA.

For more info contact or call 781-346-1363

The displays took my breath away and not just because there was finally a display of carex that didn’t look like dead grasses.  Of course, there was much, much more than an adorable furry dog using exclusively that perennial (not grass).  There were prancing ponies over twice the normal size with flowing carex manes in fields of Rudbeckia.  There was a 3 story high display of exotic endangered birds and Mother Earth appearing serenely huge among her bountiful flora and fauna (of flora).    Birds and Buffalo, Frogs and Fish, Flowers made of plants and so much more will amaze the senses if you make the trip.

Over 3,000,000 plants went into this exhibit of over 40 sculptures designed by over 200 horticultural artists.  The exhibits are made from frameworks of wood and wire netting with interior watering systems covered with plants that were grown just for this event.  This amazing exhibit appears every three years in different countries and is on display in Montreal until September 29th.  It is well worth the trek for gardeners and non-gardeners and is frankly a bit overwhelming.  Be prepared to be exhausted by the immensity of it all.

For more info see 

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Last weekend, I had the good fortune to be in Aspen, Colorado when many of the wildflowers high up in the mountains were blooming.  The plant life has such a short growing season (80 days versus our New England 210), that they put on a powerful, albeit brief display.

Courtesy of our daughter, Courtland, who is a summer naturalist at the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, we had an educational hike along the “Lost Man” trail. We saw fireweed, blue gentian and a very cool flower, Elephantella, that really does have flowers shaped like an elephant face. Here are a few cool pictures.

Amazing views

Amazing views

Friendly marmot

Friendly marmot





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Toronto, Ontario has lovely botanical gardens with no admission fee.  Canadians know how to do a lot of things right and gardening is certainly one of them.   It is billed as a magical oasis in the city and it is quite lovely. There are 17 contemporary themed gardens over 4 acres. There is even a vegetable garden where I confirmed that a mystery plant I planted as a remainder from my Spring plant sale is indeed Jerusalem Artichoke. This is an unusual vegetable that spreads with runners. I quickly, and carefully removed all traces of it as soon as I got home.

Here are some of the pictures on a lovely Wednesday in August.

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We were so lucky to have great  weather and so many perennial flowers in peak bloom for the day of the tour. If you missed the Gloucester Garden Tour last Saturday, check out our photos below of the eleven gardens you could have visited.

This was a first time collaborative effort between and the Harvard Club of the North Shore to host a garden tour. We started  with a shoestring budget and  learned on the fly how to organize, promote and operate a one day garden tour. At times the committee of five felt overwhelmed with the never ending  to do list of  editing the program, drawing maps,  posting signs, soliciting sponsors, organizing volunteers, maintaining public gardens, finding advertisement without paying a fortune, etc, etc….

It was all worth the effort. This was a great learning experience and such a pleasure to be part of a local organization bettering their own community.  Visitors were surprised at the four acre plus size of several of the private gardens. Many homeowners were actually present to discuss their plants and inform guests that they were indeed the only gardener as well. Comments were positive and encouraging. Many gardeners mentioned how  inspired they were to create new gardens at their own home.

In hindsight we probably could have sold a few more tickets with a volunteer stationed at the Chamber of Commerce or The Visitor’s Center at Stage Fort Park. We will remember that for next time.

Funds raised amounted to just over $5000. This will help support the butterfly gardens in the new HarborWalk and the Fishermen’s Wives Memorial gardens.

Thank you to all the local sponsors, organizers and volunteers that made the Gloucester Garden Tour 2013 possible.

Enjoy the pictures!

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