Meet the Girls

There are a dozen cute girls who live just a stone’s throw from our home.  These girls just happen to wear red and white feathers because they’re chickens, Golden Comets to be precise, a cross breed between a Rhode Island Red and Rhode Island White. They love visitors and they’re the friendliest chicks I’ve ever met.  Plus they supply us with super large organic brown eggs every weekend. We love the girls!

Golden Comet eggsThe Golden Comets are very well-behaved so it’s always fun to pay them a visit. Recently I thought it’d be fun to drop in on the girls with my toddler grandson. I’m not sure he’d ever seen a chicken except the ones in picture books. The owner fed the hens well so the toddler could approach them without scattering them.

hensBut as soon as he saw them, he stopped in his tracks. We kept telling him these were chickens… just like the ones in his book.

hens and D.I’m not sure the girls had ever seen a little person either and they gave him the once-over. But it didn’t take long for them to approach and welcome him. That gave him a enough confidence to be a little boy and soon he was off. Run girls, run!

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St. Nicholas’ Greek Festival

We’ve been to a Greek festival only once several years ago and had a great time. Our Ware Neck VA friend, Helen, invited us to a festival at her childhood church, Saints Constantine and Helen Greek Orthodox Church in Newport News VA. We just went for an evening meal but were swept off our feet as soon as we entered the big tent. This place was a ‘Happening’! The aromas. The excitement. The crowds. Families. Great food. Music. Dancing. Laughter. While mister gardener sampled his share of Greek delicacies, Helen led me to the crowded dance floor to teach me a few traditional Greek dance steps. Sigh. Someday I may actually make a trip to Greece but for this one night, I was already there.

Greek Orthodox churches across America have similar versions of annual festivals to share their rich heritage, culture, and traditions of the Greek community. When we recently saw one advertised at Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church in Portsmouth NH, we were psyched at the chance to go for lunch. We used our GPS to help us find our way, but we knew we’d found the right church when we spotted the neat Byzantine architecture.
St. Nicholas Greek Orthodox ChurchIt was lunchtime but the parking lots were full and the crowds were already thick.
Greek Festival, Portsmouth NHWe stopped in the desert area first where we found delicious sweets and a great marketplace with jewelry, clothes, religious artifacts and food imports from Greece.

On the menu were Greek favorites like Baked Lamb Shanks, Souvlaki , Pastichio, Moussaka, Spanakopita, Gyros, Dolmathakia, Loukouades, salads, vegetables, and more. I’m still understanding what all the foods are but we learned an interesting Greek lesson from our first server. The Greek pronunciation of Gyro is Yih-Ro. I’ll definitely need to know that when I visit Greece… and I hope I can… since I discovered from our family’s DNA genetic testing that I have a ‘spot’ of Greek in my ancestry. Yippee!

St. Nicholas Greek FestivalMister gardener ordered the lamb shanks in tomato sauce and declared it DE-licious! I ordered my standard favorite, moussaka, which was quite tasty. We dined to traditional Greek music but no dancing at lunchtime. We knew we missed the excitement of the evening before when an announcement was made that a lone shoe was found from the night before. Oh boy… it must have been another ‘Happening’!

 

Flower Containers 2014

It’s getting to be the custom each summer for me to take a snapshot of flower containers that catch my eye at shop entrances and downtown homes. This summer I walked through Portsmouth NH and Exeter NH with my trusty smart phone. As usual, colorful petunias and sweet potato vines were predominant in most arrangements. I’d call the cities about even in attractiveness, however, my favorite container of all was one in Portsmouth at Stonewall Kitchens.

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Portsmouth NH:

Exeter NH:

What’s all the frass about?

I have always planted an abundance of parsley and dill in the spring… one clump for us and 3 or 4 for the butterflies. Not many butterflies have been fluttering through this neighborhood so I was overjoyed three weeks ago when I saw some frass or caterpillar poo beneath a big pot of parsley, the parsley we used for the kitchen! Immediately, I took the pot off the deck and placed it in a secure place in the garden.

I knew exactly what caterpillar made this frass… the Eastern Black Swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes) that uses plants in the carrot family as hosts. I spotted several tiny caterpillars on the parsley and watched them develop through several instars for about two weeks.caterpillar poo

Dainty but constant eaters, they almost cleaned out the potted flat parsley and moved on to curly parsley and dill in the garden.

They were plump and beautiful and ready to pupate when we left for a week’s vacation.

We returned home yesterday and I checked the parsley. All the caterpillars were gone, hopefully tucked securely in their chrysalis quite a distance from the host plant. How exciting to play a part in raising these beautiful butterflies!

I keep checking for an egg, but unfortunately no monarch butterfly has visited their host plant in our garden, butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa). At Rolling Green Nursery where I work, I have seen a few monarchs feeding on butterfly weed we have for sale. Let’s hope the female below left an egg on the plant. Just seeing the insect is encouraging for our diminishing population of monarchs.

monarch butterfly at Rolling Green Nursery, NH

 

Road Trip to Peterborough

I couldn’t refuse a recent invitation to lunch with my son who lives in Keene NH. He had a special restaurant in mind in the picturesque town of Peterborough NH, The Waterhouse. He’d eaten there once and knew I’d enjoy it as we could dine outdoors overlooking the bubbling Nubanusit Brook. We arrived before they opened and found they were completely booked for the terrace for lunch but we were lucky. Seeing our sad faces, the wait staff was able to rearrange a party at another table and squeeze us in. Atmosphere, rushing brook, great food, and superior service. We shall return!

After lunch we decided to stroll the sidewalks and shops and a few gardens of this upscale yet quaint little village. We crossed a bridge, admiring overflowing colorful containers and planters and stopped to observe a line of photographers opposite us. We’ll have to check out their view on our walk back.

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The first public garden we visited was located across the brook from our restaurant. The Putnam II Park and Boccelli Garden is a quiet oasis, a place to sit for awhile, read a book, or relax and watch the action on The Waterhouse terrace. The Boccelli Garden has an interesting and diverse mix of perennials, annuals, shrubs… a great variety of colors, textures, and shapes to study. And it was fun to walk beneath the apple tree with fallen apples dotting the grass.

Crossing the street, we enjoyed the Nubanusit River waterfall, the view that the photographers were capturing, then strolled around the first Putnam Park, following a trail through the woods to a second waterfall…. and a third. Lovely!

On the other side of the bridge is a small garden called Nubanusit Terrace. I delighted in the trimmed box and yew with the healthiest and most vibrant Russian sage that I’ve seen this summer.

Nubanusit TerraceThe last garden we had time to visit was Depot Park, carved out of a parking lot close to where the original train depot once stood. Lining the walkway to the pavilion is the Pavilion Garden, probably best liked of all the gardens. I love the clipped hedges, variety of shapes, and shades of green punctuated with bright flowers along the way.

Depot GardenWe did not get around to all gardens on this day. We still had our shopping and sightseeing to do but promised to meet again to finish our tour. Peterborough is an appealing small town with residents who are extremely proud of their community. I think our next visit will be springtime when I know gardens will be bursting with blossoms and spring bulbs.

antiques, etc.