Autumn in New Hampshire

Orange pumpkins, colorful gourds, vibrant mums, and Indian corn at garden centers and roadside stands tell us that fall has officially arrived. Although today, September 23, marks the first day of fall, subtle signs have been all around us for weeks.

Click photos to enlarge.

Rolling Green Nurserygourds at Rolling Green Nursery The change of seasons seems to begin around the time of our Harvest Moon when days begin to shorten, nights become cooler, and frequent morning mists create crystal dew drops on spiderwebs and fading blooms in the garden.

Harvest MoonGrasses become the star of the late summer/fall garden. The inflorescences of various species of grasses, whether fuzzy or lacy, replace the fading flowers of summer.

grasses at Rolling Green NurseryFall seeds, such as this milkweed seedpod, ripen slowly. The milkweed pod opens late in the season and releases hundreds of seeds attached to fluffy white hairs that aid in dispersal by wind.

Milkweed Seed Pods at Rolling Green NurseryIn my garden, a volunteer sunflower from our bird feeder slowly changed from glorious to battered and faded, but it is busy producing small sunflower seeds.

The magical transformation of leaf color comes a bit later to the Seacoast of New Hampshire. But with the cooler nights, mild days, and intense blue skies, colors are beginning to be teased from the maples.

MapleThe biggest sign of fall so far, I spotted while working at Rolling Green Nursery. When is the last time you saw a handsome puppy fully outfitted in a lovely argyle  sweater (It’s a people sweater!) on a cool day? That’s the surest sign that Autumn has officially arrived.

JD in his argyle sweater at Rolling Green Nursery

Garden Drama

Of all places in the garden to attach a chrysalis, one of our black swallowtail caterpillars (Papilio polyxenes asterius) chose the smooth metal drainpipe along the side of the house.  How the caterpillar bridged the collar with an opening to an underground drain, I can’t guess. But here is where I found the emerging butterfly struggling to gain a foothold on the smooth surface… and failing. It was in big trouble and I could tell it had been here too long with wings partly out and beginning to plump.

cocoonI felt a little like a butterfly midwife as I assisted in the birth by offering a twig. It was readily accepted and it climbed aboard. I gently urged the butterfly onto a viburnum shrub and watched as she began to unfurl and pump up those gorgeous wings… that I believe identified her as female.

butterflyIt was exciting to be so close and be able to study the beautiful wings, her huge eyes, and watch her coil and uncoil her proboscis.  Click for closeup.

I left her on a trunk of the viburnum where she continued to dry and pump her wings. An hour later I checked and she had flown…. I hope straight to the summersweet for a nice first meal as a butterfly.

It made me smile to think she got her start in the parsley beds 5 feet away that I planted just for her and her siblings.

Eastern Black Swallowtail

The Fairies Are Coming…

It’s Portsmouth Fairy House Tour time again. As new residents last year, we stumbled upon the event when we just happened to visit Strawbery Banke that day. (Click HERE to see our adventure a year ago.) Not only did we have a lovely time touring the restored village, we delighted in seeing the whimsical fairy houses tucked into every nook and cranny.  And we were enthralled by the excited, giggling children, most dressed like adorable fairies with wings and tutus, hurrying their parents and grandparents along on their journey of discovery.

This, the 10th year of the tour, organizers have gone all out. On September 21 & 22, there will be over 200 fairy houses designed by artists, garden clubs, gardeners, children, community members at three locations in Portsmouth, NH. So definitely the World’s Largest Fairy House Tour will remain so for another year.

This is the first year that Rolling Green Nursery has not entered a fairy house (see update in COMMENTS below), however, they are contributing in another big way. For weeks, my co-workers have been gathering and drying flowers and seed heads to contribute to the fairy houses being built on Peirce Island in Portsmouth. Our perennial garden ‘clubhouse’ has been transformed. Small bundles of flowers tied with string are hanging from the beams and all four walls, filling the room with aromas of mint and lavender.

Perennial Garden Clubhouse

That’s not all. Inside Rolling Green Nursery, a vast array of miniature furnishings, bridges, animals, bee hives, flags, and tiny fairies are available to make every fairy house builder’s dream come true. Ahhhh…. I wish I was seven again!

No More ‘Bugs’ till Next Year

Whether you come by boat or arrive by car, Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier is one of the most fun destinations for an evening meal in southern Maine. The menu is simple with the star event being the ‘sea bug’ or lobster, of course, but other delicacies from the sea are offered along with a sprinkling of nice sides and a few non-seafood dishes.

Kayaks arriving for dinner?

This is a very popular, casual and colorful BYOB restaurant located right on the creek in Kittery Point. It closes the day after Labor Day so my daughter and family thought it’d be a great place to celebrate the holiday with one last crustacean indulgence, especially since it was featured in Bon Appétit in July.  We arrived early under threat of impending rain but the deck was already full of happy diners and noisy merrymakers who seemed settled in for awhile.

Chauncey Creek Lobster PierDiners are welcome to not only bring their own alcohol, they are encouraged to bring any dish that isn’t on the menu. And everyone does… complete with tablecloths and their own glasses!

Welcome!BYOB and food!We shared tasty appetizers and drinks that my son-in-law provided until our meal was served. With the attentive servers, mostly young college kids, it didn’t take long at all. Bibs tied on, napkins in place, these finger-licking goodies disappeared fast.

On Mother’s Day 2015, Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier will throw open the gates and again welcome diners to a lobster feast on the river as they have done since 1948. If you’re ever in this neck of the woods and have a hankering for good seafood and a lively atmosphere, hop on over to Chauncey Creek Lobster Pier in Kittery Point, Maine.