Hilltowns

The Benefits of a Native Pollinator Garden

One way to help support local ecosystems is to plant a native garden with plenty of pollinators. Having just planted garden beds in our yard, I was excited to see the following piece in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, touting the benefits planting a garden with native plants. Personally, we have opted to plant a small area of grass, with a good deal of ground cover, pollinators and native plants to round things out. Not only will this be a lower maintenance landscaping plan, but we will be providing food to local pollinators! Read on for more information below,

A caterpillar of the eastern black swallowtail butterfly (Papilio polyxenes).  FOR THE GAZETTE/Katie Koerten

Earth Matters: A living, breathing yard with native plants

By KATIE KOERTEN 

For the Gazette 

 

After years of dabbling in gardening, I still don’t consider myself a gardener. I don’t have a lot of free time to devote to weeding and landscape design; I’ve never had a lot of extra money for big garden projects, and I’m not attentive enough to remember to water. But I do love plants, and I’m making my outdoor space a place where bees, songbirds, hummingbirds, caterpillars, butterflies and other creatures can thrive. Gardening can be less work if you choose native plants, and those are the best ones to plant to bring lots of life to your yard.

I learned this last year at a talk, “Native plants: What’s good for nature is easier on the gardener,” by Dan Jaffe. Dan was the main plant propagator for the Native Plant Trust (formerly the New England Wild Flower Society). His talk focused on how to create a low-maintenance garden made up of plants native to New England that would encourage not just pollinators, but many living things as part of a thriving, interdependent ecosystem. When I bought my house I inherited a garden filled with mostly non-natives, some prolific spreaders. I attended the talk because I was curious how to replace these plants with beautiful, low-maintenance native alternatives.

Since native plants evolved here, they can live here with little attention from gardeners. Dan said that after planting, he waters and cares for his new native plants for a year when they’re herbaceous, and for two or three years if they’re shrubs or trees. But otherwise, he does very little maintenance after planting because native plants are relatively resilient, provided they are planted in the right soil and sunlight conditions. Dan began by talking about mulch. Having started in conventional landscaping, he had an interesting perspective. He noticed that mulch was a huge part of landscaping, used to keep soil moist, temperature stable and weeds down. But it didn’t work very well. Landscapers needed to keep coming back all summer long to maintain mulched gardens, at great expense to the homeowner. Why not mulch the way the forest does, with a low herbaceous layer that does these functions just as well, and is arguably much more beautiful? Dan suggested the native mulch alternatives Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), foamflower (Tiarella cordifolia) and creeping phlox (such as Phlox divaricata). Since then, I have added foamflower and creeping phlox to my garden beds in the hope that they will slowly form a ground cover that keeps unwanted volunteers down and keep the soil stable. Not to mention it will create an interesting texture, produce more microhabitat for living things, and attract insects with the beautiful blooms. 

Attracting insects is a major goal of my garden. It gives me something exciting to do with my three-year-old. This summer my daughter and I were delighted to discover our first-ever eastern black swallowtail caterpillars munching on our garden dill. Gorgeously patterned with green and black stripes and spots, swallowtail caterpillars can be found munching most members of the parsley family. As a parent and environmental educator, one of my greatest pleasures is to share the cycles of the natural world, like the life stages of a butterfly, with children. Finding tiny living creatures with their own sets of survival needs lays a beautiful foundation for empathy and wonder for the natural world. Furthermore, insects are a vital part of any backyard garden ecosystem. Many are responsible for the perpetuation of plants via pollination; others make up the diet of bats, birds and other insects; still others keep aphids and other so-called pests in check. In other words, if you have a diversity of insects in your garden, you’re doing something right to support life.

 Dill and parsley are great, but they’re annuals; native perennials are better, especially from a low maintenance perspective. In his talk Dan pointed out that our gardens should support pollinators at all stages of life, not just adult; in other words, we should provide not just brightly colored nectar-rich flowers for butterflies, but plants with yummy foliage for caterpillars as well. The milkweed group, Asclepias, is the only plant on which monarch butterflies will lay their eggs, and the only food for monarch caterpillars. Common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca) is relatively easy to grow and propagate by seed, though it is an enthusiastic spreader. Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa) is another beautiful milkweed option. A number of unique caterpillars love green and gold (Chrysognum virginianum), Dan said. Solidago, the goldenrod group, is also extraordinarily supportive to pollinators, and there are many to choose from (some more prone to spreading than others). 

Dan’s talk spoke to what a lot of us are wanting: to help our planet and to start in our own yards. The idea that I can do something in my own yard to counter the deleterious effects that insects are suffering due to pesticides and habitat degradation — while not doing all that much work — gives me so much joy and hope. I may not have the greenest thumb but I am motivated by a love for the natural world and a desire to create a haven for living things in a world full of serious threats to life. My goal is to add a few native plants every year that support insects and other life. 

Katie Koerten is an environmental educator at the Hitchcock Center for the Environment. Dan Jaffe is co-author of “Native Plants for New England Gardens,” a New England Wild Flower Society book published by Globe Pequot Press in 2018. It is available at numerous public libraries in this area.

The Oldest House in Conway, 53 Main Street, Now For Sale!

 

You're driving through Conway, MA and you notice a charming cottage farmhouse with a chartreuse front door and cozy front porch, tucked next to the South River. A plaque near the front door reads "Oldest Home on Main Street", built in 1830. You may feel compelled to honk the bike horn-cum-doorbell announcing your arrival. You will be intrigued by the exterior charm and whimsy - what does the inside look like? Welcome to this incredibly adorable home in Conway. The oldest home, yes, but also fantastically maintained and updated. The current owner has painstakingly cared for this piece of history...Pella windows, kitchen & bath remodeled, Quadra-Fire wood stove (and forced air heat too), metal roof and a new 300 foot well are just some of the updates that have been integrated into this home, while keeping the wide plank wood floors on the main floor and chestnut beams in the second floor family room. A fantastic wood deck overlooks the 1/4 acre lot. This is perfect spot to enjoy the bounty of the gardens, pollinator friendly flower beds and relax to the sounds of the South River. Welcome to 53 Main Street in Conway, Massachusetts. Offered at $275,000. Contact Scott Rebmann or Lisa Darragh for a private showing of this unique and wonderful home

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Spring Garden Clean Up!

Can you feel it? Spring has sprung! There's no denying the feeling that a literal dark cloud has lifted, once the days get warmer, the nights get longer, and the beautiful spring flowers start to poke through the soil. Even on a rainy weekend such as this, the warmer temps and lighter skies help buoy the spirits of us Pioneer Valley dwellers. We are ready!

Each spring, I look forward to the gardening columns from The Daily Hampshire Gazette's Mickey Rathbun. She never fails to give sound advice. The following article will help you form your spring clean up to do list. And in the meanwhile, since you won't likely make it out to your garden in the rain, check out these Northampton area (and beyond) weekend open houses. Enjoy!

 Get Growing: Embracing spring garden chores

For the Gazette 
Published: 4/5/2019 11:23:43 AM

 

Dare I say it? It’s time to start spring clean-up in the garden. Although we had a typical April Fool’s Day on Monday — cold and windy — and I am dressed for the outdoors in the same winter clothes I wore three weeks ago when I headed to North Carolina, the season has progressed considerably. The peepers started their ecstatic racket this past weekend, crocuses are blooming in sunny places and robins have returned.

The most important caution when heading out to the garden is to avoid trampling on soggy or semi-frozen soil and compacting it. Compacting soil changes its structure by eliminating the air pockets between particles. Water has a harder time sinking into the earth and tends to puddle on top. Plant roots have a harder time growing in compacted soil — think brick instead of brown sugar — and can even expire. So be careful: test for moisture by taking a handful and squeezing it into a ball. If it crumbles after a few seconds, it’s dry enough to work. But if it holds its ball shape, wait a few days and try again. If you absolutely have to walk across a garden bed lay a couple of boards across that you can walk on to disperse your weight.

Don’t be in too much of a hurry to cut things back or clear dead leaves. Beneficial insects such as bees, butterflies and moths that have nested in leaf litter need time to get moving. Wait until there have been a series of daytime temperatures of 50 degrees or higher to minimize the damage done to these precious critters.

One of my favorite spring chores is removing old patches of dead leaves and revealing tender shoots of spring bulbs and other early bloomers. This is slow, delicate work but it’s infinitely rewarding. This is also a good time to use gardening scissors or other small pruners to trim out dead leaves from epimedium and heuchera to expose new growth. A lot of epimediums’ magic happens under a tent of dead leaves; you will miss the lovely, pale green buds that unfurl into clouds of tiny flowers if you don’t clear out the debris. But take care not to cut the new growth underneath.

If you have a lawn, wait till it’s good and dry and then rake it briskly to remove thatch and give the new grass some space to emerge. April is the right time to plant and fertilize grass. Wait until the daytime temperatures are 65 degrees or higher. Seed will not germinate if the ground is too cold. UMass Center for Agriculture, Food and the Environment has a lot of helpful information about lawn care; see ag.umass.edu/home-lawn-garden/ for detailed advice about growing a lush, healthy lawn.

If you grow vegetables, organize and stay on top of your planting schedule. Keep a calendar of what you plant when, and what should be reseeded when so that you have a steady supply of things like lettuce and other salad ingredients.

No matter what you grow, get your soil tested. UMass has an excellent soil-testing service. Preparing a good sample is the most important part of testing. It’s not difficult, but do it methodically for the best results. Take 12 or so samples of soil from an area that has similar soil characteristics. Dig 6 to 8 inches below the surface — a small spadeful from each site — and mix them in a clean bucket. Remove debris, stones, etc. Take a cupful of the soil and let it dry. If you have multiple areas of soil with different characteristics, make a test sample for each site. It’s a good idea to sketch a map of where you’ve taken your samples from. You can find all the necessary information and forms on their website. Paige Laboratory on campus even has short-term free parking for soil sample drop offs!

It’s not too late to straighten out your tools and clean them up for the season. Many of us are too busy in the fall to get this chore done before the snow flies. Then it’s winter, and who wants to be out in the garage or garden shed in the freezing cold scraping dried mud off trowels or scrubbing pruner blades with scouring powder?

Now that daylight savings time is here, most of us have time in the early evening to say hello to all our new arrivals. Spring happens fast once it starts. After surviving another cold, dismal winter, you don’t want to miss anything.

 

 Mickey Rathbun, an Amherst-based lawyer turned journalist, has written the Get Growing column since 2016.

 

Walk the Walk, Talk the Talk

As a relatively new rescue-dog owner, I can personally attest to the mental and physical health benefits of walking and hiking. There is not a season, or a day that goes by, wherein I don't have to take my energetic dog on a lengthy walk or hike. Since we adopted her, nearly 4 years ago, I have discovered numerous walking and hiking areas in the Pioneer Valley. I enjoy them all immensely, for various reasons. And, while I admit that there are days when I dread the walk - once I am out, moving my body, breathing in the fresh air and enjoying the beautiful scenery of the Northampton area- the dread washes away and is replaced with gratitude.

Check out this recent article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette which highlights some local hiking areas to enjoy this summer (spring, fall and winter as well!)

Five serene treks that can promote physical and mental well-being

  • A walking path at Atkins Reservoir in Amherst Staff Photo/Andy Castillo

  • By ANDY CASTILLO
    @AndyCCastillo

Monday, August 06, 2018

Ahead in a clearing lies a pine tree. Sunlight, filtering down through a leafy canopy illuminates its bare branches. There’s nothing to be heard but the gentleness of wind and the sweet trill of birdsong, which echos through towering oak trunks and across the many vernal pools scattered throughout Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary.

I’ve walked through these woods many times, having grown up in Northampton near the Big Y shopping plaza on King Street. Not far away, a great blue heron stalks cautiously forward into a tributary of the Mill River, startling a deer, which raises its head from grazing in the reeds. Peace reigns over the clearing for a little while. But it doesn’t last.

It’s broken, suddenly, by two squirrels. They leap, one after the other, down from a tree and into dry leaves that outline a narrow path ahead of me, which winds on for four miles through the nature preserve’s 724 acres, which is spread across Northampton and Easthampton.

While familiar, the scene never gets old. And, even though I’ve watched Hampshire County’s commercial industry and its neighborhoods expand over the last few decades, I still find it easy to escape into the quietness of nature, for my physical and mental health, on readily accessible trails throughout the region.

Below are a few of my favorites, close to my hometown, where I still escape to for a peaceful walk.

 

Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, Easthampton

The trails at Arcadia Wildlife Sanctuary, maintained by the Massachusetts Audubon Society, are open to the public from dawn until dusk. The preserve’s terrain is diverse, ranging from forest, to grasslands, to wetlands, and the walking paths aren’t too strenuous. Native flora is prevalent along the trails, as is wildlife, which can be viewed from a tower overlooking the Mill River.

A variety of trails, which include an 850-foot loop over crushed stone with a guide rope along the side, are accessible from a parking area at 127 Combs Road in Easthampton. Next to the parking area, there’s a nature center where events are held throughout the year. Audio tours that coincide with the trails can be listened to by calling 413-272-0006. Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for children and seniors. Members are free.

Directions: Arcadia Wildlife Sactuary is at 127 Combs Road, Easthampton. From Route 10, turn onto Lovefield Street, which isn’t far from Valley Recycling, take a left onto Clapp Street, another left onto Old Springfield Road, and an immediate left onto Combs Road. From East Street, turn onto Fort Hill Road, pass Fort Hill Brewery, take a right onto Old Springfield Road, and an immediate left onto Combs Road.

 

Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area, Northampton

The dock at Fitzgerald Lake, which is about a two- minute walk from a parking area at North Farms Road in Northampton, provides a quick respite from the busyness of life. Even though it’s not far from a few of the Pioneer Valley’s main thoroughfares, with Route 9 on one side and Route 5 on the other, while standing at the end of the dock surrounded by reeds, it feels as though you’re miles from civilization.

From the dock, a two-mile trail leads around the lake to a dam on the other side, and from there, another mile or so of trail connects to a second parking area at the former Moose Lodge off of Cooke Avenue. The lake itself is artificial, and shallow, created when the dam was made in the 1960s. Growing up, jogging to the dam from the Moose Lodge, or around the lake from North Farms Road to Cook Avenue, were favorite running and mountain biking routes of mine. The trail system, which includes a shorter loop that takes about 10 to 15 minutes to walk near the dock, can also be accessed from Marian Street and Coles Meadow Road. Trails are mostly protected from the sun by forest canopy and traverse rocky sections and cross small sections of grassland and wind through the woods that surround the lake.

Wildlife can be seen from various lookout points along the way, including a wildlife observation blind, and sections of the trail pass close by large swamps. The conservation area is maintained by the Broad Brook Coalition, a nonprofit organization, and the Northampton Conservation Commission.

More information on walking the trails, which are free and open to the public, can be found at www.broadbrookcoalition.org.

Directions:61 North Farms Road, Northampton. The North Farms Road access point has gravel-lot parking, and features an accessible paved path, bridge and boardwalk out to the dock. 196 Cooke Avenue (former Moose Lodge, up behind the Northampton Walmart), features an entry point to the trails and street parking on the right side of an unpaved lot. Marian Street: Entrance and street parking. Coles Meadow Road: Entrance and street parking.

Robert Frost Trail, Amherst

While there are many sections of the Robert Frost Trail, which stretches 47 miles from South Hadley to Wendell, my favorite section can be found just off of Cushman Road in Amherst next to the Atkins Reservoir. Across from the trailhead is a short walking path that leads along the reservoir’s edge, which is another beautiful place for a peaceful and short walk.

The natural colors along the trail are vivid and change with each season. In the spring, aquatic plants pop from the blue water in vibrant yellow tones.

Summertime brings a Jurassic torrent of green that’s tempered come fall by the rustic orange grace of autumn. And in the winter, the redness of dead leaves lining narrow streams, bubbling from the adjacent Adams Brook, contrasts with the whiteness of untouched snow.

The trail is aptly named in honor of Frost, the great American poet, as it highlights the simple beauty of New England’s woods. I often escape here, alone, to find inspiration in nature. A few other sections of the Robert Frost Trail that I particularly appreciate include one that leads around Puffers Pond, and another in Sunderland at the Mount Toby State Forest near Cranberry Pond, which has a beautiful trail system, albeit a little challenging, of its own.

Directions: Area of 60 Cushman Road, Amherst. The entrance to the Robert Frost Trail is on the right, across from the Atkins Reservoir, and there’s a narrow pull-off for parking nearby. From Bridge Street, which passes by Cushman Common and Cushman Market and Cafe and turns into East Leverett Road, turn right onto Market Hill Road. From there, drive straight about a mile and a half, continuing on after the street turns into Cushman Road, to the pull-off.

The Arthur F. Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies, Amherst

Mowed paths crisscross 28 sprawling acres at the Arthur F. Kinney Center for Interdisciplinary Renaissance Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. From a house built to look like a Renaissance cottage, home to the center, the paths sweep down a grassy hill filled with native flora and birds, which dive after crickets and other insects. At the top, next to a period era garden, a few of the trails lead into a wooded section.

It’s a beautiful place for an evening walk around sunset because of the expansive view from the top, and because many of the walking paths are completely exposed to the sun. The trails are open to the public all the time, but the center, at 650 East Pleasant St., Amherst, is only open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. At closing time, a gate at Pleasant Street is locked, and any cars still in the parking lot must call campus police to get out. Elsewhere, cars can also park on nearby side streets.

Directions:650 East Pleasant St., Amherst, not far from the North Amherst Fire Station and the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s main campus. The center has a gravel lot, which closes at 5 p.m., and there’s additional parking at nearby streets such as Sherman Lane, which is across the road. 

Fort River Birding and Nature Trail, Hadley

A one-mile-long pathway, carved into the landscape, leads through diverse habitats, ranging from grasslands to wetlands and forest, at the Fort River Birding and Nature Trail in Hadley, which is in the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. The path, which was completed a few years ago, is mostly gravel, graded to accommodate wheelchairs, and traverses over vernal pools and woodland areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.

The pathway itself is beautiful — sometimes it’s elevated on stilts — carefully designed to highlight quintessential elements of Connecticut River’s watershed, such as tributaries, vernal pools, and the surrounding forest. At a few different points along the way there are shaded gazebos and platforms with seating areas that overlook particularly beautiful areas for birdwatching.

It’s the perfect place for a morning or afternoon walk, although it can be hot at times because some sections of trail aren’t covered. Come evening, especially in the spring and summer months, mosquitos are out in force.

Directions: 63 Moody Bridge Road, Hadley. From South Maple Street, which is one of the back roads to the Hampshire Mall from Northampton, turn onto Moody Bridge Road at the four-way stop sign. The nature trail is at the end of a dirt turn-off on the right, as indicated by a small sign.

Andy Castillo can be reached at acastillo@gazettenet.com.

New Listing in Chesterfield MA - 206 Bryant Street!

Contemporary home on 17.22 bucolic acres in the heart of beautiful Chesterfield MA. This 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath has all the bells and whistles! Open concept floor plan on first floor with large cook's kitchen, wood stove, dining room, family room and TV room, shaded porch and sunny deck, tiled mudroom and office/guest room across from first floor powder room. Second floor is comprised of a gracious master suite, with a large walk-in closet, 2 additional bedrooms and addtional full bath/laundry room. Walk out basement is ready to be finished, or can be used as-is. There is also a large walk up attic with ample storage space. In the spacious yard, you will find a large storage shed, fire pit, stone walls and plenty of wildlife. 12 minutes to Williamsburg, 20 to Florence, 26 to Northampton center.

Enjoy camping, hiking, skiing, fishing, horseback riding, berry-picking, bird watching and all that Chesterfield and the hill towns have to offer - as well as an abundance of cultural events and natural beauty in the nearby Berkshires. This property is approved for horses, and would be great for gardening. With an abundance of sunlight, it would likely be a great candidate for solar power too!

206 Bryant Road in Chesterfield. Offered at $399,000. Call Julie Starr to set up your private showing, or attend the open house this Saturday, May 5th from 11-1 pm.

View from the top of the driveway

Side of the house

Cook's kitchen

Wood-burning stove in living room

TV room

Master bedroom

Second bedroom

Third bedroom

 

 

 

Spring is Springing!

It seems that my favorite time of year is upon us once again (despite the lingering chill in the air). What is more hopeful and celebratory than driving down the Northampton roads and seeing the dogwoods, cherry trees, magnolias, apple trees, peach trees, lilacs and azaleas all in bloom? Before your garden beds are overcome with weeds and the colorful flowers of early spring have died back to allow for the next group of perennials to show their beautiful selves -- you have an opportunity to fill in the blanks! The following article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette lists some local plant sales going on this weekend and beyond - as well as suggestions for colorful additions to your garden beds.

Mickey Rathbun: Colorful New Perennials to Consider

Every year when my perennial beds come to life, I notice two or three places where a shriveled brown clump is all that’s left of a once-thriving plant. I often blame the burrowing rodents who kill my plants by feasting on their roots over the winter. (Surely, the cause of death couldn’t be my lack of care!) Last summer’s drought caused the demise of some of my newer perennials whose root systems hadn’t had the chance to develop. I’m certain I’m not alone in discovering bare spots in this year’s emerging garden.

There is a silver lining to this cloud, though: the opportunity to buy new plants to fill those holes. Many local plant sales in the coming weeks offer hardy perennials. But if you’re looking for something new and different, local plant nurseries are selling scores of bold new perennial varieties. Every year adds a dizzying array of new color choices. Here are some top 2017 picks that will add a welcome punch of color throughout the summer: 

Threadleaf coreopsis provides an easy color infusion for a sunny border. The new coreopsis ‘Crazy Cayenne’ is as hot as its name suggests. Masses of fiery sunset orange blossoms hover over needlelike foliage. The sun-loving plant has a compact, mounding habit. With occasional deadheading, it will continue to bloom throughout the summer.

I love delphiniums. They are short-lived, but their colorful spires of flowers are so spectacular in the early summer garden I can’t pass them up. ‘Pink Punch’ delphinium is perhaps the deepest pink delphinium ever. It bears frilly mulberry-pink blooms with white, brown or pink-striped centers (called “bees”). A New Zealand hybrid, ‘Pink Punch’ grows from 3 to 6 feet tall, but its strong stems seldom require staking.

Delphiniums come in a range of colors, from deep purple to pink and white, but I’m a sucker for blue, a hard-to-find color in the perennial world. ‘Blue Bird’ is another brilliantly hued new variety of this stately, elegant early summer plant. This is a Pacific Giant Hybrid, with a bright blue blossom and a white “bee.” It grows from 4 to 6 feet tall, so staking is recommended.

Foliage can add color, too. I depend on hostas to brighten up my shady areas. A lovely new hosta, ‘Earth Angel,’ has variegated lime and blue-green leaves edged in creamy white. Its pale lavender flowers bloom in early summer.

Heucherella x. ‘Plum Cascade’ is another foliage star, with lobed, silvery-purple leaves that have a trailing habit. Its pale pink flowers rise above the foliage on short, strong stems.

Some people dislike daylilies because, as their name suggests, the blossoms last only a day before wilting and turning yucky. Despite this, I am a huge fan. The bright green, strappy foliage holds up well through the summer, and the abundant blossoms come in an ever-widening assortment of colors. This year’s ‘Primal Scream’ sports enormous blooms (7 ½ to 8 ½ inches wide!) in brilliant tangerine. Its petals are narrow, twisted and ruffled. I’ve found that if I choose varieties carefully, their range of bloom times will keep my daylily border colorful all summer.

‘Primal Scream’ blooms in early July.

Who can resist a splash of bright yellow in the garden? The new Echinaea ‘Golden Skipper’ has abundant, lemon-yellow blooms on sturdy, compact stems that reach only 15 to 18 inches tall. This plant is named after a yellow butterfly of the same color.

Stokesia laevis ‘Blue Frills’ is a new variety of the popular Stokes Aster that brings color in late summer and early fall, when other perennials have finished blooming. With a tidy, vase-shaped growth habit, this aster has large, electric blue flowers (2 ½ to 3 inches wide) with a sparkling white eye. It does best in full sun with good drainage.

This sampling barely scratches the surface of the latest offerings from perennial propagators everywhere.

Mother’s Day Dig Sale

Wilder Hill Gardens in Conway is having a Mother’s Day Weekend Dig Sale, Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. A wide variety of field grown perennials, hardy flowering shrubs, organic small fruits and excellent annuals will be available.

For more information and directions, go to wilderhillgardens.com

 

Berkshire BotanicalGarden plant sale 

On May 19 and 20, Berkshire Botanical Garden in Stockbridge will hold its 40th annual plant sale. There will also be a tag sale. Members have special early bird privileges on May 19 from 9 to 11 a.m. The sale is open to the public May 19. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and May 20, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For more information, go to berkshirebotanical.org 

Garden Club of Amherst plant sale 

The Garden Club of Amherst will hold its annual plant sale May 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. under the tent, next to the Amherst Farmers Market on the Amherst Common, rain or shine.

There will be many wonderful plants including hundreds of perennials, hostas, woodland plants, grasses, shrubs and trees; plants for sun and shade. 

This year’s sale will also feature bags of fully composted horse manure from a local farm. Proceeds from compost sales will benefit Chesapeake Safe Harbor, a wonderful rescue and rehoming operation for Chesapeake Bay Retrievers run by Roger Booth and his daughter, Gibby, of South Amherst.

 

Southampton Woman’s Club plant sale 

The Southampton Woman’s Club, celebrating 100 years of service, will hold the annual Anita Smith Memorial Plant Sale May 20 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the One-Room Schoolhouse at Conant Park on Route 10 in Southampton. Held yearly since 1991, the plant sale is a nonprofit project with all money going to support a college scholarship program for area youths.

The sale will feature locally grown perennials, annuals, vegetable and herb plants. The club will also be selling a selection of vintage and “gently used” garden tools, containers and decorative garden items. Anyone wishing to help this scholarship program in the form of a monetary donation, or in the form of potted perennials, is encouraged to do so. Please call 527-4568 for further information.

Pollinator-friendly gardening: Lecture and guided walk 

Our pollinators are declining at an unprecedented rate worldwide due to human-induced, rapid environmental change. These declines pose a significant threat to our food supply; consequently, there has been major focus on the development and implementation of conservation strategies to maintain pollination of agricultural crops. However, not enough attention is paid to the key role pollinators play in natural ecosystems, making them an ineffective tool for maintaining and restoring biodiversity.

On May 21, from 1 until 3 p.m., Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston will host a lecture and guided walk with Dr. Robert Gegear, from the WPI Department of Biology and Biotechnology, focusing on pollinator friendly environments. Gegear will discuss the importance of developing an ecologically focused approach to gardening. He will also provide information on how to identify local bumblebee species. After the presentation, Gegear will lead a walk through the gardens to show how to put his suggestions into practice.

Free with admission; pre-registration required. Go to: towerhillbg.org 

Mickey Rathbun can be reached at foxglover8@gmail.com.

 

37 Village Hill Road - Midcentury Oasis!

Perched on a 7.8 acre open lot, surrounded by woods, yet close to Williamsburg Center, sits this unique and charming property. The handbuilt stone fireplace, built-in cabinets, beds and seating give this home a cozy and modern feel. There is so much potential in this home and lot. Built in 1947, it does need some TLC, but with a home of this character and charm, sited on a spacious and beautiful lot, the possibilities are endless!

Currently a 4 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath home, 37 Village Hill Road in Williamsburg, MA is listed by our very own Winnie Gorman. Showings begin at the open house this Sunday, October 9th from 2-4 p.m. Bring your ideas for expansion and updates! Offered at $299,000. It won't last long!

Side Yard

View from the other side of the house

Living room with built in seating and stone fireplace

Living room

Master Bedroom

What a special property!! This charming custom built ranch, in the Frank Lloyd Wright style, is in a prime Williamsburg location. Sitting atop a knoll this handsome home is surrounded by both spacious lush lawn & breathtaking woods on three sides. Only moments from downtown Williamsburg, the best of both worlds awaits you here with the quiet, peaceful, woods offering a buffer from the outside world. A unique interior, containing a lovely stone fireplace & large picture windows that truly bring the beauty of the outdoors directly into the home. Many closets as well as generous storage offer ample space to keep things neat and tidy. A rare opportunity, indeed. Come take a look!!

ChiliFest at Mike's Maze this weekend!

NOT TO BE MISSED! The ChiliFest at Mike's Maze in Sunderland, MA is happening this weekend! What a great way to ring in the fall. Great food and great music, all in the idyllic New England setting of Mike's Maze in Sunderland. We Northampton-area locals look forward each year to the unveiling of the latest maze. This year, in honor of the 100 year anniversary of the National Parks Service, the maze is called "See America". Check out the link here for the aerial view of the maze.

While you are out and about, check out our weekend open houses.

Let's hope this beautiful weather holds throughout the weekend. Check out the article in the Daily Advocate here:

Hot Damn! Sunderland’s ChiliFest is Coming

By Hunter Styles

Kitchen Garden Farm hosts its annual giant farmer party at Mike’s Maze in the center of Sunderland, with bands, brews and spicy food all weekend long.

Hot Diggity!!!!

Could it be that the lingering heat wave of the past week was due to the potency of the peppers newly ripening at Kitchen Garden Farm in Sunderland? Probably not, but we hear these little devils are hotter than ever — and just in time for ChiliFest. Kitchen Garden hosts its annual giant farmer party Sept. 17-18 at Mike’s Maze in the center of Sunderland, with bands, brews and spicy food all weekend long.

Musical acts playing the solar-powered pavilion include Bella’s Bartok, The Derangers, Atlas Lab, Lonesome Brothers, Wishboe Zoe, Amber Wolfe, Tang Sauce, and Eli Catlin, whose tunes you can enjoy while munching on Mission Cantina tacos, mango-jalapeno popsicles from Crooked Stick Pops, arepas from Wheelhouse Farm Truck, dumplings from Kailash Kitchen, sriracha swirl ice cream from Bart’s, and spicy grilled Mexican street corn. Wash it all down with local beer from Abandoned Building Brewery, BLDG 8, and Exhibit A. 

That’s just the tip of the spiceberg. The Cook-Off features some of the best restaurant chefs in the Valley. The Hot Sauce Competition, held Sunday, is open to all who pre-register. Then, of course, there are the peppers from around the world, all fabulously monikered: ghost peppers, Hungarian Paprika, Trinidad Scorpions, and Carolina Reapers. Check out the screen printing, face painting, kids market, and the chef demo tent. Learn how to cook, pickle, and ferment. There’s even a “kimchi mob,” whatever that is. It’s a perfect chance to carry out these final days of summer in a blaze of glory. 

ChiliFest: Saturday and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. $10 adults; $5 kids; weekend pass $15 adults and $8 kids. Mike’s Maze, 23 South Main St., Sunderland. (413) 387-5163, kitchengardenfarm.com. 

— Hunter Styles, 

hstyles@valleyadvocate.com

Cummington Fair Starts Today!

Summer is a wonderful time to enjoy all that the Hilltowns of the Pioneer Valley have to offer. There are so many activities to choose from: hiking, swimming, kayaking, tubing, antiquing, and county fairs, to name a few. Today is the opening day of the 148th Cummington Fair. It is my personal favorite, because the setting is lovely and wooded. It's off the beaten path, and the drive to and through Cummington is beautiful. It's got all the bells and whistles of any county fair - cotton candy, candy apples, overpriced games where you can win "prizes" that will wind up in the recycling bin, pony rides, loads of animals, etc.

While you are driving through the hill towns, be sure to check out Maple and Main Realty's hill town listings!

The Cummington Fair runs today, August 25th, through Sunday, August 28th. Check out the schedule here.


Western Mass Beer Week is Underway!

Exciting news for Northampton area beer lovers! The first ever Western Mass Beer Week has commenced! Check out the following article from the Daily Hampshire Gazette with the schedule for all local beer and food-related events:

Hunter Styles: Western Mass’ week-long beer bash starts Saturday

The Western Mass celebration of local brew is under way

Sally Noble and Sonny Han co-own The Foundry in Northampton, one of many venues participating in Western Mass Beer Week

HUNTER STYLES

Friday, June 10, 2016

The Beerhunter’s ears are always pricked to news of local craft beer happenings, and this month, they’re positively tingling. 

All that excitement in the air is thanks to the first-ever Western Mass Beer Week, a series of events at breweries, bars and restaurants all around the Valley Saturday through June 18.

Eighteen breweries and more than a dozen eateries have teamed up to celebrate the beer brewed around here.

All told, 52 events are scheduled as of press time. Stay up to date on Facebook, and check westernmassbeerweek.org for more info.

In the meantime, here’s this beer lover’s first stab at a personal Beer Week to-do list. Hope to see you all there, and elsewhere, all week.

WEEK-LONG EVENTS

Brews & Tunes at Fort Hill Brewery in Easthampton: Daily tastings, tours, and live music from Lunar Carnival, Eddie Riel, and more.

Taproom Tasting at Berkshire Brewing Company in South Deerfield: Open Saturday-Friday, 4 to 6 p.m.

SATURDAY

Berkshire Craft Beer Festival in Pittsfield: At the Common Park from noon to 5 p.m.

SUNDAY

German Brunch: Presented by The Dirty Truth in Northampton, with German beers imported by Shelton Brothers. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Bike Path Beer Voyage in Turners Falls: New beer debut at Brick & Feather at 3 p.m. followed by a keg tap at the Five Eyed Fox at 4 p.m.

MONDAY

Amherst Brewing Barrel-Aged Golden Sour Release: Gathering on University Drive. 5 to 10 p.m.

Movie screening “Blood, Sweat & Beer”: Abandoned Building in Easthampton hosts a showing of a new documentary film about two start-up breweries. 7 p.m.

TUESDAY

Franklin County Brewers at The People’s Pint: The Greenfield brewpub offers selections from Element, Stoneman, Honest Weight, and more. 5 to 11 p.m.

Learn to Cook with Beer: Chef Zach Shulman invites us to The Student Prince in Springfield, where he will make dressings, sauces and dessert using a saison, two pale ales, an IPA, and a tripel. 6 to 9 p.m.

Beer Trivia at Plan B Burger Bar in Springfield: Test your beer knowledge, with local breweries on tap. 9 to 10 p.m.

WEDNESDAY

BLDG8 at Moe’s Tavern: The Northampton brewery’s IPA makes its Berkshire County draft debut at the Lee restaurant. 3 p.m. to midnight.

The Foundry Firkin Faceoff: Five brewers were each tasked with turning a list of wacky ingredients into a quality cask beer. Come taste the results at the Foundry in Northampton. 5 to10 p.m.

Amherst Brewing / Wormtown Collaboration Release: The debut of a new pale ale, made in Worcester using Valley Malt. 5 to 10 p.m. University Drive, Amherst.

Real Ale Wednesday at Smith’s Billiards in Springfield: Casks and games aplenty. 5 to 9 p.m.

Honest Weight at The Moan and Dove: The new Orange brewery will be tapping a firkin and two pins at the Amherst bar, with additional beer on draft. 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

The Dirty Truth Presents Lord Hobo Brewing Company: Eastern Mass brewer Daniel Lanigan comes home to the Dirty Truth in Northampton, which he co-founded, to raise a glass from draft, can, or cask. 7 to 10 p.m.

Firkin at the Brass Cat: Abandoned Building Brewery taps a new cask at the Easthampton bar. 6 p.m. to 1 a.m.

THURSDAY

Cask Night at Iron Duke Brewing: Ludlow brewers offer two special casks, plus food truck eats. 3 to 9 p.m.

Vanished Valley Brewing Tasting: Brand-new Ludlow brewery pours free sample tastings of IPA and stout at Europa, the nearby steakhouse. 4 to 7 p.m.

Patio and Pints: Brew Practitioners in Florence host outdoor pours, with a 7 p.m. set by The Tom Savoy Band. 5 to 10 p.m.

Local Focus Beer Tasting Seminar: Provisions in Northampton hosts tastes of 12 wide-ranging beers, paired with cheese and charcuterie. $35 per ticket, or $30 each for 2-plus tickets. 6:30 to 8 p.m.

FRIDAY

Great Falls Harvest Food and Beer Pairing: The Turners Falls restaurant pours tastings of six Element anniversary beers, with Crooked Sticks Popsicles. 5 to 8:30 p.m.

 JUNE 18

C_LVIN India Pale Ale: One-time limited release collaboration between Brewmaster Jack and Abandoned Building Brewery. Available at Brewmaster’s Tavern in Williamsburg, with music, games, and food. 2 to 5 p.m.

The Worthy Craft Beer Showcase: Hosted by Smith’s Billiards in Springfield. Four-hour sampling, featuring Artifact Cider Project, Tree House Brewing Company, White Lion Brewing Company, and many more. Noon to 4 p.m.

Field Notes

Springfield brewery White Lion is teaming up with the city’s business improvement district to launch a summer series called White Lion Wednesdays. Through Aug. 17, the weekly event features White Lion brews with light fare and music, al fresco at one of three rotating locations: The Shops at Marketplace, Tower Square Park, and 1350 Main Street Plaza.

Magic Hat has finally run off and joined the circus. The Vermont brewery has signed on with Cirque du Soleil as the official craft beer of the Boston run of KURIOS, a “cabinet of curiosities” show that runs through July 10. What better way to kick back with a bottle of Circus Boy?

 In world beer news: the Belgian city of Bruges is building a two-mile underground beer pipeline to connect the downtown De Halve Maan brewery to its bottling plant. Once it’s completed this summer, the tunnel is expected to pump over a thousand gallons of beer an hour. Forget the opportunities to divert suds to all those local taplines – I’m wondering when they’re going to offer inner tube rides.

 

The Beerhunter appears monthly. Hunter Styles can be reached at hstyles@valleyadvocate.com.