Summertime

Thinking Ahead - Landscape Design and Climate Change

During the summer, Northampton area residents are often banned from watering their lawns between 9 am and 5 pm due to drought conditions. The recent/current rains were much needed. I'm happy not to be spending countless hours watering my lawn in the sweltering heat. But it is also noticeably still humid and hot, despite the rains we have been experiencing. One can't help but think of climate change with the strange weather patterns happening around us.

It pays to think ahead when it comes to climate change and your landscaping choices. This recent article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette discusses some choices an Amherst landscape design firm has made when designing an eco-friendly garden for the Amherst Historical Society. The points made in the following article could easily be applied to homeowners as well.

Amherst designer suggests cooling gardens to prepare for climate changes

  •  

  • By ANDY CASTILLO
@AndyCCastillo
Thursday, July 19, 2018

It’s sweltering under the bright sun beating down on the lawn of the Amherst Historical Society’s Strong House on Amity Street, but take a walk down a narrow stone path into a shaded garden area in the back and the temperature noticeably drops by a few degrees.

Over the next 30 years, New England’s climate will become hotter, making the shaded areas in the Strong House’s 1800s garden an important design element, says Andrew Kilduff, ecological designer and co-founder of TK.designlab in Amherst. His firm was hired by the Historical Society to create a conceptual eco-friendly design for the garden that takes into account projected changes to New England’s climate.

"In many respects, shrubs that grow between five, 10, and 15-feet-tall create a different environment," he said, while looking over the shady area from the front lawn one recent afternoon.

The garden features plants like globe thistles, trilliums, peach-leaved bellflowers, dictamnus plants and garden phlox, according to Denise Gagnon, a member of the Amherst Garden Club, which takes care of the public garden. Another member, Meredith Michaels said the flowers were selected based on what would have grown natively in the region when the garden was created 150 years ago.

Keeping in mind what would have been available in the 18th century, and in addition to perennials already there, she said, “We add a few annuals in spaces that have become denuded of whatever was supposed to be there.”

The area is a cut-through for commuters passing from Amity Street into the center of town, and connects to the garden at the nearby Jones Library. And, so, because the garden is such a visible spot, Kilduff and his firm say many different plant species should be included with adequate irrigation to showcase practical ways home gardeners, too, can prepare for climate change.

"As landscape designers, we thought what might be an interesting way to re-conceptualize the garden, and to play around with some ideas as to best honor the history here, and create a space that's reflective of the changing conditions, not only in the town, but in the region and the world as a whole," Kilduff said.

Hot, dry, stormy

Kilduff, who has a master’s degree in ecological design and planning from the Conway School of Landscape Design, notes the difference in temperature between the sunny spots and the garden’s shady areas is as much as 10 to 15 degrees, which will be particularly significant when the climate heats up.

He points out a stone patio connected to the house where rain barrels and catch basins can be placed. The collected rainwater could be redirected to irrigate the flower beds to reduce the amount of water and physical labor needed during prolonged dry spells, he says.

When the climate is warmer, the growing season will be longer, Kilduff says, and there will be more intense storms. Because of those changes, plant species that thrive in the area now might not be able to survive anymore, and others will become more suited to the climate.

As an example of one species that’s being affected as temperatures warm, Kilduff noted research by Smith College Biologist Jesse Bellemare that shows a steady migration of umbrella magnolia trees into New England.

And, he said, "The vegetables here will be more proliferous. You'll be able to start seeds earlier. Farmers will be able to, hypothetically, instead of reaping one or two mows a year for hay, do three, four, or perhaps even more."

While the design is intended to show what a garden in the year 2050 might look like, he noted that some elements his firm proposed already appear in contemporary gardens, such as the rain barrels and long depressions, called swales. In the Strong House Garden design, he says, a swale could be dug at the back of the property to drain rainwater from the flower beds in the event of a heavy storm.

Existing plants, such as the thistle globes and trilliums, would be bolstered by the other species that could survive in hotter conditions, with ferns like Ostrich or Cinnamon ferns planted near the house, flora that thrives in wet conditions such as Red Columbine, Blue Flag Iris and switchgrass in the swale, and hardy flowers that can withstand intense heat like umbrella magnolia in areas exposed to the sun. Kilduff said that because the designs are so preliminary, his firm hasn’t yet fully researched the exact kinds of flora that would be best adapted to future climate changes.

Another proposal included in the design is space for community gardens, and a suggestion to shade areas of the garden currently exposed to direct sunlight.

Think ahead

"Plant a tree, because it pulls up water out of the ground, it shades, and reduces the heat stress of you and your pets and the plants around you," Kilduff said, noting that, if a tree is planted now, it will become mature by the time changes have taken place.

In planning for the future, he recommends that gardeners study their plots and think about ways to efficiently maintain them in a hotter environment.

"If you're watering often, it's possible that you could have a small rain barrel, and that alone may offset those one or two trips," he said. Connecting a hose to the barrel to create a drip irrigation system would make the watering job easier.

In addition to shade trees and shrubs, add a few ground-covers in the garden, Kilduff says. “They're attractive, and have a functional purpose. They reduce the soil loss, allow other plants to be able to suck up water more easily, and you'll find yourself weeding less."

Change is coming, he said, and gardens will either suffer or thrive depending on how area gardeners prepare and adapt.

“Land is something that we interact with virtually at every waking movement of our lives,” he said. “Even when we're in our homes and offices, we're subject to the conditions present outside the envelope of the building. "

A summer heat wave in 2050 could last for weeks, he says, and shade trees outside of a house, go a long way in providing some comfort for those inside.

"If you find yourself boiling the moment you walk in the door, perhaps add shade trees or some shrubs along the side of the house," he said. The time to plan for coming changes is now, he says. “It's worth further investigation.”

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

 

 

 

Repost: What to Do in the Garden in July

Summer is in full swing! The lush beauty and color of peonies, and the intoxicating smell of lilacs are starting to feel like a distant memory. Asparagus season in ("Hadley Grass") is behind us, and we are deep into summer squash, onions, lettuce, garlic scapes, watermelon and berries! When I look around my garden, I notice the second round of colorful summer flowers making their presence known: coneflower, coreopsis, daisies, hydrangea, black eyed susan, day lillies, etc. Since our summer is so short compared to the colder months, here in the Northampton area, I thought this piece from Gardenista.com about gardening in July might come in handy.

What to Do in the Garden in July

by Michelle Slatalla

In the garden, July is a month with a split personality: We look back wistfully (at the successes of spring) and forward with trepidation (can this garden be saved, to withstand the August heat that’s ahead).

Here are a few quick garden fixes that will pay off next month (and in September).

Clean Up the Strawberry Patch

Choose the best weapon to renovate the strawberry patch: See Garden Tools: Which Trowel or Weeder is Best for You? Photograph by Mimi Giboin.
Above: Choose the best weapon to renovate the strawberry patch: See Garden Tools: Which Trowel or Weeder is Best for You? Photograph by Mimi Giboin.

After you’ve picked the last strawberry from your plants, it’s time to cut back brown or drooping leaves. Weed between plants and mulch with an inch or two of compost. Now it the time to thin or transplant strawberries; carefully dig up runners as well as roots to move a clump to a new spot.

For more growing tips, see Strawberries: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.

Deadhead

Interplanted with fuzzy-headed grass�Pennisetum villosum,�pink cosmos Dazzler will keep blooming all summer if you cut back spent flowers. See more at In the Garden with Philippa: Brit Style with a Black Backdrop. Photograph by Jim Powell.
Above: Interplanted with fuzzy-headed grass Pennisetum villosum, pink cosmos ‘Dazzler’ will keep blooming all summer if you cut back spent flowers. See more at In the Garden with Philippa: Brit Style with a Black Backdrop. Photograph by Jim Powell.

Hone your deadheading technique: See Landscaping 101: How to Deadhead Flowers.

TLC for Tomatoes

Its not too late to corral tomatoes into cages, for their own good. Which is the best support for your tomato varieties? See 10 Easy Pieces: Tomato Cages.
Above: It’s not too late to corral tomatoes into cages, for their own good. Which is the best support for your tomato varieties? See 10 Easy Pieces: Tomato Cages.

I never met a tomato plant that didn’t perform better with a little coddling. Pinch back suckers to help them focus their fruiting efforts. Make sure tomatoes get enough water (from a drip irrigation system or a hose, every day).  See more tips at Tomatoes: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design.

Cut Back Spent Flowers

See more tips at Foxgloves: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design. Photograph by Britt Willoughby Dyer.
Above: See more tips at Foxgloves: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design. Photograph by Britt Willoughby Dyer.

Many flowering spikes—from penstemons to foxgloves to gladiolas—have finished flowering by now. Or have they? When you cut back spent blossoms, check to see if any lateral spikes are growing from the spikes. If so, leave them in place to encourage more blooms.

Add Annuals

See more at Cleome: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design. Photograph by Marie Viljoen.
Above: See more at Cleome: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design. Photograph by Marie Viljoen.

Many of our favorite flowers are annuals that cheerfully take on the job of adding color to the garden just as summer perennials start to flag in August’s heat. With bright blooms and attention-grabbing flowers, these fast growers can make you love your garden in late summer. (And many annuals will live on by resowing themselves, with seeds carried on a breeze to pop up in a new spot next year.

For more ideas, see Everything You Need to Know About Cottage Gardens and browse our curated design guides Annuals 101 for tips to grow SunflowersNasturtiums, and Zinnias.

Help Your Hydrangeas

See more of this garden in�Rhode Island Roses: A Seaside Summer Garden in New England.�Photograph by Nathan Fried Lipski of�Nate Photography.
Above: See more of this garden in Rhode Island Roses: A Seaside Summer Garden in New England. Photograph by Nathan Fried Lipski of Nate Photography.

Do you wish your pink hydrangeas were blue, or vice versa? You can take control of their color destiny by amending the soil. For tips see Hydrangeas: How to Change Color from Pink to Blue.

Keep Weeding

Photograph by Sara Barrett.
Above: Photograph by Sara Barrett.

Don’t let the weeds win. If you need a new weapon to inspire you during the doldrums of summer, see a few of our favorites in 10 Easy Pieces: Weeding Forks.

Prune Fruit Trees

A water sprout is a shoot (or cluster of shoots) that appear, unbidden, on a tree trunk as shown on this cherry tree in Jindai Botanical Gardens in Tokyo. Photograph by Takashi .M via Flickr.
Above: A water sprout is a shoot (or cluster of shoots) that appear, unbidden, on a tree trunk as shown on this cherry tree in Jindai Botanical Gardens in Tokyo. Photograph by Takashi .M via Flickr.

Prune spring-flowering fruit trees in summer when spores of silver leaf disease are dormant.

For more tips, see Everything You Need to Know About Flowering Trees.

Fill Bird Baths

Photograph by Marie Viljoen.
Above: Photograph by Marie Viljoen.

Water evaporates faster in hotter temperatures. Replenish bird baths as needed. For more ideas about designing water features, see Everything You Need to Know About Fountains.

Cut Back Wisteria

Photograph by Mimi Giboin.
Above: Photograph by Mimi Giboin.

Wisteria, if unchecked, will behave like a thug, says our friend Tim Callis, a garden designer on Cape Cod. He recommends shearing several times a year. In summer, cut back long shoots and stems to no more than six leaves.

Water if Needed

Photograph by Matthew Williams for Gardenista.
Above: Photograph by Matthew Williams for Gardenista.

Gardens like an inch of rain a week. Is yours getting enough? Use a Rainwater Calculator to figure it out, and if your plants need more irrigate accordingly.

Automate your irrigation system with Hardware 101: Smart Irrigation Controllers. And if you need to upgrade or repair your irrigation, see Drip Irrigation: Emergency Repair Kit Essentials.

Don’t Mow Low

An English boxwood hedge edges a mown path in which daisies thrive. Photograph by Britt Willoughby Dyer.
Above: An English boxwood hedge edges a mown path in which daisies thrive. Photograph by Britt Willoughby Dyer.

In hot, dry months keep your lawn looking green by allowing blades of grass to grow longer; a crew cut will create brown spots. Use the right tool for the job; see 10 Easy Pieces: Reel Lawn Mowers and 10 Easy Pieces: Riding Lawn Mowers.

DIY Repair Your Deck This Summer!

Now that the sun in shining, the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming - the spring real estate market is upon us! I so enjoy seeing all the new "inventory" in the Northampton area with my buyer clients. Houses seem to double in size when you include the yard, and any outdoor living spaces, such as decks, patios, pools and the like. The flip side of this increased sense of space, is that outdoor areas actually require upkeep, and this can be time consuming and expensive. It's a good idea to take stock of all that needs doing, and decide which items/projects you are willing and able to pay for (yard clean up? gutter cleaning?), and which projects you prefer to do on your own (planting new perennials?, mulching your garden beds?).

In the past week, I've happened upon a number of houses with decks in need of TLC. My first impulse as a homeowner, would be to hire a professional to deal with a weathered deck. But, in reading this piece from todays' Daily Hampshire Gazette, it seems as if freshening up ones' deck is actually a manageable DIY project!

How to repair a splintering deck

By HomeAdvisor

Thursday, May 31, 201
 
Splintering decks are usually the result of neglect — occurring after a deck remains untreated and unsealed for a number of years. The lack of protection allows water to soak into the boards, eventually causing them to splinter and crack.

Fortunately, all is not lost. It may be hard to get that brand new look back completely, but following a few simple steps can help you bring your neglected decking back to life.

Your first order of business is the easiest. Mix up a solution of half bleach, half water and spray down your entire decking. If you see areas of deck mold (not unlikely if it's been a while since your deck's been treated), hit those especially hard and work at them with a scrub brush until the mold has been removed.

Finally, wait for the deck to dry before moving on to the next step.

The bleach does two things: It kills deck mold and mildew, and it bleaches the wood to a uniform color, preparing it for treatment. If you treat a deck that's at the point of splintering without applying bleach, you'll end up with dark, unattractive decking. Using bleach will bring out the natural wood look you're trying to recover.

Once the bleach solution has dried off the deck (it's a good idea to give it about 24 hours, just to be sure), you can move on to sanding. Since splintering decks mean lots of painful slivers for bare feet, it's important that you sand down your deck so that you're once again working with a smooth surface. Renting a large floor sander will certainly speed up the job, though the railings, banisters, steps and other hard-to-reach places will probably need to be done with a hand sander or sandpaper. Finally, rent a power washer and clean off the deck. It's going to be covered in a fine layer of dust from the sanding, and you'll need to get rid of that if you want your sealer to take properly.

Once the deck has dried out a second time, you're ready to treat the deck. Using a power sprayer drastically reduces the time it takes to treat a deck, though it can be done with paint rollers and brushes if you've got the patience. Just be sure to watch out for drips and runs, and to brush them up quickly. Waiting until after the deck is dry to try to get rid of them is almost impossible. Finally, remember to treat your deck on a regular basis (at least every few years). It's the only sure-fire way to prevent problems like splintering, cracking, rot and mold.

While it's possible to repair decking yourself, it's a time-consuming and laborious job — especially if you don't have the right tools. A decking contractor is experienced enough to repair decking of all sorts, and they will also have the supplies and know-how to get it done right in a fraction of the time. For this reason, many homeowners find hiring a decking pro to be worth the extra cost.

 

Visit HomeAdvisor.com.

Summertime Local Eats!

I love living in the Pioneer Valley through all four seasons - but spring and summer bring with them a bounty of local produce that are the icing on the cake! I love buying seasonal produce at local farm stands, the Northampton Farmer's Market (plus the Florence Farmer's market and Tuesday Market), the River Valley Coop, even State Street, Cooper's Corner and larger supermarkets carry some local produce this time of year. Of course there's also the option of taking a farm share at one of our local CSAs - there are many to choose from in the Northampton area.

I feel my inner chef start to rear her head once the Hadley Grass (asparagus) hits the local markets in the spring. And rarely does a summer dinner go by that doesn't include grilled local corn, asparagus, or squash, a Caprese salad, grilled fish or meat with bountiful salads, desserts made with berries or peaches, or a bowlful of chilled watermelon to fight the summer humidity! I thought this article from The Kitchn which hit my inbox today, did a great job of making suggestions about what to eat in the summer. I might advise against eating ones' weight in ice cream, but otherwise....

 

50 Things You Need to Eat by the End of Summer
 

Sheela Prakash
Aug 5, 2017

There are many iterations of the summer bucket list. Some include going to the beach, hiking, or watching the fireflies outside on the back porch. All crucial to the season, yes, but so is eating all the delicious things the warm weather brings. It seems there aren't enough hours in the long, sunny days to consume all the fresh produce, burgers, and ice cream cones the summer entails. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't try!

Here are the 50 foods we think absolutely must be eaten before the season comes to a close. This is our summer food bucket list.

 

 

(Image credit: Brie Passano)

All the Tomatoes

We forgo those mealy, tasteless tomatoes at the grocery store the entire year in anticipation of the sweet, juicy orbs that hit farmers market stalls mid-summer — and it's completely worth the wait. Once they arrive, it's a seasonal requirement to consume as many as you can, in every shape, size, and color, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The Icon: 1-Minute Tomato Sandwich

When tomatoes are this good, they don't need to be fussed with too much. The iconic summer sandwich celebrates their sweetness and requires no more than 60 seconds to assemble, which means you should have time to eat at least a few before the season is over.

Read more: 5 Things to Do with a Pound of Tomatoes

 
 

 

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Eat Your Weight in Ice Cream

An ice cream a day might not keep the doctor away, but it will make for one seriously delicious summer. For the sake of the season, up your consumption. That means ice cream in cones, cups, smashed between cookies, and made into cake. Oh, and other icy treats should be enjoyed too, so don't bypass the Popsicles.

Your Challenge: Make the Best Homemade Chocolate Ice Cream

Definitely hit your local ice cream shop and open the freezer case at the grocery store multiple times, but also try making your own quart this summer. Creamy, rich chocolate is a great place to start.

Related: 25 Creative People Share Their Favorite Pints of Ice Cream

 

 

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Eat Everything That's Hot Off the Grill

Our grills are perpetually fired up all summer long, and we wouldn't have it any other way. It keeps the heat out of the kitchen, and everything from meat to fish to vegetables tastes better after being cooked on one. Toss as many things as you can on the grill while the weather allows it.

 

The New Classic: Easy Lemongrass Grilled Chicken

Grilled chicken is a summer standby for most households, but this season bring a new recipe to the roster. This smoky, savory chicken is extra aromatic, thanks to the addition of lemongrass, and adds just the right amount of flair to your summer weeknight dinners.

Read more: How To Make Juicy, Flavorful Grilled Chicken Breast

 

 

 

 

(Image credit: Christine Han)

Eat Bucketfuls of the Juiciest, Sweetest Fruit

That is strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, cherries, peaches, plums, melons, and more. Eat all of it and eat as much of it as you can. Inhale them fresh, with the juices running down your arms, and then transform them into the desserts you crave.

The Crowd-Pleaser: How To Make a Fruit Cobbler by Heart

A juicy, sticky cobbler is a true celebration of the season. All it asks of you is that you pile as much fresh fruit as you can get your hands on and serve it warm with plenty of vanilla ice cream.

Related: 7 Tips That Will Help Your Summer Berries Last Even Longer

 

 

 

(Image credit: Guy Ambrosino)

Eat Plenty of Light and Easy No-Cook Meals

One of the greatest pleasures of summer is just how fuss-free it is. This applies to what you cook in the season too. Instead of meals that require slow-simmering or excessive roasting, summer meals are light and easy. Embrace this before the weather turns chilly and you do want to stay inside all day and cook a stew. Relish meals that don't require any cooking at all, like salads and chilled soups, and yet are just as satisfying as those that have you crank up the oven.

The Seasonal Standby: Farmers Market Salad

This colorful salad is a catch-all for whatever you may discover on your farmers market strolls this summer. That means it's one you can, and should, turn to over and over again throughout the season.

Read more: How I Turn a Trip to the Farmers Market into Dinner

4th of July Sales!

Since there are fewer open houses in the Northampton area, given that it's a holiday weekend, perhaps your plans include some home decor or home improvement projects? Check out this comprehensive list of in-store and online July 4th Sales from Apartment Therapy!

The 2017 Mega List of July 4th Sales

 
Tara Bellucci
Jun 30, 2017
 
 

Before the festivities and fireworks begin, retailers have already started celebrating America's 241st birthday in the best way they know how—with sales. July 4th is historically a good time to stock up on summer clothes and swimwear, snag a new grill or patio furniture, and check out outdoor sports equipment and gear. We're rounding up all the best sales for home, apparel and more that we've come across, so no matter what you're looking for, you can save this weekend.

 

Home

  • 2Modern—Save 15% on American designers
  • ABC Carpet & Home—Up to 60% off online, sample sale up to 70% off in store
  • AllModern—Extra 20% off with code USA
  • American Heirloom —Free shipping with code AMERICAN; take 50% off all hardwood cutting boards with code HEIRLOOM (codes cannot be combined)
  • Bambeco—60% off site wide with code FIREWORKS17
  • Benchmade Modern—20% off with code HAPPY4TH
  • Bunglo — 25% off with code JULY4
  • The Company Store — 15% off $100+ / 20% off $200+ / 25% off 300+ with code JULY4TH
  • Crane & Canopy—Free shipping on orders $150+ with code SPARKLERS
  • DENY Designs — 30% off with code HIPHOORAY30 through 7/4
  • Design Within Reach—Up to 70% off summer sale
  • Dormify — 20% off site wide sale with code FIRECRACKER through 7/4
  • Gray Malin—30% Off aerial beach prints with code BEACH30
  • High Fashion Home—Up to 20% off select art, valid 7/4 through 7/9
  • Home Depot—Up to 40% off appliances, $10 to $40 off select paint and more
  • Houzz—Up to 75% off
  • IKEA—20% off mattresses and more deals for IKEA Family members
  • illy—$20 off $100 with code JULY4
  • JCPenney—up to 40% off major appliances, 55% off mattresses & tons of other deals
  • Joss & Main—20% furniture, lighting, bedding, upholstery, pillows, rugs and more with code FIREWORKS
  • Laurel & Wolf—Up to 50% off the design package of your choice with code SUMMER50
  • Leesa—$100 off mattress purchase
  • Lowe's—Up to 40% off select appliances, plus rebate when buying 2 or more
  • Lulu & Georgia — 70% off warehouse sale through 7/5
  • Lumens—Up to 40% off plus free vintage string lights with purchase of $350+
  • Overstock—Up to 70% off
  • Of A Kind—30% off select limited editions with code FREE4ALL
  • RugsUSA —Additional 20% off + free shipping with code JULY20
  • Serena & Lily — 20% off everything with code HAPPY4TH
  • Solid & Striped—25% off select styles and free overnight shipping with code USA25
  • Sweetgum Textiles—20% off any order with code JULY4TH. Valid 7/1 to 7/4
  • Target—Up to 30% off on home, furniture, & patio, and extra 15% off with code AMERICA
  • Wayfair—Up to 70% off on patio, living room, rugs, and more
  • West Elm—20% off in stock furniture in stores and online, additional 20% off markdowns with code SUMMER20

Gifts

  • Ban.do—Free shipping on all orders + free sunglasses with purchase of $50+
  • MoMA Store—Extra 20% off with code SUMMERSALE
  • Rifle Paper Co.—20% off everything + four free postcards with every purchase
 

Kids

  • OLLI+LIME — 20% off sitewide with code SUMMER20 through 7/5
  • Oeuf — 40% off spring/summer styles + free shipping (including furniture) through 7/5

Apparel

Don't Cut Back those Spring (Bulb) Flowers!

It's that time of year when the spring bulbs have stopped flowering, and our annuals are coming to life. This week full of rain has gone a long way towards helping our gardens to grow! Mickey Rathbun of the Daily Hampshire Gazette weighs in again, in the following article, about how to care for your spring bulbs to ensure that they continue to bloom. She offers advice about prettying up garden beds where deflowered bulbs are still hanging out, and lets us know about some upcoming gardening and nature events in the Northampton area! The moral of the story is, don't cut those bulb flowers back just yet!

 

Taking Care of Spring Bulbs

 

by Mickey Rathbun, Daily Hampshire Gazette

Most spring bulbs have flowered by now and are looking a bit forlorn, surrounded by burgeoning spring perennials that are growing almost visibly by the day. The green stalks and leaves of tulips, narcissus and other bulbs may look idle, but they are working hard to store up energy to produce next spring’s crop of blooms.

To ensure abundant flower production next year, resist the urge to cut back the foliage, even though it’s unsightly. The remaining leaves serve a vital function to the plant by restoring energy to the bulb by producing carbohydrates through photosynthesis. Without this, the bulb will not have the necessary nourishment to produce flowers the following year.

Leave the foliage until it turns yellow and dies back, a process that can take six weeks or longer. If the dying foliage is making an eyesore in a visible part of the garden, you can hide it by strategic planting perennials. I finally figured out that if I plant spring bulbs near the back of the border, they are naturally camouflaged by early blooming perennials such as bleeding hearts and euphorbia. This year, a bumper crop of forget-me-nots came up among my bleeding hearts, creating a lake of pale blue. While not tall enough to mask the scraggly bulb foliage, they distract the eye.

Annuals are another solution. Larkspur and Bells of Ireland have good height to block out the dying foliage. Delphinium (some treat it as an annual; at best, it’s a short-lived perennial) and foxglove (a biennial) can also provide a screen. Bulbs of daffodils, tulips and hyacinths are deep enough below the surface that you can put in annuals without disturbing them

 

To maximize the bulbs’ ability to send out next year’s blooms, it’s a good idea to snip flowers as soon as they have wilted. This prevents the bulbs from wasting energy on producing seed. Leave as much stalk as possible to promote photosynthesis.

When the foliage is finally caput, cut them close to the ground. Don’t pull them out or you will risk damaging the bulb. After all you’ve done to nurture the bulb, you don’t want that to happen!

Bulbs will multiply underground on their own. After a few years, if you notice they are producing fewer flowers, it’s likely because they’ve become overcrowded. If this happens, you can dig them up and separate them.

The best time to do this is after the foliage has died but before you have removed it. At this point, the bulbs are fully nourished. Dig them up carefully, separate the bulblets and replant them. The largest ones will mature the fastest. If the main bulb is still firm and in good condition, you can replant it. If it’s shriveled or damaged, discard it.

You might want to wait to replant them in the fall. If you go this route, clean off the excess dirt and let the bulbs dry out for a few days. Toss any that are soft or damaged. Store in a cool, dry place packed loosely in dry peat moss.

You may need to wait a year or two for the bulbs to produce flowers. If you don’t want to wait, you can plant the bulblets in a holding area until they are big enough to bloom. This requires twice as much digging and lifting as immediate replanting. Let your back (and knees) be your guide.

Just think of the delight spring bulbs bring us after a long New England winter. Take good care of yours now and you will be richly rewarded.

Paradise City Arts Festival THIS COMING WEEKEND!

Although this wonderful annual festival offers much more than garden adornments, it’s a great place to find that special object that can transform your garden into something unique and personal. 

Unusual birdbaths, planters, outdoor sculpture, furniture and more. The festival takes place at the Three-County Fairgrounds in Northampton, Memorial Day weekend, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and open until 4 p.m. Monday. Tickets are $14 for adults, $12 for seniors, $8 for students, 12 and under free.

Forest ecology exploration

For nature lovers and hikers wanting to learn more about forest ecology, the Hitchcock Center is hosting an exploration with plant ecologist Glenn Motzkin of a rich, mesic forest — one where the soils are not highly acid, are rich in certain minerals, and where the soil is moist but not wet. The site will have good variety of trees, wildflowers and ferns.

Motzkin will help bring the ecology of this habitat alive for participants and will share recent understandings about the importance of these habitats. The walk will take place June 3, 9 a.m. until noon, at a meeting location to be provided upon registration. Be prepared for insects and perhaps ticks! Cost is $20 for members; $30 for non-members. For more information and to register, go to hitchcockcenter.org.

Northampton Garden Tour

Come spend a few hours enjoying the six special gardens featured this year in and around Northampton on the 24th Northampton Garden Tour June 10 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., rain or shine.

The self-guided tour raises funds for the Friends of Forbes Library, Inc. to help finance needed programs and materials for the library. It also aims to inspire and educate garden-lovers with visits to a variety of appealing landscape styles and collections of plantings.

This year’s six gardens are located along a scenic 15-mile route, making gardens accessible by car and offering a pleasant bicycle ride with varied terrain.

Driving directions are included with the tickets. At each garden, there are descriptions of the plantings and volunteer garden guides on hand to answer questions. 

Tour tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance at Forbes Library, Bay State Perennial Farm, Cooper’s Corner, Hadley Garden Center, North Country Landscapes and Garden Center, and State Street Fruit Store. On the day of the tour, tickets are $20 and available only at the library.

There also will be a raffle. of gift baskets on view at Forbes Library through June 8.

For more details visit www.forbeslibrary.org or call Lyn Heady, 584-7041.

Mickey Rathbun can be reached at foxglover8@gmail.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.


Screened-in Porches in the Pioneer Valley

Maple and Main Realty was mentioned in an article in the Boston Globe yesterday, August 11th. The article, written by local writer/author Debra Jo Immergut, is about screened-in porch design and function. It focuses on screen porch projects in the Northampton and Pioneer Valley areas, and features local architect, Tim Stokes of Stokes Design/Build.

We are in the process of planning to add a screen porch to our home here in the valley, so this article is timely indeed. How lovely to enjoy the few warm spring/summer months of Western MA, without being pestered by bugs! 

Screened-in rooms are cool again

ADI NAG

Gayle Kabaker and Peter Kitchell’s dog, Charlie, relaxes in “The Pondhouse,” a screened-in slumber spot on their Western Massachusetts property.

By Debra Jo Immergut GLOBE CORRESPONDENT  AUGUST 11, 2016
 
Illustrator Gayle Kabaker and artist Peter Kitchell are well-versed in the pleasures of a summer’s snooze on a sleeping porch. They have not one but two screened-in slumber spots on their rolling property in the Western Massachusetts town of Ashfield.

One inviting berth occupies part of a screened dining/sitting area adjacent to their sunny kitchen. A few years ago, Kabaker swapped out the sofa for a twin bed. “It’s a great place to nap,” Kabaker said of the space, which she uses for nearly half the year. “I set it up as soon as I can each spring.But the true star of the property is just out of view, a hundred or so yards down a meandering path. There, a graceful freestanding screened pavilion, built by Kitchell from local hemlock and inspired by Japanese teahouse architecture, overlooks the property’s small pond. Visiting friends and family sometimes overnight in “The Pondhouse,” and Kabaker uses it often as a place to read, nap, and practice yoga. But that’s only when it’s not occupied by the paying guests who book it through the AirBnb website. Kabaker first posted her listing in summer 2012. The Pondhouse is now booked most weekends, and many weekdays, from May through October. Despite the fact that it has no electricity or running water (and the bathroom is up the hill in Kitchell’s studio), “we recently had a mother and her two daughters fly up in a private plane from Georgia just to stay here for 36 hours,” Kabaker said.

In this overstimulated age, the idea of a quiet screened porch certainly has allure — and, after decades in which screened-in spaces were often torn down or enclosed for year-round use, many homeowners are taking another look. Judging on the number of images of the airy structures shared or saved on sites like Pinterest and Houzz, the screened-in room is enjoying a popularity not seen since the early 20th century, when sleeping porches were de rigueur for new homes. Back then, such indoor/outdoor rooms were not simply pleasant spots to catch a summer breeze. Rather, the trend was fueled by the common belief that sleeping in the fresh air was an essential way to ward off tuberculosis.

In 2016, that trend may be coming full circle. This summer has seen a healthy uptick in window-screening sales, said Gregg Terry, marketing director at the Alabama firm Phifer Inc., which supplies the mesh materials to building-supply distributors, home center and hardware retailers, and window manufacturers. Much of that demand has been driven by a healthy housing market, Terry said.

But there’s also a disease that is inspiring builders and renovators to consider screened porches. The Zika virus — and the recognition that controlling insects is a growing health concern — “has been a motivating factor,” said Terry, whose business has an international presence.

Whether motivated by health worries or visions of long, lazy afternoons with a good book and a cold drink, “people do love screened porches,” said real estate agent Julie Held, co-owner and manager of Maple & Main Realty in Northampton. Of course, she added, “It sort of depends on when people are looking at houses; it’s seasonal. It’s really appealing if they’re looking at it in the summer, but in the winter they have a hard time believing it’s ever going to be warm again.” Still, she said, they’re a covetable asset, especially when placed in the right spot for maximum beauty and functionality.

As a renovation project, a screened structure offers a relatively inexpensive way to add usable space to a home. The screened porch is “a really elemental form of shelter,” said architectural designer Timothy Stokes of Stokes Design/Build in Westhampton. “The porch has very simple things it needs to do — just keep the rain off of you and keep the mosquitoes from eating you alive.”

Stokes recently added a screened porch, constructed from cedar and ipe wood, as part of an addition to a client’s home in South Deerfield. By opening up the south side of the home with large expanses of screening, the porch increases air circulation and “acts as a huge lung for the rest of the house.” The clients often end up sleeping in the breezy space, which was designed to maximize views of Mount Sugarloaf, Stokes said. “If they can sleep through that time from 4:30 to 6 a.m. when the birds are really going off, then it’s great,” he joked.

EDRICK VANBEUZEKOM/EVB DESIGN

Architect Edrick VanBeuzekom designed this pavilion with an eye toward natural materials.

Tucked into the trees at the top of a slight slope behind a house in suburban Framingham, a freestanding pavilion completed in 2007 by Somerville architect Edrick vanBeuzekom of EvB Design was inspired by Japanese teahouses and traditional New England building techniques. Working with the Claremont, N.H., firmTimberpeg, which specializes in heavy-timber structures, the architect designed it with an eye toward natural materials: its Douglas fir frame is assembled with traditional joinery methods and topped off with a copper roof.

The pavilion’s owners use the multitasking structure for lounging with the Sunday crossword, sleeping on summer nights, and hosting acoustic jam sessions. The pavilion is screened through the summer, but it’s also outfitted with custom-made interchangeable glass and screen panels that extend its usability through much of the year. “If you have all the glass panels in, and you get the lower winter sun in there, it actually warms up pretty well,” vanBeuzekom said. When not in use, panels can be stored in a crawl space reached via a hatch in the floor.

Adding such a feature to one’s property can be fairly inexpensive, the architect said. “I’d do a very simple roof shape and put it on piers, and it would be fairly easy with some basic carpentry skills,” he said. “And, as in any architectural project, the beauty comes with the details.”

Inspired? Here are a few pointers:

Site it right. A porch’s orientation to prevailing light is critical, Stokes said. “Be very aware of the predominant sun angles on your property, so you don’t end up with a very open wall on the south if your intent is to have a shaded, cool area.”

Choose the right screens. Screening is made from a range of materials, including woven wire, polyester, and Fiberglas, so do your homework before you buy. Stokes chose a high-density Fiberglas pet-proof screen for the South Deerfield project: “It’s designed to prevent small bugs like no-see-ums and gnats, and at the same time it’s incredibly strong and can be very tightly stretched with no billowing.”

Cover the floor, too. When Stokes designs a porch feature, he always specifies for screening to be installed under the floor. “People forget to do that, and then they’ve got a big problem because these bugs come right up between the boards.”

Make it usable on rainy days. Kitchell designed The Pondhouse sleeping porch with extremely deep eaves, which means the space stays dry and cozy in wet weather. “When summer storms come through, it’s incredible for sleeping,” Kabaker said.

Avoid run-off problems. “You don’t want to create any drainage issues on the landscape,” vanBeuzekom said. For the Framingham pavilion, he hung copper rain chains to slow the flow of water onto the ground (and to add an ornamental element).

Furnish it with style. Part of the success of The Pondhouse is due to its simple but luxe accoutrements. Kabaker favors bedding from Pittsfield company Pine Cone Hill for the comfy bed that forms the space’s centerpiece. “In your budget, allow for outdoor furniture that can stand up to the elements — for example, an outdoor sofa with cushions that can be removed and washed,” Stokes advised.

 

THE PONDHOUSE & THE SLEEPING PORCH

 

PETER KITCHELL

Charlie the dog waits outside The Pondhouse in Ashfield.

RICK MILLER

It’s a great place to nap,” Gayle Kabaker said of the space, which she uses for nearly half the year.

ADI NAG

The sleeping porch off Gayle Kabaker and Peter Kitchell's home in Ashfield.

 

THE FRAMINGHAM PAVILION

 

EDRICK VANBEUZEKOM/EVBDESIGN

This pavilion is tucked into the trees at the top of a slight slope behind the house.

EDRICK VANBEUZEKOM/EVBDESIGN

Somerville architect Edrick vanBeuzekom of EvB Design completed it in 2007.

EDRICK VANBEUZEKOM/EVB DESIGN

VanBeuzekom hung copper rain chains to slow the flow of water onto the ground (and to add an ornamental element).

EDRICK VANBEUZEKOM/EVBDESIGN

The design was inspired by Japanese teahouses and traditional New England building techniques.

 

THE SOUTH DEERFIELD ADDITION

 

ANN LEWIS

Timothy Stokes of Stokes Design/Build in Westhampton created this addition for a home in South Deerfield.

ANN LEWIS

By opening up the south side of the home with large expanses of screening, the porch increases air circulation and “acts as a huge lung for the rest of the house,”Stokes said.

ANN LEWIS

The clients often end up sleeping in the breezy space, which was designed to maximize views of Mount Sugarloaf.

 

 

 

The Goat Girls will Clear Your Yard!

As a frequent visitor to the "Dog Park" here in Northampton (the land which is leased by Smith Voc where many local dog owners currently take their dogs for off leash walks), I was tickled by the presence of The Goat Girls of Amherst, MA at the park, earlier this summer. The goats were contained within a well marked electric fence, and within a short time frame, they had munched away a large area of unwanted shrubs, vines and weeds. It was fun to see the adorable animals on our walks (though I confess, my dog did receive a shock while trying to get a sniff of the industrious animals), and I was amazed to see that they worked so quickly and did such a great job! I was equally tickled to see the following article today in the Daily Hampshire Gazette about the same Goat Girls. Round up not needed! These goats do a great job of clearing yards, leaving behind a great looking finished product! If you have land which needs to be cleared, look them up! 

 

No thicket too thick: With guts of steel, the Goat Girls of Amherst are here to clear

Joe Wille carries Lily to the trailer to be transported to a landscape job. Gazette Staff/Andrew Whitaker

 

Autumn the goat is working hard to devour a tangle of weeds that have overgrown on the border of a backyard in Amherst.

Her ears flop back as she munches on some poison ivy, leaves dangling from her mouth. After four days of non-stop nibbling, with the help of five other goats, she is just about done clearing the yard of invasive plants like bittersweet and Virginia creeper.

“The goats are diligent, hardworking —They don’t know that they are working, but they are,” said Peter Vickery, the property owner on Cherry Lane.

After years of wondering what to do about the undergrowth that had overtaken the yard, his wife, Meg Vickery, decided to choose an environmentally friendly alternative to herbicide and a quieter choice than a weed whacker. They hired Goat Girls, a company harnessing the eating power of goats in what is essentially a land-clearing and lawn-mowing service based in Amherst.

For a minimum of $500, the company will deliver a herd of goats to properties in any of several Hampshire and Franklin County towns to devour just about any foliage.

Before the goats are sent out, the land is inspected for plants that might be poisonous to the animals, but for the most part, these creatures have guts made of steel, able to munch through almost anything, said Hope Crolius, owner of the company.

“We say we are just going to let the kids play in the backyard with the poison ivy,” Vickery said.

Getting down to business

Before the goats go to work, Crolius’s one full-time employee, goat herder Joe Wille, sets up a temporary electric fence to keep the goats in and the coyotes and bears out.

Homeowners are asked to check on the goats twice a day to look for signs of illness and make sure the animals look bright, alert and responsive. Sometimes they need fresh water, but the thick weeds provide them with all the food they need.

The company’s more than two-dozen goats have exceptionally diverse diets, they specialize in invasive plants, typically munching through more than 25 jobs per year ranging from golf courses to community gardens. This year the goats also devoured more than 250 Christmas trees dropped off by local residents at the Goat Girls headquarters, a rented plot of land at Many Hands Farm on Pelham Road in Amherst, where the goats spend most of their time when they aren’t working.

“They’re economical, they’re earth-friendly, plus they are the neighborhood entertainment,” said another homeowner Sue Ellen Bisgaard. She hired the Goat Girls a few weeks ago to clear the wooded land at her house in Pelham, where about eight goats gnawed through two acres of brush in only two weeks.

Before the goats showed up, the weeds were so overgrown that Bisgaard couldn’t fathom walking through the property. She didn’t know what the plants were, she just knew she wanted them gone. “It really is just fighting the woods from taking over my land — I have eight acres,” she said.

Not only are the goats pleasant company, in this case their services came at a decent price, she said.

Bisgaard’s landscaper gave her a quote of about $1,000 to clear the property, while the goats provided the same service for half the price.

Depending on the size of the job, the number of goats needed varies. Six animals were used to clear the roughly 300 feet of land in the Vickery backyard.

Seven goats can clear a quarter acre in about a week, said Crolius. So far there have been no complaints about the productivity of the animals, she said.

A daydream come to life

Before starting the business in 2011, Crolius had worked in a high-pressure job as a journalist, often fantacizing about being a shepherd in biblical times.

“You’re working with nature to manage land. The goats are part of nature,” said Crolius.

Many of her clients live in neighborhoods that are not zoned for livestock and love having the chance to spend time with the animals, she said.

“We have an ancestral memory of the role of livestock in our everyday lives — these animals are remarkable. I don’t think we have had a client yet who isn’t delighted by the antics of these goats.”

Crolius, who started with three goats, has every kind of goat from Nigerian Dwarfs, a miniature dairy goat with West African ancestry, to Saanens, a Swiss dairy goat. She isn’t selective about breed because all goats tend to eat at the same rate.

Within a few weeks of acquiring her first herd, Crolious said, the phone started ringing with requests for jobs and the company has kept growing since.

“They have been so efficient,” said Meg Vickery. “I often thought that sheep and goats should be doing this work.”

While abroad in England, she said, she started to think about the concept of goat lawn maintenance, where the animals can be seen grazing beside highways.

“I was impressed by the intersection of agriculture and daily life.”

When she returned to the United States she noticed the invasive plants overtaking her yard, did some research and found Goat Girls.

She’s happy not to have to dump weed killer on her property.

“For me, it’s a more gentle way of achieving the same end and it has less environmental impact,” Vickery said. “We avoid, as much as possible, using herbicides.”

A yard emerges

While the Vickerys were worried that the goats would make noise at night, they have barely made a peep. They are mild mannered and they keep to themselves, said Peter Vickery.

Since the goats got to work, the couple rediscovered property lines and found a few soccer balls and an animal skull. A few trees were also saved from strangulation by invasive vines.

They are looking forward to planting flowers on some of the re-claimed land. “I am surprised because it is so much more open. We can see what trees we want to preserve and which mangy ones we want to get rid of,” said Peter Vickery. As he talks, a short distance away the Swiss dairy goat Muffin is sunbathing in the brush, chewing on a few twigs, the remains of the fourth and final day on the job for her and the rest of the crew.

For more information about Goat Girls, visit http://www.thegoatgirls.com or call 461-6832.

 Lisa Spear can be reached at lspear@gazettenet.com.

 

Northampton-area Summer Events to Check out!

If you've never been to the Northampton Sidewalk Sales - run, don't walk! They started today, July 28th, and run through Sunday, July 31st at 5 pm. Many store owners in Northampton are selling their wares at a major price reduction. There are also food vendors selling good things to eat. So, put on your hat, your sunblock and don't forget to hydrate. It's hot and humid out there!

In addition, the Daily Hampshire Gazette published the following article highlighting some fun events for the whole family still to come this summer! Read on here for that story.

 

FAMILY TO-DO LIST: Calendar-Worthy Events

Struttin’ their stuff

One of the earliest horse breeds developed in the United States, the Morgan horse, originated with a colt named Figure, who was born in 1789 and acquired by Justin Morgan, a musician and horseman who lived in Springfield before moving to Vermont.

Morgans have served many roles in American history, being used as coach horses, for harness racing, as calvary horses and as general riding animals.

Underway this week and continuing through Saturday, the annual New England Morgan Horse Show at the Three County Fairgrounds in Northampton is the second largest Morgan horse show in the country. The show includes competitions in park saddle and park harness, English pleasure, Western pleasure, pleasure driving, hunter pleasure, dressage, carriage driving and more. Events begin at 10 a.m. each day and admission is free. nemha.com for details.

Choose a scoop

A benefit Saturday for Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (supports local farms) and MassBike Pioneer Valley (supports better biking), the River Valley Ice Cream Ride features three routes to suit every cycling appetite: the Kiddie Scoop Loop, five miles along the Canal Side Rail Trail in beautiful Turners Falls (ideal for young families); the Single Scoop Loop, 25 miles through the towns of Montague, Sunderland and Deerfield; and the Double Scoop Loop, a 50-mile ride through additional gorgeous scenery in Gill and Northfield. 

All rides begin at Unity Park in Turners Falls, where a truck from Bart’s Homemade will be scooping ice cream and chef Tom Easton from Historic Catering will be preparing lunch.

Big rigs

Fire trucks, police cars, utility trucks, ambulances — they’ll all be on view at the annual Big Rig Day Aug. 4, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at South Hadley’s Buttery Brook Park. All are welcome to climb into the cabs, ride the aerial ladder and meet the people who operate these huge vehicles. The free, kid-friendly event is co-sponsored by Friends of Buttery Brook Park and the South Hadley Electric Department. butterybrookpark.org.

Back in time

Not so long ago, most New England towns had a poor farm, a county- or town-run residence where paupers — mainly elderly and disabled people — were supported at public expense. On Aug. 6, Leslie Bracebridge, chair of the Shutesbury Historical Commission, will lead an informative tour of the cellar-hole remains of Shutesbury’s poor farm. Sponsored by the Pelham Historical Society, the hike will begin at 1 p.m. at the Pelham Town Complex, corner of Route 202 and Amherst Road, and will be about 45 minutes each way. Bracebridge will supply an oral history and photographs on site.

American fest

Also on Aug. 6: The Third Annual Pocumtuck Homelands Festival returns to the waterfront at Unity Park on 1st Street in Turners Falls.

Running 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., the annual free celebration of Native American culture features Native American artists, musicians, vendors and educators.

This year look for Penobscot hoop dancers, spiritual teachings by Native American elders, primitive skills demonstrations, Native American history presentations and children's crafts ($2 fee) and storytelling. More information is available at nolumbekaproject.blogspot.com.

— DAN DENICOLA

Daily Hampshire Gazette, July 26, 2016