Vermont Road Trip Part 1: Ice cream, shoes, cheese, and a most memorable picnic in the rain

1 07 2012

The Lower Otter Creek Wildlife Management Area in Ferrisburgh, VT, near the entrance to Kingsland Bay State Park, encompasses 738 acres of wetland and floodplain forest habitat. Otter Creek reaches out to Lake Champlain and hosts a wide variety of wildlife: birds include state-endangered ospreys, bald eagles, ring-billed and great black-backed gulls, double-crested cormorants, great blue herons, mallards, hooded mergansers, and many types of ducks; mammals include mink, fox, white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits and gray squirrels; reptiles include many species of salamanders, bullfrogs, spring peppers, tree frogs, turtles and snakes; fish include large and smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, chain pickerel and yellow perch.

After photographing the Hearing Loss Association of America’s Convention 2012 in Providence, R.I. (June 21-24), my sister Debbie and I hightailed it up to Vermont for a short road trip. We left Providence about noon on Sunday and officially kicked off the Vermont tour that evening with a visit to Ben & Jerry’s headquarters in Waterbury. I tried the Late Night Snack, which was inspired by Jimmy Fallon (vanilla ice cream, fudge covered potato chip clusters and a salty caramel swirl). I just read a few online reviews and although the reviewers rave about the flavor, I wouldn’t try it again. I should have stuck with my favorite standby: chocolate chip cookie dough. You can’t go wrong with that flavor, no matter which company makes it!

We stayed in Shelburne that night. On Monday morning we impulse shopped at the Vermont-based Danform Shoes (great bargain basement where I bought a pair of my craziest shoes to date—heretofore known as my Saturday-Day-Night-Fever-Don-Johnson-Miami-Vice-white-Mafia-don-Wendys-advertising-newsprint-tabletop mules; stay tuned for a shot of these wild things!), drove around part of Lake Champlain, visited Shelburne Farms (a beautiful 1400-acre working farm) where we bought picnic supplies (cheese, crackers and various spreads), stopped at the Vermont Wildflower Farm in Charlotte, then stopped at Dakin Farm in Ferrisburgh for more cheese, crackers and Vermont maple syrup. It rained off and on all day, so I wasn’t able to hunker down and get some macro shots at the wildflower farm, unfortunately. That was something I was really looking forward to. I did get some great deals on wildflowers seeds and perennial bulbs, though, so it was worth the trip. Plus, who cares about rain when you have cheese?

We then drove to Kingsland Bay State Park and had a wonderful late afternoon lunch picnic on the porch of the historic Hawley House, c. 1790. This property dates back to the first settlers in Ferrisburgh and was home to Ecole Champlain, an exclusive girls camp, until the late 1960s. I’ll have photos and history to share on a future post about this lovely stone house with a wraparound porch on all four sides. We started our picnic at a picnic table by the bay, but the intermittent rainfall drove us to the wraparound porch. It was the most memorable picnic ever! Debbie and I concocted our own strange Chopped dishes with the various cheeses, crackers, chocolates and sweets we picked up along the way (photos and descriptions to come!). Aside from the two employees at the park entrance, a few seagulls and one very attentive chipmunk, we had the entire park to ourselves that afternoon.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

I shot this image with my iPhone using the app “645 Pro” in 6×17 panoramic format. It is one amazing app! It gives you lossless developed RAW tiff files and high quality jpgs, low-light performance, and live preview and real-time LCD readout. It offers seven professional color and b&w “film” options inspired by classic print and transparency film, and five switchable “backs”—645, 6×6, 6×7, 6×9, 6×17. Amazing! (I own a FUJI 6×17 panoramic film camera, so I’m very familiar with this format. It’s so fun to use this app to mimic the panoramic film format—it’s much lighter and easier than the real deal!)

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/40177690″>645 PRO for iPhone</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/jaggr”>Jag.gr</a&gt; on <a href=”http://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>




Ten for 10

21 05 2009

About a half hour before the Green Spring Gardens plant sale was to close this past Saturday, the Virginia Master Gardeners booth started hawking all of their plants as “ten for $10.” Yep…some of the same plants I had purchased about two hours earlier for $5+, much to my chagrin. Reasonable prices before, yes, but at $1 each—what gardener in their right mind would possibly pass on that offer? Never mind if we’ve run out of space in our gardens—they’re a dollar! Just a dollar! We’ve discovered that some of the vendors do that each year so they don’t have to drag all the unsold items back to wherever they originated…and I am only too happy to help them lighten their load.

My 10-for-10 purchases included:

PrimroseOenothera Lemon Drop, common name ‘Evening Primrose’—a low-maintenance, herbaceous perennial that blooms in full sun from June-September. This perennial is tough, tolerates poor soil, and loves the sun. Bright yellow blooms all summer. Deadheading is not necessary, it’s drought and heat tolerant and grows 8-12″ tall. It can also be grown in containers, where it will trail over the sides. And of course I already have some of these in my front yard garden, courtesy of our friend Micheline, who shared them with us when she downsized houses a few years ago. There was a large bank of these cheery flower blooming profusely in her backyard garden. Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

AnemoneOne sorta sad-looking (had to rescue it, though) Japanese Aneomone or Windflower (Anemone hupehensis)–-the tag indicates the flowers will be pinkish/mauve, so this might be the variety ‘September Charm.’ This perennial plant bears poppy-like flowers in September and October. The plants reach a height of four to five feet with each flower having five or more petal-like sepals that enclose the golden stamens. The leaves turn wine-red in autumn. Wish this plant luck—it will need it! Photo © Cindy Dyer.


WhiteWoodAsterTwo White Wood Asters (Aster divaricatus)—also known as ‘Eastern Star’—perennial herbaceous native to the eastern U.S. Grows 1-3 feet high with 3/4 to 1-inch white ray flowers that bloom profusely from August to September. The center of each flat-top flower starts yellow then ages to a reddish purple hue. The leaves are heart-shaped, stalked and sharply-toothed. White Wood Asters grow in part shade to full shade, are low-growing and low maintenance, and attract butterflies. They thrive in dry shade but become lush in moist soil. Cut hard at least once in spring to set the foliage back. Photo courtesy of Missouri Botanical Garden PlantFinder.

Viola striata (other common names: Striped cream violet, Common white violet, Pale violet, Striped violet)—native perennial herb blooms white and purple flowers April through June. Requires part shade and moist, loamy soil. This plant spreads through its rhizomes. Flowers attract bee flies, butterflies (particularly caterpillars of Fritillary butterflies and several species of moths) and skippers. Seeds are eaten by mourning doves, wild turkeys, mice, and rabbits.

MaxSunflowerI should be punished for purchasing another Maximilian sunflower (Helianthus maximiliani). I bought the same plant four years ago because I thought it would be perfect at the bottom of the steps of our front porch. The plant label purported, “cheery little yellow flowers on 4 ft. stems.” Four feet tall—nice size for the front entrance, right? By the end of the summer, visitors were asking us if we were growing corn in the front yard. We measured it and the tallest stalk was about 12 feet high! I just did some research and the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center site claims they grow 3-10 ft. high. What kind of wild range is that? (Imagine this scenario: Officer: Ma’am, how tall was the man who stole your wheelbarrow? Me: Ummm…he was three feet tall….then again, he might have been ten feet tall. I can’t be certain!) The plant grows Jack-in-the-Beanstalk high and then very late in the summer it sprays forth masses of miniature (2-3 inches across) yellow sunflowers that are at their most beautiful when they sway against a cornflower blue sky. And if I really want to get some good closeup shots of the blooms, I have to drag out the tall ladder to do so! Did I need another of these plants? No. But it was only a buck! Anyone have room in their garden for it? Photo © Cindy Dyer.

EchinopsRitroGlobe Thistle (Echinops ritro)—Clump-forming herbaceous perennial with coarse, prickly leaves (and how!) with 1-2 ball-shaped silvery-lavender-blue or dark blue flowerheads blooming in early to late summer on rigid branching stems 24-48 inches tall. These beautiful ornamentals grow best in full sun to mostly sunny areas, attract bees and butterflies, are good for cut flowers (and dried bouquets as well), will tolerate the heat and are deer resistant. And yes, I already have one—it’s about three years old and is the size of a small shrub already. I expect a plethora of blooms this season. Photo © Cindy Dyer.

SnowonthemountainSnow-on-the-Mountain (Euphorbia marginata)—I photographed this beautiful annual plant at Green Spring Gardens last year and posted the images on my blog here. A member of the spurge family, it flowers in the summer. Reaching 18-24 inches high, it requires sun to partial shade, and will attracts a plethora of butterflies, moths, bees, wasps and other insects—a veritable photographic smorgasbord! Now I’ll have one of my very own…once I find a place to plant it, that is. Folks, it was just a dollar, remember? Photo © Cindy Dyer.


Whorled Milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)—This tough native is deer-resistant and provides food for larval butterflies. Clusters of sweet-scented white flowers appear on 1-2 foot stalks in June and July. Whorled milkweed can be found in prairies, pastures, open woods and by the roadside. Learn more about attracting Monarch butterflies to your garden (and purchase milkweed seeds, too) at www.happytonics.org.

Salvia

‘Ostfriesland’ Salvia (Salvia nemorosa)—also known as Violet Sage, Ornamental Meadow Sage, Perennial Woodland Sage—this sun-loving herbaceous perennial grows 12-18 inches high with fragrant violet-blue flowers blooming from summer to autumn. Attractive to bees, butterflies and birds, and deer resistant. I couldn’t find this version in my files or a suitable one to reprint, so I’m showing a similar salvia I photographed at Butchart Gardens. Photo © Cindy Dyer