Andres Art Trails

Tucked away in Brookline, NH is a very cool place which combines two of my very favorite things: walking in nature and art. This place is called Andres Art Institute and is a network of trails throughout the woods. Interspersed along the trail, seemingly around every corner, there are sculptures which make turning each corner especially exciting.fullsizeoutput_1cad

img_7310There are trails for various ability levels, though I thought even the trails marked easy or moderate were still somewhat steep in parts. Absolutely no problem if you walk in the woods or hike a lot, but if you don’t, just prepare to get a little bit sweaty and winded. But in a good way 🙂 I have wanted to visit the art trails for a very long time, and finally got there with some friends on a Sunday afternoon. We did two trails, and saw a lot of art, but I feel we hardly scratched the surface of the place and I am eager to go back again. I’m not going to post photos of every sculpture we saw- I want them to be a surprise for you if you go- cause that really is the fun of it: anticipating what the next sculpture around the corner will be.fullsizeoutput_1c85 fullsizeoutput_1c8cfullsizeoutput_1c8eSome of the sculptures are very apparent, others, like the one pictured above blend right in to the woods. This is a great place if you want to get some fresh air, exercise, and feel cultured at the same time! haha. It really is a cool idea and I’m glad there are places like this so close to home. Also, it’s free to get in! They do accept donations of course.

fullsizeoutput_1c73fullsizeoutput_1c72I love the little snail who made his home in my favorite sculpture! So if you want a fun and different outing this summer, give this place a try! Getting there: Andres Institute of Art 106 Route 13, Brookline NH 03033. And on an unrelated note, but just around the corner from Andres is a Chinese Restaurant called New Kun Garden, and they make ice cream rolls! We were sure to get some of those 🙂 img_7309

Garden Centers: Southern New Hampshire

Memorial Day weekend is planting time for a lot of folks in New England, myself included. We actually got our veggies in last weekend, which is the earliest ever, so this weekend I focused on flowers! I managed to go to 8 garden centers between Saturday and Monday (for the blog, is what I told myself, but really, I just love garden centers) and now I’m going to tell you all about them 🙂

Rosaly’s Garden and Farmstand: Peterborough, NHimg_6206


For starters, we went to Rosaly’s Garden and Farmstand in Peterborough for all of our vegetables. It’s the oldest certified organic farm in the state of New Hampshire. They have a beautiful, sprawling property, with a great view of Mount Monadnock (the photos above were taken last summer-the blue skies give that away! We haven’t had much of those lately haha). Come mid-summer it’s fun to just stroll around their fields of flowers (which they allow and welcome). This year we planted a lot of cucumbers, in the hopes of trying to make pickles this fall. We also got leeks, plenty of onions, zucchini, grape tomatoes, lots of basil, curly parsley (to add to my perennial herb bed- thyme, mint, oregano and lavender) and I think that is it. We have very small beds for planting unfortunately. How I long for a flat yard sometimes! 🙂 We’ve always had great success with starter plants from Rosaly’s!
Getting There: Rosaly’s Garden and Farmstand, Route 123 South, just off of Route 101 in Peterborough (website in the link above provides more detailed directions).
My Verdict: The best place to buy organic starter vegetable plants around, hands down.

Amazing Flower Farm: New Ipswich, NHimg_6334

Settled on a back road in New Ipswich, New Hampshire, the Amazing Flower Farm sells everything from vegetables to perennials to very unique annuals. They have a whole greenhouse practically dedicated to annuals, with many ready-made arranged annual baskets and hanging pots. I love the “painted” variety of Violets they had this year, the petals literally look like an impressionistic painting. I got some for my mom, and also some pansies. The colors of pansies they offer are more muted, and delicate than some of the other ones I’ve seen, which I prefer. I remember last year they had “galaxy” impatients (or something like that)- dark purple flowers with starbursts of white speckled all over them, like paint splatters. I had never seen them before. Also, it is worth mentioning that all of the plants we purchased from them last year performed really well (even during the drought!) and the perennials have all come back nicely so far this year too.fullsizeoutput_1a90fullsizeoutput_1a94

Getting There: Amazing Flower Farm, 202 Poor Farm Road {off Route 124} New Ipswich, NH, 03071
My Verdict: A go-to spot if you love making elaborate annual planters, or if you love really unique annuals.

Mason Hollow Nursery: Mason, NHimg_6348

 


Definitely off the beaten track down a small dirt road in Mason, New Hampshire, Mason Hollow Nursery felt like finding a hidden gem. I didn’t know what to expect at all when I drove down the long dirt driveway. I was delighted when, upon going through the barn to enter, I saw a sprawling nursery surrounded by beautiful display gardens. They have a huge selection of Hostas. I mean, huge. Hundreds of varieties. I never knew that many varieties of Hostas even existed! My appreciation and fondness for Hostas is definitely growing as of late. I used to not like them, but lately I’ve been noticing their varied leaves more and loving the delicate contrast created when different varieties are planted side by side in a shade garden. I bought a couple of Hostas from Mason Hollow, along with a variegated Solomon’s Seal. They also have a really cute, friendly dog wandering around the nursery, a big Burmese Moutain dog named Nokken. Also, one tip I will mention is to bring bug spray. Maybe it was just the day I happened to visit, but there were a number of mosquitos buzzing around. That aside, it was a lovely place.img_6352img_6342Getting There: Mason Hollow Nursery, 47 Scripps Lane Mason, NH 03048 (603) 878-4347
My verdict: Expensive, but worth a trip, to see this beautiful family-run property with an elaborate and unique selection.

Pickity Place: Mason, New Hampshireimg_6357Pickity Place in Mason, NH is a magical place. Even more off the beaten path than Mason Hollow, it’s a little cottage tucked away in the woods off a winding, bumpy dirt road. Not only is it an exquisite place to have lunch and wander around their gorgeous gardens (I’ll do another, more in-depth post on Pickity someday), but it is also an excellent place to buy plants. Pickity Place has a large greenhouse out behind the restaurant which sells perennials, annuals, and a huge selection of herbs. Silly me, I didn’t take any pictures of the greenhouse while I was there because it was my 3rd garden center that afternoon and I was antsy to get home and plant, but just trust me when I say that it’s worth a trip. Also, the vast majority of their herbs and perennials are priced under 5 dollars.
Getting There: Pickity Place, 248 Nutting Hill Road Mason, NH 03048 (603)878-1151
My verdict: Excellent value in an idyllic setting. The place to go if you’re looking for a varied and unique herb selection.

Uncanoonuc Mt. Perennials, Goffstown, New Hampshireimg_6495img_6516


My mom and I drove up to Uncanoonuc Mt. Perennials in the rain on Memorial Day, but sadly they were closed (we should have called first) but just being there brought back memories from when I was little. I remember going there a long time ago and thinking their display garden was the most magical place. It still is! We poked around and snapped a few photos, and then drove on to the next nursery. I definitely want to come back here though, it looks like there is a huge selection. And it’s worth it just to walk around the display garden again!img_6542
Getting There: Uncanoonuc Mt. Perennials, 452 Mountain Road, Goffstown, NH 03045 603) 497-3975
My Verdict: Closed when I went so I can’t speak to the prices or selection, but worth going just to wander their display garden.

Tanglewood Gardens: Bedford, New Hampshireimg_6551Tanglewood Gardens is a classic don’t-judge-a-book-by-it’s-cover sort of place. Not going to lie, I didn’t have high hopes when we drove up to the somewhat overgrown property. We weren’t even sure they were open. But we opened up one of the greenhouse doors and were pleasantly surprised by a huge selection, and a very kind and attentive gentleman working there. They had all sorts of vegetables, even unique things like Okra and Sweet Potato plants. There also were annuals and perennials. We went through both of the greenhouses and were happy with the selection and the prices. The plants all looked very healthy as well. Mom bought plants to put together her annual planters. We will definitely come back to Tanglewood Gardens.img_6553
Getting There: Tanglewood Gardens, 424 Route 101, Bedford, NH 03110
My Verdict: Don’t let outer appearances fool you: they have a great variety and lots of unique selections.

Fitch’s Corner: Milford, New Hampshireimg_6557img_6560Good ole’ Fitch’s Corner in Milford New Hampshire (sorry they don’t have a website that I can find to link to it). A quaint farm store year-round, but also a great place to buy plants in the spring. They have a nice selection of cottage-type perennials, my favorites. I picked up some Foxgloves and Campanulas. Both in white, I love white gardens 🙂 Their prices are great, generally everything is under 5 dollars. I didn’t even go into their greenhouse, but they do have one, and there are many annuals and perennials inside.
Getting There: Fitch’s Corner Farmstand, 499 North River Road Milford, NH 03055
My verdict: Not a huge nursery by any means, but a nice selection of perennials and a great farm store too!

House by the Side of the Road: Wilton, New Hampshireimg_6576

 


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From houseplants, to shrubs, to Cacti, to Succulents, House by the Side of the Road in Wilton, NH has it all. Numerous greenhouses are packed completely full with plants of every kind and description. This is a place a plant lover could get lost in for hours. They have an indoor turtle pond, supplies to make terrariums, and even free popcorn and cookies! I had never been fully to their section outside before, and was amazed to see the varieties of perennials they offered. I even found one of my all time favorites- a Lunaria (silver dollar plant). A couple of those came home with me. What a fun place! And right on route 101, it is easy to find. It’s also an amazing place to wander around in during the winter time, just to feel some tropical air!


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Getting There: House by the Side of the Road, 370 Gibbons Highway (Route 101) Wilton, NH 03086 (603)654-9888
My verdict: An all around amazing and huge selection with generally pretty good prices.

Well there you have it, my Southern New Hampshire Nursery and Garden Center extravaganza. I hope this was helpful. There are countless other great garden places around- please share your favorites with me in the comments. I also plan to do a garden tour post, to share our plantings from this year, so stay tuned 🙂

Winter Scenes

Ahh winter. The most quiet, beautiful, and relaxing of seasons. I love the home time, the hot tea, and the earlier nights. I like to catch up on books and movies I’ve wanted to read and see all year. Though there are not as many adventures or exploration as the other seasons, I’ve still taken my fair share of photos throughout the past snowy month. I wanted to share some favorites here. Cozy up and enjoy the season.img_5219fullsizeoutput_b55

The starkness of the bare branches against the sky is almost just as beautiful as when they are covered with leaves. And can’t you just feel the snow coming in the photo above. That was taken at Gregg Lake in Antrim.

fullsizeoutput_116eI love the silent morning after a fresh snowfall, the sparkles on the ground, and the brilliant winter sunsets. For those of you who are not so keen on winter, pop into your local florist or indoor nursery for a bit of spring. These beauties were at Twelve Pine in Peterborough. Create a bouquet to brighten up your home in winter 🙂

fullsizeoutput_116dimg_6017And for a nice walk in the woods on a bright day, you know, when the temperature creeps up near 40 maybe 🙂 try the Wapack National Forest (Here’s a link to a trail map) for a good walk. Ted’s Trail and Carolyn’s Trail are both very easy nature paths with lovely scenery. Just starting January, and already so much snow and winter weather up here in New England! Let’s make the most of this lovely quiet season.

Northern New Hampshire

I know I’m a little partial to New Hampshire. It is a seriously awesome state, with such variety and a lot of wildness for such a small state. For our third anniversary adventure this year, we explored the Northern reaches of New Hampshire, and ended up finding some hidden gems. Look :::

Glories of ::: Benton, NH ::: this is Long Pond (on some maps, also called Whitcher Pond), tucked away on a stretch of road called North-South road (on some maps, also called Long Pond Road), between routes 25 and 116. There is a campground all around the still water; it would be a very peaceful place to stay overnight. Nearby is the Appalachian Trail and Mount Moosilauke, so if you like hiking, this is a spot to check out for sure. We even saw a young moose feeding! Onward we drove, making it up to the town of ::: Sugar Hill, NH ::: where we had a lovely stay at the Inn at Sunset Hill, enjoying sweeping views of the Presidential Mountain range, wonderful food, and cozy surroundings.

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img_4781img_4759The next morning, we set out, still heading north. We made it to ::: Colebrook, NH ::: and visited Beaver Brook waterfall, a really impressive, high waterfall that I’ve never even heard of before! If you notice how small Ethan is in the photo below, it gives you an idea of the scale. The water fall is easy to find. If you approach the town of Colebrook from the South, take a right on route 145 (follow signs for the Hospital to find the route). It is just a few miles up route 145, and is very clearly marked (you can see the falls from the side of the road). There is a picnic area and a big lawn in front of it. There are paths through the woods all around the falls. Since it was chilly and slightly snowing when we visited, we went back into downtown Colebrook and had lunch at a quaint French cafe, owned by people who are actually from France (so their shop is filled with authentic treats and imported goods from Europe!) We enjoyed homemade pea soup and a freshly baked baguette. We also picked up some sweet treats for later; madeleines and macarons. Yum. img_4839

After lunch in Colebrook, we headed East towards ::: Dixville Notch ::: on Route 26. I had never been on that road, and was stunned to see such gorgeous scenery. Right off the side of the road, there are giant cliff spires rising up out of the forest. Directly across the street is the Balsams Resort (which was closed for the weekend when we drove by, or else we would have explored it for sure). After admiring the sights (and feeling gleeful that there was snow falling!) we continued onward, to the town of Errol. After a brief stop at the outdoors wear store there, we headed south through Milan, and ended up antiquing in Gorham. To complete our huge Northern New Hampshire loop, we cut back West across the state through Jefferson, and then headed South towards home, making a quick stop at Echo Lake by the foot of Canon mountain. When it became too cold to admire the lake any further, we drove onward to home, stopping only for a latte on the way in North Woodstock at the Cascade Coffeehouse and Cafe. The hot drinks were the  perfect thing to get us through the long stretch of highway back home.  fullsizeoutput_b9bfullsizeoutput_105c

When we set out on this two day-one night trip we literally had no plan (well, unless you count “we’re going to drive north” as a plan). But things couldn’t have worked out more perfectly. Sometimes its best to use a real map, avoid the highway, and stop at whatever looks interesting to you. Even in your home state, whatever state that may be, I bet there are plenty of hidden gems waiting to be found. Happy adventuring 🙂

Autumn Farewell

It’s December 5th and the snow is falling softly this morning. It is really, really cold. Winter is upon us. It’s time for cozy fireside reading, tea sipping, and fuzzy blankets. I truly love this time of year. But before I dive headlong into winter, I wanted to post some shots that encapsulated my autumn season in New England. I’m happy to report that most of the items on my fall fun to-do list were completed! I Still didn’t climb Mount Monadnock though… I will have to add that to my spring fun to-do list 🙂

Processed with Snapseed.A lot of my favorite foliage shots were taken Columbus Day weekend, when the leaves are usually at their peak in New Hampshire. These lovely trees were found on the Monadnock Art Tour, which happens the second weekend of October each year. If you’ve never done the tour, which is self guided through the little villages around Mount Monadnock, put it on your calendar for next year! The foliage alone makes it worth the drive, never mind the open art studios you get to peak into.img_4304img_4291img_4243Gourds, apple orchards, and milkweed. Doesn’t get much more autumn-y than that! We picked apples this year at McCleod orchards in Milford, NH this year on a wonderfully overcast day, a bit gloomy feeling, yet still with warm undercurrents on the breeze. The apples were smaller this year, because of a frost in the spring, but we were able to get enough to make a big batch of crockpot apple butter, apple sauce, and an apple pie – yum! Apple baking day (more like weekend) is always a treat.img_4423

I also made it to a corn maze! And we found one that stayed open after dark! Making it all the more creepy-fun. We went to the 14 acre one at Elwood Orchards in Londonderry, NH. It took us over an hour to get out of, but  we made it! Another item on my fall fun to-do list was to plant bulbs, and plant I did! Daffodils, Narcissus, Crocus, Tulip, and tons of garlic! It will be exciting to see what comes up this spring after the bulbs’ long winter sleep under the soil and snow.img_4603img_4464Autumn, so brilliant and so fleeting. I like how you have to act on your autumn-y impulses (corn maze! pumpkin spice! knitting!) quickly before the season is gone. It’s the time of year that really reminds us to pause and take in the beauty that is all around. Or to gather with friends and family over a pot of soup. Or to stay in and read. To light some candles and settle in.

Farewell, autumn. You were lovely.

Strawberry Banke

If you love colonial New England history and architecture, there are few places better to visit than Strawberry Banke in Portsmouth, NH. Strawberry Banke is living history as it’s finest; a colonial village of historic homes that guests can stroll through at their leisure. Each home is decorated in a different historic American style, and docents at each home explain who lived there and what happened at the homes. There are also people dressed in period clothing who are sprinkled throughout doing various colonial jobs and tasks such as basket weaving, cobbling leather shoes, and tending the beautiful gardens.img_4028img_3971img_4035We made a special trip to Strawberry Banke for their annual Harvest Festival, which is held every October. If you look at the photo above, you can see the white tent set up. The tent was filled with local craftsmen and artisans selling their wares and works. There were also demonstrations going on, such as sheep herding and more animals on display than usual. The festival gave a lively and bustling atmosphere to an already wonderful place. We were a little worried about crowds, but it didn’t feel overly crowded because most people stayed around the main lawn where the tents were set up.img_4021My favorite thing about the place were the gardens (surprise, surprise). The big one behind the main ticket office is very formal and beautiful, with a fountain in the center. Most of the houses have a small section of garden near them, which are all beautiful in their own way. There are also many whimsical touches scattered around: a wooden tower made from weathered saplings decorated with strands of seashells and gourds, a little china tea set laid out on a log table, a dwelling made of branches kids can crawl into, and various arbors and trellises climbing with vines. We also enjoyed seeing the old greenhouse, filled with interesting plants, garden tools, and pretty vignettes.img_3965img_4009img_4002
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Most of the houses were open for self-guided touring, so we poked into many of them. The colonial decor varied in each house for different time periods, which kept it really interesting. I really liked the weaving house, and a nice woman there taught me the very basics of how to weave on a loom and let me give it a try.

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I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into Strawberry Banke. We thoroughly enjoyed visiting there during autumn and the Harvest Festival, but I’m sure it’s beautiful at any time of year. Also, check with your local library to see if they offer passes to the museum. We used our library’s passes, and were able to save $19 each on admission (the full cost). That made it an even better time at such a lovely place. img_4076

An Afternoon at the Harris Center

Nestled deep in beautiful Hancock, New Hampshire, the Harris Center for Conservation Education is the perfect place to take a walk. The grounds are open to the public and they welcome leashed dogs as well. I happened to be there a couple of weeks ago for an appreciation luncheon that the Hancock Town Library was putting on for it’s staff and volunteers. After a delicious meal and an educational and amusing lecture by one of the Center’s senior Naturalists, the guests funneled out to the parking lot but I just wasn’t ready to leave. The sun was finally out after a cloudy morning and the beautiful grounds of the Harris Center were calling to me… Processed with Snapseed.

I don’t know very much about the history of the house itself other than that it was a grand country summer estate in times past. The historical details on the property abound, from the built in stone benches tucked away under massive wisteria and grape vines to the diagonally latticed windows which make me feel like I’ve stepped into the English countryside. The stone work has just settled into the landscape as if it has always been there. And though I went there towards the end of September, the flower gardens were still filled with colorful blooms, especially the pollinators garden, which was mindfully planted with the appetite of native species of bees and butterflies in mind. The pollinators garden was humming with life as I carefully wound along the globe thistle, butterfly bushes, and coneflower. The garden was planted in the property’s former swimming pool- what a good repurposing idea! Planting flowers is always a good choice.

Processed with Snapseed.Because I was alone, I stuck to the grounds and did not venture out into the surrounding woods. They do have a vast trail system however, and one day I would like to explore all of them. Check out their list of trails here, on their website. But I was more than happy to stick to the grounds and spent well over an hour meandering about. They’ve kept most of the surrounding grassy areas as natural meadow except for pleasant mown paths which lead around the entire property in a large circle. On the far edge near the road, I found a patch of giant sunflowers, just about gone by. I will have to remember it’s there next year and visit just a couple weeks earlier so I can see them in their glory. Processed with Snapseed.

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So if you’re ever looking for a quiet, beautiful place to spend a bit of time look no further than the Harris Center in Hancock, NH. I could have sat on the old stone bench eating grapes from the vines over my head for hours (if the bench wasn’t covered in squashed grapes that is haha) I did sneak a few grapes 🙂 Processed with Snapseed.

An Autumn Fun To-Do List

It could be because my husband and I lived in a warm climate during this past winter making this my 8th straight month of warm weather, or it could be because we have had the hottest, driest summer on record, or it could be just because I love the changing seasons; but I am really excited for fall. The foliage is already starting to change, and though people are saying we won’t have the same brilliant color display we had last autumn, fall in New England is still such a special time of year.
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As I was contemplating the delightful change of season the other day it occurred to me that I ought to make an “Autumn Fun” to-do list. Because doesn’t Autumn just seem like the most fleeting season? Hopefully a to-do list will allow me to make the most of fall before it slips right by me. So without further ado, here is my…

Autumn Fun To-Do List:

  1. Go apple picking! That also entails the subsequent Apple related cooking and baking. This year I hope to make a lot of apple butter and apple sauce, and have someone show me (again) how to can it safely so I can enjoy those treats year round.
  2. A corn maze would be fun. I know there is a huge maze in Sterling, Massachusetts. I also did a really fun one in Lee, New Hampshire many years ago. There is a small one at Washburn’s Windy Hill Orchard in Greenville, New Hampshire that is also a lot of fun. I’m not sure why wandering around lost for an hour in a field is so enjoyable, but alas it is. Especially at night when it is creepy.
  3. Enjoy a pumpkin spice latte. Preferably on a rainy day so I can take a walk after, admiring the colors while wearing wellies and using an umbrella. Yes I know this is rather specific, and with the current weather trend we may never get rain again. However, now that it is on the list, it is more likely to happen. That is just how it goes with to-do lists. Even if the rain doesn’t come (which I sincerely hope it does and not just for reason of providing an atmospheric setting to enjoy a fall beverage), I will still get the pumpkin latte. One cannot resist the fall flavors.
  4. Go to a fair or festival. At least one. I’m very bummed to be missing the Common Ground Fair in Maine this weekend (for the third year in a row! something always comes up!) but I am hoping to get to the Vermont Sheep and Wool Festival. You can be sure I will post about it if I get there.
  5. Take a hike, or maybe a few hikes. The crisp fall air is perfect for a hike, and the foliage just adds to the already stunning views. I especially would like to climb Mount Monadnock. My one and only hiking experience with this beloved mountain was not a positive one. I was separated from my group and spent an hour wandering down, not sure if I was on a trail or not, fearing I was lost for good, envisioning headlines declaring my death by bear attack or exposure. Yes, yes, I survived, and perhaps I am being a tad dramatic. Anyways, I would like to give the mountain another go.
  6. Plant bulbs. It never fails that the fall goes by, winter passes, and the spring flowers start emerging. And there I am kicking myself again that I forgot to plant bulbs in the fall. That’s not going to happen again! This spring, I will have daffodils and tulips coming up, I assure you. I also must remember to plant garlic, lots of it! I want braids and braids of it come spring time.

So, there you have it. This is what I hope to be doing in my time off this autumn. What is on your autumn fun to-do list?