Pickity Place

Over the river and through the woods, to grandmother’s house we go! Isn’t that Little Red Riding Hood? I think so. Well anyways, Pickity Place is the place to go if you want to step into a real life fairy tale. In fact, the cottage that now houses the restaurant was what the Little Golden book illustrator used as a model to illustrate her version of Little Red Riding Hood.

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It is indeed a cozy, fairy tale cottage. An enormously old tree full of character towers over the little red cottage. When it is time for your meal to begin (they do 3 seatings a day) the hostess rings a bell by the door. The waitresses hustle and bustle in the relatively cramped space (little cottage after all) to get you all 5 courses in the proper order, explaining each edible herbal addition.

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IMG_8900The quality and creativity of the food alone is enough of a draw to go to Pickity Place, never mind the quaint setting. Each month, a new menu is revealed, with 5 new courses to try: A dip appetizer, soup and bread, salad, main entree, and a yummy dessert. There are always 2 entree choices, one of them being a vegetarian option. It’s usually a hard decision, as both entrees are always excellent. All the food is prepared fresh using herbs grown right there at Pickity Place.

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pickity-place_24003837942_oOh, and I can’t forget about the beverage options! They have a few fun options including a lavender lemonade, a strawberry basil tea, an orange tea, and Mocha coffee (complete with cinnamon stick straw). They let you change which drink you try each time you run out, making for a fun variety- I always save the mocha coffee to have with my dessert.

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The fun doesn’t stop when the meal is over; then it is time to explore the gardens! I’ve gone at all times of the year, and it is always beautiful. June, of course will be the best month to explore the flower gardens. However, even in the winter, the garden blanketed with snow, the cozy cottage nestled in, and the big tree watching over is still charming. During spring and summer months, stop by their greenhouse to get herbs and flowers for your own garden! Their plants are reasonably priced and I’ve found them to be of high quality.

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They book up fast (special days sometimes over a year in advance) so be sure to make a reservation! If you really get hooked on Pickity, they have a frequent diners card; I’ve never been that committed to it, but some people go once a month! I like it for special occasions; it’s a great place to take someone visiting the area. Pickity Place is a quintessential New England experience!

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Postcards from England: Sissinghurst

The more one gardens, the more one learns; And the more one learns, the more one realizes how little one knows. ~Vita Sackville West

fullsizeoutput_17c4Was there ever a place more magical? A place I felt happier? This place made me giddy with delight and wonder. Everywhere I looked, I was surrounded by beauty. Situated in County Kent, Sissinghurst Castle garden is the beautiful creation of Vita Sackville West who lived there starting in 1930. For an excellent history and historic photographs of this extraordinary place, see the National Trust’s article here. For now, enjoy the photographs I took while visiting Sissinghurst on 29 April 2017. We hopped off the plane in Gatwick London, met up with dear friends, and sped on down to Sissinghurst where we were immediately immersed in stunning scenery and gorgeous gardens. I felt that no matter what happened on the rest of my trip to England, I would have had a successful trip because the time at Sissinghurst was just beautiful. Enjoy the photos, my friends~fullsizeoutput_19f8fullsizeoutput_17f8fullsizeoutput_17c5

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fullsizeoutput_17c0From the top~

  • Gorgeous flowering quince in front of a cottage
  • The White Garden
  • Tulips in bloom in front of the tower
  • The Purple Garden
  • Collage: Roses at the entryway, trees on the grounds, tulips bordering brick
  • Collage: A fern tunnel with statue at the end, flower pots
  • Blooming boughs in front of a cottage
  • White Narcissus filled field
  • Collage: My friends Sam and Kassie 🙂
  • Collage: Wisteria and roses, hide and seek in the hedges
  • Collage: View of the towers, pink magnolia blooming
  • Collage: the sun peaking out, me in front of the sunset garden’s cottage
  • The Sunset Garden with towers behind
  • The view from the towers
  • An old ivy covered tree on the grounds
  • A view of distant pastures
  • Collage: beautiful white blooms, afternoon cream tea
  • The stunning gardens from above

The most noteworthy thing about gardeners is that they are always optimistic, always enterprising, and never satisfied. They always look forward to doing something better than they have ever done before. ~Vita Sackville West

My Garden Journal

As winter storm Stella rages on outside, my mind is drifting towards warmer thoughts. It’s mid-March already and I am itching to get outside in the garden. Just the other day there was bare ground and I could see all the garden and yard clean up work that needs to be done. I love work like that. Clearing the leaves and preparing the beds with compost; all the while thinking of ideas for new plantings. I am definitely an amateur gardener. It wasn’t until just last spring that I even really got into flower planting (and when I say “got into” I mean “mildly obsessed”). We’ve had veggie gardens every summer since we’ve been married, but now that we’ve built our apartment at my mom’s house, I know we will be sticking around- for a few years at least 😉 This gives me quite a big yard to work with, and a very supportive landlord (my mom! haha) who loves flower gardening as well. With our combined efforts, we were able to plant quite a bit last spring. With a new yard, and being a beginner gardener, I started a garden journal to help me keep track of what I planted where, and how the plant did in it’s first season.
With a lot of things in life, I often assume my memory is better than it is. I put off making my gardening journal for weeks (I don’t think I actually made it until late fall–I can’t remember! ha!) I almost didn’t even do it, thinking I would be able to remember all the things I planted and the lessons that I learned. I’m glad I didn’t listen to my own faulty reasoning. Just flipping through the pages quickly today showed me a variety of things I never would have remembered otherwise. So having a lousy memory alone is a good of a reason as any to make a gardening journal. I also wanted to have the ability to see how things do year after year. That way, I can stop investing money into plants that fail repeatedly. For the journal itself, I used a few empty middle pages of a big sketchbook I’ve had for years. I wish I got a new fresh book as a designated gardening journal, because there are not a whole lot of empty pages left in that sketchbook now. Oh well, next season I will make another one 🙂

I started by making a basic sketch of our yard from above, and added some loose watercolor to differentiate sections of our space. I didn’t spend too much time making that page a work of art, the point of it is to be a key for the journal. I then numbered the areas in my yard where I planted something, and numbered the corresponding descriptions.As you can see, I cut out the pretty seed packet illustrations and plant photos on the markers to add interest and decorate the journal. When I could remember, I would record where the plant came from. When I planted seed mixes, I cut out the list of varieties included in the mix and taped that in the journal. I also came to the conclusion that I will not use seed mixes anymore until I really learn how to differentiate weeds from flowers. I foolishly planted 3 different mixes on a hillside covered with weeds, so now, this spring, I generally won’t be able to tell what is a weed and what is a flower until the plants are big and established. Darn. Lesson learned- and recorded in my garden journal 🙂Along with lessons about the plants themselves, I also noticed trends as far as where the healthiest and weakest plants came from. All across the board, the plants we got from Amazing Flower Farm in New Ipswich, New Hampshire performed the best. We will definitely go there again. After describing all my flowers, I also briefly described my veggies. It was a really tough year for vegetable growing. We had the drought to contend with for one thing. We also had a really late start on our seeds and got the very last available starter plants because of traveling the majority of last spring.
 The last section of my journal describes the bulbs that I planted this fall, which I am eagerly still awaiting to come up! Garlic, Tuips, Daffodils, Crocuses, Narcissus… I hope they all do well! Time will tell. They are all still sleeping under a bed of white snow. I am itching to get out and use my old gardening tools and plant new things! Alas, I am going to have to be patient… as this is the current scene… 

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