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.We 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.My 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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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 🙂
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?