Monday, December 30, 2013

Mount Feake Riverfront Cemetery, Waltham MA

The Mount Feake Cemetery, along the Charles River in Waltham MA is a hidden gem among the rich collection of historic garden cemeteries in the Boston area.  It was a wonderful place to explore on a relatively mild (upper 30's) and extra sunny Monday December 30th.  Smaller, and with fewer large structures than Mount Auburn Cemetery (the granddaddy of them all), it has something that Mount Auburn doesn't: a dramatic and expansive riverfront.  It shares many features:  a rolling topography, winding roads and paths, a varied collection of large trees, with an expansive layout to allow their full appreciation.

The light on this sunny midwinter afternoon was strong, with sharply slanting shadows.  The river widens out here, with mini-bays adding visual interest.  The photo below is taken looking out from peninsula made by one of these small bays.

Here is one of the more elaborate monuments, a certain Mr Shepherd.  The statue has suffered the same fate as busts in a park above Rome, where the noses have been vandalized away, along with some of his fingers.  It is a well-executed statue that looked good in the afternoon light.

A large square stone erected by the Waltham Watch Factory commemorates D. H. Church, Master Watch Maker and Innovator, and his wife.  The historic watch factory buildings are still standing, across the river (photo below).  I thank Sheldon Brown for posting a link to an 1881 Scientific American article on the Waltham Pocket Watch in his journal from August 14, 2007.  We miss you Sheldon.

Parking in Waltham center, such as in the municipal lot near Ristorante Maracellino, the Mount Feak Cemetery can be reached by a pleasant 1 mile walk along the Blue Heron Trail (paved).

On the way back along the path, these Canada Geese were walking, nearly single file, on the river ice, marching to shore for the evening.  The receding sunlight lit the scene in a magical and memorable way.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day, Easter, Spring

Thanks to Beverly Snodgrass, for this link to a short video showing beautiful and moving scenes from the place we call home: Creation Calls . Take a 6 minute video tour. Then today, Earth Day 2011, be sure to get outside if you can.

The visuals are from the BBC Planet Earth Series, the soundtrack is an original song by Brian Doerksen. The beauty of nature around us is always moving and inspiring. Happy Earth Day, Easter, and in celebration of however you connect to the living universe. In reverence, joy, awe, and gratitude.

Link to Creation Calls video is here: CREATION CALLS

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Victory Garden Update - Peas are Up!

Sure glad to see the peas sprouting up, after two weeks! Looking closely, I spotted one fearless adventurer poking above the soil. Over the next days, many others broke through, beginning to define the three short rows. The folded leaves were very small, but with miraculous structure, like the tiny fingers of a baby.

Tiny two-leaved lettuce seedlings also created a delicate green sparkle. The six larger "Ruby Red" transplants are also getting established nicely (not shown). First pickings of select leaves could begin in only a week or two. Weather has been excellent for seed germination (regular rain) and for growth of cool weather plants. A rain collection barrel, conveniently located alongside the house, near to my front yard Victory Garden, has provided daily water on sunny days.

Checking my seed collection from previous years for early season planting possibilities, I found some Kohlrabi seedlings from 1998. I took a chance on these, planting about 5-10 seeds in six different places. A fun and unusual vegetable to grow. Using intensive planting techniques this year, to make the most a small sunny garden plot. Similar to "Square Foot Gardening", only more free form.
The potatoes haven't yet arrived. I was hoping to get them in the ground this Patriots day, but it looks like that will have to wait until next weekend. In the back garden, the hellebore flowers have been putting on a wonderful show, despite being under snow at the beginning of April.
Email for more information about the Victory Garden Community or for an invite to our first Victory Garden Club Spring Party (tentative date - Sunday May 1). If you enjoy these posts, you can enter your email address in the box to the right to receive notification whenever new material is posted.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Victory Garden Update

The average last frost date for Arlington is about May 15. On the morning of Saturday April 9, a shimmering frost did shine from my Victory Garden in the Morningside area of Arlington. Garlic shoots though provided a shot of early spring optimism - another great reason to plant garlic in the Fall, around about Columbus Day (October).

Inspired by the sunny day, and buds on the trees, I brought home a small haul of herbs (rosemary, parsley), kale, and lettuce seedlings from Pemberton Farms garden center (Mass Ave in North Cambridge). To their credit, they only stocked seedlings likely to survive planting at this time, and also had the average last frost date posted at the cash register. Prices pretty reasonable too, this basketload only set me back about $10.

I divided a huge thyme plant and planted the herbs, lettuce and kale. I have few things to offer to other Arlington Victory Gardeners:

1) Plenty of thyme cuttings that I placed in water - many have roots already.
2) Three kale seedlings - good for soups, salads, great early season crop.
3) Thanks to online research and expert selection by my "Head Gardner", Sally Naish of Light and Shade Garden Design, I'll have some certified organic seed potatoes to share later this week. Decided to try potatoes again after mixed results in the past, before our soil had been built up by years of organic enrichment - frequent compost and chipped leaves every Fall.

Email for more information about the Victory Garden Community or for an invite to our first Victory Garden Club party (tentative date - Sunday May 1).

This week I learned that the Menotomy Gardeners Email List will be having a garden swap soon.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Victory Garden Club 2011

Garlic planted last Fall in our Arlington Victory Garden emerged several weeks ago, shoots poking through the 1-3" snow cover from the April Fools Eve snowstorm. Glad I missed planting peas the previous weekend, if they had sprouted the snow would have probably done them in. But on Sunday, April 3 the soil and weather were fine for this year's first sowing: two types of snap peas and a hopeful early try for a mesclun mix. If anyone would like some of the pea seeds I have plenty to share - see below.

Pushing back the layer of chipped leaf mulch, I was delighted to find this spry wriggler in the soil layer.

While planting, I was cheered by spring squill volunteers, scattered along the gravel path surrounding our front yard Victory Garden.

This year the Arlington Natural Connections Project is hosting an informal "Victory Garden Club". We'll start out with a social gathering to share seeds, maybe seedlings, plans and hopes for our 2011 Victory Gardens. As the season progresses we can share produce, water each others gardens during vacation times, share tips, recipes and salsa, outsmart wily gophers, and devise creative ways to foist off those overgrown August zucchinis on unsuspecting Arlingtonians.

Email INFO@NATURALCONNECTIONSPROJECT.COM for more information or for an invite to our first Victory Garden Club party. This year, you can know for CERTAIN where at least some of your food comes from. Happy Home Gardening in 2011 to all!

For another interesting local gardening project see: Cooperative Learning Project at Robbins Farm Park. Especially interesting for anyone interested in gardening as part of a cooperative group or if you might not have space to garden where you live.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Arlington Natural Connections Website Now ONLINE!

The Arlington Natural Connections Project is pleased to announce that our website is now available online at

The home page currently features our "Scenes of the Season" photo calendar, with pictures showing seasonal changes in Arlington (and nearby) in 2010.

Check in often for ideas about connecting to nature, in Arlington Massachusetts. You may also consider signing up for updates from our Arlington Natural Connections weblog.

The mission of the Arlington Natural Connections Project is to promote a sense of connection to the natural world at the local level by combining an artistic and natural science approach.

The Arlington Natural Connections Project is grateful for funding provided by the Arlington Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency.


First Visit to Wright-Lock Farm

The Wright-Lock Farm is located in Arlington's backyard, just north of the Winchester line at 78 Ridge Road. Established in 1638, it is the oldest continuously farmed property inside Route 128. The town of Winchester purchased the property in 2007. The Wright-Lock Farm Conservancy was created by a vote at the Spring 2008 Winchester Town Meeting to continue limited farming operations, develop passive recreational opportunities, sponsor educational programs, and preserve the historic landscape. The farm now welcomes the public to a treasure of hillsides and paths connecting to the Whipple Hill and Locke Conservation areas. During summer a self-pick raspberry operation is becoming a favorite attraction.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

On Sunday October 10, as part of Winchester's Week of Environmental Awareness and Action, Alan Field led a tour through the paths and farm structures. Fall color was just beginning to come to the trees, the sun was warm, the air was crisp, a perfect fall day.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The property has many peaceful paths, with the din of city noise and vehicles almost imperceptible.

The circular horse riding area is a relatively recent but picturesque addition. The barn to the left in the photo was built in 1827 for animals, wagons and farm equipment, some of which still remains. The Squash House to the right was built in 1915 to store and protect squash from freezing, so that it could be taken to Boston in winter, using a massive sled over icy fields and roads. The farm was known for Blue Hubbard squash, which is still grown there today.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The town of Winchester has shown great vision and conviction by purchasing this historic property and establishing a citizen-based volunteer conservancy. A number of plans have been put forth for housing and mixed use. While these uses might provide a financial return on the investment, the benefits of emphasizing preservation of this stunning natural area and historical treasure hopefully will take precedence. In the meantime I plan to take full advantage of proximity, and visit often.

One can support The Wright-Locke Farm Conservancy at their website. They also have occasional fundraisers, like an Open House on October 17 2010 featuring tours of the barn and it's contents by John Ott, former Director of the National Heritage Museum. I first learned about the farm at the Saturday morning Winchester Farmers Market, on the Winchester Town Square until October 30.

Thank you Alan Field for your efforts at the farm, your service as a Conservancy Board Member, and a great walk and tour.

Posted by Picasa