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December 7,2012- RainyDayGiftGuide:Garden...

The RainyDayGarden folks love both getting and giving gifts which further that pursuit. However, being in the Northeast, having to wait months before we could put the gardening gifts to use had always seemed a little anti-climatic. So, for this season, we thought we would ask them to offer up some suggestions that gardeners would enjoy, but which can be put to good use immediately.

After giving it some thought, the RainyDayGarden folks suggested bird-feeders and quality bird food. While the gardens sit idle during the winter, birds and other wildlife are still out and about searching for food. The cold temperature and snow can make it difficult for them to find enough to... [more] -RainyDayGiftGuide: Garden


November 20,2012- Thanksgiving Vacation...

We know that, like us, many of you are looking forward to a Thanksgiving feast with turkey as the main course. We know turkeys are tasty, but we also want to remind folks that wild turkeys are also beautiful, sleek, and intelligent birds. We caught up with a flock of them at the Boston Nature Center.

Benjamin Franklin wanted to make the turkey the national bird instead of the bald eagle, whom he considered "a Bird of bad moral Character." Some people would rather make the Thanksgiving meal meatless, since the general agreement is that birds raised for this one particular meal have nothing, really, to the thankful for. And, it is generally understood that turkeys were not actually served at the first Thanksgiving, the one with the Pilgrims and the Indians. If you would like to modify your holiday meal to meatless status, here are three options, two of which are companies, one of iwhich is a terrific recipe:

  • Tofurkey - Don't bust it till you've tried it (and don't skimp on the orange juice for the basting
  • Field Roast - Robust and flavorful, made with stuff that you'd find in your side dishes
  • Mushroom Wellington - Who doesn't like puff pastry?

The RainyDayMagazine office will be closed for the rest of the month for Thanksgiving. We will be back in December with the first installment of the 2012 RainyDayMagazine Holiday Gift Guide. Look for the first of the 2012 series on December 3rd!!!

Have a great Thanksgiving Holiday!!! [Permalink] - Happy Thanksgiving!

November 5,2012- Edge 80 at World's End...

After our successful FirstUse outing with the Lensbaby Composer Pro and Edge 80 optic, we went looking for other locations to further "exercise" the lens. We packed up the Lensbaby gear and took a drive out to World's End in Hingham. As it was late October, foliage colors were on full display. The last time we were at World's End was the dead of Winter. We had a lovely visit then and thought we should definitely revisit it again during the Fall. Good thing we went when we did, because after the recent hurricane, there probably isn't much foliage left on the trees.

The ability to direct the viewer's eye by is, of course, the reason for using a Lensbaby. The bonus of shooting Fall foliage with this lens is that the Lensbaby's impressionistic effect works well with the colors. Landscape and scenic shots take on an entirely different quality through the Lensbaby. We especially liked... [more] -Lensbaby Edge 80 InTheWild at World's End


October 3,2012- Iris Seed Pods...

Most of the plants in the RainyDayGarden are perennials. When a plant gets too big for its location, the interns will split it. They will either trade it for something we don't have or create a new spot for it in the garden. Of course, splitting a plant is not the only way to propagate perennials. Many of the perennials in the RainyDayGarden also generate a lot of seeds. Most of the time, we just let the birds have at them. Every once in a while, though, we collect some just to hone our seed-propagating skills. This is what we did this year with the iris pods.

We had hundreds of iris blooms this year in the RainyDayGarden. It was a little surprising because we had split them last June and didn't think they would be that vigorous this season. In August, we noticed that we had a... [more] - Iris Seed Pods


September 12,2012- RDG Update...

Looking back over the years we came to realize that we have not done updates of the RainyDayGarden during July and August. We are not quite sure why, but we thought we would post one this year as the garden is extra lovely this Summer.

Things which are in full bloom during the hot days of August in the RainyDayGarden are the Cone Flowers (Echinacea purpurea), Black Eye Susans (Rudbeckia hirta), Butterfly Bushes (Buddleia davidii), and Passiflora (Passiflora incarnata). They do well because they are all very... [more] - RDG Update


September 3,2012- IKEA Socker Greenhouse...

Every RainyDayMagazine reader knows that IKEA is the "go to" place for quality, inexpensive home funishings. Because IKEA designs its products to be "shipping-friendly," it also serves as a great resource for DIY-ers. We are constantly scouring its catalog for potential project ideas. One item in its new 2013 catalog that immediately caught our attention was the Socker countertop greenhouse.

The item is only available (as of this writing anyway) for in-store pick-up. At $20 a unit, we decided to pick up a few as they would be excellent for a lot of... [more] - IKEA Socker Greenhouse


July 16,2012- Hummingbird at the FPZ...

We are trying to entice hummingbirds to the RainyDayGarden. A few weeks ago, we got a couple of beautiful glass feeders from our favorite garden-gear source, Gardener's Supply Company, and put them up. So far, no luck in spotting the little hummers. However, we are hopeful that our efforts will be rewarded now that the trumpet vines and cone flowers are in full bloom.

When we were at the Franklin Park Zoo in June, not all of the exhibits had opened. One of those was the Butterfly Landing. We have been meaning to go back to the FPZ to check it out. So when we heard that the FPZ had some hummingbirds nesting there, we dropped everything and... [more] - Hummingbird at the FPZ


July 10,2012- Nikkor 18-300mm Zoom FirstShots...

We gave RainyDayPhotography readers a quick FirstLook of the brand new AFS-DX Nikkor 18-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR lens yesterday. Today, we thought we would show some of the results we got when we mounted the lens on a D90 and pointed it out the window.

We are fully aware that every zoom lens is a compromise between a host of competing requirements. This lens is no exception. By understanding its sweet spots and boundaries, we should be able to use this new lens to its full potential. We hope to have a better understanding of what this new Nikkor lens is capable of over the next few months. In the mean time, click on any of the... [more] - Nikkor 18-300mm Zoom FirstShots


July 6,2012- Hummingbird Feeder Install...

As we wanted to capture proof of any hummingbird visits, we needed to not just place our new hummingbird feeders where they could be seen, but also where we could quickly set up our camera and tripod. After trying a few different spots, we settled on two locations in the RainyDayGarden which met both criteria.

From the second-floor window, we have a "bird's eye" view of the two feeders (front, back). The 18-200mm Nikkor lens will let us get close enough for the shot if a hummingbird does indeed come by for a visit. To insure that we don't just get a blur, we placed the feeders in the sun so we could use a... [more] -Hummingbird Feeder Install


July 5,2012- RDG Update: Cone Flowers...

On Tuesday we gave an update on the state of the RainyDayGarden, at the end of which we mentioned that the cone flowers are hardy perennial which can be a great addition to any garden. Apparently quite many readers agree.

Cone flowers, or Echinacea, is an herbaceous, drought-tolerant, perennial that grows to almost five feet in height. They are native to eastern and central North America and bloom from early to... [more] -RDG Update: Cone Flowers


July 3,2012- RDG Update: Day Lilies...

The RainyDayGarden made it through the second heat wave without a scratch. In fact, the plants have not been this healthy for many years. We think the reason is the large amount of rain we got at the end of May. It must have really helped to establish deep roots during the Spring growth spurt. Whether that was the reason or not, we are happy to sit back and enjoy the show.

Like many people, we got our starter clumsp of day lilies from friends and/or family. In our case, one of the editors got it from his dad (who has been growing them for over forty years). The scientific name for daylily is Hemerocallis. The Greek word Hemerocallis is derived from the words meaning "beauty" and "day." True to its name, each flower lasts only... [more] -RDG Update : Day Lilies


June 29,2012- Mini-Blossom FirstLook...

When we were out in L.A., we saw hummingbirds everywhere. As we had never seen them in Boston, we always assumed that they were warm-weather birds. The topic of hummingbirds came up during our origami efforts last week. We learned that they are indeed found in New England would visit our garden, if properly enticed. Intrigued by the possibility, we have decided to create an environment inviting to these tiny avians and to take on the challenge of obtaining photographic proof of their visit to the RainyDayGarden.

Our first task was to take a look at what kind of feeders were available for hummingbirds. Our favorite source for all things garden related, Gardener's Supply Company, had a few different choices. The Mini-Blossom glass feeder immediately caught our eye. We liked the design best because... [more] -Mini-Blossom Hummingbird Feeder FirstLook


June 22,2012- Jardin plant supports...

The Northeast is currently in the grip of some seriously hot weather. According to the forecast, cooler air will be moving in soon and relief should be here before the weekend is over. Because of all the rain in April and May, the RainyDayGarden has been especially lush this year.

While we enjoy having a verdant garden, we minimize watering if at all possible. Someday we will put in a soaker-hose system, but that's a maybe-in-a-coupla-years project. In the mean time, when we do water, we do it early (7AM) and enough in order to promote deeper root growth, not surface spread. Many of the perennials are well established and quite... [more] -Jardin Plant Supports


June 21,2012- Hot Time Summer In The City...

Yesterday was the Summer Solstice, or the first day of Summer. Normally the Solstice is on the 21st, but due to astronomical weirdness, it was on the 20th this year. Anyway, the temperature went from a comfortable 75º the day before to a sweltering 98º in less than twelve hours. It was as if someone said "Summer is here" and threw a switch.

What better way to enjoy the heat than to wait in line to see and smell a plant which entices its pollinators by mimicking the scent of rotting flesh? Super hot day, the odor of decay, it's a "can't miss" combination! We are, of course, talking about the Amorphophallus Titanum, otherwise known as “Corpse Flower,” which recently bloomed at the... [more] -Hot Time Summer In The City


June 08,2012- RDG Update...

The RainyDayGarden is at its most lush at the beginning of June. The May rain, combined with the 70º day-time temperature, is a signal for many perennials to flower. The peonies blooms began to open up about a week ago.

The pink peonies have very large blooms and a heady fragrance. The blooms are so heavy that they tend to overwhelm the stems. We have them in flower cages, but cages can only do so much to hold things up. In order to enjoy the blooms, we typically bring them inside and display them. In water, the flowers can last for up to... [more]- RDG Update


June 4,2012- Franklin Park Zoo: Spring 2012...

We started our Urban Safari series on January 1st at the Franklin Park Zoo (FPZ). We went back in early March and again at the end of May. It was interesting to see how how the FPZ and the animals change over the course of Spring.

The FPZ is open year-round. Many of the animals have no issues with the colder New England weather. Those which do are moved to indoor facilities for the duration and emerge when the temperature becomes more moderate. Animals like the bustard can stay outside all winter as long as they've access to... [more]- FPZ: Spring


May 14,2012- Mid-May update...

Spring this year started out warmer but drier than usual (7" less than average). While the higher temperature gave everything a head start, some plants slowed due to the lack of rain. Some of the allium and quite a few of the tulips did not bloom this year. The precipitation finally came in the latter part of April and the beginning of May and are beginning to make up for some of the early deficit. When the rain came, everything "popped" at once.

One of the goals we have for the RainyDayGarden is to have something blooming at any given time. We have been doing pretty well. The ferns have already unfurled, the peonies have hundreds of... [more]- RDG Mid-May Update


April 30,2012- Gore Place: Waltham MA...

This past Saturday was kind of cool, but very sunny. After running some errands, we thought we would see if there was anything happening which would get us outside. A few years ago, we went to a Sheepshearing Festival in Waltham MA. As it turns out, the festival was on until 5 PM. The timing was perfect as it was just a little past noon and if we hurried and cleaned up, we could hop into the Boxster and be there with plenty of time remaining.

The festival was in full swing when we arrived. Parking was free (out in a big field) and there was plenty of it. The only drawback was there is only one entrance so there was a bit of a bottle-neck. As this was the 25th time for this particular festival, the organizers have worked out the logistics the best they could. They had cops directing traffic to ensured things kept flowing. We only had to wait a little bit before making our way onto the fair ground. Next year, to avoid the congestion, we may park at one of the auxiliary lots and... [more] - Gore Place: Waltham MA


April 25,2012- BPG in the Spring...

Boston is a beautiful city any time (Spring, Fall), but there is something extra special about it in the Spring. The rain last weekend had things blooming everywhere. We intended to go back to the Arboretum to see what else had popped, but instead went down to the Boston Public Garden (BPG) and said "Hi" to the ducklings.

The Boston Public Garden, America's first public botanical garden, was established in 1837. The design (lots of color, showy blooms, etc) was heavily influenced by the Victorian style of gardening. The garden's large series of formal plantings and the lagoon are maintained by... [more] - Boston Public Garden in the Spring


April 24,2012- After The Rain...

Some areas of the East Coast got hammered by the weather over the weekend, but the few inches of rain that fell in New England was much needed and very welcomed. In the RainyDayGarden, plants such as the wisteria and the Japanese Maple responded enthusiastically.

We were hoping to take advantage of the early Spring and get some of the seedlings into the ground earlier this year, but the lack of rain had us worried. While the basil seedlings are still quite small, the bean sprouts will be ready to go into the ground in another week or so. We have been... [more] - After The Rain


April 18,2012- Spring At The Arboretum...

The Arnold Arboretum is a fantastic place to visit any time of the year (Spring, Fall, Winter). However, if we could only go once a year, then Spring would be it. While the colors of Fall at the Arboretum are spectacular, somehow we would still prefer the blooms of Spring.

We stopped by today to see how things were going and got quite a surprise. We knew the plants at the RainyDayGarden were a few weeks early this year, but the effect was entirely different at the Arnold Arboretum. Plants currently flowering are the magnolias, cherries, forsythia, early azaleas, redbud, Japanese andromeda, and many more. Go here for an interactive map of... [more] - Spring At The Arboretum


April 17,2012- Macro In The Garden...

The weather forecast for Marathon Monday was spot on: the mercury climbed to over 80º. While the steamy temperature was a challenge for the marathoners, the plants in the RainyDayGarden loved it.

The heat sped everything up. The daffodils, which had been blooming, perked up. The yellow tulips, which hadn't even turned yellow the day before, started to bloom. Even some of the irises got into the action. We took advantage got in some practice on shooting close-ups and... [more] -Macro In The Garden


April 13,2012- RDG Update...

A month ago the temperature hit 80º+, but like any aberration, it returned to the seasonal norm quickly enough. Those few days of warm weather in March jump-started all of the perennials in the RainyDayGarden and everything is about two weeks ahead of schedule. The only thing still lagging is the rain. Currently, the rain gauge is registering about 7" less than what should have fallen by now. Fortunately, a little bit of rain (and hail!) finally showed up yesterday. The plants really needed it as they were pretty parched!

Plants like the daffodils have been blooming since the end of March. A few tulips are starting to show some color and we expect to see one open in the next day or so, especially if the 75º forecast for... [more] -Mid-Spring Update


March 22,2012- Spring Cleaning:Shear tuning...

The recent high-temps got lots or people out cleaning and working on their garden, and we were no exception. After trying to trim some dead branches from the shrubs, we noticed our shears and pruners were doing more crushing than cutting. As the cutters were otherwise in good shape, we thought we would see if we could give the blades a sharpening.

Unlike a pair of scissors, most gardening loppers and pruners are single-bladed. In order to have the best access to the blade, take the cutter apart. Typically, there is a central bolt holding... [more] -Spring Cleaning: Shear Tuning


March 15,2012- Spring Already?...

How different this Winter was from that of a year ago! We hardly had any snow this season. Coupled with the unseasonably warm weather the past week, and things in the RainyDayGarden really got kicked into gear. The growth in the garden is probably a week or more ahead of schedule.

The dwarf irises and crocuses have been out since the end of February. The tulips, day lillies, and even the peonies have poked through the ground. In fact, this is the earliest we we can recall the... [more] -Spring Already?


March 5,2012- Drumlin Farm...

We have visited a few Mass Audubon sanctuaries (BNC, Blue Hills, etc...), but have never been to Drumlin Farm. Recently, we popped in for a look and were quite happy we did. Drumlin Farm is Mass Audubon’s flagship sanctuary, containing 232 acres of fields, forests, and ponds. The property features a sustainable working farm and a display of wildlife native to New England. The farm has a full-time staff of 25 people, in addition to 90+ seasonal teacher/naturalists, camp counselors, and farm apprentices. It is the only facility of its kind in the Greater Boston area.

The farm was established in the early 1900s by Louise Gordon Hatheway and her family. The family maintained a working farm and invited city children to visit and learn about farm life. In the mid-1950s, as farms close to Boston began disappearing, Mrs. Hatheway was inspired to... [more] -Urban Safari: Drumlin Farm


February 29,2012- L.A. Visit: Day 6...

In 1970, several trustees of the Palm Springs Desert Museum foresaw the impact that resort development would have on the local desert ecosystem. They created The Living Desert to educate the public and to promote the value of desert conservation. Since check-in at the Rancho Las Palmas resort was not until the late afternoon, Kristin thought it would be fun to drop in for a look.

The place is huge, with numerous exhibits, talks, and staff to help visitors appreciate the variety of plants and animals which call the desert their home. The Living Desert is more than just a zoo. It is active in programs to help desert animals andd... [more] - L.A. Visit: The Living Desert


February 23,2012- L.A. Visit: Day 2...

It is the second day of our week in L.A. We thought we had slept in, but it was only 5 A.M. when we were dressed and ready. To slow us down and help shift our clocks, we decided to stretch the day out (meaning: no naps) and stay up later into the night. Spent most of the day in the L.A. County Arboretum and Botanical Garden. The L.A. Arboretum is a historical site jointly operated by the Los Angeles Arboretum Foundation and the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation, and is located in the city of Arcadia.

Visitors to the 127 acre acre botanical garden are often greeted by the free-roaming peafowls. Our visit was no exception. We were greeted by a very friendly peacock. Peafowl, Pavo cristatus, were introduced to the botanical garden by Lucky Baldwin in the late 1800's. Apparently, they were well suited to the garden, as they have thrived. Only the colorful males of... [more] - Urban Safari: L.A. Arboretum and Botanical Garden


February 22,2012- L.A. Visit: Day 1...

Every year around this time we get the urge to visit our RainyDayLA office. It may be that we miss our friends out West, but it may also have something to do with the New England weather. The fact that it has been unseasonably warm in Boston this Winter did not diminish our enthusiasm for the trip! When we left Boston, the temperature was gray, cool, and in the mid-40s. A nap, a few movies, and six hours later, we stepped out into the warm, sunny, if a bit hazy L.A. As always, our host Kristin has assembed various fun and interesting activities and food options for every day of our visit :-) This time her "suggestions folder" was almost an inch thick!

After a quick bite, we headed out to our first destination: South Coast Botanical Garden. It was only six miles away from where we were staying, but L.A. traffic being what it was, it took us... [more] - L.A. Visit: Day 1


February 6,2012- Urban Safari: The Stone Zoo...

A Zoo New England embership has many benefits, one of which is free admission to both the Franklin Park and Stone zoos (ours were purchased after our visit to the Franklin Park Zoo in early January). So while most New Englanders were getting ready to watch the Super Bowl, we visited the Stone Zoo. Stone Zoo, founded in 1905 as the Middlesex Fells Zoo, is located on a 26-acre site next the Spot Pond Reservoir in Stoneham, MA.

Both the Stone Zoo and the Franklin Park Zoo are managed by the non-profit corporation Zoo New England. Zoo New England is a participatant in the Species Survival Plans (SSP) for several of their animals. SSP started in 1981 as a means for zoos and aquariums to... [more] - Urban Safari: The Stone Zoo


January 16,2012- Snow on bamboo...

Winter has finally arrived in New England. The temperature scraped the low teens for a few days last week, and even dipped into the single digits over the weekend. To the delight of commuters and the dismay of skiers, snow has not made much of an appearance (discounting the freak October storm) except for some light dustings.

A few days ago, we woke up to such a dusting and mananged to grab a few quick snaps before the sun got high enough in the sky to make it all disappear. The one downside of taking shots so early was we could not get any pics with the new glass feeders sparkling in the sunlight. We had mentioned these glass feeders from the Gardener's Supply Company in the 2011 Holiday Gift Guide. The Crackle Glass and Moon feeders are designed to... [more] - Moon and Crackle Glass Birdfeeder


January 10,2012- Boston Nature Center...

The first in the series of Urban Safari got quite a nice response and a lot of excellent suggestions on other locations. One of those suggestions was the Boston Nature Center (BNC) in Mattapan. As with the Franklin Park Zoo, this wildlife sanctuary is just a few miles from the RainyDayMagazine office. While we are frequent visitos to the BNC in the Spring and the Fall, we have never been there during the Winter months.

With the weather being unseasonably warm this January, it felt more like a day in late Fall than the middle of Winter on our visit. We arrived fairly early. The Nature Center building was not yet open and the grounds were very quiet. This urban sanctuary was built on the grounds of the... [more] - Urban Safari: Boston Nature Center


January 2,2012- Urban Safari:Franklin Park Zoo...

The Franklin Park Zoo is just a few miles from the RainyDayMagazine office, yet in all the years we have been in Boston we have never been there. So over the Holiday break, we dropped by for a visit (basically because somebody in the office was a little disappointed---yet again--that she didn't get a pony for Chrismas and insisted on an animal interaction nonetheless). We were not sure what to expect, but what we saw amazed us. Right in the middle of Boston were numerous exotic animal species from around the world! We were so impressed that we decided to lead off the new year with an "urban safari" to this wonderful city zoo.

The Franklin Park Zoo in Boston and Stone Zoo in Stoneham (Massachusetts) make up the non-profit corporation, Zoo New England. If you want to avoid the crowds and spend some quality time with the animals, get there early (and not during school vacation). We arrived right when the... [more] - Urban Safari: Franklin Park Zoo



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