There are lots of beautiful things blooming here in Salem this week and one of my very favorites is the peonies. Do I have any in my garden? No, I don’t. Why? Because they take time, space and patience.  I want to grow them. Every year I spend a good amount of time thinking about where I could plant some. I never seem to get it together and get them into the ground.  One of the great things about blogging is that I feel  accountable for what I say I’m going to do. So, here goes—  “I’m going to plant some peonies this year!!” If anyone has some that they’d like to share I’ll be by in no time to pick them up, now or in the fall… just let me know! Here are some of my inspiration peonies. My  dear friend Blaire has grown these in her Salem garden for years. Long before I knew her I used to lean over her fence every June to admire them. 

This is her first shot of this years’ blossoms… Wow! Perfection!!

Here’s a full view.. just beautiful!!

And one stem artfully arranged after a little damage from a hard rain… Leave it to Blaire to create something this pretty!

I would say that the patience and space needed is definitely worthwhile! Time to get to work! And many thanks to Blaire for allowing me to share these beautiful photos!

Enjoy Everything!


Salem 101: Where are We? On the Ocean!

I’m always surprised when friends and family really don’t know where Salem, Massachusetts is located. They often think that it’s in the western part of the state or in Boston or New Hampshire (there is a Salem in New Hampshire about an hour away).. We are actually about fifteen miles north of Boston, right on the coast. It’s a very convenient location. We can be in the city (we call Boston the city here) in about forty minutes, less in good traffic. The mountains of New Hampshire are two hours north, and Cape Cod is the same distance to the south. And we have the ocean and all that it offers. 



We love to  sit and watch the boats

Or relax on the rocks at Waikiki Beach, one of our favorite things to do! Here’s my little guy a few years ago

and more recently, he’s gets bigger and more adventurous all the time!

There are tide pools to explore!

We even have a polar bear plunge on New Years Day! (that’s snow on the beach in the background)

Salem is all about the ocean and the views here are beautiful, all year round!

There are several cities and towns called “Salem” in the United States, but this one is truly unique!

Enjoy your day!  Thanks for stopping by!  Michele

A Little Glitch

A few days ago one of my cousins asked me to share some gardening failures. There are plenty and I started thinking about where to start with that post. Then Michael came in from the garden a few hours later and asked “what’s that growing in the basil and tomato plants?”   I went out there to look and found this beautiful sight:

Seriously? what is that popping up all over the bed?  I think it’s probably some grass from bunny food that had made it’s way into  the rabbit compost that I added before I planted these last weekend. I had to laugh because before I could even take a photo Michael had started digging it all out.  I’m going to add some straw mulch today after another round of weeding. That may help to keep the weeds down, moisture in and wilt away from the tomato plants. 

It happens, it’s okay, hang in there! It can be a long road but it’s so worth it in a month or so when we’re enjoying fresh tomatoes and pesto. There’s nothing else like that!  Have a wonderful day! Enjoy everything! 


I was talking with a friend at church yesterday about our Memorial Day plans. She asked what we were doing and I shared that we’ll be visiting the cemetery.  She looked a little bit confused for a second so I went on to explain that I like to use it as a teachable moment with my kids. We don’t have family buried here in Salem and I’ll admit that we don’t take the time to visit graves when we’re in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.  We really should do that more.  On Memorial Day however we take a trip to a cemetery here in Salem and just relax for a few hours. Sometimes we catch guppies in the ponds, or take a walk. My younger kids ask lots of questions about death and dying which is always an important conversation. I usually bring some carnations and the kids and I place them on Veteran’s graves that look untended and lonely. I like for them to think about the sacrifices that have been made for them.  It’s often said that “freedom isn’t free” and we need to remember that. I also use this time to tell them about their grandfathers. My Dad spent twenty years in the Army and retired as a Master Sargent. He was never far from that experience and shared much of it with us. My father-in-law didn’t serve in the military but he was a true patriot and taught us all as well. I love remembering Memorial Days long ago when my family camped together or Michael and I watched the  parade in Wharton, New Jersey with my in-laws. I wonder what my kids will remember and what they’ll share with their children.  I hope that you have a few moments to connect with the people you love today and to take some time to honor and remember those who have given so much for us.

I’m Still Blogging!! A Wrap Up from the Week

So this ends my first week as a blogger, I have to say that it’s a  really a fun project. I love having someplace for my energy and creative thoughts to live.  I’m surprised by the amount of technical knowledge that’s required.  Like  other things that I’ve taught myself,  cooking, gardening, basic computer skills, and of course parenting… I try to learn one new thing each day. It’s all about taking baby steps and staying the course a little bit at a time.  Somehow I’ve been blessed with the ability to learn well that way, in small pieces… very, very slowly.  Thank you for your patience as you follow my long learning curve!

I  want to be sure to give credit where it’s due so a few quick housekeeping points are in order. The photo that I posted yesterday of the field of greens is NOT of my garden but of a garden at Overlook Farm in central Massachusetts. It was taken by Michael last summer on a church retreat with the youth group. The morning glories were mine a year or so ago. I took the photo on Boston Common  last year.  The last photo of the nasturtium basket is mine, taken at Santa’s Village in New Hampshire. All other photos are mine or Sophie’s and are from our garden here in Salem.

I’m hoping to get out and about in the next few weeks. I’d like to capture the spirit of  this unique place. Salem is an amazing place to work, live and raise a family. It’s not all about Halloween and witches. There’s an amazing sea-faring history and it’s right on the ocean. There are cultural events and interesting things happening every day!  I’m also planning to do some garden tours in the area. There are so many, some in the city, some on the ocean and some in backyards like mine.  As we all become used to this routine I may include more posts and photos of my family. I need to do some reading and searching  about that. My children’s privacy is very important to me and I’d never want to compromise it or for one of them to be uncomfortable. There may be some posts about our chickens and other  pets on the way soon too and maybe a few recipes. I really, really  need to get my camera back from the repair shop!

I’d like to sincerely thank everyone who’s read something here and encouraged me. I have the most wonderful friends and family! I’ve been most surprised by the reaction of my immediate family. Sophie took photos for me. Joseph loves to read my posts and is sure that I’ll be the next Pioneer Woman so that he’ll be rich and famous.  Alli Rose sat in my lap and loved me as I wrote and tinkered. Holly smiled quietly and cheered.  Will has spared a few minutes from his busy teenage schedule to check in and read things, and my wonderful husband Michael has enjoyed throwing ideas for posts my way (some are usable and some are not!).

Thank you again for taking the time to stop in!

Lots of love,  

Michele at  The Salem Garden

Plant Something!

It’s Memorial Day weekend, time to get out there!!

Will you be planting a field of vegetables

or some morning-glory seeds? They’ll climb right up any fence, post or pole!


Maybe you’ll create a beautiful island like this one that we visited last summer in the Boston Public Garden

or  hang a basket that you pick up at a garden center, easy and beautiful!

It can be anything that works for you, as long as you enjoy it!  What will you be planting this weekend?

This Week in the Garden

Lot’s of things are growing, and there’s lots to do!

Iris are blooming! My very favorite flower… these siberian iris are so easy to grow, if you live nearby let me know if you’d like some when I divide them in the fall…

The chickens are looking for a treat, or for an escape out into the yard to range for awhile..

the lavendar is bouncing back after I pruned the beejebees out of it a few weeks ago.. it was unwieldy and needed it! It will be blooming again in no time..

Sweet peas are growing up the fence! We don’t eat too many peas, I’m hoping that growing them ourselves will help with that..

This pretty flower is taking off beautifully and I can’t remember what it is! Where did I put that tag?  Please leave a comment if you can id it for me!

Cucumber and pepper plants are ready to be planted, along with a border of marigolds to help keep pests away

Our baby chicks are growing so fast! We’re loving our new Light Brahmas (on the right) and the pretty Buff Orphington is always a nice addition to our flock

Everything’s growing and coming together, I love this time of the year!

All credit for the photos goes to my daughter Sophie who took all of them on her I-Pod!  There’s nothing quite like starting a blog on the day your camera goes into the shop! Thanks Soph!

Have a great day everyone! Get out there and enjoy everything!!

There’s a Turkey in the Lettuce!


Early this morning while getting ready for the day I heard Michael call out “Hey Dear”..  dear means me.. usually it means something is up.   I looked up from what I was doing just in time to see him running toward the basement steps calling the dog to come with him.. On his way past he yelled  “theres a big turkey eating your lettuce!”  I ran out  to the deck and there in all her glory was a thirty pound turkey standing right in the middle of the bed having breakfast.  Next thing I saw was  Michael and Winnie running into the yard toward the garden to scare her away.. She flew out of there and ran for her life!   So, there’s turkeys out there, they like lettuce and anything else that tastes like it belongs in a salad…


They  visit often, we seem to have one living right behind our chicken coop


This big guy hung around in our yard awhile ago, he was beautiful! I’m not sure I would have been able to chase him out of the lettuce!


Our resident wild turkey even had breakfast in our yard with one of the mallard moms that’s nesting out there one day last week..

Unfortunately our camera is in the shop so I didn’t get a photo of the lettuce eating incident this morning…a video of Michael’s intervention would have been great! Can I post videos here?

Turkeys and other creatures are no worry for us! Sometimes it can be a little bit frustrating to see your carefully tended seedlings consumed by nature but that’s part of the deal. Let’s keep on planting and growing and enjoying everything! Get out there and enjoy today!


Day two–Sort of a mission statement

The thing that I keep reading about blogging is that you have to post often, if not every day. I think it’s a good time for me to talk a little bit about my vision for The Salem Garden as a blog/website.  I’m hoping that it will have a life and personality of it’s own. I’d like to be able to encourage people who want to garden but are hesitant to to get out there and enjoy themselves! I’m also hoping to share some of the great things about living in New England, especially here in Salem. Salem is an amazing city full of interesting sights and people! There’s always something fun going on and there’s lots of great gardens to tour. I’m sure that I’ll end up sharing a little bit of our family life too… it’s hard not to with a big, busy family like mine! If you’d like to, please follow me the top left of the page and leave a comment. Thanks for stopping by!

Hello world!

Oh my goodness! I have a blog! Where will this go? What will I write about? There are countless possibilities but I believe that the name  THE SALEM GARDEN will define the path that my blog may take. Maybe I’ll write daily about our garden.. The garden is my favorite place in the world. I love it best late in the afternoon when the kids are playing all around us and  my Michael and I are working together.  I also love the peace and beauty of the early morning, right after we let the chickens out. Everything is fresh and new and beautiful.  Maybe I’ll also write about our family adventures. Life with five children in Salem Massachusetts is very fun and interesting! We’ll see, time will tell ! I hope that becomes a place of encouragement and fun for anyone who chooses to visit!