Counting Stars in Your Own Backyard


Summertime is perfect for travel, to see new sights, taste new foods, and refresh our spirits. Sometimes we return from a vacation, though, only to sigh with relief at the sight of our own front door.  There’s something to be said for a chance to relax without packing a suitcase, airport delays, and crowds of tourists. With a little advance planning, we can turn a stay at home into a luxurious retreat.



Start by thinking about what you love when you travel. If the feeling of luxury and being pampered is part of what makes a hotel stay desirable, then recreate that escape at home. Toss out old bedding, and invest in good quality organic cotton sheets. They’ll feel wonderful against your skin, and will support your health by being toxin-free. Buy new pillows, and add a soft alpaca throw at the bottom of the bed.



Rejuvenating your body as well as your mind and spirit should be your priority for this vacation. Consider purchasing a room air purifier. A HEPA filter will remove allergens and particulates from the air you breathe, then recirculate purified air back into the room.



I have a whole house air purification system that keeps the air in my home pristine, and my guests tell me they’ve never felt better or more energized.



Bring the best summer has to offer inside! I love the look of nautical throw pillows. Add shells and beach-inspired decor to keep you feeling like your toes are in the sand.



I love my collection of vintage sand pails, reminding me that this is the season to remember the delights of childhood, or enjoy them again with little people you love.




Plan a day trip (or three!) to places in your area that you just don’t have time to get to on a regular basis. One of my favorite destinations on Nantucket is Pumpkin Pond Farm. My good friend Marty McGowan is an organic farmer who blesses the island with gorgeous flowers and delicious homegrown produce. The recent Tomato Tasting there was a delight for all the senses.




Indulge in all the bounty of fresh summer foods–tomatoes, corn, peaches, plums, and fragrant herbs. Try a new recipe every night!




When the afternoon sun starts to make you drowsy, there’s nothing like a window seat where you can curl up with a book to read or to nap.



Since you’re staying home, family and friends may be traveling to see you. Arrange guest rooms with the kind of touches that help people feel at home. A small table or chair where they can place their luggage is appreciated. Fill a basket with books you’ve enjoyed, soaps and lotions, and extra towels. The best way to decide if your guest room is ready is to sleep there for a night yourself.



There’s nothing more romantic than a summer evening, so don’t stay indoors and miss it. Be sure to make your patio or deck as comfortable as the interior of your home, with tables, umbrellas, and lots of wonderful places to sit, with cushions and throw pillows so you can relax.



String white lights with vintage lanterns..



Light lots of candles.



Then listen for the owls, and count the stars in your own backyard.





The Pleasures of Summer at Pumpkin Pond Farm

Photography:  Kevin McGowan

One of my favorite places on Nantucket is Pumpkin Pond Farm, a certified organic 9.5 acre farm and nursery located at 25 Millbrook Road.   Owner Marty McGowan, his wife Holly and his sister Mary have created an Eden-like oasis of color and flavor, offering a wide variety of delicious vegetables and greens, along with trees, shrubs, perennials, annuals and just for good measure, rare and beautiful antique garden ephemera.

They are dedicated to sustainable agriculture and good soil science, in addition to planting for color and beauty as well as taste.  Marty prides himself on being a nutrient rich-organic food source for the island.  More people are becoming aware that local food is healthier than food that has to travel long distances to reach our tables.  Pumpkin Pond also buys seeds and heirloom varieties only from certified organic providers.


Photography:  Kevin McGowan

“I have fun discovering the provenance and stories behind many of the heirloom varieties we grow,” says Marty.  For anyone interested in the story behind their heirloom vegetables, he suggests a visit to Gary Ibsen’s TomatoFest.

You’ll find both French and Italian varieties of herbs and greens, fields overflowing with fragrant flowers for cutting and 26 different kinds of heirloom tomatoes.  (Plan on attending their August tomato tasting for an exploration into sweet and delicious pairings with cheese, wine and salami from Boston’s North End.)


Photography:  Kevin McGowan

A tropical greenhouse is home to banana plants, gardenias, passion flowers and ginger, along with a wide variety of succulents.  20,000 varieties of annuals add an explosion of summer color, and their extensive tree and shrub collection, along with a wide selection of hydrangeas, make a visit to the farm an experience you won’t forget.

A new addition this year an herb garden, where they’re exploring new and exiting varieties of herbs, such as an oregano from Greece or Spain, and paprika from Africa.  The herb gardener, fondly known to as “Farmer Josh,” makes wonderful herbal sun tea fresh daily.  A favorite of visitors is Chocolate Mint with Chamomile; stop by and try some!


Photography:  Kevin McGowan

Holly, Marty’s wife, is the creative vision behind their unique collection of garden ephemera.  You can find both classic and eclectic ornaments, furniture and urns to grace your garden there.

One of their favorite events happens July 25-28 when the Nantucket Garden Festival takes place. It’s one of the season’s most popular events for islanders and non-islanders alike.    The farm hosts the Opening Night party from 6 to 8:30 p.m. on July 25th; add it to your calendar now.

Hope to see you there!