Southern New Hampshire Life

Southern New Hampshire Blog by Steve Russo, Realtor

Southern New Hampshire Life - Southern New Hampshire Blog by Steve Russo, Realtor

Country Cuisine 1: Amherst

Southern New Hampshire has a wealth of restaurants to meet everyone’s taste.  The eateries in the region’s larger towns – Keene, Manchester, Nashua, and Portsmouth – are well-known.  This blog series, “Country Cuisine,” highlights restaurants in smaller towns and out-of-the-way places.  They range from the rustic to the gourmet.  I hope you’ll try all of them!

The Black Forest Cafe‘s guiding philosophy is to offer fresh, hand-made creations using natural ingredients.  It’s a great place for lunch or a light dinner, or to enjoy their popular Sunday brunch.  The Cafe features an eclectic menu including dishes which change with the season.  Recent offerings included New England cranberry chicken salad, savory Black Forest meatloaf, and seafood crepes.  The Cafe has an adjoining bakery marketplace for those who prefer self-service.  The marketplace is renowned for its cakes and cookies, as well as its sandwiches, salads, and gourmet meals, which can be enjoyed on the premises or taken home.  The Black Forest recently added a “Wifi Spot” on the second floor for those who wish to consult their laptops while enjoying their marketplace fare. Address: 212 Route 101, Amherst; phone: 603-672-0500;  website:

One of the area’s most popular new restaurants is PastAmore, housed in an unassuming building on busy Route 101A.  The Italian-born chef features dishes not often seen elsewhere  from many different regions of Italy, such as Maiale Milanese, Tortellini Veneziana, Ravioli all’Aragosta, and Gamberi Portofino, as well as more traditional fare such as parmigianas, pastas, and marsalas.   Open for lunch and dinner; dinner reservations recommended.  Address: 103 Route 101A, Amherst; phone: 603-578-9696; website:

17th Annual Made in New Hampshire Expo

“Buying local” is becoming more and more popular these days.  If you’re interested in local alternatives, check out the Made in NH Expo this coming weekend. Many local business will be there to introduce you to their offerings.  The exhibitors run the gamut from Brookline’s Cozy Tea Cart (gourmet teas) and Concord’s Granite State Candy Shop (chocolates and super premium ice creams) to Contoocook’s Riverworks (handcrafted jewelry) and Laconia’s Woodshed Roasting Company (coffee roasters). Other companies present will be showcasing a wide variety of products: foods, glassware, tableware, pet foods, skin care items, clothing, furniture, and various services.  The motto of the Expo is “Try It and Buy It” – many exhibitors will have free samples on hand.

Hours: Friday 4/13 1 –  8PM; Saturday 4/14 10AM – 8PM; Sunday 10AM – 4PM.   At the Radisson Hotel, 700 Elm Street, Manchester.  There is an admission charge; seniors and children’s tickets are discounted.  For more information:


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Southern New Hampshire Garden Centers: Part 2

Most of the garden centers featured below specialize in the unique or the unusual or have extensive collections not found elsewhere.  All were featured in a great garden guide that was published a few years ago, The Adventurous Gardener: Where to buy the best plants in New England by Ruah Donnelly.  Ms. Donnelly described her guide as one that would help people “…find good regionally grown plants…” Many of the nurseries and garden stores she included seek to make available unique or unusual plants not commonly found in chain stores.

Delahunty’s Nurseries & Florist in Windham has over 10 acres of plants to meet your gardening needs.  They provide an extensive selection of annuals and perennials, roses, and shrubs.  They are noted for their mature shrubs and trees – which range up to 18 feet tall for those special landscaping projects.  If they don’t have what you want, let them know, and they will order it for you from one of their growers.  Delahunty’s also has a full service florist shop. Their website has informative sections on watering and gardening:

Lake Street Garden Center in Salem is a family-run retail garden center, open year round, that has everything a gardener might desire.  They have a large variety of annuals, perennials, herbs, vegetables, fruit and ornamental trees, shrubs, and aquatic plants.  In addition, they carry house plants, bonsais, holiday plants, pots, garden accents, fertilizers, water garden supplies, etc.  Many of the staff have degrees in horticulture.  They sponsor several gardening classes each month and support the Salem Farmer’s Market. Their website:

The Mixed Border Nursery and Gardens in Hollis specializes in unique and unusual plants for the garden, although a wide selection of standard and familiar shrubs, perennials, and some annuals are also available.  The helpful staff is very experienced and friendly.  In addition to the nursery, the Mixed Border offers complete garden design and landscaping services.  They will open for the season on April 16th.  Website:

Perennials from Susan in Amherst features over 1,900 varieties of plants grown in Susan Kierstead’s 2 acres of gardens.  As all have been grown in Amherst, they are hardy for New Hampshire’s climate.  Her display area includes shade gardens, sand gardens, and sun gardens to inspire your inner gardener.  She specializes in wildflowers and daylilies (featuring over 300 varieties), as well as ornamental grasses and unique plants.  Perennials from Susan will be open 3 days a week starting April 19th. Website:

Rolling Green Nursery is a 9-acre center in Greenland that has been serving the seacoast area for over 20 years.  They grow most of the perennials and annuals that they offer, so you know they are NH-hardy.  In addition, they have a large selection of ornamental and fruit trees, shrubs, container plants, and topiaries. Earth-friendly and people-friendly (ergonomic) garden products are a specialty.   In addition to their retail business, they sponsor several gardening classes and host community events such as an Easter Egg Hunt and a Father’s Day BBQ.  They have an extensive website filled with planting ideas and horticultural tips:

Uncanoonuc Mt. Perennials in Goffstown will be open Wednesdays through Sundays starting on April 24th this year.  Uncanoonuc specializes in low-maintenance perennials – which is what many are seeking these days!  Many of the 900+ varieties on sale are unusual versions of common plants that you are unlikely to see elsewhere. The nursery grounds includes display gardens and 2.5 acres of plants for purchase.  Their website has dozens of gardening guides, links, and photos of Uncanoonuc‘s flowers:

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Southern New Hampshire Garden Centers: Part 1

Spring is here, and it’s time to spruce up the garden!  Whether you’ve just bought your first home or have been living in your residence for years, when spring rolls around, it’s time to visit the garden center.  We are fortunate in southern New Hampshire to have many excellent companies from which to choose from!

The garden centers listed below carry a wide-range of plants and plant products for your home.  Some specialize in outdoor plants,  but many carry house plants also; some even offer everything for your  herb, vegetable, or water garden.  All are staffed by friendly and helpful employees, many with horticultural degrees and/or master gardener certifications.


The Amherst Garden Center on Route 101 in Amherst is stocked with perennials, trees, and shrubs for spring planting.  Annuals will be making their appearance later.  Winner of the New Hampshire Magazine’s “Best of New Hampshire” award for best garden center (in 2009), the family owned store features larger plants, with the idea that a larger plant with a larger root system will thrive better. In addition to an extensive selection of plants for outdoor planting, this family owned and operated center also has indoor plants, cut flowers, and a gift shop.  This year they will be expanding their hydroponic garden area which they are developing with the Amherst Garden Club.  It will feature hydroponically-grown tomatoes and herbs and hydroponic systems for the home gardener. Website:

Bedford Fields Garden Center and Home Decor has been a mecca for plant lovers for almost 20 years.  During planting season, its grounds are covered with choice perennials and annuals, many from local nurseries. This locally owned shop also features organic vegetable and herb plants, organic weed and feed products, outdoor/garden furniture and statuary, and a wide range of quality items for your pet and home.  The friendly informative staff includes master gardeners and horticultural-degreed employees. Open year-round, Bedford Fields has an extensive website at 

Chakarian Farm Greenhouses has been operating in Derry for 20 years.  They offer a unique selection of annuals, perennials, herbs, and vegetable plants from the twelve greenhouses on the property. They also have hanging plants, shrubs, trees, and gardening essentials, including organic products, for sale. Many of their plants are highlighted in their attractive display garden which features waterfalls and a koi pond. Landscape design and planting services are also available. Open 7 days a week. Their website offers links to their suppliers, UNH Extension Services, and other gardening information:

The House by the Side of the Road, open year-round in Wilton, has an extensive collection of outdoor and indoor plants in several greenhouses and acreage surrounding their flagship building on route 101.  In addition to annuals, perennials, trees, and aquatic plants, the House has sizeable cacti, succulent, and orchid collections. Hanging plants are a specialty.  It carries everything you need to make your plants look their best, with containers ranging from bonsai-size to multi-gallon ones, mulches, fertilizers, insect treatments, etc.  Their website has a virtual tour and helpful links:

Lull Farm, with outlets in Hollis and Milford, has a large selection of annuals and perennials each year.  Most of the annuals are grown from seed in their own greenhouses.  They also have a wide variety of vegetable plants, from broccoli and collards to radiccichio and swiss chard.  During the season, they have pick-your-own berry and apple crops on their nearby farms.  And if growing or picking your own is too strenuous for you, they’ll welcome you to their retail shops which sell everything from local farm produced dairy and meats as well as fruits and vegetables.  Their website:

 Mason Brook Nursery on Route 124 in Mason offers an extensive collection of annual and perennial flowers, hanging baskets, vegetables, herbs, shrubs, ornamental and fruit trees, and berry plants.  Many of the plants are started in their own nurseries.  In addition to plants, Mason Brook furnishes mulch, loam, and stone products to local gardeners.  Open seven days a week.  Website:

Mason Hollow Nursery on a shady lane in Mason is the place to go for hosta, as they feature over 650 colorful varieties of this well-known garden mainstay, including sun-tolerant and fragrant varieties.  In addition, they offer ornamental grasses, brunneras, heucheras, wild flowers, ferns, and heathers, as well as select perennials, trees, and shrubs for both sunny and shady locations. Mason Hollow usually opens in early May.  Their website is:

 Ponemah Farms Garden Center in Amherst has a knowledgeable and friendly staff to help you find the perfect annuals, perennials, and houseplants for your home.  They also carry choice trees and shrubs to meet your landscaping needs. Their busy outlet on route 101A stocks great selections of plants, and also soils, mulches, and containers for your gardening needs.

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Southern New Hampshire Life

Welcome to my corner of the world.  Southern New Hampshire is one of the fastest growing regions in the Northeast.  Despite this growth, many towns have kept their rural atmosphere and quiet charm.  I moved here over a dozen years ago, attracted like many visitors to all that this region has to offer – historic small towns just a short drive to cultural activities in Portsmouth, Peterborough and Boston, great recreational opportunities in the lakes region, the White Mountains, and seacoast, and an easy commute to most of New England’s major employers.

In this blog I’ll share some of what’s best about living in the southern part of New Hampshire.  I’ll be posting articles for people who are considering moving here or have recently moved here, so they can get the “flavor” of living in our area.  I welcome long-time residents visiting my blog also – there’s always something new to learn about this great region of the state.  I hope you’ll like what you see!

– Steve Russo

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