Sunday, May 03, 2015

Stand Back, Flowers at Work.

5-3-15 VERMONT: The last two days have been beautiful, warm and mostly sunny, although it’s getting cloudy this afternoon. Buds and shoots are popping open as if they are making up for lost time because of the long winter. Daffodils are showing some flower buds. In other years they have been open in mid-April.

The pond is clearer than it has been for years. Is it the treatments we have used the last couple of years or the very cold winter? Newts, fish, crawfish, frogs and turtles are all present and accounted for. I saw four turtles yesterday all basking in the sun for most of the afternoon. I did the initial pond treatment for this summer. The frog opera is performing nightly.

I also saw a bat flitting around yesterday in the late afternoon, but well before dark. It seemed well, but I have no real way to judge its state of health.

I managed to put away the driveway reflectors that we use as guides for the snow plowers. A job that usually takes ten minutes took an hour on crutches.

New blooms: blood root, hepatica, forsythia, primrose.


Early primrose.

Hepatica. The flowers also come in blue/purple and pink. These stems are furrier than usual.

Blood root with its odd leaf.

More blood root. These are very short-lived flowers.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Time Travel and Sight Lines.

5-1-15 VERMONT: Yesterday was sunny and bright here, but today is gray and dark. Two small clumps of icy snow remain in front of the house, the remnants of huge piles by the porch. They will probably last until tomorrow, May 2. That is the latest date that I remember being snow free.

Going from New Jersey to Vermont in this season of the year always gives me the sensation of time travel. We left lots of flowers in NJ, but here there are only snowdrops and crocus, the grass is mostly brown and nothing is in leaf. That’s where we were on April 6 in NJ.

In a few weeks the leaves will be out here, and the lush foliage of Vermont will last from then until November. Now, before the leaves are out and after the snow is gone, the sight lines let you see deep into the woods and pastures. You can see the shape of the land, the rocky outcrops, the walls and fences following the contours of the fields, the hills and valleys and streams and houses off the road. The road, by the way, is finally drying out.

New blooms: crocus, maple.


Two small piles of ice/snow still here on May 1.

Crocus clump.

Solitary crocus.

Overcast and gray day.

The leaves will hide the sky and forest in a few weeks.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Gorgeous Day.

4-29-15 SHORT HILLS: Today is beautiful, mid-seventies, and we had lunch outside on the patio. The yard looks great, even if rather ragged from lack of trimming and pruning. The big Japanese maple seems to have significant losses. I’m hoping some of the bare branches will still leaf out.

New blooms: marsh marigold, dandelion, grape hyacinth, trout lily, quince.


Daffodils get more interesting as the season proceeds....



Marsh marigold during its brief appearance each spring.

The flowers and foliage will be gone, dormant, in a month and unseen until 2016.

Magnolia behind the junipers.*

Cherry lane on a sunny morning between the Yoshino and the Kwanzan blooming.*

* Judy's pix.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Creeping Toward May.

4-27-15 SHORT HILLS: It hasn’t gotten much warmer, but spring is still building—my nose and sinuses inform me that there's lots of pollen. The grass is starting to grow in some places. The bare spots in our ‘freedom’ lawn haven’t filled in with the usual bunch of short weeds as yet.

Maizie has left several holes in the yard and beds that I will fill when I’m ambulatory.

I’m still assessing the amount of winterkill. Some damage is obvious, but sometimes the full extent isn’t clear until part of a tree or shrub that you thought was OK, doesn’t green up. Shrubs on the Danger List include: crepe myrtle, caryopteris, butterfly bush, rhododendron, beauty berry, kerria, bayberry, St. Johns wort.

New blooms: bleeding heart, pear, white ash.


Bleeding Heart.

Flowering Pear - another early fruit tree.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Spring, Where'd You Go?

4-24-15 SHORT HILLS: Spring has lost its way. The last few days have been cold, 40’s and windy and overcast, with even a bit of snow yesterday. There was no accumulation, of course, and today is partly sunny. It’s a reminder of the harsh winter just past.

New blooms: saucer magnolia, mukdenia.


Saucer magnolia.

Purple violet, white and yellow ones to follow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rush to Flower.

4-21-15 SHORT HILLS: We had an all day rain yesterday, dumping about an inch and a half. Today is sunny, warm and a bit breezy. After a big rain in the spring, the plants soak up the water and explode with action, buds open, leaves get bigger, flowers pop out. Trees that had seemed bare are now colored with a haze of red, orange, yellow or green.

Spring is hitting its stride with lots of stuff bursting into flower as if the flora know they’re behind schedule because of the harsh and long winter. Maybe it’s a pollinator issue—lots of them are buzzing around—but some insects have a short life cycle, and if the flowers aren’t open, they won’t get pollinated. Of course, many plants are pollinated by any old bug that flies by—with no discretion at all.

New blooms: Yoshino cherry, boxwood, pulmonaria, blood root, violet, clatonia, vinca minor, Siberian squill, pachysandra.


Another daffodil.

Vinca minor, creeping myrtle, notice the asymmetry of the petals?

Clatonia - stays under three inches and the leaves look like grass.

Yoshino cherry, Prunus x yedoensis, is the first flowering tree in this yard.

And another daffodil.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Retreat of the Snow.

4-18-15 VERMONT: There was rain yesterday morning and sun since then with temps in the sixties. The snow is melting. The big piles are slightly smaller, and the snow cover that was not in piles is almost all gone. The pond ice is now a big floating island covering 90% of the surface but much thinner.

Last night we had dinner with Denny and Laura-Beth, and the previous night Lily joined us.

More snowdrops are emerging from the snow and almost immediately spring into flower.

The dirt roads remain swampy. Mud season continues.


Melting continues, but there's still plenty of snow. The pond is opening up.

This is why they're called snowdrops. They're blooming as soon as they're free of the snow.

Bally and Maizie explore the brook. All the brooks are torrents as the snow melts and the ground thaws.

After all that running around a dip in icy water is a nice eye opener.