Friday, September 12, 2014

Clinging Vines.

9-12-14 SHORT HILLS: The weather has been lovely, sunny, warm in the afternoon and cool at night. I turned the sprinklers back on because some of the shrubs are looking wilted.

I have been back in the yard doing weeding and pruning. There were several wild grape vines, some quite substantial, growing on shrubs. I have been pulling them up, once or twice a year, only to find them regrown. Tired of the repetition, I cut them off at the root line and sprayed the roots with Roundup® when the root was not near something desirable. I hope to not be seeing them again.

In bloom: [forgot to mention in the last post] white star clematis.

Silver-spotted Skipper, silver and gold wing spots, on a butterfly bush, of course.

Silver-spotted Skipper, if you look closely, you can count six legs, two antennas and a black tongue.

...and that big black eye. The tongue is visible again here.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Late Bloomers.

9-6-14 SHORT HILLS: Since we’ve been back in NJ, it’s been hot and humid in a major way, something we haven’t had this cool and wet summer. I remember now how oppressive it can feel. We’re supposed to get T-storms later.

Yesterday we drove into NYC to have dinner with old friends Richard and Elaine at Taboon. The restaurant is Turkish/Mediterranean and we liked it a lot. Their new place has gorgeous views of the Hudson. On the way in we had a brief shower and a rainbow over Jersey City and then over lower Manhattan.

In the yard, it’s been too hot to do much, but some weeding is hard to resist so I have yielded to temptation and accumulated some small piles.

In bloom: butterfly bush, caryopteris, crepe myrtle, rose, rose of Sharon, lily turf, hosta, hydrangea, spirea, lamium, wild asters.

Crepe Myrtle, this is a late-blooming shrub, it also comes in trees.

Caryopteris another late bloomer.

Closer look at caryopteris and a pollinator.

Lily turf is yet another late bloomer.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

No New War.

9-3-14 SHORT HILLS: We’re back in NJ in time for the 90° heat wave. I haven’t been political for a while, but I have to weigh in on the attacks on Obama for his ‘inaction’.

I think charging in to fight ISIS is just what they want us to do and that the beheadings are provocations to get us to come out and play war. Bin Lauden said he did what he did to get us to attack the Middle East and bankrupt ourselves in the process. It came close to that, and the adding machine is still totaling up the balance due, and the cost of caring for the injured will go on for decades. And that’s just the dollar cost, not the cost of ruined lives and dead soldiers.

Attacking ISIS, a Sunni force, and doing damage to it will just strengthen the Shiites and Iran and Assad in Syria. I thought they were the enemies. Anything other than tactical bombings or dronings would be an expensive mistake. ‘Fool me once…..’

Iraq before the war was controlled with ‘no fly’ zones and the UN nuclear inspectors were on the scene, and there was no evidence of a nuclear program except in the minds of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. And that was how many trillions of dollars ago? Haven’t we learned anything? Where are all those deficit and debt hawks now?

And BTW, who’s funding ISIS? Could it be our allies the Saudi’s, Qatari’s and our other ‘friends’? Staying out of that quagmire is exactly the right strategy, let Iran or someone else deal with the Sunni uprising.

See Tom Friedman’s column today in the NYT.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Season Ending Day.

9-1-14 VERMONT: We did do Gile on Saturday. There has been a lot of trail work, and the climb is practically a flight of stairs now. The view from the top of the tower is expansive—from the Whites to the Greens. The tower was packed.

A blue heron has been here every day in spite of the human and dog activity. Bally, the Border Collie, chased him/her away early this morning, but he/she came back later and was here for more than an hour. Maggie caught him leaving yesterday.

Yesterday was drizzly and rainy all day, but we only got a tenth of an inch.

The guests all left this morning to take Maggie to Hampshire College to start her second year. She forgot her potted flower, but I planted it by the pond.

New blooms: chrysanthemum.

Great Blue Heron takes off with the neck in 'S' formation...

But comes back for more fish.

Chrysanthemum means September.

Phlox still going.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Maggie finds Monarchs.

8-30-14 VERMONT: Steve, Val, Maggie and Lucy arrived a couple days ago for a mini va-ca on their way to take Maggie back to college. Yesterday we walked around the pasture while Maggie took pictures of the first Monarch we saw this season. Then we saw another on our hike.

Taking advantage of the beautiful day, we hiked the woods behind our house, exploring the old roads. We found a sunny clearing with lots of blackberries that kept us busy for a while. On the way back we looked in on the old beaver pond, which is totally gone and turned into a meadow. We followed the brook from the non-pond and eventually got home after our neighbors sheep chased us out of their pasture. We dinnered at Elixir in WRJ. Today is probably Gile Mt., an easy hike.

It’s just amazing how bonded Val and Maizie are.

New blooms: turtle head, Ligularia dentata ‘Britt Marie Crawford’. [I mentioned ligularia in bloom a month ago—that was L. stenocephala ‘The Rocket’.]

Turkey chicks from the 7/11/14 post almost grown up.

Blissful photog neck-deep in mint.

She found a Monarch butterfly, the first of the season that we've seen here. Later in the day we saw another a a different spot. photo by Maggie R.

Maizie and Val in a love fest. Val just can't get enough of the dogs.

Hike in the woods, trying to stay on the trail.

Blue Heron decided the pond was too noisy this morning.

Preview of Coming Attractions.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014


8-26-14 VERMONT: It’s sunny and in the mid-eighties—summer has arrived in Vermont. And just in time, because lots of trees are beginning to show fall color change. Ash trees are dropping purple leaves. I have remarked that most of the perennials seemed to be early this season, as if they knew there would be an early winter. The Farmer’s Almanac predicts a harsh winter, but their predictions are actually no better than chance.

In the pasture the mint is in full flower, and usually in August it is covered with butterflies, but not this year. There are a few butterflies but there are no Monarchs. Also, there is a lot of milkweed in the pasture, the Monarch caterpillar’s favorite snack, but none of it has been eaten.

There was another 1.25 inches of rain in the gauge when we got back from NJ. The summer continues to be wet.

We have a corn poacher. Something has knocked over corn stalks, pulled off the ears, shucked them and eaten the kernels. I assume it is a raccoon, who also picked the last of the blueberries. I harvested all the remaining ears of corn that were ripe and left only immature ears on the stalks. Tomatoes, fortunately, do not seem to be on the raccoon’s meal plan.

New blooms: more phlox, more asters.

Fall flower - some kind of aster.

Grossbeak and song sparrow. The sparrow has been eating red berries from a nearby honeysuckle bush.

Black-eyed Susan.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Soggy Jersey.

8-23-14 SHORT HILLS: I’m back in NJ, and Dan is much improved and about to be discharged from the hospital in Denver. He and Alison will return to NY by Amtrak via Chicago. Arnie also left yesterday.

It’s been a wet summer here, and everything looks well watered and thriving. I picked up a bunch is sizable branches and pumped the water off the pool cover and did a few minor chores. There will be much pruning and weeding here this fall.

In bloom: rose-of-Sharon, roses, hydrangea, caryopsis, butterfly bush, spirea, white star clematis, monarda.

Rose-of-Sharon comes in different flavors. Here are strawberry....

and cherry-vanilla.