Monday, April 23, 2018

The Spring Parade.

4-23-18 SHORT HILLS: Sorry about the gap—I had a cold and cough that is still lingering—and missed a friend’s birthday party and an engagement brunch that we both wanted to go to. I have been outside for short spells the last two days doing pruning. It’s been sunny and pleasant, and the sun on my back felt warm.

The spring succession is underway. It is relentless, but cold temporarily slows it down. The flowers have to be there when the pollinators appear. It’s a yearly appointment that both plant and bug need for survival. Climate change may threaten the symbiosis because one or the other may hatch out or bloom before the other is available.

Our trees are pruned of broken and hanging branches. The fence has been repaired. It’s almost time to look for replacements for the plantings damaged by the storms and damaged last fall by the painters, roofers and window replacement.

New blooms: trout lily, march marigold.


March marigold, a spring ephemera, puts out leaves in March, flowers in April and vanishes in May.

It would be a nice ground cover if it didn't disappear for a year between bloomings.

Trout lily, another yellow spring surprise, that will soon be gone. There's a pollinator on the flower in the middle of the picture.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Back in the Cold.

4-18-18 SHORT HILLS: We had torrential rain on Monday. It came down in buckets. The driveway was filled and a river cut through the yard for a short time. I had fertilized the day before and was hoping the rain would help it sink in, but it probably washed a lot of it away. Today it’s sunny, but windy and cold.

We are very happy and pleased about Anna and Gardner’s engagement.

New blooms: Yoshino cherry.


Grackles usually look black, but have iridescent feathers and look like this in the right light.

Goldfinch has almost changed into summer clothes, but still has a few gray spots on his back...

...but not on front.

The upper bird is either a non-breeding male or female,

Yoshino cherry trees bloom before the Kwanzan, pink cherry trees.


Chipmunks use the fence rails as highways.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

A Brief Taste of Spring.

4-15-18 SHORT HILLS: We were supposed to go to Vermont today for the week, but several friends said don’t come up because the weather’s delivering ice and snow. I wonder if they would have had a different excuse if the weather were OK. It’s pretty nasty here today with temps in the thirties, overcast sky, gusty wind and rain expected later.

So we stayed in NJ, and I painted the windows in the sunroom that had been damaged by the leak in the roof, and that I had repaired a few weeks ago. I had replaced a few pieces of rotten wood with Azek.

The last few days have been gorgeous, sunny and in the eighties, and we thought spring had finally arrived. I was outside continuing to do the clean up all day. Frank’s Tree was here and pulled all the big hangers out of the trees, virtually every tree had broken branches. They chipped it all and took it away. Actually I found more deadfall after they left and added that to the street pile.

We also had them cut down the sickly Japanese maple. It had been one of my favorites, but had become just a dying remnant of its old self.

GM Fence was here also to give us an estimate for repair to the storm damage and replace rotted posts and rails. Their visit is almost a yearly event.

Yesterday I did the first fertilizing, Holly-tone for the acidophiles and regular 10-10-10 for all the others. I also gave the grass granular lime. I used some lime on the alkali lovers, lilacs, forsythia and columbine.

New blooms: pussy willow, spicebush, pachysandra, daffodil.


First daffodil.

Pussy willow flowers, the leaf buds are just starting to open.

Pachysandra flower easy to overlook, but it's interesting if you take a close look.

Forsythia leads the yellow parade of spring. Behind the forsythia on the left is another shrub with yellow flowers, spicebush.

Spicebush close-up. Spicebush, forsythia, pachysandra, pussy willow and andromeda all open the flowers before the new leaves.

Sunday, April 08, 2018

When Does Warm Happen?

4-8-17 SHORT HILLS: We had another snow with barely a dusting here, but VT got several inches. Today the last remnant of the snowplow piles in the driveway melted, leaving behind more debris from the downed pine tree. We have had a lot of rain, but today was sunny, if windy and cold.

Today we drove to Philly to have brunch with friends Stephen, Christine and Bob. Last night we had dinner with Bill and Lynn in Summit. Back on Thursday we had dinner in NYC with Jon and Sara before we heard the NY Phil.

They premiered a new composition called Metacosmos by Anna Thorvaldsdottir, which got a bunch of great reviews. She has been the Philharmonic’s Kravis Emerging Composer since 2015. Then pianist Benjamin Grosvenor did Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 3. The orchestra played Beethoven’s Third Symphony, Eroica, after intermission. Esa-Pekka Salonen conducted.

I have continued to drag broken branches and smashed bamboo out to the street. We are still waiting for the tree pruners to take the broken, hanging branches out of the trees.

New blooms: Siberian squill.


Bald eagle on a strafing run. This great image is from Naples, FL, taken by Gail Harty.

Another crocus shivering in a cold wind.

Siberian squill is not native to Siberia, as it turns out.

David Geffen Hall, née Avery Fisher Hall, Philharmonic Hall before that still looks the same, before the concert.

Monday, April 02, 2018

The Fifth Storm.

4-2-17 SHORT HILLS: It did it again. We got another 6-8 inches of wet snow overnight after a cool, but pleasant Easter. I don’t think there’s much new damage, but I was so alarmed at the little Southern magnolia once again being bent to the ground by the snow that I went outside in my bathrobe to gently ease the snow off it. This afternoon the sun is out and it’s in the upper thirties.

I have been working on the storm damage almost every day and have created a huge pile on the road at the top of our driveway. I have cut up and dragged out most of the broken branches on the ground and started on the bamboo. The bamboo have many, many broken stalks, which weigh down other stalks that are not cracked or broken. After removing the broken ones the others sometimes stand up again with a little help.

New blooms: Vinca minor, andromeda, forsythia, pussy willow, snow flake.


Another 6-8 inches of heavy, wet snow. That magnolia in the center of the picture is almost bent double again. I was afraid it would lose more branches, so I went out early in the morning in my bathrobe to gently brush and shake the snow off it, with the loss of only one leaf.

The pack is happy in  the snow. Below are the new blooms from before the new snow.

Snow flake looks a lot like its cousin, 'snow drop'. Snowflake has those yellow spots and is a little umbrella. It always appears a few weeks after the snowdrops.

Pussy willow isn't actually a bloom, but a furry bud.

Andromeda blooms looks like lily-of-the-valley and blueberry flowers.

Forsythia is starting, today's snow won't hurt it because the temps are in the thirties.

Vinca minor is another early opener.

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Day at the Museum.

3-30-17 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday we went back to the Met Museum to catch up with new exhibits. It was rainy here, and I needed a break from all the clean up work. The first show we went to was the ‘Golden Kingdoms…Ancient Americas’ that featured mostly pre-Columbian artifacts, lots of them in gold, others in jade, ceramic, stone.

To get there we walked through the atrium with the Greek and Roman statues and busts, and I was struck by how inviting the Met’s big open spaces are, filled with art and visitors. While the individual works are spectacular, the big, sky-lit room is the real attraction. The atrium in the American Wing was full of people sitting, talking, eating, taking pix, drawing and copying exhibits. The atrium at the ‘Public Parks, Private Gardens…’ is filled with plants and people.

I mentioned the ‘Public Parks, Private Gardens…’ exhibit which includes lots of Impressionists, a lot from the Met’s own collection, botanicals and lots of live plants.

We also walked through ‘Thomas Cole’s Journey…’, which had painting by American and British artists of landscapes, several Hudson River School and English countryside art.

We exited through the African Art section, which had great wood-carvings and some huge pieces.


From the Greco-Roman, lots of heads, mostly marble. More heads and faces below.

The next five pix are from the 'Golden Kingdoms of Ancient Americas'. This is a mask.

Pitcher, ceramic.

Gold ?mask.

Gold pendant.

Jade mask.

From Africa, another head, this one of carved wood.

Atrium in the center of 'Public Parks, Private Gardens.'


French watering cans from 'Public Parks....'. The one at the top has a candle, I guess, so you can water at night.

Atrium in the American Wing.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Weeks of Work Ahead.

3-28-17 SHORT HILLS: We’ve been back in NJ for a few days. Winter and the snow are reluctantly in retreat as spring slowly grows stronger. It’s still below freezing at night, but the afternoons are in the forties, and a sixty is predicted for later in the week. The last two days have been a bit rainy. I am continuing to do clean up as the snow gives up it’s secrets. Almost all the shrubs are now free of the snow.

I have been adding sticks and branches to a huge pile in the street. We await the return of the tree people to do major pruning and clean up of the big branches. Next week the fence repairman will come to the yard and give us an estimate. I cut up one large ash tree branch for firewood and split the thicker pieces. The town is literally littered with broken trees.

New blooms: crocus.


First crocus here, there have been others around town in sunnier spots.

Tufted titmouse.

Eastern white-breasted nuthatch, probably female.