Thursday, May 26, 2016

Corn and Tomatoes.

5-26-16 VERMONT: The veggies are in. Yesterday I fertilized the beds, replaced the soaker hose after testing it for leaks, replaced the black plastic mulch after reversing the positions of the corn and tomatoes. Stapled everything down, and planted the tomatoes and herbs. I did four varieties of tomato, three each of ‘Best Boy’, ‘Early Girl’, ‘Sun Sugar’, and four of ‘Sun Gold’. The last two are cherry tomatoes. I also planted sweet basil, rosemary and dill.

Today I planted the corn seeds—a super sweet hybrid, and put sage and oregano in the herb bed by the kitchen. That bed has chives, thyme, oregano and tarragon that over-wintered. I watered for a couple hours and will turn on the fence charger tomorrow. While there are always things to be done, I am caught up for the moment.

New blooms: baneberry, daylily, lily-of-the-valley.


Lily of the Valley, yet another small, white, inverted bell-like flower, not unlike the others I have recently shown.

Daylily definitely the first to open.

French lilacs are all blooming, here in pink....

Here in violet...

Magenta....

And, of course, white.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Bears, Foxes, Moose and Eagles.

5-24-16 VERMONT: I woke up early this morning and caught the sunrise—pix are on the blog. I actually went outside to get them. Later this morning I saw a fox cross the yard behind the pond and trot into the pasture. It may have gone under the barn. That red fox has a white spot on the left side. I might have seen it last night on the way into town for dinner with Lily and Sam at Murphy’s.

Other wild life sightings—turtles in the pond, deer on the road, neighbor Raymond had a moose at his farm and later saw a bald eagle perched in a tree on the road. Bears have been all over town, so no one is putting out bird feeders. I did put out the hummingbird feeders two days ago and this morning they were here.

Yesterday I pruned all day and did the roses, among other things. I hate pruning roses. Even with gloves I get stuck. Getting a pruned branch out of the rosebush is always a struggle because the thorns make the bush ‘grabby’, it won’t let go. It’s also a nuisance to gather the prunings up for composting without getting stuck again. I do them early in the season while I am still enthusiastic.

I also cut out a lot of burning bush that was invading the azaleas and rhododendron spaces. I think that I’m done with pruning for now, but I will probably find something else to cut tomorrow.

Today I started on the veggie bed. I pulled off the black plastic mulch and took up the soaker hose to do the weeding. There were some of the biggest dandelions I ever saw. Afternoon rain chased me inside so I went to Longacre’s for tomatoes and herbs. When I got back, the rain had stopped so I started raking the beds and found lots of rocks, three very big ones that were not there last year when I prepped those same beds. No wonder we have all those stonewalls. Next year another bunch of rocks will emerge when I do the beds then.

New blooms: Mohican viburnum, French lilac.


Dawn's early light...

Moosilauke backlit on the horizon.

Now we're getting there...

Sun rise just to the left of Moosilauke now, it will rise further to the right on the solstice.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Back in VT.

5-22-16 VERMONT: I came up yesterday with a car full of stuff for the summer even though I’ll be back in NJ for a while. It’s black fly season here so DEET is essential if you poke your nose outside. I did the inventory of plants in bloom and counted everything just starting and everything down to its last wilted flower.

Today we had intermittent showers and temps in the sixties. I treated the pond, which looks pretty good, but the little pond in the pasture is full of algae. When it rained, I replaced a broken door latch and updated the CO detectors in both houses. Outside I did the fence repair, there were a few fallen rails that I put back in place after straightening the posts. I use wedges to keep the posts vertical, when needed. I had to make one new rail from a birch sapling. I also did a little pruning, and pulled out a bunch of garlic mustard.

In bloom: apple, bleeding heart, violet, dandelion, lamium, ajuga, quince, vinca minor, forget-me-not, azalea, epimedium, wild strawberry, primrose, jack-in-the-pulpit, gill-over-ground, ginger, spurge, hellebore, mertensia, celandine, service berry, star magnolia, blueberry, foam flower, buttercup, flea bane, pachysandra, trillium, pulmonaria, garlic mustard.


As it happens, here is another little, inverted, white bell - blueberry.

Foam flower grows wild in the pasture. I tried bringing some into the garden once with no success.

Another pasture wild flower - flea bane.

A little volunteer apple is making a big effort.

Red trillium also called 'wake robin', everything in threes, three petals, leaves and nine stamen.

White trillium after a shower.

Friday, May 20, 2016

More Ash Trees Down.

5-20-16 SHORT HILLS: The tree people were here again yesterday and took down two more ash trees that were sick from the leaf hopper disease. They had fed the trees a few weeks ago, and most of the other trees look OK. They did a good job of not damaging the trees and shrubs underneath the trees that came down and did a good clean up.

Lurking in other parts of the state are emerald ash borers, which can also kill the ash trees, but they’re not in Essex County yet. There is a specific treatment for that bug, but not for this one, the leaf hopper.

New blooms: hawthorn, black chokeberry, leucothoe, Asian lilac, rose, star-of-Bethlehem.


Leucothoe is another little, white inverted bell flower like andromeda, lily-of-the-valley and blueberry.

Black chokeberry, the fall foliage is orange and this one is intertwined with a red burning bush. Can you imagine or wait?

Asian lilac comes out a few weeks after the French lilac.

English hawthorn.

First rose, almost open.

Star-of-Bethlehem. another three incher.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Back in NJ and NYC.

5-18-16 SHORT HILLS: The Med trip is now a memory, and it’s back to work in the garden. Actually I have been doing pruning and continuing to work on the flagstone path and have finished that. It is rare to ever finish something in the garden because it always has to be done again, if not this year, than next.

The lawn mowers have begun cutting and the lawn is almost presentable. The bald spots are filling in with whatever. Having everything the same height makes it all look better.

I have been attacking the bamboo, to get rid of broken and dead stalks and to keep it in its designated sites where it screens the neighbors. It is a very aggressive invader and left alone would take over the yard and the world.

New blooms: clematis, purple rhododendron, sweet woodruff, May apple, Japanese snowbell.


This azalea was always struggling under a big Japanese maple that is now dying, but with access to light, the azalea is thriving.

Double-file viburnum has large outer petals to attract pollinators to the small flowers in the middle where the pollination occurs.

Rhododendron, one of the most dramatic.

Chestnut, individual flower from the cluster. Most of the trees have white flowers.

Clematis opening up.

Last night we saw Shuffle Along at the Music Box. The current show tells the story of the original show from 1921. It was a break-through event in several ways. It was an all black production, from creation and choreography to cast and direction, and ran for over 500 performances—a long run in those days.

It was the first show to use jazz music on Broadway, introduced some standards, and launched the careers of several black stars including Josephine Baker and Paul Robeson. The current show also follows the later careers of the principles and performers. The current show is filled with current stars, including Audra McDonald, one of my favs.


Theatre line up on 45th Street.

Shuffle Along Marquee.

Contemporary blurbs, check out the prices for seats.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Mediterranean Cruise day VIII.

5-7-16 NICE, FRANCE: The ship was docked in Monaco before breakfast. We had mostly packed the night before and had our bags out in the hallway before 7AM as did almost everyone else. After breakfast it was get the passports, take pix of Monaco from the ship, check the room for a last time, and get on the busses at 8AM. We took the bus to the Nice Airport, NCE, with those leaving today, checked in for tomorrow’s flight to Frankfort and then taxied to our Hotel in Nice, Marriott Boscolo Exedra.

We were there at 9AM and, of course, the room wasn’t available that early, but we checked in, left the bags, got a map and suggestions for a walk from the concierge and set out to explore Nice. In short, we loved it. I wouldn’t dare say that Nice is nice, but it is.

We walked down hill from the hotel to the sea, exploring the streets and ped malls, saw fountains and parks and the Quai des États-Unis, the Marché aux Fleurs and the old city with lots of sorbet-colored buildings with balconies and decorative architectural features. We saw the rococo opera house and a bunch of churches and lots of Sunday strollers en famille.

After a stop at a patisserie for a slice of quiche and un éclair avec café, we headed up hill to the Chagall Museum. It was a bit of a schlèp, but well worth it.

The museum is in a park-like setting and has a media room as well as several galleries. It may be the largest collection of Chagall’s works anywhere, and, if I understood correctly, the museum was designed by him.

At various times in his career he designed for theatrical and musical performances and the opera. Some of those works are on display on the museum. There are several large canvases depicting Biblical events, mostly Old Testament. His use of color is vivid and dramatic as always and the animals, fish, birds, people, buildings, flowers are scattered about the canvases in chaotic fashion.

When we got back to the hotel, our room was ready just in time for afternoon naps. We woke up later and got to our restaurant, Boccaccio, for a seafood dinner. It might have been the best meal of the trip. Judy had Sole Meunière and I had bream with a tomato-basil-olive oil sauce. Dessert was definitely the biggest Crème Brûlée I ever saw. When they brought it out, my first thought was ‘hockey rink’. I finished about half of it. Judy struggled with four large profiteroles, downing one and a half.

At 5AM the next morning, we left for the airport and the long journey to EWR.


Monaco harbor as we left the ship.

Nice, approaching the old town and beach.

Open air market stretches for blocks,

Quai des États-Unis parallels the beach.

Not much beach activity on this cool, cloudy day.

Rust makes her look like a messy eater.

Market again.

Could there be a fish market nearby? You don't even have to look for it. Sniff.

Up the hill are many beautiful buildings.

Chagall museum has a....

Huge collection.

Hotel lobby.

Best dinner of the trip.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Mediterranean Cruise Day VII.

5-7-16 LE PRADET, FRANCE: We are back on the European continent at a harbor in Le Pradet, a suburb of Toulon in Provence. Behind the harbor are a series of gray stone mountains that form the horizon, they all look like Cézanne’s Mont Sainte-Victoire.

This is the Côte d’Azur and people here drink rosé wine, we were informed at a visit to the Domaine de la Navicelle vineyard for a tasting of their six wines after a tour of the vines which are about to flower. They make two very different rosés for local consumption, as well as a white and two reds. I thought they all tasted pretty good.

The vineyard is neighbor to the family farm of Alizé, our expedition leader. The farm is 15 minutes by bus from the harbor. The Carrére family has owned the land since 1820, and M. Carrére is rehabbing the place and farming chickens for the eggs. About 300 chicken ladies provide almost an egg a day under an organic regimen. The chickens were all hanging out in the shade of the trees during the hot afternoon. They also have some veggies and olive trees.

We had hors d’oeuvre and wine after the tours in the courtyard of the 19th century farmhouse in the center of the farm.

After the outing, we bussed back to the ship, then docked in Toulon harbor for a photo slide show and the Captain’s Farewell Dinner. We are now headed to Monaco for a very early disembarkation and the end of the trip. We will overnight in Nice and fly out the next day.


On to Côte d' Azur and Provence. Could that be Mont Stainte-Victoire, made famous by Cézanne?

The egg business requires chickens.

Two hundred year old farm house/barn.

The courtyard where we had a reception in the afternoon.

Vineyards...

Vineyards...

Vine with many flower buds.

Jolly Parkway and Fanny Madison.

Maybe that one is Mont St-Victoire?

Farmhouse again.

Chickens in the shade on a hot afternoon.

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