Wednesday, June 21, 2017

ID Problems.

6-21-17 VERMONT: Welcome to summer. It was a workday here. Weeding and pruning from first light to dusk, well, actually mid-morning to mid-afternoon with a mid-day break. There’s always more to do.

Yesterday was very exciting—I planted two foxgloves, Digitalis, by the side of the pond near the drain, saw and photo’d three butterflies and an eastern phoebe. Two of the butterflies are not ID’d, any help appreciated. Speaking of help, Judy was out there weeding the primrose bed yesterday, and between us there were two loads of compost generated.

New blooms: Knapp weed, showy lady’s slipper.


White Admiral.

White Admiral, ventral side.

I'm on break from weeding with friends. photo by JWF.

Eastern Phoebe is a fly catcher, never goes to the feeder.

Knapp weed with bumblebee and another pollinator hovering.

Butterfly. No ID, anyone?

Another butterfly. No ID, anyone?

Monday, June 19, 2017

June in VT.

6-19-17 VERMONT: We left NJ yesterday, but just before we did, I got a few pix of new blooms. We both had fast trips and got here on a muggy, hot, breezy afternoon. I took pix of the VT flowers, but it was so windy that the flowers were dancing around so much that I had to re-take many pix today before the massive rain we got this afternoon.

New blooms—NJ: St. John’s wort, catalpa.

Some disappointment here in VT is the total loss of the corn crop. The seeds germinated, but something, maybe crows, pulled up the six-inch seedlings, I guess to eat the germinating seeds. Little corn cadavers are scattered all over the veggie beds. The electric fence keeps out furry critters, but the garden is open to aerial assault. It is too late to re-plant corn because it won’t be ripe until we leave for NJ at the end of August.

The tomatoes are all fine and the herbs are OK. Some of the basil and oregano had died, but I added new plants today.

The perennial beds are fine, all the new plants and transplants are doing well. That is except for the butterfly weeds on the pond bank. They were just coming up when I left at the end of May, but have been overwhelmed by the established grasses et al growing on the bank. Maybe I can rescue them. The new bloom list is extensive because it’s June and I haven’t been here for almost three weeks. I am listing everything that open since I left, even if some of them are almost finished.

New blooms: yellow lady slipper, lady’s mantle, iris—bearded, flags and Siberian, Asian lilac, Wentworth viburnum, weigela, white spirea, hybrid daylily, celandine, lupin, columbine, meadow rue, hesperis, geraniums, primrose, rose, anemone, Solomon’s seal, pink thyme, bunch berry, Jacobs ladder, centaurea, stephanandra, sweet woodruff, wild daisy, flea bane, vetch, clover, Indian paint brush, buttercup, dianthus.

New blooms today: trascantia, peony.


St. John's wort, the many stamens make a beautiful star. These first two pix are from Short Hills taken the day we left for VT.

Another southern magnolia huge flower.

Yellow Lady Slipper, one of about six, by the pond is almost done for this year. Thank you, Melissa, for sharing these beauties.

Siberian iris has three sets of three petals. The upper set are upright and the lower two sets are paired and hang downwards. The pollinator has to get between the two lower sets of petals. The other irises have a similar pattern.

Another Siberian iris as above, the anatomy may be more easily seen in this one.

Yellow flag iris has the same pattern as above, but the upright petals are very diminished in size.

Bearded iris has the beard on the lowest set of petals, and it is between the two dependent sets of petals. The upright petals are visually dominating.

Flag irises on the left and primrose on the right.

Eastern tiger swallowtail looks a lot like the western tiger swallowtail from Los Gatos, post of 6-13-17.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Lucy Graduates.

6-17-17 SHORT HILLS: We were in Brooklyn for Lucy’s graduation from Packer Collegiate along with some 80 classmates, and had grilled burgers, sausage and veggies on Val and Steve’s deck afterwards. We met Chester, the new cat, and had a brief garden tour.

Back here in NJ, I planted a new butterfly bush, Buddleia davidii, next to the one I planted last fall. I bought it at Home Depot along with a couple of gorgeous foxglove destined for VT. It’s been raining on and off for a few days, perfect for a new shrub.

Tonight we have dinner with Lonnie and Bette and Bruce and Ellen. Tomorrow we go to VT. I hate to miss the flowers about to open here, but eagerly anticipate the flowers in Thetford. Ambivalent as ever.

New blooms: southern magnolia, hydrangea, winterberry holly.


Lucy graduated and will soon be off to college.

Chester will stay in Brooklyn.

Southern Magnolia has huge flowers that open in succession. This was the first.

Southern Magnolia, just opening second flower.

Multiple tiny flowers of Winterberry Holly turn into red berries in the fall. This holly is deciduous and the flowers are not male or female but bisexual, unlike the evergreen hollies.

Our shady yard stays cool on hot days.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Heat Wave.

6-13-17 SHORT HILLS: We’re back from Los Gatos and cowering inside under the AC while the yard swelters in 90° heat. It’s been hot for several days, apparently after three days it’s officially a heat wave. It’s supposed to be cooler tomorrow. Actually a couple of days ago I did spend a few hours outside pruning and trimming the walkways and weeding some of the more flagrant infestations.

Yesterday was the end-of-the-year party at Lincoln Elementary School for the dogs and reading lessons. It was incredible hot, especially for the dogs, so it was a bit curtailed. I was there to take pix.

That butterfly from California is a Western Tiger Swallowtail.

We have a bunch of stuff about to bloom: southern magnolia, catalpa, hydrangea, daylily, winterberry holly, st johns wort, butterfly bush.

New blooms: native rhododendron, Asian hollies, red clover, white clover.


Anna's Hummingbird in Los Gatos. The females of the four or five species of hummers in Northern California are very hard to tell apart. The males are distinctive.

Another rose with buds, can't resist.

Up close, the red clover is an interesting flower.

I went to Lincoln Elementary School with Judy to take pix of the last party with the dogs. It was very hot.

Native rhododendron is the last rhodo to bloom.

Friday, June 09, 2017

Graduation in Los Gatos.

6-9-17 LOS GATOS: We came out to Cal for grandson Joey’s graduation from middle school. There is now a direct flight from Newark to San José, so we got to stumble through a new airport, much closer to Los Gatos.

The ceremony was well organized and fairly brief. The school was proud to be using their new gym. When we were here for Eoin’s graduation, a few years ago it was outside in a town park. I think I liked the outside venue better. In addition to their diplomas, the 400 or so graduates were all given a rose and instructed to give the rose to someone important to their successful graduation.

Afterwards we all went to dinner with a few of Joey’s graduating friends and their parents, friends of Jon and Siobhan. Everybody, almost, was an engineer, and they were from France, Britan, Ireland as well as the US. Los Gatos is cosmopolitan and wealthy.

During the day we were at Jon and Siobhan’s house on the mountain. I wandered around outside and saw a few birds and got a couple pix of a swallowtail butterfly and some flowers. I heard, but didn’t see a coyote. There are always flowers out here. Now there are roses and oleander everywhere.

Tomorrow we have a very early flight back to EWR.


Swallowtail on vinca major. To be ID later.

Turkey vultures working on a dead rodent, a bunch more were in the nearby trees and circling above.

An iris of some sort.

Dark-eyed junco busy eating seeds.

Dark-eyed junco now surveying the scene from a post.

Assembled throng in the new gym for Fisher Middle School graduation.

New graduate offering his mom the rose.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

Lucy's Dinner

6-4-17 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday was a pretty day and today we have more rain. I don’t complain about too much rain because, sooner or later, we will not have enough. That said, it’s kind of soggy in the yard.

We were in the city, NYC, yesterday for Lucy’s HS graduation dinner, which was at Benoit, a French bistro presented by Alain Ducasse. I mention that only because the six of us ate at the Paris Benoit when we were there to visit Lucy during her year in France. The six in question are me and Judy, Val and Steve, and Maggie and Lucy. I would say that the NYC one is as good as the one in Paris. We all rolled out well stuffed and wined. Sober Judy drove us home. Graduation isn’t actually until mid-June.

Judy and I arrived early, when we allow extra travel time for traffic, we always fly through whatever tunnel or over whatever bridge. Being early, we walked down Fifth Ave. to Rockefeller Center and back uptown on Sixth. Artist Jeff Koons’ installation ‘Seated Ballerina’ is sitting on the spot usually occupied by the tree at Xmas. She is a forty-foot tall silver inflatable who dwarfs Prometheus.

New blooms: red chokeberry [already done, but not forgotten], Stewartia, red spirea, elderberry.


Peony, 'single', not 'double' which has many more petals that often obscure the center.

Male English holly flower has four, yellow pollen-tipped stamens per each little flower, but no ovary.

Female English holly flower has a green ovary in the center that will become the red berry if it gets fertilized by the male pollen from a different tree. The female flowers have fake stamens around the ovary.

Stewartia pseudocamellia above and below. Most of the flowers, like Jupiter, have a red spot.

Spotless Stewartia.

Fifth Ave near Rockefeller Center.

Rock Center where the tree stands at Xmas, now home to the ballerina.

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Back in NJ.

5-31-17 SHORT HILLS: I came back to NJ yesterday, the day after big rains in both VT and NJ. The rain gauge had 2.5 inches, but that may be more than one storm. Lots of new stuff is in bloom and weeds are growing everywhere. The crape myrtle that I thought was dead is alive and growing up from the ground. I put a cage around it to keep the mowers from mowing over it. The new catalpa is in leaf and making branches. There is a lot of trimming and weeding to do.

New blooms; roses, English holly, kousa dogwood, Japanese snowbell, linden viburnum, Asian lilac, tree peony, mock orange, weigela.


What offers more promise than this?

Promise fulfilled.

Japanese snowbell. It's white and hangs down, that accounts for the name, I guess.

Kousa [Korean] dogwood blooms later than the native dogwoods. It makes a big red ball that is supposed to be edible.

Asian lilac, continuing, by happenchance, with a Far Eastern theme.

Tree peony, new flower and...

an older one.