Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Tree Peony

Judy's Cart


Apple trees


Crossing the Space/Time Continum

5-30 06 VERMONT: This will be a first, an entry from both VT and NJ on the same day. Oh, the miracles of modern transportation. We left VT after I watered all the new plantings and did a quick circuit.

New blooms: more cranesbill-purple ones, celandine, sweet woodruff and may apple.

SHORT HILLS: We raced into the future from spring in VT, 57°, summer in NJ, 94°. The grass looks a bit better, and things have dried out. I restarted the sprinklers and watered the new planting in front of the house.

New blooms: tulip tree, buckthorn, mock orange, laurel, English holly, solomon seal, wild rose, peony and tree peony.

Pix: pretties going up.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day

5-39-06 VERMONT: We spent the morning at the Wm Smith Auction and bought a slant top desk for our bedroom. In the afternoon I did more pruning of roses, spireas and the apple tree, removing dead wood. Tomorrow we go back to NJ. I’ll water all the new plantings before we leave. Pix will be posted back at the cable modem.

New blooms: another viburnum and another azalea.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Corn and Tomatoes

5-28-06 VERMONT: Two more days of slaving in Judy’s gardens. The day before yesterday I did the veggie garden. I planted almost 80 corn stalks each of which will be 6 feet and will produce two ears 8.5 inches long with 16 rows of kernels in 75 days, according to the catalog. I put in 18 tomatoes, 6 early-‘early girl’, 6 middle-‘Better Boy’ and 6 late maturity-‘Red Beefsteak’, two hills of jack-o-lantern pumpkins and spices-thyme, basil, dill, rosemary and oregano. I planted sun flower seeds on the south side of the small barn-Helianthus annuus ‘Moulin Rouge’. I put up the tomato cages yesterday. After the veggies, I did a lot of pruning of the roses on the north wall and some hydrangeas and honeysuckle.

Yesterday, after the dump run, I went to Brown’s Nursery and got, and planted, a yellow columbine-Aquilegia canadensis ‘Corbett’, a Bergenia cordifolia ‘Winterglut’, a meadow sweet-Filipendula rubra ‘Venusta’, and a cranesbill ‘New Dimension’. Then I used the string trimmer in the front of the house and around the fence roses. Add a bit of weeding, sweating and swatting the bugs and its a pair of full days. Today we go to the auction previews.

New blooms: indian cucumber, first azalea, hawthorne, cranesbill, false solomon seal, lily-of-the-valley, quince.

Wildlife: the hummingbirds appeared within hours of putting out their feeder. Two nights ago something was in the garden and ate a lot of the catmint. Raccoon? The crawfish are up and the frog opera continues to play to rave reviews.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Planting Time

5-25-06 VERMONT: Yesterday was cool and windy, but today was glorious, sunny and warm. Yesterday I shopped for flowers, veges and herbs and then started planting. I added a few lupin to the lupin beds, a varigated jacobs ladder-Polemonium reptans ‘Stairway to Heaven’, Hollyhock-Alcea rosea ‘Chater’s Double Mix’, four beard tongue, two each-Penstemon barbatus ‘Prairie Dusk’ and Penstemon digitalis ‘Husker Red’, and a thyme to the beds east of the new house. I added another high bush blue berry-Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Blue Crop’ to the cluster by the pasture fence. I topped off the planting with some weeding and a bit of pruning. The lawn was mowed for the first time except for the swampy area above the pond which has standing water from all the rain.

Today Judy and I put out the deck furniture and lawn benches, put the boat on the pond, changed the storm doors to screen doors and I hung the hammock. I lay down upon the hammock for about 15 seconds before the black flies discovered I was there and I decided to move elsewhere. I probably won’t use the hammock again until everything is done, which will be November, just before I put it away for the winter.

New blooms: French lilac, Mohican viburnum.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Shivering in Vermont

5-23-06 VERMONT: This evening here it is in the 40’s, breezy and quite cool. There was over 5” of rain in the gauge which only goes up to 5.0. It was a wet two weeks. The grass is ready to be mowed for the first time. I counted about ten holes in the gardens representing perennials that turned up missing. Trips to the nursery coming up.

In bloom: forget-me-not, pulmonaria, viola, trillium, bleeding heart, Virginia blue bells, daffodil, dandelion, clatonia, lamium, epimedium, jack-in-the-pulpit, packysandra, creeping phlox, alkanet, wild strawberry, ajuga, vinca, blueberry, elderberry, forsythia, Judd viburnum, honey suckle, apple.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Black Chokeberry

Planting Packysandra

5-22-06 SHORT HILLS: The weather finally changed from rain to dry yesterday afternoon while we were touring Greenwood Gardens with Lucy. She was very taken with the former Blanchard Estate and wants one just like it. Good Luck. Today it was windy, cool and frost warnings are out for tonight. Naturally, we put the house plants out yesterday. Yesterday was also the St. Huberts dog walk. All our four dogs were there and much barking was done. Vermont tomorrow.

Over the weekend I planted packysandra in an area where grass doesn't grow adjacent to other packysandra beds. It was about 40 sq. ft. My technique is to dig a series of shallow trenches in the area, about 4"” deep and fill them with a row of plants cut from some place where they have overgrown a path or driveway. Then back fill the trench. Done. Next trench. Water them all summer. Usually about 75% survive and begin to spread the next year. Put the cutting in a bucket half filled with water so they don't dry out before getting planted. You can plant densely or not depending on how much you have to use and how much you need to cover.

I also bought another hydrangea for the front of the house where the two from last year have done so well.

New blooms: star-of-Bethlehem and black chokeberry. I forgot to mention this last one last week when it actually came out. I guess I choked. I'’ll apologize by posting its picture.

Thursday, May 18, 2006


5-18-06 SHORT HILLS: The last two days have been warm and sunny and the ground is slowly draining. Our soil is clay rich and so retains water, soils with more sand drain faster which is sometimes good and sometimes not. I spent the last two days back in the shrubs hacking and chopping and dragging away more dead wood, two carloads, to the dump. Somebody should try that with FEMA. I think I’m done with the pruning for the moment and time to move on to planting.

Here’s a link to flower evolution: http://www.world-science.net/othernews/060517_flowerfrm.htm. It suggests that angiosperms appeared “during a time of intense evolutionary experimentation” probably from gymnosperms, conifers, which were the dominant land plants. This idea is suggestive of Gould’s “Punctuated Equilibration” wherein major evolutionary changes happen suddenly between periods of relative species stability. The rise of angiosperms at the expense of the gymnosperms has been suggested as a contributory cause of dinosaur extinction. They might not have tolerated the change of diet. Angiosperms, with flowers, bloom and make seeds in one season, but pines, for instance, need two seasons to make seed-bearing cones. The race goes to the swiftest.

Pix: fresh rhododendron, worth a years wait. Dinosaurs beware.

Monday, May 15, 2006


5-15-06 SHORT HILLS: Rain this morning and again tonight with T-storms predicted. The yard squishes when I walk around between showers.

New blooms: purple rhodo.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Mothers Day

5-14-06 SHORT HILLS: We spent Mothers Day with the girls’ families at the famous Frankel-Fagin Gardens amid the friendly felines and flourishing foliage finery.

Saturday, May 13, 2006


5-13-06 SHORT HILLS: The night before last we had about 1.5" of rain over a few hours. Obviously not a record but it got everything well soaked and I got a day off! The bushes were too wet to be crawling under and the yard is a swamp yet again. Hopefully more rain today. Mothers Day tomorrow.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Quiz revealed.

5-11-06 SHORT HILLS: It looked like rain all day as I was again slaving away trimming Judy’s hedges around the pool, yews, with many dead canes to be snipped and sawed off, raked up and piled in and on top of the car. Also I cleaned up the pool area and did a bit more weeding. It never ends. Tonight it started pouring.

New blooms: hawthorne. The answer to the quiz is five. Five flowers: grape hyacinth, may apple, yellow lamiun, lily-of-the-valley and azalea. They’re all there.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


5-9-06 SHORT HILLS: I did a bit more trimming and pruning [T&P], gave more HollyTone to shrubs with a peaked look, used MiracleGro on some pale and tired azaleas, and weeded more garlic mustard. I think its all gone for the moment.

Grass is actually filling in and flowering and all the weeds are popping up in the lawn: plantain, strawberry, gill-over-ground, dandelion, onion grass, moss and whatever, anything that survives mowing. These are the mark of a no herbicide lawn. A healthy lawn. Our neighborhood is full of lawns without a single weed. It takes toxic chemicals to do that. They probably kill earthworms, beneficial insects and perhaps injure dogs and cats. The pets live closer to the ground than we do and sniff in anything on the grass. Do they effect humans? I lime and water the lawn and occasionally fertilize, but never use pesticides or herbicides. I think it makes for a much more interesting ground cover than all that perfect grass. My motto: Perfection eschewed always.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Is it too soon to say, "How 'bout those Mets"?

5-6-06 VERMONT: Overcast today and rain is threatened. I planted two clematis in the small bed on the north side of the deck [BBDN], Clematis Anna Louise ‘Evithree’, red and purple flowers and Clematis ‘Ramona’, lavender flowers. There was a big garter snake sunning on a wall. We scared each other. Short Hills tomorrow.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Run for the Roses

5-5-06 VERMONT: Another pretty day in the 70’s. I finished the sunflower bed adding some sand and ox poop to the bed to improve drainage and fertility. I am undecided about covering it. I built a wall on the road side of the culvert to keep the lower end from filling with sand. It will probably need to be extended. Next the roses got pruned and weeded. After dinner, I sprayed more tent caterpillars. Then I put in new water filters.

New blooms: forget-me-not, double blood root, service berry, dandelion and wild ginger. The ginger may have been out, I just remembered to look.

I watched a newt eat frog eggs in the big pond, possibly that explains the lack of tadpoles.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

The fish are back.

5-4-06 VERMONT: A beautiful day marred only by black flies. It did get a bit breezy which blows them away. I got the veggie garden set up, raked stones out, laid the black plastic cloth that prevents weed growth and warms the soil, put up the three wire electric fence to keep horses, oxen and small mammals out, hauled away three loads of rocks that came up with the roto-tilling. Then I started on the sunflower bed and did a bunch of small jobs. I sprayed two tent caterpillar nests in apple trees. The elm trees look fine as do most of the apple trees that the oxen ate.

New blooms: blood root and vinca minor.

Wild life: we saw a turkey near the house on our way into town for dinner and two deer on the way home. The fish appeared today for a first sighting. The pond is now teeming with them and the newts, no crayfish or turtles as yet. I saw two dead spotted salamanders around the pond.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Cut the Mustard

5-3-06 VERMONT: We had a nice trip up in the rain which started in New Haven. There was one inch in the gauge when we arrived in Thetford. Since it was afternoon, I did a bit of pruning and put out plant supports for peony, delphinium and bluet. Usually I struggle to do this when they are grown. This was much easier.

A certain Golden Retriever spent a half hour barking at a floating leaf about four feet out in the pond. I won’t mention his name. The leaf was indifferent to the challenge. The pack did have a minor scuffle with a woodchuck who lives under the small barn. No one reported any injuries.

In bloom: daffodil, violet, primrose, red trillium, pachysandra, wild strawberry, forsythia and star magnolia.

Let me make one thing perfectly clear, I am not now nor have I ever been a friend of the weed known as wild garlic mustard, except, perhaps, for experiences in and around the refrigerator with isonomic. I spent at least two hours weeding in Short Hills, and none remains in our yard to the best of my knowledge. I feel it is an important public service to document its behavior. Rutgers Aggies report that it is on the increase in NJ, but seems harmless.

Wildlife: a zillion tadpoles in the small pond, and the frog opera has opened to strong reviews. Many newts in the big pond. Woodchuck as noted above.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

See like a Bee.

Pure Perfume

My weight loss program

5-2-06 SHORT HILLS: More chopping and another load to the dump. There is still more yard to go, yards of yard. Today started overcast and ended sunny. We are again ready for rain. I started the sprinklers yesterday. Vermont tomorrow.

New blooms: another type of viburnum, more azalea.

Clarification: the grape vine pulled yesterday was the nasty, parasitic thing that devours trees.

Pix: can you smell this snowball viburnum? Azalea to the bee.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Saw, Clip, Cut, Snip

5-2-06 SHORT HILLS: I took out about two Subaru loads of dead shrubs, mostly spicebush, from the Westview side of the yard. Then I took out old forsythia canes, dug up a grape vine, pulled out loads of garlic mustard, fertilized evergreens with HollyTone for the May application. Judy helped load up the cars for a dump run tomorrow.

New blooms: May apple, leucothoe.