Monday, August 28, 2006

Not a Working Dog

Sheep Dog Trials

8-28-06 VERMONT: Two rainy days in a row. We got another 0.6 inches. It remains cool. We are wearing pants, sox and jackets instead of sandals, shorts and tees. The leaves are definitely turning, and it seems early.

We went to the Scottish games in Quechee over the weekend and watched border collies in a sheep herding competition. Some are young. They push the sheep around and usually panic them and don’t get the whole course done. The old dogs work more slowly, just nudging the sheep and get all the handler wants done. It is wonderful to see an experienced dog respond to the whistles and voice commands from across a hillside pasture. Also, another opportunity for fair food and a micro-brew.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Early Fall

8-23-06 VERMONT: We had a late shower and rainbow yesterday with 0.05 of an inch and a cool, sunny day today. I finally spread the lime I bought in the early spring. The lawn above the pond was finally dry enough. I checked the pond pH before and will check it again after the next few rains to see if it goes up from Ca,MgCarbonate [lime] washing in the pond.

More signs of fall. I put up traps for cluster flies on the house windows and baited and set mouse traps.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Gardener to the Rescue

8-22-06 VERMONT: Another beautiful day in the Upper Valley. Over the weekend we had rain, which we needed, 1.2 inches. The pond had dropped an inch or so, but is now back to full. Yesterday I found three hostas a blood root and a maiden hair fern underneath the stephanandra in BBP which had rolled over them. I leaped into action and rescued them from the darkness. The hostas went into a bed with kin, and the blood root and fern into the north lower terrace shade garden. Some stephanandra shoots came out with the refugees, and I put them in the propane tank bed. A little dirt to fill the holes and everything is well.

We are living on party leftovers and corn. Yesterday we picked the first tomatoes. Jon and Siobhan sent us peaches from San José via FedEx. They arrived with a few losses, but the survivers are excellent. We also picked wild blackberries, and Judy is making peach and blackberry pie today.

New blooms: wild morning glory, first fall sedum.

Turkey, Opera and Helianthus

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Anniversary Party

8-19-06 VERMONT: On the 16th we threw a party to celebrate our 45th anniversary. We had about 70 guests. To expand the size of the house, in case of poor weather, we had tents put up on the deck and yard adjacent to the house. The tents gave the place a festive look. The canapes came from the Hanover Coop, but Judy did the rest of the cooking herself. The food was great. Apparently the wine was good also. The guests included our family, the extended family, local friends, college friends and some NJ friends and was a good mix. I made a short toast, to thank Judy, and concluded with a quote from Ben Franklin, “three things you can count on are: a good dog, an old wife and ready money.” It still works. Ben died in 1790, the year before this original house was built. Neighbors from the road brought a llama and an alpaca to amuse the kids. The kids, our grandkids and grand neices plus other kid guests, could barely be diverted from frog harrassment and playing in the row boat to eat.

By noon the next day, the house was emptied of all guests and the tents had been packed up and taken away. The rest of the day we cleaned up, put away, picked up, swept, and got everything back to normal.

Yesterday Judy went to an auction, and I did yard work including planting a gift day lily, Hemerocallis ‘Siloam Ethel Smith’. I also watered for almost the first time this summer. It has finally dried out, the pond has dropped an inch and a few plants have started to look dry. The jury is still out on the Mosquito Magnet.

Last night we saw the Opera North production of ‘Il Trovatore’ at the Lebanon Opera House. Three of the four principal voices were great, the orchestra was fine, the staging, sets and acting were primitive. Understanding that it was local, I enjoyed it; Judy was less tolerant. On the way to the opera, the traffic, us, was stopped by a flock of turkeys on the road, perhaps fifteen. Today we are supposed to get a bit of needed rain.

New blooms: helianthus, another helenium.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


8-13-06 VERMONT: The last few days have been not cool, but cold. We have been in pants, jackets and I had socks on for the first time in two months. Today was slightly warmer. A few days ago we had another 0.3 inches of rain.

The yard work has been maintenance weeding, watering, trimming and pruning. I did replace some turf, torn up by the dogs, with new sod from the pasture. The tomatoes are slowly ripening and the first few have been consumed. We have corn every night. Three pumpkins are now in the little green stage.

I bought and set up a Mosquito Magnet. We are waiting to see how much, if at all, it helps.

New blooms: goose-neck loosestrife, clematis.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Winding Down

8-9-06 VERMONT: Another pretty day, but a bit cooler. I spent the middle of the day in the company of the string trimmer and two extension cords doing the front of the house, the driveway, the roses and behind the pond. I used up all the string and had to reload. I transplanted two lilac volunteers to the lilac bed in front of the old house from BBP and a diablo from the driveway bed to the side of the yard below the garage. Add in some weeding and watering and its a full day.

The night before we had dinner at the Hiley’s in New London and actually remembered how to get there. Tonight Lucy had a dinner guest her camp friend, Leah. We had a cook-out and our corn and our tomatos, the first of the year for both. Two thumbs up from everyone. The pumpkin vines have delivered, the first, still green and softball sized, but growing.

The shadows are growing longer on sunny days, a flock of starling, maybe fifty, were in the pasture working on the horses’ food, some place in New Hampshire was 37° last night, a few leaves have started to turn. When we hit August 21, the sun will be half was back to the equator from summer solstice for next month’s equinox. The month after that it will be half way below the equator on its way to the winter solstice. Almost time for sweaters and flannel.

New Blooms: more phlox.

Monday, August 07, 2006

New Sumac and Oars

8-7-06 VERMONT: The day started with an intense, short rain storm that dumped 0.20 inches in about an hour. The rain was followed by hot humid and sticky air. I bought and planted two more of the Bouncing Bette and two Rhus typhina ‘bailtiger’, staghorn sumac and put them in the spot where the wentworth viburnum died.

I also changed the oars in the rowboat. I had bought a pair last year at auction for a couple bucks anticipating that they would be needed soon. It was a job sorting through all the available locks to make a fit. A bit of weeding and pruning and the day is over.

i apologize to all the poop fans about not detailing the amount of aged sheep, ox and horse poop I added to the planting mix.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Campers and Flowers

Happy Campers
8-6-06 VERMONT: Two beautiful days in a row. Yesterday I bought 15 perennials at Browns: 4 Liatris spicata ‘Floristan Violet’, Blazing Star; 3 Hosta ‘Obscura’; 2 Saponaria officinails ‘Nina’s Dark pink’, Double Bouncing Bette; 2 Monarda didyma ‘Blue Stocking’, bee balm; 2 Shasta Daisy, Leucanthemum x superbum ‘Becky’; 1 Baptisia australis, false indigo; and 1 foxglove, Digitalis parviflora ‘Mild Chocolate’.

Today I planted, some this morning and some this afternoon, in between Judy and I visited Maggie and Lily at Hive, their camp, with a lunch of Chinese. The girls are both doing quite well, enjoying camp, going on hikes and canoe trips, what could be bad?

Oh yes, the plants mostly went into the propane tank bed and the hostas into the hosta bed that never recovered from the trauma of the trampling by the painters.

Friday, August 04, 2006

New Lily

8-4-06 VERMONT: The weather is back to normal Vermont, clear, cool at night, little breeze, blue skies. We got another 0.3 inches of rain over night, another thank you due to the rain gods. Browns nursery is having their annual sale. I’ll probably hit it tomorrow.

New blooms: glorious casablanca lilies open this am.

Thursday, August 03, 2006


We're Havin' a Heat Wave.

8-3-06 VERMONT: The heat wave continues. Usually it is cool enough at night here so that sleeping is comfortable with just a window fan, but the last two nights have been bad. Last night was complicated by a four hour power outage [say that fast four times] that shut down the fans. During the day yesterday it was so hot that I worked up a sweat taking a shower. The dogs have been living in the basement which is about 60°. With these conditions, T-storms are expected. We have seen a few slide by to the north, but we only got a peripheral sprinkle.

The veggies are ripening. Tomatoes are full size and have turned whitish on the way to reddening, and the corn ears are filling out. The pumpkin vines have loads of fowers but bear no fruit.

New blooms: goldenrod has been out for at least a week. I deeply apologize for neglecting to mention it at the appropriate time.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Monarch of Echinacea

garden staff on the job

Cloucester and Salem

Cloucester Church, Salem House

August Strikes

8-1-06 VERMONT: It is hot here too, in the 90’s with high humidity. We had 0.25” rain this AM, combined with the other precip this week, is enough to leave the swamp squishy again. The pond is almost never completely full in August but is this year. The pond pH is 6.8—slightly acidic, but the same as last year at this time even though I never got to lime the yard in the drainage area because of all the rain.

I picked about a quart of blueberries and worked up a sweat like I had run a couple miles. Either the weather is atrocious or I am totally deconditioned.

New blooms: first aster, black-eyed susan.