Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Wireless Arrives.

5-30-07 VERMONT: I did a bit of weeding and watering, set up tomato ladders, and, then, I set up the Airport Extreme Wireless network. Now no one needs to use my Mac because they can all use their own laptops. Short Hills tomorrow.

New blooms: cranesbill geranium.

Blue-Eyed Grass. An astute observer can see the iris similarity.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Blue-Eyed Grass and Cow Birds.

5-29-07 VERMONT: Another busy one. I transplanted a few bleeding hearts from the bed-below-pines [BBP] where they were under shrubs to the shady parts of the new bed and finished the new bed border with rocks from the pasture.

The blueberry bushes all look tired this spring, and I cut off a lot of dead wood while pruning yesterday. I fertilized them and put barriers around the bases of the trunks to prevent weed whacker injury which might be the problem.

The hemlock in the pasture also looks stressed but has some new growth, so I did a tree feeding. I made holes around the periphery of the drip line and in another circle closer to the trunk by driving a stake in the ground about a foot and filling the hole with HollyTone. I made about 25 holes and used half a 25 pound bag.

I moved fire wood into the shelter, did a bit more pruning and watered the new plantings.

New blooms: columbine, red clover, white clover and blue-eyed grass. The last one is a pasture flower, a small iris about two inches tall with a little round blue flower. Love the name.

New bird: brown-headed cow birds. They were too shy for picture taking.

The lilac transplant from NJ all grown up.

Monday, May 28, 2007

More Chores.

5-28-07 VERMONT: Multiple chores today. Finished fertilizing, did the early season plant supports, put out the hammock and Judy did the rockers on the front porch, and I pruned shrubs and roses. Last night we got a much needed 0.2 inches of rain.

New blooms: celandine, lily-of-the-valley, buttercup, and two more viburnums.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Indigo Bunting

5-27-07 VERMONT: Yesterday I added two monardnas and another hollyhock to the bed below the deck and another lady’s mantle to the new bed and planted the corn, eighty hills, two seeds in each, to be thinned to one each in a few weeks. Today there was a threat of rain and a few brief sprinkles, but Judy and I put out all the benches and chairs.

We had an indigo bunting at the feeders several times today and we saw another one on the road. I never saw one before today. The orioles are getting to be as common as robins, almost. The bunting is the bluest bird I ever saw.

New blooms: may apple, honeysuckle, more azalea.


Friday, May 25, 2007

Hot Day.

5-25-07 VERMONT: Yesterday the broadband satellite went on the small barn. It needed almost 300 feet of cable to bring the signal to the computer, about 250 of which I spent this morning burying. Satellite service isn’t as fast as cable, but far better than dial-up. Yesterday after the satellite hook-up, I planted in the bed below the deck where the daylilies were: six hollyhocks, a filipendula and a meadowsweet. In the new terrace bed, I planted four delphiniums and three foxgloves in the sunny part and in the shady part close to the road, a brunnera, a hellebore and three lady’s mantles. In the shady part of the new bed under the apple tree, I added a lingularia, two tiarellas and a columbine. Today I added a few transplants to the new bed, some wild ginger, cranes bill, fever few and a hesperis and then planted sun flower seeds at the back of the sunny part. I also planted the tomatoes, pumpkins, herbs and peppers. Phew.

Judy and I buried Fanny’s ashes and put up a marker for her.

I saw the oriole again the morning, yesterday we saw a red fox and a woodchuck, today the crawfish are out in the pond. The catbirds and evening grossbeaks are back. Yesterday and today set high temp records different places around the state, we were 90° this afternoon.

New blooms: mohican viburnum, sweet woodruff.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Broadband Comes to Thetford

It's here, not without a few glitches, mostly due to the Macs being second class citizens. These pix went up quickly, and a download was also fast.

baltimore oriole


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Orioles All Over.

5-23-07 VERMONT: I saw the Baltimore oriole again this morning in an apple tree, and the scarlet tananger and a sapsucker were in the same tree. I went back for the camera and got some pix of the oriole that I’ll post later.

Judy and Nick arrived in the early afternoon. I had finished readying the flower beds for planting so we went to Browns for stock. We got a bunch of stuff that I’ll describe as it goes in the ground. On the way to the Nursery we saw another oriole in Union Village. This one was also in an apple tree.

New blooms: French lilac, including the one I brought up from Short Hills as a small shoot a few years ago, more apple trees.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Another Sunny Day.

5-22-07 VERMONT: I finally finished pulling daylilies out of the big bed, except for a few off by themselves and a few singles in the middle of other things, and moved them to other spots. I started filling all the holes and re-laying the pavers. I put out all the hoses to water the transplants and the new plants to come. All that new space to fill, it’s almost erotic.

I saw a Baltimore oriole yesterday, first time I’ve seen one here, the hummers found the feeder, the fish are awake and hitting the flies on the pond and I saw a snake sunning on an outcrop. The mallards were on the pond for a long time yesterday and ignored us nearby residents. Chloe spends all her spare time, when she’s not frog hunting, stalking the woodchuch who lives under the little barn. The woodchuck has front, back and side doors, so the dog is busy circling the barn or just sitting and waiting. She still has to chase the airplanes away too.

I hate to say it, but we need rain.

New blooms: creeping phlox, ajuga. Pix after broadband set up.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Broadband A-comin'

5-21-07 VERMONT: Finally a pretty day, fifties, sunny and with a good breeze to keep the flies away. A bat was flitting around the pond most of the afternoon, hopefully eating flies. I got a lot of the rest of the daylilies out, did some wall repair and pruning, watered the transplants. The rest of the daylilies will have to find another home. I will put them out front in beds with holes. I did the Hollytone fertilizing. The canine fence man was here to do that repair and the satellite internet guy was here and we will put the dish on the small barn Thursday.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Assault of the Daylilies.

5-20-07 VERMONT: I started pulling the daylilies out of bed-below-deck- east. They were overrunning the peonies and beebalm. They were very entrenched and it was a tough job getting about half of them out. There was intermittent drizzle and when the drizzle stopped the black flies came out. I like the drizzle better. I moved the pulled daylilies to the new bed. Some of them were so close to the wall in front of the bed that I nearly had to rebuild the wall afterwards.

New blooms: azalea.

New birds: ruby throated hummingbird, male, working the pink pulmonaria. Time to get the feeder out.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

New Bedding.

5-19-07 VERMONT: Rain this morning gave me an excuse to run errands. I got the mail, a battery for the phone, and, at Longacres, tomatoes, peppers, herbs and fertilizer. When I got home, the rain had stopped so I made a new flower bed along the lowest north terrace wall from the steps to the apple tree about five feet wide. Lots of planting to do, some sun, some shade.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Work, Slave, Work.

5-17-07 VERMONT: I came up yesterday. In Massachusetts in was in the eighties, but in VT a front came through and it dropped to 50°. When I arrived the Invisible Fence was broken, the phones were dead, and the TV didn’t work. Today everything is fixed.

I cleaned up the winter dead fall including some pretty big branches, started putting out the flower bed guards, took down the reflectors for the snow plowers, hung the pasture gate, weeded, raked up the driveway graved plowed into the yard with the snow, and a bunch of other chores. The mallard ducks were on the pond twice today, but the dogs chased them away. I saw a scarlet tanager in the pasture. The frog opera is in full voice.

In bloom: first apple tree, service berry, forsythia, star magnolia, judd viburnum, elderberry, forget-me-not, trillium, bleeding heart, pulmonaria, virginia blue bells, violets, wild strawberry, pachysandra, vinca minor, epimedium, wild ginger, jill-over-the-ground, jack-in-the-pulpit, primrose, daffodil, alkanet, bergenia, clatonia, foam flower and dandelion.

5-18-07 VERMONT: Another work day. I finished the bed guards, an unpleasant chore. Every year I think about not using them, they’re a nuisance to put out and then take up in the fall, but while I was thinking about it, Sam dug a hole under a hydrangea. The guards went up. In the afternoon I set up the veggie garden. I filled holes with manure from the barn run-in, weeded, re-layed the black plastic weed barrier that had been blown off the bed and replaced the parts that were shredded and stapled it all down. Then I put up the posts for the electric fence and then wired it up, and then it was time for dinner. One of the neighbor’s cats came for a visit while I was doing the veggie bed and she [?] had a stare down with Chloe and then vanished.

New birds: rose-breasted grossbeak, gold finch, nuthatch.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Back in the U.S.A.

5-15-07 SHORT HILLS: Today is recovery day and tomorrow I go to Vermont for the first time since February.

A few last thoughts about France. The highway driving is great, moderate traffic at most and everyone keeps to the right except while passing. The cars are almost all small because the gas is about $8 a gallon. Driving in Paris is to be avoided.

New blooms: first rhododendron, hawthorne, azalea, bridal wreath, four kinds of viburnum, carolina allspice, leucothoe, may apple, jack-in-the-pulpit, lily-of-the-valley, wood hyacinth, wild strawberry.


Sunday, May 13, 2007

Sunday in the Park

5-13-07 PARIS, FRANCE: We did Sunday in the park with the Parisians and the other tourists. First we went to the Jardin du Luxembourg, then Notre Dame, then Ile St. Louis, then the Jardin des Plantes. We made two stops, one for le petit dejeune and later for une biere. The day started out sunny and warm and then there was a short thunderstorm. This is such a beautiful and user friendly city. It is surprising to us to see so many smokers, but there were a lot of joggers. Also lots of couples, lots of parents with kids, lots of café activity, lots of small-to-tiny dogs, lots of motorbikes, women with bike helmets and heels, everybody wears jeans, some of the jeans look great.

Tonight we heard Chopin piano pieces performed by Miho Nitta at the oldest church in Paris, self proclaimed, Eglise St-Julien-le-Paurve. It is a tiny church in the shadow of Notre Dame. We barely found it in time for the show. Then dinner, then dessert now packing for the trip to EWR.

Foxglove in Notre Dame Park

Paris, la petite jazz danseur

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Giverny Pilgrimage

5-12-07 PARIS, FRANCE: We got up early and drove, with Tomtom’s help, we are now totally dependent on her, from SW Bretagne to Giverny and then Paris, about 350 miles. We drove straight to the hotel door without a false turn. Amazing! Avis is once again in charge of the vehicle, and we are on foot, in Paris.
Giverny might be the highlight of the trip. The whole town knows how to do flowers, every house and barn is awash in color. We walked the main street along with a line of other pilgrims seeking le maison et les jardins de St. Claude. We were totally blown away. The scene was busier than any other we’ve gone to this trip, there was a line to get in. It’s probably a bit early in the season for the best show, but I bet it’s good any time. In addition to perennials, lots of iris and roses now, there are banks and tiers and mounds and piles of annuals that they plant in March. We don’t do it then in Vermont. The water lily garden is right off the canvas. The house was a walk through, the dining room and kitchen were Judy’s favorites. They plant both big beds of one or two flowers and other beds are mixes of many things. Some beds are all like colors and others a mixed palette. Every visual field has light and shadow, like the chiaroscuro in the art. I almost had palpitations walking through the garden and was dizzy from turning around and back.

Giverny, poppy field

Giverny, iris

Giverny, Japanese bridge

Giverny, mixed bed

Paris, Seine boat

Paris, Notre Dame

Friday, May 11, 2007


5-11-07 BILLIERS, BRETAGNE, FRANCE: We slept fairly late and eventually got started to be stopped by a dead battery. The car lights were on for a while the night before, inadvertently, but we got a jumped quite quickly and were off, in the rain. We went to Vannes for another old city center avec cathedral and brunch. We made a short, rainy stop at La Trinité sur Mer, the sailing capital of France and saw thousands of sail boats.
Then on to Carnac for the megaliths. The stones are lined up in long rows, big stones, for miles. It is incredible that they are still there, they are older than the Egyptian pyramids, and they were set up at all. The ones in rows made me think of the cemetery at Omaha beach. Otherwise I thought of the thing Christo did in Central Park. Maybe some neolithic comedian was playing a joke on us, “The’ll never stop trying to figure it out.”

Vannes, old town

Vannes, hat shop

Vannes, ramparts

Carnac, megaliths

Carnac, more megaliths

Billiers, run aground? no problem

Domaine de Rochevilaine

Our hotel in Billiers, Bretagne is old and new, on the edge of the ocean and beautifully landscaped.

the door to our room.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Billiers, Bretagne, France

5-10-07 BILLIERS, BRETAGNE, FRANCE: We hit the road a bit later this morning driving into the wind which got harder and harder until tonight when it is blowing gale force. The door to our new room at Domaine de Rochevilaine, ten feet from the ocean, is rattling away. This place is beautiful and gracious and worth each of its four stars. This room is getting so buffetted it feels like being in a boat.

Today we stopped at different coastal vista for the water, flowers, rocks and wind. We saw another old city center and cathedral at Quimper and an old walled island town at Concarneau. Both were good stops. We had lunch in front of that cathedral, shrouded for renovation, of course. Inside the nave is bent, perhaps because an older building was incorporated into the construction.

L'Aber Wrac'h

Pte. St. Mathau





Wednesday, May 09, 2007

L'Aber Wrac'h, Bretagne, France.

5-10-07 L’ABER WRAC’H, BRETAGNE, FRANCE: We left Pleven early after le petit dejeuner and beat some of the crowds at Mont St. Michel. Driving up to it is most impressive, it dominates the skyline from miles away looking like a big sand pile with a central spire. Once it was surrounded by water at least at high tide. Now it is surrounded mostly by sand and sheep. It probably gets water at the base only at the highest tides. This is what several years of continued erosion and river delta deposits will do. When we were in Ephesus, Turkey years ago it was well inland but was a port city when Paul preached there, more erosion and delta deposits. Anyway, MSM is a gigantic warren of huge stone rooms, and some small ones, but each one requires climbing more stairs to get to. We avoided the tours and did the self guided thing without the history of each stone and each sacrifice. It is a religious fortress with walls, battlements, slit shaped windows for shooting beseigers. This goes along with the island location. The lower levels, like all the French religious sites we have visited, are awash with vendors selling food, souvenirs, trinkets, rooms, maps, guides and toilet privileges. Worth a trip, as Michelin says.

From there we went back to the ouest to Dinan. This city has an old, midieval center. After lunch we went on to l’Aber Wrac’h and our hotel, almost at the western end of Bretagne. On the way we stopped at a few coastal fishing villages, now being gentrified into resort towns. That peculiar looking and sounding name is Celtic, not French. The road signs in this part of Brittany are in two languages, like Ireland, but in French and Breton, of which there are four dialects. After dinner at another seafood place, we crashed. The hotel was modern and in the middle of construction and disappointing. It was, of course, the only one I chose.

Mont St. Michel

Mont St. Michel-interior chapel

Mont St. Michel-dining room


Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Pleven, Bretagne, France

PLEVEN, BRETAGNE, FRANCE: Today, Tuesday, we drove from Honfleur to Deauville looking for the beach and boating scenes Monet painted and found a very fancy resort city. We happened by riding lessons for kids, tennis courts, lots of big sail boats, glitzy downtown, realtors, banks [all ferme for holiday], and a big flat clean and empty beach. Maybe the rain and wind were the reasons the beach was uninhabited.

We drove west along the coast ending up at the D-Day beaches and the American Cemetery. There were lots of folks there. It was very moving. Exploring the bluffs reveals lots of German implacements largely intact. The whole thing is hard to grasp especially with a few swimmers in the water.

After Omaha beach we went on to Pleven in Brittany where we are booked at Manoir du Vaumadeuc. This is another beautiful place, a fifteenth century chateau, now a B & B run by a descendant of the original family. Our room was the library with a gigantic fireplace.

The weather has been cold, windy and rainy at times. The region, even so, is way ahead of NJ with rhodos, roses, chestnut trees, iris, hawthorne trees and wisteria all in bloom.

D-Day Cemetary

German Pill Box

Manoir du Vaumadeuc

Monday, May 07, 2007

Honfleur and Normandie

5-7-07 HONFLEUR, NORMANDIE, FRANCE: We flew in Sunday night, getting the usual full night’s being awake on the plane, staggered to Avis, argued about the car and drove off using TomTom GPS. The GPS has been nearly flawless, even when we decide to ignore her.

We drove north into Normandie. Once outside of Paris, France is rural with lots of farming and lots of cows. Our first stop was Rouen to see the cathedral that Monet painted so often. The cathedral is a huge complex of gothic buildings all of which were closed and a lot of which was swaddled for renovation. Every time we are in Europe, whatever we go to see is hidden by scaffolding and drapes. Finding the center city was a snap with TomTom and getting out was also easy.

We went on to Etretat, a resort town on the Channel coast with eroded sedimentary formations of sandstone and limestone leaving arches and spires jutting out from the shore. The beach is well rounded egg-sized cobbles of the same stone. We climbed one of the head lands for the view and pix. Monet also painted these formations. Did I mention this trip is part homage to Monet to see the sites where he worked.

Parking by the way is a pain in France as well as NYC. Our last stop was Honfleur, a town at the mouth of the Seine with a fishing and sailing heritage. Our hotel was great, friendly staff, great breakfast buffet and our room was a little two story house with big bedroom, living room and kitchen. We had dinner on the quai, seafood of course, walked home and dissolved.

Rouen Cathedral, west entrance

Etretat, headland with arch

Honfleur quai

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Par Avion

5-5-07 SHORT HILLS: A couple of gorgeous days happening here. I did more pruning, trimming and am about done for the spring. Demain, nous allons a France pour une semaine dans Bretagne et Normandie.

Nouveaux fleurs: snowball viburnum, garlic mustard, another barberry.

Crab Apple

Virginia Blue Bells

Thursday, May 03, 2007


5-3-07 SHORT HILLS: The first one to show up today was the fence guys who did the annual repair of about eight posts and twenty rails that had rotted out since last spring. While they were working the gutter cleaners arrived. They use blowers and hoses to clean the gutters and then cleaned up all the stuff they scattered down on the shrubs. The sprinkler repair team arrived next, but had to leave and return because the gutter guys were using the water. They actually did come back and finished their repair job.

Yesterday, we saw the third part of “Voyage”, Tom Stoppard’s trilogy about nineteenth century Russian expats. I’ve had more than my fill of those characters after three episodes. We arrived early because the tunnel traffic was light and walked over to Central Park before dinner at Fiorello’s. The Park was a hive of activity. We got to look at some outcrops of Manhattan schist, all tightly folded in the east-west direction and plunging to the south. The schist is ancient ocean bottom mud and sand deposits compacted into mudstones and sandstones, and then heaved upward out of the ocean and metamorphosed into this folded schist by continental collison between North America and Africa in the Paleozoic.

Here is more about climate change from a NYT article today:

By the time of the annual Atlanta Dogwood Festival last month, the pale dogwood blooms had come and gone. Tara Dillard, a landscape designer and garden writer, said she now steers clients away from longtime favorites. “I’m writing a column about rhododendrons right now,” Ms. Dillard said. “And I think my conclusion is going to have to be not to plant rhododendrons. We have heated out of the rhododendron zone.”
In this warmer age, she said, “You might be planting some stuff you don’t like, like hollies.” But she brooks no objections from her clients. “I don’t care if you don’t like them,” she tells them. “I used to not like them either.”
David W. Wolfe, a professor of plant ecology at Cornell University, who spoke at a recent symposium at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden called “Gardening in a Changing Climate,” confirmed that in many places bellwether plants and animals were beginning to disappear. “There is clear evidence that the living world is responding to this change already,” Dr. Wolfe said.
Groups that cater to gardeners have hastened to keep up. In December, the National Arbor Day Foundation released an updated version of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Hardiness Zone Map, which shows the lowest winter temperatures in different parts of the country and is used by gardeners to determine which plants can survive in their yards.
Using data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Arbor Day map indicates that many bands of the country are a full zone warmer, and a few spots are two zones warmer, than they were in 1990, when the map was last updated.
Atlanta, which was in Zone 7 in 1990, is now in Zone 8, along with the rest of northern Georgia. That means that areas in the northern half of the state where the average low temperature was zero to 10 degrees Fahrenheit are now in a zone where the average low is 10 to 20 degrees. A scientific consensus has concluded that this warming trend has largely been caused by the human production of heat-trapping gases.
The Agriculture Department is in the process of redoing the map itself. But critics have taken issue with the department’s decision to use 30 years of temperature data, saying it will result in cooler averages and fail to reflect the warming climate. The 1990 U.S.D.A. map used 13 years of data; the Arbor Day map used 15 years ending in 2004.
Cameron P. Wake, a climatologist at the Climate Change Research Center of the University of New Hampshire, said a 30-year period would include several cycles of multiyear effects like El Niño, with an underlying assumption that climate is stable and varies around a mean. Warming, on the other hand, “is not variability, it’s a long term trend,” Dr. Wake said. “I would say the U.S.D.A. doesn’t want to acknowledge there’s been change.”

So, the administration’s Aggie Dept is redoing the hardiness zones to minimize the effect of climate change. That is so Bush league. Hopefully, that Bush is on the brink of extinction. The article also pointed out that some thirty or so State trees and flowers are in danger of being zoned out of their states. Anyway, the rhododendron comment caught my eye because of all the problems we’ve had here, and I did prune a lot of dead stuff from another rhodo today.

Yesterday Judy spotted a duck in our elm tree. Yes, a duck. Actually a wood duck. They lay eggs in hollow trees and then push the hatchling out of the nest into water conveniently located under their tree. I assume they were passing through and won’t be moving in—no water. The bird feeder, by the way, has been extremely busy.

New blooms: lamium and in the sunroom, the hibiscus that Anita gave us last summer.

male wood duck