Saturday, April 26, 2008

Pruning, Pruning, Pruning.

4-26-08 SHORT HILLS: We finally had a bit of rain last night, and I turned the sprinklers off. All the trees are showing leaves and flowers, and grass is growing in random clumps, probably in responce to canine contributions.

As the season moves along, the need for more pruning becomes evident. On junipers, for example, in March they look fine, by late April new growth has started on most branches, but on those branches that were broken or died during the winter, the green fades to brown, and you know what to snip off. With deciduous shrubs and trees, they are bare limbed in winter and cover up in April. The dead branches, without new leaves, become obvious. Yesterday I took down two large dead rhododendrons and most of a dead viburnum. I pruned junipers and cut down wisteria by the front doors that refused to bloom.

The day before I fertilized everything for the second application.

New blooms: apple, redbud, Carolina allspice, yellow viola that I forgot to mention a few days ago.

Snowball Viburnum-very perfumed aroma.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Old Tulip.

4-23-08 SHORT HILLS: It’s gorgeous. It’s sunny, warm and dry, but too dry, and I have already started the sprinklers. Spring is clearly committed, all the trees are opening, even the grass is starting to appear. The sun is now just past the halfway point to the summer solstice.

Yesterday I planted a flowering pear tree near the Great Hills fence and a red twig dogwood in the SE corner by Westview Rd. The red twig dogwood, a shrub, is most showy in the snow. When everything else is brown or gray, its branches are deep red and show well against the snow. Today I planted two lilacs and a small lilac volunteer in the area where the big ash was blown down in March. Almost all the mangled shrubs that were under that tree and the broken utility pole have bounced back and are showing new leaves. Add to those plantings some trimming and pruning and just walking around enjoying spring and you have my days.

New blooms: grape hyacinth, snowball viburnum, jill-over-the-ground, tulip. One tulip bloomed for the first time in years. Years ago I planted some tulips that bloomed for a few years and then stopped blooming. Every year the tulip leaves come up, I fertilize them, and after a few weeks, they disappear. What’s different this year? Wet winter? Who knows.

Return of the Prodigal Tulip.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Garden State.

4-20-08 SHORT HILLS: I came back to NJ yesterday and changed into shorts and crocs. It was well up in the 70’s and sunny. The difference between here and Vermont is dramatic. No snow and trees in bloom all over the neighborhood—cherries, pears, magnolias.

New blooms: magnolia, dogwood, boxwood, barberry, quince, kerria, viola, mertensia, march marigold, trout lily, dandelion.


Saucer Magnolia.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Ice Melts When It's Hot.

4-18-08 VERMONT: We have had two hot days with temps almost reaching 80° in the afternoon and not dropping to freezing overnight. The pond went from frozen over yesterday morning to ice free tonight. Yesterday the pond got to the point of being about half thawed, and the fish appeared from under the ice in a very tight school. By today the fish are dispersed into several loose groupings. The ice was completely gone by late this afternoon, and the water temperature is in the forties. The pond is clearer than it has been in years, probably because it’s new water. There has been so much inflow from all the snow melt that the water in the pond has been changed a few times. This water may have started the winter in the south Atlantic or even the Pacific and been carried to Thetford in a snowstorm and snowed out of its cloud to land in our yard.

Yesterday a handfull of Canada geese went by on their commute north. Today a male mallard tried out the pond for about an hour before moving on.

I have been busy. Yesterday I chain-sawed the trees that had fallen on the pasture fence and in the pasture and repaired a broken leg on the picnic table. That repair was so successful that I ate dinner on the deck. Today I checked the pH of the soil around the blueberries, too high, and acidified and fertilized them and mulched with peatmoss. Hopefully they will do better this year. I also changed water filters and did a bit more clean up where the snow has melted.

New blooms: lots more snowdrops.

Pond ice yesterday.

Pond ice today.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Fence Mending.

4-16-08 VERMONT: I spent most of the day doing fence mending. The lower corner of the pasture by the road is muddy and a fairly steep hillside. The fence posts get tired and lean down hill, more so in wetter ground. Every couple of years, in the spring, I straighten them up and usually hammer a rock into the gap at the base of the post made by pushing the post upright. The corner post was so tilted that the rails fell out. I needed to use a “come-along” [a hand operated winch] to get it upright. I straightened about six post and replaced five broken rails, but will need another batch of rails to finish the job.

This afternoon there was a brown bat flitting around the pond, but outside the house, Judy.

Chloe had a tussle with a thistle and came in with a dozen burrs imbedded in her coat. Comb and scissors to the rescue.

Run Off.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Glaciers Are Back.

4-15-08 VERMONT: I came up yesterday to revisit glacierland. The day was sunny, but with a cool wind. While the pasture is mostly snow free, the house is besieged by glaciers. The pond has melted around the edges, but refreezes at night. Water from snow melt is pouring into and out of the pond and running across the pasture. When the breeze kicks up around the house it is cold from all the snow—like a walk-in refrigerator. The same breeze out in the snow-free pasture is warmer.

Snowdrops have bloomed in a southern spot next to the house, but the rest of the gardens are buried. It will be interesting to see how the perennials play catch up. The early flowers will be late and will bloom at the same time as others that are usually later in the season. With all this snow, we may get daffodils, peonies and asters all at the same time.

Chloe and Sam chased a squirrel around the garage this afternoon. He was in the rafters, but later came down, and the dogs lost the race across the driveway to the nearest tree. We also saw a couple deer in the pasture on our after-dinner walk.

I hauled away some of the broken branches that were not frozen in snow and took up most of the driveway reflectors that aren’t still buried. I can do some fence rail replacement and straighten some fence posts, and a couple trees are down on the pasture wire fence. They can be chain-sawed. Then more clean up if any snow melts.

New blooms: snowdrops.

A New Ice Age. Where's That Global Warming?

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Sleeping Dog.

4-12-08 SHORT HILLS: Two more beautiful days with a T-storm overnight. Spring is now committed. The emerging leaves are bigger every day. Buds in the tree tops are fattening, and the change is visible from the ground. We even have a few new blades of grass mixed in with the ground weeds.

I moved four volunteer burning bush from the back yard to the front garden area where the rhododendrons are dying.

New blooms: claytonia, trout lily.

Now, does this look comfy?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Yummy Summer Day.

4-10-08 SHORT HILLS: Today was beautiful, warm and sunny. It was the first day of the season that felt hot. The breeze on my face felt warm for the first time. Yesterday I planted a pink flowering dogwood [Cornus X ‘Rutgan’ PP7207] in the area where the ash tree got blown down in early March. Of course, there was a huge root in the spot where I chose to plant it after I had half a hole dug. I exposed the root and cut it out with the cordless saber saw. It was a big job, I hope the dogwood, and Judy, are appreciative.

Today I fertilized all the spring bulbs and flowers and a few shrubs I missed last time. I used 40 pounds of Vigro 10-10-10. It being a hot day, I turned on the sprinklers and tested all the zones. Three heads needed servicing, they get blocked by debris. Add a bit more pruning and it’s a full half day.

New blooms: anemone, squill, more daffodils.


Goldfinch in his summer clothes.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

April Shivers.

4-6-08 SHORT HILLS: The weather remains cold. Today is overcast, dark and windy. Spring continues to creep forward. Our dismal lawn is showing spots of green, mostly weeds actually. The leaves are peeping out on naked branches. Flowers are reluctantly opening. The forsythia are almost at peak, maple and elm are in flower, the first daffodil, in this yard, opened.

Gus, the puppy, at four months, has tripled his weight, 37 pounds, from two months ago. He is getting leggy and showing his mature coat. He is house trained, relates well to the other dogs and very chewy. Nick is adjusting to Gus. Judy is working very hard at puppy training and Gus sits, comes, lies, and waits pretty well.

New blooms: daffodil, spice bush, pachysandra.

Daffodil number one.

Gus at four months.