Monday, June 30, 2008

More Stone Work.

6-30-08 VERMONT: A beautiful day today after another 0.2 inches of rain last night. I rebuilt the bottom step under the apple tree, replacing two small steps with one large one. I took some large rocks from the pasture, cannibalizing an old wall to do the job. Every rock I lifted up had an old snake skin under it. One had a tiny live milk snake, no more than six inches long.

New blooms: first orange day lily, first hydranga—it must be summer.

Peony hiding among beebalm leaves.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mr. Snapper Pays a Call.

6-29-08 VERMONT: Yesterday started as dark, gray and overcast and then the T-storm began after ten minutes of high wind which knocked out the electricity and phones for a while. The generator performed magnificently. The rain continued overnight, delivering 0.85 inches as of this morning. Today began with another T-storm, but almost cleared up a few times before watering us again tonight. The afternoon was muggy and buggy, but who’s complaining.

Thanks to Ken K. for helping me, actually, me helping him, change the control switch on the disposal during yesterday’s storm.

In between storms, I trimmed the high grass around the edge of the pond and cleaned off the old steps from the deck to the pond under the apple tree. One of the steps was badly awry. I pulled it out, packed gravel behind it and reseated it. The pry bar and sledge are my favorite tools, after the Mac. Then I dead-headed the peonies and meadow rue, raked it all up and dumped it.

While doing the pond, I twice got a glimpse of a large turtle, dinner plate size, probably a snapper.

New blooms: delphinium, salvia, more spirea, more trascantia.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Aliens in Vermont.

6-27-08 VERMONT: Wow. Two days of no rain. It’s probably the beginning of a month-long drought. It was actually hot and muggy today. It felt like summer.

In addition to weeding and pruning, I bought two cotoneasters, Praecox cotoneaster, and planted them in front of the front porch to finish those beds, at least for the moment.

The water lilies seem very happy this year, in spite of being trampled by frog-hunting dogs twenty times a day. Every year, some stuff seems to have loved the winter, and other things have barely survived. Every spring it’s different. Seemingly successful perennials just vanish over the winter. Could it be aliens?

New blooms: trascantia, summer sweet, campanula, clematis, more spirea.

Don't need to be watered.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Neighborhood News.

6-24-08 VERMONT: Today we got another 0.3 inches of rain in a mid-day storm. The pond is full and overflowing. Big news in the neighborhood. Two neighbors have seen a mom moose and twin calves across the road from our pasture. We have possible moose tracks near the barn.

I am trying to post a new picture of one of the neighbors who moved in last fall. I mentioned them in the post of 10-18-07. I heard they were soon to move on to cooler pastures.

New blooms: lady's mantle.

Rodgersia and Honeybee. The bee is packin'.

Check out the eyelashes.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Doing It Under Water.

6-23-08 VERMONT: Every day we get dark clouds, showers, some are electrified and noisy, punctuated by short interludes of sun. It’s cool, about 70°, and calm. The gardens seem to be on hold, waiting for warmth and sun.

We went to the pet store on an errand and found a display of aquatic plants, I guess they’re for Koi pools. I bought a pickerelweed, Pontederia cordata, hardy to Zone 3, and put it in the pond. Years ago I had tried, unsuccessfully, to get it going in the pond with plants from the Connecticut River. It has big, arrowhead shaped leaves and blue/purple flowers.

It’s hard to transplant under water. Digging a hole leaves a dirt cloud that obscures the hole and things float away when you think they’ve been embedded. I make large staples out of fencing wire to hold stuff down and go back to look at them an hour later when the water has cleared. And then there’s the issue of sliding down the bank into deep water while holding the trowel and plant and trying to stay on your feet. Best to leave your wallet on the bank.

We’ve been here a week and have had 0.75 inches of rain, and about 0.75 hours of sun.

New blooms: fox glove, phlox.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Summer Solstice

6-20-08 VERMONT: The solstice has just passed and the sun is now slowly sinking southward toward the equator and autumn, but we do have the summer ahead. It doesn’t feel much like it today. It was rainy and in the sixties, barely in the sixties, with showers. The house was cold and damp, but a fire warmed things up.

We have a duck, a female mallard, who visits the pond almost every day. She lands, swims around for fifteen minutes, quacks, stands on the rocks and then flies away. The dogs stare in bewilderment. There are also two turtles in the pond dropped off by a neighbor who found them on the road. The turtles are very cautious when sunning on the rocks. With the least sound from the house, they both dash into the water.

New blooms: water lilies, hesperis.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Let the Summer Begin.

6-18-08 VERMONT: Judy and I arrived yesterday afternoon to cool weather and showers. There was 1.75 inches of rain in the gauge which was enough to keep all the new plants from getting thirsty while we were away. As usual there were problems. Someone, Dan[?], Anna[?], Alison[?], left the hall lights on in the old house. The pilot light was out in the old house hot water heater, a circuit breaker was tripped in the new house, and a power strip in the media cabinet was blown.

The gardens look pretty good, if I say so myself, but today I pruned, weeded, planted sun flower seedlings in various gaps in the gardens and along the south side of the small barn. I culled the corn and pumpkin seedlings and re-planted the hills that didn’t germinate.

The horses are here. So far the dogs are tolerant of them this year, even Chloe. We went to an Eaton auction for a couple hours and bought an old atlas of Orange County, Vermont.

I had to make a list to remember everything in bloom: azalea, stephanandra, weglea, burning bush, Wentworth viburnum, all the roses, diablo, white spirea, lilac, solomon seal, columbine, forget-me-not, pulmonaria, rhubarb, lamium, jacobs ladder, daisy, geranium, meadow rue, all the iris, rodgersia, cranes bill, all the bleeding hearts, mountain bluet, apricot day lily, valerian, celandine, baptisia, poppy, buttercup, red and white clover, yellow pimpernel, jill-over-the-ground, thyme, basil, dill and, today, peony.

Poppy, and only a couple days late for Father's Day.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Nick's Fete.

6-16-08 SHORT HILLS: We have had some t-storm activity almost daily including tonight. When it’s not raining, it’s hot and muggy. Time for Vermont—tomorrow.

Nick is being honored as "Hospice Volunteer of the Year" at St. Barnabas tonight.

New blooms: native rhododendron, another viburnum.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Back in Short Hills.

We got back home late last night. Today I got some of the pix up on Picasa and some on the blog.

Here, there was a disastrous thunder storm with parts of several of our trees down on the wires again. The wires are now clear, but another bunch of shrubs have been bombed by the falling trunks and branches.

New blooms: southern magnolia.

Here's the link to the Montana pix:

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Snow Day.

6-11-08 BIG HOLE LODGE, WISE RIVER, MONTANA: For weather fans, we had four inches of snow on the grass this morning. It was again below freezing and windy. There was a general reluctance to go fishing, but they took us to lower [in altitude] sections of the Big Hole River. There was no snow, no rain, less cold and less wind.

I fished with Bill Sweeney for a short day. We quit at 3:30. We each got a few in the boat and lost a few. At one point, we had simultaneous hits, a double, and both lost them five seconds later.

We inadvertently disturbed a nesting merganser who flew around the boat feigning injury to draw us away from her eggs.

By evening, the snow was gone.

Not my idea of mid-June.

Merganser lets us get fairly close to draw us away from the kids.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

More Big Hole. Fishing and Catching.

6-10-08 BIG HOLE LODGE, WISE RIVER, MONTANA: Today we had a selection of weather to please everyone. We started at 8AM with sun and cold, by nine-rain, then sleet, then snow with wind for a few hours, moving on to clearing, sun with gusting winds and finally a snow flurry. Gordon and I were back on the Big Hole River in a drift boat, rowed by Mike, our guide. We fished in the snow, the sun, the wind, on white water, out of the boat on the bank and back in the boat. I had my best day catching at least nine fish, a lot for this trip. That included a 22.5 inch brown trout. In centimeters, that’s 57.15. I caught rainbows and brookies also. Gordon had a good day too. [Everyone does catch and release, if I haven't mentioned that before.]

We have seen birds: bald eagle, golden eagle, osprey, pelicans, pheasant, heron, northern shoveler duck, merganser duck, mountain bluebird, western tananger, magpie, meadow lark, redwing blackbird, swallows. When I remember the others I’ll add to the list.

Big Hole River. Brown trout and Admirer.

Bald Eagle. Does not believe in 'catch-and-release'.

Female Merganser catching some rays.

Osprey. "Catch and what?"

Big Hole River.

Big Hole River white water.

McCoy Ranch.

6-9-08 BIG HOLE LODGE, WISE RIVER, MONTANA: Today started cold, but warmed up nicely, with a bit of sun and only modertate wind. Ken and I fished the McCoy ranch location, about an hour to the south, in small streams remade to support trout. They made deep pools, gravelly riffles, small dams, dead tree shelters and grassy banks. There weren’t many hits, but Ken had a few nice ones. I had a couple hits and landed one smaller fish.

Catch of the Day, almost enough for one piece of sushi.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Big Hole Fishing.

6-8-08 BIG HOLE LODGE, WISE RIVER, MONTANA: There was snow last night at elevations higher than ours, 6300 ft. We could see high pastures snow covered and lower elevations green. The mountain tops are snow covered. This morning it was 34° with a mild breeze and overcast. As the day went along it got very windy, cleared and warmed a bit, but the warming was negated by the wind. It didn’t snow, or rain.

John Sweeney and I and our guide did a drift boat, an inflatable, on the Big Hole River. We got in the water at ten and within ten minutes we each had a fish. That was pretty much it for the day. John got a couple more. The wind made casting difficult, blowing the lures around. The last mile or so of the river had significant rapids so the white water run was an exciting end to the day.

Big Hole River moving fast.

Big Hole River. Granite cliffs.

Luncheon on the river.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Big Hole Lodge.

6-7-08 BIG HOLE LODGE, WISE RIVER, MONTANA: We got here in the mid-afternoon, in a snow flurry, after the usual kinds of flight delays we’re all getting used to, but no missed connections and no lost luggage. It’s 34°, windy and with intermittent snow flurries. Glad I have warm gear.

The Lodge is in a mountain valley, our cabin is on the banks of the Wise River, which is roaring away. Those of us without our own fishing stuff got outfitted and registered and are ready to go tomorrow. The place is about half an hour from the Butte airport. We are in the granite formations of the Pioneer batholith. The mountain tops are snow covered.

Wise River and granite mountains.

Our Cabin on the banks of the Wise River.

Big Hole Lodge.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Darkness at Noon. [Has that been used?]

6-5-09 SHORT HILLS: We have had a couple of rainy, humid, overcast days which have kept everything wet and the sprinklers off. This weekend is supposed to be in the nineties here. I will be in cold wet Montana on this years fly-fishing trip.

The weeding and pruning go on. The yard is getting that summery jungle look. With all the trees and shrubs in leaf, sight-lines are cut off and the yard is dark under heavy foliage.

New blooms: peony, mock orange, solomon seal.

Under the canopy.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Flower Drama.

6-2-08 SHORT HILLS: It is high summer here. It’s in the eighties, all the leaves are out, flowers are blooming. Unlike Vermont, which has had about half an inch for May, rain here has been adequate with over four inches for the month. The grass had been mowed, and green weeds are filling in the brown spots and the effect resembles a lawn.

New blooms since I was last here: siberian iris, rose, tree peony, spirea, rhododendron-purple and white, laurel, lilac, black chokeberry, English holly.

Tree Peony. Glorious.

English Holly flower. Male or Female?