Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Transplanting Day.

4-29-09 SHORT HILLS: The temperature dropped twenty degrees overnight to about seasonal levels.

I transplanted a bunch of non-blooming daffodils, some yellow lamium, may apple and claytonia from the front shade garden, actually the whole yard is a shade garden, to the area under the redbuds in the back.

New blooms: another, different variety of snowball viburnum, first red azalea has opened a few flowers.

Snowball Viburnum, very aromatic.


Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Planting Day.

4-28-09 SHORT HILLS: Another day in the ninety neighborhood and all the trees and shrubs are on fast-forward. In the last five days we have leaped two or three weeks ahead. Even the rose-of-sharon is showing green buds. Our magnolias which opened about a week ago are done. Bamboo shoots are up. White ash are opening leaf buds.

Yesterday I went to The Farm in Green Village, NJ. It is an excellent nursery with an extensive inventory and one of the last still around. There used to be many plant nurseries in our greater area, but most of them are now office buildings.

I got and planted two Spirea, Spiraea nipponica ‘Snowmound’, to replace the dead Scotch brooms. They even gave me half-off on the spireas because I brought the brooms back. I also added some ground covers to the bare area around the flagpole—two forget-me-not, Myosotis sylvatica ‘Victoria Blue’, two golden star, Chysogonum virginianum, and four dead nettle, Lamium maculatum, ‘Beacon Silver’, ‘Orchid Frost’ P.P.#11122, ‘Pink Pewter’, and ‘Shell Pink’. Those four lamium are in descending order downwards on the bank. I also put two Aegopodium podagraria ‘Variegatum’ near the back fence behind the pool. In Vermont, we call that Bishops weed. In most of those areas, the deer ate all the ivy leaves during the winter. The ivy does return, but it takes a while to recover. Everything I planted is apparently disliked by deer.

New blooms: apple trees, redbud, snowball viburnum, common [yellow] lamium.

Apple Tree.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Mertensia Emerges

4-27-09 SHORT HILLS: It was 93° in Newark yesterday, a new record high temperature, the second day in a row. I started the sprinklers yesterday, tested them, unclogged four clogged sprinkler heads, pruned shrubs that were blocking two others, and set it to run last night, but not in the swampy area of the yard.

New blooms: mertensia.

Mertensia virginica, virginia bluebell.

Here's another, I love back-lighted flowers. You can count five pollen-laden stamen and one long pistil, like a clapper, in each bell. The unopened bells are pinkish, turning to light blue on opening.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Livin' is Easy.

4-24-09 SHORT HILLS: A hot day. Summer has begun. I pruned and trimmed most of the day. When shrubs are dormant, it can be hard to tell which branches are dead until the rest of the plant shows leaves and some branches don’t.

Overnight all the trout lilies and magnolia blossoms opened up for business. The warm day must bring out the pollinators.

New blooms: viola, barberry, dogwood.

Saucer Magnolia.

Trout lily, compare with yesterday's picture.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Time Travel.

4-23-09 SHORT HILLS: Back in NJ. In the spring, and fall, I get the sensation of time travel when I go from NJ to VT and back. I just went from Vermont in late winter with snowdrops and crocus open and snow banks slowly melting to NJ in mid-spring with flowers, trees and shrubs in bloom, grass growing, leaves open on trees and shrubs, and some pollinators out. I was jolted a month into the future by driving south. Perhaps, I blundered into a different space-time continuum at a highway rest-stop.

It is still cold and rainy and windy. The shorts are still in the closet, but, maybe, this weekend it’ll be time.

New Blooms: saucer magnolia, pear, kerria, blood root, grape hyacinth, trout lily, dandelion.

Pear Tree Blossom, the flower in the center has not opened as much as the others.

Trout Lily, named, I guess, for the leaf markings.

Grape Hyacinth.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Fish Food.

4-19-09 VERMONT: No clouds today, not one, all day. It was windy, from the NW, and cool in spite of the sunshine. I finished, finally, the removal of the pine tree debris, and I have a huge pile. The usual practice here is to burn brush piles, but I have decided to let it settle and decay on its own—the greener approach. Also it’s too dry to burn safely. After that I repaired a flat tire on the farm cart and fertilized flowers and shrubs.

The pond is now presenting frog songs nightly. There are frog eggs floating every morning to the delight of the fish who now have eggs for breakfast. The small pond is filled with frog eggs and there, no one eats them. Newts are also busy mating, and crayfish are taking up their stations around the edges of the pond. I haven’t seen any turtles. The ducks made their first appearance of the year, but were chased away by Chloe. The pond is full and draining, and the drainage area into the pond
is still a swamp.
There are at least three woodpeckers busy drumming in competition. I can hear them working in different trees, but drumming in sequence. Lets see, same theme, different players in sequence—I guess they’re performing a fugue.

The snow piles are shrinking quickly. Moosilauke and Lafayette still have snow cover.

New blooms: crocus.

Crocus. About one month later than Short Hills.

Lafayette and Moosilauke with snowy peaks.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Pine Pile Pick Up.

4-17-09 VERMONT: We came up yesterday, yesterday and today were warm and sunny with a steady breeze. Things here are dry. Usually at this point in the spring, the fields are wet, the yard is wet, there are standing pools and mud everywhere. The snow is gone except for the piles under the eaves and plow piles. The remaining snow piles are almost visible shrinking except when they’re in shade. The pond is ice free and the fish are active. I think I heard one frog this afternoon. If it was a frog there should soon be a whole opera’s worth.

I repaired a plow damaged wall and started the clean up of the debris from the damaged pine trees. In December, there was an ice storm that caused severe damage to pine trees, almost exclusively pine trees, see my entry of 12-20-08. Now that the snow is gone I started picking up pine branch piles. In fact I spent all day pushing the carts full of pine trash to composting sites. There is more for tomorrow if I recover from today.

The dogs are pleased to be here. The Goldens are wearing out the pond and Chloe was chasing airplanes all day.

In bloom: snowdrops, maple trees.

Snowdrops, that thing that looks like an albino seal is a snow pile.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Calendar Cruelty.

4-12-09 SHORT HILLS: We have had warm and cold, wind and calm, sun and clouds, rain and even a short snow flurry—in other words, New Jersey spring. TSE was certainly right about April. In a few weeks, it’ll be in the eighties every day. Spring seems to be unfolding slowly, but the plants give us a slight bit more leaf every morning. They know what their doing, it’s not prime time yet.

I have continued to do pruning and clean up. I also replaced a rotted door sill on the patio.

At the feeders, the goldfinches are starting to live up to their names.

New blooms: claytonia.

Pachysandra and Squill.


Monday, April 06, 2009

Feeding Frenzy.

4-6-09 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday I finished clean up in the pool area and did more pruning the day before. Today we are getting heavy rain which we need. I can tell it’s heavy because the sump pump started working shortly after the rain started.

The bird feeder has been busy. The Red Wing Blackbirds came through a few days ago. They stop by for a few days each spring and fall on their way to the summer and winter hangouts. The Red Bellied Woodpeckers and Purple Finches are full time here.

New blooms: spice bush, anemone, squill.

Red Wing Blackbird.

Red Bellied Woodpecker and Purple Finch.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Busy Season.

4-2-09 SHORT HILLS: I worked outside today in a T-shirt, I guess it is spring. I pruned and snipped today mostly dead canes from shrubs and dead branches from trees, cleaned debris from shrubs, re-buried an outside electric wire that the dogs had dug up. Yesterday before the rain, I oiled and adjusted the garden and pool gates and did more pruning and clean-up.

Most of the deciduous shrubs are showing leaves or flower buds. Most of the evergreens are being shy yet.

New blooms: marsh marigold, pachysandra.