Monday, November 30, 2009

Still Warm Here.

11-30-09 SHORT HILLS: We continue to have moderate rain and moderate temperatures without a real frost. Thanksgiving was quiet and pleasant, and the last of the turkey salad is, thankfully, gone. Vermont later this week.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Warm November.

11-24-09 SHORT HILLS: The time does slip by. Here in NJ the weather has been fairly warm, in the fifties every afternoon and generally sunny. We have had a bit of rain, 1.25 inches, but I’ve been outside most days catching up on pruning and trimming and clearing deadfall from the shrubs that accumulated during the recent nor’easters. The coldest overnight in this November was 31° a few weeks ago. Even though most of the leaves are down, the grass is still green. With less than a week until December and Thanksgiving looming up, we have not had a hard frost here.

New blooms: the new roses still working, wild strawberry still flowering.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rocky, Fog and Fox.

11-15-09 VERMONT: We have been here for a few days. Saturday we saw Anna sing with the Glee Club in the afternoon and dance in the production of the Rocky Horror Show in the evening. The Glee Club did English Choral Music in Rollins Chapel, and the RHS featured R ‘n R and sexy costumes reminiscent of the Village Halloween Parade, there was even audience participation. Several performers were of NYC pro quality. There are six scheduled performances—all sell-outs.

The rain from tropical storm Ida was heavy yesterday but ended last night, and today, Sunday, started with dense fog and warm air brought in by the storm. There was no wind whatsoever when I walked around the pasture in the morning with the dogs. The fog made the familiar exotic and mysterious and everything was absolutely quiet. The air just sat there, all wet, with no movement and no sound.

On the way into town, we saw a red fox cross the road in front of us and give us a long look. We stopped and got a one snap before the camera battery died.

By the time we got back from the food market run, the fog had largely lifted, and I spent the afternoon finishing the fall clean-up and tuck-in. The beds don’t look dull, drab and empty to me, but are waiting for the vernal explosion. [Notice that I didn’t say ready to spring up.] If you look closely at the beds, you can see new growth already started on most of the perennials.

New blooms: one last dandelion is looking for a pollinator.


Fox. Look behind the gray rock in the center.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fall Continues.

11-11-09 SHORT HILLS: There is still a bit of decent color in NJ. We have a bumper crop of holly berries. You have to respect the roses, who are still at work, when so many of their contemporaries are already on winter vacation.

Rose bush product.

Red burning bush and orange-colored black chokeberry in front of English holly with berries. You couldn't see the berries?

Here they are. That quadruple organ on the bottom of the berry can be seen below on the holly flower.

Female holly flower from the spring. That little green dot becomes the red part of the berry. Over the coming winter, the birds will eat most of these berries and poop the seed, with a smidgen of fertilizer, someplace in the yard or neighborhood. We have a dozen or more holly volunteers from this tree's seeds.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Weekend Get-Away

11-10-09 SHORT HILLS: We got back from San José Monday morning on the red-eye after a weekend visit to the west-coasters. Saturday was all soccer, all day. Sunday we hiked in Rancho San Antonio County Park and Open Space Preserve, part of the Santa Clara County Park system. It’s a 4000 acre nature preserve with hiking, biking and horse trails. We did a medium sized hike up a canyon and across a ridge with great views of the Bay area. The weather there was the usual sunny warm days and cooler evenings.

Here in NJ it’s been warm and dry, and the leaves continue to tumble.

New blooms: the newly planted roses are still in business.

Soccer in the morning.

Soccer in the afternoon.

Fans were lined up for the soccer games.

Canyon Trail with Bay tree.

The tower in the mid-ground is at Stanford U. The City by the Bay is in the distance.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

New Plantings II.

11-3-09 SHORT HILLS: I finished the planting today, adding another five deciduous shrubs after another trip to the nursery.

Today’s list: Roses-1 Rosa ‘Blushing Knock Out’
1 Rosa x ‘Radtkopink’ PPAF
Abelia-2 Abelia x ‘Mardi Gras’ PP#15203
Sweetspire-1 Itea virginica ‘Sprich’ PP#10988
Cotoneaster-1 C. horizontalis ‘Variegatus’

The cotoneaster couldn’t go where I wanted to put it because the sprinkler system pipes ran through the spot, and they were to shallow to get the plant in. I put it next to the sunroom steps.

After the planting, I fence the area to keep the dogs out. Tomorrow—day off.

Here are all the happy plants in their new home. One might ask if too many plants are packed in there. After all, aren't they going to grow bigger. Well, they are, hopefully, but some may not thrive because it's too sunny or too dark, too wet or too dry, too acidic or too alkaline, too sandy a soil or too much clay or too who knows what. They could be spaced out allowing for their fully mature size, but then the spot looks sparsely planted until maturity three or four years down the road, and we want it to be attractive before then. If something seems to be unhappy there or crowded by a neighbor, I'll move it elsewhere.

Monday, November 02, 2009

New Plantings.

11-2-09 SHORT HILLS: I’ve been back here for about a week. The painters have finished painting the outside of the house, except for a few shutters awaiting replacement. I spent a day working on the gutters and leaders which had been removed by the painters for painting, but some not reassembled in quite the right way.

After Halloween, I started planting the big area from which I had removed all the evergreen trees under the living room windows. So far I have planted 15 deciduous shrubs, almost all will not be more than 3-4 feet tall. All the stock came from The Farm in Chatham Township. They are clearing roses, usually in the $40 range for $5 and the rest of the shrubs are 20% off. I have spent about $400, and I need about 5 more pieces. Their available stock is still plentiful and looks healthy.

Here’s the list to date:
  • Spirea-1 ‘Snowmound’-Spirea nipponica
  • 2 ‘Shirobana’ (S. j. ‘Shibori’)-Spirea japonica
  • 1 Goldflame-Spiraea bumalda
  • Abelia-2 ‘Little Richard’-Abelia x grandiflora
  • St. John’s Wort-1 Hypericum x ‘Hidcote’
  • 1 Hypericum ‘Mystical Beauty’ PP#13532
  • Hydrangea-1 Hydrangea macrophylla ‘Lady in Red’ PP#15175
  • Butterfly Bush-1 Beddleja davidii ‘Potter’s Purple’
  • Pheasant Berry-1 Leycesteria formosa ‘Golden Lanterns, Notbruce’ CPBR#2318
  • Roses-2 White Out ‘Radwhite’ PPAF
  • 1 David Austen-Rosa ‘Crocus Rose’ [yellow]
  • 1 unlabeled red rose
The weather has been seasonal, there was two inches of rain over the last two weeks. The planting has been a muddy job. I have had to cut and saw out a lot of roots from the previous occupants of the space.

New blooms: witch hazel.