Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Ten Inches and Counting.

3-30-10 SHORT HILLS: We’re closing the month with another Nor’easter and another bucket of rain. All the towns that got flooded a few weeks ago are getting it again. The rivers are raging and over the banks. Our yard has standing puddles everywhere. The sump pump is running every few minutes. Yesterday morning there was another 1.75 inches of rain in the gauge with much more today. And they say April is the showery month.

I got out for a few minutes yesterday during a lull to take a picture of a soggy daffodil.

Bedraggled, drowned daffodil.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

The Parade Kicks Off.

3-27-10 SHORT HILLS: Trees and shrubs are leafing out. The spring parade of flowers has started. When we got here, there was 1.75 inches of rain which followed the flooding rains of the previous week. Things are still muddy. Today we’re cold again, down in the thirties.

I finished the dump runs for the moment with two more carloads of juniper prunings and broken bamboos. Every time I look at the junipers, I find another break.

New blooms: daffodils, creeping myrtle, forsythia, spicebush.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Fast Water.

3-23-10 VERMONT: The rains continue. All the streams are at bank full or in flood stage. The only remaining snow is under the eaves from the snow that the roofs shed. The ice on the pond looks like Swiss cheese. For a while this afternoon, the rain stopped, and Lucy, Val and I took a little hike across the road to check the brooks. They were at torrent stage with white water and fast flow. Crossing the stream was an adventure, but most of our feet stayed dry, at least mine did.

NJ tomorrow.

New blooms: puddles.

Small stream-Big Water.

Daughter of Artemis and Pan, appropriately, in the woods.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Little House on the Stump.

3-22-10 VERMONT: We’ve been here for a few days. At first it was warm, 60’s, and sunny, but today is cold, 40’s, and rainy. Now I feel like it’s Vermont in March. March is typically a winter month, but this year, the snow is almost gone, maples are reddish, perennials are poking up, the pond is still ice covered but melting around the edges. There are only a few small branches scattered around the yard for clean up. There was much more snow damage to trees and shrubs in NJ this year.

I mounted the bird house on top of the big pine stump, started some clean up, enlarged the blue berry bush beds and acidified them, repaired plow damage to the driveway wall, put up the pasture fence gate, and enjoyed the warm days.

This time of year is interesting in that you can see things that are hidden by snow in winter and leaves in summer, and the tall grasses have been flattened by the snow cover. Sight lines are open for about a month before foliage begins to screen them off. Otherwise it’s mud season, and everything is gray or brown—sky, trees, fields, roads, flower beds and muddy boots.

New blooms: snow drops continue to pop up all over.

Old bird house on old stump.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

San José and Back.

3-16-10 SHORT HILLS: We were in San José over the weekend and saw some excellent pitching on the SJ Little League AA Reds by Eoin, three scoreless innings giving up two hits and two walks with six strikeouts and the win. The bullpen gave up a run, but got the save. Joey bats leadoff and played third base, and Eoin bats third, after his sixty pitches, he played shortstop.

Righty Eoin singles.

Lefty Joe sets it up.

ERA-zero. We heard there was some rain in NYC.

California is awash in flowers—magnolias, fruit trees, poppies, wisteria, hyacinth and all those warm climate plants. The new dog, a five month old German Shepard, is getting trained and seems very responsive.

Murphy the dog.

After the red-eye Sunday night, we had a day of rain back in NJ on Monday. There was a lot a rain here over the weekend while we were sunny in Cal. Today was beautiful, sunny and warm, and I started doing more clean up of sticks and branches brought down by the winter storms. I laid pavers on a muddy path, started siphoning water out of the pool, spread lime [Ca-MgCO3] and gypsum [Ca-MgSO4], 80 lbs of each in the yard on what should be lawn. I started fertilizing all the shrubs and bulbs. I saw a butterfly and a honey bee, must be spring.

New blooms: Crocus.

Can you find the pollinator working the snow drops?


Thursday, March 11, 2010

Pity the Beaten, Broken Junipers.

3-11-10 SHORT HILLS: I started the clean up of broken and maimed shrubs. I spent two days pruning the junipers by the driveway and hauling away three car loads of branches. A number of places had major branches cracked but not completely broken. I propped those branches up with crutches made from old fence rails in hopes that they might stabilize. There are spots on other junipers where cracked limbs healed. I also cut down, chopped up and hauled away broken bamboo.

The split rail fence had a broken post and several broken rails from the weight of snow laden branches. Yesterday was fence mending day, I replaced three posts, two of which were rotted and loose, and nine rails for three new sections. Doing it now, when plants are still mostly dormant, gets the job done with the least trauma.

Spring Snowflake, Leucojum vernum, looks a lot like a Snow Drop but is different. Compare it to the picture in the last post.

San José tomorrow.

New blooms: Spring Snowflake.

Spring Snowflake, Leucojum vernum

Monday, March 08, 2010

Drive Day.

We kicked the last guests out this AM, packed up, closed up the Vermont house and drove to NJ. It was an uneventful trip with light traffic. Several warm, sunny days here, today is in the sixties, have had their way with the snow. The piles in the driveway are smaller but still a presence. More damage to shrubs shows up with the melting. Lots of pruning coming up. It's amazing how fast the Snow Drops appear with the first hint of warming.

New blooms: Snow Drops.

Snow Drops.

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Spelling Bee.

3-7-10 VERMONT: It’s been a dizzying weekend with a house full here. Friday, Alison arrived, and, together, we saw Anna perform as Olive in the student production of “The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee.” She was magnificent [!] as was the whole production. Late Friday night Dan got here with Lily and her friends Cara, Liz and Emma for Lily’s birthday.

Saturday we took the girls across the road to see newborn sheep and watch sugaring, in the afternoon we had a tour of the Dartmouth campus from a certain newly certified guide, then dinner in Hanover. Everyone else went back to the show for its second night. Lily was one of the audience participants.

Sunday we had all the above for brunch plus Camilla, Louisa, Sam, Dylan, Dylan’s sister, Hannah, and Dylan’s parents which totaled sixteen people, if I added right. I made bacon and pancakes, Judy made eggs and there were lots of other treats. Everyone was well stuffed. The students are about to start exam period.

Sunday afternoon, Lisa, Dan’s sister, arrived, and she, Dan and Tony are seeing tonight's last performance of the show.

There wasn’t much snow when we arrived and much less now. It has been in the forties and even the fifties here with blue, blue skies. The south side of the house has snow drops coming up.

New lambs.

Snow Drops popping up as the snow recedes.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

March At Last.

3-3-10 SHORT HILLS: The snow is slowly disappearing. Most of the shrubs that bowed down to the storm have bounced back up and most have had minor damage. The stately, tall old junipers that border the driveway have had major damage. I took a car load of broken branches to the town dump. When the rest of the snow is gone, there will be a couple days worth of pruning to remove cracked, hanging branches.

Vermont tomorrow.