Friday, May 28, 2010

Summer Recess.

5-28-10 SHORT HILLS: The night before I left VT, we had a T-storm with electricity and 0.5 inches of rain—quite timely. We had the same thing here after I arrived, only less rain, 0.2 inches. There was 1.1 inches of rain in the gauge before last night’s storm. Today started out sunny, but is now overcast with more storms creeping toward us from PA.

One of the lilacs next to the driveway fell over. Judy secured it with bungee cords, and today I pruned it aggressively to reduce weight and bulk and tied it back in place. The root ball is broken quite close to the trunk so I will let it stabilise before transplanting it.

All the inside plants are outside on summer recess.

In bloom: peony, tree peony, holly, mock orange, privet, roses, rhododendron, spirea, elderberry, clematis.

Tree Peony.

Morning Sun.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Country Chores.

5-26-10 VERMONT: It was ninety five today which probably set a new record. I felt every degree as I ran around doing a bunch of chores. I’m sure I’ll forget half of what I did. Here are some that I remember: put 40 pounds of barley straw pellets in the pond [it decomposes slowly releasing peroxide that clears algae], put up electric fencing to keep the horse from eating the satellite broadband receiver, the blue berry bushes and the roses, yes the horse eats the rose bushes [is that an example of horse sense?], dug out a piece of drain pipe that surfaced on the bottom of the pond, reset a couple pavers, updated the license plate on the boat trailer, cleaned a mouse nest out of the garage, put out the hammock [and tried it out for two minutes], and changed water filters in both houses.

New blooms: meadow rue, roses, buttercup, red clover, golden alexander.

Tomorrow we bid adieu to the frog ranch.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Hot Soaker.

5-25-10 VERMONT: The soaker hose, under the black fabric in the veggie garden, sprung a leak and was dumping all the water in one spot. I replaced it with a new segment. Doing it would have taken a few minutes if I had done it when I was preparing the beds, but who knew? It was a struggle doing it with the tarp and veggies planted. I connected the new one to the old one and pull the old one out and pulling the new one in. It worked pretty well with only a few hitches, but took an hour. After finishing that I put four sweet basils in the herb section.

I also added a hosta, H. undulata ‘Albomarginata’ to the shady bed by the new patio. While on the patio, I put moss, peeled off the rock formation behind the pond, between pavers in the shady part of the patio. After dinner I did more bed edging work.

Today was in the low nineties with only the barest suggestion of a breeze. Phew.

New blooms: jacobs ladder, cotoneaster, may apple.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Planting and Bunting.

5-24-10 VERMONT: O, the burdens of posting, blink your eyes and three days have gone by. Where shall I start? How about an indigo bunting? Saw one, briefly in the big apple tree. Speaking of birds, that robin is in business, the eggs have hatched and she is feeding the brood. A painted turtle has been crawling out of the pond every afternoon to sun herself on the edge of the pond.

I have been equally busy with pruning and weeding as usual, plus I exposed about another three feet of the rock formation behind the pond. I exposed it to the point where it dips deeper downward and turns away from the pond shore line. Doing it involves digging and carting the dirt and sod away, dealing with working at the pond edge and trying to stay dry, and finally rebuilding the bank. That was yesterday.

The day before that I did the planting. I list the common and Linnaean names so I can find out next year, at this time, exactly what it was that died without a trace. I planted several thyme clumps between pavers on the new patio: Thymus praecox, some are specific varieties, ‘Hall’s Wooly’, ‘Magic Carpet’, ‘Latavin Lucy’, ‘Coccineus’, and ‘Roseum’. Thyme likes sun, in the shadier areas I planted clumps of Irish Moss, Sagina subulata. In the dark bed under the apple tree next to the patio, I planted a liverleaf, Hepatica americana. I put two giant butterbur, Petasites japonicus ‘Giganteus’ next to the pond. In the bed on the SE corner of the new house, I planted two speedwell, Veronica peduncularis ‘Georgia Blue’, two knapweed, Centaurea dealbata ‘Rosea’, and a Phlox paniculata ‘Blue Paradise’. In the upper wall bed, I planted three Echinacea purpurea ‘Ruby Star’, ‘Double Decker’, and ‘Magnus’, a yarrow, ‘Strawberry Seduction’ and an archangel, Angelica gigas. I was almost as tired after planting them as I am after listing them.

Sunday evening we heard the Dartmouth Chamber Orchestra do some Mozart operatic pieces, from Figaro and Flute, accompanied by voice students, one of whom was Miss Anna. Delightful.

New blooms: hesperis, purple vetch, mountain bluet, cranesbill geranium, yellow flag iris, and more viburnums.

Mountain Bluet, a Centaurea.

I was up early the other morning to let the dogs out and caught this sky. I consider myself warned.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Taste of Summer.

5-21-10 VERMONT: Two warm summer days, finally. Yesterday I planted the tomatoes and seeds for corn, sunflowers and pumpkins, and then put up the supports for the tomatoes. While planting corn seeds, I found some remnants of the stalks from last year, with segmented worms about an inch long inside the old stalk root and also found a few of the worms in the soil. I assume they are corn borers and will infect the new crop. I guess that’s why it’s recommended to rotate crops or let fields lie fallow every few years. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll skip next year if this year is bad.

Judy arrived as I was finishing and later Dan and Lily showed up, and we all had dinner with Anna. Today I bought some perennials at Brown’s and Longacre’s Nurseries for planting tomorrow. We spent the rest of the day with the grandkids.

New blooms: false Solomons seal.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Rainy Day.

5-19-10 VERMONT: Rain today, at least a half inch, and then warm weather predicted for the next few days—time to do the veggies. Yesterday I pruned roses and blueberries, worked on the patio and weeded, always weeding. Today I did indoor chores, but spread some fertilizer between rain showers, re-hung a bird feeder that a squirrel had reached and walked the dogs around the pasture. We flushed a woodcock.

Yesterday evening I heard Annette Gordon-Reed lecture on the Hemmings family at an alumni function, and also heard Anna’s voice recital, and about a dozen other voice students do theirs. Guess who I thought was the best? Judy, Dan and Lily arrive tomorrow.

A few other plants in bloom that I forgot to mention before: clatonia, bane berry, wild cherry.

New blooms: flea bane.

Bunch Berry. These familiar looking leaves and flower might make you think of a dogwood tree because this is a cousin, standing two inches high

Blue-Eyed Grass. This cutie is an iris in miniature, recognize the stalks?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Near Perfect Day.

5-17-10 VERMONT: I had dinner at Murphy’s with Anna, followed by a walk to B&J, both of which got me out of the yard for an evening. The yard was a pretty nice place to be today, eighty's, breezy, cloudless skies and perfumed air from apple blossoms. On the way back from town, I saw deer and a baby fox.

Yesterday and today, I did lots of weeding and tending to beds, tidied up the terrace, put, out the hoses, transplanted a meadow rue and aster and stayed out of trouble. I had visit from Janet, Ken and Jane, and Scott.

New blooms: blue-eyed grass, foam flower, bunch berry.

The frog opera has been playing every night. Does he look like a tenor?

Spurge, owns yellow.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Clever Bird.

5-15-10 VERMONT: Windy and cool today, excellent for keeping the black flies at bay. I picked up debris, weeded, pruned, trimmed and had a good time.

An enterprising robin has nested under the eaves in a sheltered corner of the house on top of a lantern near the kitchen window. She built the nest while we were away. She’s very cautious, and now everytime she sees me open the refrigerator, off she goes. She does return promptly and may adjust to kitchen activity.

In bloom: [a few I overlooked yesterday] ajuga, columbine, indian cucumber, jill-over-the-ground, lamium-pink, Mohigan viburnum.

Attention blue fans: Forget-Me-Not and Virginia Blue Bells.

Robin Hooded by eaves.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Patriotic Volunteers.

5-14-10 VERMONT: I had a pretty good trip up today. It started raining in Bergen County and rained most of the trip, but the sun came out just as I entered Vermont. The gardens look fine, a hydranga may be dead, a couple foxglove are missing, less than the usual winter losses here.

Sam and Chloe seem pleased to be back, both tried out the pond, sampled the grass in the pasture, sniffed under the barns, and barked at the Willa, the neighbors dog.

In bloom: alkanet, apple, azalea, bleeding heart-red and white, blueberry, celandine, creeping phlox, dandelion, epimedium, forget-me-not, geranium, hellebore, honey suckle, jack-in-the-pulpit, judd viburnum, lamium-purple and yellow, lilac, lily-of-the-valley, mertensia, packysandra, primrose, pulmonaria, spurge, sweet woodruff, tiarella, trillium-red and white, vinca minor, violets-white, purple, yellow, wild strawberry.

Red Bleeding Heart, White Bleeding Heart, Blue Forget-Me-Not. The flowers are all volunteers in this spot.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cold Bugs.

5-13-10 SHORT HILLS: When the wind stopped, we got cold rain, 0.5 inches. Today we have sun, no wind, but it’s still cool, in the sixties. Everything that has survived the weather seems happy. I go back to VT tomorrow and Judy comes up a few days later. The pollinators seem sluggish in the cold.

Star-of-Bethlehem with a pollinator.

Rhododendron with a pollinator.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Wind Storm.

5-11-10 SHORT HILLS: The weather has been quite unsettled for several days. Saturday the wind started while we were in Brooklyn Heights and nearly blew us off the promenade. That night we saw “A Prairie Home Companion” at Town Hall with Dan, Alison and Lily. Sunday morning we found branches all over the yard. There were three large branches off the elm tree. One of the pear saplings was snapped off at about one foot. A giant branch, one fifth of the tree, was blown off the big ash tree on the corner of the property. The branch was tree sized, sixty feet long and fifteen inches in diameter at the base, and took out many bamboo and shrubs as well as a section of fence.

We did Mothers’ Day in Brooklyn with Val, Steve, Maggie and Lucy and Alison, Dan and Lily.

Monday, I cut the ash branch up with the cordless saber saw and a long blade, except for the first fifteen feet which was just too big and will remain where it lies. Yesterday and today I rebuilt the section of fence with a new post and rails, shored up a pair of shaky posts and put up new wire to replace the crushed section. I also took a car load of branches to the dump.

The wind kept blowing until today. It was gusty, but not destructive after the first day. When there is a low pressure system to our east and a high to the west, the air circulation, counter-clockwise around the low and clockwise around the high, is additive to create this kind of clear-air wind storm from the northwest. We have had some disastrous weather this past year. Climate change, anyone?

New blooms: hawthorn, first rhododendron, Asian lilac.

Gus and Nick, the therapy duo.

Tribute to a pet-therapy volunteer.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Spring Continues.

5-6-10 SHORT HILLS: Another pretty day hovering around 80° with a westerly breeze. We have had a few short showers with another 0.1 inch of rain. The yard was mowed today for the first time this season.

New blooms: more roses.

Star-of-Bethlehem with more blooms.

What's more beautiful than an unfolding rose?

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Planting Day in May.

5-4-10 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday we had another 2 inches of rain. I had to clean out the driveway drain twice in a week. Today is beautiful.

Readers may remember my planting posts last November when I planted twenty flowering shrubs to replace some overgrown evergreen by the living room window. Well, I thought they all survived the winter, but two abelia ‘Mardi Gras’ died after seeming to be alive. I took the corpses back to the Farm at Green Village and got half credit for two new shrubs and some lamium and tomatoes for Vermont.

I planted the shrubs and lamium today—red twig dogwood, Cornus servicea baileyi, and a cotoneaster, Cotoneaster horizontalis ‘Variegatus’. The lamium replaced the dead abelia—four purple, L. maculatum ‘Purple Dragon’ PP #15890, two pink, L. maculatum ‘Pink Pewter’, and one white, L. maculatum ‘White Nancy’.

New blooms: black chokeberry, star-of-Bethlehem, white rose.

Star-of-Bethlehem. The thing to the left of the flower that looks like a green, clenched fist is tomorrow's flower.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

Hot Times.

5-2-10 SHORT HILLS: The last two days have been summery, hazy, hot, humid and heavy. Everything in the plant kingdom seems to love it. I did the May fertilizing of flowers and shrubs and more pruning and trimming. I rescued two dawn redwood seedlings from the lawn area and potted them. If they survive, I’ll find them a spot.

I found a small tree near a side fence that I hadn’t noticed before. Its flowers are gone, but it has a green berry. Using the leaves and twigs and bark, I ID’d in on the Virginia Tech Dendrology web site as a hackberry, a distant cousin to elm trees.

A few more weeds that make up part of our lawn melange: violet, chickweed, jill-over-the-ground.

New blooms: wild cherry, leucothoe, wood hyacinth, jack-in-the-pulpit, solomon seal.

Double File Viburnum puts on a good show. The tiny inner flowers have the stamens and pistils, the large, white outer flowers are to attract the pollinator traffic. From a distance, it looks like a happy dogwood.

Carolina Allspice has an unusual bloom with a 'wood-carving' look. A crumpled leaf has tangy, spicy smell.