Monday, June 28, 2010

Ice Cream and Island Hopping.

6-28-10 VERMONT: We all had a delicious time at B&J’s, two phish foods and two coffee lattes. Yesterday we canoed on the Connecticut R., we paddled from Wilder Dam to Pirate Island. The old cabin on the island has been taken down and a new one is being built, perhaps the pirates are at work here. There was swimming on the river, followed by lunch and fishing from the bank of the island and from the canoe, no fish were harmed in the making of this afternoon.

It has been rainy here, on and off, for a few days with a total of 1.7” and as of now, we have had almost six inches for June. This morning I saw a Scarlet Tanager who shows up every few weeks, glorious.

Today the boys started swimming lessons at Lake Fairlee, and Lily arrived by Dartmouth Coach for a few days. If the weather is OK, we will climb Mt. Cardigan. The Koreys are coming for dinner tonight.

New blooms: astilbe, dianthis, clematis, hydrangea.

The captain is at the helm.

Mallards on the river.

On the island, we briefly caught sight of, perhaps, a wood nymph.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Weather Turns to Yuck.

6-24-10 VERMONT: The weather has gone from clear and beautiful to hot, muggy, hazy, humid, heavy and rainy. We have had 1.2 inches of precip and more falling. It reminds me of east Texas. We need to find some place to hide with AC. Judy wants to do the tour of Ben & Jerry’s factory with the boys. I suggested we take them to visit the Long Trail Brewery. The flowers don’t seem to mind the weather.

New blooms: summer azalea, campanula, day lily, summer sweet.

For Peony fans.

Day Lily might be my favorite, at least for today. This is the basic flower, appearing here for a month beginning at the end of June. There must be hundreds, if not thousands, of new varieties. Some of them start early, some late. The colors vary from red and purple to white and pale yellow, some have mixed colors. The petals may be thin and spidery or fat and rounded or frilled or fringed. Many choices.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Pity the Poor Pond Life.

6-22-10 VERMONT: The round trip to San José was surprisingly uneventful. We arrived early both out and back, and no luggage was lost in spite of a plane-change. Remarkable. We were, of course, exhausted. Sunday was a pond day with the boys in it, and us around it.

Dan and Alison were here for part of Sunday morning having had a great time in the tent. Val, Maggie and Lucy arrived in the evening. The four cousins have been having a great time harassing amphibious vertebrates and carapaced invertebrates unfortunately residing in our pond at this point in history.

Tomorrow the girls start camp and Val goes back to NYC shortly thereafter. The boys have soccer every morning. We have trips to the Ben & Jerry factory and the rock and gem store planned.

New blooms: feverfew, more peony, delphinium, ‘purple rain’ salvia.

Feverfew. Do you suppose it actually works? Do you eat the flowers, leaves or roots?

More Peonies with juicy buds.

The Little Engine That Could.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cal Trip.

6-17-10 VERMONT: Today gradually cleared, the rain stopped early, and the sun came out in the evening. It is still cold. Tomorrow we do a whirlwind, thirty-six hour, turn-around to San José to pick up the boys. Alison and Dan, doing the twenty-fifth, will be here, and Valerie and the girls arrive Sunday for camp drop-off.

I did only a bit of pruning and staked a few droopers. Oh yeah, there was 0.2 inches of rain.

New blooms: red spireas, bindweed.

Bindweed and friends. This is a feral morning glory.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Now....It's Nice.

6-15-10 VERMONT: The reunion was great. We had a house-full, nine guests, and everyone got along well, including one couple we had not seen in fifty years. We also hosted an afternoon party for about twenty five classmates and their sig-o’s. The gardens got many kudos. The weather was fairly dismal, but it could have been worse. It was cold, overcast and occasionally rainy, but our party was dry—weather wise.

There was actually 0.4 inches of rain over the whole span from Thursday to Tuesday. Today, of course, is sunny, warm with a brisk breeze, and everything has dried out.

This morning I said that I wouldn’t do anything more than watch the dew evaporate, but I ended up doing a little weeding, what else, staked a few plants, filled a dog hole, [bad boy, Gus], thinned the corn to one stalk per hill. The corn is about a foot high and seems happy. Almost all the tomatoes have little green marble-sized fruit.

In the pond, tiny baby fish, looking like straight pins, and half inch crayfish are hanging out in the shallows.

New blooms: rhododendron, early hosta, baptisia, first phlox.

The roses have popped.

Indian Paint Brush, comes in yellow, orange, and red.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fear of Fifty.

6-10-10 VERMONT: Rain today, the first since Sunday and just in time to save me from watering rounds. So far we have had no wind or electricity with the rain. It’s in the fifties and damp and chilly. The heat is back on in the house with eleven days until the summer equinox.

Yesterday I didn’t do much except a little weeding. If it clears a little this afternoon, I’ll plant a new tomato to replace the sickly one and a couple rosemary.

Tomorrow begins the weekend observation of my fiftieth [gasp?!] college reunion. I was talking with my classmate Bill a few days ago. It seemed to both of us that only a couple days had gone by since we were in a bar someplace talking about getting out of college. Assuming the calendar is correct, and that was actually many years ago, it's shocking, depressing, astounding, devastating and impossible how quickly it all flew by.

New blooms: water lily.

Polyphemus Moth. This guy [gal?] was knocking on the screen door yesterday morning. I sent him [her?] back outside for this portrait. Handsome creature.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Would You Believe-Frost Warnings?

6-8-10 VERMONT: Another cool and breezy day, good for working outside. Tonight—frost warnings.

I did another bunch of stuff, weed wacking, weeding, pruning, all the usual. Almost caught up.

René, thanks for the kind comments.

New blooms: trascantia.

Peony. It comes out early, makes a great show in bloom, is an attractive shrub for the rest of the season and very hardy and disease resistent.

Meadow Rue. Quite reliable, a giant mass of pink cotton candy for several weeks. This one is about five feet tall.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Brady Arrives.

6-7-10 VERMONT: The trip up was punctuated by a pair of intense showers, each with about ten minutes of blinding rain. The outside temperature dropped from the mid-eighties to the mid-sixties after the storms. There was 1.25 inches of rain in the gauge which is fine for the two weeks we were away. Nothing looks thirsty. Today was clear, breezy, cool with a few brief sprinkles.

The big news today was Brady the horse came for the summer pasture. The pasture grass and wild flowers are thigh high—Brady got to work on it after a half hour of exploring.

I got to work on a bunch of chores—hung a screen door, straightened a fence post, weeded, put in some plant supports, filled bird feeders, started the mosquito magnet, etc. The veggie garden has one sickly looking tomato plant that will be replaced. A few corn seeds didn’t germinate and I replanted in those spots.

Before we left NJ yesterday, I noticed that two day lilies had opened.

In bloom: alkanet, azalea, bishops weed, bleeding heart [both kinds], blueberries, buttercup, celandine, centaurea, clover [red and white], columbine, cranesbill, daisy, day lily [apricot], epimedium, forget-me-not, foxglove, geranium, hesperis, indian-paint-brush, iris [yellow flag, bearded, siberian], jack-in-the-pulpit, jacobs ladder, ladies mantle, lamium, lilac, lily-of-the-valley, lupin, may apple, meadow rue, peony, poppy, raspberry, rogersia, rose, solomons seal, spirea [two kinds], strawberry, stephanandra, thyme, valerian, veronica, weigela.

Our first day lily, an early apricot.

Brady asked if Carol was here, I told him she would be here for the weekend.

Saturday, June 05, 2010

Off to VT.

6-5-10 SHORT HILLS: It’s hot and muggy, already AC weather. Time to go to Vermont, which we will do tomorrow. The new grass seedlings are showing up, so we have to get the dogs out of here. The past few days I have done more pruning, weeding and opening the walkways by cutting back pachysandra that grew out of the beds onto the paths. The pachysandra cutting are easy to transplant by digging shallow trenches or just holes, laying the cuttings in the hole, right side up of course, and then back filling the trench. Add water. Voila, new beds—after a year or so. I planted a bunch under the copper beech.

New blooms: more spirea, hydrangea, pheasant berry.

Rosa 'Blushing Knock Out'. The center of the older flower is brown after pollination, the newer flower has yellow stamens awaiting pollination. The petals on the older flower create a larger mass of color to attract the pollinators.

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

California [New Jersey] Live Oak.

6-2-10 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday, as I forgot to mention yesterday, in the morning, I noticed that a decaying stump had decayed sufficiently to be removed. I used the cordless saber saw cutting along the ground and sliced away everything above grade level in a half hour or so. The center had decayed to nice rich loamy soil too good to ignore.

I’m pretty sure I mentioned and posted a year or so ago that I had brought a handful of California live oak acorns back from San José. They germinated in a flower pot, and we had three seedlings that survived the winter in NJ inside in the sun room. These trees are supposed to be Zone 7 tolerant. Northern NJ is nominally Zone 6, but warmer every year.

So...I planted two of them in the old stump that’s now gone and surrounded them with a cage to keep the deer and lawn mowers at bay.
I plan to blanket them for the first few winters—we’ll see what happens.

The little fledglings make their way into the wide world.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Freedom Lawn Again.

6-1-10 SHORT HILLS: I hope everyone had a nice Memorial Day Weekend. The weather was more like Fourth of July here. Memorial Days that I remember from times past were cold and rainy, especially sailing on Long Island Sound.

It’s been dry lately, so the sprinklers are on after I tested all of them again. Two were jammed by new growth, and two others needed re-alignment.

Over the weekend we put down three bags of Scotts Patch Master. The product has seed, mulch and fertilizer combined in a mix that resembles mattress ticking in texture. At $25 per bag it’s expensive stuff. One more attempt to get the grassy lawn that Judy wants, in spite of heavy dog traffic with digging and ball chasing and deep shade. I keep encouraging acceptance of the ‘Freedom Lawn’ concept. Basically that is going with whatever shows up and mowing it. Judy continues to resist the weeds as lawn approach.

Here's the Freedom Lawn. That light gray-green stuff is the patching. Note the canine culprits and the shade.

Speaking of weeds, there’s always more weeding to do. I planted a couple bucket-fulls of pachasandra, that I pruned back on the paths, to very shady spots in the ‘lawn’ like under the copper beech.

New blooms: linden tree.

Clematis, for red fans. The white stuff is part of the cast iron porch railing.