Thursday, September 30, 2010

Carnegie Deli, Carnegie Hall.

9-30-10 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday I continued transplanting. I dug up several small, one or two year-old, volunteer viburnum, rose-of-sharon, and a japanese maple and a dawn redwood from the northern side of the yard and moved them to the southern side to plug holes in the shrub and tree border. I think I did sixteen in all. Yesterday was sunny and pleasant.

Yesterday evening we went to Carnegie Hall for the opening night gala. We, of course, sat in the balcony, first row, and ogled all the black ties and gowns in the orchestra and first tier. We didn’t go the the banquet with the robber barons, but went to the Carnegie Deli where I had a massive pastrami sandwich. Their ‘sandwiches’ are each big enough for four people, I actually ate most of it. Judy had an equally large hot turkey sandwich and struggled. A french-speaking party near us, unfamiliar with the NYC deli style, were overwhelmed with the servings, but dealt valiantly.

The program was wonderful. The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Nicholaus Harnoncourt performed with the star pianist, Lang Lang. They played Beethoven, Piano Concerto No. 1, Op. 15, and Symphony No. 7, Op. 92. There were prolonged standing O’s for both and Lang Lang did an encore from Prokofiev. Here’s a link to the NYT review:
The balcony offers great views of the orchestra and the keyboard and the pianist hands. The acoustics are amazing. You can hear a single softly played note and each individual instrument. The five flights of stairs are a bit daunting. After the concert, 57th Street was crawling with limos and all the beautiful people.

Lang Lang bows to the audience.

From the bottom: the orchestra, first tier, second tier all with black ties and gowns, the family circle and balcony. Our seats were at the opposite end of the balcony first row. This was before the concert, just about every seat was filled at the start.

How about a ceiling like this for your dining room?

The rain from the remains of TS Nicole started in the early hours, ushered in by a couple lightening strikes. So far, we have 1.6 inches with a second half of the storm to go. Just what all those transplants need.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Lilacs on the Move.

9-28-10 SHORT HILLS: I have fully recovered from the sting, it itched for two days. The wasps have been sprayed, but I'm waiting to see if there’s any residual buzz before poking the nest out of the tree.

We have had two warm and humid days of rain, about 0.65 inches, and everything is soggy now. This afternoon things had subsided to a drizzle, and I took the opportunity to move two lilacs that had ended up too large for their spots. I had planted them a few years ago in a narrow bed between the house and driveway. They flourished there, but needed pruning often.

I cut them down to three or four feet to facilitate the job. I got them out and moved, one at a time, to a low spot in the yard. There was plenty of trauma to the roots, but I hope this soggy day had them saturated enough and further frequent watering will help them survive the move. I’m not sure what to put in their old spots, maybe more hydrangeas.

The sky cleared in the late afternoon, and we got a pretty sunset after two rainy days.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Wasp Sting.

9-25-10 SHORT HILLS: Wow! I got a wasp sting on my forehead between the glasses and hat. It’s very painful and shocking in its suddenness, but, thankfully, only one. I rubbed ammonia on the spot which takes away the pain and then used ice to prevent swelling. An hour later I was fine.

I had been clearing dead fall from the junipers along side the driveway, big tall trees, that live under a white ash. The ash trees shed lots of small branches every time there’s a puff of wind so the junipers were covered with debris. Because they’re eight to ten feet tall, I need to use a tool or stick to shake out the fallen branches. If you don’t clear the dead fall, it prevents the trees from shedding snow as well as they otherwise might. Last winter was disastrous for heavy, wet snow that broke many branches. I spent hours in the spring pruning and propping up broken limbs. After this growing season the junipers look as good as could be expected, but can't handle more trauma.

After treating the sting, I went back outside and found a huge paper wasp nest that I had not seen before it was called to my attention. The wasps don’t like anything messing around their ‘hood. That nest was not there last spring because I worked on every tree and branch. Usually they are the size of a baseball or softball, but this one is a basketball. I usually leave them alone, live and let live, but if they’re near the house, or I get stung, they have to go. I use those powerful insecticide sprays at dusk when they’re all at home, but it’s still light enough to see what you’re doing.

You probably never thought of gardening as a contact sport.

Basketball-sized paper wasp nest hidden in junipers about eight feet off the ground. Ouch!

White Ash has been turning for about two weeks. The color change and leaf loss start with the uppermost branches and proceed downward.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Wooly Adelgid.

9-23-10 SHORT HILLS: The Equinox has past and we’re back on the dark side of the year until March, 2011. Yesterday and today were in the eighties, and we had a T-storm last night which gave us 0.25 inches to go with the 0.5 inches when we returned a few days ago. That last was from the storm that became a tornado in Brooklyn and Queens. We had one big branch down that came off a white ash. I cut it into about a dozen pieces of firewood, the largest of which is just small enough not to need splitting. Tomorrow might get to a record-breaking 90°, not exactly fallish.

Yesterday was quite exciting in the yard, first the sprinkler people finished their repair, then the gardeners mowed and the tree sprayers arrived in the afternoon to treat the hemlocks for wooly adelgid.

Wooly adelgid is a hemlock, Tsuga canadensis, parasite. It used to be classified as a protozoan, but, I believe, it is now called a true bug, Adelges tsugae. They look like little bits of cotton stuck to the undersides of hemlock needles. They can suck the tree dry if untreated. We have lost a few small trees to the disease, and having several in the yard, are concerned about saving the rest. The spraying is done spring and fall. Mineral oil, plain old mineral oil, coats the parasite and smothers it, at least to keep it in check. Some nasty pesticides may be used, we avoid them because of the dogs, and people.

Hemlock needles are flat and have a pair of stripes on the underside. The cones are small and droop from the ends of small branches. The white stuff is the parasite.

Photomicrograph of the bug. Yuck.

The big picture is from Wikipedia. The two smaller ones from a Google search.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tunbridge Worlds Fair.

9-19-10 VERMONT: Yesterday we did a bunch of errands on a warm and sunny day. In the afternoon, I turned the soil in the bed that will become the kitchen herb garden. I described clearing the space in a couple of August posts. While we were away, hundreds of seedlings sprouted which I turned hoed up. I moved the soil to one end of the bed and laid down porous plastic on the base of the bed which is the top of a stone wall. The plastic holds the soil back while letting the water drain away. This prevents the soil from disappearing and defends the integrity of the wall. Then I moved the soil onto the plastic and covered the other half of the bed with the plastic and spread the soil. After that, I added 160 pounds of top soil to the bed to replace the soil that came out with the removed transplants. Now it’s ready for herbs, but we’ll wait until spring.

Today we took Anna and three sophmore friends, Dylan, Sam and Sarah, to the Tunbridge Worlds Fair, in Tunbridge, VT. We ate bloomin’ onions, pulled pork, chili dogs, funnel cake, fries that I remember and probably more, maybe much more. We saw prize cows, pies, oxen, sheep, preserves, goats, pumpkins, chickens, sunflowers, ducks, squash, pigs. Some of us dared the rides. We checked out tractors and saw pig races.

Those are big, tall sunflowers.

Shy Holstein needs a little encouragement.


Friday, September 17, 2010


9-17-10 VERMONT: We came back up yesterday just ahead of the rain. We had 0.5 inches in the gauge when we arrived and added 0.65 inches last night. That would seem to be plenty for the two weeks we were away, but things looked thirsty. The pond is down five inches, and the little pond in the pasture is dry, even after yesterday's rain.

I switched to storm doors from screens and did a few other chores, but it’s too soon to start fall clean-up.

The pasture is full of golden rod and asters. Some of the asters are a lilac shade and some more magenta colored. A distinctive feature of the asters, that lets one identify them before they bloom, is the junction between leaf and stalk. The asters have no petiole, their leaves begin at the stalk and even wrap partly around the stalk.

After the centers of the asters are pollinated, they change from yellowish to dark reddish. The petals remain on the flower, apparently to attract pollinators to the mass of the plant, but the color change of the center indicates to the pollinator which particular flowers are still pollen rich.

New blooms: boltonia, asters.

Lilac colored asters are more numerous.

Magenta colored asters. You can see the differences in the flowers' centers.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Lazuli Bunting Visit.

9-14-10 SHORT HILLS: Sunday we went to LI to visit Alison, Dan and Lily for the afternoon. It rained off-and-on most of the day, the rain was most welcome. We timed our return to NJ pretty well, avoiding the traffic at the end of the Mets game, the tennis matches and the Giants home opener. That one hour trip can sometimes be endless.

Even better was the intense T-storm last evening. The two rains gave us 0.75 inches of needed precip, and everything in the yard looks perky this morning.

We had, I believe, a pair of Lazuli Buntings at the feeder yesterday, a first sighting for me. They were here with a gang of grackles, all dressed in shiny, black outfits. They act like bikers too. A grackle is giving us the evil eye, the buntings have their backs turned. Birders-any comments?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Feisty Turkey.

9-11-10 SHORT HILLS: Last night we went to the Reeves-Reed Arboretum in Summit, NJ with Bill and Lynn for a jazz concert and picnic. The show was great, the performers were local, mostly post-grad music students, the setting appropriately arboreal, the champagne and caviar delicious [it was an upscale picnic] and the evening cool enough for jackets.

We were almost late for the event. On the way we were stopped by a feisty, irate resident who resented our car using his road. His lady was watching from the nearby yard. After telling us off and pecking our tires, he let us proceed having been advised who owns the friggin' street.

Eh, look at me when I'm talking to you.

OK. Fageddaboudit.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

More Weeding and Pruning.

9-9-10 SHORT HILLS: It’s official—we’re in a drought. We had in NJ a very hot, very dry summer after a dry spring. The meterologists are saying that this was the hottest summer on record, I guess they mean the USA. We just finished another two hot days but are now feeling more like autumn. We did get a little rain the other night.

I have continued to catch up on chores, doing weeding and pruning. There have been a number of shrubs with dead branches, and I think I got them all trimmed. There’s a car load of cuttings and weedings for the dump tomorrow. We brought all the house plants back inside today after their summer off. They all look great. Bringing them in early gives them a chance to adjust to the dryer inside environment before the heat goes on in another month of so.

When I do a lot of pruning, I always feel that I’m taking away more and more dead material and leaving less and less. But then I remind myself that the ninety-five percent of plants that don’t need pruning have all grown over the course of the season for what is certainly a net gain of vegetation.

Talk about your hard workers. The roses have been doing it since early spring and are still covered with buds.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Labor Day Weekend.

9-6-10 SHORT HILLS: It was a lovely weekend weather-wise, sunny and not too hot, but no rain, not for a few weeks. The first two zones of the sprinkler system are not working at all and the third zone is delivering a trickle. I am waiting for a repair, but in the interim, bought new hoses and a sprinkler that attaches to the hose. I have most of the dry stuff wet enough now for a few days.

Valerie, Maggie and Lucy were here for the weekend. Val was editing her latest, so Judy and I entertained the girls. We went to The Farm for three new shrubs, the Great Swamp Raptor Center, a farm stand, the movies. We did a dog walk and Val took them to the Mall. They left this morning, and I planted the new shrubs.

The casualties were: two variegated cotoneasters and a pheasant berry. I used a crepe myrtle, Lagerstroemia ‘Cherry Dazzle’, for the spot where the pheasant berry was, and a blueberry, Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Northsky’, and a Pieris japonica ‘Cavaine’ to replace the cotoneasters. Add in a little weeding and pruning and it’s an easy day.

It’s about two weeks to the Autumnal Equinox and the official end of summer, always sad to see it go, but instead we get a fall with no oppressive heat and the foliage and the end of the bugs.

The Entertainers, Sam, Nick, Gus, and Chloe.

Friday, September 03, 2010

New Jersey is Hot.

9-3-10 SHORT HILLS: We left Vermont on the first and had an easy trip except for construction delays. Everything was in order here, no nasty surprises, no fallen trees. It’s been in the high ninties until today when Mister Earl arrived. He has cooled things off, but so far has delivered no rain or wind. Part of the yard could use the rain because some of the sprinklers are not working. Repairs are scheduled for next week.

I have braved the heat to do a little bit of weeding. Three of the new shrubs have died—heat stroke? I’ll condider replacement options when things cool off. The house plants, outside for the summer, have enjoyed their holiday. They have grown so big that we may have difficulty getting a few back inside.

The lawn, so-called, actually looks OK by my, loosest, of standards. The Goldens immediately tested to see if holes can be excavated where the defenseless baby grasses were fighting for survival.

In bloom: hosta, rose of sharon, roses, butterfly bush, hydrangea, abelia, clematis, and wild asters and other weeds.

Rose of Sharon has been blooming for two months.

Butterfly Bush usually, readily demonstrates why it is so named.