Monday, June 27, 2011

Sunny and Warm.

6-27-11 VERMONT: It actually did rain again last night, but only a trace accumulation. Today was beautiful and summery. I was outside all day. The corn looks fine, and I went ahead, a bit early, and thinned them down to one stalk per hill. All the tomatoes are growing nicely, but not much fruit yet, the nights may be too cool.

I planted the new day lilies, ‘Grandmothers Love’, ‘Blueberry Breakfast’, ‘Pale Peach’, and ‘Summer Wine’ in the day lily bed. The bed is next to an old wall and digging there means pulling out rocks. The rocks end up as a bed border. I also planted two Hepatica americana between pavers on the terrace. I cleaned up the spot where the maple tree came down, graded the area and put down some sod, that I had banked last year, around the remaining maple roots. I’ll seed the rest.

New blooms: ‘Purple Rain’ salvia.

Have you seen this guy at your feeder?

Or this one?

Probably not. They are from Botswana, part of Ken and Carol's pix from their recent safari. They and other pix are available at the web site below. See lions, leopards, jaguars, hyenas, hippos, giraffes, zebras, cape buffalo, lots of antelopes, elephants, spectacular birds and more. The picture quality is excellent.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Rain Stopped.

6-26-11 VERMONT: So far today, no rain. There was another 0.2 inches in the gauge this morning. The fog and clouds gradually cleared this afternoon. I have been splitting a half-dozen logs a day and am about half done with the pile.

We went to Cider Hill Gardens in Windsor, VT today. The stock is beautifully displayed in their own gardens, and they have more in those gardens than they have for sale. We bought four hybrid day lilies to add to the day lily garden, a couple hepatica and an interesting pink-orange geranium. It's worth a visit even if you’re not in the market for plants. They also have a gallery with, what else, garden art.

In an attempt to get some wild sedum to bloom, I alkalised half the bed near the propane tank and acidified the other half to see if pH change has an effect.

Last night Judy [and I] gave a dinner party for three couples on our road, Ken and Jane, Donna and Bruce, and Katie and Andy. Many important issues were discussed at length, and they actually stayed until 10 PM.

New blooms: campanula.

Thyme taking over the terrace.

Roses at their peak. They continue to bloom all summer, but not in such profusion.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Plenty of Puddles.

6-24-11 VERMONT: Yesterday it rained most of the day, and I was outside for only a few minutes between showers. I split a few logs and emptied the rain water out the boat. Today the rain stopped, except for an occasional drizzle in late morning, and I got most of the flower beds weeded and pruned most of the shrubs around the house. I cleaned out the culvert again, staked a few plants, cleaned up the trimmings before the rain started again. So far we have had about 1.6 inches, but more is falling.

It has been cold, foggy, clammy, wet, overcast, soggy and, of course, rainy. I was working in Wellingtons, a jacket, heavy shirt to stay warm. We have had fires the last two nights.

New blooms: summer sweet, more spirea, feverfew.

Luna Moth. A bit bedraggled, but still impressive. Moths rest with wings spread, butterflies with wings together and upright. Moths have fuzzy antennae as seen here in yellow.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Abracadabra, No More Tree.

6-22-11 VERMONT: After a few dry days, it started raining about noon today and hasn’t stopped, no wind, no lightening or thunder, just rain—so unusual.

Yesterday Chippers was here and made the downed maple vanish. Some splittable wood was cut and stacked by the garage for me to split. but nothing too gnarly or large. All the smaller branches were chipped and the big parts of the trunk and stump were left on big pruning pile in the woods. I used to burn that pile every year or so when the ground was snow covered, but I have decided to let it all decompose on its own, a greener approach. The pile is so big now that I may have to rethink that plan. Some of the chips went on a wet spot behind the big barn. I still have to regrade around the hole where the stump was.

Otherwise, it’s been more of the same, weeding and pruning.

New blooms: rhododendron, first hosta, tiarella.

June favorite, Peony.

Another June fav, yellow flag iris.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Busy Days.

6-19-11 VERMONT: Yesterday we had more hail, this was marble-sized, bigger than the pea-sized from a few days ago. Today was a high pressure, clear blue sky, cool day with a nice breeze. Tonight is jacket or sweater cool. The rain has dumped another 0.2 inches on us.

Neighbor Melissa dropped off a perennial foxglove yesterday which went into one of the holes in the gardens. She declined a columbine or bleeding heart in return. Yesterday, otherwise was more W & P, catching up with invaders and runaways.

The day before yesterday I worked on the downed maple cutting and pulling one section of roots using chainsaw, sabersaw, shovel, pick and bar.

Today I took down two small trees that had grown near and encroached on the dawn redwood. One was an apple, and I saved some firewood. Before that I weeded the terrace and old stone steps.

New blooms: [forgot to mention last post—clover, vetch, cinquefoil, yarrow] peony, knapweed.

I was up early the other morning and caught this sunrise over Mt. Moosilauke.

Pink Knapweed, Centaurea dealbata 'Rosea'. Looks like its relative, Bachelor Button.

Evening Grossbeak. The grossbeak part of the name makes sense.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Good News, Bad News.

6-16-11 VERMONT: We both came up yesterday, struggling in an unending odyssey of construction delays and lane closures, it must be summer. When we got here, we found the two trees blown over by a viscious T-storm last week. Now we haven’t had house damage, or a tornado, but this makes about a half dozen trees we have lost in the past few years.

One tree, an ash, fell from across the road into our driveway, taking out about a quarter of a big honeysuckle bush. Our neighbor, Steve, had cleared the ash tree in the driveway and told us about the maple. It was a red maple, usually with gorgeous fall color, growing on a rock ledge behind the pond. It glanced an even more important maple tree as it fell, as well as a big pine, took out a bench, and landed in the flower beds behind the pond. I got the chain saw started and trimmed the tops of all the branches reaching the pond and the flower beds, cleared the pine branch pinned down by the maple and freed a small maple and a blueberry bush. Back in the woods, I found a downed pine that took out a maple and another pine as it fell.

Mark from Chippers came by today to discuss cutting the maple up, chipping debris, leaving wood that I can split for the fireplace and removing the stump. Scheduled for next week.

Otherwise I pruned the honeysuckle, did a bit of weeding, repaired the culvert, and cleaned up the damaged flower beds.

The veggies are doing fine. We have a grape sized tomato that will be full sized in a few weeks. The corn shoots are up. I plant three seeds in each hill. Several have only two shoots, a few only one and one had none. Did they all fail, or did I forget to seed it? I put three seeds in it today for the second time, or first time. The plantings from May are all doing fine. There was 1.95 inches of rain in the gauge.

That included a heavy downpour with hail yesterday as I was finishing the work on the downed maple.

In bloom: Diablo ninebark, lilac, roses, viburnums, stephanandra, cotoneaster, spireas, weigela, lamium-pink, purple and white, columbine, buttercup, daisy, geranium, cranes bill, meadow rue, forget-me-not, iris-siberian, bearded and water, baptisia, rogersia, jacobs ladder, alkanet, thyme, veronica, bleeding heart, centaurea, ground sedum, coreopsis, hesperis, apricot day lily, trascantia, tomato, water lily, lupin, indian paint brush-red and yellow, ladys mantle, valerian, celandine, raspberry, blackberry, jack-in-the-pulpit, bishops weed, solomon seal, rhubarb.

Downed maple missed the important stuff.

Yesterday, on the way to dinner, we had a surprise.

Can you find Chloe 'midst the buttercups? She's black and white.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Soggy June Afternoon.

6-14-11 SHORT HILLS: More W & P this morning, before afternoon rain. This is just a quickie before VT tomorrow.

New blooms: another spirea, st. johns wort.

St. Johns Wort. Only about an inch across, but a pretty one, even in the rain.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Unknown Flowering Shrub.

6-13-11 SHORT HILLS: We’re back in seasonally comfortably weather with a nightly sprinkle, delivering 0.65 inches over the last three nights.

More weeding and pruning has been on the menu, and I have had a full portion, but, of course, many remain.

New blooms: sweetspire, unknown shrub, with small white flowers [see below].

Pretty Berry gets berries the same vivid purple color that seem to be plastic.

Campanula, a resilient, reliable perennial.

This unknown shrub wants a name, anyone? It grows here in NJ [Zone 6], in shade and is about 8 feet tall. It is deciduous with oval, pointed leaves with a toothed margin and a small, white, minimally fragrant flower, blooming now. The bark is smooth, greenish gray with lighter, horizontal stipules.

A closer look at the leaves and flowers.

The leaves and flowers from below.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Not So Hot.

6-10-11 SHORT HILLS: Well, I guess somebody knows roses. Yes, that is a David Austen rose called Crocus Rose [Ausquest].

Yesterday we were somewheres in the 100° neighborhood and had a T-storm in the evening with lots of drama, but only 0.25 inches of rain. This morning there was also a rain of sticks blown out of trees, mostly ash trees. The dogs were quite unhappy with the L&T. Today was only in the mid-eighties, but sticky.

Yesterday I weeded again, in the morning, as I did today. After hauling a load of weed debris to the dump and bring back more compost for mulching shrubs, I spread Ironite, a mineral supplement, on shrubs and pachysandra that were yellowish. The Ironite is supposed to green them up—we’ll see.

New blooms: pretty berry.

Gray Catbird, Dumetella carolinensis, has great songs, inventive, imitative and rarely repetitive.

Foxglove is hard to keep rolling along from season to season. One year they're all over, the next year-none.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Hot, Hot, Hot.

6-8-11 SHORT HILLS: Now it’s summery again, today is in the mid-nineties and tomorrow may get to 100°. Today I weeded in the morning for an hour or so and was soaked. You can break a sweat outside by snapping your fingers. The wet spring and hot summer weather, even if it’s not officially summer, has the weeds flourishing, as well as the desired plants, but the weeds seem so much hardier and aggressive.

The last few days have been more weeding and pruning and dump runs with the debris piles.

I have also weeded the ads from the blog, too distracting and not worth it. In the months they have been running, I have pulled down a cool $2.23.

New blooms: mountain laurel.

Elderberry, Sambucus nigra, gets blue-black berries. The berries, cooked, are used in jams, wine, pies, but are toxic uncooked.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

Game of Thorns.

6-5-11 SHORT HILLS: I hate pruning barberries and roses. I always get thorned in the thumb or elsewhere, the stickers find a way to get through gloves, or they get you during clean up of the cuttings, or both. That’s a hint to what I did today, pruned and weeded, weeded and pruned.

In the past few days I moved some iris from a dark spot to a sunnier one, but mostly pruned and weeded and cleaned up.

The hot weather is gone, for now, and it’s been cool, overcast and very windy until today.

New blooms: elderberry, white rhododendron, asian holly, hibiscus [an indoor plant on summer vacation on the patio].

I love the peach color of the buds and central petals. On this bush, they fade to white, and some of the flowers have a pinkish tinge.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Sudden Summer.

6-1-11 SHORT HILLS: I had an easy trip down today, Judy came down yesterday. It has been in the ninties here, another sudden summer, and things look dry. A week ago, when I left here, things were soggy, and even though there’s 1.1 inches of rain in the gauge, things are now parched. After I got unloaded, I watered and turned on the sprinkler system. Water requirements are so much higher when it’s hot. The hot spell has brought lots of stuff from unbloomed to open.

New blooms: before I left Vermont, centaurea, bachelor button and many other common names, had opened. In NJ—hydrangea, mock orange, english holly, spirea-pink and white, more viburnum, privet, siberian iris, more roses, white lamium, peony and tree peony.

Tree Peony. Now that's a flower.