Sunday, July 31, 2011

Birds and Bees.

7-31-11 VERMONT: The cellar doors are finished, the project turned out fine. I will need to use a can of spray foam to plug all the holes and gaps between the cinder block irregularities and the new wood. Yesterday I was back to pruning and weeding. We had a rain Friday night that gave us exactly one inch, a much needed inch. Since then it has been gorgeous.

Alison and Dan left this AM with a quart of newly picked blueberries. The bushes are so productive this year that I picked another quart for us afterwards. Some of the apples are ripe enough to eat, Brady the horse has been eating them for weeks. We have had tomatoes every day, but no flood of red as yet. The corn has tassels and silk. There are about six soccer ball sized pumpkins in green stripes.

All our guests have commented on all the bee activity on all the blossoms. I haven’t seen any honey bees, but there are lots of different bumblebees and a variety of other, smaller bees. Wikipedia says there are 20,000 species of bees overall, and 250 species of bumblebees.

Yesterday Judy and I both saw two turtles in the pond at the same time. Also yesterday there was a blue heron here for second day in a row. When you’ve been looking at chickadees and robins all day, the heron seems enormous. There was a kingfisher here for a few hours also, but he/she was camera shy. Maine Tuesday.

New blooms: monkshood, goldenrod.

Bumblebee and echinacea.

Heron cleared for landing.

Where's the frogs?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hammering in the Cellar.

7-28-11 VERMONT: We ended up with 0.8 inches of rain from the last storm, and every thirsty plant was sated, but now, it’s almost time to think about watering again.

I have spent two days in the basement, taking the doors off. In VT all doors are paired to keep out the cold, cutting out the rotted wood which is always ten times as bad as you think it is, making concrete footings for the new door jambs. The original situation was, untreated wood set in dirt, duh, it rotted out? Today I removed the forms around the footings that I had poured yesterday and put in pressure treated replacement jambs, for the lower two or three feet, glued them to the cinder blocks. The cellar is half original field stone and half replacement cinder block. Remounting doors is a struggle, they weigh much more than you think when off their hinges. I used a lever to get it into position and re-attached the hinges. The door works, but is not in quite the same place that it was before. That’s because the new wood is in the usual standard sizes, and the old wood was probably locally milled and non-standard size. Hopefully, I’ll finish it tomorrow.

New blooms: another Asian lily and more daylilies.

More daylilies, this one is called fire alarm or fire engine or something that suggests redness.

I remember this one-'Blueberry Breakfast'.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Back on Four Wheels.

7-26-11 VERMONT: We got that rain last night and today, 0.5 inches so far. Now it’s cold enough for a jacket. I knew if I watered, that it would rain.

I finished that wheel for Judy’s pumpkin cart and mounted it. It will need painting before the cart comes inside for the winter. Onto the next project—repairing a rotted door frame in the root cellar. Does that sound exciting?

New blooms: goose-neck loosestrife.

Spokes and rims pegged and glued by, ahem, the Gardener.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Real Vermont Weather.

7-24-11 VERMONT: Today was gorgeous, it didn’t get out of the seventies, low humidity, blue skies, sun—what a pleasant change from the past week. Still no rain and lots of plants starting to wilt, so I watered all the beds, which took four hours. Paying attention to every individual plant is good once in a while, I found lots of weeds and plants that needed staking. What we need now is a nice soaking rain, without electricity.

Lots of guests for a few days—Alison, Dan, Lily, Steve, Val, Lucy and Anna yesterday. The house is noisy with laughter and everybody getting corrected by everyone else, the usual chaos.

New blooms: liatris, ligularia, coreopsis, soapwort.

I realize this is getting to be a Daylily Only Blog, but here is another hybrid in white.

...And another in pink.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Cooling Off.

7-22-11 VERMONT: Yesterday was up to 94° and today hit 95°, that is as hot as I remember it getting in twenty summers here. Tonight is cooler and the humidity has dropped making it so much more comfortable. Usually in VT, the nights are cool, if not very cool, and sleeping is fine, occasionally with a window fan to clear the room of the midday heat. Last night it didn’t get below about 80° and was not so nice.

We all, Judy, Val, Steve and I, have been hiding in the shade for two days. I did do a bit of veggie garden work yesterday and was drenched in moments.

Camp visiting tomorrow for Lucy, and later, Alison and Dan arrive for college parents weekend.

New blooms: helenium, joe-pye weed.

Helenium, aka Sneezeweed, for its appearance with late summer allergens.

Another true lily.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hotter Times.

7-20-11 VERMONT: Ninety degree heat continues, but I guess most of the country is hotter. I’m busy doing the usual chores, but not too busy to admire the blossom parade.

We have been studying soapstone, as in counter tops. Soapstone, it turns out, is mostly talc, the mineral of talcum powder. The chemical formula, Mg3Si4O10(OH)2, shows magnesium, silicon and oxygen. The rock is a metamorphic shistose product of silicates altered by heat and high pressure. Talc is the softest mineral, 1 on the Mohs hardness scale [diamond is the hardest mineral at 10]. Soapstone, because of the softness of talc, is easy to carve and has been and continues to be a favorite of sculptors.

New blooms: queen annes lace, echinacea, phlox.

Daisy. I love the spiral patterns in the center, either from the right or left the spiral from the outer edge curls into the center pit.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Hot Times in Vermont.

7-18-11 VERMONT: July is slipping away, just like June did. We are almost a month past the summer solstice, and the sun begins to noticeably retreat from the north.

We’ve been back in VT for a day. There was 0.35 inches of rain in the gauge when we arrived, and we got another 0.3 inches today. It has been so hot, however, that I watered the new grass and veggies yesterday. Today I went back to work on the wheel for Judy’s pumpkin cart.

Speaking of veggies, the corn, some of it, is as high as a gardener’s eye and starting to form tassels. Some of the tomato plants are that tall as well, but none of the fruit is ripe yet, but the blueberries are. Our bushes are lovin’ this year, lots of new growth and lots of fruit. I picked a pint for dessert tonight.

New blooms: shasta daisy, first asian lily, more hybrid daylilies, summer azalea.

Hybrid Daylily.

Another one.

And Another. Not only are the colors different, but the petal size, shape, length and frilliness vary. Unfortunately, or fortunately, I don't remember the names of the varieties.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Birthday Extravaganza.

7-16-11 SHORT HILLS: I have weeded, weeded and weeded, watered, cut up a big fallen ash branch, and pruned during the days. I found more stuff eaten by deer—red twig dogwood, english ivy, euonymus, spice bush, some rose-of-sharon.

At night we did the high-end restaurant circuit—Wednesday was Julio’s in West Orange with Bette and Lonnie, Thursday was the Gotham B&G with Alison, Dan, Steve, Val, Bill and Lynn, Friday was only us at Chez Napoleon on 50th St. and then Peter Brook’s “A Magic Flute” [loved the Queen of the Night], and tonight, Serenade in Chatham, NJ with Ronny and Bebe. Do we need to diet, or what? A week of salad coming up. All the meals and company were great. VT tomorrow.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Big, Big Birthday Dinner.

7-14-11 SHORT HILLS: We arrived here mid-afternoon yesterday. A quick walk around the yard showed the new plantings mostly fine, tons of weeds, deer damage to the vacationing-outside hibiscuses, lilac, a small pear tree and hostas [that might be woodchucks]. The California live oak seedlings have vanished, their site is full of vole holes.

I did some weeding yesterday and again the morning. I had brought a bucket full of variegated bishops weed down from VT and planted them this morning. I put some between the magnolia and apple in the back yard and the rest in spots under the rose-of-Sharon/viburnum cluster. Later I pulled up hundreds of small grape vines and several large ones.

Wild grape vines are all over the yard. Birds eat the wild grapes from the neighborhood and return to our yard, where many nest because it is semi-wooded, and a day later, poop out the grape seeds in a little dab of fertilizer. I pulled up 58, by actual count, grape seedlings under one bunch of tall junipers.

Big dinner tonight for Judy’s ## Birthday. It’s a round number, but I daren’t say what. We have a table for eight at the Gotham Bar & Grill.

In bloom: rose-of-Sharon, rhododendron, lamium, spirea, roses, hydrangea.

Rose-of-Sharon. A mid-summer bloomer related to hibiscus.


Another Hydrangea.

And One More Hydrangea.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Triple H.

7-12-11 VERMONT: The last two days have been hazy, humid and hot, nineties, unusual for here. We had a couple of brief showers today, but no accumulation, as yet.

I did some trimming yesterday as well as the usual weeding and pruning. Today I started rebuilding the wheel for Judy’s pumpkin cart. It’s wooden with ten spokes and an iron tire. So far, I’ve used the jigsaw to cut five arc segments and the table saw to make the spokes which actually fit the metal hub, lots of trimming and rounding with the router and pegging, drill press, to go.

NJ tomorrow for a long weekend.

New blooms: more delphinium.

A bunch of astilbe in candy colors and a sprig of delphinium trying to escape from its family.

A double hollyhock in shocking pink. Is that still a color?

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Camp Visitation.

7-10-11 VERMONT: The benches are done, three rebuilt and repainted, one only repainted. They are all back in their usual habitats and looking parkish. We had another late night rain, 0.65 inches, to which, I was oblivious until I saw the gauge in the morning.

I have kept up with weeding, pruning, staking and veggie, mostly tomato, care. The Swiss chard looks ready, we’ll need to find a recipe. Lots of green tomatoes and the tallest corn is now hip high.

Today we went to Aloha Hive Camp with Anna and had a pizzanic, with brownies, with Lily and Lucy. We met Lily’s campers and Lucy’s cabin mates and counselor.

New blooms: hollyhock, monarda, mallow, yarrow.

Gorgeous bench, delighted with its make-over.

Another daylily hybrid, with pollinator.

Pickerelweed, a water plant with arrowhead shaped leaves and bluish flowers. The leaf shape shows better in the shadows on the water surface.

Friday, July 08, 2011

Bench Player.

7-8-11 VERMONT: We had a T-storm the night before last and got 0.25 inches of rain in about an hour. The previous storm, on 7-3, gave us a nearby lightening hit that knocked out the garage GFI outlet that I had to replace. Yesterday was beautiful, but today a bit cool and overcast.

I have been working on all the benches for a few days. The hardest part, so far, was getting the rotted wood slats and rusted bolts off the metal frames. I have ripped new slats from wood stock, but re-used some decent wood also, edged with the router, sanded as needed, drilled new holes, cleaned up the frames, painted them flat black and painted the new slats dark green. Today I got one partly re-assembled.

I kept up with the weeding and veggie care. The tomatoes have shown signs of blight with leaves at the base of the stems wilting and turning yellow with dark spots. I cut them of and throw in the garbage, not the compost pile. The plants still look fine, and most have developing fruit. The corn is thigh high.

New blooms: hydrangea, clematis, pickerelweed.

Clematis climbing up to the deck.

From the Fourth, Strafford, VT green. between the meeting house on the hill and the tent, there's a tug-of-war being waged. Ultimatetly the team in the foreground lost.

In answer to a recent question, I use a Canon SX 200 IS camera. I like it because it has a 12X zoom and is pocket size.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Summer Swirl.

7-6-11 VERMONT: Well, I meant to post on the Fourth and then on the fifth, but here we are on the sixth. It feels like summer now, hot, humid and hazy—love it. We have had a few sprinkles with, at most, 0.2 inches of rain.

I have been busy with garden work and yesterday started on the bench repair/rebuild. Phil Serlin was here last night after finishing a Spanish immersion course at Hanover. Today Lily visits on a camp day off. Tonight we have dinner with Dave and Gail, and tomorrow Ina comes here for dinner. It’s not a social whirl, but whirlpool.

New blooms: astilbe, filipendula, delphinium.

We spotted these night lilies on the Fourth, they seem to be a short-lived species.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Daylily Days.

7-1-11 VERMONT: Wow, four days, no post, sorry about that reader[s]. I have been busy and may be able to remember some of what I did. The weather has been fine, a light shower every day or so with less than 0.2 inches of accumulation.

I finished the downed maple tree site, seeded, spread hay, and started watering it. I filled a bunch of holes in the yard, finished splitting the wood pile and ended with about a half a cord, stacked and drying. I expanded the bed at the north end of the pond adjacent to the rock ledge, made a rock border, and moved a random bunch of volunteers, distressed, or thinned out plants into it. They include a nice hosta that was covered by bigger hostas, thyme moved out of the old herb garden, a joe-pye weed and a chunk of lamium. We’ll see what works and re-arrange as needed. I removed bottom leaves from the tomatoes that were yellowing and spotted, perhaps, indicating early blight. The usual pruning, including apple trees, weeding here and there. I planted the cranesbill, Geranium sanguineum var. striatum, in the porch bed.

Val and Steve were here to drop Lucy off at camp and traded in their ancient Volvo for a Forester.

New blooms: more hostas, Stella De Oro daylily, first native daylily, more spirea, Russian sage.

Stella De Oro daylily blooms a bit before the native daylilies.

Native daylily, what's prettier than this?

Well, maybe this peony.