Friday, March 30, 2012

Another Cherry.

3-30-12 SHORT HILLS: Tomorrow ends what will likely be the warmest March in years. We are supposed to get some needed rain tonight and into Sunday.

Two yews by the corner of the pool fence died over the winter and were cut down. Having them gone made the pool fence work a bit easier. Yesterday I moved a couple small viburnum volunteers to that area to fill the gap. I also picked up top soil and the town dump and filled Gus's holes in the yard.

Today I added another Yoshino Cherry tree [Prunus x yedosensis] to what will someday be an allee of flowering cherries. Of the five already there, three look great, one has a half dead crown, but may be OK, and the fifth was almost girdled by a male deer scraping the velvet off his antlers. I anticipate needing to replace that one but will wait until it is clearly dead before pulling it up. We have lost young trees to the deer before, and I forgot to protect the trunk when it was planted.

New blooms: dogwood [in March!].

Yoshino Cherry Blossom.

English Ivy Berries ripen to blue color.

Pulmonaria, the blue flowers await pollinating, the red ones have been pollinated, but increase the mass and aroma of the display to better attract pollinators to the cluster.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Babies Turn Seven.

3-28-12 SHORT HILLS: It continues to be unseasonably warm, and today we had a bit of much needed rain. I was fertilizing today and worked through the raindrops. I used HollyTone for the acidophiles and generic 10-10-10 for all the others. After that, I limed the lawn.

The pool fence is complete—all the posts, rails and wire mesh, re-attached to the posts, and clean up of construction debris done.

The tomatoes are seven weeks old and all have true leaves and furry stems. I cut out the smaller seedlings and have only one plant in each cup now.

New blooms: clatonia, boxwood, squill, blood root, marsh marigold, trout lily, wild strawberry, purple lamium, grape hyacinth.

Happy little tomato babies.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Early Blooms.

3-25-12 SHORT HILLS: March isn’t like July anymore, but like April today. It was comfortable working outside, once again doing the pool fence. I finished the fourth side, but have one more post to do by the front gate, I did four sections of fence today.

We came home to green grass and many flowers, everything is very early.

New blooms: pachysandra, daffodils, bleeding heart, pulmonaria, violet, forsythia, spice bush, kerria, cherry tree, pear tree, saucer magnolia.

This creature was the one we saw swimming in Otter Creek, Middlebury, VT. The pic has been maximally tweaked. I guess it's an otter, other suggestions have been beaver and muskrat...anyone?

Friday, March 23, 2012

More Meltdown.

3-23-12 VERMONT: Yesterday was another summer day, but today is only in the sixties and windy. The last of the pond ice melted about noon, and the snow piles are down to remnants. The weeping willow is making leaves as are several shrubs. The school of shiners in the pond appeared this morning, there are several hundred fish lethargically swimming around in a tight formation about the size of a basketball. When they warm up they’ll disperse. We also saw some crayfish.

Yesterday I set up the flower bed border guards, did some more fence mending, cleared the culvert, raked up the gravel that the snow plowers pushed into the yard and returned it to the driveway. Add in a little pruning and clean-up and it was a busy day. Today I only had to repair the cable from the satellite to the computer modem. Gus the dog ate the Internet yesterday.

NJ tomorrow.

The only ice is in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


3-21-12 VERMONT: I fell asleep on the night of the last day of winter and woke up on the first day of summer. Did I sleep for three months? Well, it seems like I did, it was 85° today. We wore tees, shorts and sandals and had the AC on in the car.

We went to Middlebury today for Maggie to see the college. While eating lunch at a restaurant overlooking Otter Creek, we actually saw an otter. How often does that happen? Middlebury is an attractive town divided by Otter Creek and its waterfall.

Two days ago we were at Burlington for Maggie to see UVM. We walked the Lake Champlain waterfront, and Church St, a pedestrian mall with lots of watering holes and clothes boutiques.

Yesterday, between the road trips, I did some work around here. The pond, I finally noticed, was over-filled by about a foot of water. It has an overflow pipe like your bathtub does. The inflow wasn’t blocked, but the outflow was. A huge paver set on top of the pipe for protection had slid down grade and rested on vegetation in the outflow brook. I levered the stone back in place and dug out the vegetation, and for about a hour we had a fountain until the pond was back at its usual level.

Then I got the chain saw started and cut up two trees that had fallen on the pasture fence, thank you, Irene. Most of the fence is wire strung on posts and under tension, a fallen tree flattens it, but it springs up when you cut out the section of tree lying on the wire. Sometimes it can spring up while you’re still sawing, that’s scary. Finally I cut up a little ash wood winter fall for the fireplace, about two nights worth.

We have gold finches, red finches, downy woodpeckers, evening grosbeaks around the feeders. Yesterday I saw two butterflies, one orange and one black. New high temperature records are being set all over New England.

New blooms: maple trees.

Snow mostly gone, but still with some thin ice.

I guess this is why people pave roads.

Otter Creek falls.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Melt Down Speeds Up.

3-18-12 VERMONT: The mild weather continues. Today was in the mid-seventies, totally cloudless with no wind. Walking around the pasture this morning, there was absolute silence, except for one bird chirping. The forecast is for the same, warm and sunny, through Friday. The snow is almost visibly melting. The ice on the pond is beginning to melt around the edges and in thin spots. The Goldens are fascinated that there is water under the ice.

I did some clean up today, in shirt sleeves, and accumulated two cart loads for the compost pile. Robins are hopping about the lawn and finding worms. Flies are buzzing around. This is like May.

Val, Maggie and Lucy arrived at dinner time.

New blooms: snowdrops.

Woodsprite contemplating the work of woodpeckers.

Pondering the inexplicable, unfathomable relationship between ice and water.

Snowdrops popped open this morning.

Friday, March 16, 2012


3-16-12 VERMONT: It was overcast when we arrived yesterday, in the fifties, and began to rain in the evening and continued all day today. We have foggy forties now. The pond is still frozen, but slushy around the edges. There is snow around the house, brownish, icy, slushy snow overlying mud. The house yard is a shaded, north facing slope that doesn’t get sun. The pasture faces to the south and the sun, so melts out faster. The melting snow raises the humidity and cools the air creating fog. Our dirt road is a swamp with deep ruts and potholes filled with meltwater. There is no snow at all in southern Vermont.

This happens every year in Vermont, but usually in April, March is ordinarily a winter month.

New blooms: the snowdrops are up with a few flower buds.

Snow around the house. Those two piles are the snow that was shoveled off the deck.

The pasture clears first.

The air is filled with the melted snow.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Time for the AC.

3-13-12 SHORT HILLS: The AC was on in the car today for a while because we had been parked in the sun on a day when it was in the seventies. That’s another seasonal first, and it's still winter. There was a little rain the other night, but not enough, things are starting to dry out.

All the old wood is off the pool fence, and the last load to go to the dump goes tomorrow. The new fence is 75% done, it has gone faster than I anticipated.

Back to Vermont later this week.

New blooms: daffodil, andromeda.


First daffodil in our yard, others have been open in town for a week.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

DST Day.

3-11-12 SHORT HILLS: We have had some warm days mixed in with seasonal weather and a couple showers. Trees and shrubs have fat buds beginning to open, and more crocuses are in bloom. Some of the tomato seedlings are starting to show a second set of true leaves.

I have removed almost all of the old pool fencing and begun to put new rails on the existing posts that I had replaced in recent years. I had used pressure treated 4X4’s, so they remain sturdy. I have added a couple new posts and hope to have it all done in a week or so.

Today is ‘spring ahead day’, as everyone is finding out when they wake up an hour late. I think of the clock change to DST as the start of spring. Of course, the Vernal Equinox is the true start of spring, and Easter or Passover are seasonal milestones, both probably evolved from some pagan re-birth festivals, but when there’s daylight at 7 PM—that’s Spring.

New blooms: maple trees.

More crocus.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

She's Back.

3-6-12 SHORT HILLS: It was another cold day with the temps not getting to 40°. I haven’t done much outside because it’s just too cold to comfortably work. I did do some pruning of dead yews in the pool hedge to make the fencing job a bit easier when I get to it. Next phase, pull all the rotted wood off the wire mesh and dump it at the dump.

La Nina has reformed, after taking the winter off. Here in the Northeast that usually means cool spring and normal precip for NJ, but wetter than normal in VT. We’ll see what happens. Remember—climate is what you expect, weather is what you get.

New blooms: crocus.

Snowdrops are at peak.

Snowflake, a snowdrop relative, the two are easily confused from a distance.


Sunday, March 04, 2012

Ducks on the Pond.

3-4-12 SHORT HILLS: It has been rainy and cool, but I have been outside when it’s not raining, starting on the spring project—re-doing the pool fence. The fence is redundant to the extent that the yard itself is fenced, but having the extra fencing provides additional security. Half of the fence runs through a yew hedge that I have allowed to grow untrimmed for years. The hedge makes doing the work difficult. The wire mesh attached to the original wood fencing is intact and in place, but the wooden posts and rails are completely rotted away.

I bought lumber, rebuilt a deteriorated gate, and now need to pull the remnants of the wood fence off the wire and take it to the dump before starting on the replacement posts and rails.

While walking the dogs around town today, we saw ducks and Canada geese on ponds that we passed. Last night I saw, after hearing them first, migrating geese go by overhead.

New blooms: snowflakes.

Ring-Necked Ducks


Thursday, March 01, 2012

March First.

3-1-12 SHORT HILLS: Even though Spring doesn’t start until the Vernal Equinox, about 3-21 each year, I always feel that March first is the beginning of the season. However today is cold, overcast and damp after about a half inch of rain yesterday. We were in the north-western part of NJ yesterday, and it was snowing hard. By the time we got home, it was all rain.

We saw Other Desert Cities last night and both of us enjoyed it. The play has a great cast and a second act surprize.

The tomatoes are at three weeks now, and the earliest seedlings have the first sets of true leaves.

Sun Gold cherry tomatoes, three weeks, the first true leaves [vertical pair] are still smaller than the seed leaves [horizontal pair].