Sunday, April 29, 2012

New Shrubs.

4-29-12 SHORT HILLS: It continues to be sunny, windy and warm in the afternoon, but cold overnight. Again, we need rain, the sprinklers are back on.

I planted nine new shrubs just to the east of the bald cypress tree along the path. First I did a group of three tutsans, Hypericum androsaemum 'Albury Purple', mostly to be a mound of green-purple foliage. Then two blueberries, Vaccinium corymbosum ‘Blue Jay’ and ‘Duke’, an Exbury azalea, ‘Gibraltar’, with red-orange flowers. I hope they will be a tall center to the plantings. Lastly, three Weigela, two ‘Rumba’, and one ‘Wine and Roses’ to be another, taller mound. I’ll get a few more shrubs for the other side of the cypress, perhaps spireas.

That was yesterday, today I dug up lamium that I had planted in a dark spot under trees that became a sunny spot when the two spruces came down winter before last. Now grass grows there. I found a home for the lamium, some with the new shrubs and some in the upper Westview corner by the kerria and red-twig dogwood. After all that I did a lot of watering.

Judy's fern turned 40 last year. She likes a sunny window and summer outside.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Chestnuts in Bloom.

4-27-12 SHORT HILLS: It has been sunny, quite windy and cool.

We have a magnificent red oak in our yard that we have been admiring for forty years. The last ten years or so, it has been losing branches, bigger and bigger ones. This year only two lower branches have good foliage, and we are afraid that it will soon be time to take down the remains of the tree. It has a burl-type of growth that has been slowly encircling the base of the tree and probably killing it.

I planted a red horsechestnut, Aesculus x carnea Briotii, in its shadow today. It is a nice seven-footer and will be a fine replacement someday. I also bought a bunch of small shrubs to fill an area on the south side of the house where the grass never grows. I’ll list them as they get planted.

New blooms: Solomons seal.

Tomato Update: Sun Gold Tomato, now about a foot tall. They all look leggy and need outside, full sun, but it's too cold and too windy. Just about one month until they go into the ground.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Macbeth in Washington Square.

4-26-12 SHORT HILLS: Last night we saw “Macbeth” done by the Aquila Theatre Company at their new location in Washington Square. They do a wonderful job with Shakespeare. Sets, props, costuming are minimal—the words do it alone. Delivered by professionals, the Elizabethan lines come alive. The setting is intimate. We both loved it. See it and support it.

Meanwhile, back in the yard, I planted a Japanese snowbell, Styrax japonicus, near the back fence behind the pool. It’s a full, bushy tree with white, spring flowers that tolerates partial sun.

New blooms: May apple.
Dogwwood is still in bloom.
Blueberry has a distinctive barrel shaped flower.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


4-24-12 SHORT HILLS: The weather is different now, it’s cold and wet. We got a total of 2.6 inches of needed rain over the weekend. Today is in the fifties after the thirties during the night. Seasonal conditions, I guess, but it seems cold after summer in March.

 I haven’t done much outside since I’ve been back because of the rain, but I will probably get to the nursery tomorrow.

 BTW, that unknown that I showed last week is a Giant Butterbur. Congrats to the none of you who knew it.

 New blooms: honeysuckle bush.
Carolina Allspice, smells as interesting as it looks.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Azaleas Are Early

4-21-12 SHORT HILLS: I got back from VT yesterday to find myself mysteriously enjoying mid-June. The azaleas belong to May but are almost completely open now. The trees are leafing out, even the ashes, usually the last tree to open.

 Wilpat was here today to do some repairs on the sprinkler system, but some more work will be needed. I did a bit of pruning. The lawn almost looks respectable. 

New blooms: azalea, burning bush, gill-over-the-ground, grass, leucothoe, deutzia, viburnums, [red bud, apple, lamium—might have been mentioned before], blue berry, sweet woodruff, ajuga.
Azalea. Neon bright colors, a Hallmark of spring, usually in mid May...
Singly or Paired or....
Best in massed display.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Veggie Prep.

4-19-12 VERMONT: Two more dry and sunny days. We do need rain. Yesterday and this morning I did the prep of the veggie beds. I took the black plastic mulch and the soaker hoses off the beds, added soil to fill holes after weeding and removing all the old corn and tomato stumps.

Janet had left us a big pile of llama poop last fall, enough to cover the beds to about one or two inches—a much appreciated blessing. After a final raking and grading, I replaced the the soakers and then the mulching, reversing the positions of the corn and tomatoes. After stapling the plastic mulch in place, I replaced the fencing and electric wires. We’re ready for corn seeds and tomato plants in May.

This afternoon I moved some daylilies from beds where they were becoming intrusive to the beds behind the pond to join the others already there. A little weeding and pruning and it’s a full day. NJ tomorrow.

New blooms: star magnolia, gill-over-the-ground.

First daffodil here, weeks after the first in NJ.

A bunch of fresh frog eggs and three bullfrog tadpoles. These big tadpoles can take up to three years to mature into adults. Do you think these three are baby sitting or eating?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Frost Warning Tonight.

4-17-12 VERMONT: It was windy and not as hot today, I needed a jacket in the afternoon. Tonight is supposed to be in the thirties—keeps you guessing.

I finished fertilizing, pruned the roses and blueberries, fertilized the big hemlock in the pasture with those spikes that you hammer into the ground. Tomorrow I tackle the veggie beds.

New blooms: pachysandra, daffodil.

Blood Root. This one looks different than the last one I posted because it's a double.

Hepatica, another woodland wild flower.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Feeding Fenzy.

4-16-12 VERMONT: After a run to Longacres Nursery to buy plastic bags filled with magic granules, I spent the day fertilizing, offering one type to the acid lovers and a different one for the other plants. Those that prefer an alkaline media got some limestone, and the blueberries got extra acidification. Add in a bit of weeding, pruning and trimming and it’s a full day. In fact, I ran out of fertilizer before I got to everyone.

At one point I saw three turtles, all painted turtles, soaking up the sun on this hot day. All the major pond species are present and accounted for—turtles, newts, fish, frogs, crayfish. The frog eggs are a feast for the fish and newts, and probably the crayfish.

New blooms: hepatica, blood root, dandelion.

A newt [lower case newt] breakfasting on the unborn young of a different amphibian species.

Two of the three turtles seen catching rays today.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

What a Difference a Year Makes.

4-15-12 VERMONT: There is no snow, no frozen ground and no wet spot in the yard or pasture except the drainage brook. I just checked and last year there was snow until May 1! The road is totally dry, graded and free of ruts and pot holes. Today was in the seventies here, breezy and partly cloudy. The perennials are all in the two inch range. I saw one turtle and crayfish, and the frogs are singing tonight.

I took down the reflectors that guide the plowers, put up the pasture gate, put out some of the benches and chairs, put away the snow removal gear. Tomorrow gardening begins.

In bloom: snow drops, crocus, primrose, forsythia and the mystery flower below—answer in a later post.

Primrose opening up.

ID Quiz: Can you name this one? It's in bloom now, obviously, and is growing pond side. The dead leaves give you an idea of its size.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Routine Gardening

4-14-12 SHORT HILLS: Another California day, cool overnight and seventies during the afternoon, lots of sun, but we really need a good soaker. I spent the day in the yard trimming, pruning, weeding, raking in all up and composting it. I go to VT tomorrow to do the same things there.

New blooms: wood hyacinth.

Snowball Viburnum, pretty, but the aroma is somewhere between glorious and overwhelming.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Back to Pruning.

4-12-12 SHORT HILLS: Shovel got the day off, I worked on the junipers along the street, removing dead branches and some winter damage, and trimming the trees back to the curb. I generated a car load for the dump.

After a trip to Home Depot for plumbing supplies, I repaired most of the sprinkler problems well enough to last until the pros arrive in a few weeks. The weather continues to be very dry, and I started watering yesterday.

The junipers along the driveway are hosting at least one nesting bird, a mourning dove, see her below.

New blooms: Carolina allspice.

Dogwood. Four bracts, not petals, a dicot.

Mourning Dove nesting in junipers.

Daffodil. Six petals, a monocot. Today this one is my favorite.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Perennial Favorites.

4-11-12 SHORT HILLS: The showers predicted for yesterday and today have failed to materialize, and I turned on the sprinklers. Most of them are working OK, but there are a few problems to be fixed.

Otherwise, it was me and Shovel all day. I planted several perennials in the new bed by the holly tree, in the bed by the flagpole, in the beds by the back patio. I added six more Sweet Woodruff [Galium odoratum] to the patio bed under the dining room window, and six Dead Nettle [Lamium maculatum ‘Ghost’ and ‘Pink Pewter’] to the bed under the living room window. In the bed by the holly tree, I added two Jacob’s Ladder [Polemonium ‘Brise d’Anjou’ USPP9781] and a Columbine [Aquilegia ‘Biedermeier’]. I added two more Jacob’s Ladder and another Columbine, same varieties, to the flagpole bed as well as two Bleeding Hearts [Dicentra spectabilis], two Lungwort [Pulmonaria ‘Bertram Anderson’ and ‘Raspberry Splash’], two Bearded Iris [Iris germanica ‘Tempting Fate’], and one Corydalis [Corydalis shimienensis ‘Blackberry Wine’]. All of them, except the Iris, are shade tolerant, a necessity in this yard. We will see what works.

I especially want to thank Shovel for her help. She can really dish the dirt.

New blooms: apple tree.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

New Kwanzan.

4-10-12 SHORT HILLS: We came back to NJ on the red-eye Sunday night and spent yesterday recovering. Yesterday was very dry and very windy, causing several brush fires to pop up. We had a new shower of branches to clean up today. Things are very dry here, we need a lot of rain.

This morning I moved all the tomatoes to roomier quarters and then dug up the dead cherry tree, the bark stripped off by a buck honing his antlers. I filled the hole with a new Kwanzan Cherry [Prunus serrulata ‘Kwanzan’]. While I was at the nursery, I got some perennials to plant tomorrow. I’ll list them all after they’re in the ground.

I have more San José pix below. We did get to the double-header and were impressed with the pitcher in the second game and the catcher in the first one.

New blooms: mertensia, yellow lamium, pink lamium, red bud, white daffodils, Kwanzan cherry tree, snowball viburnum.

This rose and the one below are from the Rose Garden in San José.

A very big Southern Magnolia.

Fast ball for a strike.

Battery mate, but on a different team.

Friday, April 06, 2012

Cali-flor-nia Trip.

4-6-12 SAN JOSÉ: We came west for a visit to the left coasters. The boys have grown even since we last saw them. Little League is in full swing [NPI], and there’s a game or two on our schedule. The weather is the same as we left in NJ, sixties in the afternoon and forties at night, but the gardens are in full riot mode.

There are magnolias and iris and wisteria, and lots of semi-tropicals in bloom, as well as roses, poppies and citrus fruit on the trees. I am always overwhelmed by the variety, wealth and number of flowering species. The profusion makes our NJ and VT garden palettes seem so limited. NJ house plants grow wild outdoors here. I feel as if I should go back to NJ and release them from captivity.

Frosted Rose.

Wisteria-compare these with the stained glass ones in my last post from L C Tiffany.

California Profusion.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

A Day at the Museum.

4-3-12 SHORT HILLS: We did get rain on Saturday and more on Sunday night, but less than a half inch total. Saturday we went to the Met Museum to catch up on the recent exhibits. We saw the Stein collection, the Lehman collection, the Degas-Rembrandt portraits, the nude photos and the re-modeled American Wing. We spent the most time in the American Wing which didn’t seem that different to me. It has great furniture and clocks, and we love the period rooms.

It has continued to be warmer than normal, and I have been working in shirt sleeves doing lots of routine stuff. I have pruned, moved some volunteers, hauled cuttings to the dump, brought back compost from the dump for filling holes and planting. Today I cut back overgrown yews in the pool area and started watering my recent plantings because we are getting dry.

New blooms: barberry, dandelion.

St. Gaudens Diana was atop a previous version of Madison Square Garden.

Wisteria, stained glass window, by LCT.

On the way out we were nearly trampled by the knights in Arms and Armor.