Friday, June 28, 2013

Break in the Rain.

6-28-13 VERMONT: Yesterday was fairly dry. We had lunch at the 232 Café in South Strafford with old friend Ned. [I had a knock-your-socks-off grilled cheese.] The Café is by far the best dining in South Strafford.

After lunch and a visit to Ned’s gardens, we stopped at Brown’s Nursery for some perennials to add to the fringe around the pond.

We used to mow to the edge of the pond, but last year the pond consultant suggested leaving a fringe of un-mowed grass around the edge to reduce the amount of organic waste in the pond, prevent erosion and to provide shelter for the frogs. Now we have lots of different grasses growing there plus volunteer flowers including forget-me-not, Indian paintbrush and bedstraw. I added six Astilbe at the water side, ‘Key West’, ‘Alive and Kicking’, ‘Younique Carmine’, ‘Peach Blossom’, ‘Cattleya’, and ‘Milk and Honey’. I put one yarrow, Achillea Millefolium, ‘Saucy Seduction’ higher up the bank with the astilbe. In a better-drained area, I added three poppies, Papaver orientale, ‘Queen Alexandre’, ‘Prince of Orange’ and P. nudicaule, ‘Champagne Bubbles’. Also in the afternoon, I pruned some roses and apple trees and planted a Hesperis matronalis, ‘Dame’s Rocket’ in the bed by the road.

By evening it was raining again, rained all night and left us with 1.8 inches by noon today. I emptied the boat and rain gauge once again today.

New blooms: water lily, fever few, first phlox.

Ned's beautiful house and gardens.

Vermont residents working in the gardens.

This White Admiral was taking a break on our window.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Maizie Moves Ahead.

6-25-13 VERMONT: Every day we have a cool, wet early morning, a hot and humid afternoon leading to a T-storm later on. Every day I empty the rain gauge and pull the boat up on the bank and pour the rainwater out. Every day we open the doors and windows in the morning and close them when it rains.

Maizie has finished her invisible fence training which makes life a little easier for us because we don’t have to watch her all the time when she’s outside. Her house training also seems to be complete.

Valerie and Lucy arrived yesterday for camp drop-off tomorrow.

New blooms: [since 6-10]: rhododendron, summersweet, stephanandra, diablo shrub, roses, baptisia, peony, rogersia, sweet william, lupin.


Siberian iris.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Summer Solstice.

6-22-13 VERMONT: We had 1.6 inches in the rain gauge when we arrived, but none in the last three days. The days are gorgeous and nights cool enough for a jacket.

Now that it’s summer, Vermont is catching up with New Jersey. The rosebay rhododendron here is in bloom about one day after ones in NJ. The gardens here look pretty good, even if attested to by the gardener. The peonies really usher in the solstice. I’ll do the full list of new blooms next post.

Judy is adjusting to her casted leg, and I’m beginning to appreciate all the work she did when I was in the cast.

Brady the horse is in the pasture working on the tall grass. The pasture is magnificent with dozens of different wild flowers and all the different grasses. Some parts of it are dry, some wet, some with rich soil, some poor, some sunny, some shady with all the combinations of those conditions. Each habitat has its own vegetation, so the flower palette changes as you walk for one area to another.

After all those tiny flowers of spring, here's a summer peony.

Photos don't do justice to the wildflower profusion in the pasture, at least mine don't, but these daisies and dianthus plus clover, buttercup, bedstraw and more suggest how sweet it is. It also smells sweet.

The grass is as high as a golden's eye.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Shoe Is Off the Other Foot.

6-19-13 SHORT HILLS: Lots more rain, almost every day, but not today. The yard loves it, all the ground covers-ivy, pachysandra, lamium, vinca, wild strawberry, ajuga-seem very happy and are busy filling out their neighborhoods and spreading themselves. The grass and plantain and other weeds that make up the ‘lawn’ are equally satisfied.

Judy was walking the dogs early Sunday, after a rainy night, and slipped on a small, but slippery, slope, twisting her right ankle and causing a fracture of the posterior malleolus of the tibia. She is now in a cast, toes to the knee, and enjoying it as much as I enjoyed mine. Our coin has been flipped, and I am now doing the driving and schlepping.

New blooms: sweetspire, rosebay rhododendron.


Elderberry, not a viburnum, but has similar flowers.

Unknown shrub, anyone???

Saturday, June 15, 2013

More Graduations.

6-15-13 SHORT HILLS: The rain has stopped for the moment. The last storm gave us 1.5 inches to add to the 5.0 inches that was in the gauges when I got here. Parts of the yard are so wet it’s like walking around on soggy sponges. The wet soil makes for easy weeding, so I did some. The poison ivy that I treated with Roundup is gone without a trace, but I found some more and sprayed it and some grape vines.

Maggie’s graduation was that rainy Thursday night, inside an old church in Brooklyn Heights, so we all stayed dry until after the ceremony when an intense downpour soaked everyone, in spite of our umbrellas.

Today was Maizie’s graduation from puppy kindergarten. She hasn’t eaten her diploma yet.

New blooms: hydrangea, beautyberry [I misstated it as finished last post].

Nick's retirement statue from Lincoln School.

Maggie's graduation from Packer, held at St. Anne's church in the Heights.

Asian holly flowers, as you can see, she is a lady shrub.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Cicada Season.

6-13-13 SHORT HILLS: I came down on Tuesday in intermittent rain to tropical NJ. The sun came out late in the day giving us a rainbow treat. Yesterday was beautiful and taken up with a bunch of chores.

On Tuesday, Judy and Nick were at Lincoln School in Newark for the last day of pet visiting for this season. It was also Nick’s retirement party. He got a doggie cake, lots of hugs and a statue, made by the art teacher.

Today was threatened by a big T-storm, which has already arrived with heavy rain, a few nearby boomers, but not much wind, so far. We leave soon for Brooklyn and Maggie’s graduation from Packer School. Because of the weather, the ceremonies were moved indoors.

The cicadas are everywhere. Their shells adorn every tree and shrub. The adults are big and clumsy, slowly fly from tree to tree, their song is a continuous dull, machinery-like roar. They’re quiet at night and in the heavy rain. The dead adults are all over the street and yard. Once every seventeen years seems like quite enough.

Here, in the garden, I missed the peonies, iris, tree peonies, early spireas, laurel, English holly, some viburnums, chokecherry, beautyberry and others.

In bloom: clematis, linden tree, privet, spireas, tutsan, Asian hollies, elderberry, roses, lamium.

Rainy day reward.

Judy's last day at Lincoln School this season and Nick's retirement party.

Those brown things all over the little viburnum bush are the the shells from which the cicadas hatched.

The bug himself, talk about your red-eye flight.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Welcome to the new Alumna.

6-10-13 VERMONT: Sunday was beautiful, defying expectations. Today is overcast with rain predicted. The graduation ceremonies went off without any hitches, and Anna is now an alumna. I expect she will be hearing from the College Fund any second. Most of the guests have left. Dan is still here with car trouble, but will leave tonight or tomorrow.

I planted two Lupinus, ‘The Governor’ at the north end of the pond and a white Lobelia siphilitica, ‘Alba’ with all the blue cardinal flowers.

The HughesNet installer is here, finally, to deal, we hope, with the internet issues but had to leave with a leaking tire. I know he will return because he left stuff here. If you are reading this, the internet connection, not working as I write, will have been fixed.

New blooms: knapweed, weigela, dogwood, Siberian iris, bearded iris.

Commencement on the Green as seen on the Jumbotron.

Dogwood, the leaf is like the dogwood we're used to, but the flower is very different, although each tiny little flowerlet is a miniature of the more famous one.

Knapweed is a bachelor button relative.

Cranberry bush viburnum has flowers like the double-file viburnum, but the leaf is tri-lobed.

Saturday, June 08, 2013


6-8-13 VERMONT: It’s the middle of a busy weekend featuring Anna’s college graduation with multi-generations of family present, and lots of entertaining and being entertained. Chaos reigns.

Yesterday we had rain, gallons of rain, 1.65 inches to be exact, along with fifty degree temps. Today has been overcast, but dry, and tomorrow is supposed to be OK for the graduation processional. Many fingers are crossed.

New blooms: flag irises, yellow and white, tradescantia, thyme, centaurea.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail butterfly and two other pals were working the azaleas.

This little wild flower beauty is called 'blue-eyed grass', it's an iris relative growing in a sunny part of the pasture. The next two flowers will pop out of those green ball buds.

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

New Jersey Quartet Arrives.

6-5-13 VERMONT: The last two days have been gorgeous and the nights cool, if not cold. Yesterday I did a ton of weeding and pruning and have now weeded all the beds once.

I pruned the big apple tree. It’s branches get lower each year requiring more pruning for headroom under the tree. The big honeysuckle bush had covered a bunch of stuff beneath it almost to the point of darkness, so I took a lot of it off, and now I have a respectable pile of branches for chipping.

Today I cleaned up all the weeding piles, and, with Dan’s help, put out all the benches, the rowboat, the hammock and the summer stuff. I watered the veggies and put a new fence rail in place.

Judy and the dogs arrived about two, and we walked the dogs around the pasture. The pasture is full of wild flowers—blue-eyed grass, buttercup, Indian paint brush in yellow and orange, clover in red and white, fleabane, daisy, vetch, yarrow and more. It’s beautiful, but hard to photograph, wide-angle shots lose the color, and close-ups lose the panorama.

New blooms: Solomon’s seal, Asiatic lilac, wild flowers.

I see four colors of azalea in there-orange, red, pink and salmon.

Judy, Nick, Gus and Maizie showed up this afternoon.

Maizie gets her first boat ride.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Duck Movie.

6-3-13 VERMONT: Yesterday started with a visit to the pond by a Hooded Merganser, her second short stopover. I caught her on video, which is at the end of the post.

The day started out hot, again, but a midday T-storm ushered in a cold front and the temp dropped twenty degrees. There was a lot of wind and thunder aloft but no local lightening. The storm lasted until late in the evening and delivered 0.70 inches of rain.

Today was in the seventies, breezy and dry. I did a bunch of weeding and pruning. [I need an acronym for weeding, pruning and watering.] Then I got out the string trimmer and did the paths around the house, the blueberries and roses along the fence, and around the small barn and the veggie beds.

While I was there, I checked the corn seedlings and found only about five that failed to germinate and put new seeds in those spots. The tomatoes are still small, but growing. I’ll watch them for a little longer.

New blooms: Jacob’s ladder, meadow rue, false Solomon’s seal.

This lady duck is, I believe, a Hooded Merganser who hit our pond very early yesterday morning, this was her second visit. She quacks, like a duck, about ten seconds from the end of the video.

Saturday, June 01, 2013


6-1-13 VERMONT: Ninety-one today and too hot to do much outside. I did plant two bachelor’s buttons, Centaurea montana ‘Amethyst in Snow’ from Brown’s Nursery where I shopped after the dump run. Anybody else think the names are, sometimes, just too much?

Throw in some weeding and watering and it’s enough for a day like this. They said scattered showers, and it just got very dark outside, so maybe we’ll be lucky.

New blooms: double-file viburnum, burning bush, cranesbill geranium.

Primrose, nice color. I wrote that they were over a few weeks ago, obviously wrong.

Azalea, also nice color.