Monday, November 25, 2013

Is the NYT Stealing from my Blog?

11-25-13 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday’s NYT had an article about the possible extinction of the Monarch butterfly. Only a relative handful of them made it to their wintering grounds in Mexico. The problem may have multiple origins, but a major factor is the loss of milkweed that the caterpillars feed on. We have lots in our pasture, but mono-culture farming and herbicides have wiped out much of the wild milkweed. I mentioned in August that all the butterflies were in short supply this summer, unfortunately it’s worse than I thought.

Today’s NYT had an article about leaving the leaves alone where they fall. I have been doing and advocating this for several Falls. By April the old leaves have disappeared, each one turned into a drop of golden mulch.

Why waste time and energy gathering up and discarding a natural resource. In the forest, under the decaying leaves, is a rich, black, loamy organic upper layer of the soil, which is the product of years of accumulated leaves. The minerals and nutrients that the trees take out of the soil to grow and make new leaves are thus returned for next season.

I have a new camera, another Canon, the SX 50 HS, mostly because it has a 50 [fifty] times optical zoom. Below are a few samples.

Mourning Dove puffed up against the morning chill.

Dove profile.

Long shadows of Fall.

Holly Berries.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Mystery Shrub ID.

11-20-13 SHORT HILLS: Thanks and kudos go to Alison, horticulturalist extraordinaire, for her ID of the mystery shrub. She named it as blue mist or bluebeard, both are correct as common names for, ta da, Caryopteris x clandonensis 'Longwood Blue'. The shrub is hardy to Zone 5, drought tolerant, has silver-green leaves and blue flower cluster in late summer, is aromatic and attracts pollinators, including butterflies.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Los Gatos Trip.

11-16-13 LOS GATOS: Our trip west was uneventful, and we arrived at the mountaintop in the evening. The views are striking, dramatic and beautiful. At night the whole valley is lit up from south of San José to Palo Alto and across to the east bay. In daylight the bay is visible as are the hills east of the bay. Last year, when we first saw the property, I told Jon that I would have bought it for the view alone without even looking at the house.

The house does need rehab, and J and S are working on it. They have rewired and started to redo the plumbing, a new drain was put in while we were there. There are lots of decks for outdoor living that can be used almost year round, but some need extensive repair.

We had a tour of Los Gatos. Every house is spic and span, the streets are clean, the cars are clean, everybody seemed to be walking a dog. The people look outdoorsy. Dog sizes varied from tiny to huge. Lots of the stores had water bowls outside for the dogs and hooks so the dog walkers could shop and leave the dogs hitched up outside. Many of the stores were high end, and they all looked prosperous.

There are lots of Victorian houses all looking spiffy. Nearly every intersection is an all-way stop, and all the drivers are polite and stop for crossing pedestrians. Joey had a soccer game Saturday afternoon on an artificial turf field.

The house with eucalyptus trees.

Los Gatos High School campus with future students.

San Fran Bay with Palo Alto on the left.

San José.


Night lights.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Can You Name This Shrub?

11-15-13 SHORT HILLS: Here are some pix of the mystery shrub. It's blooming in mid-November, growing on the strip between two parking lots and attracting pollinators that may be honeybees. The leaves have a spicy scent when crushed. It appears to be hardy for our Zone 6 locale. Based on the aroma and gray-green, lancet-shaped leaves with opposite leafing pattern, I'm guessing it's a Salvia, a sage-family plant.

Bees don't mind the lateness of the season.

The blue-purple flowers have a top petal that overhangs the rest of the flower.

The whole shrub seems happy in a tough spot that gets full sun and probably dries out quickly.

Close-up of the flower.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Mystery Bloomer.

11-14-13 SHORT HILLS: We have had below freezing nights here, with warm days after the cold nights. The leaves are almost all down with only the beech and dawn redwood holding on and the Japanese maple barely starting to turn.

I was in town yesterday and saw a small shrub with many purple flowers and grayish green leaves acting as if it was July. I stole a little piece for ID, but the best I could do was some kind of Salvia, maybe. The garden center tentatively agreed. I will get another twig to post pix so anyone else can weigh in. A vigorous, hardy November bloomer would be nice to have.

Los Gatos tomorrow.

Nice sky tonight.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Solvers Quartet.

11-9-13 SHORT HILLS: It was cold this morning but warmed up nicely. I was back in the yard finishing up the winterizing. I left one hose out for now while I water the new plantings.

Bally seems quite happy in his new situation.

New blooms: witch-hazel.

Black Chokecherry on the left and Burning Bush on the right.

Witch-hazel flower cluster.

Maizie, Gus and Bally are helping Judy with the crossword puzzle.

Friday, November 08, 2013

NYC Night.

11-8-13 SHORT HILLS: It was warm here until yesterday when a cold front came through with a lot of rain. Before that, I had been doing fall clean up and other yard chores. By the time the rain stopped, we were on our way to NYC for dinner at Shun Lee Palace, Beijing Duck for both of us, and then the NY Philharmonic at Avery Fisher Hall.

We heard J. S. Bach’s Cantata No. 51, BWV 51, and Handel’s “Let the Bright Seraphim” from Samson, HWV 57, before the intermission and then Mozart’s Requiem, K.626. I loved the whole program, Judy was a bit less enthusiastic. Miah Persson, golden throated and golden haired soprano, performed in each piece.

The dog pack is pretty tightly bonded at this point.

Avery Fisher Hall stage with the NY Philharmonic getting ready for J. S. Bach's Cantata No. 51 [BWV 51].

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Bally Arrives.

11-2-13 SHORT HILLS: I came down to NJ yesterday after a stop in Milford, NH to pick up our newest family member, Border Collie, Balfour, aka Bally. We co-own him with his breeders and handlers who may want him back occasionally for breeding sometime in the future.

Gus, Maizie and Bally seem to be well on the way to being a pack of three.

Border Collie, Balfour aka Bally

Burning Bush season? I guess.

Happy New Mom.

Exploring the new yard.

Bally and Maizie find a tree.