Sunday, September 28, 2014

A Night at the Opera.

9-28-14 SHORT HILLS: We heard, and saw, the new production of the Met’s Le Nozze di Figaro, The Marriage of Figaro, last night. It’s set in the 1930’s in Seville in a lace-work palace with a rotating center stage that moves from bedroom to bedroom and occasionally to public rooms. The staging and choreography make the most of the opera’s ribald and burlesque potential. We loved it. Especially Amanda Majeski as Countess Almaviva in her Met debut. I have tried to post a video clip, but have been unsuccessful so far. Congrats to the current production team and to Mozart, Da Ponte and Beaumarchais.

Before the show we had dinner with my Aunt Jean and Cousin David who we haven’t seen for too long a time.

The Palace looks a little drafty.

Beds play a prominent part of this farce.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

New Plants.

9-27-14 SHORT HILLS: The weather has been lovely and included a rainy day that gave us a half-inch. The last time I was at the Farm, I saw a red butterfly bush, and I have been lusting after it since. So I went back and bought it. Yesterday I added it to the new birdhouse bed. Its name is Buddleia x ‘Miss Molly’.

I also got a summersweet, Clethra alnifolia ‘Hummingbird’, that I added to the swampy bed. It tolerates wet feet and shade so should work well with the pussy willow and the bayberry that are already there.

I also got four plumbago, leadwort, Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, that I added to the living room window bed, and two mukdenia, Mukdenia rossi ‘Crimson Fans’ that I put by the pussy willow. Both of these groundcovers are shade tolerant.

New blooms: sedum.

Butterfly bush in red, very red.

Sedum - for late color.

Plumbago, leadwort, has blue flowers and red foliage in the fall and works as a ground cover.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Autumnal Equinox.

9-22-14 SHORT HILLS: Welcome to Fall. This morning the sun crossed the Equator to begin the southern hemisphere’s summer and to begin our winter season. So far there’s no snow or ice as today was sunny and warm with a nice breeze.

I went to the Farm today, a large local nursery, and bought a pussy willow, Salix discolor, and added it to the swampy spot in our yard. Actually at this time of the year it’s pretty dry, but it will be soggy again in the Spring. I also did some pruning and left the cuttings at the dump. And in a fit of enthusiasm, I leveled some uneven flagstones in the patio by the back door.

While I was at the Farm, I noticed that they are selling, as a Fall bloomer, the weed that I spent days pulling up last week. I showed its picture in the last post. I was too shocked to get its name. Who knew.

We had a great meal with Ellen and Bruce at Blu in Montclair a few nights ago, back when it was still summer.

Roses are always a treat.

Nice sky one evening last week.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

The Equinox Approaches.

9-18-14 SHORT HILLS: Basically, there’s not much going on in the garden. It’s only a couple days until the official end of summer, but the signs of the changing seasons are around us. The ash trees, always early to dump their leaves, are showing yellow and purple foliage. The squirrels, acting squirrely, are rushing around with mouths full of acorns. Berries are ripening. Burning bush are hinting at the color to come. Occasional leaves are floating to the ground, and, of course, the days are shortening. A flock of grackles has been working the feeders. The roses continue to bloom, and I’m waiting for a sedum to open.

The weather has been seasonal with warm afternoons and cool nights. We had about a half inch of rain a few evenings ago.

I’ve continued to pull weeds and take the piles to the dump. There seems to be an endless supply to work on.

Practically domesticated animals.

Some of the weeds on the pull parade.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Clinging Vines.

9-12-14 SHORT HILLS: The weather has been lovely, sunny, warm in the afternoon and cool at night. I turned the sprinklers back on because some of the shrubs are looking wilted.

I have been back in the yard doing weeding and pruning. There were several wild grape vines, some quite substantial, growing on shrubs. I have been pulling them up, once or twice a year, only to find them regrown. Tired of the repetition, I cut them off at the root line and sprayed the roots with Roundup® when the root was not near something desirable. I hope to not be seeing them again.

In bloom: [forgot to mention in the last post] white star clematis.

Silver-spotted Skipper, silver and gold wing spots, on a butterfly bush, of course.

Silver-spotted Skipper, if you look closely, you can count six legs, two antennas and a black tongue.

...and that big black eye. The tongue is visible again here.

Saturday, September 06, 2014

Late Bloomers.

9-6-14 SHORT HILLS: Since we’ve been back in NJ, it’s been hot and humid in a major way, something we haven’t had this cool and wet summer. I remember now how oppressive it can feel. We’re supposed to get T-storms later.

Yesterday we drove into NYC to have dinner with old friends Richard and Elaine at Taboon. The restaurant is Turkish/Mediterranean and we liked it a lot. Their new place has gorgeous views of the Hudson. On the way in we had a brief shower and a rainbow over Jersey City and then over lower Manhattan.

In the yard, it’s been too hot to do much, but some weeding is hard to resist so I have yielded to temptation and accumulated some small piles.

In bloom: butterfly bush, caryopteris, crepe myrtle, rose, rose of Sharon, lily turf, hosta, hydrangea, spirea, lamium, wild asters.

Crepe Myrtle, this is a late-blooming shrub, it also comes in trees.

Caryopteris another late bloomer.

Closer look at caryopteris and a pollinator.

Lily turf is yet another late bloomer.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

No New War.

9-3-14 SHORT HILLS: We’re back in NJ in time for the 90° heat wave. I haven’t been political for a while, but I have to weigh in on the attacks on Obama for his ‘inaction’.

I think charging in to fight ISIS is just what they want us to do and that the beheadings are provocations to get us to come out and play war. Bin Lauden said he did what he did to get us to attack the Middle East and bankrupt ourselves in the process. It came close to that, and the adding machine is still totaling up the balance due, and the cost of caring for the injured will go on for decades. And that’s just the dollar cost, not the cost of ruined lives and dead soldiers.

Attacking ISIS, a Sunni force, and doing damage to it will just strengthen the Shiites and Iran and Assad in Syria. I thought they were the enemies. Anything other than tactical bombings or dronings would be an expensive mistake. ‘Fool me once…..’

Iraq before the war was controlled with ‘no fly’ zones and the UN nuclear inspectors were on the scene, and there was no evidence of a nuclear program except in the minds of Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. And that was how many trillions of dollars ago? Haven’t we learned anything? Where are all those deficit and debt hawks now?

And BTW, who’s funding ISIS? Could it be our allies the Saudi’s, Qatari’s and our other ‘friends’? Staying out of that quagmire is exactly the right strategy, let Iran or someone else deal with the Sunni uprising.

See Tom Friedman’s column today in the NYT.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Season Ending Day.

9-1-14 VERMONT: We did do Gile on Saturday. There has been a lot of trail work, and the climb is practically a flight of stairs now. The view from the top of the tower is expansive—from the Whites to the Greens. The tower was packed.

A blue heron has been here every day in spite of the human and dog activity. Bally, the Border Collie, chased him/her away early this morning, but he/she came back later and was here for more than an hour. Maggie caught him leaving yesterday.

Yesterday was drizzly and rainy all day, but we only got a tenth of an inch.

The guests all left this morning to take Maggie to Hampshire College to start her second year. She forgot her potted flower, but I planted it by the pond.

New blooms: chrysanthemum.

Great Blue Heron takes off with the neck in 'S' formation...

But comes back for more fish.

Chrysanthemum means September.

Phlox still going.