Sunday, June 29, 2014


6-29-14 VERMONT: It’s been warm and sunny since my last post. Judy, the boys and Lucy have been helping out at the Haven, a shelter in nearby Wilder, VT. That has given me a chance to catch up on gardening and has given the frogs a breather.

Eoin found an exotic, carnivorous plant in the pasture. It was growing on a mossy rock in a marshy stream. After consultation with our naturalist consultant, Donna, it was ID’d as a Round Leaved Sundew, Drosera rotundifolia. Unlike most of its cousins, this one is happy in northern climates, and it is not endangered, even if rare. We returned it to its chosen spot. It was enjoying a gnat. I have never seen, or noticed, this plant before.

Today we made a road trip going to the Eshqua bog in Hartland, VT where the Showy Lady’s Slippers, Cypripedium reginae, are in bloom. These orchids are under some environmental pressure, but seem happy in this preserve, which is supported by the Nature Conservancy. It is actually not a bog, but a fen. A fen is an alkaline wetland, while a bog is acidic.

The alkalinity of the Eshqua bog comes from a nearby carbonate deposit. The carbonates were originally a reef off the coast of North America 400 million years ago when the continent was in tropical ocean waters. Later it was pushed onto the continent and metamorphosed into schist and ended up alkalinizing this wetland for the lady’s slippers benefit.

New blooms: feverfew, stonecrop sedum, summer sweet, rosebay rhododendron.

Drosera rotundifolia, Round Leaved Sundew, is a carnivorous plant happy in VT and similar climates including Alaska. Eoin found this one on a mossy rock in a pasture stream.

Cypripedium reginae, showy lady slipper, is found in the Eshqua bog, a Nature Conservancy site in Hartland, VT.

Cypripedium reginae, showy lady slipper, some detail of the orchid.

Spirea with a pollinating wasp. That yellow/gray saddle-bag is a load of pollen.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Big Rain.

6-26-14 VERMONT: Yesterday the rain started in mid afternoon while I was working on the roses. It got heavier and heavier as it grew dark and continued all night. There was a short power outage. This afternoon the rain gauge had 2.75 inches and the boat was full of rainwater.

We braved the worst of the storm to meet Lily for dinner at Murphy’s and had a tour of her rooms after we ate—her place looks very much like college housing.

Today was overcast until evening, but the skies are now clear. I did a little pruning this afternoon.

New blooms: red spirea.

Hot couple....

You're supposed to boat on the water, not in it.

Wall beds.*

Gus, Maizie, Bally.*

*photos by JWF

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Boys Are Back in Town.

6-24-14 VERMONT: We’re back in VT with Eoin and Joe and have been joined by Val and Lucy. Bally the dog has fallen deeply in love with Lucy. The boys were in the pond yesterday—frogs beware.

Yesterday was warm and sunny, but today was overcast and cool with a brief shower.

New blooms: baptisia, lady’s mantle, goats beard, water lily, white spirea, thyme, roses.

It's not cotton candy, it's meadow rue.

Another peony.

Goats beard tolerates a lot of shade.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

NJ Visit.

6-22-14 SHORT HILLS: The summer solstice has come and gone and the days are now getting shorter—perhaps you hadn’t noticed. The whole northeast is cool and dry. We have had no rain for about a week, and there’s none in the five day forecast.

We came back to NJ to pick up Eoin and Joe for their summer visit from California. We all go back to VT tomorrow, and Val and Lucy will be joining us there.

New blooms: sweetspire, rosebay rhododendron, winterberry holly, hydrangea.

Sweetspire, a nice medium-sized shrub, especially for wet areas.

Rosebay rhododendron, the last of the evergreen, spring bloomers.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

New Perennials.

6-19-14 VERMONT: It’s getting cool again. Today was beautiful with a nice breeze that kept the bugs in hiding. I did the roses this morning. They had a fair amount of winterkill, but are sending up lots of new shoots. They were being engulfed by weeds, so I used the trimmer and then weeded by hand to get a bush exposed and pruned it when I could see its base. First I did one side of the bush and then the other side on the other side of the fence. In the afternoon I weeded the north terrace beds and their roses. That has me caught up with weeding and pruning for the moment.

Yesterday I went to Brown’s Nursery for some stock and started plugging holes. I put a yarrow, Achillea Millefolium ‘Paprika’, in the wall bed and a chrysanthemum ‘Overture’ near that one. I put two soapworts in the bed by the road, Saponaria officinalis ‘Rosea plena’ and four Primula japonica on the pond bank. I dug everything else out before planting the primroses so they don’t get overwhelmed by weeds.

New blooms: peony, stephanandra, tradescantia.

Promethea silk moth. She was napping all day on this window. The males are mostly all black.

Peony-it must be June.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Hot Day.

6-17-14 VERMONT: Today was hot. It was in the upper eighties, the first time we’ve been near that number. In addition to the usual weeding and pruning, I transplanted some daylilies that were crowding and intimidating a foxglove and repaired a granite fence post that had started to lie down on the job and repaired a wobbly walk way. I also re-treated the pond for algae and murk. The pond has been pretty good so far this summer, even if summer hasn’t actually started.

Andy and Katie took us to two places in the greater neighborhood to see the settings and flowers. The lady slippers weren’t out yet, but the second site with primrose growing along a stream in the woods was magnificent. Now I know what primrose like.

We have a fourth turtle in the pond, he/she is about the size of a silver dollar, but no pix as yet.

New blooms: dogwood, knapweed, sweet william.

Knapweed, a relative of centaurea.

Wild Primrose growing along a stream.

Red, Pink and White.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Back to VT.

6-15-14 VERMONT: We came up yesterday in light traffic to mostly cloudy skies and cool air, windy enough to have a fire at dinner and another later in the bedroom. Today was a little warmer.

I went to work in the morning—starting with the veggies. Six out of eighty corn seeds didn’t germinate so I put new seeds in those spots. They will be three weeks behind the others, which are now two to four inches tall. The new ones may never ripen with the others, or they may catch up because it’s later in the season and warmer. I also fertilized the tomatoes and corn.

Add to that an afternoon of weeding and pruning, and it’s a perfect Fathers’ Day.

New blooms: azalea, Wentworth viburnum, geranium, Siberian iris, bearded iris, yellow and white flag iris, campanula, meadow rue, rogersia, Jacobs ladder, centaurea, Asian lilac, spirea, primrose, Solomon seal, hesperis, creeping speedwell, lupin, fleabane, red and white clover, buttercup, vetch, daisy, weigela.

It's hard to tell, but there are four azalea colors there-orange on the upper right, salmon in the middle, pink on the upper left and a darker pink on the lower left.

Siberian iris.


First hybrid day lily.

Thursday, June 12, 2014


6-12-14 SHORT HILLS: It’s been raining since last weekend. One day there was over an inch in the rain gauge, but most days are dank, dark and damp. It’s been drizzling all day today.

Undaunted by the inclement weather, I have been busy with W & P and other maintenance chores. There have been more dump runs with the cuttings, and I pronounce the yard done for now.

By tomorrow it won't be done anymore—the curse of gardening, and the blessing. One can always find something that needs attention. This weather is actually perfect for all those transplants I did recently.

New blooms: elderberry, buttercup, arrow-wood viburnum, Asian holly.

Soggy spirea.

New clematis at the base of the birdhouse.

Sunday, June 08, 2014


6-8-14 SHORT HILLS: I’ve been busy weeding, whacking, pruning and transplanting. I have made multiple trips to the dump with debris. The sprinklers are in full order for the first time in a few years. All the valves are hidden from Maizie the dog by heavy stones.

I moved about a dozen viburnum volunteers to a spot by the pool fence where a couple yew trees died. Viburnum volunteers are almost as common as weeds here. Lots of them get pulled up or cut down, but when they are in a spot that permits their being dug up, I move them where I need to build a screen or fill a hole. Burning bush volunteers are almost as common, and I use them as well.

I moved a blueberry that was languishing one place to a spot next to the other blueberries.

Most everything looks good this year. What passes for lawn is populated with any number of different, short green plants, actually including some grass. The trees and shrubs are doing well for the most part, but many of them have dead small branches.

I thought it was due to winterkill, the winter was definitely a killer. When I looked closer, most of the dead branches were marked with longitudinal scars from the cicadas. One dead, pruned southern magnolia branch, about a foot long, had seven such scars that covered all sides of the branch effectively girdling it. I'm glad they won't be back for seventeen years.

There are vines everywhere—grape, Boston ivy and a couple others I know only by sight but not by name. I have spent hours pulling them up. The Boston ivy has never been so aggressive before. It is swarming over trees and shrubs, and I have been pulling it down as well as up. Usually it is a mild mannered ground cover, but not this year.

New blooms: red spirea, mock orange, privet, white clover.

'A rose by any other name...'

White spirea with several little friends.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Summer is here.

6-4-14 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday was a mid-summer day. It was in the upper eighties and muggy and ended with a T-storm. Both of us drove home in the morning, unloaded and settled in.

More repairs have been done to the sprinkler system, and it is almost fully functional. Today I was back to pruning and weeding with much more to do.

New blooms: iris, roses, tree peony, English holly, clematis, spirea, Asian lilac.

Siberian Iris.


Tree Peony.


Monday, June 02, 2014


6-2-14 VERMONT: The weekend was busy. Ken and Carol visited on their way from Saratoga, NY to Boston and then Maine. Judy threw a dinner party for their stopover. It was a great evening and included, Jim and Brooke, Julie and Dudley and Mark and Susan. The food, weather and wine were all perfect.

Before that visit, Lily and her friend Chiara spent a few days here prepping for exams.

I was busy tidying the gardens, trimmed and weeded, pruned and raked and got things to look pretty good before the party. After all the guests left, I put up the supports for the peonies, meadow rue, baptisia and delphinium this morning. This afternoon I transplanted several hostas to allow for expansion of the walkways in front of the new house.

There is another guest to mention, Brady the horse arrived for his summer vacation. He is grayer in the face than last year, and, at thirty something, is entitled.

Bally the collie met a guest of his own a couple evenings ago, a close encounter with an unnamed skunk. That was just what we were hoping for at bedtime, a chance to treat and shampoo the dog. The aroma has mostly gone at this point. The mix of peroxide, Joy and baking soda works pretty well.

New blooms: lily-of-the-valley, another viburnum, burning bush, baneberry, columbine, Indian cucumber, first hybrid daylily.

Canadian Tiger Swallowtail, missing a bit of the right hind wing.

Sun Halo probably means moisture in the upper atmosphere.