Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Gorgeous Day.

4-29-15 SHORT HILLS: Today is beautiful, mid-seventies, and we had lunch outside on the patio. The yard looks great, even if rather ragged from lack of trimming and pruning. The big Japanese maple seems to have significant losses. I’m hoping some of the bare branches will still leaf out.

New blooms: marsh marigold, dandelion, grape hyacinth, trout lily, quince.

Daffodils get more interesting as the season proceeds....

Marsh marigold during its brief appearance each spring.

The flowers and foliage will be gone, dormant, in a month and unseen until 2016.

Magnolia behind the junipers.*

Cherry lane on a sunny morning between the Yoshino and the Kwanzan blooming.*

* Judy's pix.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Creeping Toward May.

4-27-15 SHORT HILLS: It hasn’t gotten much warmer, but spring is still building—my nose and sinuses inform me that there's lots of pollen. The grass is starting to grow in some places. The bare spots in our ‘freedom’ lawn haven’t filled in with the usual bunch of short weeds as yet.

Maizie has left several holes in the yard and beds that I will fill when I’m ambulatory.

I’m still assessing the amount of winterkill. Some damage is obvious, but sometimes the full extent isn’t clear until part of a tree or shrub that you thought was OK, doesn’t green up. Shrubs on the Danger List include: crepe myrtle, caryopteris, butterfly bush, rhododendron, beauty berry, kerria, bayberry, St. Johns wort.

New blooms: bleeding heart, pear, white ash.

Bleeding Heart.

Flowering Pear - another early fruit tree.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Spring, Where'd You Go?

4-24-15 SHORT HILLS: Spring has lost its way. The last few days have been cold, 40’s and windy and overcast, with even a bit of snow yesterday. There was no accumulation, of course, and today is partly sunny. It’s a reminder of the harsh winter just past.

New blooms: saucer magnolia, mukdenia.

Saucer magnolia.

Purple violet, white and yellow ones to follow.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Rush to Flower.

4-21-15 SHORT HILLS: We had an all day rain yesterday, dumping about an inch and a half. Today is sunny, warm and a bit breezy. After a big rain in the spring, the plants soak up the water and explode with action, buds open, leaves get bigger, flowers pop out. Trees that had seemed bare are now colored with a haze of red, orange, yellow or green.

Spring is hitting its stride with lots of stuff bursting into flower as if the flora know they’re behind schedule because of the harsh and long winter. Maybe it’s a pollinator issue—lots of them are buzzing around—but some insects have a short life cycle, and if the flowers aren’t open, they won’t get pollinated. Of course, many plants are pollinated by any old bug that flies by—with no discretion at all.

New blooms: Yoshino cherry, boxwood, pulmonaria, blood root, violet, clatonia, vinca minor, Siberian squill, pachysandra.

Another daffodil.

Vinca minor, creeping myrtle, notice the asymmetry of the petals?

Clatonia - stays under three inches and the leaves look like grass.

Yoshino cherry, Prunus x yedoensis, is the first flowering tree in this yard.

And another daffodil.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Retreat of the Snow.

4-18-15 VERMONT: There was rain yesterday morning and sun since then with temps in the sixties. The snow is melting. The big piles are slightly smaller, and the snow cover that was not in piles is almost all gone. The pond ice is now a big floating island covering 90% of the surface but much thinner.

Last night we had dinner with Denny and Laura-Beth, and the previous night Lily joined us.

More snowdrops are emerging from the snow and almost immediately spring into flower.

The dirt roads remain swampy. Mud season continues.

Melting continues, but there's still plenty of snow. The pond is opening up.

This is why they're called snowdrops. They're blooming as soon as they're free of the snow.

Bally and Maizie explore the brook. All the brooks are torrents as the snow melts and the ground thaws.

After all that running around a dip in icy water is a nice eye opener.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Snow and Mud.

4-16-15 VERMONT: We came up yesterday. Yesterday and today were both sunny and mild. There is still a ton of snow here. Not only the piles under the eaves but also the rest of the yard. The big pond is 98% frozen, but the little pond in the pasture is open according to Judy who walked down there with the dogs. I figured it was too rough and too far to go on crutches. Speaking of rough, the road is a total, muddy quagmire in all the wet spots.

The south end of the new house, a gable end, gets the sun and is always the first to melt free of the snow. Snowdrops along that wall are in flower, and some maples are flaunting big red buds.

The dogs enjoy running around, playing tag and exploring under the barns and don’t care if it’s mid-winter or mid-summer.

Birds are active, but we are not filling the feeders because many feeders in the neighborhood have been raided by bears, usually a terminal experience for the feeders.

I remember one harsh winter when the last drop of ice melted the same time as the first daffodil opened on April 24th. I think this year's snow will last into May.

New blooms: snowdrops.

Judy and Maizie.

Snow in front of the house.

Snow in the woods.

Snow in back of the house, frozen pond.

The little pond in the pasture is unfrozen. Maizie was swimming, Gus and Judy were not.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Yellow Arrives.

4-14-15 SHORT HILLS: It’s overcast today, and I see from the weather radar map that there’s rain to the south. Everything here seems wet enough as it is. The trees and shrubs are showing fat buds and some have new leaves.

The Yellow is back. So many spring flowers are yellow that I have always wondered if some spring pollinator has a thing for that color.

New blooms: daffodil. forsythia, spicebush.

First daffodil in yellow.

Forsythia in yellow.

Spicebush, also.....

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Trip to Philly.

4-12-15 SHORT HILLS: The last few days have been beautiful and warm. I would love to be outside more, but the walker is a nuisance to drag around. All those crocus that I showed on the last post are gone, eaten by something—deer, woodchuck, rabbit? It was a tough winter for everybody.

Judy and I were in Philadelphia yesterday to see Chris and Bob and their new town house, and to catch up with very old friend Steven after about three decades. We had dinner at an excellent, but noisy, Turkish restaurant and then drove home. It’s a ninety-minute trip, mostly on the Turnpike. The town house is in the old corner of Philly, near the river, Independence Hall and the Ben Franklin Bridge. The neighborhood is full of old Federal-style brick building, and lots of traffic. It will be fun to visit when I’m not using the walker.

Congrats to Ken, Jessica and young Noah on his first religious experience.

New blooms: andromeda.

Andromeda, the first flowering shrub in this garden, has these clusters white bells.

Snowflake, relative of the snowdrop, is surviving in the pachysandra.

Nose itchy? Eyes red? Maple flowers, red maple, as you might have guessed.

Monday, April 06, 2015

Crocus Rush.

4-6-15 SHORT HILLS: We might hit 70° today. Yesterday was also very nice. Val, Steve and Lucy came to visit and walk the dogs with Judy.

We still have a remnant of the snow in the driveway, but it will be gone in a day or two. The ground is drying out after snowmelt and rain. Most of the new shrubs are showing fat buds. The forsythia are waking up. Everything seems to be in a hurry, probably because the season is getting such a late start.

New blooms: snowflake, crocus.

Crocus and more.....

More purple...

With white....


Mostly white.

Friday, April 03, 2015

Flocking Together.

4-3-15 SHORT HILLS: A couple days in the sixties, one sunny and one with rain, do a lot to make the snow go away. Also a few crocuses are forming flower buds. I walked around the yard with the walker yesterday on the flats, any slope is difficult to manage. Things are a mess, and I can’t do any clean-up, very frustrating.

Grackles are black birds that are iridescent in the sun. This one seems to be scowling. The one in back of the feeder is in shadow and not iridescent.

This one has a purplish head instead of the blue above and below. These colors remind me of the colors from a drop of oil or gas on wet pavement.

Grackle in front of an immature Red-wing Blackbird. The two species usually show up at the same times, do they travel together?

Mature Red-wing Blackbird showing the bicolored epaulet. Both species have black legs and beaks, but the Grackles have yellow eyes and the Red-wing Blackbirds have dark eyes.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

New Snow for April One.

4-1-15 SHORT HILLS: If you didn’t know it, let me tell you that this was a nasty, long and severe winter, and it’s not going away so fast. We had precip last night starting as rain in the afternoon, but changing to, you guessed it, snow after dark. There was not a lot, less than an inch, and it’s mostly gone by this afternoon which is in the forties and sunny. Obviously it’s a joke for April Fools’ Day by the Gods of Ice and Snow.

Last night's surprise. You can see that the icy plow-pile is still in the foreground.

Those streaks are the snow flakes, but you figured that out already.

This morning - April First - of course.

And the other side of the house.