Saturday, May 30, 2015

Lincoln Party and Roses.

5-30-15 SHORT HILLS: Hot and muggy it is, as Yoda would say. We’re looking for some of that rain soaking the rest of the country, we actually had 0.4 inches, but need much more.

The Lincoln School second grade and Ms. Catalano, the teacher, gave a party for the volunteers from Creature Comfort who bring their therapy dogs to the classroom to help the students learn to read. I tagged along as a photographer for the gala and as Judy's aide. There were hot dogs, appropriate for the canine guests, with the works, and a gorgeous sheet cake. Books were read, food was eaten, pix were taken, cake was cut, dogs were patted, the furry ones.

Big news. I am not on crutches anymore and have gone into the bushes pruning and trimming and snipping, only three months late.

New blooms: roses, peony flower, mock orange, privet.

Red rose. So perfect you could cry.

White rose.

Pink rose.

Peony, the flower, a couple of days after the tree peony.

The Gala at Lincoln, complete with rabbit ears.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

More Spring.

5-27-15 SHORT HILLS: We’re back in NJ, and it’s hot and humid summery weather. It’s also dry and we need rain, but all the rain is in Texas.

With all the trees and shrubs in leaf, our yard changes from bright to shady and becomes divided into ‘rooms’ separated by the leaf screens so that the broad vistas are gone and to see the whole yard requires a walk around.

New blooms: English holly, tree peony, arrowwood viburnum, star-of-Bethlehem, clematis, white lamium, gill-over-the-ground, dwarf lilac.

Clematis at the base of the bird house.

Star-of-Bethlehem looks like grass all spring until it flowers.

Tree Peony - that's a flower.

More clematis.

Dwarf lilac. It only gets to be five feet tall. Syringa patula 'Miss Kim'.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Turtles and Veggies.

5-25-15 VERMONT: It’s been very dry here. We need rain. With Clara’s help, I got the veggie garden set up and planted. Soaker hose, plastic mulch are both in place in the new bed. The new fence needed some stabilization work. Clara planted 75 corn hills while I did 12 tomatoes. I ran the soaker hose all night to get it, well, soaked.

More in bloom: forgot to mention on the last post: baneberry, yellow lamium.

New blooms: lily-of-the-valley.

On a hot afternoon, the turtles crawl out and bask on the rocks. They need the heat for their metabolism. Painted turtles have red markings when the shells are mud free.

Second turtles blending in with the rock,

Third and fourth hanging out together. While these four were in view, I saw a fifth turtle swimming.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Chores in Vermont.

5-22-15 VERMONT: We arrived yesterday and were greeted by neighbor Steve and a bunch of black flies. We prefer Steve.

Today was very windy, a good thing because it blows the black flies away. I started on a pile of spring jobs that I haven’t had a chance to do. I am walking on the healing, broken leg, doing partial weight bearing with one crutch, but sometimes I forget to use the crutch.

I skimmed the pond, picking up debris from the fall and spring that was floating around on the surface. That friendly wind blew the debris near the side for pickup with a pool skimmer net. Then I gave the pond another ‘probiotic’ treatment and scattered barley straw pellets around the edges of the pond. They attack algae growth. The pond is actually looking clearer this spring. I also filled the bird feeders. Tomorrow I get help from neighbor Clara for setting up the new veggie garden.

Judy and I did errands this morning including a trip to Longacre’s Nursery for herbs and tomatoes and a hanging basket for the pumpkin cart and dried stuff for her indoor arrangements this morning.

In bloom: apple, French lilac, Mohican viburnum, honeysuckle, azalea, white trillium, red trillium, mertensia, bleeding heart, viola, ajuga, purple lamium, dandelion, wild strawberry, golden alexander, forget-me-not, alkanet, epimedium, white geranium, spurge, hellebore, wild ginger, jack-in-the-pulpit, vinca minor, pachysandra.

Spectacular apple tree, almost always does it on Memorial Day.

Bleeding hearts hiding under the apple tree's gnarly trunks.

Just as good from the other side.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Rainy Spell.

5-19-15 SHORT HILLS: We have had a lot of fog and rain with temps in the sixties. The rain was much needed. The cooler days didn’t slow the parade of spring blooms.

Val, Maggie and Lucy visited on Sunday, one of them no longer has braces. Another one of them has finished her sophomore year at Hampshire College.

Most of the plants that I was concerned about are OK. The crepe myrtle is alive, but growing anew from its base. None of the upper branches are showing any new leaves. With a healthy root system large enough to support the shrub that it was last year, it should rebound fairly well.

New blooms: wild cherry, red chokeberry, Asian lilac, rhododendron, weigela, lily-of-the-valley, gill-over-the-ground.

A new cluster of white flowers - this one is red chokeberry.

Asian lilac, just as aromatic as the French lilac.

Black wild cherry blooms with tassel-like flower clusters.

Rhododendron. One of almost 30,000 cultivars.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Grab Bag.

5-13-15 SHORT HILLS: The last two days have been cool and windy, very windy. Summer returns by the weekend.

Last night, we saw ‘Skylight’ at the Golden Theatre with Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy. They play former lovers divided by their history, politics, age, cooking, economics and you name it. Both performances were wonderful. The set is her apartment—nice to see an actual set for a change. Neither of us were thrilled with it, but I liked it a bit more than Judy.

Today I had lunch with four college classmates in the city, Alan, Mike, Paul and Roger, who are all still working. I drove in from NJ, the traffic was depressingly horrific, both in and out. Next time, I will use mass transit, hopefully I will be walking without crutches by then.

New blooms: bridalwreath spirea, deutzia, rhododendron, red-twig dogwood, columbine, wild strawberry.

Quiz: The following five pix are of small, white flower clusters. They have all been mentioned as 'New blooms' recently. Can you ID them? The leaves can help with ID. Answers next post, if I remember.

1. Bridalwreath spirea.

2. Red-twig dogwood.

3. Doublefile viburnum.

4. Bridalwreath spirea, reprise.

5. Seibold viburnum.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Fox Visit.

5-10-15 SHORT HILLS: The yard is awash in flowers, it’s that time of the year. Today is sultry with a slight breeze and overcast sky.

The big exciting event today was a red fox sighting in the yard. Judy was outside early with the dogs who flushed the fox and chased it across the yard until it disappeared. Fortunately they didn’t get near it.

New blooms: chestnut tree, hawthorn, honeysuckle bush, burning bush, nannyberry viburnum, siebold viburnum, leucothoe, tea viburnum, doublefile viburnum, ajuga, wood hyacinth, may apple.

Chestnut tree flower.

Leucothoe, similar flower to blueberry, andromeda, lily-of-the-valley.

Ajuga, a fast spreading ground cover if it likes the conditions.

Wood hyacinth also comes in white and pink, it's happy in the shade.

Nannyberry viburnum, one of several viburnums in the yard.

Honeysuckle bush, also appears in white.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Azalea Speaks.

5-7-15 SHORT HILLS: Yesterday threatened rain but didn’t deliver. Rain would be good at this point. Today was back in the eighties, and I ran the AC while in the car. We might get into the nineties later this week. The lawn was mowed yesterday for the first time. Spring continues to explode.

New blooms: lilac, Carolina allspice, azalea, flowering currant, Korean spice viburnum.

Azaleas always make a statement.

Flowering currant flowers will turn into a bunch of berries.

Purple lamium.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Summer is here.

5-5-15 SHORT HILLS: The last two days have been in the eighties, summer is here in the middle of spring. Things are drying out and the sprinklers are on for watering at night—always the best time to water, less loss to evaporation.

The trees are all showing leaves, and the view from the upstairs windows is not the bare branches of winter but foliated trees. Flowers are popping out everywhere.

New blooms: dogwood, Kwansan cherry, crab apple, quince, redbud, blueberry, barberry, first viburnum, mertensia, sweet woodruff, yellow lamium, purple lamium, wild mustard.

Quince, usually the flowers are red, this a recent hybrid. The flowers form in the center of the plant not on the periphery.

Kwansan cherry, if you're into pink.

Dogwood, a very red flower, usual color is white or pink.

Virginia blue bells, Mertensia virginica, a woodland ephemera.

Viburnum, our first to open, very fragrant - Chinese snowball viburnum.

Crab apple.

Sunday, May 03, 2015

Stand Back, Flowers at Work.

5-3-15 VERMONT: The last two days have been beautiful, warm and mostly sunny, although it’s getting cloudy this afternoon. Buds and shoots are popping open as if they are making up for lost time because of the long winter. Daffodils are showing some flower buds. In other years they have been open in mid-April.

The pond is clearer than it has been for years. Is it the treatments we have used the last couple of years or the very cold winter? Newts, fish, crawfish, frogs and turtles are all present and accounted for. I saw four turtles yesterday all basking in the sun for most of the afternoon. I did the initial pond treatment for this summer. The frog opera is performing nightly.

I also saw a bat flitting around yesterday in the late afternoon, but well before dark. It seemed well, but I have no real way to judge its state of health.

I managed to put away the driveway reflectors that we use as guides for the snow plowers. A job that usually takes ten minutes took an hour on crutches.

New blooms: blood root, hepatica, forsythia, primrose.

Early primrose.

Hepatica. The flowers also come in blue/purple and pink. These stems are furrier than usual.

Blood root with its odd leaf.

More blood root. These are very short-lived flowers.

Friday, May 01, 2015

Time Travel and Sight Lines.

5-1-15 VERMONT: Yesterday was sunny and bright here, but today is gray and dark. Two small clumps of icy snow remain in front of the house, the remnants of huge piles by the porch. They will probably last until tomorrow, May 2. That is the latest date that I remember being snow free.

Going from New Jersey to Vermont in this season of the year always gives me the sensation of time travel. We left lots of flowers in NJ, but here there are only snowdrops and crocus, the grass is mostly brown and nothing is in leaf. That’s where we were on April 6 in NJ.

In a few weeks the leaves will be out here, and the lush foliage of Vermont will last from then until November. Now, before the leaves are out and after the snow is gone, the sight lines let you see deep into the woods and pastures. You can see the shape of the land, the rocky outcrops, the walls and fences following the contours of the fields, the hills and valleys and streams and houses off the road. The road, by the way, is finally drying out.

New blooms: crocus, maple.

Two small piles of ice/snow still here on May 1.

Crocus clump.

Solitary crocus.

Overcast and gray day.

The leaves will hide the sky and forest in a few weeks.