Saturday, August 29, 2015

Heron Redux.

8-29-15 VERMONT: Last night was in the mid-fifties, and it was chilly this morning. As we head into September, it’s time for the annual furnace inspection. The new one may need to be repaired/replaced after only nine years of service. We’re not pleased about that. Also the chimneys were swept, and one needs repairs at the top. We’re not pleased about that either.

I have been busy pruning apple trees, mostly the big one by the deck. I took off the hanging branches that made it difficult to walk under and took off new growth on top. Several cartloads of prunings got dumped on the compost heap.

The corn stalks are now over my head, and the ears are developing, but I doubt any will be ripe before we head back to NJ. I picked the last quart of blueberries, but tomatoes keep coming.

New blooms: pearlie-everlasting.

Hardy Hybiscus, we'll see how hardy it is next spring after a Vermont winter.

Can you find our visitor?

Our friendly heron is back. He/She is an immature, all gray with a dark head and no plume.

Here's the left side.

In the water.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

More New Plants.

8-25-15 VERMONT: I woke up to a peal of thunder this morning. The sky was black and rain poured down along with more thunder, some of it quite close to us. Now in the afternoon, it might be clearing up.

The rain is timely, because I planted a tree hydrangea, Hydrangea paniculata ‘Limelight’, by the dog graveyard yesterday. Many of the local graveyards have similar tree hydrangeas planted amid the markers. I bought it at Brown’s Nursery along with a marsh marigold, Caltha palustri ‘Multiplex’, which went at the edge of the pond in the water. I also put a hibiscus hybrid, ‘Lord Baltimore’, in the north terrace bed. I know, a hibiscus?, in Vermont? Well, it’s supposed to be hardy to Zone 4. We’ll see if those huge, red flowers show up next year.

The day before yesterday I planted five Shasta daisies, Leucanthemum superbum ‘Alaska’, by the side of the pond. They were also from Brown’s.

New blooms: daisy [not the new ones].

Lobelia in three flavors.

How it looks to the pollinator, who heads down that cup in the middle, spreading pollen on the search for nectar.

Monday, August 24, 2015


8-24-15 VERMONT: We have recovered from the culinary adventures in Cornish and enjoyed a gorgeous day today. The Thetford DPW was here again and succeeded in opening up the clogged culvert. There is still some sand and gravel in it, but it’s open. Now they need to rebuild the parts of the road that was washed out by the water draining around the culvert.

Another fish eater visited a few days ago—a lady kingfisher. Females have a reddish chest band that the males lack. She flew around the pond a few times repeatedly calling in her harsh, loud, rattling cackle. It’s quite distinctive, and you can hear it a long way away and immediately know who it is. After a few circles, she sat on the prow of the rowboat like a figurehead before leaving without a catch. When they do spot a fish, they hover over it and then do a splash dive.

New blooms: chrysanthemum.

Mrs. Kingfisher comes calling.

"I know there's fish in here."

"Where they hiding?"

That unruly hairdo reminds me of Beethoven's pictures.
Here's one a moment after a dive and splash about a year ago.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Fair Day.

8-23-15 VERMONT: We crossed the river yesterday, via the Windsor-Cornish covered bridge, to go to the Cornish Fair. It was cool and dry after the front slid through a day or so ago and ended the heat wave. We walked around the midway and the animal barns after the trek from the parking lot. We are old enough and smart enough to avoid the rides and the games, but not the food.

We shared a bloomin’ onion  appetizer and lemonade while we watched Joe the Magician do his show. The kid, volunteer assistants were a riot. The onion was fried to perfection and the ranch dressing piquant.

After seeing the cows, sheep, chickens and tractors, we had a pulled pork sandwich as an entrée. It was succulent and accompanied by a tangy barbecue sauce.

For dessert we shared a serving of crisp funnel cake topped with powered sugar while we watched a quartet play country-rock. To me, all the songs sounded the same, the same key, tempo, rhythm and all at high volume. We left after the cake was gone, and, perhaps, burnt a few calories on the walk back to the car.

Rides and plenty to eat.

The ladies lined up.

Judy finds the grail.

Fried everything available.

Clothes too.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Tomato Season.

8-18-15 VERMONT: The days are clearly getting shorter as the sun is almost halfway back to the Equator, which it will get to on the Autumnal Equinox in September. But there’s still some summer to go.

Speaking of summer, hot, hot, hot is what we got, close to ninety. We have had a few showers, but I will need to water if there’s not more rain soon.

The pond continues to look pretty good. I counted four turtles yesterday—two small and two others fairly large, all painted turtles. The heron hasn’t been back for a few days, and I guess the pond creatures are relaxing, if they were stressed by the heron at all. I bet they’re oblivious.

The tomatoes are at flood stage, Judy made a ton of pasta sauce that we will eat tonight, and then some will be frozen. I made gazpacho a few days ago that we ate for a couple days. The corn is at people height and developing.

New blooms: white phlox, white lobelia, ligularia dentata.

Stacked cord. The new wood, one cord, is on the left and old, dry wood on the right to start the season. Neighbors who heat their houses only with wood need 4 to 6 cords for the winter. For us, it's just for the fireplace.

Harvest. The blueberries are almost done, but the tomatoes keep coming.

Ligularia dentata is cousin to the flower below...

Ligularia przewalskii which bloomed about a month ago. The leaves are similar even if the flowers are different.

Saturday, August 15, 2015


8-15-15 VERMONT: We had a nice dinner with Melissa and Dick at Tuckerbox in White River Junction last night. When we got home, it had rained here, but not where we had been. There was only 0.15 inches, but we’re getting more today. It's raining because the windows were washed yesterday afternoon. I forgot to mention that we had been to the Worthy Burger in South Royalton with Ken and Jane earlier in the week.

This morning we had a Blue Heron visit. We watched him [her] slowly, slowly walking and stalking his [her] way around the pond. We saw her [him] catch and eat three fish, one of which was pretty big. I have stills and video.

Behind the pond.

In the water.


Now on our side of the pond.

Friday, August 14, 2015


8-14-15 VERMONT: The gardens behind the house are full of bee balm now, in red, magenta, and purple. There’s also lots of phlox in a variety of red/purple shades. The hummingbirds spend a lot of the day working these flowers. They’re apparently drawn to these colors. I caught one female at rest on a flower stem and then, working the flowers in video.

New blooms: Queen Anne’s lace, monks hood.

Female Hummingbird on break.

Her beak makes a good back-scratcher.

"Aaah, that's better."

"Does my back look OK?"

I'll put a couple videos on FB.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

River Trip.

8-12-15 VERMONT: We got rain yesterday, 1.25 inches worth, it will probably be enough to refill the pond. Today is partly cloudy, and things are drying out.

We picked another bunch of tomatoes today and found a few more blueberries. The corn has reached the top rail of the fence and a few stalks are starting to show tassels.

The day before the rain, we went canoeing. We put in at the launch site near the confluence of the Ompompanoosuc and the Connecticut Rivers. We paddled out into the Connecticut, up river a ways and then down, before going up the Ompom. We saw lots of female Mallards and a flock of Canada Geese, maybe six. It was our first excursion of the season and an hour was enough.

New blooms: first aster.

Sitting Duck - Mallard.

Looking down river.

More Mallards.

Sunday, August 09, 2015

Big Bird Visits.

8-9-15 VERMONT: It’s been beautiful, warm days and cool nights and no rain for several days. Now we need some dampness. The pond has dropped an inch below full.

The blue heron was here for a brief visit yesterday just before sunset, late for him. They are not nocturnal birds.

The blueberries are almost gone, but we’re eating tomatoes every meal. The corn is almost up to the third fence rail, but no tassels in sight.

I have been busy with pruning and weeding, but got to Brown’s Nursery for some stock, including two echinacea, ‘Chiquita’ and ‘Rubinstern’, planted with some lime on the pond bank. Four lupins added to a different spot on the bank, Lupinus ‘Russell Hybrids’, ‘Russell’s Yellow’, and two ‘Red Flame’. An aster, ‘Lilac Blue’ and an astilbe, ‘Visions’ also went on the bank.

Near the new house, I planted two gentians, Gentiana cruciata ‘Blue Cross’, and a foxglove, Digitalis purpurea, and by the old house in a shady bed. I added a toad lily, Tricyrtis hirta ‘Myazaki’. I would have preferred to plant non-hybrids, just the basic plants, usually hardier, but they’re not available.

New blooms: black-eyed susan, blue lobelia.

Big bird - Blue Heron often visits the pond for a fish, frog or crawfish snack. I recently heard about one catching chipmunks.

It was late in the day for the heron, who you can see on the bank of the pond before he got tired of our attention and flew off.

A few minutes later we had a nice sunset.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Cool and Clear.

8-5-15 VERMONT: Today is cool and breezy with dry and clear air. We had a cord of firewood delivered last week. It took parts of three days to stack it all, even with help from Judy. There is aged wood, a small stack, that will start the season, and I hope that the new wood will be dry enough to burn easily by mid-winter.

I planted several echinacea, about eight, by the side of the pond last summer. This year only three returned. The site gets full sun and is on the bank of the pond so it’s well-drained, which should be echinacea heaven. Researching on garden sites, I found one that says that echinacea likes a slightly alkaline media, so I’ll add a bit of lime to the ones still there and add some new ones, planted with a small dose of lime.

New blooms: red lobelia, golden rod.

Echinacea cluster.

Ligularia spikes.

Lobelia in red, also comes in blue and white, the blue are about to open.

Sunday, August 02, 2015

Vermont Catch-Up.

8-2-15 VERMONT: Well, no more Arctic pix, just flowers, birds and bugs of Vermont for a while, maybe some people and animals too. I feel derelict about garden posting, so here’s a fast catch-up.

It’s bee warm and sunny, but with plenty of rain. There was a short spell of too hot, but that’s gone. The pond has stayed full, thanks to the rain, and stayed fairly clear, perhaps due to the new treatments. The turtle census is at three.

The pasture was mowed while we were away, and it looks great. Brady the horse seems happy with easier access to the grass and apples, now that they are ripening. Tons of blueberries have been eaten, some frozen, and more to ripen.

The tomatoes are fine and have been getting eaten as fast as they ripen. I only did 12 tomato plants this year, and I find it’s not enough to keep us knee deep in tomatoes. The replanted corn is at two feet, where it should have been three weeks ago had the original planting germinated.

The flower beds look kind of ragged. Nothing was staked of supported this year because of my broken leg, so plants have sprawled. Its not a totally bad look, just a bit messy. I’ll add details with future posts.

In bloom: hydrangea, phlox, geranium, summer azalea, filipendula, helenium, delphinium, campanula, hollyhocks, yarrow, foxglove, celandine, bee balm, thyme, clematis, echinacea, daylily, hybrid daylily, meadow rue, fever few, ligularia, Joe Pye weed, pickerel weed, astilbe, water lily, goose-neck loosestrife, Indian pipe, spirea, bleeding heart, bind weed, hosta, mallow, lamium, potentilla, soapwort.

Great Spangled Fritillary working bee balm.

You can see that long tongue in the flower.

Hybrid daylily.

Double hybrid daylily...

And in case you like red for a daylily.