Sunday, July 31, 2016

Asclepias Hunt.

7-31-16 VERMONT: When we were in Maine a few weeks ago, I saw a perennial with white flowers and a lot of butterflies. Stephanie, the gardener at Ken and Carol’s, ID’d it as Asclepias incarnata, swamp milkweed.

I looked for it here, and neither of the usual nurseries had any. One of them had Asclepias tuberosa and A. viridis so I bought two of each and planted them by the side of the pond, but not in the water. I broke my rule about any more planting this season, but I hope it will be OK since it’s still July. The tuberosa has dramatic orange flowers.

New blooms: potentilla shrub [It has been out for a while, but I forgot to mention it before.]

Burgundy daylily.

Swamp milkweed, Asclepias incarnata, a perennial that draws the pollinators.

Here in the Maine gardens of Ken and Carol in Southwest Harbor it stands thigh high and likes wet feet.

Pumpkin cart with new wheel and new front suspension.

The tomato avalanche has begun.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Good Time at the Fair.

7-30-16 VERMONT: We went to the North Haverhill fair with Shari and Dave Friday afternoon. It wasn’t very crowded, but the folks were streaming in as we left. The rides were in full swing, the games were open, fair food was frying, and the horses were pulling. Like boxing, there are different weight classes and categories for the horses.

Horses and/or oxen were used by the first settlers for moving stones to make the walls, trees to cut for lumber or firewood, stumps to have plowable fields, and to plow those fields. The walls were made to get the stones out of the way. Now, today, it’s all done by tractor.

The events are hobbies for the people who do this. The prize money doesn’t pay enough for the hay or the gas to get to the fair. Other folks have boats or play golf.

We saw little oxen trained by 4H kids, big oxen, sheep, goats, cows. Kids were doing agility-like events with oxen and sheep. Oh, almost forgot the pig races and the antique tractors.

As we left, a highly-amped rock band was warming up for the night shows.

Horse Pull, that's almost 3 tons of weight.

Ribbon  award. These events are hobbies for the contestants. All the real farm work is done with tractors now.

Doesn't look like fun to me.

The ladies at afternoon naps.

Oxen are as tall as the farmer between the brown pair.

Midway is a planopy of culinary delights.

Miniature horses have their own pull competition. the owners say that 'pound for pound' they are stronger than draft horses.

There are dogs bigger than these horses.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

More Carpentry.

7-28-16 VERMONT: It is very dry. The grass is turning brown. I have been watering every day and bought a new hose to reach far parts of the yard. It occasionally gets overcast, but the most we had today was five minutes of light sprinkle, zero accumulation. We have had no significant rain since the block party on July 9. There’s lots of rain to the south in NY and NJ.

Chippers, the local tree people, were here to dis-assemble the big maple that came down in the dry storm. After it was chipped, we kept the chips for the shelter part of the barn for Brady the horse. Their truck broke down after the job and is still in the pasture. They hope to have it repaired tomorrow.

I re-built part of Judy’s pumpkin cart. It had lost a wheel and the front axle to decay. I used pressure treated wood so the repaired parts should last for decades. I have now replaced all of it except two wheels and the handle. Today I swept up all the sawdust and scraps of wood in the garage and put away the tools for now.

New blooms: goose-neck loosestrife, red yarrow, more phlox, echinacea, helenium.

Helenium, also called 'sneeze weed', is another daisy-like flower for most of August.

Goose-neck loosestrife, not to be confused with the invasive purple loosestrife, is just starting.

Here are the rejuvenated rockers and square table. The round table is not wood but looks like wood. It's probably rot resistant polyvinyl chloride.  Maizie is quite unimpressed with the work.

Nice gold color on this hybrid daylily.

Four colors of phlox, the white is a hydrangea.

Nice sky tonight silhouettes the weather vane.

Monday, July 25, 2016


7-25-16 VERMONT: We came back from Maine Friday afternoon in time to collect the dogs from the boarding kennel in Orford and after a brief visit to Melissa and Dick in their new home in Durham, NH. They are still in the brown box stage of moving. We missed Melissa, who was out on errands.

Saturday I started the repair of the small table that hangs out with the repaired rockers. In the late afternoon the sky darkened and the wind started to blow from the west and blew harder and harder. Sticks and branches rained down on the yard, and in the garage they were rattling the roof. I thought the microburst, as it was later characterized, would knock down power lines, and a moment later the generator went on.

The generator went off 27 hours later when the power came back on. I was pleased that it ran without any issues. The next morning I finished the table, in time for dinner on the deck with Jane and Ken and Donna and Bruce. We planned to eat on the deck for the light, but the power came on just before dinner. The weather has been beautiful except for no rain. The windstorm gave us a total of three drops of rain. Yesterday afternoon I watered everything. So everything was fine except for one big sugar maple in the pasture that was flattened.

It was a beautiful tree that had appeared in many of my pix of the yard and pond. It had donated sap to Steve’s sugaring work each spring. I have pix of it with an owl and earlier with a blue heron in it. It was home to many songbirds every year. Now we have to get it chopped up.

New blooms: meadow rue [Thalictrum delavyi not T. aquilegiifolium which is a month earlier], golden rod, soapwort, Queen Anne’s lace, black-eyed susan, ligularia, Indian pipe.

A very big sugar maple came down in the storm. Judy is standing by the roots. If she went down into the hole, you could only see her head.

The maple is taller, lying on its side, than the apple trees in front of it are standing up.

Bee balm looking very red.

Ligularia stenocephala is happy in the shade. It blooms a few weeks before L. dentata.

Fritillary and wasp sharing the coneflower.

Soapwort is a common roadside bloomer at this time in the season.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Southwest Harbor.

7-21-16 SOUTHWEST HARBOR, MAINE: We arrived in the evening Tuesday in time for dinner at XYZ, a great Mexican eatery. Lunch was at Bob’s Clam Box in Kittery, a must stop for us on any trip through the area.

Ken and Carol are gracious hosts keeping us busy with activities. We hiked in the morning and boated in the afternoon on Wednesday, and hiked this morning. This afternoon Ken and I sailed on Ranger, his hot new sailboat, which is winning races here and anywhere else it goes. Us old codgers were assisted by Drew, Ken’s regular crewman.

We have seen birds, butterflies and a garden full of flowers. The weather has been perfect, sunny and breezy. Dinner yesterday was at Eat-A-Pita in the town of Southwest Harbor. If you’re ever there, get the haddock.

I-95 on the way to Maine. [JWF image]

Full moon in Southwest Harbor.

Hikers. Charlie Brown's kite is on top of that spruce tree.

View from Ken and Carol's terrace.

In Bernard for lunch at Thurston's.

Racing on Western Way between Great Cranberry Island and Southwest Harbor.

Osprey nest Southwest Harbor.

Sailing on Ranger.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Off to Maine.

7-18-16 VERMONT: I finished the rockers and they look pretty good back on the terrace. They make the little table that they share the terrace with look dingy so I’ll have to do that one too.

We are off to Maine to visit Ken and Carol. Here is catch-up on recent pix.

Delphiniums are 6 feet tall with vibrant color.

Bee balm, monarda, will last most of August. We have four shades of red. They are a fav of hummers.

Hybrid daylily offer a variety of colors, petal sizes and shapes and bloom times.

Meadowsweet is a volunteer all over the yard and pasture. I don't think that is a pollinator, but a pollinator hunter, each tuft has one or two of these beetles.

This chipmunk is 10 ft up this honeysuckle bush eating those red berries.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Birds, Birds, Birds.

7-17-16 VERMONT: I have started catching up on maintenance chores. Today I washed and primed the three rockers that live on the terrace and have been out in the weather for some years. The seats are rotting out so I pulled them off and will rebuild them, but the rest of the white-painted rockers were peeling and mildewed. Tomorrow I may finish paint them and redo the seats.

It’s been a week for birds. The barn swallow chicks, I think I showed a pic a few days ago, are now approaching maturity. The five chicks are looking crowed in the nest, and the parents are back and forth all day long with tasty bugs. The parents fly in, feed some chick and fly back out without landing on the nest. In a few minutes they’re back, one or the other, with more food. I felt a sense of urgency just watching them.

Walking around the pasture, we see lots of other bird activity and many immature birds fluttering around on the new wings looking quite clumsy.

Today while working on the rockers, I saw a bird hopping from branch to branch in the trees and shrubs around the driveway. There were a couple flashes of bright color, so I went for the camera and got a couple pix. I think it’s an oriole, maturing male, so I put out the oriole feeder from a few years ago when we also had a couple of orioles.
Check the pix on the blog and help with the ID’s, anyone.

New blooms: more hybrid daylilies, clematis, first phlox.

Five barn swallows in the nest, in the barn, of course. The parents are working their butts off keeping them fed. There are a couple videos on FB.

White-throated sparrow, juvenile or ???

Savannah sparrow, juvenile or ???

Baltimore Oriole above and below, maturing male or ???

Pickerel weed with UFB.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

New Additions.

7-13-16 VERMONT: Now it’s hot again. We reached 90° this afternoon, and it’s humid. July being July. There’s a chance of rain tonight. Yesterday I planted the bed that the cotoneasters vacated.

The bed, a small triangle in front of the new house, gets a couple hours of sun at midday. I put four big leaf asters, Aster macrophyllus, at the back in the shadiest part of the bed. Four foxgloves, Digitalis purpurea, two ‘Candy Mountain’ and two ‘Snowy Mountain’ went in the middle of the bed. A garden heliotrope, Valeriana officinalis went in front for the most sun, and a meadow anemone, Anenome canadensis, is also hiding in the shade.

That is probably the last planting I will do this summer. At the end of the summer the nurseries all have sales. It’s very tempting to get and plant cheap stuff, but late season perennials usually don’t survive the winters here. Last August I planted 22 perennials in various places, and only seven popped up in the spring—not a high enough Planting Average.

Erin and Megan headed off to Boston this morning after their Mt. Moosilauke adventure yesterday.

New blooms: monarda, delphinium, ‘purple rain’ salvia, catmint.

Evening primrose opens at night and is done by the next noon, so it must have some nocturnal pollinator. It is a biennial that seeds itself, like hollyhocks. These two are just opening.

One of the early blooming hostas between two other, different hostas.

Pastel-hued summer azalea.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Party Girl.

7-11-16 VERMONT: The party was a huge success, even if it was inside in the rain. There were about 70 people, neighbors and friends. There was lots of food and drink with guests from as far away as New Jersey and Africa. Judy was lightly roasted by Val, Alison, Lily, Maggie, Lucy and me. Anna sent an electronic message via Alison. Sunday was more cleanup after the Saturday night cleanup. The pasture is now back in Brady’s control, the parking signs are back in the garage, the temporary tables are dis-assembled, the recycling is sorted, and the last weekend guests left this morning.

Erin and Megan arrived this afternoon and left for the Fairlee drive-in after dinner. They had a sunny day, the first one since Thursday. The whole weekend was rainy and cold, we got about 1.5 inches of much-needed rain. We had fires in the fireplaces during the party. Did I mention that it’s July?

Meanwhile back in the beds, I moved four cotoneasters from the front of the new house where they had been struggling for years and re-planted them around the tree hydrangea that marks the pet cemetery. It’s a spot that gets more sun than they were getting before. And now I have a new bed to plant.

Over the weekend two people asked if the orange, native daylilies were ‘tiger lilies’. They’re not. Daylilies are in the genus Hemerocallis and grow from roots that form clumps and are hardy and reliable perennials. There’s more info at the American Hemerocallis Society web site.

Tiger lilies are in the genus Lilium and grow from bulbs and are less hardy, certainly less hardy in VT. The flowers are inverted and have dark spots. I have had both, but the tiger lily bulbs were eaten by something, and the plants were eaten by the scarlet lily beetle before the bulbs disappeared.

New blooms: mallow, evening primrose, summer azalea, hybrid daylily.

Thursday night sunset after a little rain. This was the last time we saw the sky until Monday.

Filipendula, a slight variation on the earlier one from last week.

Mallow will bloom most of the rest of the summer.

Anyone for red in a daylily?