Friday, November 17, 2017

White, Red and Yellow.

11-17-17 SHORT HILLS: As the season winds down there’s less garden news to report. It has been cold, appropriate for November, with some rain and windy days. I spent a couple hours picking fallen branches off the shrubs and another bit of pruning.

Yesterday it was warmer in the afternoon, above 50°, so I painted the wrought iron patio furniture. I used exactly one quart of white Rustoleum.

We had Sunday night dinner at Bette and Lonnie’s. Thanks again, Bette. Tuesday night was a T-o-A dinner with Bill and Lynn.

Every year the forsythia show a few blooms in the fall. Typically, it happens after a cold snap and a subsequent warm-up. It doesn’t detract from the usual spring yellow glory.

New blooms: forsythia.

Nuthatch in classic pose, waiting a turn at the feeder.

Warm days after a cold snap fools a few forsythia buds into opening in the wrong season. It happens every year.

There's still red.

Painting the patio furniture took me all afternoon. I needed a day above 50° for the paint to dry.

Sunday, November 12, 2017


11-12-17 SHORT HILLS: I gave up on doing anything else outside in Vermont and came back to NJ. The pond was frozen over yesterday morning in Vermont when the temp was 12° and had possibly been lower overnight. I’m sure it will warm up again in a week or so.

Early November was unusually warm, and then mid-November gave us an Arctic blast. It’s apparent to me that Climate Change is marked by unpredictable and severe extremes. They say, ‘Climate is what you expect, and weather is what you get.’ That has never been truer, especially considering those intense hurricanes a few months ago.

The pond is frozen over after a night in the teens. I'm sure it will open up again when it warms up in a week or so.

Friday, November 10, 2017


11-10-17 VERMONT: Fortunately I finished the garden beds yesterday because an arctic front came through during the night. Rain that preceded the front turned to snow when the temp fell into the twenties. The wind is blowing in the twenties with gusts much higher. We had one brief power outage earlier.

I’d like to clear the culvert, but the ‘feels like’ temp is 9°. The amount of snow is negligible, but it’s the first one of the year, more to come.

The hooded merganser was back on the pond this morning, oblivious to the cold and wind. I saw a pileated woodpecker several times this week working the apple trees along with the other birds.

The hooded merganser was back today in the wind, snow and cold. The surface of the pond has been shivering ion the wind.

'Winter is Coming.'

A dusting on the beds that I just cleaned out.

Not a day for rocking.

The wind is blowing like crazy.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Colder Nights.

11-8-17 VERMONT: I did the front of the houses, the west side beds, yesterday, and dumped three more cartloads of cuttings in the pasture. I dump those cuttings and prunings in holes and wet spots in the pasture in the hope that the organic matter will end up as soil filling the hole slightly. I have almost worked my way around the house. A couple more flowers still open include lamium and red clover.

Last night it was in the mid twenties, and today it’s in the low thirties—that’s November weather.

There was a hooded merganser on the pond for almost a full day including an over-night. She, or possibly and non-breeding male, did a lot of diving and frequently came up with something that took her a few minutes to swallow, perhaps a frog or crawfish. The pix from the first day, which was dark and rainy, were poor, but the next day provided better light and better pix.

Lots of birds, especially the robins, are hanging out in the apple trees fattening up on the crab apples. I guess they’re bulking up for the big commute.

Hooded merganser spent almost a whole day in the pond, frequently diving for food, crawfish?

Either it's a female or a non-breeding male.

The front of the house before clean-up.

A flock of a dozen robins have been in the apple trees gobbling up the little apples.

After the clean-up.

Monday, November 06, 2017

Another Rainy Day

11-6-17 VERMONT: It’s raining again today, so I’m inside for now. I have put in three days and cleaned up the beds on the east side of the house and am working on the beds on the north end and the terrace. I think there have been six cartloads of cuttings dumped in the pasture.

Brady left for home yesterday. I hope he’s back next summer, at thirty it’s iffy for a horse. I forgot to mention some other flowers still in bloom: geranium, feverfew, foxglove. The next several night are supposed to be in the twenties, so good frosts should make the rest of the perennials shut down.

This foxglove has been blooming all season. I hope it survives the winter.

The mowed pasture looks so clean. I'm always torn between keeping it looking tidy or enjoying the wild flower summer sequence.

The leaves are almost all down. The rain storm is clearing up.

Brady the horse in his raincoat. He has now moved back to his winter digs.

Here are some of those beds from the last post now cleaned up. There is still some green stuff, either perennials not yet dormant or biennials waiting for next spring like that foxglove by the second step. The clean up is not just chopping every thing down.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Vermont in the Rain.

11-3-17 VERMONT: I came up yesterday to do the fall clean up, but it’s raining this morning. As much as I want to be outside, it’s hard to garden while holding an umbrella. There was a storm here a few days ago and trees fell, taking out the power and phone service, now restored. Branches rained down on the yard, along with the rain.

Usually at this point in the year, there have been several frosts, but this year only one. Lots of perennials are still green. Only a handful of plants still have flowers: roses, cimicfuga, loosestrife. The pond is full and draining. The pasture has been mowed and looks very tidy. Brady the horse is still here because the grass is still green. The culvert is half full of sand and gravel.

Some shrubs still have faded green leaves, but most of the trees are bare. The beech are holding onto their brown leaves as usual. The Japanese maple that I planted by the edge of the pond years ago is still eking out a living from the rock and is maybe three feet tall at his point. It is incredibly red at the moment.

Vivid red, amidst fading green, yellow and brown.

The Japanese maple, two decades old, and spruce to its left, four or more decades, are both surviving with toe holds in the rock. They are natural bonsai trees. The three hemlocks to the right are all much bigger and younger.

End of the season beds above and below are calling out for a clean up.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

November Begins.

11-1-17 SHORT HILLS: After a long fairly dry spell, we have had rain, about four inches in the last week, and more on the way. It’s all welcome. The foundation shrubs took a beating with the work on the house, but the rain has them perking up. The ash and walnut trees are mostly bare, but the other tree species are just starting to drop. By the end of this month, most of the leaves will be down.

We saw a show Saturday night, The Band’s Visit. Tony Shalhoub plays an Egyptian bandleader, Tewfiq, the band is trying to get to a gig at an Israeli town, but ends up in a desert backwater by mistake. Dina, Katrina Lenk, and the townspeople interact with the band. It was sweet if unheard of outside the Barrymore Theatre, and it had some nice music.

Get ready for Standard Time to return on Sunday and darkness at 5 PM.

Color from the burning bushes is quite evident on a cloudy day.

The yard has lots of trees and shrubs and the lawn is just to fill the area in between the trees and shrubs.

About half the leaves are down, almost all of the rest will fall this month.

Walking around Times Square before dinner, we caught a street show. That's a performer jumping over several people from the crowd.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


10-26-17 SHORT HILLS: The madness has passed. The house has been roofed, painted, repaired, guttered and leadered. All the workman have taken away all the trash, tools, extra material, trucks, garbage and whatever. Damage to the plumbing and shrubs has been repaired, only in part for the shrubs. After they all left, I went around the outside of the house trimming broken branches and picking up more trash, two bags full, that they had missed. Now we wait a month for the window replacement.

While the work was ongoing, the weather was mostly dry, but since, we have had a bit of much needed rain. We have a fair amount of color here, and lots of trees, ash and walnut, are bare.

I saw Turandot last night with S-I-L Steve at the Met. Judy passed on the opera because of injuries from a recent fall. She will be fine, hopefully soon. The Zepharelli production is gorgeous and dazzling. Puccini would have been proud. The sets, costumes and staging were the way I remember the Met from years ago, extravagant and elaborate. The orchestra, under Carlo Rizzi and the two female leads, Oksana Dyka and Maria Agresta were especially good. Sadly, ten to fifteen percent of the seats were empty.

New blooms: witch-hazel.

Here's the house from the back with new roof, gutters and leaders, and paint job....

,,,,and from the front.

Burning bush in front is still green, but the one immediately behind is afire.

Burning bush and sugar maple.

Lincoln Center Plaza at the start of Turandot.

Curtain calls, anyone need a Halloween costume?

Dazzling sets for Turandot.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

More Fall in Vermont.

10-17-17 VERMONT: We have combined chores with leaf peeping. Judy and I put all the outdoor benches away. I did a last pond treatment. I pulled most of the bed guards and all the plant supports. We drove up to Stowe to look for color, on Phyllis’ suggestion, and found one stretch of Rte. 108 that had a lot of red. We drove back on Rte. 100 along the edge of the Green Mountain National Forest and then took Bethel Mountain Rd. back to Sharon. It was all beautiful, deep valleys, mountain streams, waterfalls, mountain top views, but only scattered areas of color.

I sawed up the big broken limb of the red maple in the yard and a couple downed trees in the pasture, all on one tank of chainsaw fuel. The cut up pasture trees I just moved to the edge of the woody areas so that the pasture can be mowed. The big branch in the yard I cut up for the woodpile and split it the next day. The rotted parts and branch debris got dumped on the compost piles.

We had a couple days with Phil and Jackie, visiting from Arizona. We took Phil to see the alpacas and llamas at Janet and Bill’s.

Judy picked a last batch of tomatoes and made pesto with garden basil, just before a frost hit the garden last night. We need more frost to encourage the garden plants to go dormant so I can do the clean up in November. The fish are still active in the pond, and a flock of robins are eating crab apples.

Judy went back to NJ today, and I go tomorrow.

New blooms: witchhazel.

Some color our trip to Stowe.

The grass is still green, even if the leaves are turning.

Nice red and orange.

Not a selfie.

Witchhazel has tiny, late season flowers. They're easy to miss.

This foxglove has been blooming all season. I hope it survives the winter.

Lily the palomino, lives up the street.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Leaf Peeping Week.

10-12-17 VERMONT: We came up yesterday arriving before the overnight rain. It was in the forties, and then the thirties at night, which was a big change from the eighties we have been used to in NJ. Today was totally sunny, in the sixties, and with no wind.

After a bunch of errands this morning, we drove around this afternoon, hitting Sharon, Pomfret, Woodstock, Quechee and Hartford looking for color. It was a bit disappointing. There was a lot of yellow and brown, but little red or orange. I’m not sure if we are too early or too late. The color on our road is as good as any we saw on the loop.

In the afternoon I put up the storm door glass and took down the screen doors. We have a broken fence post that I will have replaced. The red maple that gives our best color lost a big branch that I will cut up and compost. Judy was busy converting the house from summer bed linens to winter. We put the canoe away in the barn this morning. The dogs love the cool weather, all the run-around space and the pond.

The apple trees are heavy with fruit, and Brady the horse is gobbling up any apples that fall on the pasture side of the fence. The birds are busy in the crab apple trees eating the small fruit. The pine trees are loaded with cones.

In bloom: asters, cimicfuga, boltonia, feverfew, sedum, chrysanthemum, helenium, black-eyed susan, echinacea, foxglove.

Early morning  of the tree line behind the pasture and Mt. Lafayette in the distance.

Aster with good color.

Cimicfuga, also called black snakeroot or black cohosh, is a late bloomer getting a lot of attention today from bees and other pollinators.

The colors are always better in the reflections.

Red maple at peak.

Deep blue cloudless sky.

Bright afternoon sun and deep shadows.