Monday, May 22, 2017

The Year of the Apple.

5-22-17 VERMONT: There was a lot of rain today. I did get out in mid-morning during a dry moment to buy tomatoes and herbs and a few flowers. Yesterday was nicer, and I planted a few things that I had brought up from the Farm in NJ. Conditions were actually dry yesterday, and I watered after planting.

I put another clematis, C. ‘Rhapsody’, at he north end of the deck next to the red clematis from last trip. This one is blue. I added a delphinium, D. x cultorum ‘Magic Fountains Mix’, to the delphinium cluster, and I added two hollyhocks to the bed below the deck, Alcea rosea ‘Single’ and ‘Chater’s Double Group Pink’. Some weeding also removed dandelions from the beds.

All the apple trees, including some trees I didn’t know were apples, are in bloom, and they are all covered in flowers. If the flowers indicate how much fruit we will get, it will be a gigantic apple crop, not only for us, but for the horses, deer, turkeys, other birds and anything else that eats apples.

New blooms: lilac, Mohican viburnum, spurge, quince, tiarella.

If the flowers end up as fruit, this will be a huge year for apples for us, the browsers and birds.

Lilac just opening.

Another apple, this one makes cherry-sized fruit, other trees in the background.

The only thing resembling sun today is spurge.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Maggie's Hampshire Graduation.

5-20-17 VERMONT: We’re back from an overnight trip to Amherst and Northampton for Maggie’s graduation from Hampshire College. Judy and I got there about noon on Friday, checked into the hotel in Northampton and had a quick lunch at Fitzwilly’s before connecting with the grad and fam on the campus in Amherst.

We watched Maggie ring the graduation bell and then present her thesis, title in the last post, at Franklin Patterson Hall. Later we all had an excellent dinner at Chez Albert in Amherst. Lucy got to practice her French with the waiter.

The actual ceremony was the next morning under a very big tent, a metaphor for Hampshire College. A few graduates actually wore caps-and-gowns but most went non-traditional in costume and hairstyle to extremely non-traditional. The Keynote address was by Princeton prof Keesanga-Yamahtta Taylor, and was quite stirring. Check it out on YouTube. After the reception, we headed back to VT.

Maggie after Graduating.

Ringing the bell is a Hampshire College graduation tradition.

The six of us, don't you think the grandparents should have been the ones sitting down?

Judy and I had lunch at Fitzwilly's in Northampton and admired the food related art work. This apple looks familiar and reminds me of something, but I can't just put my finger on it.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Heat Wave.

5-18-17 VERMONT: We came north today to Vermont, but go back south to Massachusetts tomorrow for Maggie’s Graduation from Hampshire College. We hope to get there in time to hear her present her thesis, which is entitled:

So Cute You’ll Eat it Up!: Cuteness as a Consumable Performance of Femininity in Pop Music.

It’s very interesting, and deals with topics totally foreign to me and to which I was oblivious. If anyone is interested, I can forward a copy.

It’s in the nineties today, even up here, but cools off tomorrow. Things are pretty much in order. I won’t get to do anything until after the graduation weekend. I will list everything currently in bloom rather than try to just list the new flowers.

In bloom: azalea, purple, white and yellow violets, purple and yellow lamium, pachysandra, vinca, Virginia blue bells, trillium, sweet woodruff, forget-me-not, thyme, clematis, star magnolia, bleeding heart, apple.

Virginia blue bells seem to love it in Vermont. A few I brought up from NJ have spread all over the yard. Too bad they don't last all summer.

Trillium makes alternating equilateral triangles with its petals and leaves. It also comes in red and a hybrid pink.

Bleeding heart has also spread widely throughout the flower beds, and it's quite welcome. It blooms for a long time and remains bushy all season.

Star magnolia. The last time I was here, I showed one partly open. This one is one of the last to appear.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Rain Finally Stopped.

5-16-17 SHORT HILLS: After many rainy, cold days, we got a nice one today with sun and warmth. There was about three inches of rain over the last week followed by high winds yesterday.

I’ve been up to the usual chores, pruning, weeding, etc.

Judy and I hosted Mothers Day with Alison, Dan, Lily, Steve, Maggie, Val and Lucy in attendance as well as Lily’s friend from Barcelona, Meara. We had a few hours outside before an afternoon shower.

New blooms: Carolina allspice, star-of-Bethlehem, mulberry, wild cherry, hybrid rhododendron.

Another hybrid rhododendron.

Star-of-Bethlehem is a spring flower that vanishes when it gets hot. It stands tall at four inches.

Wild cherry. All those flowers and buds will become fruit that the birds will gobble up.

Catbird in a dogwood, waiting for those cherries.

Carolina allspice has a distinctive aroma and this interesting flower. The flower reminds me of a wood carving for some reason.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Spring in Full Swing.

5-11-17 SHORT HILLS: We’ve been back for a couple days of cloudy skies and jacket weather, hoping for some warm soon. Today I replaced a rotted fence post that had fallen over. Once, I could do several in a day, but now it took most of the day to do just the one. There were a lot of roots and rocks. The hardest job is always getting the remnants of the old post out of the hole.

Yesterday I was back to pruning. I found more clusters of wild garlic mustard both yesterday and today. That makes about six garbage bags full over the last week.

I noticed a few colonies of poison ivy, so I got out the Roundup and sprayed them. I know. I know. It, or something like it, is useful in situations like this. I don’t want to handle the poison ivy, and I don’t want it to persist.

I also use Roundup on wild grape vines, which are all around the area. The vines climb up the desirable trees and shrubs and get thicker and denser, bending them down and strangling growth. You can pull them off the shrubs, which causes damage to leaves and branches, but they will grow back unless you uproot them. But, the roots break off, and there are multiple roots. If you cut off the vine just above its root and spray it, it dies. Gardening is not all blossoms and perfume.

New blooms: May apple, lily-of-the-valley, chestnut.

Vivid crimson azalea and blue ajuga.




May apple.

Azaleas make a statement.

Monday, May 08, 2017

Adding and Dividing.

5-8-17 VERMONT: I’m taking a break from gardening to do this post because it’s hailing at the moment. They’re small hailstones, the size of lentils. Otherwise today is overcast, in the low forties with gusty winds and drizzle. This is the kind of day that makes New Englanders dour and taciturn. Yesterday was warmer, and it only rained a little, but the black flies were out for the first time. Today is too cold for the flies. We had heavy rain on Friday.

I’m figuring out what died over the winter, but it’s still a little early to assume something is dead when it might just be dormant. I did buy and plant a few item from Brown’s Nursery. A clematis, C. vino pulvo9290, went in the little bed on the north side of the deck. Two hollyhocks, Alcea rosea ‘Spotlight Sunshine’ and Alcea ficifolia ‘Happy Lights’, went in the bed below the deck and a delphinium, D. elatum ‘Wilson Flopless’ went next to the other delphiniums in the rock garden.

Yesterday and today I divided the hostas by the front porch. They were so big that they covered the walkway and soaked your feet if you walked through them on the path. The parts that I removed were transplanted to spots that needed hostas. This is the only time to do this task because the hostas are up about a inch and can be seen, but not so tall that you can’t see what you’re doing.

New blooms: star magnolia, service berry, violets, trout lily.

Star Magnolia is just opening. This is the only magnolia hardy in this Zone. With a few more years of Climate Change we may have Southern Magnolias growing here.

Service berry is the taller, white-flowered bush on the left and the Star Magnolias are on the right.

Equisetum, Horse Tail, is a remnant plant from the Carboniferous Period, some 300 million years ago. Trees, like this plant, up to 100 feet tall, dominated the forests and swamps also populated by giant amphibians. Those forests ended up as coal. This little guy is truly a living fossil. These brown stalks are about to pop open with green fringe.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Beethoven before Vermont.

5-4-17 VERMONT: We drove up today in sunshine that has disappeared as the sky became overcast. Rain tomorrow, I think. Since I was last here, everything is showing itself, except for the late sleepers. For some plants you have to wait until June before giving up and pronouncing them dead.

We walked around the yard and pasture with the dogs, and I took pix of the new flowers and surveyed what’s alive so far. The pond flood from the last Vermont posts may have killed some pond-side flowers, again, too soon to say. Maples, birches, elms and willows are showing early leaves.

Last night we were at Lincoln Center, Geffen Hall, for the NY Philharmonic. They did Beethoven’s Ninth, The Choral Symphony in D minor, a favorite of everyone including the audience last night. I have to note that there was applause between the first and second movements and between the second and third movements, not done, people, save it for the end. We are used to that from the concert-goers in NJ at NJPAC, but never in NYC. The Ninth was preceded by Schoenberg’s A Survivor from Warsaw, Op. 46. The Westminster Symphonic Choir accompanied the orchestra and the four soloists.

New blooms, in NJ since 5-2: wild strawberry, white spirea.

New blooms, VT: pulmonaria, wild ginger, vinca minor, daffodil, hepatica, pachysandra, blood root, forsythia, English primrose, red trillium.

This cluster of daffodils has more flowers than our entire yard in NJ did this spring because of the early warmth and later freeze.

English primrose. P. vulgaris, is an early bloomer ,while the Japanese primroses are just showing their first leaves.

Blood root is an early and short-lived bloom. the leaves above and below are unusual.

Double blood root. The roots have red sap, hence the name.

The ground-hugging flower of wild ginger must attract some pollinator, but who? Worms? Ants? Beetles?

The whole ginger plant.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Nasty Garlic Mustard.

5-2-17 SHORT HILLS: Saturday night we had Bette and Lonnie and Ellen and Bruce here for dinner. All the deaf guys could hear everything. Sunday we dog walked at Loantaka Park and saw lots of birds in the forest and around the lake, including many red-wing blackbirds, eastern kingbird, catbird, swallows, the swan, a great egret, mallards, robins.

Yesterday I did more pruning, and today I pulled up all the wild garlic mustard in the yard. The weed is an alien invader, very aggressive and spreads rapidly. I was glad to see that something has been eating it, possibly woodchuck, rabbit or deer. I filled four garbage bags and believe it is all gone for the moment, but doubtless, more will turn up. I drove by the local water reserve later, it has extensive growth clusters of the weed.

New blooms: hawthorn, Solomon seal, sweet woodruff, ajuga, leucothoe, deutzia, red twig dogwood, viburnums—siebold, doublefile, tea.

Mute swan cuts a wake.

Red-wing blackbird, immature male just getting mature.


Azalea color above and below...