Memorial Day Monday, May 29 2017 

I contemplated a variety of musical selections from the Star Spangled Banner to Dixie, from Ashokan Farewell to God Bless Robert E. Lee but…I’m a Commonwealth Yankee and an Anglican to boot, and distant from the popular mood in both the US and the UK. So:

 

Pruning Sunday, May 28 2017 

Getting there! I got the dead wood out of the River Birch and made it so that the Red Maple doesn’t completely impinge on the drive way. What is nice is that neither tree looks the worse for it, they simply look as they ought to.

A good day, pleasant to spend the entire afternoon outside doing this bit of gardening or that. Now if only I had picked up the brush pile…..tomorrow, I promise! Weeds are much easier to deal with, I make a point of having a five gallon bucket to hand while weeding. By the time I’ve filled it, I need to stretch (or stop) and so the walk to compost heap with the bucket suits admirably. And no piles that have to be cleaned up at the end when one is too tired to do so.

Moveable points of interest Friday, May 26 2017 

From the archives, they were fun to photograph!

Truly odd Thursday, May 25 2017 

I think we must have an itchy bear. I have found two trees that have been pushed over, both in the same night. Both about three to four inches in diameter, one a hemlock and the other a alternate leaf (pagoda) dogwood. Both pushed over to about a forty five degree angle. Both on paths. Neither in locations with any sort of wind loading, nor has there been any wind. The dogwood I was able to get firmly upright again, the hemlock not so much. No rub marks in the manner of a deer on the actual trunk, though one broken branch on the dogwood. Nor any hoof prints in the area. Just…pushed over. Odd.

Keeping paths clear Wednesday, May 24 2017 

Clearly I need to walk certain paths more often, this one doesn’t look like this this year, much more ground vegetation…oops. Of course I think this picture was taken at around the time we had a garden tour and some other things going on, more activity in general. It is useful to look back through and see what has changed, not so much good or bad, but simply changed.

Two Years Sunday, May 21 2017 

Two years since my current project got underway!* Seen a fair bit of northwestern Connecticut, and learned a lot, it has also been the cause for jump starting any number of projects here. Good things out of a most unexpected, random connection caused originally by a difficult neighbor.

*Actually it has been more than two years, by several months, but two years for the field work portion, which is the important bit here.

Regarding bugs Friday, May 19 2017 

or specifically green caterpillars. I try very hard to mostly let the insects and the plants grow together, on the theory that a balance is usually struck if, and only if, one can leave it alone. There are exceptions of course (usually in the vegetable garden) in the flower garden there is a particular standout.* Every year like clockwork at some point between Mother’s Day and Memorial Day the green caterpillars hit the Exbury Hybrid and the Swamp Azaleas.  They’ll eat any deciduous azalea, but those two types are their favorites.

Overnight they appear, and the next night they can and will defoliate a full sized shrub. Prompt action with Pyrethrin is the best approach, Neem is too slow.  I distinctly recall one year, doing a last check of the garden before a long weekend in Montreal….which led to stopping the car in the driveway and me spraying the azaleas in heels. This year, a cancelled date night led to the happy discovery of them. The biggest yellow Exbury practically writhed with the blasted things when I sprayed it. My timing was good though, dusk and the birds are pretty much in for the night. The leaves will be dry and the caterpillars long gone by morning. (I hope!)

*Leaving aside the Lily Beetles, let’s just not discuss that scourge.

 

Seems a bit excessive Thursday, May 18 2017 

Ninety degrees for two, looks like possibly three, days in a row…brings spring to a close for sure. Now for summer.

On the other hand, thanks to a team effort we will have a vegetable garden of a sort at least this year. I am hoping to get the winter squash bed created this weekend, and planted. Memorial Day for squash always seems to work fairly well. And starting them ahead of time in pots doesn’t really gain anything as far as I can tell.

We’ve had a good year for lilacs, though. Absolutely stunning, especially the big dark purple one.

From Walt Whitman, ‘When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d’ both one of the better elegies and better descriptions of a lilac.

Stanza 3
“In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,
Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle—and from this bush in the dooryard,
With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig with its flower I break.”

May wind Monday, May 15 2017 

Trillium grandiflorum Saturday, May 13 2017 

Our stands of it are blooming quite well this year; though it is shorter in height this year which is probably due to last year’s drought stunting the reserves of the plant.

A slow-growing plant, it is entirely reliant on that set of three leaves on that delicate stem to store energy in the rather small rhizome for next year. One set, one shot for the year. If broken, a mature plant will usually survive, but take years to bloom again. So how does one weed about it if the competing growth threatens to win out? The short answer is carefully. The better answer is with a pair of scissors. I try to clip any competing growth that is within the clump or within an inch or so of the trillium that could overtop it.This gives it the sunlight and more moisture as well as creating a better area for seedling germination.

The seeds may either germinate where they fall (if they get buried deep enough) or may be carried elsewhere, usually by ants (the scent of the seeds is designed to attract them) but sometimes by an animal that has eaten the seed pod.

Our clumps have finally spread beyond one tight group, which is a good thing.

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