27 June 2007

night lights

These days the trip back to the city feels much longer than the trip north . . .

salad days

We've been taking a basket full of greens from B's garden every weekend. In B's opinion lettuce is almost as satisfying a crop as potatoes. This past Saturday we also ate turnips and peas from the garden.

papilio polyxenes

Man, what a dirty thumbnail. But what a beautiful Black Swallowtail larva!

endless summer

On the way back to Pleasant Hill from the lake house, B and I stopped off at Brookside Nursery in Ballston Spa to buy two "Endless Summer" hydrangeas for either side of the front door, an anniversary present from each of us to the other. I planted them on Sunday afternoon—positioned them carefully, dug nice deep holes to which I added compost, sprinkled some aluminum sulfate on the soil surface and scratched it in (on the recommendation of someone at the nursery), and then watered the two plants deeply. Here's the one on the south side of the front porch. Looks nice!

All is well, right? Well . . .

The one on the south side of the porch looks absolutely fine, not like his brother on the north side, unfortunately, who has lots of brown leaves, but seems otherwise all right. My first thought was that perhaps the bush on the north side is getting more sun, but that seems unlikely, as the two are planted about ten feet apart and get approximately the same amount of morning sunlight. Then I read around a bit on the Web about aluminum sulfate, which will burn if inadvertently sprinkled onto foliage. I'm usually pretty careful about things like that, so it seems unlikely to me that I apparently sprinkled it with abandon on the one and not the other, but one never knows, does one?

saga of the docka

Two Saturdays ago, B (who's taking the picture), Dale (on the dock), and I met up with my brother C and his dog, Paddy (on the shore), and my parents at their lake house to engage in the age-old, annual struggle with the dock, which must be moved in and out of the lake as the water level falls and rises. C, Dad, and Mom had, the week before, begun to position it, but after seven hours of fighting a heavy wind decided to regroup.

So on Saturday, 16 June, we gathered at the water's edge, come-along, pliers, and hammer in hand, to move the dock and the two connectors into place. The wind waited to blow until after we'd wrestled the pieces into the water and cotter-pinned them together, and then it puffed only enough to dry our barely moist brows. Actually, it was a perfect day. As is our wont, B and I forgot to pack our bathing suits, so we contented ourselves with dunking our feet in the water, the temperature of which was ideal.

Dale, who does not like the water . . . yet, was nevertheless, let us say, convinced to test it a few times. To be honest, though, he was much more interested in the chipmunks and squirrels whistling and chattering at him all morning.

14 June 2007

eleven years!

O you whom I often and silently come where you are, that I may be with you;

As I walk by your side, or sit near, or remain in the same room with you,

Little you know the subtle electric fire that for your sake is playing within me.

—Walt Whitman

13 June 2007

what a difference a day (or two weeks) makes . . .

. . . a better angle and less intense sunlight doesn't hurt either.

12 June 2007

helianthus on the move

Our friend Alan saw a picture of Helianthus "Lemon Queen" on our computer a few weeks back and asked whether he might have a bit of it for his rooftop garden. I dug some from one of our rapidly proliferating clumps and potted it up for him. Took the time to cut back the leaves to minimize stress on the plant, which B thinks is needless mutilation, but I think does the plant good by minimizing stress on it (I also nip back annuals when I plant them out, which causes B great agony). Alan potted it up, has been keeping a close eye on it, and called last Thursday to say that it's sending out lots of new leaves and seems to be settling in very well and would I like to come and see it?

I dropped my stuff at home after work, grabbed my camera, and headed for Alan's, where I took some pictures of the Helianthus and other plants he's growing on the roof of his apartment building. It's a remarkable garden; and all the more so for the fact that Alan has lugged pots, soil, and plants up six flights of stairs to create it.

Alan loves roses and has lots that bloom in May and June, including this rambler, which is called "America." In addition, he has a number of pots of "Zephirine Drouhin," a light pink Bourbon rose that has an intense fragrance during the day. Unfortunately, I never get a good whiff of it as most of my visits to Alan's garden occur in the evenings.

Near the "America" rose above are three pots of this gorgeous lavender. I don't know the name of the particular variety, but the color is every bit as intense as the picture indicates.

Here's the Helianthus, which looks pretty darn happy in its new home on the sunny roof. I can't wait to see how it does. If Alan pays as much attention to it as he does to all of his other plants, it will do very well indeed. Hope it blooms for him this summer.

Alan's friend Z is an aficionado of Alan's efforts on the roof. In the lower right you can see a few of the eight pots of "Yours Truly" geraniums that Alan trekked in from Yonkers. The rose in the foreground is "Jeanne Lajoie," a miniature double pink rose. Very pretty.

Ah! Eryngium "Sapphire Blue." Alan bought his last year at the same time I bought mine. Mine has had a slow start, though, because I planted it at the back of the perennial border, and it was partially shaded for most of the summer. Alan's is in full sun, of course, and is already beginning to bloom. I'm blown away by how strange and wonderful the blue bracts look.

Alan also grows vegetables and herbs. The year before last he grew wheat and corn. Yes, that's right: wheat and corn. Quite a sight on a roof in Greenwich Village. This year he's growing tomatoes. Here's a flower on one of his "Brandywine" plants. We plant tomatoes, too, and B loves all the heirloom varieties like "Brandywine," "Green Zebra," and so forth, but in zone 4 these old varieties don't begin to ripen until late August or September, right around the time the first frost occurs! I exaggerate a little, but . . . only a little.

Finally, a shy Alan hanging out under the grape arbor. Amazing garden, eh?

peegee hydrangea: r.i.p.

Well, it's June, and the PeeGee hydrangea has not leafed out.

I guess I girdled it with the weed-whacker last year (casualty #2 from the weed-whacker). The branches are all dried out . . . no leaves . . . the bark all around the bottom is gone. It almost looks like it was chewed off. Hmmm. Is it possible that perhaps I didn't weed-whack it? Perhaps maybe some small animal like a vole girdled it over the winter? Do voles girdle PeeGee hydrangeas? Can you believe I managed to work the words "vole," "girdle," and "PeeGee" into a five-word sentence that actually makes sense?

At any rate (with apologies to Monty Python), this PeeGee is no more. It has ceased to be. It's kicked the bucket. It's shuffled off its mortal coil. This is an ex-PeeGee.

I mourn the PeeGee.

* * *

Now, moving on, what to put in its place? B suggests a nice new lilac. I'm wondering about an old-fashioned bridal-wreath spirea. I know there are about a hundred more interesting bushes we could plant, but we do love the old things.

06 June 2007

dame's rocket . . .

. . . in bloom under the lilacs.

05 June 2007

flowers this weekend

We had some friends over for lunch on Sunday afternoon, so before they arrived, B went out to cut a few flowers for the table. We're at that awkward time between the daffodils/tulips and the early summer blooms, or so we thought. Lots of tufts of greenery, not many flowers yet. As I say, B went out with a pair of scissors to see what he could find. Some nice lupine is in bloom, always gorgeous, and the bearded iris in the peony bed are also out. I asked B not to cut the iris, though, because there are so few blossoms, and when the first fades, the next one is only about two inches down the stem, and if you cut the one, you cut them all, and blah blah. B was kind enough to indulge me, but he did find some wild-looking ones in front of the stone wall near the L&S slope. So this is what he put together. The flowers look nice, but I think the way he arranged them is extra-fine. There's the lupine, of course, and the iris, but then also a stray geranium, some Nepeta "Walker's Low," a "Joseph's Coat" rose (to the right), a little honeysuckle ringing the bottom, and then Dame's Rocket (Hesperis matronalis), which looks somewhat like garden phlox, but whose flowers have four petals (instead of five) and which blooms in May and June instead of in high summer. Mr. Robinson called it false phlox. It's blooming everywhere in Washington County right now.