Friday, May 28, 2010

Two Beetles

Asian Ladybeetle or Harmonia axyridis.

Anthrenus pimpinellae, or Carpet Beetle. Begins feeding on pollen in May. Let's just hope they stay outside.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Hot Day Today, Changes Afoot

Hot early, high pressure pumping up warm, humid air -classic summertime pattern a wee bit early. That means many of the flowers will begin to fade, especially the roses.

Yesterday, after much looking, my wife and I bought a used 1993 Previa minivan -from a small lot in Brick, NJ. While invested in the idea of not having a carbon-munching vehicle in NYC for the last three years, we finally concluded that we needed it to move our art around. It had been increasingly difficult to affordably and confidently rent vehicles at the last minute. While my dreams were for a new pickup, wagon, or van that got 55mpg, my reality is a used minivan with 150 thousand miles on it. I did my homework, though. The Previa's engine can go to 300K without much trouble, the interior can fit a 4x8 piece of plywood (the gold standard), all while appearing somewhat new due to its funky egg-shaped styling. Due to an unknown tax-credit (the Make Work Pay Credit-part of the stimulus plan), we received double the return that we were expecting, so that we like to say that President Obama bought us our minivan. Thanks Mr. President.

Tomorrow I begin packing my mother, sister and brother-in-law's home for their move to Florida. On Friday, we set out on the road in a 24 foot truck to somewhere near Orlando. I've never been, and certainly never been so close to Disney. I should bring my camera. Posts, however, will be slim to none over the next week. Enjoy the warm weather, this weekend is supposed to be spectacular.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Work On The Side Yard Continues

Pots I haven't used since my greenhouse project.

The pathway, not quite what I had in mind now that it is framed by wooden planters. The stones to the left keep the cats from scatting and squirrels from scratching. Seeded alyssum between.

Dicentra eximia and fern doing quite well in its new spot.

The basil.

The greens, soon to be bush beans.

The tomatoes. One brandywine, two I don't knows, and to the right, unseen, a cherry tomato. I said I wouldn't, but I did. But three instead of eight.

The sage.

Mint thinned and re-potted.

The chives, oregano, and thyme, iris and greens, primrose and fence.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Last summer I bought a bunch of lilies. I'm always trying to order the martagons too late -sold out. Last year, I was on top of it. I bought too many, planting them all over the place. I accidentally chopped a couple up when changing the side yard around. An overzealous trash pail tosser took another out the other day. Yet there's so many growing quite vigorously, and most will be a total surprise -I can't recall what I ordered a year ago. Below, some of the many.

Of course, there's brother-in-law's asiatic, holding its own against an army of millefolium yarrow.

The broken lily. It now sits in water -as if it was mature enough to bloom.

This one is about 32 inches and survived the trash pail toss.

I bought wood the other day. I will make a picket fence to block the flying pails.

This lily is about 40 inches tall.

These I've had for two years, and bloom later. Easily 4 feet when blooming.

These are new and live in the aster patch. Already 3 feet tall.

The first of the new lilies to flower. Lilliputian compared to the others at 18 inches tall.

Lilies are at the top of the garden food chain. Cultivated, rarefied, the elites of the garden.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Return To Fort Tilden

Last Thursday my wife and I took a day. I decided that I wanted to see how much the gardens at Ft. Tilden had changed since last year and since this winter, when they granted me the consolation of 12th place in line for a plot.

Being that we were traveling south, why not stop at Di Fara for a few slices.

Two buses from Ave. J behind us, the first thing we notice is the incredibly sweet smell of the weedy olive trees. They were everywhere along the shore; the onshore breeze carrying the scent inland.

I spotted this tiny-flowered weed at the edge of the garden. Don't know what it is.

The garden hadn't changed much, excepting what naturally changes season to season.

The weeds were down, starting anew.

I began wondering about my 12th place in line. Did I want it?

I could grow a lot of vegetables in this plot.

I thought this one maybe, with its easy-to-pull weeds and tree to shade my rest.

Some plots were cleared, adjacent to those uncleared.

Which probably explains the rubber mat gardener, wary of weeds I suppose.

This is a bean field -no rows, no nothin.

This gardener had nice looking lettuce, but had planted their tomatoes as if they were lettuce.

After checking out the garden, we strolled over to the beach. The onshore breeze was strong, kicking up waves. I found two horseshoe crabs, rather unusual I thought on the south shore.

This one was still fresh, uncleaned by the creatures of the beach.

The rugosa were in bloom.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Nursery Business

Today is my third Saturday at the corner nursery. I joined thinking I'd be able to contribute something positive, be informative. What I've learned is that this is business, and business is one hundred percent about sales, and sales must be fast, many, and big. That pleases Business. Sales God commands that I avoid confusing the customer with details, with the gray area. Do not say more than needs to be said. Don't sell them the wrong plant, mind you, don't lead them astray. But don't tell them about root pruning the fig they really want to put in a pot, just tell them it's best to put it in the ground. Don't confuse them with southerly facing walls, just tell them it's best to wrap the fig in November.

In general I would say most customers at the nursery are repeat customers, buying the same thing they bought last year. They require little to no assistance, unless something is missing. They are buying annuals, hanging baskets, and vegetables -rarely big sales. Trees and shrubs would be big sales and although I am pretty sure J&L is not the place people think of for these things, he does stock a small selection: peach, apple, plum, crape myrtle, cherry, japanese maple, magnolia, birch, rhododendron, azalea, laurel, boxwood, etc, etc.

I wish Larry carried more perennials, interesting varieties, arranged by sun or shade- typical but efficient. It would be helpful if his quart perennials, the best deal in town at 3 for $10, were not so often root-bound. Why so cheap anyway? I found a gardening neighbor looking through them, and I mentioned to her how good of a deal it is. Her response, and rightly so, was that they are all root-bound. Any gardener knows how to deal with this, but why not sell healthy plants at $6.99? It's still lower priced than any other outlet, Home Depot excepted (I can only assume). I suspect it has something to do with where he gets his plants, long-standing business relationships, and Larry's ideas about what our neighborhood will tolerate in terms of plant prices.

Well, I'm out to plant the bush beans, then off to the nursery for my day's work.

Friday, May 21, 2010

New Dawn

New Dawn has exploded while I was away.

And this year it is looking perfect. A man pulled up and asked if I could snip one for his wife.

I wish I had a better place to place it, as it climbs so eagerly, and flops so easily.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Confidence Inspiring...

From a BP senior vice president:

"The first chance to choke off the flow for good should come in about a week. Engineers plan to shoot heavy mud into the crippled blowout preventer on top of the well, then permanently entomb the leak in concrete. If that doesn't work, crews also can shoot golf balls and knotted rope into the nooks and crannies of the device to plug it, Wells said."

That's the plan?

I can imagine the casual friday meeting, maybe on a yacht:

VP: So, uh, what's our course of action in a blowout?

Manager: Well, our first course of action is definitely the large metal cap. If that doesn't work, maybe another kind of metal cap -just smaller.

VP: And if the caps don't work?

Manager: After that, well, mud has shown some promise.

VP: Well, what we really need here is a hole-in-one.

Manager: You know, you may have something there. We could try shooting golf balls into the well!

Nearby Sailor: Aye, matey -don't forget the knotted ropes, nutin plugs a hole like the knotted ropes!

See the whole article here.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Cram Is My Middle Name

Overflowing front yard.

Where the work is. The side yard has a lot still going on. On the bottom left and right we have seedlings from seeds we sowed about two weeks ago. I've been weeding that area weekly. Above are two rectangular boxes that will be for bush beans -our most productive crop. Right now, one is filled with mixed greens. Above that are the irises, moved a month and a half ago, all flowers rotted before bloom. To the right of those, the evening primrose I pulled from a field in Maine 5 years ago. They will bloom on time, this weekend. Climbing hydrangea on the fence line.

On the far left are one of three boxes for tomatoes where the yew tree had been. Pots of herbs, including sage, mint, chives, oregano, thyme, and eventually parsley and basil. Birdhouse given to us by my brother in law two years ago, painted yesterday by my wife, will go on the old telephone pole you see dead center top. Two small-leafed blue hostas upper right, along with some phlox from the front yard, two lilies, aconitum, st. john's wort slowly reviving itself, a seedling sedum, coneflower, gaura, lily turf, and Johnson's blue geranium. Whew!

To the left of the birdhouse: one aster, three ferns, dicentra eximia, daylilies, tickseed, another johnson's blue geranium, and some phlox from the front yard. The two pink flowering plants are the dames rocket I don't mention (deadheading, deadheading). Alyssum seeds were strewn between the path stones. Of course, patio in center. Cram is my middle name.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010


A reader recently sent me these two photos of their young tomatoes. The two images below are of a couple of plants from their container garden in Manhattan.

The question was about the tan spots on the lower leaves.
I think this is simply environmental damage from shifting the tender plants to the outdoors. I think this because the spots are tan, not circular, only on the old leaves, and I do not see other signs of damage. If they follow up, I'll find out if it's continuing to happen- that would change my opinion.

Any ideas?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Sickness Is Boredom

I've been sick with a cold and sinus infection for about 6 days now. Friday's visit to the doctor granted me the antibiotics I need to get this behind me. My job ensures that the sickness will linger, because I cannot take off to recuperate. It's finals, students are streaming in like fast- moving zombies. Working with students is a little like having 50 kids -you keep hearing your name called out while you are busy with something or someone else. They hover until you focus on their problem. You're doing the same thing all day, and it beings to seem incomprehensible that students are unprepared. I do not gripe at any teacher who needs their summers off. You need it to restore your balance after having so much need directed toward you. I wish I had the same opportunity, though, my chair just informed me that I will have to work until August 12.

I was supposed to travel out to my mom's today for mother's day. Instead, I'm staying in, getting that last bit of respite before I have to go back to work tomorrow. It will be 10 hours with the students tomorrow and Wednesday. Worse yet, we will have double the need both days because a student worker inadvertently signed up two students for every machine. We're in for it. The chaos will, I hope, not stress me out to the point of sickness re-constituting itself. Two weeks to go. Two weeks to go.

It seems a nice day out today, despite the wind. After some chicken soup (thankyou Betsy), I will step out and look at the garden. I need to get out of the house, off the couch. Sickness is boredom of the mind and body -even food becomes tasteless.

The growing conditions have been such that everything has been getting rather out of hand. I will need to get my hand back in there, with the pruner, with the twine.

All too many plants and way out of control. Spiderwort, two types of lilies, phlox, three kinds of aster, rudbeckia, sidalcea, and daylilies in this image. Asters will need to be roped-in and cut back. Lilies will need to be straightened up. When summer heat and humidity comes, this population density may turn into disease and decline.

I hacked the knockout rose hard, but it is hard to knock out. Coming back with vengeance.

'New Dawn' is beginning to bloom.

This year it is a monster, way too heavy for its skimpy trellis.

The honeysuckle is blooming, way on top of the rose. It lived here before the rose was plunked down, and has managed to hang on above the rose. I'd move it if I could get to it.

Grandma's tea is blooming more than ever, longer-lived flowers for these cooler days.

Please help me ID this probable weed. I imagine it gets little white and yellow ray flowers. I let it get huge this year, sucker that I am waiting to find out what it is. Gray-green stems, no prickers, upright habit.

Sad-sackery. The tomato seedlings got neglected due to my sickness. I went out today and there they were -all wilty. Watered them and put them in front of the pinks.

The yarrow is about to pop and, as always, is taking up more and more space. Needs to be tied up.