Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I'm No Birder...

...but I had an encounter with this bird in Prospect Park while I was talking with a neighbor, near the lake.

I had never seen it before. Significant markings include bright yellow tips on its tail feathers, a bright red patch on its wing, and a super hero black mask on its face. Yellowish-ochre underbelly and reddish-ochre head with gray, black and white elsewhere.

It was flitting around the tree we were standing under, I then noticed at least three others follow it to the tree. Photographing this bird with my little Canon A80 was nearly impossible -no significant zoom, and, well, birds keep moving.

I got enough shots, and the markings were memorable, that I could look it up in my handy Audubon Society Nature Guide -Eastern Forests. Cedar Waxwing, Bombycilla cedorum, summers and winters in our area and is common to most of temperate North America. They love berries, like park settings, and enjoy fresh water. Look for it in trees near you.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Seeking Rain

The garden wants it to rain. Its been dry, its been hot, its been breezy -all conspiring to extract moisture from the soil. The plants are hanging on, but not without the occasional spot dousing by my watering can, which I am not wont to do.

So this afternoon and evening's thunderstorm threat, with its 1/2 - 1 inch of rain in short bursts, seems all the more promising. Yet, as I watch the sky, I head out with my watering can in full doubt that we will be doused. So far, I've experienced no more than cloud spit.

Radar indicates a southwest to northeast flow, often the pattern for harsh summer storms -but also the pattern for random locales getting completely missed by the restorative rains. This may be the case for some gardens and their last chance for awhile to get some rains. Northern Manhattan shall get some. The Bronx for sure, but Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens, we'll need to keep our fingers crossed.

Look What I Found

I feel like I found something special -even if it's not. I shoved two sticks in the ground to protect it (ha!), being rather exposed as it is in an area of Prospect Park where tree-trimming and garbage trucks pass through regularly. It stands alone, nothing around it but forest litter, quite near the paving.

I discovered it a week ago, however without my camera. I returned the other day thinking it would be blooming by now. It was not. My guess as to what it may be: A lily of some kind, maybe Maianthemum? I will need to see it in flower. Any good guesses?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Prospect Plants

When I noticed these all over Prospect Park this spring, I kept thinking "sambuca." Is that right? Google sambuca plant and lo and behold, Sambucus canadensis pops up. Seems right, no? Poisonous, except the berries.

Flowers sweet scented, this I can attest.

What is that floating yellow-flowered plant? Yellow water primrose?

This young tulip tree is under some stress, looks like autumn.

Porcelain Berry Vine, variegated or Ampelopsis glandulosa brevipedunculata 'Elegans'. Known to be aggressive in woodland and woodland edge settings in our area. See this post.

What might this small tree/large shrub be? It looks like privet to me, but large-leafed.

And the flowers more sweet smelling than stenchy.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Lilies and Roses

The front yard garden yesterday evening.

This lily is blooming its head off.

I was excited to see the lily well-timed with the second bloom of grandma's tea. In the first two photos you will not see any roses. Someone enjoyed snipping them all off yesterday -for a vase or to make up.

Patio BBQ

Quite right. Last night's steak and potatoes.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Prospect Park Fountain

Artful, especially the paper cup -so well placed.

The Pleasure's All Mine

While doing my morning walky-runny thing in Prospect Park, I stop to eat. Am I the only one who does this? I found a whole new bank of raspberries (not the one above, mind you). I snacked from four different patches yesterday. Some where close to the flavor of blackberries, some mildly sweet, but most were still tart and seedy.

Creatures have not yet taken an interest -neither human, furry, feathered or six-legged. The gettin is good. As for a map, I will draw this much -stay away from the greensward, hit the paved-path woods. Bring a can, the next two weeks should be prime for picking.

Early Morning Asclepias

My single milkweed, butterfly weed, or Asclepias tuberosa, has grown to new heights this year. Last year it remained about 6 inches tall. This year, it tops the fence -probably due to all the competition and I am glad to see it could handle it. It is surrounded by yarrow millefolium (the white field yarrow), ordinary garden yarrow (yellow, with fuzzy gray leaves), and Allium sphaerocephalon.

So far, no butterflies.

This is the yellow lily, flying above a cloud of aster leaves, backed by a chorus of phlox.

Thank you swivel screen.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Call To Farms

On Saturday I received an important looking envelope - 'Official Business.'

In it, a courteous seasonal park ranger named Thaddeus explained that my number had risen to the top of the line and that if I was so willing, despite the late date, I should put in my paperwork for plot assignment. I am one step closer to citizen farmer.

I thought it best that I run on down to the garden to see how things are shaping up. Have many of the plots been taken? What was left, after all, I was number 14 on the waiting list. I would get the worst plot in the whole place, wouldn't I? Like the one below.

Well, this one never changes, but it did seem a little trim, a weed pulled here or there.

I found that it even had old and tired raspberries.

Remember this plot from my last trip -the field of green bean dreams.

Well, look at it now! Someones' gonna need a combine.

Even this side, has, well, more gardeners. This side was all weeds last September.

And look at that - a rickety composting corral (made of plastic lumber planking, no posts, front cross-member seems a bad idea). One of my imaginary sessions with the Fed was how we must have composting for our vegetable waste -'nuff of this rat baloney!' I was, am, and will be highly skeptical of anyone who claims rats in the compost and as it happens, some of those folks happen to garden here.

Now choosing a plot, that is tricky. First off, I probably won't get either of the three I listed as first choices despite the fact that it appears no one is gardening there. That said, I picked my three, and cross my fingers.

Plot A12. It's in the northwest corner, near an opening in the picket fence. Three sides are pathways and it has its own spigot for possible timer-drip system, but it looks like someone has begun tackling the dense mat of mugwort. My would-be neighbor has a chain-link fence.

Plot C12 is another option. It's weedy, but the border of daylilies charms it a bit. Water is across the path, limiting the drip idea. The previous tenant's CCA treated timbers are strewn throughout, giving me pause. Soil testing is planned, anyhow.

It does come with an old steel gate.

And milkweed.

Plot F12 I did not photograph, but no worries, it looks just like the others, but with 1/2 the water pressure. My request was mailed off today, complete with fee, application, and other compliances. Now to ready my mattock.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Stronger...

As seen on Argyle Rd. Wish I had time lapse photography of that.

The Cosmos

The last of these lilies.

Echinacea taking off where all else had died -the dead zone.

Right behind those, the cosmos (why 'cosmos'?) Cosmos bipinnatus begin to flower. Today I've pulled three of these and moved them to fill in some areas in the front yard garden. They transplant surprisingly well, given their large size and the heat. I give them a shovel-full of our home-made compost and a gallon of water. Planting in the evening is best, but today's went in this morning.

The beans are growing vigorously.

And our first brandywine flower turns to fruit. There is order in the universe.

Chicken And Rice, Halal Cart Style

In a time pinch, I grab the 5 dollar chicken and rice at the Halal cart outside of work. Today, I had an extra 5 minutes, so I went to 60th street, towards Columbus Ave. I saw another Halal cart and thought enough to give it a try. The first question asked after I ordered the chicken and rice was, "Plain rice or spicy rice?" Spicy rice, of course. The rice was darker and the meat was whiter than at the other cart. Hot sauce please, also thicker and darker.

This Halal cart chicken and rice was superficially the same meal as the cart outside of our building, but in taste and texture, another meal altogether. First, the rice was a basmati type, light and long -not the firm, short grain rice of the nearby cart. The rice was also white, not tinted warm and light red, but had been colored by the collection of spices added. It had hints of ginger, cumin and cardamom and was fire hot. The whole dish was less salty too, and without the reddish coloring on the meat. The light, loose rice and small chunks of chicken were harder to pick up with the plastic fork, causing me to eat much slower than I normally would (eating while working has led me to be a rapid eater, shame on me). The heat led my nose to run, fabulously hot was this 60th street cart.

Now I have it in my mind to try to get to try all the carts within 5 minutes. I'm glad that these Halal carts are not being trucked out of the same depot with the same ingredients and recipes. I've not been cooking much lately, in a cooking funk I suppose. I need some new inspiration, I need to have some new meals out.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Excellent, Some Rain...

The Sidewalks Of NY

Abruptly perhaps, the hydrangea breaks the long line of black-painted iron fencing. Some say it's out of control -a jungle. The beauty of gardening on the corner -it's a crossroads of opinions.

In the front garden, it's all hot colors. Fabio, my upstairs neighbor, speaks no English, but points to these and says 'muy bueno.' He likes red, hot pinks, and oranges -the colors of the moment.

These lilies have yet to open. I expect them to be a brilliant yellow with dark spots. Right now, they look like elongated lanterns. As the heat cooks on, many front yard flowers will fade, but at the least there will be lilies like these.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Pit Farmer

I thought I'd check up on this here pit farmer. Things growing nicely since my last look.

Around the corner, a stray. Cast out of a hastily eaten tomato, dropped by a bird, came with the compost, the spoils of a BLT? It should make contact with its brethren around on Church.

Further down the block, opposite side, corn in the pit.

Monster Thistle

As seen in a swell, but camera-shy, garden on Albemarle Rd.