Disaster in Progress

We've been having one hell of a storm today, with over four inches of rain and tropical storm force wind gusts.  The forty foot tall spruce in the front yard garden has started to lean over still more and you can see where the roots to the east are starting to pull out of the earth.  I don't think it's going to be able to stand up to the storm unless it abates soon.  I've tried just about everyone I could and, sad to say, it appears that I have to wait until it falls, possible hitting the house, before I can get anyone to do anything about it.  Where is Paul Bunyan when you need him?

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When It Rains …

… it pours, or so the old expression goes.  I've come to think that it's not nearly strong enough.  It should be: "When it rains, you get a category 5 hurricane", or at least it seems to me of late.  The tree was cut up and all the debris was removed.  Examining the stump showed that about half the diameter inside had been thoroughly chewed up, leaving hollow galleries in place of solid wood.  A tree surgeon examined it and said that carpenter ants were the culprits.  From outside, there was no clue that it was compromised; from inside, it was an accident waiting to happen, and it did.  Just about the only good news is that it looks like most of the roses survived their encounter with the falling goliath.

I met with the landscaper and he's working up an estimate.  The entire side yard foundation bed will be redone with a new border, new plantings, etc.  The second arborvitae at the back yard side of the bed was also damaged by this horrid winter and will have to go as well.  Once the work is done, things should look much better.  The only thing that will be saved is my peony.  At the front yard, the area between the cherry tree and the mock orange will become part of the planting beds as after seventeen years of trying in vain to get grass to grow there, I give up.  Once the cherry tree leafs out, the grass is in total shade and is doomed.  This will make for a much more pleasing appearance.  The entire lawn will be slit seeded as it looks more ratty after this winter than at any time since I had the house built.

On the old expression not being strong enough, I mentioned the tree surgeon up above.  I had him here to look at the forty foot tall spruce tree in the front yard.  Having seen the internal damage to the fallen spruce trunk, I wanted to take no chances.  The fact that after the winter storms, the tree is now leaning toward the house didn't give me a warm and fuzzy feeling at all since, with a good nor'easter, if it was minded to topple, it would come crashing right into the house.  The fact that the tree shifted during the storms (it used to stand straight as an arrow, pointing toward the heavens) was more than enough to seal its fate with the tree surgeon; once they've shifted, they can't be saved and he's coming next week to take it down.  No more trees — that area will just become part of the front lawn, changing the appearance of the house forever.  I'm going to miss that old tree, but it is a clear and present danger to the house.

Not convinced yet?  Ever since the tree fell and I was running around in the teeth of the blizzard, what with having to clear away so much snow and all, my knees have been aching and I've had a pretty nasty pain in my hip.  It finally got to be too much even for me and I visited the orthopaedist.  The good news is that I don't have arthritis or any evident damage to the bones.  The bad news is that I probably have a torn meniscus in my left knee and either bursitis or tendinitis around my left hip.  I start physical therapy this week to see if that can help.  Well, they call it physical therapy but after my experience with it after getting my shoulder fixed a few years ago, I think they should really call it legalized torture.

To add insult to injury, I'll have to let the landscaper's crew do most of the pruning this year, including my roses, since I'm pretty much unable to do it now.  That's really frustrating as it's something that I have always enjoyed doing.  This winter has been really tough on the house, on the garden, and on me.  See what I mean about the old expression not being strong enough!

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An Update

After PSE&G cut up the tree enough to free the lines at 3 AM (chainsaws at 3AM, what a wonderful sound!), at 10 AM their crews arrived in bucket trucks to reconnect the line to the house up near the roof.  To my surprise, they didn't power it down first!  To clear the street, they taped the phone and cable wires to the power line.  They pointed out to me that the heavy cable running down to the meter was damaged and that I needed an electrician to do that repair.  So, I got an electrician.  Hours and hours later and a few thousand dollars poorer, there's now a nice conduit running from the meter to the weatherhead (which is what they call the connection between the house wiring and the line from the street).  The beautiful arborvitae, about ten feet tall, that used to shield the electric meter from view is now gone, as they needed access behind it.  During all of this, the tech from Verizon arrived and refused to touch the phone cable as it was taped to the power cable!  Needless to say, the inevitable happened — sometime overnight, the tape gave up the ghost, the phone line fell into the street, and a car or truck hit it, ripping it off the house and ripping off the junction box as well, leaving me with no phone or Internet service.  They came the next day, strung a new line, and put in a new junction box, but the waste of time, energy, money, and effort because the tech wouldn't stake the line back to the house just boggles the mind!  So I'm pretty much back to where I was, missing one 30' spruce and one 10' arborvitae.  My landscaper is supposed to come this week to cut up and remove the tree.  Once that's done and the snow and ice melt (if they ever do), I can see just how badly damaged the roses are.  This spring, there's going to be a LOT of pruning and trimming and redoing in the side yard garden!  Photos of this disaster are posted on the Side Yard Garden page of the web site.

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We've had some really lousy weather this last week, with a snowstorm dumping about 8" of snow this past weekend and, over the last 24 hours or so, a blizzard that dumped 16-18" of very heavy, wet snow that clung to everything: shrubs, roses, trees, you name it.  I was sitting down to dinner yesterday when there was an enormous crash and the entire house shook.  I ran outside to find that the old spruce in the side yard (which you can see in photos of the side yard garden on my web site) couldn't take the combination of being encrusted with all of that heavy wet snow and the howling wind.  The trunk had splintered near the ground and it had come crashing down, fortunately missing the house but obliterating the side yard garden and bringing down the power and phone lines with it.  By some miracle, I still have power and phone though the cables now drape over the street.  The street is barricaded and the power company was just here (some 9 hours later) to cut up parts of the tree to free the lines.  They will now have to come and restring them from the house to the pole. What a mess!  What's even scarier is that earlier in the day, after cleaning the driveway and sidewalk during a lull in the storm, I had been in the garden shaking snow from the roses and was in exactly the spot where the tree came down! Frown

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And Then There Were None

I know that I haven't been keeping up.  All I can say is that the strain of flu that's going around this year is rather nasty and it's taken me quite a while to get over it.  ::sigh::  Since I last blogged, we had the rainiest June in history here in New Jersey and that led to an explosion of black spot, which managed to almost defoliate some of the roses as I wasn't able to spray due to all of the rain and my health.  On a happier note, the last rose whose bloom I was waiting for, Garden Party, finally did so.  Unfortunately, it coincided with the arrival of the japanese beetles, but I managed to get a shot of the first bud as it was opening before it got munched.  Here it is.

Garden Party

To my surprise, the mini-rose Caramba, in a pot on the deck, managed to survive the winter (while three of the roses in the ground did not) and has done rather nicely and bloomed as well.  Here's one of the blossoms.

mini rose caramba

In other rose news, I found a very nice rose at Lowes to replace Sunbright in the front yard garden.  It's called Smooth Satin (also known as Hadsatin) and is a very nice pink with a nice fragrance and is mostly thorn-free.  I bought it potted and in bloom and got it into the ground very quickly, where it's doing quite well.  Here is the blossom that was on it when purchased.

smooth satin

All of the other roses are doing well, though somewhat the worse for wear after all the rain and lack of spraying.  I've posted at least half-a-hundred new photos on the web site.

This year, I'm going to be sadly devoid of most of my lilies.  Some type of animal (as yet unknown) intruded into the garden and ate all of the buds off the many stalks of the white Asiatic lily (the only Asiatic lily I have left) and most of them off of the Mona Lisa Oriental lily.  I got a grand total of one blossom on the latter.

Mona Lisa Oriental Lily

While I got photos of a few blooms on the daylilies Double Cutie and Leebea Orange Crush, the intruder also ate the buds, blossoms, and spent blossoms on those as well, so the few photos that I've posted are it for the year.  This is Double Cutie.

Double Cutie

And this is Leebea Orange Crush.

leebea orange crush

The third of my daylilies, Plum Perfect , is a later bloomer, so while the intruder ravaged that as well, it has more buds that will soon open.  Here's the first.

Plum Perfect

I'm keeping my eye on Plum Perfect and should the animal dare to show itself, since it finds my lilies and daylilies so edible, I'm hoping that it's quite edible itself.  Turnabout being fair play and all that.

 I need to get back to a regular spraying regimen now that the rains appear to have let up (though we're having a heck of a thunderstorm as I'm typing this) and do some judicious pruning to see if I can bring some of the defoliated roses back to health.  June was not only very wet, it was quite cool.  July is also starting off quite cool and I don't know what that says about the climate.  I do know that if any politician in the state so much as dares to utter the word "drought" this year, I will wish him a speedy drowning in one of our currently overflowing reservoirs.  Oh, the grass is greener than I've seen in years and I have yet to turn on the sprinklers.

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One To Go

Tropicana has bloomed (a photo is below), leaving only Garden Party yet to bloom this year.  Its first bud has been mangled by some insect, so we will have to wait.  Its growth seems to be OK so I suspect it will just be a matter of time.  I've begun to look for a replacement for Sunbright but was disappointed by the selection at Home Depot.  I will check there again and at Lowes, and will find something nice to plant.  Otherwise, the garden is doing quite nicely.  We've had about a week of showers and rain, so everything is well watered.  Most of the roses are still in bloom and providing a dazzling spectacle.  Most of the other garden plants, such as the rhododendrons, have faded, leaving the roses as the main attractions, though the hydrangea is getting ready to bloom. I've updated the web site with many more photos of the roses in bloom.  Here's Tropicana.

2009 Tropicana

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Wins and Losses

The garden has been quite active.  Unfortunately, not all of the activity has been good.  Since I've been lazy, the dreaded black spot fungus has gotten hold on many of the roses.  I've started my weekly sprayings with Immunox and Mancozeb.  Alternating with Banner Maxx and Funginex, and including Mancozeb for a few weeks, I should be able to bring it under control.  Most of the roses have now bloomed, with Louise Odier, Zephirine Drouhin, and Madame Isaac Pereire (my three Old Garden Roses) putting on quite a show.  Sweet Juliet, one of my David Austin English roses, is also putting on a spectacular display.  Since my last entry, Queen Elizabeth and Pierre de Ronsard have bloomed and Tropicana is getting ready to bloom.  Other than Garden Party, which has yet to bloom, I'm afraid that's all that there will be this year.  Fragrant Cloud, Moon Shadow, and Sunbright all appear to have bitten the dust.  I will definitely replace Sunbright with something else as that's a good spot for a rose.  As for the others, I will have to think long and hard before I replace them.  Moon Shadow is next to both Louise Odier and Lagerfeld, which are very strong, large growers and they shade the spot mercilessly, no matter how I prune them back.  The same holds true for Fragrant Cloud, shaded by Lagerfeld and Melody Parfumee.  I may just leave those spots empty in deference to their larger neighbors and be happy with only two dozen different varieties of roses.  The web site has been updated with literally hundreds of new photos.  Here's a teaser, showing the view of Dr. Huey from the street looking into the side yard.

2009 dr huey

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More Roses Than I Can Count!

I really do love Spring! Smile The garden is alive with roses, so many on some of the plants (Louise Odier and Pat Austin for example) that there are simply too many to count.  Most of the roses have bloomed; all of them are shown on the "Roses in the Garden – 2009" page that I've created and posted today.  Of those remaining, I'm afraid that this past winter was the coupe de grace for Moon Shadow and Fragrant Cloud, both of which had been damaged by previous winters.  Sadly, it also seems that Sunbright was badly damaged by this past winter and may not survive.  It lives in a good spot even though it faces north, so if it doesn't survive, I'll plant something new and exciting there. In the meantime, here's a perfect Peace and, for me, a rare sport, a totally snow white Double Delight!  These are just examples of the many photos that I added to the web site today.


white double delight

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At long last, I've posted this spring's photos on my web site, all 250+ of them!  All of the various pages have been updated, as found on my What's New page.  Enjoy! Smile

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More Roses

I went out into the garden today (beautiful day here in New Jersey) and discovered that, as expected, both of the well-established Old Garden Roses, Louise Odier and Zephirine Drouhin, had bloomed, tying for second place this year.  Louise Odier has totally snapped her stake (a 1×4 no less) and is in danger of falling over, so I'm restaking her with a pressure-treated 2×2 that will hopefully be able to take the strain.  She gets to be a big girl!  I've also uploaded more than a hundred new garden photos to the web site and now I just need to edit the various pages to finally get things up to date. Photos of Louise Odier and Zephirine Drouhin are below.

Louise Odier

Zephirine Drouhin

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