Sunday, May 20, 2012

Boothe Park Vintage Car Show - Is That a Hemi in There?

Today was Opening Day at Boothe Park in Stratford, CT:
In addition to the usual festivities, this year they included a fantastic car show. Hundreds of vintage autos filled the park. Here are a few of my favorite images. My interest in these cars was predicated by a recent Sunday afternoon spent vegetating in front of the TV, where I stumbled upon a channel devoted to (that day) vintage muscle cars.  That, and an episode of Antiques Roadshow where they featured beautiful, art-deco Lalique hood ornaments. Sweet. After about four hours of viewing My Classic Car: Mopar Muscle Cars, you too can become an expert on Hemi motors and the glory days of Mopar performance parts.

In addition to the expected, there were also some fun cars. This one was one of my favorites:
The lawn chairs were a nice touch. It also had a rotary phone, toaster and ash tray in the engine compartment - I kid you not. All of this prompted us to ask if our 1998 Ford Escort can qualify for the Early American License plate. If you saw it, you would agree, it looks pretty old - peeling paint, a couple of dents here and there. Sadly, we have 11 years to go before it can wear the badge.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Let us give nature a chance; she knows her business better than we do. --Michael Eyquen de Montaigne

I was very fortunate this Spring to receive a wonderful gift of three dwarf pear trees from my brother Jim and sister-in-law Ashlee in Atlanta. Bartlett, Anjou and Bosc are the varieties, and they arrived bare-root the first week of April. As I have limited room for any more trees in the lawn, I potted them up (the dwarfs are suited for container planting) and dutifully waited for them to leaf out. Slowly but surely, the Bartlett and Anjou started to sprout tiny leaves within the first two weeks. The Bosc? Nothing. I scratched the surface of the bark to check for signs of life; and sure enough, the Bosc was alive. Give it another week or so, I thought. Nothing. The other two trees continued to thrive, with new growth each week. Same planting conditions, soil, pot size - the Bosc? Nada.
Bartlett Pear Tree 5/16/2012
Anjou Pear Tree 5/16/2012
By the first week of May, I'm starting to give up on the Bosc. What to do? Google it, I thought - so I type "Why won't my pear tree leaf out?" Sure enough, other people have the same issue, albeit with other fruit trees too, like apples. My heart sinks as I read comment after comment, basically saying "If it's been that long, your tree is probably toast."  Again, I scratch to bark - it's still green underneath. Damn you pear tree - GROW! I vowed not to give up.

Sunday was a beautiful, hot day by May standards. Sun shining, I peruse the pears. Out of habit, I approach the Bosc, expecting the same result as usual. Miracle of Miracles! Are those tiny leaf buds I see? Yes indeed - the Bosc has emerged from hibernation!!!!
IT'S ALIVE!!!!!!
Bosc Pear Tree 5/16/2012
Bosc Pear Tree - Close-Up of Leaf Buds 5/16/2012
 Once again, nature never ceases to amaze me. I still don't quite know why this tree took so long to leaf out compared to the others. And when did I become such a fruit gardener anyway? Figs, blueberries, now pears? Somehow I think I may have a tough road ahead, maintaining my organic standards, as fruits are notoriously prone to pests (hear that, Mr. Rabbit?). I'm up for the challenge, however.  Bring it on! Meanwhile - the lesson here? You can't believe everything you read on the internet:-)

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Fig Tree Revisited

If you happen to remember my post from February, I had a dilemma about what to do with my potted fig tree overwintering in the basement. It had started to sprout in earnest late February; by late March it had huge chartreuse sprouts, some over a foot long. My alarm stemmed from how I was going to get this ever-expanding plant (which weighs about 50 lbs in the pot) up my basement stairs and through two normal-size doorways. The other problem was that this could not happen until I was fairly certain the possibility of frost had passed.

In April, I visited the garden center I purchased it from; they actually still had a similar fig that they overwintered in their greenhouse. In a normal winter, they wouldn't have expected their fig to survive; but this was no normal winter. To their surprise, it too had started to sprout (not as much as my over-achiever, however). They instructed me to cut off these huge shoots (the horror!) and not bring it back out until mid-end April at the earliest (and be prepared to cover it on any frosty nights).
So I took the plunge and hacked off those tender shoots. it suffered no ill effects, and bought me some more time into April. Plus, I could now get it through the doorway.

So here we are in mid-May; the fig is on the deck and appears to be happy as a clam. The new shoots are a much darker, healthier green; obviously those neon shoots while in the basement were not going to make it anyway.  Moral of the story - I think I'm getting braver at this tough love for plants; sometimes (to quote Nick Lowe) it's better to be "cruel to be kind" even in the plant world. But maybe I need to lay off the pruners for awhile; I broke my Felcos today pruning some junipers . . .oh well.

Happy Mother's Day 2012!

The weather here was beautiful this weekend after a rain-filled week; highs near 80 degrees and plenty of sun. This iris was still a tight bud yesterday; today however it unfurled in spectacular bloom.  Hope you were able to enjoy some time in your own garden.  I'm looking forward to visiting some of the public gardens in my area in the coming weeks, to watch spring unfold and then ease into the summer months. . .

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Another One Bites the Dust . . .

This is the time of year in New England where the American Robin migrates back to our area to raise it's young and spend the summer months among us.  In fact, they are the state bird of Connecticut, being so plentiful here.  I'm not so sure they are the best representative of our fair state, however.

Don't get me wrong, they are among the most colorful of our backyard birds. With their orangey-red breast feathers they are easily recognizable as they search for worms and grubs in the spring lawn. The trouble starts when they decide to wander out into the street. Frankly, they don't seem to have evolved in the there's-a-car-coming-so-I-need-to-get-out-of-the-way department.  That appears to have been the fate of this poor bird, found on my front lawn by the road's edge. I have seen too many robins meet their fate on local roadsides, much more than other bird species, that it makes me wonder how they stack up in the bird-intelligence hierarchy.  Not so high, I'm thinking. Bird banders have found that only 25% of young Robins survive the first year. Maybe this is why?

To date, I have not directly been involved in the untimely death of a robin, but I have come very close, more times than I care to remember. They truly seem to have no clue of the impending danger as cars come hurtling towards them. Are they so engrossed is guessing where their next worm will come from that they have no time to consider their own safety?  I once watched, in horror, as a robin strolled across a local back road as a car came straight toward it. The driver slowed down, noting the bird, and I'm absolutely sure she thought that robin was going to fly out of harm's way at the last moment. It didn't. I will forever remember the look of horror on that woman's face as her car and the robin became one on that little piece of asphalt that day. Not a pretty sight.

So I ask that you be extra vigilant, now that the robins are back, so you don't unwittingly become party to the passing of one of these little birds. As for the bird in the photo, I will use the few images I took of his impressive feathers for reference in a project I'm working on. So in a way, he donated his little bird body to art.  Maybe I should have given it to science, however, so they could study his little bird brain to figure out why they don't seem so smart when it comes to cars.