Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween
Mum and Pumpkins

We are back in Connecticut after a great trip to California. We really saw some nice botanical stuff and of course visited with family. There is a big pile of things I have to take care of on my desk and there is also a lot of work to be done in the gardens to get ready for winter. It was nice to have a break and now I feel sufficiently recharged to jump back in and finish up the season.

This was one of the few Chrysanthemums I saw in while in California. I guess they aren’t so popular when most of the other plants are still giving a lot of flowers. The roses were just spectacular and I will be posting some rose photos later this weekend. The landscape, while a little arid this time of year, was beautiful and I think a few of those pictures came out well. It is going to take awhile to go through them all.

This a ‘Lil Pok-e-Mon’ Pumpkin. One of the unusual varieties of small pumpkins I saw this year.

Shadows of a thousand years rise again unseen, Voices whisper in the trees, "Tonight is Halloween!"”

Dexter Kozen

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Monday, October 27, 2008

Red Snapdragon ‘Crown Red’

Red Snapdragon ‘Crown Red’

Ruby Tuesday

You just don’t see Snapdragons like you used to. It is great cool season annual. The older and taller varieties were a little difficult to mange but the newer types and varieties are a lot better. I planted these red ones in the pots with some white mums. I thought it would make a nice change from Pansies.

I am reporting live from Sonoma, California. It is more beautiful than I remember. There is a diverse botanical population and a lot of different flowers. Yesterday was a sterling day and we spent most of the day wandering around town looking at the gardens and buildings. We went to one wine tasting and the Vineyard was beautiful with tons of roses blooming. Today is a little cloudy but we are going to visit a couple of public gardens.

 Since I am away from my home computer I can’t really post a link to Ruby Tuesday. Look up the teach at work of the

Saturday, October 25, 2008

More Fall Foliage

More Fall Foliage

These shots were taken in New Milford, Connecticut two weeks ago. The first one is another shot where the polarizer filter was upside down. I have finally figured out there is a little arrow to show where the effect in relation to the end of the lens. Some of them have them and some don’t. The church shot is the same church that has been posted on this site before. This fall season has been one of the best in my recent memory. The foliage shots I have taken have been better than my previous attempts which has been encouraging. Often times when I am not good at something I will shy away from it and this year I decided to meet the challenge and try some foliage shots. There is still a ways to go to really capture the majesty of colors but I am happy with the headway I have made this season.

We are leaving today for a 6-day visit to see my sister and new nephew. They live in Sonoma, California, which of course is in Wine Country. I hope to update this site with some trip pictures while I am gone but you never know about Internet access when on the road. We get to spend one day and night in San Francisco. The whole area is, in many ways, a photographer’s dream and hopefully I will get a few nice images. It was funny since I spent about an hour packing up my camera gear and about 15 minutes packing my clothes.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Shagbark Hickory Fall Color

Shagbark Hickory Fall Color
Carya ovata
(KAIR-yuh) (oh-VAY-tuh)
Skywatch Friday

There aren’t too many Hickory trees around here but you do see them. The Estate has Shagbark, Shell bark (Carya laciniosa) and Pignut Hickory (Carya glabra, I think). The best attribute of them is the fall color, although the Shagbark does add some nice texture to the garden. This picture was taken in Westchester County at the farm we have been tending the garden. I have never planted a Hickory but have heard that you should use the grafted ones. They produce nuts at a much earlier age.

It is thanks to Skywatch I took these photos. I wasn’t looking for a sky shot in particular but it was in the back of mind to maybe try a few foliage/sky pictures to use on Friday. It was a beautiful fall day and the light was good. This tree was large enough to be casting a golden glow on the floor of the woods that was beautiful.

This next picture is from the Pepsico Gardens in Purchase, New York. The sculpture is “Kiosque L’Evide” by Jean Dubuffet.

"Kiosque L’Evide” by Jean Dubuffet. 1970-1984. Painted Polyester Resin.

The Pepsico Gardens, or more correctly the Donald M. Kendall Sculpture Gardens, are full of photo opportunities. It is funny because last year I went way late in the season and most of the foliage was gone. This year when I went back it hadn’t really started so I was early. The place is always worth a visit no matter the time of the year. The above photos were shot with the Sigma 24mm/1.8 EX lens. I really do like the lens. It is an all around good performer, which is helpful.

To see over 300 skies from around the world check out:
Skywatch Friday

I wasn’t going to post his but what the heck. That Sugar Maple was in a group of three that was magnificent.

Claes Oldenburg ''Giant Trowel II''

Golden Chrysanthemum

Golden Chrysanthemum

The title is just referring to the color of this mum. The daisy flowered types have really grown on me this year. They seem so exotic amongst the sea of cushion mums. This one has been doing well and it is exceeding my number one criteria for mums, which is how long they last. Most of the mums seemed so early this year.

The bulb fest continues today. Another 600 tulips and we are going to try to plant 600 Daffs too. That might not be that hard under normal conditions however the planting site is loaded with tree roots, pipes, wires and in one area a gas line. The garden has the infrastructure of a small city running below it. It is almost impossible to dig a hole and not find something. It should be an adventure and all that will be forgotten when the bulbs are blooming next spring.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Totem Close up

Wordless Wednesday
Close up of ‘Three Variations of the Killerwhale Myth’ by
Robert Davidson
Kendall Sculpture Garden
Purchase, NY

Monday, October 20, 2008

Red Chrysanthemum

Red Chrysanthemum
Ruby Tuesday

Starting off with an orangey-red mum for Ruby Tuesday. This mum added a nice color to the garden this year, which at first I wasn’t sure about. Like a lot of the mums this year it opened a different color than the final flower. This one didn’t come with a tag so I am not sure of the cultivar. I spent some of the weekend looking for mums and there wasn’t a decent one to be had. I have switched plans and decided to use Montauk Daisies in the pots instead.

Driving around looking for the mums was a good excuse to do some leaf peeping. The colors were gorgeous, yellows, reds and especially the oranges. Since one of the nurseries I visited is near the Pepsico Gardens I stopped there for quick walk around. The color in Westchester isn’t as advanced as Connecticut. Around here I saw plenty of peak color spots. I got a few good pictures from Pepsico and will share them later in the week.

While drifting around the Connecticut countryside I saw these couple of red barns. The first one was in Monroe and while the front looks bad you should have seen the back, completely collapsed! The second barn is from Bridgewater, Connecticut. There were a lot of scenic views along the ridges of Roxbury, Bridgewater and New Milford. I broke out the Nikon 8400 for the Black and Whites. It reminded me of the days of getting some B&W film and going out shooting old barns. I changed the picture size ratio back to 4:3 from 3:2. The 3:2 ratio is what most 35mm or DSLR cameras use. The color pictures of the barns were also shot using the Coolpix.

Thanks for visiting. For more Ruby Tuesday and to see all things red visit the teach @
Work of the Poet on Tuesday.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sweet Alyssum

Sweet Alyssum
Lobularia maritima
(lob-yoo-LAR-ee-uh) (muh-RIT-tim-muh)

Last year we grew some patches of white and purple Sweet Alyssum from seed. It is a really easy plant to grow directly seeded in the garden. You need to get it on the ground early so it has time to develop and flower before the heat sets in. I didn’t plant any this year but got a lot from last year’s crop self seeding. They must have mixed since the plants were a light purple with a little white mixed in. I think I will order some more seed this winter to plant in the spring just to keep it going.

This mum was sold as ‘premium’ and its color and flower are a little different. I was disappointed that it just had a generic tag. The colors are very fall like and we used them in some of the annual containers that had gone by. I still need a few mums on Monday so wish me luck as I don’t think anyone will have any that are not blown out.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Fall Foliage

Fall Foliage
Sky Watch Friday

There will probably quite a few fall shots on Skywatch this week. These were taken on my drive on Sunday afternoon. The trees are absolutely beautiful this year. I am still trying to figure out how to take a good landscape shot of the colors. I really should have brought a tripod.

This first picture is a parking lot tree. I am not sure what it is. It was much darker red than a Sugar Maple but had the habit of one. It might be a Freeman’s Maple (Acer rubrum var. saccharinum), which is a cross between Sugar and Red Maples. That wouldn’t be true if this was a wild tree but since it was planted it is probably a cultivar or in this case a hybrid. There is a little sky poking in from behind.

This second shot is a blooper. It was the first time that I was using the new polarizer filter and it was turned the wrong way. You can see it only polarized the left side of the photo. At least it was polarizing most of the foliage. This is the kind of shot that needed a little more reach than the 24mm. It was taken sticking through a hole in the gate of a chain link fence behind a little shopping center. For fun I thought I would try and post a map of exactly where it was taken (Margerie Reservoir in New Fairfield, Connecticut).

View Larger Map

This last picture was taken in Newtown and it is kind of a swampy pond. The colors were just right as I drove by there yesterday and most of the leaves had fallen.

To see over 300 skies from around the world check out:
Skywatch Friday

Wild Aster

Wild Aster

Of all of the wild Asters at the Estate this one is the best. It has bloomed the longest and has the clearest white flowers. Several years ago I felt like the wild Asters were taking over the garden so we embarked on an eradication program that included removing all the spent flowers and pulling up a lot of the plants. It worked a little too well and now I miss them. The population will probably return but for now I wish there were a few more. I have seen some pockets of blue wild Aster on the side of the road and would love to get some of those growing in addition to the white ones already in the garden. I don’t collect wild plants anymore but I might try and grab some of the seed.

The name Aster comes from the Greek word for star and they have been around for 4,000 plus years. There are over 600 species in the genus which recently went through a reclassification. There are several new genus names to learn and I am not sure which one this particular Aster falls into. A few of the common names that this flower goes by include Starworts, Frost Flowers or Michaelmas Daisies but they are mostly known simply as Asters. They are enjoyed in gardens through out the world.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Dogwood Fall Foliage

Dogwood Fall Foliage
Cornus florida
Ruby Tuesday

This is the Ruby Tuesday post for the week even though it is Monday. Yesterday after chipping away at my mountain of paperwork I decided to take a late afternoon ride to see some foliage. I wish had enough to time to describe my wonderful ride up through Northern Fairfield County, the eastern part of Dutchess County in New York and Litchfield County. It was amazing since with the drastic elevation changes the foliage would be in peak color at the top of the hills and barely even started at the bottom. It has been a little unseasonably warm and the sun was shining brightly. That bathed everything in kind of a golden glow that was really beautiful. Even though I was looking to take a few pictures I didn’t stop much.

Some of the towns I went through in Connecticut were New Fairfield, Kent, Cornwall, New Milford, Sherman and Brookfield. It reminds me of the ‘old’ Connecticut still a little farmy, a little woodsy and not too heavily populated.

This Dogwood was on the side of Route 7. The sun set shortly after I took this photo. It looks like it is going to be an excellent foliage season with the Maples and Dogwoods leading the charge. I had heard that a leaf fungus was going to keep the Sugar Maples from coloring properly but there were literally thousands upon thousands of beautiful Maples lining the road and hills in full color.

This plant was planted in a bank parking lot. It is Burning Bush (Euonymus alatus) and this is its one redeeming quality in the landscape. Not too many plants turn this intense of a color. We don’t plant Burning Bush anymore since it is invasive and the root system is too competitive. That probably won’t make a difference since there are so many already. They have completely colonized some areas of the woods.

Stepping back from the macro shot was this church on the New Milford green. I have photographed this church several times including at night. Here is another photo of it. I bought a Circular Polarizer Filter for the 24 mm/1.8 Sigma lens. It cost about one-third the cost of the whole lens. It really kicked in on this shot.

Here is a shot of my two assistants in what I call the dogmobile. It is 1995 Jeep Grand Cherokee and we use it for work sometimes and hauling the dogs around. Its old but has low mileage and runs good. Juno is all excited since she spotted a couple of Ring Neck Pheasants. She is still too young to drive. The other dog is Ruby Tuesday.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Becky Daisy and Bumble Bee

Becky Daisy and Bumble Bee

The bees are easier to get shots of this time of year as they really have slowed down. The mornings have been pretty cold but no signs of a frost despite two frost advisories a few nights ago. It certainly is coming. It won’t be bad when it does since some of the annuals are starting to look a little bad. Not bad enough to pull out but not really great either. I had to buy 5 big mums yesterday and it was really getting the best of what was left over. ‘Becky’ Shasta Daisy has been featured on this space several times. The plants rebloomed well after they were cut them back a little while ago.

We are going to do a big bulb planting at the house in Greenwich this fall. I ordered them on Thursday. 700 tulips, 550 Daffodils, 45 of the huge Alliums and I have to go through some catalogs this weekend to get the Quamash (Camassia esculenta), Virginia Bluebells (Mertensia virginica) and the other types of Alliums. It should look good next spring. It has been awhile since I have done a large scale bulb planting and I am looking forward to the challenge. We will be doing some smaller bulb plantings at other gardens as well.

This white Chrysanthemum had small of the smallest flowers I saw this season. It is named ‘Crete White’. The overall effect of the plant was a good one but I think I like the larger flowered cultivars better.

Last Saturday I attended my nephew’s high school football game. Most of the pictures didn’t come out but did manage these two as the team walked off the field after the big win. He is number 27. I am sure glad I am not a sports photographer.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Scarecrow in the Sky

Skywatch Friday

These were taken at a local nursery. They had a scarecrow and a bat hung about 30 feet above the parking lot. The first shot was taken today minutes after the drizzly grey clouds lifted at about 10 am. The other shot was taken yesterday and it was more hazy and cloudy. I was calling it a skycrow but that didn’t really make sense.

These mums were growing together in a bushel basket. It really looked nice and I wish more growers would put two or three types together in one pot. I guess there is the danger that they wouldn’t bloom together but this one was working perfectly. The pink one is ‘Soft Cheryl’ and the orange one is ‘Jennifer’.

This is just another beautiful mum that I have spotted this fall season.

For other Skywatch Friday shots:

Chrysanthemum 'Blizzard'

Chrysanthemum x morifolium 'Blizzard'
(kris-AN-the-mum) (mor-ee-FOH-lee-um)

It was refreshing to see at least one non-cushion Chrysanthemum at the nursery. It wasn’t quite that bad but there seemed to be a real lack of anything different this year. This was a beautiful mum that the sun was shining on. They were a little too ‘out’ for me to buy. I have been shooting a lot of mum pictures and it seems to be an easy flower to get a good picture of. Not only the abundance of flowers per plant but the colors and shapes of them make it easy.

‘Blizzard’ is an extra late blooming mum with large flowers. The ones I saw were in 12-inch pots and were literally a big ball of flowers. There had to be hundreds on each plant. These were tagged ‘Marilyn’ and when I looked that up I landed on The Missouri Botanical Garden website. It is one of my favorite plant sites. Any way in the desription of ‘Marilyn’ it said:
a clump-forming, fall-blooming garden mum with flat decorative capitulum form”.

Not knowing what a capitulum form was I had to look that up and found this definition:

2. An inflorescence consisting of a compact mass of small stalkless flowers, as in the English daisy. The yellow central portion of the capitulum of a daisy consists of disk flowers, while the outer white, petallike structures are actually ray flowers. The capitulum is the characteristic inflorescence of the composite family (Asteraceae) of flowering plants.

However, none of the pictures of ‘Marilyn’ matched my photos and after some more investigation I have come to the conclusion that this mum is ‘Blizzard’. That could be wrong, though.

I didn’t get the name of this Mum. It sure was cheery and bright yellow. This year I used mostly all bright yellow mums with some burgundy and was quite pleased with the color combination.