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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Snake in the hen house.

This is not what I expected to find in the nesting box. I was wondering why egg production had dipped.

This snake is a good size, certainly capable of swallowing whole eggs. Yesterday there was one on the driveway wrapped around a chipmunk, so while I will try and dissuade a return to the hen house, I will reluctantly give up a few eggs, in exchange for less moles, voles etc. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Susan McDaniel Lecture.

This coming Thursday, July 12th at 6.30pm at The New Canaan Library. I will be presenting The Susan McDaniel Memorial Lecture.

This lecture will draw comparisons both similar and dissimilar in geology,

  building styles and techniques,

 and follow the development and evolution of stone walls and structures In England and New England  from colonial times to the present day,

and explain how they fit into the garden and wider landscape past and present.


Thursday, July 5, 2018

Last year the Gypsy moth caterpillar denuded trees of leaves.

Thereby starving the tree to death.

This year, tent caterpillars proliferate. I have cut them out of Cherries, Weigela, Willows, Mulberry, Apple, Redbud, Birch, Hydrangeas and Pear.

Cut out the infested branches ( the tent can prevent sprays and/or predators from reaching the caterpillars) and place on a vegetation free surface and burn. A gravel driveway is ideal.
I use a propane torch.

You will find the dead caterpillars will soon disappear.

After all, who doesn't like flame grilled caterpillar?

I also use the flame torch to kill weeds, not by burning them to a crisp (they will grow back from the root) but by wafting the flame over the weed just enough to wilt the leaves, which in turn will dehydrate and kill the whole plant. Especially in this current heat wave.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

An English Park in Connecticut.

This is my version of an English parkland.

I don't have 150 acres,

or 100 ft trees.

But by choosing smaller trees and shrubs,

or by pollarding larger trees to keep them to the desired height.

With three exceptions, I have 15ft trees on 0.5 acres. 

With a flower that could be a cross between a foxglove and an orchid,

The first exception is the Catalpa bignonioides. Which usually grows 30ft to 40ft. By planting on the north side, it can grow to its full size and showy display, without shading the smaller trees.

Secondly, Salix 'Niobi' the golden willow, A splendid cultivar that needs room to show its weeping habit, also planted on the north side.

Our final oversized tree is the Magnolia soulangeana. the blossoms can be damaged by late frosts, wind or rain,

but occasionally, as with this year, the gods look down favourably.

One of the trees that we pollard to keep small is Albizia julibrissin.

This year flower buds cover the tree,

which should make for a showy July display.

With fruits that look as if they should crawl away.

The mulberry, once it reaches its required height, will be pollarded.

As will the Dogwood.


 and Crab-apple.

Stewartia gemmata has small fragrant flowers, not as showy as Pseudocamellia,

but more in-keeping with my size requirements.

Franklinia alatamaha, similar in size and flower to the Stewartia, but does not flower until late summer/fall and requires constant moisture.

 A little careful planning and pruning can yield surprising results. 

 Now how to get my favourite Meconopsis to survive a hot and humid Connecticut summer.