Monday, May 26, 2008

Poppy's & Chives

This is the time for poppies at Pinehaven and the lovely salmon pink poppy we have growing in the front flower bed is as unusual a color as any flower I have seen. It's a delicate pink with a tinge of salmon to it and so light and delicate you can almost see through the petal. Every year when it blooms I am in awe of its inspiring display. If it has a shortcoming, it's that it is short-lived. It lasts a day or two at best and if it rains or the wind blows too hard it is doomed before it begins.

A wider view of the plant shows how special it is. A compact plant with none of the garrish orange of the standard poppy, this is as delicate as petals come.

So, too, at the corner of the garden, the chives have gone to flower. We've clipped plenty of the thin leaves for salads but there comes a point late in the season when the plant wants to bloom. You can see how quickly the flower heads form. Better at this point to let it go, let is give its purple show. The contrast between the globe-shaped lavendar flowers and thin green leaves is almost stark. I enjoy these in my salads, but I equally enjoy the display the flowers make. We give time for each.

Again, a closer look exhibits the fine color and the intricacy of the flower heads.

Thursday, May 22, 2008


Each year we wait for the return of a female hummingbird - or, at least we think it's the same one. In any case, we place the feeder up in early May, anticipating her arrival from far off in the south. We record the date each year. We'll be doing dishes - or working in the kitchen - and finally see her tiny form darting around the feeder. And when that happens, we begin the next step: looking for where she is building her nestn this year. That's not an easy chore; there are plenty of trees around our yard and we wouldn't have a chance but for one thing: she always uses the same maple tree.

As you can see in the picture above, I've located her again. Actually I heard her working - that familiar hummmm - while hanging a birdhouse in the maple. I backed away as soon as I heard it, trying to see her at work. But I saw nothing.
Then, one day early this week, I happened to walk to the second floor bathroom window and there she was - almost completed nest and all - not more than 15' away from the glass. Since then the nest has been finished and I assume she's laid her eggs because she's very careful not to be gone very long. Also I can watch her reach down with her long bill and work on turning the eggs.
Now we're not quite high enough to see down into the nest but we're otherwise in the perfect spot to watch the process of hatching the babies.
The last thing we do each evening when the light begins to ebb is to walk near the window, look out to the nest and see that she has already bedded down for the night. By early morning, as soon as the sun begins striking the nest, she's busily at work. Though she leaves the nest often, she is never gone long.
We have the perfect front row seat.

It might seem strange to see an amaryllis blooming on this blog, especially in May, but my Christmas present many years ago has chosen this late date for its annual display. Getting an amaryllis to bloom year after year has a trick to it, something a professional gardener explained to me. If you start it again in the fall (watering the bulb in the dark; we use the cool basement) and the only thing the bulb puts forth is leaves, cut them off! Put the bulb back into the cool, dark place and try again. An amaryllis will get the point quickly: it's the bloom you are after. It's something you expect.

Now, the summer months ahead will find the plant outside in the sun and with a pinch of nitrogen fertilizer to give it some strength. In the fall, cut the leaves back, give the bulb a couple of months to rest (place it on a newspaper in a cool, dry spot). When you want it to bloom (begin in November for a Christmas bloom), pot it, water it, and watch it grow.

It may be May if you have to argue with it but telling a bulb who is in charge is easy, if you have sharp sheers.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

A New Roof - Part Four

Monday (05/05) - Continued - Along the south roof, a close-up of the scaffolding is shown. The shingles look nice and crisp. No more annual upkeep.

Tuesday (05/06): The final day for the bulk of the work. Here the roofer removes the old roofing from the back of the house. Looking down through the lathing, the insulation I installed in 1987 is visible. There looks to be a few bird's nests, too.

While working, the roofer conveniently parked out of the way of our garage so we could come and go as needed.

What does the old metal roof like like once removed? It comes off in long strips. Though it appears to have been galvanized on the back, the rust managed to get through anyway. Something can be said for its 80 or 90 years of weathering (perhaps) but it certainly was left on the roof long beyond its useful life.

Almost done!. The new roof is now in place - all in a couple of long days, sun-up to sun-down - and the result is exactly what we were hoping for. Pinehaven is reborn.

A view of the north side of the house. Only three vents still need to be added, the grounds cleaned up a bit and then the project is complete.

A New Roof - Part Three

Monday (05/05) - Continued - Here's the front of the house with asphalt shingles installed.

Removing the old chimney that served as a vent for the fuel oil furnace was a priority. It's leaked every one of the years we've lived here. My bedroom ceiling shows the wear of water coming through time and again. Now that we have a heat pump and electrical back-up heat, there was no longer need for a chimney. Thus, down it comes!

A few good whacks and the chimney broke loose. Even so, the roofer threw the bricks down to the ground a few at a time. After he began work he could rock the chimney back and forth (not good!). Further, the liner was found to have degraded and that explains why winter smoke could be seen coming from between the bricks. Another bad sign.

Now around to the back. The south side (right on this shot) is already being shingled; the back (west) waits its turn.

Climbing up on the kitchen roof, here's a close-up of the new shingles. The chimney which was removed used to be just beyond the plumbing vent in this picture.

A New Roof - Part Two

Monday (05/05): Early morning and the work begins.

From the road, a view of the house with the old metal roof and shake shingles removed. The old pine lathing was placed horizontally and that's surprising to me. While the wood beneath is in fine shape, the old metal roofing was rusted and the shake shingles beneath showed their age.

A closer view of the house which much of the old roof removed.

Scaffolding serves as a safety zone, I suppose, since I never actually saw the roofer standing on it. If he were to slide or slip, I suppose the scaffolding served as a brake of sorts.

Another view of the ladders.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

A New Roof - Part One

Sunday (05/04/08): Materials for the new roof were delivered today. Here are the Owens Corning shingles (Oak Ridge of Onyx Black, a dimensional shingle) which will replace the old metal roof which has had its share of leaks over the years. Good riddance!

And the new decking material stands ready against the garage (capping shingles atop).

When was the current roof installed? Probably in the 1920's owning to the style of "standing seam" metal. Beneath the metal are the orginal cedar shake shingles which, I suppose, were nailed in place when the house was originally built. When? Perhaps as early as 1891 or perhaps as late as 1910. The records are sketchy. In any case, the roof is certainly near the century mark.