Thursday, August 26, 2010

For All Our Traders Joe's Fans

Have you seen this funny video called "If I Made a Commercial for Trader Joe's"? It's by Carl's Fine Films. They explain it best:

"One day I was taking a photo of a primitive but lovely hand-drawn chalk sign when a manager came running over to tell me cameras aren’t allowed in Trader Joe’s. Well, he didn’t say anything about cell phones so I decided then and there to make a commercial for TJ’s on my Treo. Up until now they haven’t done any TV advertising at all so I have no idea if this is the kind of thing they would like."

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Local Music: Princeton Landing's Warren Fioretti

This Saturday, August 21, Princeton Landing's Warren Fioretti will be performing with The Jazz Lobsters at Nassau Park Pavilion in West Windsor. The Jazz Lobsters, considered one of the best big bands in the region, cover all styles of music from big band to funk, island to rock, jazz standards to modern hits. Click here for a small taste of what's in store.

The concert is from 6 pm to 8 pm, rain or shine. The Nassau Park Pavilion is located between Target and Panera Bread in the Nassau Park Shopping Center on Route 1 South. Click here for directions. The performance is sponsored by the West Windsor Arts Council and admission is free.

Warren plays tenor saxophone and woodwinds with The Jazz Lobsters and also performs with several other bands and ensembles. He and his wife, FVCSA board member Mari Molenaar, live in Parcel 7.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Parcel 6 Evening Sky — 7:40 pm

Sunday, August 15, 2010

More About Our Weeds

by Jon Latimer

A neighbor in Parcel 7 made the following comment in response to my earlier posts on the poison ivy and weeds: “John, you appear to be quite upset with the landscape committee for their choice to not use chemical fertilizer last season. While the immediate state of the lawns or increased poison ivy are issues of concern, I find that the committee's efforts to rely on organic methods of weed control admirable. It is still desirable, in my opinion, to identify non-chemical means of control.”

The comment touches on some important points and merits a detailed response. To be clear, use of “chemical fertilizer” isn’t the issue. Fertilizer is used to promote the growth of desirable plants. Herbicide is used to prevent the growth of undesirable plants such as weeds and poison ivy. My posts on weeds and poison ivy questioned last year's decision not to use herbicides. It’s also important to distinguish between turf areas and exposed soil in berms or planting beds. Weeds can be a problem in both, but the methods of control are different.

In berms and planting beds, mulching is well recognized as a “non-chemical method of weed control.” The standard practice is to apply mulch in early spring before weeds emerge. Last year, except in one or two parcels, no mulch was used at Princeton Landing. This year, mulch was applied throughout the community, but that work didn’t start until late June and wasn’t finished until late July. By then, weeds and poison ivy were established well enough to simply push through the mulch and continue growing. Once that happens, they can only be removed by spot-spraying an herbicide such as Roundup or by pulling them manually. Spot-spraying herbicide is of course not a “non-chemical means of control.” Manual removal is much less thorough and less effective. It is also very labor intensive and therefore too costly for a community like ours, which has a large and complex landscape and already spends hundreds of thousands of dollars each year on landscape maintenance.

Mulching is also much more effective at suppressing weeds if a pre-emergent herbicide is applied to the soil before the mulch is put down. Indeed, Princeton Landing used this combination successfully every spring for years. We’re no longer doing so. In fact I understand that for budgetary reasons mulch will now be applied only every other year. If the goal is to rely more heavily on "non-chemical means of weed control" that's actually a step in the opposite direction. Needless to say, in the years when no mulch is put down, application of pre-emergent herbicide will be the only defense available against invasion of our berms and planting beds by weeds and poison ivy.

Turf areas present a different challenge. As I pointed out in my post, lawn areas throughout the community are now infested with weeds such as crabgrass and spurge. In the past these were controlled by applying pre-emergent and post-emergent chemical herbicides. Thickly growing turf grass helps sustain itself by “crowding out” weeds, so it's important to prevent weeds from becoming established. No herbicide was applied to the lawns last year. Weeds gained a foothold then, and came back with a vengeance when our turf went dormant in this summer’s dry heat. The ugly results are now visible throughout the community. Once weeds become well established in turf grass, the only “non-chemical means of control” I know of is to remove them manually. As I noted above, that is too labor intensive and too expensive for a community this size.

So although the commenter from Parcel 7 finds “the committee’s efforts to rely on organic methods of weed control admirable,” in fact no such “methods” have been explained and justified publicly to the community, and none are being practiced. Instead, a few poorly informed residents have led the Landscape Committee through a series of shortsighted and destructive misjudgments, against the advice of the community’s landscape professionals. Our landscape is now deteriorating at a frightening rate. It will take years of remediation to get it back to the condition it was in before. This should concern every homeowner because it has a direct impact on the beauty of our community and the value of our homes.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Local Music: Princeton Landing's Warren Fioretti

On Friday, August 27, Princeton Landing's Warren Fioretti will be playing with the Tigertown Dixieland Band at Grounds For Sculpture in Hamilton. Warren (second from left) is a professional jazz musician. He has performed with the bands of Les Elgart, Buddy Morrow, Nelson Riddle, Rob Stoneback, and Brass Transit. He has also appeared in the backup bands for Aretha Franklin, Natalie Cole, Bobby Shew, Arturo Sandoval, Bill Watrous, Jeff Jarvis, and the Manhattan Transfer. Warren is the husband of Mari Molenaar, a member of the FVCSA Board of Directors.

The Tigertown Dixieland Band has been a popular jazz/Dixie band in the Princeton area since the late 1990s. The band features Dotty Westgate on keyboard and vocals; Jerry D'Anna on bass; Scott Ricketts, trumpet; Pete Reichlin, trombone; Dave Stier, percussion; and Warren on clarinet.

The concert begins at 7:30 pm, rain or shine. Tickets are $10 for the concert or $12 for concert and grounds. To purchase concert tickets in advance, call 609-586-0616. Prior to the concert, The Peacock Café at Grounds For Sculpture will be serving specials inspired by the night's theme; reservations can be made for the Café at 609-890-6015.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Attention Parents: Butterfly Festival

This Saturday, August 14, from 10 am to 4 pm the Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association will hold its 10th Annual Butterfly Festival at the Watershed Reserve.

The festival is an event the entire family can enjoy. There will be naturalist-guided tours of the Kate Gorrie Butterfly House, nature hikes, live entertainment, children's activities, and a variety of demonstrations and exhibits about the environment. Food from local vendors will be available.

There will also be a Butterfly Costume & Hat Parade, open to both children and adults. To participate, you must register at the Membership and Development Booth between 10 am and 12:30 pm. The parade will be held on the main stage at 12:45 pm. Click here for an entry form.

Admission is $5 per person or $15 per carload with parking provided across the street from the Watershed Association courtesy of Bristol-Myers Squibb. No pets allowed. The Stony Brook-Millstone Watershed Association is located at 31 Titus MIll Road in Pennington. Click here for directions.

Friday, August 6, 2010

The Kennedys | Portrait of a Family: Photographs by Richard Avedon at Morven

Photograph by Richard Avedon
Courtesy National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Instituion

"The Kennedy's | Portrait of a Family: Photographs by Richard Avedon" opens Saturday, August 7, at Morven Museum & Garden. This is the Princeton area's chance to see the traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian National Museum of American History.

On January 3, 1961, distinguished photo portraitist and fashion photographer Richard Avedon undertook an assignment for Harper's Bazaar and Look magazines at the Kennedy family home in Palm Beach, Florida. The photo session took place three weeks prior to Kennedy's presidential inauguration. Over several hours Avedon took candid and posed portraits of the president-elect, his wife Jackie and their children Caroline and John, Jr.

In 1966, three years after the assassination of President Kennedy, Richard Avedon donated the prints and negatives to the National Museum of American History. The exhibit features 27 black and white photographs, 9 large images and 18 enlarged contact sheets. Six of the images appeared in Harper's Bazaar's February 1961 issue.

This is the first time images from this photo shoot are on view in their entirety and the show is available only to select venues, so we are fortunate to have this exhibit in our area. The exhibition runs through October 31.

Morven Museum & Garden is located at 55 Stockton Street in Princeton. Museum hours are 11 am to 3 pm Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and noon to 4 pm Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $6 for adults and $5 for seniors and students. Free parking is available on site. Click here for directions.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Where Did All The Weeds Come From?

One of Princeton Landing’s most precious assets—its expansive, pristine turf—is in jeopardy. High-quality lawns like ours are usually admired for their uniformity. But this year our lawns are filled with noxious, invasive weeds. A “weed” is simply a plant that grows where it is not wanted, but the two weeds discussed here—crabgrass and spurge—are considered undesirable in almost any situation. Their different leaf shapes, sizes and colors prevent turf grass from achieving its optimum growth and the uniform appearance that is so highly valued.

Crabgrass (genus Digitaria) is a bright green grassy annual with stems that extend out like the legs of a crab. It grows in the heat of midsummer when more desirable grasses are semi-dormant and offer little competition. An adult plant can reach 18 inches tall and 20 inches wide and produce up to 150,000 seeds. Crabgrass plants are killed by the first hard frost in fall, but their seeds survive through winter. Applying a pre-emergent herbicide in spring is the best way to control crabgrass, but if that opportunity is missed, special herbicides can be an effective treatment.

Our most common forms of spurge (genus Euphorbia; sub-genus Chamaesyce) are Spotted Spurge (Chamaesyce maculata) and the similar Prostrate Spurge (Euphorbia prostrata or Euphorbia supine). Both are summer annuals that form dense mats of stems and leaves on the ground. These mats, which can reach 16 inches in diameter, choke out desirable lawn grasses. Spurge can be eliminated by applying a pre-emergent herbicide in spring. Post-emergent herbicides are much less effective.

The prevalence of these weeds indicates that Princeton Landing’s landscape is in trouble. Neither the weather nor our landscape company are to blame. When the Landscape Committee chose not to use a pre-emergent herbicide last year and to delay its application this year, they gave these weeds a huge advantage in the ongoing battle for control of our lawns. Their actions affect the appearance of our community and the value of our homes. It will now take a lot of time and effort to restore our turf.