Sunday, July 27, 2014

Dog Days of Summer

With the Dog days of summer upon us, gardening has nearly stopped, except for the constant watering, especially the new plants. Our mornings begin deceivingly cool, comfortable, sometimes misty, cloudy, even brooding. By noon-ish the sun has burned away the cool cloud cover, bringing the temperatures to 90+ by mid afternoon. By day's end the storm clouds begin to arrive, coming from the northwest. Sometimes they only threaten; other days they send down pounding rain with lots of drama, deafening thunder, and frightening lightening.

Water lilies thrive during the Dog Days.

The ancient Romans sacrificed a red dog in April to the star Sirius thinking that it was the cause of the hot, miserable weather that followed it's appearance in the sky. The largest star in the constellation Canis Major during those times rose in the morning sky just before the sun or as the sun rose. The star then was blamed for the Dog Days, a time when the sea boiled, wine soured, dogs went mad, and even man suffered from diseases, especially mental malfunctions. 

Today the Farmer's Almanac sets the Dog Days between July 3 and August 11, the days in the Northern Hemisphere with the least amount of rain. (Wikipedia). Thankfully we don't sacrifice dogs, red or any other color. Now we have global warming and climate change to explain weather. (Resisting editorial comments).

My favorite time to garden is early evening when it is cool, and the sun has dipped low on the horizon about to drift behind the a Rocky Mountains. But with the rains and the ever present threat of Mosquitos, this summer I have been a bit lazy of late and in part because we worked so hard to get the gardens ready for the reunion. I really hate Mosquitos. Here they carry the often deadly West Nile virus. We are cautioned to wear mosquito repellent with Deet. Who wants to put that disgusting stuff on? We are also cautioned that Deet is not safe for humans at 35% concentration; however, the most popular repellent Off has only18%, but the stuff is still icky. When I purchased my hand lotion at Bath and Body Works, the clerk shared that the vanilla scent that I chose worked as a mosquito repellent. I'd say that on days when I have lotioned my body, the little varmints haven't bothered as much.

July brings a profusion of summer bloom: here are my July favorites:

 Corcosmia Lucifer is such a beauty with its fiery red blooms on regal iris-looking stems.

Aptly named, the red flowers stand out in the garden. It didn't bloom last summer, so this summer I was very anxious, checking everyday to see if there were any hints of blooms. I was well rewarded. I do wonder if it gets enough sunlight. I believe that because we had a wetter winter, many of our plants and trees performed better this season.

New to the garden, the obedient plant is just the sweetest little darling. Right now dwarfed by the wild dill, it plods along, blooming its little heart out. I wish had purchased more. I saw it on someone else's blog in a gorgeous huge tall clump. I have my fingers crossed that this little plant winters well.

It's called Dill Weed for a reason!

You can barely see Obedient behind the dill. While I relish the fragrance as I walk by and enjoy the yellow flowers and hope that a black swallowtail butterfly will lay her eggs on the thin fronds, I am going to cut it off before the seeds mature and drop. I doubt that I will ever rid the front garden of dill, but I intend to reduce its spread. You can't see in this photo the sprinkler head that it blocks from irrigating the garden behind the dill; thus, a dry spot. As Lady McBeth laments: "Out damn spot."  So "Out Dill."

I can never remember the name of this day lily planted in the front garden, facing the road. It has "edgings" in it name. I should remember its name because the Head Garden reminded me the other day that it was a $30 plant. (Yank that man's credit card). It come with 3 plants and a free-be day lily, but still . .  . . The color in the photo does not quite capture the pretty pink edging, and I do believe that the first blooms had the more vibrant coloration than the more recent blooms.

You all got quite a chuckle out of our garden conversation, so I thought I'd show you the hole. You can see the clamp that holds the repair splice in place. I should have moved the sunflower aside. But I didn't. 

When I planted the clematis here, I never imagined that it would do so well, but look at it. With the cold, wet weather we had in the spring, I did not get it pruned back and it went wild. Would you believe that it has engulfed one miniature rose and totally covers Gertrude Jekyll? I am going to have to cut it back before it chokes out the roses. I really wanted it to cascade over the front of the garden wall, not smother everything else is its path.

I have one more flower to share: 

I spent months last year going to thrift shops looking for dishes to make garden art and now the Moment of Truth has come. I made my first flower. I get over exuberant on a project that I really really want to do. Trouble is I am not particularly crafty. I did a lot of research to see how these flowers are made, pinned dozens of inspirations, and looked obssessively for glass plates. The red plate I found at an estate sale Saturday for a $1 inspired me to get moving. (A note on red glass: quality red glass is made with gold, so it is very hard to find and expensive. Most red glass is just painted that will wash off.) I am sure that in a trendy antique store it would bring much more. I have also had a problem detaching myself from the pretty dishes in order to resist putting them in the cupboard. Like I need more pretty dishes. These are junk dishes, I tell myself. Anyway, I used E6000 glue to glue them together. I still need to add the stem which I will do in a few days after the glue has cured. I have a table full of dishes in the garage waiting to metamorphose into beautiful flowers. Don't you think that they will make nice gifts?

The Head Gardener has gone to the mountains to set up game cameras where he hunts elk. (If any of you are squeamish about hunting, please don't be. He is an ethical hunter, hunts with a bow and arrow, and elk meat is much healthier than beef. In addition, over the 30 years or so of archery hunting the score remains Hunter: 1; Elk: 29.) So I am on my own today

. Another moment of truth has arrived: I will begin work on the dollhouse by painting the first coat on the interior before I glue it together. I am nervous.

I enjoyed the response on Anns Dollhouse Dreams, my new blog. It is still a work in progress as I try to work around Google's new profile presentation. I am wondering how I will keep up with two blogs, but that one will be updated as I make progress on not one, but now 3 dollhouses. Yep 3. But that's for the other blog. Take a peak if you will. 

Thanks for visiting. I do enjoy every moment I spend with you either reading your posts or your kind comments that you leave with me. Have a wonderful week. The Dog Days of summer will soon end and we will begin to sense that Fall is just around the corner. 

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday in the Garden

As we headed out to the garden this morning, I determined that it would be the last planting day, unless I get bored and have to go to the local garden center to see what's marked down. We had a short list for today:

Plant the few bargains that we picked up Saturday:

  • the two roses , 50% off. Who could pass that deal?
  • the one little perennial 
  • the dozen strawberries, 2 six packs for the price of one. Couldn't pass that one up
  • 2 bargain hostas
Plant the two small apricot trees that we bought last week end, another two for the price of one.

We discussed last night what we would do today. I wanted the iris that bloomed so wonderfully this spring moved. The Head Gardener got ahead of me last night and by the time I got back outside he had them dug and loaded in the EZ-Go. My plan had been to mark each one so that I knew which was which. Now they will be labeled Plant 1, Plant 2, etc. when I divide them.

Planting was going well. We had the apricot trees planted; though we struggled to figure out just where to plant them. You would think that with a yard as large as we have, finding a place to plant two small trees wouldn't be a problem.

Next the roses. I bought them for center garden that we have worked so hard to reclaim from weeds. Me and the Head Gardener work well together. I tell him where to dig and he digs, but he does offer his wisdom and I generally listen. Since this was a rather uneventful work day, I left the camera inside.

Me: I'd like the pink [rose] one here.

Him: That tree is going to grow. (He is referencing the already huge ponderosa pine that still has a lot of growing to do) I will leave off the discussion we had about the how stupid  it was to plant two big trees … Never mind. This was not a part of our conversation that should be made public.

Him: How about here?

Me: Too much shade.

Me: Here?

Him: Well, I don't think the tree will reach that far. The lower branches are shorter.

Me: (In my mind: My luck the rose will die before the tree ever gets that size.)

Rose #1 placed.

Now for Rose #2.

Me: I want it here.

He begins to dig. No discussion

Me: (Cheerfully remarking) So much easier to dig here since you tilled.

Him: Yeah until you hit an Aspen root.

The digging stops. His head droops. He then drops to the ground, his hands fiddling around in the hole he has been digging.

Me: What's wrong?

Him: I think I ruined the sprinkler line.

Okay. So we didn't really get everything planted. Rose # 2 is still in its pot out in the garden as I contemplate now where to plant it.

Six strawberries were planted and the one hosta that I planted while he repaired the sprinkler line. Then it was time for lunch. Then the thermometer hit 93. Then it was time for a nap. Then a trip to the grocery store. Then . .  . And the  daily thunder storm rolled in.

And so today would not the last planting day.

Yesterday's Sunrise, a brilliant red sunrise perhaps filtered through a haze created from distant wild fires.

A golf cart load of work. I will divide the iris, giving some away and planting the others around the water garden
I left the Head Gardener to tend to the sprinkler line. Needless to say, he was a bit annoyed. Oh not with me. Let's just say he needed his space.

So I took pictures. Sundance steeling green apples. 

A gorgeous yellow swallowtail butterfly; the first I have seen this summer linger in the garden.

There is still garden to work to do, but seriously I am ready to just enjoy what we have accomplished this summer. Today was not a stellar day in the garden, but some days are like that.

Me: I think I should map out my gardens, marking where all the plants are so that when I buy a plant I know where it will go before I get it home.

Him: Not a bad idea.

Me: And sprinkler lines.


Our Colorado weather has been rather weird this summer. We have had a lot of rain and a very cool June and July. The days have been pleasantly mild, ending with loud thunderstorms, but now I believe the dog days of summer have arrived as 90+ temps are predicted for the next several days. Good thing the sprinkler line got repaired. 

Even as a child, I loved walking around a rain wet garden. Some things we just never outgrow. So barefooted, camera in hand I, wandered about the garden in the rain to see what caught my eye.

The old song "Raindrops keep falling on my head" played in my head.

Using my 75-300mm lens, I was able to capture rain drops pooling on the patio table covered with heavy clear plastic over a table cloth.

 I loved that I was able to capture rain drops in action.

Rain drops on the tiller handle

on Echinacea

on a tiger lily bud

 A rain covered patio floor.

Before I leave you, I'd like to invite you to check out my new blog that I have just launched. I hope I can keep up with two blogs; I know that some of you do.

 I was inspired when I restored Heather's doll house this spring. So much so that I am building my own doll house. Jen bought me a kit on Craigslist, but before I start that house, I have ordered a small cottage to learn how to work with the manufactured wood. I have to admit that I have become obsessed with miniatures and building my house, so of course I have to blog about it. My little cottage arrives this week. I will spend daylight in the garden, but I will be working on my house at night.

Stop by Ann's Dollhouse Dreams, if you like. The current post is about Heather's House which you have already seen on this blog. I hope to see you over there, but I know not everyone is into dollhouses. It will be fun to see how the new blog progresses since I will be doing a few things a little differently, such as connecting it to Pinterest more than I do with this blog.  I remember how discouraged I was when I started the Garden Spot. I stressed because it took so long to get followers and comments. Blotanica helped so much and joining another blogger's garden party helped me meet other bloggers. Now as an experienced blogger with a such a lovely group of followers, I can now appreciate the hard work and patience that it takes to get a blog going. You all are my first love.

Have a fabulous week. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

New Friends and Cherry Pie

So many of my blog friends are expressing the same lament: not enough time to get everything done; blogging seems to be at the top of the list of back burner projects. And I am no different. I have a photo library full of photos that will probably not make the blog and inspirations for blog ideas rattling around in my brain that will be forgotten by the time I need true inspiration to get past writer's block.

Having recognized that we are busy and otherwise engaged, I want to share my trip to the Denver Botanical Gardens. I will be interrupted as the little girls will soon arrive for a horseback riding lesson, but that is how my life goes--interruptions.

If you do not follow PomPom, you should, for she is a delightful, beautiful lady who writes such a warm, inspirational, happy blog. I always leave her blog with a smile and since I generally read my blogs early in the morning, I always start my day with a smile. My blog friends make me smile, getting my day off to a good start. I knew that she lives in Denver, so I invited her to join me for a walk about the Denver Botanical Gardens. She accepted my invitation. I would know her by her white hair and she would know me by my straw hat.

I caught my first glimpse of her as I turned the corner of 11th Avenue onto York, she was standing at the front entrance. I parked in the parking garage then headed to meet her.

It was as though we were old friends. We have so much in common that we kept a stead stream of chatter: grandmothers, retired teachers--English teachers, no less--, gardeners. We walked the garden paths, lingered here and there, had some lunch then sought out the trails that we might have missed, and finally engaged a youngster to take our photo. 

The gardens were a perfect place to begin a new friendship. We exchanged garden woes and successes, asked each other if we knew that plant or another. Some of them we knew, some we didn't. What a wonderful day and at day's end we have made a  new friendship. The weather was warm, but not hot. No rain. Just an all around perfect day.

Take a walk with us, now. Not only are the gardens themselves spectacular mid summer, but this year they are decorated with hand blown glass art by Dale Chihuly who, according to the gardens' brochure, is world renowned for bringing glass blowing from a craft to an art. He has exhibits all over the world, including the one at the Denver location. 

This is first piece of glass art that we see. Amazing to realize that it is hand blown glass.

The same piece from across the gardens.

All through the gardens, glass sculptures are placed so that they reflect and compliment the landscape. 

Of course, I was particularly interested in the water gardens and the plant specimens. 

And how does your garden grow? With cockleshells and little maids all in a row? A neatly mulched kitchen garden. We loved the pansies as companion plants.

Bubbles and Balls.

The photo just does not do this glass art justice. From here, it is very had to distinguish it as glass. It looks like a giant water aloe vera.

Red hot pokers, glass, naturally, juxtaposed with tall pines and high rise apartments in the dry lands exhibit.

The Japanese or Asian garden is beautiful as it is, but add giant floating glass bubbles and you have amazing. 

I had to wait in line, practically, to get this fellow's photo. He was taking his time on the giant hydrangea.

And more bubbles.

I took this same photo in May when I attended the plant sale. Quite a different look. The water plants are all in bloom and the garden beds have been planted.

Inside the tropical garden, it is quite hard to distinguish the glass are from the real thing. Can you guess which is glass?

This piece is stunning although the photo does not do it justice. I heard another viewer remark about how beautiful the sculputers were at night lit up.

OOOOh. These are pretty.

Here we are: The lady with the white hair and the lady with the straw hat.

The garden does not necessarily have a lot ancient Greek sculpture or garden art, thankfully. so this rather modern looking princess with a frog (prince) was so pretty and different.

These look like giant ice blocks.

I was quite remiss in reading signs for the exhibits; we were too busy chatting.

We decided that these represent either great herons or flamingos, perhaps.

We arrived at 10:00, an hour after the gardens open. By noon the crowds had arrived. I took this photo to show the sheer number of visitors. There wasn't a special event going on to attract a crowd, just lots and lots of people wandering, looking, oooooohing and ahhhhhing just as we did, enjoying a beautiful day in the gardens.

We had such a lovely day that ended with promises that we would meet again, perhaps in my little town that has no less than 5 antique stores. And Pom Pom had a sweet little gift for me. She told me a little secret that she likes to leave gnomes in friends' gardens, unbeknownst to them. I love my little gnome. Mr. and Mrs. Gnome in the courtyard garden don't know it, but they are going to get a permanent house guest. I hope he is a gentleman. Look, he brings gifts, too.

Back at home, I have some new voices in the garden. Love this bee balm, or monarda.

Just planted, this daisy was luscious at Lowe's but wilted down some after I planted it. I will dead it, hoping that will bloom again before fall.

Crazy for echinacea, this orange one, also newly planted, compliments the prairie sun rudbeckia in the center garden.

From the other side of the garden, the monarda is quite showy.

Saved from Jen's garden before they sold their little cottage, I planted this lovely lily with great grandma's tiger lilies. This is its first year, and I love the brownish pink color.

This lily photographs nicely after the rain.

And while there are not many, the grapes continue to develop. I am excited.

My flower hanging baskets succumbed to my lack of watering, so I replaced them with 2fer 10 dollar strawberries in baskets. I love seeing the red berries. At the end of the season I will transplant the plants in the berry patch.

Speaking of berries, I found a berry thief in the raspberry patch. 

Our little North Star Dwarf cherry tree finally produced enough cherries for a pie.

It was yum. We invited friends for desert. It was pretty good.

I always make a cinnamon roll with left over crust. I took the hot pie plate out of the oven and placed it on the cool glass cook top and it immediately shattered. I cleaned up the shattered glass and as an after thought took this picture. The Pyrex pie plate is new. I am wondering if the new ones are as sturdy and tempered as the old ones. My guest concurred. Yes, I threw out the roll.

I have been thinking that perhaps I should come visit you. We could meet at your local garden. I'd wear my straw hat. What might you wear? I wouldn't have a problem in the US, but I need to renew my passport if I want to travel out of the country. Wouldn't that be a kick, traveling the world meeting my blog friends?

The little girls had their riding lesson. They listened to their teacher and I think they learned a bit more about how to make Pop follow their commands.

The weather this week has been very cool and wet with thunder storms every afternoon, rather atypical for July in Northern Colorado, but I have enjoyed the coolness--great for sleeping with windows open.

I have taken up quite enough of your time. This is a rather long post. But thanks for visiting.  I hope you have a wonder week.