Monday, June 27, 2016

Adios June

Hello Friends. After my brief absence from the blogosphere, I was heartened that my dear friends are still with me. Your friendship is as dear to me as those friends whom I see daily; both need to be nurtured and loved and cared for, so thank you for staying near and dear.

Can you believe that June is nearly spent? Where did the month go? For us here at the Garden Spot we have spent a lot of time just finishing up projects that have been on the TO DO LIST for a very long time.  We are finally catching up some, enough that I told the Head Gardener today that we need to get a way for a few days. I had London, Yorkshire, Edinbrough, or Dublin, or all of the above in mind, but he suggested taking the camp trailer some place. On such short notice, that is do-able.

Everyday I wander around the yard looking for anything new, interesting, wilting, dying, dead. And everyday I discover a bit of each. This morning, for example, as I walked through the center circle looking for things that might interest you, a tiger swallowtail butterfly lit on a milkweed just beginning to open up. The butterfly wasn't very cooperative and the iPhone camera isn't as flexible as the camera, but here is a pretty butterfly for you, anyway. Upon closer inspection, you will notice that it is faded and a bit beat up, just from life, I suppose.



Look at this second tiger swallowtail, paying particular attention to the dark color. John, the little neighbor boy brought it over to show me. He wanted me to see his new pet, but what struck me was the darkness of it, looking a bit like a cross with a monarch butterfly. He found the poor thing in their wading pool and said it couldn't fly because it had lost all of its fuzz. So he was keeping in it a bug cage and coming over to my house to pick flowers for it to eat.  


Do you sing the little song "Lady Bug, Lady Bug, Fly away home, Your house is fire and your children are all alone" when you see a lady bug. I do. I have been singing more this summer than ever before. We have a lot lady bugs. Good thing they are. They eat aphids, my grandson used to tell me. When he was 3, I showed him aphids on the sunflower leaves and told him that lady bugs ate the aphids. Now 13 he still remembers the answer to my question: What do Lady Bugs eat? 

Here is an interesting sight. While it was raining and cold this spring, the HG built this owl nesting box hoping to attract either barn owls or the great horned owl, which we have see here. He placed under the eves on the barn just above Pop's stall door. It is protected there and we are hoping the the owls will see it. We don't think that we have ever seen barn owls, but they are here, supposedly. I'll let you know. Research shows that one will eat up to 300 small mammals a day. I wonder, do we really have that many mice? 

In case we don't, the HG will buy dead mice that snake owners feed to attract them to the box. Sounds pretty gross to me.

On a much more appealing topic, we drained the pond down Sunday, added fresh water from the irrigation wells instead of the city water. We also added a a microbe that should eat the algae bloom and bought some water hyacinths to get more surface cover. A healthy water feature needs about 85% coverage. The photo also shows the HG planting my cotoneaster bush along with a clematis and grasses to finish the little garden spot. He even planted a pole for either a birdhouse or bird feeder. Right now I have a little gazebo bird feeder that proportionally doesn't look big enough. Check off another project completed from the TO DO LIST. The water garden in the courtyard is fully functional, too. Another item checked off.


The North Star Cherry tree now wears her wedding vail to protect the cherries from the robins. If I don't cover the tree, they will strip it bare. 



Look how clean the garden looks! Wow. Thanks to the HG, while not weed free, the vegetable garden looks so good this year. 

I have already picked onions and this one garlic that Boone had dug up. Talk about spicy hot. I have picked the first peas and shelled them. This only yielded enough for one meal. I won't cook them; rather, I will add them to green salad. I prefer these new peas raw because they are so sweet and natural.



This is the 3rd year for the hostas and they look so strong and healthy--until it hails, which could be this afternoon by the way the clouds look. The hollyhocks are beginning to bloom. This clump is by the barn door.

A new week begins. Friends will be staying a few days while the wife (Sherry) has tests to see if her shoulder replacement needs to be redone. We are always glad to have them come visit, but this won't be a cheerful visit as you she is facing another shoulder replacement. I'll keep up to date. They are on their way, so I need to wrap this up and get ready from dinner.

So Adios, June. Bienvenida, July.

Have great week and thanks so much for stopping by.


Linking with Lavender Cottage for Mosaic Monday. Join us for it is the last one hosted by Judith. As I told her, I have really enjoyed the meme because I made so many new friends and enjoyed so many wonderful blogs. Thank you, Judith. 






Monday, June 20, 2016

The Heat is On

Hello Friends. Summer seems to be sizzling right along. While we mildly lamented  a too cool, even cold, and wet spring, we knew that the heat would soon arrive on the Colorado prairie. And it has. All of the moisture that we had over winter and during the spring has paid off with an abundance of very strong, lush growth all the way from long candles on the pine trees that indicate new growth to the lawn needing to be mowed more frequently, to a bumper hay crop.

Spring flowers have faded, making way for June,s flush of blooms, which now, too, are beginning to fade, making way the the heat loving blooms. Come walk with me as we wonder the Garden Spot to see what's new and what is in bloom.

Our fist stop is a bit of lunch before we begin the tour. Chef salad is on the menu today.


Cool. Refreshing. Light. Perfect for when the heat is on and we don't feel like a heavy lunch.


I begin my salad with a fresh, crisp head of ice berg lettuce. Home grown, by the way. This head of lettuce has a story to tell.

Last summer the Head Gardener bought lettuce sets from our local garden center. He planted them. The weather turned hot, causing the lettuce to bolt and go to seed. I don't think that it even formed heads. So much for head lettuce. Then this spring after the the garden had been rototilled and planted, before the weeds set in, up pops this lettuce. We left it alone until the other day when we decided that chef salad sounded good. I didn't want to let it keep growing until it had become bitter. So now I am thinking that we should plant lettuce seed in late fall. Let it winter over and see what we get. The lettuce was really sweet and very crunchy. Clean. No chemicals, for fertilizers, no pesticides. Just lettuce.


Take a look at these potatoes with purple flowers. The potatoes will be purple, too. Have you ever eaten purple potatoes? Drop by sometime in the fall and we'll sample one.


From the vegetable garden to the water garden more purple. Look at the beautiful iris. When the neighbors next door tore out their pond, we inherited their water plants, including this iris. It was a very sickly thing barely alive in the pot. But look it now. You can imagine my shock when I first discovered that it was going to bloom.


 

And bloom it did. What a show the iris has put on. I can't tell you what sort of variety it is. A water iris, I guess.


The peonies have been wonderful this year. They bloomed a few days late, but quite worth the wait.


This is the last one to bloom. We think it is Sara Bernhardt. I love the shade of pink. 



These are the peonies out front. They grow so big and heavy. We put rings around the three in the backyard, so I will have to buy more rings for these three. These plants came from White Flower Farms catalog. They were titled as a heritage collection.


 
I cut some to put on the dining room table. They are very fragrant and perfumed the house. As a side note you will see that I have redecorated since the new floor went in. Still using my old second hand table and chairs, I added braided rugs that I found at Tuesday Morning. I purchased the vase in 1997 at the university. At the end of each semester for a while I would treat myself to a piece of pottery made by students and sold by the pottery club to make money for the program. This one is perfect for the long stemmed flowers.

Now here is an ugly sight. Actually it is the site of an in progress project. The HG is configuring a watering system for the hanging baskets on the pergola. They will be on a timer which will really help to keep the potted plants watered.



On the other side of the patio, the flower garden shows off it's color. The coral bells especially like this area. Heavy, wet clay soil with morning sun and afternoon shade. They will bloom all summer.



As self starter, this snap dragon has been appearing every year that we have been here. They come up spontaneously here and there and are always a welcome sight. This year I am most surprised at how the colors match, the coral bell and the snap dragon, almost as if planned.





Another self starter last year, the echinacea has grown taller this year and bloomed. I love the shade of pink. She didn't put herself in the best spot, but she seems very happy there. 


Not so happy is this poor begonia. We bought two begonias just to see if they would grow in the center circle where it is nice and shady. One continues to grow and one just rotted. We grew begonias at the old house. One year we started the tubers inside and transplanted them in the shade garden. The winter was so mild that they re-emerged the next spring. I am thinking that I'll buy tubers next spring and start them again. They are very pretty but rather pricey in the garden centers. Do you grow begonias?


The hay has been baled. It did get rained on. Always does. It is just so stressful to have hay on the ground waiting for it to cure to be baled, watching the clouds roll in, and hoping that they move on without dumping rain on the Garden Spot. 


We had an amazing production. The first year we cut hay we got 85 bales. Another cutting yielded 111 bales and the HG knew for sure that he could never beat that total again.


He stacked 50 bales in the barn for the horses--or rather the horse. Pop no longer can chew hay so he gets moistened hay cubes. More on him later. Anyway. 50 bales for us and 148 bales for a friend who feeds two horses. Yes, 198 bales of hay from 1.9 acres. Amazing. Thank you Mother Nature for all of the moisture that we received over the winter and during the spring. 


I will leave you with a spot of red. Well, two spots: Veteran's Honor and another self starter, red snap dragon. Don't know where the red one came from. As I said earlier, they just appear.

Do come back again, for there is always something new here at the Garden Spot. Thank you for keeping me company our little walk.

I do hope that I can get back into the blogging groove. I have neglected both my blog and yours, too. Hopefully I can focus after this week. I have working on a photo album for little Lily's birthday this Saturday. It has been a big project and then I am also obsessed with the dollhouse houses, too. Yes, plural. And the garden and weeds . . . The list goes on.

Tomorrow it is supposed to hit 98. We will be delivering a load of hay, but I think I'll be inside most of the day. The nice thing about Colorado heat: low humidity and it cools off very nicely at night.

Finally a sweet memory as we approach the summer solstice: July 20, 2001,  I was at Stonehenge--before digital photos or I'd share a photo. I have to say that was the highlight of my entire life: Stonehenge. Marriage, babies, my master's degree were all regular life stuff, but Stonehenge was possible only in my dreams and fantasies. And I even had a return trip in 2006, but this first one was the day before the summer solstice. The driver of our tour bus took a back road in through Her Royal Majesty's military practice fields. We heard the booms from the practice artillery going off. We passed a band of gypsies parked by the side of the road, traveling by horse drawn wagons. The adrenaline was coursing through my veins as we drew nearer to the park. When we arrived the parking lot was full of law enforcement, the army, and TV news vans, and, yes, Druids. Indeed, a dream come true.

Thanks so much stopping by and leaving your sweet comments. I have you missed you. Have wonderful week. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

boys




Not only is my weekly post late, but I haven't been around to visit either. I can't say that I am taking a blog break. Just busy. The house, though, most often is quiet, with only the Boone Doggle to liven things up. Now two years old, he still requires a lot of supervision, for he tends to run the Garden Spot nose to the ground sniffing for interesting scents-- Rabbit most likely--not paying attention to much else.  And then the grandsons arrived Sunday afternoon. We will have them for the week, taking them back to Denver on Monday. Until then we will be busy.







Yesterday was a work day, with everyone getting into the act, even the neighbor.

The Head Gardener came to the house to share a photo. When he arrived, the 13 year old announced that he wanted to work to earn money. So here Jacob and Nathan are: working. The HG decided to remove the 3 dead crabapple trees that died two years ago during the cold snap that we had. We decided not to replace them with trees, choosing instead Summer Wine, a lovely Nine Bark bush.





They are pretty bushes, fragrant, colorful, and the butterflies and bees will love them.


But removing the old trees wasn't so simple. This first tree, a replacement tree, came out easily because the root system apparently wasn't totally established.  The next tree held on a bit more, and the 3rd tree was quite stubborn about coming out. 

Even the neighbor lady got busy doing clean-up around her yard and recruited Jacob to clean out her window wells. She generously paid Jacob for his efforts, and he was most happy to accommodate her.




Nathan, now 7, meanwhile spend most of his day shooting baskets. We had this old basketball hoop that I had ordered to the dump. But someone forgot to take it. Then I ordered that it be put out by the road FREE. But someone forgot. Then I commanded that it be set up for the boys to shoot baskets. The little guy spends most of his time shooting baskets. He is getting pretty good. 

And now how the garden grows:


Lucy's ballet recital was Sunday; we had work to do before we could go. The HG helped me plant the last of the perennials in the center circle. I still have some bare spots, but it is gradually filling in. 


This is how the Garden Spot grows, looking across the neighbors' hay  from the north where the irrigation pumps are.




This is how the hay field looks after the hay has been cut. We went to town Monday; the hay had been cut while were gone. And of course it rained, one of those thunder noisy storms that rages in over the mountains, dumping a lot rain as it heads east. Never fails. It seems that freshly cut hay is a signal for rain. Hopefully it will be hot enough to dry out and cure the hay and we won't get anymore rain on it.


This is probably the best hay we have grown so far, shoulder high to an average sized HG, but it won't be much good if gets too wet and molds. Last year we lost both of our cuttings and had to buy hay for the horses.



Roses on the other hand love the rain and thrive. This is Veteran' Honor in the front court yard.


Along with First Prize


And with Gertrude Jeckyl.


The wild giant alum. Such interesting plants.



The north side of the court yard makes me very happy with all of the pink. Duchess Albany clematis is just beginning to bloom. Once her blooms fade, I will cut her back. I didn't get any pruning done this spring because it was so cold. The Duchess tends to over take this corner.



New to bloom in the center circle: the globe alum, not as large as the giant alum, but full of blooms this year.


The yellow breaded iris has bloomed. I moved it two years ago to the center circle and it has taken this long for it to bloom. I just love her soft, creamy, lemony yellow.



And while you all are sharing gorgeous photos of you blooming peonies, I am still waiting on mine. And waiting. And waiting.


So there you have it. Time to fix breakfast for the guys. We have a busy day. Grandpa is taking the boys to get fishing licenses so that they go fishing tomorrow. Then we will meet Jen and girls at the pool for an afternoon of swimming. Tomorrow the HG will take the boys with a friend fishing on his boat. They have never been fishing from a boat. Friday the HG will take them camping for the weekend to a Colorado Bow Hunters archery shoot in the mountains. They both have compound bows, so they will get in lots of shooting.

Me? I'll be recuperating and working on a new dollhouse. If you want to keep up with my progress, check out annsdollhousedreams.blogspot.com, which I hope to update more regularly to document my progress.

I hope you are having a great week. I'll get around to visit soon.