Saturday, August 23, 2014

Happy Anniversary To Me

Good Morning, Friends. I am up before the sun this morning. The Head Gardener put on a different hat  way before the crack of dawn to take a trip to the mountains. Guess who could not fall back to sleep? I quick-brewed my coffee pod and settled in to read my blog. I was commenting on a dollhouse blog that I have just joined, introducing myself when I realized that I have had an anniversary. I began Welcome to the Garden Spot August 5, 2010 after doing some Goggling on toads with my grandson. He had question about a toad that we had found in the yard. I stumbled on Robin's Nesting Place, a wonderful blog about garden, flowers, birds, photography, blogging. I realized that I could do what she did: Blog. Robin was my inspiration to begin. Today her life and blog have moved on, grown, evolved, as life does. She still blogs, but now more about the beautiful furniture that she re-purposes and less about her garden life. We are Face Book Friends now.

I went for a month without any comments, no followers. I got depressed. Upset. At some point I removed all of my photos, so the early posts don't have any photos. Dumb, I know. My first follower was my best friend who lives Elsewhere. We grew up together. Rode our horses on the mesa west of Denver. Spent Saturday nights at the cowboy dance halls. We are both educators. I don't think she reads the blog. She joined because I twisted her arm. I have blogged about her granddaughter, Shey who lived with us while she attended the university. Side note: Did I tell you that Shey is now a grad student and a TA who will be studying English Literature and teaching freshman comp at the University of Northern Colorado? So proud of her. Anyway. I digress. My second follower was my daughter Heather. Then my second daughter Jen signed on. Bless family and friends.Some of my favs have faded away. I miss them, wonder what they are doing. Hope they are okay.

Then I received my first comment from Carolyn at I was so encouraged. She found me through Blotanical where I began to make more friends. I added more followers by joining a garden blog hop.

Kelli at KellI's Northern Ireland Garden has been with me since that first August. Thank you so much. Having traveled to Ireland, but not Northern Ireland, I enjoy having a friend there. She is a brave gardener whom I admire because she has a great talent for starting plants from seed--successfully. I also have several friends in the UK where I have toured twice, desperately wanting to return before I get too old to travel. I love your photos of the English countryside and reading about your gardens and your English life. On my father's side I am totally English, with some Irish and German on my mother's side, so I am in touch with my English roots, for sure.

I have made friends literally all over the world, some close to home, others in faraway lands that I may never travel to. You all read about my wonderful trip to the Denver Botanical Gardens to meet in person Pom Pom, who keeps a sweet homespun blog that always makes her readers feel uplifted at the end of a good read.

From the plains of Colorado to the tropics in Florida, to the rolling English countryside, from Canada, to Australia and Holland, I have such sweet followers who are happy, cheerful, wise, creative, and such fun to blog with. I daydream about traveling to all those faraway places and meeting my virtual friends who take me on such wonderful armchair get-aways.

Since I started the blog, we have lost our pets that I featured in a series called Meet the Pet Children: the cockatiel, Stevie Wonder 22, Jasmine 17, our little girl kitty, Country 18, the cat who loved ride the EZGO with us, and sweet Max 15, our German Short Haired Pointer, all of whom lived with us for nearly 2 decades. The biggest loss, The Head Gardener's mother 82 passed, too, after many months suffering horrible dementia in a nursing home. She loved to garden and loved to help her son putter around the yard.

But we gained two new babies, Nathan now 5 has finished his first week of kindergarten and little Lily who is God's little reminder of who really is in control, now two. Not to forget Boone Doggle, the rescue pup that has far more energy than all 5 grandchildren. The Head Gardener retired shortly after moving to the Garden Spot in 2009, then went back to his job part time--twice. I retired, too. And we are busier than ever. How does that happen?

I have dug into my old photo archives, even fired up the old MacPro laptop to look for those early photos but it so badly suffers from old age that I gave up the search opting for one photo that says it best: I heart you.

Finally, let's not make this all about me because the blog is as much about you, especially in a time of need to ask for support, patience, and prayer to get through a difficult time. We offer each other that extra bit of support, understanding, compassion, love and prayer. Through our little notes of support we can reach across both ocean and land through this miracle Internet to say we are here for each other.

So Thank You all for following Welcome to the Garden Spot. And a special thanks to a brother who reads the blog and saves his comments for Face Time.

Have a wonderful week end and thanks for stopping by.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Friday Morning Rant

I am in a mood this morning. Actually it started yesterday, but really it has been all summer long as I have to face a sad reality here at the Garden Spot: The Weeds Are Out of Control. Seriously. The Head Gardener took me for ride on the EZGO yesterday eager to show me all the work that he had finished, but instead of seeing his accomplishments, I saw all the weeds.

And this was going to be the year that we conquered the weed. What was I thinking? Do we ever conquer them? They thrived in the drought last year. They have soaked up their share of our more than usually rainfall this year, They are a winning the battle.

I even ventured out to the vegetable garden last night to see if there really was anything to pick.

I had to almost chop my way through the weeds to get to the vegetables. The garden is so sad that I'll not be showing any photos of it this year. But the thing about vegetables is how resilient they are. Give them rain and they grow despite the weeds because that is about all of the attention that the garden has received this year. While the lawn looks fabulous and the water garden is beginning to look awesome, other places at the Garden Spot have been neglected.

So, here is my onion harvest. Of the 3 rows and 3 varieties of onions planted, this is it. They just did not grow. They were planted next to the corral fence where the Head Gardener had treated the soil with an industrial weed pre-emergent two years ago. Nothing wants to grow there now. 

I will get an ample production of peppers. These are the Anaheim, a mild but still bitty pepper. I will have lots of green peppers, and jalapeƱos. The tomatoes are starting ripen. I picked a pan full, so I may get enough to make salsa.

The green beans which we have always had good luck growing fell to the bunnies who discovered the tender new shoots. I suppose we will have to install some chicken wire fencing next year to keep the bunnies out of the garden. We have 3 red beets growing and my husband pointed out the one carrot that survived his cultivation. He tends to forget get that seeds are underneath the soil when he cultivates his ditches for irrigation early before the seeds have a chance to germinate.

So while he is off to his two-day-a week job, I will be weeding the front circle yet again. It is really a really grim place. And this will be the last attempt for the season. 

On a more cheerful note, meet my new friend.

This is Bear. He belongs to my friend whose daughter is giving the girls riding lessons. Usually Mara comes to our house to give the girls their lesson on Pop, but Wednesday they were invited to her barn to ride her big guy Bear. At 24 he is now retired from show competition, but he still wants to be part of the action.

The girls help groom him before they ride. They can barely reach his shoulders. He wears his fancy lace to keep the flies off of his ears.

You can see how big he is as Lucy attempts to mount him.

He is very gentle.

At 13 Mara is an accomplished horse woman and has done so well teaching the girls. Here Lucy takes her first jump. 

The girls were thrilled to get ride Bear. They were so relaxed I think because Bear was relaxed. Ellie looks right at home on the big guy.

Miss Ellie takes her first jump. By the end of her session, Ellie was riding Bear alone and taking the jump without Mara's assistance.

A nice little shower after a heavy work out.

Now look at this little girl and a big horse. Love this photo. And I have to comment on the beautiful landscape behind the barn, the corn fields of northern Colorado.

A day spend with horses and kids is the best day.

And that's why weeds are out of control around here. 

Better get to work.

The EZGO awaits

Hope you all have a fabulous week end.

(Gee, I feel better already. Nothing like good friends to listen to a rant to get it out of one's system.)

Thanks for listening to me today.

Monday, August 11, 2014

As Summer Winds Down

As I sat in the morning sun by the water garden watching the gold fish chase each other, I distractingly noticed that the air felt much like September instead of this pleasant August day. We have had a much cooler than normal summer and it has felt so good. None the less, I am done gardening. We still have some weeding to do to get ready for fall and some deadheading and pruning, but I'll not buy another plant, I promise myself.

Were I not in my post-retirement life, I would  be getting ready to head back to the University writing syllabi and updating my website. I miss that and then I am quite thankful that I don't have do it anymore. Instead I can linger in the warm summer sun, let my mind drift, give thanks for a sweet life.

We had worked so hard getting ready for picnics and company all summer, so with all the entertaining behind us, we goofed off yesterday in Ft. Collins. Coffee at a quaint little coffee shop, a stroll through  a little antique store, a stop at a kitchen store to order replacement parts for my food processor, and lovely walk through CSU's test garden. Wander along with us as we oohed and awed at the beautiful plants.

(Judge Dr. Klett was our daughter's college professor at CSU in horticulture.)


Love more. Comes in 3 colors: pink, white, and yellow.

New varieties coming to your local nursery someday. Maybe. A sign noted that plants received available rain and 1.5 inches of irrigation each week. We have had a rainy summer. The garden has quite an elaborate drip system

Pink Baby's Breath. Love

The grand house on the far side of the garden is a university Frat House. Look at those reds and pinks.

Past their bloom, dwarf sunflowers. Maybe they were pretty. While I love sunflowers, these didn't do much for us.

Ivory zinna. Like

I finally convinced the Head Gardener that we should plant the tall marigolds in the garden, too. He like these.

A traditional rock garden. Like

Snow White would be perfect in the fairy garden as a ground cover. I am continually looking for interesting ground cover.

There are so many new echinacea. I am not so sure that I like this one. Of course, the bloom was not at its peak.

These hardy hibiscus are gorgeous. And I can grow them. They are spectacular when they reach full growth and bloom. Here they are late summer bloomers. This one is. . . 

Cherry Cheese Cake. 

It is always a treat to visit the test garden where the university tests plants from various growers and nurseries. 

Here at home: Holly Hocks Gone Wild

Who doesn't love the holly hock? 

I especially like this pink.

Bees swarm to them.

But enough is enough

 And they all came down

But there are more. We will never be rid of them. Do see them in the far corner of the garden?
What started as just a couple of holly hocks south of the house grew to a forest of them this year. Theu pop up everywhere. Close to gaining weed status, we wanted to get them chopped down before they went to seed. 

Finally the garden around the pond has its final shape with new sod planted last week. The Head Gardener laid a lot sod in all the bare spots in the yard. I will have a blank canvas for next spring. My promise not buy more plants. Ha! I have to indulge myself with a spring bulb shopping spree in another month or so. If I find some bargain grasses, I might have to get some started this fall. 

My first sunflower shot of the summer.

Because I didn't get sunflower seeds planted. This one came up all on her own next to the pond.

Love the strawberries in hanging pots on the patio. They don't complain nearly as much as flowers. A do again for next summer.

And just for you, a bouquet of super market sunflowers, wild sunflowers, and a black eyed Susan. 

Glad you took time to visit. And thanks for your lovely comments.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Lions and Tigers and Bears. Oh My.

Hello Everyone. It is night time; I should be headed to bed as I have a long day tomorrow. We are hosting another family reunion picnic for the Head Gardener's side of the family. I will be oven roasting pork tenderloin using a Paula Dean recipe. Eleven pounds are marinating in the fridge now. I made a lemon meringue pie from scratch this evening, prepared the veggie tray, and cleaned the kitchen. Most everyone will bring a dish. Then I am done picnicking and entertaining until Christmas. I need a break. The Head Gardener needs a break. We He has been working very hard on the lawn filling in bare spots with sod. After things quiet down and I get out to take photos of the finished water garden, I'll show you what we have accomplished.

In the meantime, let me share with you yesterday's adventure. I have had the grandsons this week. Wednesday we met the granddaughters at the city park in Ft. Collins and spend the day at the pool. I had a blast. It has been years since I have been at a swimming pool.

Yesterday I told the boys that we were going on a safari. They didn't quite understand what a safari was, so I explained, but I still don't know if they understood.

Our destination was about an hour's drive from here east Hudson, CO, out on the prairie, The Wild Animal Sanctuary. Click on the link to learn more about this amazing sanctuary for lions, tigers, and bears, wolves and other exotic omnivores that have been rescued from deplorable conditions where the animals were kept illegally, abused, malnourished, and neglected. Located amid the wheat fields,corn fields, and oil wells of northeastern Colorado, the sanctuary provides as natural a habitat home for rescued animals. As a non profit, it sometimes struggles to keep going yet it is growing. Walk along the cat walk high above the animals with us.

After we purchased our admission, a volunteer staff member gives us a brief orientation about the animals and the purpose and mission of the facility, along with the rules. Unlike a zoo in a garden setting with animals caged behind steel and glass, these animals roam their 5+ acre size enclosure free and safe. The walk way is suspended above the animals, and since they do have predators from above they don't look up to see what is above them; thus, they are pretty oblivious to visitors.

The facility uses simple and probably inexpensive materials for abodes. Here in this enclosure for a pride of lions cement culverts are used to provide dens, caves, shade, and napping places. Since we were there midday most of the animals were taking their afternoon naps. 

You have seen this large industrial cable spools used as picnic tables; here they are perches for wild cats.

This shot gives a sense of how immense the facility is and how far removed it is from civilization, except for local farmers. On the website you can see an areal view of the sanctuary.

There is a large collection of wolfs and wolf hybrids, as pictured here. 

On our walk back, the wolves had awakened and were more active.

In a smaller enclosure we see a bob cat.

Remember, these animals are here because they have been rescued from an illegal captivity.

The sanctuary is home to 160 bears. 

Visitors need a sharp eye to discover the gnome at the top if bear's waterfall. We giggled over that.

Lots of bear habitat.

The bears were very fat. We watched this fat black bear gorging itself on a pile of fruits and vegetables. I could see pineapples, oranges, grapefruit. I speculated that they are eating to gain as much weight before they hibernate in one of their dens.

This tiger is so beautiful. It is laying next a natural pond oblivious to the crowd above snapping its photo. The animals are not sold, traded, or bred. Once they come to sanctuary, they will live the rest of  their days there safe and well cared for.

The big cat was so beautiful and peaceful that I had to take several photos.

Once the orientation is finished, visitors begin their long walk above the enclosures. The first enclosure is the round house for the tigers. I did miss having a tour guide who could answer questions and explain more about the facility. I need to spend more time on the website. I believe the round house is where new arrivals are kept until they are ready to roam freely and join a family. They need to be socialized, given medical treatment, and acclimated to their new home, so I think that is done here. At any rate the animals seemed very much at home and comfortable, not stressed out as you sometimes see the caged animals at zoos.

Jen leads our little safari out of the park. The walk way is a mile long one direction, so it is a long two mile walk for little legs. It has 3 rest spots with two snack bars and picnic areas where visitors can rest. We packed Subway sandwiches and had lunch before we started the long walk. They don't allow any food in the parking lots or at animal ground level. 

We ended on a bit of a sour note because a huge storm was brewing just to the south of us full of fury with thunder and lightening. Ellie and Nathan got quite scared with the threatening weather. I must say I was a bit nervous, too, so high up exposed to the forces of nature. 

The kids loved the sanctuary. I know that we did not get to see all of the animals that they house. I do know that I was very impressed with their mission and goals and what they are doing for these poor animals that fall victim to humans who think they need to keep exotic animals. You can read about their stories if you go to the website, but be prepared. Some are heartbreaking, but with a happy ending.

And here is our own wild child, Boone. He has grown up to be a very handsome fellow. 

Good looking he may be, he is still a wild child, but getting better.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you have a fabulous week end. And I hope you enjoyed the little safari. If you ever get to the Denver area and want to do something different and help support a wonderful project, make plans to go on a safari.