Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A Room With A View

We had a lovely Easter. A small celebration with Jen and her family. The day began with a celebration of Christ's Resurrection at the Sunrise Service, a long family tradition. My mother's favorite place to celebrate Easter was at Red Rocks, a natural amphitheater west of Denver. I cooked a prime rib roast for dinner, the girls hunted Easter eggs, and we just had a nice day.

We have had a project going on that I have held off writing about until there was something really worth sharing.

One of features of the Garden Spot that we love so much is the openness of the space. The house sits toward the front of the 5 acres facing west. Previous owners made certain improvements. The first owner added the patio on the back of the house that faces a large  back yard that was once fenced with a pole fence. Owner 4 removed the fence. The original patio was somewhat functional, but had some major problems. Built on a table of dirt and sand, it was made of interlocking paving stones. Each year more and more ants dug their tunnels beneath the pavers, causing them to shift and sink. Weeds growing between the pavers became more of a problem, requiring Round-Up to get rid of them--a constant battle to keep the weeds controlled. Nor was there any shade. So early this spring, we made the decision to turn the patio into a usable space. The Head Gardener found a web site of a local company that builds patios. The estimate was reasonable so the work began.


Last year we cut down the large Russian Olive that provided shade, but it was a dirty, ugly tree.



Hot all through the day, the patio without shade just was not a pleasant place.



Dandelions in the lawn are one thing, but on the patio. Nope. No more.


And so the work began. First the removal of the pavers.




A very young man owns the company that builds patios, gazebos, and pergolas. These 3 young men worked very hard and were are very good at what they do.



After the pavers were removed, next the dirt had be hauled off. Using a hand operated bobcat with a loader, load after load of dirt was hauled off. Some was piled out in our corral, but most was hauled over the the neighbors.

  
The Russian Olive stump was ugly, which began to grow new shoots, refusing to give up. The stump also had roots that ran for many feet underneath the original patio with roots as big as 6 inches in diameter. We had a tree company come with a stump grinder to remove the ugly stump and its roots.


A note on the Russian Olive. They were planted in abundance during the Great Depression in the '30s as a part of Roosevelt's WPA to get men back to work. Today in Colorado they have been declared a nuisance plant, a weed. Many were planted along ditch banks; now they are known to be water hogs, sucking   water that could be used more efficiently watering agricultural crops. I had a college student whose summer job was working for the state to remove these trees. 

They do have some redeeming qualities that made me think twice about removing ours: the blooms smell so good in the spring and the tree was a hum with bees gathering pollen from the blossoms. The birds loved the tree. Each spring it would be full of little warblers eating bugs. But in the end after all of the consideration, the tree had to go.


The dirt has been removed, the hole dug for the support beams, and the cement poured to support the beams.


Now the wood floor joists are added.


For the floor we chose Trex Decking, a composite decking that should hold up better than treated wood.


And here it is. I spend the day with little Lily yesterday, missing out on watching the pergola go up built with treated wood.


What a surprise. The first thing I noticed was that the living room was not as bright. I really do not know how I feel about that yet.

There is still a lot of work to do yet. The skirting around the deck has to be added and the wrought iron railing for the steps will be added once we can find suitable railing. We will look at salvage yards for railing. I get to shop for new patio furniture, too. We will keep our table and chairs, but I want to add an area rattan rug and two chairs and a coffee table. I love serving Sunday breakfast on the patio. And, of course, there will be hanging flower baskets and pots of plants. The garden beds around the edge need to rebuilt and as you can see there is more brick work to be done to rebuild the garden beds.

We are having a family reunion in June and we wanted a usable space for the picnic. Can't wait.

Other Projects

The Head Gardener ordered four baby chicks. They are blue laced red wyandottes. Click on the link to see what the adults look like. They really are pretty hens that will lay brown eggs.  Right now they live in the Rubber Maid tub brooder underneath a nice warm heat lamp. They cheep and peep in sweet little baby voices.


Of course I had to play a bit with them.




My Happy Easter Face Book card.



Isn't she cute? 

The days are warmer. We hit 80 yesterday. The garden plants in the living room are growing. The squash may have blooms any day now. LOL. The tomatoes are ready to be transplanted into larger pots.

Out in the garden the asparagus planted last year is breaking through the ground. I have been so anxious waiting to see if it survived the winter. The two original asparagus plants now in their 3rd year were sending up such healthy, beautiful shoots, but they froze. More new shoots are coming, but I was sadly disappointed at the loss of such healthy asparagus. We are still about three weeks out before we begin planting the garden; in the meantime, we have plenty of work to do get the patio gardens back in shape.

I hope I haven't worn you out with so many pictures of the patio. I can hardly contain myself. Tonight grilled chicken. 

I hope you are having a lovely week. I hope all of your spring dreams are coming true. By looks of your lovely spring gardens, they are bringing you great joy, for I know that I am enjoying your beautiful garden photos. 

Thanks for stopping by. And I think I said it before, but once again thank you so much for your sweet, supportive comments on dear, sweet Country. We do miss him.

Have a great week. Thanks for visiting.





Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy Easter


A really quick iPad post this morning to wish everyone Happy Easter. 


We have a busy week end. We will join the granddaughters for Sunrise service, then come home and have Easter dinner and the egg hunt. Today I tutor at the University and shop for groceries. The Sun is shinning this morning and it is supposed to be warm all week end. 

I am really enjoying everyone's spring photos and gardens. There is so much good and joy to celebrate in your gardens. I start my day early by reading your posts, taking joy in your kind thoughts and good words as you write about your own joy in your garden, a very good way to start a day, don't you think?

And thank you for all of you very kind condolences for Country. He was a sweet boy.

Happy Easter.



Sunday, April 13, 2014

Country

He a came to live with us in May 1996 as a graduation gift to Jen from the boyfriend whom no one really liked-- to say it kindly. The charcoal grey baby was thin and smelled awful because he had diarrhea; he was a pathetic little creature. Jen named him Country because she was into country western music at the time. He had aliases, too, depending on what he done. We called him Stinky early on until his health improved and Killer because he left dead sparrows and mice at the front door. He won our hearts as he grew older with his affectionate and loving nature. For a short time, he moved away when Jen took a job at IBM in Boulder. He was good apartment cat, but that job didn't last for Jen, so the pair moved back home. When Jen moved out again, Country stayed with us. Our home was his home now. Jasmine joined the family that same summer and couple of years later Max the dog arrived. The two cats and dog lived in peaceful co existence  more less tolerating each other for nearly two decades. Mo, the feral cat, joined us about 8 years ago.

We moved to the Garden Spot with the now aging pets and young Mo five years ago. We kept them in the house for several weeks before we would let them roam free outside. Country loved it here. He spent his days, even in his advanced age, at the neighbors hunting voles, bringing them home and leaving them at the front door.

He fell ill several days ago, making a loud noise as he breathed. The vet gave him an antibiotic, cautioning us that instead of a sinus infection, he could have a sinus tumor. If it were merely an infection, we would see signs of improvement. Didn't happen. His breathing was still noisy. He stopped eating, only drinking water. On Thursday it was apparent that he was not responding to the medication, only getting weaker. The appointment was made, and yesterday Country left us. He was 18 years old.

His passing was the end an era. The pets we had as the girls grew up are now all gone in the space of about 18 months, along with their grandmother who passed way a year ago: two cats, the cockatiel, and Max the dog. The house is quieter now. Lonely. We still have Mo, the ungrateful recluse who comes in only to sleep in the garage and eat. He bullied Jasmine and Country, but loved Max. Now he has to figure out how to deal with Boone who really does not understand cats.

I have been asked if I would get another cat. No. I guess not. Nor will I get another bird. I have had cats and birds since I was little girl. Somehow I always managed to keep the cats from eating the parakeets. I dare not go into a pet store where I might see a cute little budgie and or a lovely cat that needs a home. Mo is enough, cool and distant cat that he is. Boone keeps things lively enough. We will miss our sweet Country.

And Spring. . . Really? 


I suppose you are enjoying yourself, dear Lady. Of course this bad temperament of yours is typical. You bate us in with some 70 degree weather, sunny days, you let the daffodils just get a good start, then you rip the rug right out from under our feet. Shame on you.


I planted these yellow and peachy tulips two years ago. Last year you froze them to ground before they could bloom. Is this a repeat of last year's cruelty?


The Gnomes are always happy. I guess they are just thankful that they found a nice place to live. 


Newly planted last fall, these daffodils had a very sad awakening this season. 


The red bud is just beginning to  blossom. I hope it is hardy.




Ever cheerful, the robin pokes around the the mulch for bugs and grubs. Glad to see someone enjoys Spring's sick sense of humor.


Yeah, Spring. Proud of yourself? You killed off the hyacinths  last year, and the remaining one will probably freeze.




The Head Gardener kindly covered the tender perennials in the back garden. My first successful bleeding heart looks so strong and healthy and other plants are just waking up. 

This really is not the post I had planned for today, but I needed to write a little tribute to Country and vent on Spring's poor sense of humor.

Hope you have a great week. Thanks for stopping by.


Wednesday, April 9, 2014

You Know It Must Be Spring When:

You know it must be Spring when the birds begin migrating. The Canada geese head north, honking all the way. Did you know that they honk--talk--to the leader at the head of the V to keep him encouraged? And that he only leads for so long; that he will fall back to the end and let the next goose lead? So the geese leave and the grackles move in. Those noisy, greedy, pushy bullies at  the bird feeders that run off all of the other birds. The only things good about them: their beautiful iridescent blue/green heads and they leave early after they have raised their last clutch. I don't have a photograph because I didn't want to waste mega pixels.

So while everyone is parading their gorgeous spring flowers, I have my own heralds of the season.

It has been a very busy week, thus my usual Sunday post is late.



The cherry trees had lived in the garage long enough. They were starting to bud out, so on a nicer day, we planted them.



With our clay based soil, we need to do a lot amending, so the Head Gardener adds Eco Complete and compost as recommend by the the family arborist, Heather. Then as recommended by the nurseryman he adds a root stimulator. The brand name that we have used before is Mike or Myke, but we chose the organic this time. It gives the root system a big boost.

The inspectors show up to make sure that the work is up to code, looking for any worms, grubs or bugs that might damage the little trees.









Snow is really picky. She doesn't mind having her picture taken now that her feathers have fully grown out. Last year she was so severely picked on, literally that she was a bloody mess and has had to live alone. Her nemeses died this week, so perhaps she can join the flock again. We never understood why they hated her so much. She is the sweetest one of the flock. The trees are in. It has been rather cool, so while they have a few buds, they are still quiet. Can't wait to see their beautiful pink flowers. Hopefully we will not have a repeat of last spring when everything froze in April. They are semi dwarf and will bear a semi sweet cherry, a cross between a bing and sour pie cherry. The other challenge will be to keep the birds from eating the cherries.




Another major accomplishment was to get the front pasture seeded. It is pretty weedy and has a couple of varieties of grasses. So Ralph and his big John Deere seeded it with a prairie grass mixture. It hasn't started to germinate yet. It needs warm days and Spring just isn't cooperating. 


You know it must be Spring when the skies are blue and the pastures are green. Just beginning to turn green, the hay pasture gets a bit of trim as the boys graze. They have been contained in the corral all winter and are really enjoying munching the new grass. Soon it will be too rich for them and it will have grow to make hay.



Inside, the seedlings are growing, but they certainly are not nursery beauties. We planted tomatoes in yogurt containers. As the tomatoes grow, hubby has put his coffee holders that he has saved from his coffee shop visits. They seem to help the young stems stay straight. The cabbages in the back are really leggy, needing the extra support. Once it gets a little warmer, the seedlings will go out in the hen house/potting shed to grow and harden off.



Yesterday we planted the eastern red bud in the front circle. My hope is that it will have a long happy life amidst the pine trees and aspens; however, from past experience, I can only hope. It has red buds forming, so without frost, it should be beautiful. It does have a rather sloped trunk, so it will have to be staked. I love red buds, so I am really hoping that I can keep this one alive. The garden hasn't fully come alive. Right now the spring bulbs are just beginning to bloom. The day lilies are waking up, and the roses are slowing showing more signs of life. Behind the red bud is a shrub rose planted by another gardener that is weeks away from waking up. I don't trim these back. They are just sorta wild.


You know it must be Spring when the gold fish stored in the garage begin to look like they are dying and then one actually does.


The gold fish were showing signs of stress in their winter container in the garage, so hubby cleaned out the front water garden and put them outside. They are hardy little creatures. We also caught the last of the gold fish that had been farmed out to the neighbor. He moved and the new neighbors are probably going to turn their water feature into a parking space. So we put those 4 fish in the horse tank where I have the water lilies stored. 


The week ended with the little guy's 5th birthday. We drove to Denver Wednesday and brought the boys home for a couple days then took them home Saturday for Nathan's birthday.


My attempt at using camera RAW on my Cannon Rebel. Nice.

I see such beautiful photos on your blogs and sometimes I am brave enough to ask "How'd you do that?" and you are so very kind to share your secrets, so I give it a try. I signed up for an on-line class on photoshop's Elements 11 at Kim Klassen's Cafe. When I bought my new iMac, I also bought the newest photoshop version. It is quite intimidating. I had taken a workshop at the university, but have lost the notes and really when you are learning something so technical you have to practice, practice, practice, and then have really good notes full of step by step instructions. So I have been watching Kim's videos at night, but she also has some free videos that show how to use textures with little fuss. She also  strongly urges that we use camera RAW. UMMM, I really am not so sure about that.  Kim has a wonderful blog if you haven't met her. She gives free textures on Tuesday if you sign up and she has some free video lessons on Elements 11.



This is Lucy with the dogs Bruno and Fritz. The girls love to play dress-up and have their photo taken. I have a small portable photo studio that I took with me. In the before photo you can see that I didn't take time to iron the wrinkles and folds out of my back drop. Lucy is wearing her mother's fairy Halloween costume from a few years ago; it, too, is wrinkled. So the texture hides all of the imperfections. However, this photo texture was done in Picasa with very nice results. So why am I so worried about learning how to Elements 11? Because it gives more flexibility, if I can ever master it. I am retired. What else do I have to do? Beats watching Letterman.




 You know it must be Spring when you would rather be outside working in the garden than blogging, but Spring just won't cooperate. It is a bit chilly right now and I have to see the dentist today. So much for playing outside, but I love spending time with you, too.

So, what are your signs of Spring?  And do you use camera RAW? Do you think I should take the next step?

Have a great week. Thanks for checking in.





























Monday, March 31, 2014

Digging

We woke to cloudy skies Sunday morning, rather disappointing because I had wanted to work in the yard. On Saturday I began pruning the roses, but had a few interruptions and didn't get the job done. So Sunday was the day to get a lot done outside. And we did. While it was cloudy, the temperature was mild and we didn't have wind. Not like today: Sunny, windy, and cold.

Now that the weather is warming up, the inside projects will go to the back burner. Little crocheting, some sewing, a bit of scrap booking, but for the most part we will be in the garden. At long last.



Last Sunday we started tomatoes, a variety of peppers, broccoli, cabbage, squash, alyssum, and pansies. So far everything has sprouted except the pansies. Just by reading the label, I suspected that I might have trouble with them.



The little plants in all of the pots are growing so fast. Everyday there is new growth. We have the table set up in the east window of the living room where the seedlings get full value of morning sun. The grow light is set on a timer to come on early afternoon and goes off at about 10 PM. The living room is still pretty bare after painting more so because of Boone's propensity to grab anything and everything with a desire to chew it to pieces. So I will forgo curtains a bit longer. Luckily we are in the country and don't have window peepers.


Last fall we planted more new bulbs. I remembered planting tulips and daffodils and I vaguely remember buying dwarf iris. Look at these little beauties. They were such a surprise because I expected them to bloom later with standard iris foliage. I will have to dig in my records to see if I saved the label because, honestly, I do not remember what they are.


Whatever you are, your are beautiful.


What a mess at the front door step. The roses look so ratty.


Gertrude Jekyll grew so tall and unsightly. A cat or some critter knocked over my blue ball.


So here is the question I always ponder: how and when to cut back roses. My strategy has always been to prune in March when I see the first sign of new leaves and  to cut back at the point where the new growth green ends and the dead brown begins. So I began whacking away. Then after the fact as I toured Pinterest I began seeing several suggestions on how and were to prune. Too late. I haven't killed a rose yet; however, if I pay attention to where I prune when I deadhead the roses after first bloom, I might increase my buds. I'd like that.




Much better. I didn't even bother to photograph the other side because it is still a disaster area. The pond is full of snow melt water and the waterfall needs to be rebuilt because it has leak. 



The garden is all tilled. The Head Gardener got that chore done on Saturday. I decided that we needed to clean up the black berry that just grows wildly.


So the Mister started removing sod to make clean lines so that I have a nice flower bed. 

We were out in the garden working, when I told Mr. that something was missing. He wondered what. Max, I said. The old dog was always with us, along with Country the cat who is usually with us, too. The Head Gardener disappeared for a time and returned with Boone. He had a blast digging in the loosened soil behind Mr. as he dug sod. He especially loved the soft soil after it had been tilled. He is still very much a wild child and must remain on his check cord that is looped over a fence post until he learns not to run off. And that will be when?



Boone is up to 38 pounds now. Big. Strong. Funny. A real handsome handful, though. And he loves digging in the dirt.


Not to be left out of the activities, the hens do their digging, too, looking for grubs and bugs.




The sprinkler heads have been marked with yellow flags so that the front pasture can be seeded this week. The Head Gardener has tried to hand broadcast grass seed but because the seeds lay on the surface, the birds ate them all. So we have a true professional coming who will use a grain drill to plant new seed. Right now the pasture is bare in spots, weedy in others, and just ugly.



I set out to trim up the rambling blackberry, but decided that it was nearly impossible. I have forgotten if  it fruits on new growth or old canes. I finally decided it didn't matter and we gave a hard prune. It will either bear fruit or it won't, but I should know if it fruits on new or old canes by mid summer. Besides, I had a bug infestation on the few berries that it had last year.


As the canes grow this summer, I will have better control over zip tying them to the trellis.


Do you see it? Look very, very closely. Asparagus. One nice sturdy sprig on plant #1.


Plant #2 just might produce enough for one meal. The 13 plants we planted last year have yet to show their heads. Waiting.




Could not resist this rose. No name. It is one of those little super market gift roses--a green rose. I don't know if the center will be green or yellow or pink. I am hoping pink. Once I dead head it, it will be planted in the courtyard beside my other super market roses. I love them because they are small roses and look so pretty in little vases or nosegays that I like to make for the little girls.


And here is Heather as she sees her doll house for the first time. It was a great surprise party. She loved it. Thanks everyone for joining on the fun. 

So. I proclaim Winter to be gone for Northern Colorado with Lady Spring here, but still showing her bad temperament. March came in like a lion and seems to be leaving in the same manner. We have 60% chance of something--snow, rain, a mix with lots of wind this week. Some one asked where the lamb of spring is. We will be spending lost of time outside with so many projects to get done. We decided not plant so early; instead, working on the infrastructure of the garden. Next we will install our bean trellis made of hog wire, like we have talked about for how many years now? We still have weeks before we need to plant. Around here we say after Mother's Day to avoid any hard freezes on tender shoots. Our farmer friend who plants tomatoes by the acre plants the first of June, so we still have plenty of time.

What sort of time table are you on? 

Hope your have a great week in the garden. Thanks for stopping by.