Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Thoughts

I am rather tired tonight. Relaxing to Dancing With the Stars. Should be grading, yet here I am blogging. I can grade tomorrow. Halloween must be nearing an end. At the old house located on a city street with lots of children, we had would have a hundred trick or treaters. The Garden Spot is off the beaten path with a long drive-way, so we don't get any little goblins. Hubby brought home a grocery bag of candy--good stuff, lots of chocolate. The kids just missed out. I will just have to hide it way so that I will forget that the candy is in the house.

I played with my camera last week trying to get a photo that I could use to make my little Ellie's birthday card. So here are some Happy Thoughts. No talk of snow and cold and broken down trees.


Do you remember my post on African Violets?  Here she is, all grown up now, nicely rooted and blooming.


She has a perfect symmetrical shape. No broken leaves.


Of the dozens of photos I took, I chose this little bear for the birthday card. The roses were the last of the season. 


In addition to gardening, I collect dolls. These little dolls were Happy Meal toys. 


Nicely draped, one would never know that this vintage doll's head is hiding a secret, a broken shoulder.

Leaving you with Happy Thoughts tonight. Have a wonderful week.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Trees


I wanted to write about the tress where I work at the University of Northern Colorado while they were in full color.   With two new residence halls that have been built, the new landscape around the halls shouts wonderful fall colors. So Sunday I had to run back to the university library to check out a video on Emily Dickinson that I had forgotten on Friday. I had been wanting to photograph the campus in its fall colors, but the trees in Greeley were slow to turn. Once, however, the colors began to come, the drive through town was just so beautiful. Sunday beautifully sunny  and not a cloud in the blue sky was golden yellow with splashes of red and burgundy, accented with the olive, sage, and pine greens of the evergreens. It was the best day to photograph the campus.



A chorus line of color down 11th Avenue



The long walk I take to get from my office to my 8 AM literature class


My favorite little tree on campus


Harrison Hall, one of the older residence halls


From James A. Michener Library 2nd floor: 
Bishop Hankcock home of Athletics, Sports Sciences and Medicine, the Rec Center, and gym.


The red maple are so brilliant. Most red maples in the area are small because they are fairly new to Colorado landscape design.


 Residence Halls in the distance and Ross Hall in the foreground where my office is located. No. I do not have a window.


From the University Center second level: The Rocky Mountains with new snow.



"Home of UNC Bears." "Beware the the Claw"--university tee shirts read. Our mascot has always been the bear. Since I was an undergrad in the late '60s, an Alaskan bear totem was always in the center of the student center. It was a part of campus landscape for as long as any alum could remember. A few years ago some one doing research on the totem discovered that it was stolen from a museum in Alaska and some how ended up at the then Colorado State College, so the university righted the wrong, the totem has been returned to its rightful home and now the giant bronze grizzly stands sentinel over the campus.






Our campus is lovely. The grounds are well kept since a horticulturist was hired a few years ago. I stopped one day between classes to compliment one of the yard crew telling him how beautiful the campus was looking. He seemed to appreciate that someone was noticing his and his crews hard work. UNC is a small liberal arts school with and enrollment of about 12,000. Best known as a teacher's college, the university is also know for other academic programs: an outstanding school of music and performing arts, business, psychology, to name a couple.

And then this is what we awoke to this morning. 

The weather reports had been predicting snow for this week. Usually they are wrong or the storm misses our part of the state, but it started snowing before we went to bed. The power went out about 11 PM. We knew that the storm leave about 8-10 inches, but we were caught off guard with the severity of this storm. By 6 AM this morning, I knew that the university was closed due to damaged trees and downed power lines. The university Never shuts down for any reason. The noon news showed pictures of the campus. The destruction and loss of trees will be immense. The snow this time of year is wet and heavy and clings to the leaves still on the branches. The weight of the snow breaks even the strongest branches. The trees here at the Garden Spot are badly damaged, too.


I have had a love/hate relationship with this Russian Olive that grows at the edge of the patio. Its redeeming qualities: provides shelter and cover for birds, has a lovely scent in the spring, and shades the patio. On the down side, it is a very dirty tree, dropping flowers in the spring, seeds in the late summer, and leaves in the fall. I have wavered back and forth on whether or not the tree should come down. Well, the tree has lost by default. Mom Nature had her way, I guess. I am thinking a red maple as a replacement.


Branches hang low, low, low over the patio barely missing the living room window.



Using a broom to shake off some of the snow, hubby soon gives up.

 A main branch broken down to the ground


The front court yard a blanket of snow. Sleep well little daffies.






My beautiful apple tree that I had such great plans for next year. Hopefully the branches will bounce back once the snow melts.





The broken branches of one tree through the broken branches of another tree. Once a thick, full pine tree, this tree will have broken limbs for sure.


Flash back to the week-end (and previous post) we planted daffodil bulbs and 3 peonies.


Tool of the month: an auger that attaches to the battery operated drill. This tool really reduced the amount of time that it took plant the bulbs. A must have for all gardeners. This one is a 24 inch augur purchased at Ace Hardware for $25.


An action shot.



The bulbs are now blanketed in a moisture rich bed hopefully absorbing food and water to grow into the most beautiful display of daffodils that the Garden Spot has ever seen.

The snow will melt only to reveal just how much damage has been done to the trees not only at the university and in the all the cities of Northern Colorado, but here at the Garden Spot as well. There is little that we can do except to clean up the mess and prune the trees so that they will fill in as they continue to grown. Our daughter's works for a tree service in Denver where is trained to evaluate damaged trees and recommend treatment, so she can help us assess the damage. We will lose two for sure, the Russian Olive and the weeping willow out by the garden that struggles to hang on. From the golden glow a warm fall days to the cold grip of winter, I love the changes of the season, but today's storm was a little much. By the noon, over a 100,000 homes were without power, though ours came on about 10:30 in the morning. While not anything near the damage that Irene did, this one will be a costly one. Let the winter weather begin. Here's wishing you all sunny days with or without bad weather.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Arachnophobia

We've had a spider infestation lately with the cooler weather.  Now, I am not squeamish when it comes to spiders because I am much bigger than they are. I don't go out of my way to kill them; however, if there is one in my sink or bath tub, it is unceremoniously washed down the drain.  In Colorado we probably have only one dangerous spider: the black widow, easily identified with her shiny black body, long spindly legs, and the red hourglass shaped spot on her belly. While not deadly, her bites are poisonous. My childhood friend's mom talked about being bitten by a black widow as a child when one was hiding in the toe of her shoe. Another deadly spider, the brown recluse, delivers a far more serious bite because the venom destroys the tissue around the bite, causing a serious wound. According to the Colorado State University Extension web site, the brown recluse does not live in Colorado, but other spiders are often mistaken for it. For a really good article on common garden spiders, check out Curbstone Valley Blog.

As for my spiders, they will be hanging around until sometime after Halloween.


Little Miss Muffet sat on her tuffet eating her curds and whey, when along came a great spider.




I love these spiders. I picked them up at the super market on an impulse. They light up the fireplace mantle, giving it a warm glow on these cool fall evenings.



October days bring such relief to the scorching heat of the summer. Today was a beautiful Indian Summer day when we were able to get one large project finished. (Indian summer, by the way, occurs when temps reach the 70s after the first frost). In the early summer, we dug out the spreaders in the front garden and then the summer got away from us. I hated the eye sore right in the front of the house. My fall bulbs arrived from White Flower Farms this week, so we set out to plant them, but first we had to clean up the garden bed to make it ready for the bulbs. Took most of the day. First the head gardener raked away the old bark mulch and spaded  the bed, digging up the daffodil bulbs previous owners had planted. Then he used the rototiller to break up the clods. He raked the bed level then top dressed it with compost. I have decided that I will plant roses there in the spring. Tomorrow we will plant the bulbs that arrived this week, along with the daffodils that we dug up as we worked the soil.




I keep writing "we," but it is always the head gardener who does the heavy lifting and digging. I offer a great deal of moral support and plenty of suggestions on how to dig a hole-- and document it all with my camera in hand, so that I can blog about it in the late evening. (I am so fortunate that he is a mellow guy).


Now we have clean slate for the new rose garden.


We raked away old mulch full of weed seeds. 


Quite a load of daffodil bulbs that we were able to save. I would imagine there is about a hundred dollars worth of bulbs. He also dug out the tiger lilies that just didn't seem to do well under the window. 

I am listening to the weather as I write. Snow. I will believe it when I see it. Rain Tuesday. Snow Wednesday. The mountains will get snow for sure, but hard to say about the the plains.

I just want to end tonight's post with Thank You to my followers who always post such kind and supportive comments. I have fallen a bit behind in my own commenting. Last week was a brutal grading marathon, and while I read my blogs every day, I don't always have the brain power to write wise, witty, generous comments, but I am reading and loving every single blog that I read. Happy week-end.




Sunday, October 9, 2011

Apple Picking Time

At our old house, our neighbor on the other side of the fence had a sorry looking apple tree that he threatened to cut down. It was sizable tree with heavy branches that hung low on our side of the fence and leaned heavily on the 6 ft wooden privacy fence. Some years he would spray the tree for worms, other years not. I'd joke with him telling him that the tree knew which neighbor loved it more when he complained that the tree didn't seem to produce many apples on his side of the fence while on our side of the fence the apples seem grow to maturity. Our dogs, a german short hair Ginger and a golden retriever Chestnut loved the apples. Ginger especially became quite adept at jumping on hind legs to retrieve her own late afternoon snacks. Those lovely ladies have long passed and we have moved.

Here at the Garden Spot we have a lovely mature Red Delicious apple tree, so we picked apples this week.


Sundance is a creature of opportunity. He is already smacking his lips waiting for his handout. Perhaps this explains why the branches that hang over the coral fence didn't seem to bare fruit--or perhaps they did have fruit.


Picture perfect.

 On one side any way. The apples tended to be a bit wormy since we didn't spray. Next year will spray. What the worms didn't get, the birds did. There were a few perfect apples left. I need to figure out how to keep the birds out of the apple tree. I don't have enough wedding tulle to cover it like I did the little cherry tree.


As a kid on my dad's little acreage, it was my job to pick the apples--only the wind falls, mind you--, cook them up and  ream them making apple sauce to freeze. I had a horse that I loved ride everyday, but before I could go for a ride, I had to make a batch of apple sauce. As much of a chore that it was, in the cold of winter there was nothing better that apple sauce. I never could decide if I liked it better steaming hot or frozen cold.


Here is a nice specimen. Nearly perfect.


Guess who gets this one?


Even Max had to have an apple.


Of course the horse is NOT spoiled.




It was nice to pass up the apples in the grocery store yesterday. While these have to be carefully sliced to trim around the worm inside, there is nothing better than an apple right off of the tree. We are expecting our first freeze any night now. The last of the tomatoes and peppers have been picked, so it is time to let this garden go. I picked the last of the roses too. I couldn't bear to let Jack Frost ruin them. 

Week 8 of school. Mid-terms. Students are cranky and tired; I am just getting my second wind.

You all have a great week.