Saturday, April 21, 2012

Rush For Roses

For Christmas hubby came through big time: a gift card at a nursery to buy roses. He had done his research looking for the best place in Northern Colorado to buy my favorite rose, the David Austin, which is hard to find. I had several at the old house that we didn't bother to move, regretfully. He found a nursery in Longmont, a 40 minute drive away.  He had called the nursery to see when it would order its roses, so this morning we set out at 6:30 AM to spend the gift card. Today was the Flower Bin's Rush for Roses. He was told that people arrive early with their running shoes on. We arrived early and waited for the gate to open along with other rose enthusiasts.

The day was beautiful with bright early morning sun, cool, crisp and clear.


We had never been to this garden center before, but it was impressive. We really didn't need to arrive so early because the crowd was manageable, the roses neatly organized, the staff helpful.


We didn't do any other shopping, just gathered our roses and went on to the next stop: breakfast.


After eggs and coffee, we traveled even further south to the next stop: The Tree Farm to return a peach tree that didn't make it through the winter.


40 acres of trees


This nursery is so large that it runs a valet service, hauling its customers in golf carts. What a cool service. Kevin sold us our peach tree last summer. We picked out a nice one, but it just didn't survive our dry winter.


Row and Rows of Red Buds! One of my favorites.


Our purchase: Miss Kim Lilac, who will live in our court yard.

We did quite a bit of damage today; although the roses were pre-paid, I did go over budget, but who was counting? Neither of us. I came home with six new roses, three David Austins, including a climber and two  tea roses. We will plant tomorrow. I'll write the great reveal probably when I need a break from grading.

We had such a lovely drive outside the city limits with a glorious view of the Rocky Mountains. With the small amount of rain that we had last week, the fields of alfalfa and grass hay are brilliant green laid out like a plush carpet. We love our Colorado Rocky Mountains and today they were glorious, still capped with snow. In my new header, Long's Peak, one of Colorado's  popular Fourteeners (14,000 ft. elevation) that hikers enjoy climbing. 

This will be the last week of classes at the university with a week of finals following. I am nearly done. I can't believe how fast the semester flies by. So tomorrow I will indulge in my guilty pleasure, planting my roses before I settle in to start the grading marathon. I hope everyone has a terrific week.

Friday, April 20, 2012

What's Up, Folks

Okay. I am in panic mode. Up early; can't sleep. Check my blog where everything has gone haywire. Some of my favorites are now on a Feedburner with no way to comments. What has changed in less than 12 hours? What am I missing? Can anyone see me? Answers?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Easter

Easter
The weeks are flying by. The days pass so quickly. I measure my life in semesters, 16 weeks of school--go, go, go. We are nearly at the end, only two weeks of class and a week of final exams left. My students are  completing what they think is one of the most rigorous classes they have ever had to take, and it probably is since most are first year freshmen. As tough as I make it for them, it means work for me, too. Lots. Lots of reading student writing with the goal of trying to get them literate and thinking like scholars rather than just students. We have wonderful students. These young people are the future and they deserve the best that we have to give them, but boy do I get tired. I am ready for the hot days of summer where I can retreat to my gardens and nurture my flowers. So this will be my last post for a couple of weeks. I will be grading 10 page research essays from 100 students, but I will read my followers, commenting along the way.

I love Easter. We begin the day with Sunday Service and this year a prime rib dinner, followed by the Easter Egg Hunt where the 4 grandchildren scurried from tree to fence post to plant to rock in search of plastic eggs filled with coins and chocolate. The girls' mamma sews their Easter dresses each year and they always look so adorable. If you look really close you can see that Mother Nature isn't wearying her pretty white sandals that we shopped for weeks ago. No. Both girls chose to wear their John Deere Lady cowboy boots. The boys are always well dressed and not nearly as creative (or as difficult as Mother Nature and Little Sister when it comes to fashion). None-the-less, they are sweeties and such fun. Once the eggs were all gathered, it was kite time. None of them had flown a kite before. Regrettably the breeze was too quiet, though Barbie did fly high. Cars 2 never really got off the ground.

Barbie Flies High


The daffodils and tulips have been so wonderful this year. They came out early and some are still blooming. I took these shots with the telephoto lens. I am always sad when the daffodils are gone, and they are whithering now. I do still have some yet to come. They may have been planted a little deeper, slowing their growth. I am waiting on the Mt. Hoods, a snow white daffodil that will make its first appearance at The Garden Spot this year. As the spring bulbs die back, the iris will begin.

Sundance glows in the late afternoon sun. He is shedding his winter coat then he will glisten golden
 We havent' had near the rain that we should, but with the help of a bit irrigation, the spring bloom never ceases to please. I do cut a few flowers, but I prefer to see them in the yard rather than on a table top, but I also like preserve them. We all take hundreds of gigabytes of our prized flowers, but there are other ways to preserve our beauties.

How about scanography? I stumbled across a blog on how to scan objets on the scanner bed with amazing results. Check out Scanography: The Art of Scanning to see the beautiful artwork that can be created by bypassing the camera and using your scanner.




The steps are easy: arrange your flowers on the scanner bed. The glass must be spotless because every little speck will appear in your photo.


Cover your flowers with a black cloth. The professionals say to use black velvet, but I used what I have on hand with not the best results. Black felt blocks are not large enough to cover surface, letting light seep in around the edges, nor is the felt dense enough to keep light from filtering through the fibers, so I used two layers, which worked okay, but the heavier the material the more weight on the flowers.


Here is the rough scan. I am not very good yet.


I edited the photo in iPhoto to straighten it then cropped and blurred the edges. Not at all prefect or professional, but fun. Photoshop offers much better results, and I know that you all have your favorite editing tools.  Give scanography a try to. I do think that flowers with flatter faces work better. I played with pansies last year. The idea is to get the face of the plant to lay flat on the scanner bed to get a really good image. Try it. You just might like the results

Drying flowers is another way to preserve your favs. I learned the art of drying flowers when I was just a little girl from my grandmother. She used sand from the White Sands National National Park in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Yes, we all know that it is illegal to take souvenirs from national parks, but you know how some grandmas can be. I do remember she also used Twenty Mule Team Borax as a drying agent. You can still buy the laundry product or you can use cornmeal, or very fine river sand. But why go to all that trouble when you can purchase silca gel. I bought mine years ago at Hobby Lobby.

So. Spread a layer (an inch or so) on the bottom of an air tight container. Place your flower in the silca gel and begin covering it with the gel, making sure that you pour it in every crack and cranny of the flower. Gently lift petals to pour gel underneath them to support them so that they don't bend. Try to keep the petals in as original angle as possible. Once you have the flower completely covered, place the lid and let the flower dry for several days. I have always let my flowers dry for 30 days, but some web sites say it only a couple of days depending on the density of the plant and the humidity.   Or you can place the container in an over (not plastic, of course), or even in the microwave. Neither of which I have tried--yet.



The dried flowers will last for years. Grandma always made beautifully framed dried arrangements that she placed in shadow boxes under glass, which really is the best way to protect them from the ravages of dust. These daffodils will retain their color; I may buy a clotche to put them under. We'll see. There are other ways of drying flowers: hanging them upside down works for some flora. Visit the University of Missouri Extension for their guide to drying flowers.



And another glorious sunset, ending a beautiful spring day in Northern Colorado.

Have a splendid week I hope that the awful spring weather that parts of the mid west and south are suffering though misses everyone.  Do try some scanograpy or flower drying and share your results.


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Strawberries


On this fine Sunday Morning, I said: " I want a strawberry patch."

He asked: "Where?"

I answered: "Right there."



He answered: "Yes, dear." 

And promptly got to work. The Site Project Supervisor showed up looking like he'd had a hard night out.



 The digging began in soil as hard as rock.


 Yes. He is a perfectionist.


While this project didn't require the tractor (though there was a discussion about moving some soil in), it did require a power tool.


Did we pass inspection, Sir?


Wa-La. A nicely leveled strawberry bed.

Last Week: It is becoming an annual thing we do, the granddaughters, their mother and I: building fairy gardens. We started the day in Old Town, Ft. Collins at our fav store, The Perennial Gardener to buy the fairy things. I had these little pixies that my mom and I bought so many years ago. (Jen looked them up on ebay--$19.95 OMG). Then we were off to  Bath Garden Center where we bought our plants. The girls planted their gardens in old wash tubs; I planted mine in a table top garden. I don't know how I ever forgot that I used to build little terrariums when I was a kid, so I raided my miniatures collection on the kitchen wall for my little garden. The plants are all outdoor plants, but since my pixies are so valuable (sentimentally, that is) I will keep it in the kitchen.




I even have the Easter Bunny.


This Saturday we went to Ft. Collins Garden Center for their 50% off sale on all perennials in gallon containers. I bought 22. We were shocked to see a line of vehicles--it was like Black Friday. The Black Friday of gardeners. Little wonder. Great bargains.


There's a new crop of baby birds. The nest fell out of tree at the end of the season last summer, so I brought it n.  These little guys go in the kiddies' Easter Baskets. I love making them. Click here if you'd like see how I make them.




Finally, this little lady is recovering from crashing into the window. We heard her hit hard and rescued her. Hubby put her in the bird feeder up high out the reach of the cats where she recovered and flew off.


And that is the week. Five weeks of school. Yes, I am counting. The weather has been gorgeous this week. Actually much too warm and far too dry. The irrigation wells have been turned on for the summer and we have done some watering, but seriously hoping for rain soon. Really soon. We are holding off on planting the 22 plants because the weather lady is predicting a hard freeze for Monday night and snow/ran for tomorrow morning. 80 degrees today; freezing tomorrow. Crazy.

A big thank you to the Head Gardener who worked harder than an old guy should and a big thanks to the Project Supervisor who kept us motivated.

Hope you all have fabulous week.