Sunday, June 9, 2013


Last week was granny camp with the grandsons. Little four year old Nathan made his first solo trip.  He has weepy night the first night, but he adjusted easily being without mommy and daddy. All city kids need grandparents who live in the country.

Of course, they always want to drive the EZ-Go. The EZ-Go is for work. Let's mulch a tree. Pull up over there next to the pile of mulch and give me load. (We  learned that it is much easier and quicker to get Grandpa to use the bucket on the tractor!)

Life at the Garden Spot is not all work and no play, so we took the boys to the archery range for a little target shooting. Jacob started shooting a bow when he was five. He's a pretty good shot.

Nathan got his first lesson. He was so cute. If his arrow reached the 10 yd target, he'd exclaim: "Now that was nice shot." TCBY for the little winners.


The iris are blooming. Who doesn't love iris? My love affair with them began as a kid. On the old farm, they grew in purple/lavender clumps year after year mingled with bright orange poppies. Even as kid I'd take my Kodak Brownie and snap photos of them. Now, every so often we dig up a clump of iris that gets too big or stops blooming. We separate the new toes from the main rhizome. There are always left over rhizomes, more than we use. We moved our collection of iris from the old house to add to the ones that were already growing here. What we don't give away or set in the garden bed get planted in the Iris Patch where they live neglected amongst the weeds to just do their thing--grow and multiply. We can easily dig up a clump or two for a friend. I love they way look with neighbor's hayfield as a backdrop. It is really hard to kill an iris.

We started iris in front of the chicken house and at the far end of the garden last summer. They bloomed for the first time this year. 

This is an odd clump. It has two varieties entwined with each other. 

Some years ago, hubby bought 5 iris that were Dykes Medal Winners. Check out the website. 2012 is gorgeous. I want one.

Meet Edith Wolford, 1993 winner. She is the only remaining one of the five. They didn't do well. Maybe it was where we planted them at the old house (I take back the comment that you can't hardly kill an iris). I have also purchased iris from C and T Iris at Eaton, CO. I bought 3 last year and got two free ones from the garden. One will bloom in a few days.

Most of the iris in our gardens, however, go unnamed, passed from gardener to gardener or planted by previous gardeners. We just take them for granted, not really thinking about them until they begin to put on their show every spring all over town. We drive by some fancy clump across town wondering where we could find that exact iris. We don't know their names, but maybe we can find the color. C and T, by the way, has 2,000+ different varieties, including re blooming iris.  We really shouldn't have to buy iris, but some of us just cannot resist!

Digging and separating iris seems to be foreign to some gardeners. I know my mother in law thought I was crazy when I announced that I was going to dig iris and separate them. On the farm, ya' know, they never dug iris. They let 'em grown. Years ago as a new home owner and beginning gardener, I a met a lady who had an iris patch. She taught me a bit about growing iris:

1. They do not require (or even like) fertilizer.
2. The main rhizome grows toes, with each toe blooming only once. So clumps do need to be dug up and the new toes separated from parent rhizome. Sometimes you will find rotted rhizomes, so you simply trim away the icky stuff.
3. Dig iris after they have bloomed. We dig ours after the 4th of July.
4. Sometimes you can't even give them away. When you separate the toes from the main rhizome, you will end up dozens more  than than what you need, thus our iris patch. I took boxes full of newly cut rhizomes to the teachers at work. They loved the freebies.

I had a substantial collection at the old house; here I am trying to reestablish my collection. My new additions last summer got pretty beat up from our crummy spring weather, so instead of setting blooms they had to put their energy to repairing themselves. One will bloom. Can't wait to see which one. Hello Darkness (so dark a purple that it is nearly black), perhaps.

Would you look at Miss Kim, a lilac tree planted last summer. She's a winner, too. 

 I wanted something tall in the courtyard. She is now in full bloom, scenting the front entry along with the roses. She has not disappointed at all. Once she is done blooming, I'll cut off all of the spent blooms and will try to prune her so that she grows a nice spherical head.

We have had our gold fish farmed out to the next door neighbors, but they have moved and sold their home, so we are bring our fish home to live in the tiny pond in the front. They have grown quite  huge. Soon they will have their permanent home. The gold and white koi belongs to the neighbor, and it is going to another home. But he is a handsome fellow.

The little Mermaid sings to them.

Do you ever just do something off the wall, a "what if?" in the garden? Like take an old dead cane from the blackberry and just stick it in the ground to see if it would grow? Dumb. Early in the spring we trimmed the dormant blackberry and tied up the canes. The canes were beginning to show new growth, but suffered badly with the late spring, killing the new leaves that were forming. I gave the blackberry another hard pruning back to the new growth that was coming from the ground up. On a whim, I poked 4 canes in the soil just for the heck of it. Just to see what would happen. And guess what? One of the canes actually sprouted. Really. I have proof!

 No ordinary stick in the mud!

Shaded with dill weed and rag weed (yes, I need to do some weeding), the new little bush looks pretty healthy. This little guy wins the Take a Chance award.

Who doesn't love playing with water? 

On another Note 

 We lost our old dog this week. I catch myself going to check on him or scanning the yard looking for him or worrying that hubby will forget to look for him before he moves the truck or tractor. The house is very quiet. No more raspy breathing, or his collar jingling, or toe nails clicking on the kitchen floor. No more begging for pizza crust or a piece of that cheese stick. Max was a dog pound dog that his guy rescued 14 years ago. Our daughter worked at the USDA while she was in college and one of her co workers did Dalmatian rescue. She told Heather about a German short hair pup at the Greeley dog pound that no one wanted because he was a hunting dog. Destined to put down, the dog only a few days left. I remember laying bed with hubby discussing the possibility. We had lost our other short hair. He decided that he wanted a register male--. Yeah. $400-$500 fancy huntin' dog out of some fancy Nebraska kennel.

Monday night he didn't come home at his usual time from work. I could always set the clock by him. When he did arrive, he walked in the room and I asked him why he was so late. He had that look. I remember saying to him, "You didn't?" "Yeah I did." He went out to the truck and was quite literally dragged into the house by this 11 month old pup, nose blowing green snot, with a bad case of kennel cough, and really bad manners--well, no manners. It was not love at first sight for me, but for hubby he saw something special in that young pup. It did take years to train him, but he was smart and a fast learner. Max was a gentle spirit. He loved everyone. He loved kids because they would play with him, but he knew that they also carried food in their chubby little hands. He was kind to the cats, though he loved to flush them and tease the heck out them.

He lived a long, healthy, spoiled life. He was always by our side. He gardened with us, he slept with us, he ate with us, he camped with us.  I say "us", but Gerald was his pal, his guy.

He got sick in the night. When I got up, he was laying in the middle of the floor and when he stood up, he just wasn't right. I called to him and he just had this glassy, far away  look in his eye and was pretty much non responsive. Hubby put him in his bed and that's where he stayed until he was done. Our vet in town was out of the office and our traveling vet was traveling, so Max just silently slipped away.

 He had arthritis, so his favorite place was in front of fireplace where he'd stretch out and sleep until he got so hot I had to turn off the heat.

He was German Short Haired pointer--a bird dog. Hubby doesn't really hunt birds much, but he did take young Max out to our farmer friend's wheat stubble where Max flushed his first pheasant. That was way back in the day when Max was a runner--a runaway dog. Hubby took aim and hit the bird. The next challenge: would Max retrieve, or run, or eat the bird? Instinctively, he brought the pheasant and dropped it at hubby's feet, just as though he had been professionally trained.

Hubby did get his registered short hair with field trial champions in his line. The Humane Society had the owner who gave him up call us, so we knew his story; he'd had two owners who just didn't understand how to deal with him. He was registered and came from a long line of champions. Even though he was never professionally trained, he was our champ. While he never competed professionally, he won our hearts.

Another dog? Hubby bought his first short hair Baron from a breeder 36 years ago when Heather was just a baby. We adopted the second one Ginger after we lost Baron from the Greeley pound. We had Heather's  golden retriever when we got Max. We've always had a dog, so it is going to be really odd not to have one following us around. At this moment in time, no. No more dogs. So we are down to 2 cats, 9 hens, 1 horse, and a few gold fish. The house is very quiet.

We are traveling this week. Headed to somewhere deep in the heart of Texas to visit my brother and sister in law for a few days. I hope they will let me blog about their garden as first time gardeners. They are private souls and I will respect that. I downloaded a blogger app for the iPad, so hopefully I can touch base with ya all.  (See, I can feel that Texas drawl already).

Hope everyone has a great week. The temperatures are beginning to heat up. It will be in the 90s this week. I guess summer really is here.

Just Blog It


  1. Hi Ann!
    I am so sorry about your dog. You'll miss him.
    Have a safe trip to Texas.
    I have a lot of iris work to do in July.
    The boys looked like they were having a GREAT time at granny camp.

  2. Hi Ann, I just loved this post. I have a question for you. We have an area along the road that is so steep that it can't be mowed. I would love to plant flowers there to give it a "natural" look. I thought of iris's like in the photo above, any suggestions to any other flowers?

  3. I also wanted to tell you I'm sorry about your dog. I know when our Sadie is gone I'll be doing the same thing :)

  4. Lovely post to read, but I am so sorry about your Max but he was old and has had a great life with your family. The group of one and the same Iris in front of the hayfield is stunning, they look so natural. Wish you a happy time with your brother and sister in law.

  5. Hi Ann,
    I loved your post, but the way you wrote about Max touched me and brought tears. But I ran the gamut of emotions, as I had chuckled at Nathan who was so cute with that bow. Have a good time on your trip. Egretta

  6. Hi Ann
    A lovely post - your grandchildren look as though they have a great time with you. Your iris are lovely - I don't grow them myself but have always loved them. Sorry to hear about your old dog - it is always a sad time when they finally leave us isn't it. Have a great week.

  7. Oh Ann, my heart goes out to you. I don't care how long or short they have shared our lives...fur babies take a piece of our heart when they go.


  8. The iris look lovely and it was good to pick up some tips. Sorry to hear about your dog, sounds like you provided him with a very good home. Hope your trip goes well.

  9. So many lovelies, I don't even know where to start! The Miss Kim standard, the goldfish, the iris, all wonderful. Don't you just love summer?

  10. Sorry to hear about your dog. You shared a beautiful story. You gave him a good life. Your grandsons are adorable. I agree, all city children should have grandparents who live in the country.