Tuesday, March 21, 2023

I'm Back

 Well hello there. I haven't posted since the last rose. It has been a long, cold winter and even now as Spring tries to make her Grand Entrance, it is still chilly, but the gardening will soon be back. Perhaps, then, I may be a bit more diligent in posting. 

I inspired to write today because I wanted to share with you our birdwatching adventure Sunday.

Friends had told us that sandhill cranes were migrating through, so we took a drive in pursuit of the big birds that migrate through Northern Colorado. Most birdwatchers will travel to Nebraska for the Sandhill Crane festival to see the birds where they spend time in the cornfields near the Colorado line or to southern Colorado communities that also host huge crane festivals as these giant birds make their way north, but here in Northern Colorado you don’t have to travel far to see cranes. These are the best of my dozens of photos I took, using my Nikon 3500 with a Takumar 70-300mm lens. The cranes will feed here in late March and early April as they migrate from their northern Mexico and New Mexico winter nesting areas. They are on their way to their summer nesting grounds in The Yellowstone where they will raise their young then make the trip back home in the fall. Visit the Colorado Crane Conservation Coalition  to learn more.

Because the cranes are on private property, birdwatchers have to photograph at a distance. In the foreground, Canada geese forage corn stubble, while the cranes hang out near the water's edge.

They are much easier to photograph in flight. Most birdwatchers agree that we generally hear the bird first and these giants, just as the geese, talk to each other as they fly. They have a sweet, soothing voice, almost a purr. 

This is my favorite photo of the cranes as they fly past the Rocky Mountains--Clark's Peak to exact. 

We found another flock in a farmer's pasture, but easily viewed from the road side.

On our way home from crane watching, we stopped by the neighbor’s farm pond where G takes Brody to run to see what we could see. As we approached the pond hundreds or more Canada geese lifted off the lake at shoreline, turning the horizon black. I was a little slow getting the photo for in seconds they had ascended in the blue sky. And then we spotted them: a trio of swans. I couldn’t believe it! We had been told that there was a pair of swans north of Greeley on the gravel pit ponds so one day we made the drive to see if we could find them and surely we did as they flew low right across the across the road in front of us, but we could never find where they "lived". We concluded that they must have been on the Poudre River because the gravel pit ponds were frozen solid all winter. And there they were half a mile away from us on our favorite bird watching pond with their nearly grown cygnet. We could tell that it was a younger bird by the gray coloring on its upper neck. Swans are rare here. We surmise that they migrate with geese. We've seen pairs before; once on a Greeley pond and once on the Poudre River, but not so close to home. What a thrill.

And we have birds of different feather. The Head Gardener brought home 6 chicks. Three Black Copper Morans will lay the really dark brown eggs. The light colored leghorns will lay white eggs. While it's not cheaper to feed laying hens than to buy eggs, we are certain of our supply.

We could say that Brody is the baby sitter, but in all honesty he is a bird dog, so he is bird watcher, too.

It's good to be back. There's more to share this time around as the granddaughters' 4-H projects have arrived: new pigs and 3 baby goats. Join me next time for more Garden Spot adventures.

Thanks for joining me today. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

A Rose by Any Other Name

Jackson and Perkins roses have been in the garden for at least 10-12 years. This year they have been spectacular. The bushes were taller and heavier with repeat blooms this summer. The only change this year in care has been more water. The Head Gardener changed the drip watering system by replacing the little nozzles with ones that dispense more the water, with excellent results. The drip system is on a timer that waters twice a day, which seems to have lent good result.

Veteran's Honor

First Prize: Prolific bloomer even at the end of the season.

Just Joey

Super Market Bargain buy that has lasted in the rose garden for years.

I've taken a lot of photos, mostly because the flowers are just so perfect and beautiful and it has interesting watching them every day here in the house change. 

Twenty-Fours hours after these photos were taken, Joey and Prize had opened up more. The 6 inch plate that they rest on shows just how big they have opened.

First Prize is especially gorgeous with her soft pink petals. Weeks Roses describers her blooms as large--indeed they are and they are especially beautiful when bloomed out inside rather out of doors where the weather is hard on them. 

Veteran's Honor: Tea Rose

First Prize: Tea Rose

Just Joey: Tea Rose

Just Joey: A colorful, rich tea rose, currently available at Weeks Roses.com

First Prize: a gloriously large hybrid tea rose, First Prize available at WeeksRoses.com, described as a top winner.

The last of the older Tea Roses, available at WeeksRoses.com, St. Patrick's was transplanted from the front courtyard to the north side of the house where it and other roses failed to thrive--no sun, too cold in the winter. While Saint did put forth weak blooms, it faired much better after we dug up those poor babies and transplanted them. Saint was relocated just around the corner with full morning sun and plenty of water. It did bloom this summer, but I have high expectations for next year. 

Fall certainly has put on a show of color this year; undisturbed by wind, rain, and snow, the colors continue to amaze. While we have mostly pine trees in the property, we do have some color, like the hawthorn all ablaze with her golden leaves and dark red berries.

The ash tree also put on quite a show when they go through their fall color change.

I used my DSLR with the 55 mm lens set on athletic mode to capture the falling leaves dance in the wind that came in gusts to shake them loose.

Out on the open road, a drive through Northern Colorado prairie shows the beauty of a late Colorado. 

The closer we get get to the mountains, the more trees and more color. The grasslands are pretty bare this time of year.

The weather ladies predicted moisture for the mountains so once we left the gravel roads of the grasslands and head south toward Ft. Collins on I-25 w have full view of the Rocky Mountains and the ever change weather above them.

Meanwhile back at home with help of the grandsons, the HG covered the pond with a large net to keep the leaves from collecting in the pond with the hopes of keeping it cleaner this winter.

I'll let you know how that works.

Thanks for visiting. 

Monday, October 10, 2022

Do You Know the Way to San Jose?

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I had been humming Diane Warwick's classic, "Do You Know the Way to San Jose," for some time as I waited and planned for weekend trip to San Jose, California, and now I need a new tune in my head. Daughter Heather is suggesting a trip to Las Vegas, so Elvis' "Viva Las Vegas," could be an easy one, but I'm not so sure. For many, California seem like a paradise, and coming from the dry prairie, seeing exotic plants is always a treat. The Bird of Paradise plants line the entrance to the Double Tree Hilton Hotel where we were staying this last weekend. We are familiar with this beautiful tropical plan only because it sometimes shows up elegant floral arrangements, but it indeed does resemble a beautiful, exotic bird.

So what took us so far from home? Last winter I mentioned to Heather that I thought about going to the Good Sam Miniature and Dollhouse show in San Jose and before I knew it she had the flight booked, the hotel room reserved and a rental car. Actually, I would not have made such a trip had she not taken the reins and booked everything. 

We left Thursday morning  on Alaskan Air with a stop in Seattle. The flight kept changing over the months with the last change a 4 hour lay- over there, and I was ready to cancel the trip. Two days before we were due to leave, she got the flight changed with a shorter layover and we were back in the air on our way. I had a window seat on the second plane. With a heavy cloud layer covering the pacific, the coast line was barely visible, but it was quite a sight to see.

We arrived late in the day, picked up the rental car and were set for day two. Heather had a well planned day. Our first adventure took us on an hour's drive to a redwood forest, traveling very narrow, windy roads in the hills outside of Santa Cruz. 

As an arborist, of course, she would want to visit a forest, a very unique forest of giant redwoods, Big Basin Redwoods State Park. Along the way before we reached the park, we began to see burned trees and realized that there had been a wild fire in the area. The park's gate keeper confirmed our guess. In 2020 the park was decimated by the CZU fire that burned nearly all the park's 18,000 acres. Here are links to learn about the wildfire that did so much damage to this beautiful woods.

Our first view of the  forest as we park the car.

Neither of us are very tall so you can see how huge this fallen tree at the bottom.

Despite the burn scars on these giants, they are recovering, believe it or not. The ones that weren't killed by the flames or the heat are now putting forth new growth. Who knows how much they eventually recover.

A gate the restricts access to one of the several trails in the park.

The forest was unusually quiet without the song birds, and this fellow moved silent across the charred tree trunk. I had to look it up to see what it for I've never seen a slug the size of my hand: a California Banana Slug, second largest slug in the world and this may be its only home.

Another sign that the forest is recovering. These young trees may be either suckers from the still living roots of the charred parent tree or perhaps seedlings. Heather told me that the Redwoods drop their seeds and in order to sprout they must have rain then be burned with the heat activating the seed. This seems so odd and unreal.

What might look like a shelf on the side of this trunk is actually a burl, outgrowth from a tree and highly sought ofter for bowl making.

While all of the structures in the park were destroyed and have not yet been rebuilt, there are a few signs to help visitors know more about this beautiful forest.

Our hike ended and we headed back to town to tour the Winchester House in Downtown San Jose. You may have seen stories on TV about this strange house owned by the widow of the man who grained immense wealth from developing the repeating Winchester rifle. His wife built the house after his death, a house of continuous hammering and sawing creating continuous noise to drown out the voices of those killed by this rifle that she heard in her head, some speculate. So the tour shows stairs to nowhere and doors with nothing behind them. We saw 110 of the 160 rooms. I'll write about more the house next week.

I'll leave you with my favorite purchase from the Miniature show. I want to build a replica of Betsy Ross' house in Philadelphia, but I needed to find my Betsy for inspiration, and here she is, an exquisitly  handmade porcelain with hand sown clothing by a lovely doll artist in South Carolina. She is so beautiful and perfect. 

I'm so glad that that you stopped by. Thank you. Let me know what you think by leaving a comment.

I'm Back

 Well hello there. I haven't posted since the last rose. It has been a long, cold winter and even now as Spring tries to make her Grand ...