Friday, February 24, 2012


Is it Spring yet?

I am getting ready.  Elaine at Rosebank Ramblings wrote this week about sweet peas. Hers were so pretty I was inspired to by some sweet pea seeds today and some zinnias seeds, too, as I browsed the the fruits and veggies in the super market.

Then the cut hydrangea called to me: "Take us home with you."  So I did.

The cut little curly chicks called out too.

 At Big Lots, a favorite bargain spot,  I found new gardening gloves and don't you love the rubber clogs that I found at Jo Ann's?

Spring is just weeks away. Patience, my dears. Patience.

Have a happy weekend.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

A Weekend with Mother Nature

She calls herself Mother Nature. And we have to believe her. Today in the car we had a discussion about working at Mac Donald's. I told her that perhaps someday she could work at Mac Donald's, but she said "No. I don't think so." So I asked her what she wanted to do when she grows up. She answers: "I want to spend my life rescuing injured animals." (Pretty much what her mother did as a kid.) I liked that answer. Her mother discovered this child's alter ego when she took the little girls to the pet store and over heard the conversation her eldest daughter was having with the Boa. "Hello, do you like me? Well, of course you do. I am Mother Nature." So here is my weekend with Mother Nature.

When I knew that Mother Nature was spending the weekend, I planned a special surprise, Afternoon Tea at Victoria's Little Tea House in Eaton, CO, just down the road. I told Ellie to make sure to bring a party dress when she came to spend the week-end. So she ask her mamma to make her a special dress, which she did.

Sweet treats after petite little sandwiches and quiche

The tea house has a special little room where the little girls can play dress up

After tea, Mother Nature took grandpa's egg gathering basket outside. I asked her if she was going to collect eggs. She answered, "No, I am looking for treasures." We saw her sitting in the garden and asked her what she was doing: "Watching the bunnies in the pasture."

She found her treasures: sunflowers.

Mother Nature finished her day by making peanut butter and lard seed cakes for the birds.

She had a busy day.

On my way home work Friday, I drove past Bittersweet Park in Greeley. The lake was nearly black with Canada geese and in the middle of the flock was a speck of white. I had seen the same bird last year, but never got back to the park to identify the white bird. It was too large and too white to be a pelican, of which there are many in our area during the warmer months. It's neck looked much too long to be a snow goose that sometimes fly with the Canada geese. We went back to Greeley for dinner, stopping by the pond with the binoculars to see just what the bird was. Indeed, it was what I hoped it was.

On our way to town, we made an unexpected stop. Aren't they magnificent? Bald eagles are not uncommon in this part of the state during the winter. In fact, according to an article in the Ft. Collins newspaper last year, the bald eagles migrate here from Alaska and Canada, many settling and nesting here in Northern Colorado, especially at the Fossil Creek Reservoir Regional Open Space in Ft. Collins. These two eagles were in a tree right by the road near  Seeley's Lake, an exclusive residential neighborhood. This route is my nature drive to work. I have often seen bald eagles in the trees near the ponds, but I never have my camera with me.

And here he is, a beautiful swan, alone, graceful, and peaceful on Bittersweet Lake in the middle of the city.

 Along with a few of his aquatic friends

Oh, back to Martha Stewart. I read her headline wrong, just in case you are wondering. She has a list of 103 things to do get ready for spring, not just 30. I am tired already.  Have a terrific week.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Last week wasn't much fun. I don't get sick very often, thankfully. Every night I'd go to bed saying to myself that I would cancel class in the morning, but upon further consideration I'd get up and go to work.

The first storm of the month hit late in the day with wind and snow. While we only received a couple of inches, cities south of us had amounts ranging from 18 inches in Denver to 44 inches in other areas. As the storm began in the evening, we lost power. Expecting it to be out all night, we began to think about how prepared we were for a lengthy power outage. We aren't very well prepared for more than a couple of hours inconvenience.

We spent a quiet evening, no computers, no television, just the warm glow of candle light and the gas logs.
Next morning the world looked pretty cold.

Snow removal around the Garden Spot means tractor work. 

I took a walk about this morning camera in hand, and while we didn't have fresh snow, frosty crystals clung to everything. I was out a bit before the sun burned through the cloud cover. As soon as the sun began to come through, the frosty crystal began falling to the ground. I used my 70-300 mm. lens for the close shots as well as the distance shots. I have been researching macro lens and cringe when I see the price. Some photographers use their distance lens for some macro shots, as I have with the dried crab apples that still cling to the branch and the sunflower. I am thinking for flowers, however, Pawn Shop. What do you think?

Rabbit tracks. The black corrugated pipe that carries the overflow irrigation water to the lawn serves as hiding place for the cotton tails that live here.

In the super market yesterday I saw the headlines on the current issue of Martha Stewart's Living magazine: "30 Things to Do to Get Ready for Spring." Since I am breaking my magazine habit, I didn't buy the magazine to see what was on her list. I'll make up my own. Where should I start? Cleaning up the garden beds would be a good place to start, but not until the snow melts.

Week 6 of the semester begins. Students are working hard and I am working hard to keep one step ahead of them. Hope you all have a great week. Anyone going to see if they can come up with of 30 To Dos for Spring? Share your list, if you are of a mind. Have a good week.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

A Kind Word Never Hurts

My, don't you look lovely today. Need a bit of drink?

Do you talk to your plants? And if you do, do they respond? I find myself talking to my plants. I compliment my African violets each time I water them. “My, don’t you look lovely today,” I might say. Or “Well look at you, you finally decided to bloom. You are just so beautiful.” Sometimes I find myself apologizing to the poor dears: “I am so sorry I haven’t watered you lately. You do look a bit limp. Here. Here’s a nice drink for you.” I have to make serious apologies to my ponytail plant because unless it is located in a place where the cats can’t get to it, it suffers from frequent feline snack attacks. Let’s face it. I am not very good with houseplants. I don’t have the time it takes to nurture them adequately, so I don’t have very many, and I have to keep them out of reach for the cats and dog. Even Prince Charles, a well versed horticulturist, in an interview admitted back in 1986 to talking kindly to his plants because "they respond," so I don’t feel quite so odd. (read the article on the science behind talking to plants
Oh Iris, your color is so perfect, but rain has you looking a
bit limp. Don't worry, a good shower will do wonders
for your complexion.

Now, Coriscomia, you are really something. I am so
glad that I rescued you from that awful garden
center. Now your roots can run wild.
The Science: So do plants really respond to kind voices? The first definitive study done to find out if plants respond to music was done by Dorothy Retallack at Colorado Women’s College in Denver, Colorado. She published her results in her book The Sound of Music and Plants in 1973. Essentially she placed identical plants in three labs under identical conditions: one where music played daily for 3 hours a day and the other extreme where plants listened to music 8 hours a day. In the lab where the plants listened to music for 3 hours a day, they grew strong twice as strong and twice as healthy as the plants in the music free lab.  The plants that were exposed to music 8 hours a day died within 2 weeks. In the 3rd lab, no music played. Ratallack also experimented with the type of music. The plants exposed to rock ‘n roll failed to thrive, while the plants listening to more gentle music thrived, and most interestingly, bent toward to source of the music, much like they tend to face the sun. The rock ‘n roll music was of the late ‘60s was pretty tame, as I remember. (I barely survived the years of Guns and Roses and Def Leopard my teenaged daughters played in the ‘80s; I can’t imagine exposing my African violets to such noise—though I was keeping violets then, too).

Oh, Icky Nicky, we must re-name you because you are
gloriously beautiful. Keep smiling, dear.
Thinking about how plants respond to the world around them begs the question: If they respond to a kind voice and soft music, do they feel pain? Logically thinking, they don’t have a brain or a central nervous system, so they shouldn’t feel pain. 
As gardeners, we really can’t think about plants suffering when we deadhead, or prune, or mow. Nor can we worry about eating our veggies alive or concern ourselves about their feelings as we steam them in the microwave.

None-the-less, a positive attitude and a kind voice in the garden may not necessarily yield better results, but a kind word never hurts and a good positive attitude always lifts our spirits and if our garden beauties bloom a bit brighter, grow fuller, and out do the neighbors’, so much the better.

Tonight here at the Garden Spot we are under a sever winter storm warming. It started snowing about 7:00 p.m. About 8:00 the power went out. I rounded up the holiday candles, we lit the gas fireplace and waited, and waited, and waited. I thought I could work on the blog, but the lap top battery (an old, weak one) died. So hubby and I talked: politics, (yuck, really), the garden, the weather, the blankity-blank power failure. In an hour and half, the lights came on, but our new oven failed to come back to life. Not good. Weather reports say that we can expect 8-12 inches of snow along with winds, which means that I may not have to work tomorrow. We will just have to see how bad the roads are. We welcome the bad weather after a very mild and dry January because we need the moisture so badly. Well, the week-end is nigh. You all have great one. Say something kind.

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...