Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Week That Was

Monday, April 15: Tax Day. And this is how the week started.

6-12 inches predicted. It was a very wet, heavy snow. Now resigned to the fact that our spring flowers won't be blooming, we now rejoice in the amount of moisture that the snow has left behind. It has all but melted as today was warm--in the 50's. Not only did we have snow, but we also had rain that then froze with more snow snow on top of the ice. The roads were horrible.
More snow continues to fall in the Colorado Rockies; we need the snow and moisture so badly, so these spring storms will help, but the state still is not out of the drought. We will see what sort of snow melt there is to fill the reservoirs. 

A regular winter wonderland out there.

The pine trees look larger, more magnificent with snow on the bows.

April ice cycles on the barn.

A sharp-shinned hawk feasting. 

Needless to say, the pond project got postponed. Perhaps next week end. We are beginning to really suffer from cabin fever, wanting so badly to get outside and dig in the dirt. 

Oh. more snow for Monday.

Week 14 of school. We have 2 weeks of the semester left, then finals week. Gosh it went by so quickly. I am ready for a break, ready for summer.

Hope you all have a great week. 

Sunday, April 14, 2013


There are certainly times that try men's (and women's) souls; then there are the times that try gardeners' patience. There is a sense of order in life--the way things should be. Take for example the month of April. April is supposed to be warm, sunny, colorful. Mother Earth (at least here in Zone 5) yearns to absorb the golden, warm rays of the sun. The sleeping bulbs and spring perennials
are just beginning to awaken from a long, dry winter--if they survived. But then Mother Nature throws us a curve ball. I wrote last week about the the freezing cold and the snow, well this week I have pictures. 
I planted hyacinths in the court yard around the pond, pretty pinks and purples. They bloomed last spring and were so pretty and fragrant. This year nothing. The blooms are limp and black. Some of the daffodils didn't fare any better either. With their blooms just ready to open, the ice froze them, turning the buds black and the leaves limp. 

Not all of our daffodils were damaged, so some will bloom. In these last weeks of school, I like to take a few flowers to my office, the Writing Center, and the English office.

We have invested a lot in planting spring bulbs, so it is quite disheartening to see them wilted and damage. Most of the tulips have a lot of ice damage. The question is whether or not the buds were frozen. Some buds are earlier than others, so there is still hope that some spring buds survived.

The hydrangeas haven't ventured forth yet. I am out every few days digging in the soil next to them to see if there is any life. They can hold off for a while. They are well mulched and we have watered over the winter, so fingers crossed. I planted 3 new ones, determined to grow hydrangea! The peonies are just sprouting and they seemed to have weathered the cold last week. However, according the weather reports for the coming week more snow and temps as low as 9 degrees F. I will certainly have to cover some tender shoots. I do worry about the fruit trees, hoping that they have not yet budded. The rose were going crazy with new leaves budding, but I think they got froze too.

You can hardly kill iris, but look at this one. Last year we went to our favorite iris patch an bought six new colors. I really didn't expect them to bloom this spring, though I had hope that I might get lucky, but I am afraid that now most of their energy will have to recovering from a mid spring freeze. 

Before Man With Chainsaw

After Man With Chainsaw

The water feature project is really going to happen in this our 4th year at the Garden Spot. I am so excited.  For an old guy, the head gardener does a pretty good job of getting things done--when he is not off having coffee with his little social group. Oh don't worry. He doesn't read the blog.

So the lilacs are removed and the paving stones are gone. Next week will be very exciting. Heather and the boys will be up on week end to help. The plan is to rent the mini excavator to dig out the lilac roots and dig the hole for the pond. We are guessing 750-1,000 gallons. The one we had at the old house was 750 gallons, but here we have more room so I'd like to go a little larger. My water lilies are still living the horse tank. They have survived for 4 years in their make-shift home.

With all of moisture we are finally getting, hubby fertilized the hay field and the lawn yesterday.  

And he scoffed when I said, "We need a golf cart."

 Inside, the tomatoes are struggling. They got off to a good start, but I suppose being in the basement they got a little neglected. He replanted, and they germinated nicely, but then got too big, growing too close to the light. I had him move them upstairs where we can tend them more efficiently. Tomatoes are a hardy lot, so I think they will snap out of their slump. I told him to plant more seeds. We have time, since they will not go into the ground until Mother's Day. Our farmer friend Russ has a green house start his tomatoes and he does not plant until June 1. So we have plenty of time.

We had rain last night. Today it is cold and windy. I would like to be outside working in the yard. The darned weeds are coming on strong, but instead I am inside blogging about it all. 

I do hope that I do not sound like a whiner. I guess I am to some degree; however, I think I am just sad that after all the had work Mother Nature has to be contrary. Not sure just what is going on with our weather these days, but we just have to take it all in stride. Writing about the trials tribulations of garden provides so therapy, doesn't it?

Have a wonder week, everyone.

Blog It.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

April Showers?

We begin our call to Spring mid-February, even sooner for some of us (you) who have had far too many Arctic Blasts that have left far too much snow. We make it through February knowing that Spring is waiting for the just right time. March brings much hope, but the damaging snows continue--in some parts of the country. Others such as Northern Colorado get great promises of snow and moisture only to be left out once again. The lawns are dry. The garden beds dusty. We see green grass beginning to emerge in the lawn underneath the brown stuff left from winter. The hay field begins to show signs of greening; the perennial weeds are coming on much too quickly to keep up with them. Who wants to be out in the garden waging weed warfare? Me. I do. But March disappoints because it is still very cold and even if there is strong sun, there is that nasty little breeze that whips through the trees, creating a bit of chill in the air. Too cold to work outside. Besides I have papers to grade.

And then the grand dame of Spring arrives: Lady April with promises of showers that will bring those gorgeous May flowers that we have yearned for all winter so badly that we pay $10. a bunch at the super market for a handful of daffodils or tulips just because we are sick of winter, aching for some spring color. But wait. Mother Nature and Lady April have a wicked sense of humor. While it's certainly not nice to mess with Mother Nature, I ask you, Lady April, "What did I do to deserve this:

We have waited all winter for the daffodils to bloom. I have lamented with my blogger friends in the UK my desires to see the 10,000 daffodils that William Wordsworth glorifies in his poem "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud" where he describes a host of daffodils by lake's edge--Lake Windermere in Grasmere. Oh to see such a sight. So I plant a few dozens daffies, patiently await their arrival and this is what Lady April does: Spoils it all. 

The Hairy woodpecker will fill his belly with peanuts while the little Downy woodpecker prefers suet.  The chickadee waits its turn.

The flicker looks pretty cozy tucked away in the pines, belly full.

And the blue jay stops for meal. The birds need plenty of feed to store up energy for the long cold night. The bird feeders are a flutter of a variety of birds from the sweet little chickadee to the nasty old grackles.

We were well warned of the storm by the weather prognosticators: wind, rain, snow, ice, freezing temperatures, blowing snow, blizzard conditions, bad roads. We know the routine."6-12-14 inches in our area." Last night as we were preparing for bed we knew how bad the weather was in northeastern Colorado: tornadoes that did do some damage. Hail. Rain. Snow all in a few hours and well to the east of us.

 I was up at 5:30, deciding that I needed to leave for work early because the roads would be awful. I looked out expecting to see several inches of snow, but little to none. The radio guys said "Yeah it snowed about 5 inches in the night, but the wind blew it elsewhere." So I dressed and headed out the door. The road was indeed awful, but the sky in the east looked as though it was clearing, while the clouds in the west over the mountains looked purple and angry.

I came out of my 8:00 class at 9:15 to see the that the snow had picked up, falling horizontally as the wind blew it off course. I had students asking, begging to cancel class in the 9:30 class. Nope. I drove here, guys. We will Carry on. By 11:30 students were calling me in my office asking me if class would be canceled. Nope, I'll be there. Then another student called to say that the university was closed was class still meeting. "Well, I guess not," I answered. And I came home.

So the daffodils and the birds tell the weather story today. April 9th and it is 15 degrees, windy, snowing, and I am blogging about it. 

Wordsworth never says anything in his poem about snow crushing the daffodils; maybe someday I will write that one.

Heads up Robin, Judy, and Ann, and the rest of my dear friends east of me; the weather guys say that this storm will dance its way across the country, gaining speed and strength along the way. Will we be reading about your garden under a blanket of snow by week's end? 

Just Blog It. 

Stay warm and dry. 

Friday, April 5, 2013


I came home from work today to carnage at The Garden Spot. Oh, I knew what I would face, but I really didn't have a very good mental image of the damage that two men and chainsaw could do.

We have had a love/hate relationship with the two biggest deciduous trees on the acreage from the day we moved in. The Russian Olive at the back of the house shaded the patio. We liked that. It provided a nice landing spot for the birds that fly through the yard and stop at the feeders. I hung my suet cakes in its branches in winter for woodpeckers. A nuthatch discovered the suet cakes this winter. I could get great photos of the birds through my patio door. I liked that.

Yet the tree was a terrible annoyance. Russian Olives were first planted along ditch banks as a part of the WPA to put people to work. Now considered a noxious weed, the state wild life division hires legions of teens during the summer to cut down the olive trees along creek beds and river banks. They are water hogs, propagate prolifically, and make a mess. In the spring I fight the blossoms as they drop on the patio, requiring a leaf blower to clean the patio. In the fall, they drop long narrow, skinny leaves that pile up in the flower beds. So Good bye, old tree.

 Old and brittle, the branches have been damaged by wind and heavy snow, so it really isn't a very pretty tree anymore. We have surmised that the the tree seeded itself and was just allowed to grow, moving the patio bricks out of place.

I've always wanted a weeping willow. Unfortunately the willow here was unhealthy when we moved in and it only grew sicker and sicker, literally weeping sap. Our tree service suggested that it be taken out. So hubby got estimates to remove both trees-- about $700. a tree. Today our son-in-law come over today to help cut down the trees. Next we will call the tree service to see how much it will cost to have the lilacs that he took out last week and the trees chipped into mulch. Could be too expensive. At any rate, we have a mess.

Once cleaned up, though, the yard will be more open and cleaner with the sick and damaged trees gone. We will replace the Russian olive with two golden locusts at the back of the patio. Fruit trees will replace the weeping willow. It really is sad to have to cut down mature trees, but trees do grow old and outlive their usefulness. They will be replaced with healthy, new trees that while it will take years for them to mature, we will enjoy watching them grow and I'll love shopping for them in the coming weeks.

I haven't been reading my blogs lately and as I glanced through them before starting my post tonight, I guess some of you haven't been blogging much either. We have been all been busy. We had Easter dinner here with a scavenger hunt and Easter egg hunt for the kids. New kites were prizes, but no wind. We always have a breeze here. Always. But not when we want to fly kites!

Has your garden warmed up yet? It has been rather chilly here. Little moisture, windy, cool, so I haven't been out in the yard much. But I have been poking around in the mulch and leaves and soil to see what survived the winter. The tulips and daffodils are just moments away from blooming, the iris (you can't kill iris not matter what) are all greening up, even the peonies are waking up. I'll feed them this week-end. They will get a nice dose of rabbit pellets. Yes, rabbit pellets made of alfalfa. The lady who has the iris patch and raises peonies too said to give them rabbit food. Hopefully the cottontails ( who have been nibbling on the tulips) won't discover the pellets. I poked around the delfinium but it looks dead. I can't seem to keep them for more than a  couple of years or else it is too early. Nor have the hydrangea awakened. I am really nervous to see if they make it through the winter. What about your garden? What's emerging from its winter sleep in your yard?

We have 4 weeks of school left. WOW. Can you image how fast it has gone? It is at this time of the semester that I am just beginning to get to know my students and feel that we are now working toward the same goals. Their rough drafts for their research papers are due the 16th. Final drafts come in the 25th. I will have 50 ten page papers 15 five-seven page papers. I will be buried with work as we work toward the end of the semester.

Tomorrow we head to Denver for little Nathan's 4th birthday. I cannot believe that he is already 4. He loves The Garden Spot and got ride grandpa's tractor. What a thrill for him.

Hopefully it will warm up this week and perhaps by my next post I'll have some daffodils to share with you. I want to get some things planted Sunday, but I think we have a really big job finishing this latest project. I also want to get the little water garden in the front started. And prune the roses. And clean flower beds. And shop for trees. And, yeah, grade some quizzes.  And Blog all about it.

You, too. Just Blog it.
Have a really good week.

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...