Thursday, May 30, 2013

Time Out

Slowly projects here at the Garden Spot are getting finished. Today we took a horse trailer load of limbs and stumps from the weeping willow that had been cut down to the landfill. Getting that mess cleaned up with the help of daughter Jennifer and a college lad was one big job that we can mark off of the To Do list. We also planted garden this week, finally. I still have to plant the seeds: carrots, red beets, zinnias, sunflowers.

We let the girls out to forage. They loved the freshly tilled, damp soil where they scratched and wiggled until they had a nice bed in the middle of what would become the pepper row.

With the garden planted, we felt that we could take a day just to play.

Friends from Texas traveling in their motor home on their way to Yellow Stone and then on to Banff, Canada stopped for a couple of nights. We took a time out yesterday so that we could take them to Estes Park. Still a quaint little mountain village, it has grown so much. Not even all of the commercialization can overshadow the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, still capped in snow. Of course Estes Park is known for the large herd of elk (wapiti) that roam the town. We drove to the top of the pass, only to find Trail Ridge Road still closed due the the massive amount of snow that has yet to be cleared away. If you are looking to take a little virtual vacation, come along with me as we hit one of Colorado's most popular tourist areas, Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.

I have made the drive up Big Thompson Canyon so many times, that I kept the camera put away until we pulled over to watch these magnificent big horn rams. They look rather scroungy, not because they are unhealthy, rather because they are still shedding their winter coat.

History Lesson: July 31, 1976, late in the afternoon, it started to rain, common for the high mountain valley, but this was not an ordinary alpine rain. The clouds opened up, spilling 12-14 inches of rain in about 4 hours. For those who survived the flood, they survived a night hell, many having to climb the steep, rocky canyon walls to escape the flood waters. One hundred forty-four lives were lost. If you want to read more about Colorado's worst flood visit the Denver Post article.

Today the canyon has fully recovered, with no sign of the flood except the roadside memorial honoring not only the 143 victims, but the Colorado State patrolman who lost his life trying to save others.

The spectacular scenery awes even the locals, then to get this close to a ram: WOW. I did use my telephoto zoom because unlike the others who stopped to take his picture who walked much too close to him,  I have a greater respect for the unpredictability of wild animals, docile as this fellow looks, he could get a bit annoyed and charge, so I stayed a safe distance back. Now if you do travel to Colorado or any mountain area where you see moose in the wild, be sure to stay a healthy long distance away because they are quite aggressive).

We held our breath as a lone ewe wandered out onto the busy highway with traffic coming at her in both directions.

She managed to get off of the highway to find her mid day meal.

The village looks pretty quiet mid-week, nor is tourist season in full swing yet.

A great view from our third floor restaurant.

Here we are at the top of the world. Not the highest mountain road at 12,183 ft, Trail Ridge Road offers a wonderful vista of the beautiful Rocky Mountain Park.  Read about the highway. The world's highest paved highway, by the way is in Colorado: Mt. Evans, another spectacular drive. But do be careful coming to Colorado because Denver know as the Mile High city is exactly that: 5, 280 ft. elevation. Visitors will suffer from altitude sickness in the mountains with common symptoms such as head ache and nausea. If you plan to travel to any high mountain areas, read up altitude sickness and go prepared. The body does soon adjust, so just give yourself an extra day or so to get used to the thin air. 

Other fun facts: water takes longer to boil, cakes take longer to bake (food in general), and your car will seem a bit sluggish in the mile high city. 

Alpine Beggars.

And this is what a trip to Estes is all about. Forget the expensive the gift shops and tourist traps. Pass up the beautiful turquoise jewelry, the fabulous original art, the fresh saltwater taffy, the goofy tee shirts. Go elk hunting.

Be watchful because around any curve tucked away, hiding in plain sight, you will find the big bulls. Our Texan friends were so excited to get this close to majestic bull elk. There were two big fellows right by the road. One resting, chewing his cud (I did manage to get him with mouth closed), and his pal grazing on the really green grass.

You will note the fuzziness of their antlers. They are in the velvet--a furry-like covering over the hard antlers that they will shed in the fall by rubbing their antlers on the trunks of the aspen trees as they prepare for the rut (breeding).  The elk rut is probably one of biggest events in Estes when the big boys gather in local mountain pastures to fight it out with the herd of cows as the prize, their bugling echoing through the mountain valley. Thousands of tourists load onto buses in town to take the short drive to the natural arena to see the bulls challenge each other. (A bit too commercialized for my taste).

I hope you enjoyed your time out from your busy schedule. Our friends who had been to Estes when they were first married 40 years ago loved their visit and I hope you did too.

 It was windy and chilly here today, so I didn't get much done outside. I just hate the wind. Here it is nearly June and it still really hasn't warmed up yet. The week end is just about here. The little girls have their ballet recital Sunday. Can't wait. They are so cute--not just my two, but all of the little ballerinas. Heather and her family will come up and they boys will stay with us for a week. It will Nathan's first time to stay at grandma's without mommy. He is so excited. 

Soon I hope to have pictures of the roses. They have set buds. Can't wait to see them. The iris are in full bloom. I'll have to get photos of them, too. The peonies are soon to bloom. We are headed to Texas in another week, so I hope I don't miss the peonies.

So what's blooming in your garden now? 

Just Blog It

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Going Green

Today's theme: Going Green. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, Green is the color between blue and yellow on the spectrum; colored like grass or emeralds. Symbolically, according to Emily Gems, a gemstone web site, green represents fertility and life, well balanced people, learning, growth, and harmony. I have painted our bedroom and the guest bedroom a green color that we used at the old house, Peaceful Jade because I love it so much. Many of us because we garden,  we love nature and respect Mother Earth.  As gardeners, we want to create, preserve, and protect our environment. We "go green" in the simplest ways ranging from refusing those awful plastic bags at the supermarket, instead using reusable bags (if we can remember to get them out of the trunk of the car before we go into the store); we find natural ways to control weeds and pests in the garden. We recycle our glass, paper, and plastic. We reuse, re-purpose, redo everything from clothing to furniture.

However, I did not set out to write about saving the earth tonight. I thought instead that I would take you for walk around the Garden Spot while it is at its peak of Spring green and then for a quick drive down the road to see the green fields of Northern Colorado. Come along.

On the north side of the house, we have two snow ball bushes with the blossoms still that limey green as they grow.

The front circle is full of wild chamomile. Not just green, but what texture with the spiky leaves and the broad petals and the mound of yellow. Mom Nature knows her stuff.

At the front of the house the clematis is loaded with wonderful full buds ready to burst out in pink. A nice color combo: bright pink and limey green.

Green and Purple make a great color combo: 


And Iris

And lavender lilacs

The Garden Spot is home a few cottontails that munch the green grass in the lawn and the pasture. They seem to live in peaceful coexistence with dog, cats, and even the local fox family. One of my evening routines is to go out front and count the rabbits in the horse pasture and watch them chase each other.

Gray and Green: Not a favorite color combo, but the pasture with all of the moisture is green and lush.

From the lemon yellow of the chamomile and the lime green of the snowball, pasture green also goes well with palomino gold.

I love this color combo: Green and White

Red and Green aren't just for Christmas.  

Green And Brown: Sprouting corn that by the 4th of July should be knee high.

The farmland palette Black and white cows (Holstein steers), green grass for hay, and a newly tilled soil with the blue silhouette of the mountains in the background.

 Green Eggs and Ham? I love our hens' green eggs. 

Spring Green has to be a favorite color: Yes here at the Garden Spot we are at peace, well-balanced, and we try to live in harmony with nature in an eco friendly way. 

Tomorrow we will plant the garden. The camera will be close by. I hope you enjoyed our little walk-about and a short Sunday afternoon drive.

We are truly blessed to live in this great country 
and today we remember our brave veterans. 
God Bless them 
God Bless America.

Have a great holiday and wonderful week. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Sweet Success

Hello? Hello? Is anyone out there? Yes. I know. I have been MIA for several days. Do you worry when you haven't blogged for a few days--okay, over a week or more --that you have lost all of your followers? Well, I do, but I also know that that my kind followers have had the same lapses in time and space and we are always waiting for a happy return. So here I am, now an officially retired English professor.

The sweetest sound of spring:
the male gold finch singing to his his Lady Love
The end of the semester is always stressful, and this last one was not any different except for the long faces of friends whom I will miss very much. Five of us had dinner the week of finals, not to say good-bye, just say "see ya soon." One other friend is also rearing, so with the two of us leaving, we ate good food, had a bit of wine, and did the 'remember whens. There will be a huge hole in the English department with the two of us gone. My final words to my dear friends were simple: We may not be working together anymore, but we are friends forever.

I did really get tired of everyone asking me "What are you going to do now that you are retired?"   The list is a very long one; here are the top two:

1. Spend time with our dear, sweet grandchildren who are growing up so quickly:

Lucy graduated Pre-School.

2. Spend time in the Garden with my sweet Head Gardener (who happens to be off on his annual fishing trip).
Sweetness in the Garden

Meet Sweet Sensations who will join her sister roses; a Weeks Hybrid Tea rose, she will grow hardy and healthy. And what fragrance she has. 

Today I gave the roses sharp pruning. I had pruned them mid-March, taking only a bit of each branch since they had already begun to leaf out. Then April weather turned ugly with record setting cold, freezing rain and a lot of snow, killing all of the new growth.

Today the roses look hardy and are growing a new, strong leaf foundation. Originally I left one long stem on the red rose, but post photo, I snipped it off, too, to give the rose a nicer, more uniform shape.

I love these three little guys clustered by the David Austin. They are supermarket roses--you know, those pretty little potted roses that are great gifts, but if left potted in the house they die. I plant them outside and they do very well. In fact, they will be the first roses to bloom. I think I paid 5 dollars for two of them on the sale shelf last summer.

The three David Austins on the other side of the garden wall are doing well. They required little pruning. They seem to be such easy keeper.

Peony Beauties

We have been adding peonies every year. I had beautiful, huge plants at the old house that were pretty much left to fend for themselves, but here I struggle get them to do well (just as I am struggling tonight to upload the photo of the 3 planted with the David Austins in the front of the house.) We purchased one last summer at the iris garden along with 5 new irises and it failed to thrive. Hubby dug up the rhizome and just threw it in ground by the hen house, and while it did sprout leaves, it really needs a more suitable home. But look the these two healthy plants above. The lady at the iris patch said to feed them rabbit food in early spring. We did and look at the results. The ones out front are tall, healthy and all are full of buds. Can't wait for these beauties to bloom.

Sadly Raspberry Sundae isn't doing so well, much like the alum planted in the same garden bed. I have decided that the plants in the entire bed which have turned yellow don't like the horse manure top dressing we gave them last year. The peony were all fed the same, only this one got a dose of pooh, too. She apparently does not like it.

The alum was going to be spectacular this year with two new sprouts. She was going have 3 gorgeous  giant purple spheres. Guess we will be scrapping away the manure.

Just Peachy

North Star Dwarf Cherry

Covering the fruit trees during the last cold spell paid off. The newest peach tree planted last summer is loaded with blossoms, while the two year old tree had only a sparse flowering. Hopefully we will have fresh peaches. The cherry tree will have to be netted to keep the robins off of it once the cherries begin to show a bit of red. I really like the this tree. Who does not like cherry pie? While the tree looks pretty skimpy, the dwarf produces an amazing amount of cherries that are easily picked. 

More Garden Success

Remember my blog last year about daughter Heather redesigning the front water garden? We made a trip to our favorite wholesale garden in Ft. Collins--the one that supplies High Country Gardens Nursery. This little iris is not one those plants, but Heather did give it to me last summer.The first iris to bloom this season. I did lose a few new plants around the pond, but more survived than died.

Success in the Vegetable Garden

Three varieties of potatoes have been planted: Red, Yukon Gold, and just plain white spuds

Even more exciting: the asparagus lives. Pretty skinny, though. I have not decided if I will cut the spears or not. The plants are entering their second year, planted from gallon containers. So I don't know if I should harvest them or let them go to seed. There is one teeeeeeny tiny spear poking through int the trench of 16 asparagus roots planted a few weeks ago. Hopefully more will grow. Patience. Lots of Patience. 

The berries are coming out of their winter funk too. The strawberries are blooming, the raspberries that were transplanted are alive and growing, and the blackberry has vibrant growth coming up from the bottom. I don't know just how much of the cane that we tied up to trellis is alive. As the roses, it had good, hardy leaf buds before that freeze. 

Be careful What You Wish For

Our wish was for rain instead of snow--we were sick of the late spring snow. Last Tuesday it rained; boy did it. According to the rain gage, we had almost 1.5 inches in about half an hour. Our water garden project has stalled for various reasons, but the hole collected a nice amount of rainwater. 

Even the hens had a bit of puddle. They were not too sure just what to do about it either.

And Sundance took a mud bath.

The sweetest of All
The Saturday before Mother's Day, late in the afternoon, the doorbell rang. Expecting to see my 6ft. 2 nephew, I was shocked to see the little guy, Nathan. "What are you doing here and how did you get here," I asked my four year old grandson? Then his momma appeared from behind the courtyard wall. In short, she brought a mother's day dinner and Jen and her family came for an early Mother's Day Surprise. Really the best of all.  Ellie presented me with a bit of gift. She knew I had a collection of bird nests that had fallen from the trees last summer, so she asked for one. Later she brought me a nest of chicken eggs--freshly laid--decorated with a pit of purple weed flowers. I love the colors and treasure the moment.

And they want to know what I will be doing in retirement? 

Top of my immediate To Do List: catch up on my blog reading. I have been reading randomly, but not commenting much. I am now using an iPad instead of my lap top and I am thinking that I need to add a keyboard to it so that I can type more accurately. I have missed my blog friends, but I am back in business. 

Hope everyone has a wonderful week. My great nephew graduates from high school Sunday then he is off the to Marines. Congratulations, Austin. 

And thank you dear ones who offered sweet sentiments on my retirement and encouragement that there is life after a wonderful career.

Keep Bloggin'

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...