Monday, May 26, 2014

Just a Little Work

We worked in the yard all week end, accomplishing quite a bit. Saturday we left the house early to go get the rock to stack around the edge of the pond. Once at the rock place, the Head Gardener showed me what he had picked out, a white limestone that I wasn't too crazy about and shivered at the cost: $350. a ton. Then I spied the Colorado red flagstone and won him over. Priced at $195. a ton and much prettier, he agreed that the flagstone would be a better choice. The pallet weighed in at 1.6 ton. While I did take my camera with me, I left it in the pick up, so I pulled out the iPhone.

Once home, we had a bite of lunch then the Head Gardener unloaded the stones from the horse trailer onto the EZ Go golf cart and hauled it all over to the pond.

So this is what a ton an a half of rock looks like. He laid it all out so that we could see each piece to help decide where to place each stone.

There was a lot of "not there" and "try it over there" and "no, I don't really like that piece there."

He worked so hard all afternoon lugging heavy flagstone and moving some of the bigger stones that were already in place.  We still need to do more work to cover all of the black plastic pond liner. This is one of those projects where we have to work on it for a while, leave, go back and re-evaluate and maybe even the rocks around more. Right now the water is pretty grungy with a red algae growth in it. He does not have the pond pump or the filter installed yet, only a temporary one to keep the water moving. We will probably have to treat the algae to clear it up and  the big pump with the trash can sized filter will clean up the debris.

While the pond out back needs a lot more work, I am very pleased with the front courtyard. The little water garden is clean as I keep a watchful eye, dosing it with an algaecide when it looks like there is about to be an algae bloom. Two water lilies have been moved from the horse tank to their summer home. The Korean lilac has a few blooms, but not as many as last year; the leaves looks shiny and healthy.

The plant material along the waterfall is taking off, filling in nicely. There is always some die-back over winter, so it takes a while for new growth to take over. The blue creeping speedwell is my favorite. I love the shade of lavender blue aside the two varieties of lamium, both hand-me-downs, so I don't know what varieties they are. But I do enjoy lamium as a ground cover because it grows quickly and covers a big area.

One morning I went out to feed the gold fish and to my surprise I discovered that the Gnomes had new neighbors. The Fairies seem to be pretty well settled in. They may have to relocate once the echinacea reaches full growth. Here I use the non-fruit bearing strawberry as ground cover. It, too, suffered a lot of die back with the cold winter;  love the pretty pink flowers.

I often wonder just what Mr. Frog must be pondering as he sits at water's edge.

Could he perhaps be dreaming of the mermaid across the waters?

Amphitrite, Greek Goddess and Queen of the sea, wife to Poseidon, King of the sea, wearing a crown of pansies watches over the fairies, frogs, and fishes.

Meanwhile out at the chicken house and the vegetable garden, Edith Warford blooms.

 Don't the name of this beauty.

Along with bits and patches of weeds, the Iris are the first showy bloom here. 

The Head Gardener planted most of the garden today. Still more work to do, but the tomatoes, onions, potatoes, squash, and peppers are in. The cabbages and broccoli that we planted inside didn't do well, so we will have to buy sets. Darn it.

Here is the disaster area in the front circle (actually tear-drop shape.) This end has been somewhat neglected. I have started weeding it and go out every day to see what new is growing. I may put Preen down to discourage the abundance of weeds that seem to want to make this space home. Right how I have a shrub rose, iris, day lily, crocsomia, spring bulbs, and uninvited columbine and dill growing. Since writing this post mostly yesterday and now editing and adding, I also added a few plants to this spot, hoping that they fill in and look gorgeous.

These columbines just appear,  growing easily and plentifully. I have no idea what variety they are. The neighbor next door has a nice garden with them so I suppose the seeds come in with birds or something. But they are pleasant visitors, so I allow them to stay; although, I much prefer the beautiful lavender blue one, our state flower. 

Two clumps of columbine produced this beauty, our state flower. Again, sprouting from seed left behind perhaps by the plant that died last year.

The Colorado columbine bloomed just this morning.

They are quite handsome paired with the chamomile, both uninvited, but welcome at the Garden Spot.

Along with the columbine, we have vinca minor with a lovely purple flower, arapid grower that tends to take over a space. Here  you can barely see the path through the aspen trees. On one hand, I want lots of ground cover to deter weeds, but on the other, I have a problem with vinca. It is a strong plant with tough vines and strong deep roots that takes over an area.

Planted in the front of the house behind a large bush, blooms this gorgeous clematis. Each year it gets stronger and bigger with blossoms the size of my hand this year. I regret planting it where I did because it is hidden behind a bush and does not get the attention that it dissevers. I had to give it a new trellis this year, a metal one from Hobby Lobby because the wooden one broke off during a hard wind.

Who does not love the chamomile? It has nearly taken over the center circle. As we worked out there this morning, the Head Gardener asked if he should start pulling it out. No, I answered. I think we will let it run its course. Right now it is keeping weeds from growing. 

After a morning in the garden Sunday, we drove over to the kids' to deliver a little trailer that Jen can hook behind the lawn mover and some left over pond liner. When it came time to leave, we were headed to the local garden center and, of course, the little girls wanted to go, too. We indulged them, bought them some plants for their fairy gardens, then did some garden center hopping after we took them back home. We hit 3 and come home with the pick-up truck back full. I was rather disappointed, however, because i am looking for ground cover. Plant material is so expensive and the spaces that I need to cover are so big, that I am getting frustrated. 

Today, hubby worked on the vegetable garden, while I planted flowers. We still have more to do.

On this Memorial Day, we remember our military both past and present, thanking them for their service to keep America free. 

I hope you had a wonderful week end and are looking forward to great week.

Thanks so much for stopping by. 

Monday, May 19, 2014

Belly Ache

Good morning, everyone. Here it is Monday morning again. The weeks seem to fly by, still. I thought that after I retired, life would slow down and the weeks would leisurely pass by. Not so. The Head Gardener went on his annual fishing trip, putting me on chore duty for the week end. Mostly feed this, feed that.

  • 1 cat a meowing
  • three chicks still in the living room brooder a chirping
  • salt water aquarium fish a swimming
  • fresh water aquarium fish ditto
  • 7 hens a laying
  • 2 horses a neighing
  • 1 dog a whining
  • wild birds always happy
All went rather well until Saturday evening when I brought the boys in from the pasture. Sundance wasn't his usual self. He didn't rush to his stall for his grain. He seemed agitated, pawing the air with his front hoof, kicking at his belly with his back hoof, and swatting his tail as if he had flies. I knew he was in trouble. I called Jen to see what I should do. I called my sister in law who has horse experience, both agreed that I should start walking him and not let him lay down. I had left the horses out in the pasture too long, and it was apparent that the big guy had a belly ache from too much rich, green grass.

Jen, living 45 minutes away, came over to help walk him. We had him in the round pen so we were able to trot him around instead of leading him. We wanted him to pass the gas and other stuff, too, which he did, but he still wanted to lay down. I called our two standby vets, neither could attend him. So I called a new vet who came soon.

Sundance indeed had too much green grass, but he was also dehydrated, indicating that he had not been well for a couple days. As the vet explained, with our fluctuating temperatures--warm, hot, cold, rainy--he probably wasn't drinking enough water. She sedated him, stuck a tube down his nostril, and pumped in an elixir of remedies: a Malox type of antacid, a soap-like lubricant, and a few other goodies to help him feel better. She also gave him a pain reliever. He was very good and cooperative given that he is a bad boy and hard to handle sometimes.

The vet was very young--30sih--, tiny, and really good at her job, handling Sundance with a kind voice and gentle hand. Real Girl Power. I felt awful for having left the boys out for so long. I should have known better, but she reassured me by saying that her vet clinic has been treating a lot colic in horses this spring because of the weather and really good pasture grass. 

Sundance is back to normal, though on a restricted diet and not allowed in the pasture for another week.  I knew he was feeling better when I saw him pacing the fence, wanting out to pasture. In all the years that I have had horses, I have never had a sick one. Dumb luck, I guess. 

Jen spent the night so that she could be the one to get up in the middle of the night and walk him. She was exhausted, but left at 6 in the morning to go home to get the family ready for church. I don't know how she did it. Youth, perhaps. She said she needed to go thank God for answering her prayers, which while she didn't say much as we were treating Sundance, she was silently scared that we would lose him. Thankfully he has recovered. We will just have to be more careful.

Along with lush green pasture grass, the garden beds are transitioning from spring blooms to summer flowers.

The last bleeding heart for the season.

Lilacs sweetly perfume the Garden Spot. While we have several bushes here, the neighbor's windbreak is full with lilac bloom. I have been thrift shopping for pretty dishes to make those gorgeous glass garden flowers; however, so far I have yet to get to that project, instead I am using the glass on the table. I rather like the effect of glass stacking for a center piece, an old Anchor Hocking deviled egg plant on a green serving dish, with a depression glass candle stick, compliments of ARC (a very dangerous place).

I waited half the winter to fill my lovely white pitcher with lilacs. I added a couple of sprigs of crab apples blossoms, but they didn't last.

With the newly finished patio, I will find myself lingering outside as I did yesterday just relaxing, watching the birds at the feeders. We have new visitors, the bullock's oriole. They love the grape jelly that we put in the little cups. Here the female gets caught chewing with her mouth open.

The male is this brilliant orange. We think we have 3 males and probably 3 females, but is hard to distinguish the females from each other. We also think that they are nesting in the neighbors tall cottonwood trees. They don't seem interested in the peanuts or regular bird seed; they also like oranges, but they are too expensive to feed to the birds. So grape jelly it is.

And look at this gorgeous beauty, a western tanager. You cannot image how excited I was to see him. We had tanagers at the old house, but never saw them here until we filled our water garden just last week and put a pump in it to move water. These birds are, as are many others, attracted to sound of running water. I hope to see more of him and of his mate. We had 2 or 3 pairs at the other house. They should go to the feeders, too.

I love watching the birds.

Serious gardening this week as long as the weather cooperates. I have a kitchen counter full of plants that I have been collecting that need to go out. We have so many projects to get done that have been on hold because it has been so cold. We have yet to plant the garden, which I suppose we will spend Memorial Day week end doing. I hope you have serious garden plans in place, too. Get out and get some sunshine. Commune with nature.

Thanks for stopping by. Have a wonderful week.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Day in the Gardens

I could write about our weather here in Colorado that I hear from Texas relatives made national news. Give me a break. We get May snow nearly every year. We don't like it, but hey we live a mile high. Once of worst blizzards of recent times was May 27. Any Colorado gardener knows the rule: Plant after Mother's Day. We did have freezing temperatures last night, so we covered the peonies and the dwarf cherry. And it is supposed to get colder tonight then begin to warm up.

Saturday was a grand day. For years Heather and her BFF from high school always go to the annual plant sale at the Denver Botanical Gardens, usually on Friday. I was never invited because it was their thing; in reality I worked and couldn't take the day off. So now that I am retired I begged. Can I please come with you? Because this is the busy season for Heather, she couldn't take a day off either, so I joined the girls Saturday.

It had been years since I last walked the gardens and wow have there been changes made. We spent most of our time choosing plants, but did walk throughout the Japanese Gardens. Join me for a bit of a walk on a sunny Colorado Saturday.

Approaching the gardens. 

At the center of the gardens, summer concerts are held along with other events in the center of the gardens. 

Heather (right) and Carrie discuss plant selection. These are plants grown at the gardens. They were pretty picked over since the sale began on Friday.

Alums are one of my favorites.

A pretty little shade garden.

Have you noticed that with all of the interest on Pinterest in succulents, that they are very hard to find if you don't to the garden center early in the season? Such was the case at the sale. I had hopped to get a good selection of succulents, but they had few. This is one of the many troughs that the volunteers had planted up. This one was sold; they went in a hurry.

The main water feature is huge. The water lilies have yet to bloom.

My interest in Japanese gardening is growing. Since we have a sizable pagoda that we purchased last year off of, I am interested in creating a Japanese space by the new water feature. 

We didn't make it into the tea house. Next time.

I chuckled to myself when I saw the Roman columns at Cheeseman Park next to the gardens. Were the gods whispering to me?

While this garden may look a bit like a week patch, it reflects what the native prairie must have looked like to the pioneers who first came West. It is a peaceful and serene spot to sit and reflect.

Still in the Japanese garden, this flowering crab makes a statement contextually set with other trees and Japanese architecture. 

I wanted to linger in the gardens longer, but we were getting tired and had a couple of other stops to make.

Love this corner outside the gardens. The sale was very well organized, with the planners taking into consideration every visitor's needs. For example they had a plant valet service. Target shopping carts were provided for shoppers to push around to haul their plants. A nice touch. Better than pulling a Red Flyer wagon. Then once outside the gates, we left our cart with the valet service and then walked the 3 blocks back to the car. We drove back to the gardens, parked curb side just long enough to load up the plants and we were on our way. 

We had to admire the houses along the walk back to the car. This grand mansion belongs the gardens, so I stepped inside the open gate to photograph it.

I love, love, love this house. This is a side view of the stately green stucco mansion. I snuck the camera between the bars of the wrought iron fence to get a good shot.

Gorgeous. These houses are in the old part of town, the Cheeseman park area. Built at the turn of the 20th century, many of them fell into disrepair, but 30 or 40 years ago, when they were a real bargain, the neighborhood attracted new buyers and now it reflects the wealth of Denver elites. One Christmas Heather had the opportunity to light one of the house for Christmas. (Her company during the off season also does commercial Christmas lighting.)

We parked across the street from this grand house. Wonder who lives there? What do they do for a living?

On a smaller scale, here is Heather's little garden. She has been working on it for ten years and it is amazing for a small space garden.

Here is her waterfall that she built all by herself. At the end of the fall, she has a very small pool with gold fish.

I came home with the back of the little SUV full of plants, ashamed to admit how much I spent. The plants were pricey, but the money went to a good cause. I did buy a winter hardy lotus. It will be the center piece of the water garden. The head gardener will have to wear his fishing chest waders to put it in place. Right now it looks pretty pathetic. 

I hope to return to the Denver Botanical Gardens sometime over the summer. We only saw less then half of it. I hope you enjoyed the tour.

Thanks for stopping by. 

Just a Hint of Spring with a Dose of Cuteness

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