Sunday, April 26, 2015

Rush for Roses

Point on the Center Circle
It's raining today, a light, consistent dropping of rain, saturating the earth with badly needed moisture. I worked this week in the center circle on the point. Last year I had a plan: a variety of ornamental grasses colored with day lilies. I purchased the grasses  that looked nearly dead way early and planted them way late because they looked so nearly dead. I didn't get the day lilies  transplanted from the Icky Place because it got hot and I lost interest, fighting weeds instead and making my weekly pilgrimage to Lowe's Garden Center to buy up their bargain perennials to fill the rest of the center circle. The day lilies would wait for another time to be moved--like the next year.

Icky Place

So I got a good start this week. Spent a couple of days weeding and making the point neat and ready to receive plants. The grasses didn't survive the winter. Bummer. New plan scratch the grasses. Instead I found a box of oriental lilies at the super market, so I planted them instead.

The Head Gardener helped me dig up the day lilies form the Icky Place and they are now transplanted not only in the center circle point, but also in a fresh new bed out by the chicken coop. We have a very nice collection of day lilies that we started years ago at the Old House purchased from Oakes Day Lilies. I did not want to lose them, so it was a priority to dig them up and give them new ground.

Loaded with the day lilies, the EZ-Go makes hauling gardening stuff around so much easier.

While I worked in the Center Circle, the Head Gardener tore up the sprinkler system (again) out by the barn. He had made quite a mess, but only to reconfigure what the previous owners screwed up had done. By the time he is finished, he will have fewer zones, eliminated one changing of a valve in the middle of a watering cycle, and he will have better coverage, hopefully eliminating some dry spots. Who needs a membership to a health club when you can dig in the dirt?

Rush for Roses

For the third year, we have made the early morning drive to the Flower Bin south on I-25 to Longmont, CO to purchase roses, about a 45 minute drive. We first discovered this garden center three years ago looking for David Austin roses. Like all ritualistic shopping ventures, this one requires getting up early to be first in line when the gates open, to beat the rush, to get ahead of everyone else wanting to do the same thing; however, I slept in a bit, drank my one cup of coffee, dressed, and brushed out my hair while the HG put out the dog, fed the horses, and opened up the chicken coop. We arrive just as the gates were opening. Perfect timing. (Isn't their giant goose a hoot?)

So here are my beauties that will replace the lost roses in the front court yard:

 Brandy, a hybrid Tea, new to my collection radiates a peachy color. I think I will like this one. She replaces Gertrude Jekyll. I wasn't really happy with Gertrude for she was a climber that I had planted in the wrong spot and seemed to struggle where she was, so I won't replace her, even though I loved her luscious pink blooms.

Midas Touch takes St. Patrick's spot, who also struggles last summer and then succumbed to the killing freeze last fall. While the Saint did have wonderful yellow blooms tinged with green as they opened, he just was not a hardy as he needed to be. So we will see how the king does.

 First Prize, a replacement for the one that I lost over the winter. She will have huge, fragrant blooms that will last a while in a pretty vase. My garden will never have enough pink as it is my favorite color.

Finally, my gorgeous Veteran's Honor red rose. Planted first in line, she had such gorgeous dark red blossoms. I hope this one does as well.

Colorado roses took a beating last year; the rose loss was heavy. The 9news Arborist reported on the damage to the pine trees that the early freeze did to them, explaining that the temperatures dropped 77 degrees in 30 hours. One day in late October it was in the 70s and by the next evening it was -18. Little wonder that my weak grasses and tender roses failed to thrive. Judith at Lavender Cottage suggested planting the roses below the graft. I asked the nursery man about doing that and while the rule in Colorado always has been to plant just below the graft, leaving the graft exposed, now there are two recommendations: to plant bury the graft by 2 inches or use rose cones to cover the exposed graft in the fall. I haven't decided yet just how we will plant the roses. I may opt of the rose cones and mulch in the fall. What would you do?

 The roses will be planted here in the front court yard near the front door where they will be enjoyed by everyone who comes to the front door: Me, the UPS guy, the milkman, and the tenant who comes to pay her rent.

Favorite Climbers: Clematis

Just outside the door to the rose room at the Flower Bin sat a cart of lovely clematis. I had to pick up this one to plant at the end of the berry trellis in the vegetable garden. Mrs. P.T. James (anyone know she might be?) will bloom June through September, have blooms 6-8 inches, grow 9-12 feet (wow), and belongs to pruning group B1.

The HG decided to go back to pick another clematis for the other end of the trellis: Niobe, also a June-September bloomer, will grow 6-8 feet with blooms 4- 6 inches (impressive), and belongs to pruning group B or C. Both climbers will add needed color to the vegetable garden.

The HG also picked these sweet little violas to plant around the garden, too, perhaps by the chicken coop.

Child's Play

We weren't done garden shopping, I guess.  As we headed home and approached our turn-off at the Ft. Collins exit, Jen called, wanting us to meet her at Bath Nursery-- always one of our favorite garden stops--to help herd the girls while she looked for plants. I had blown my gardening budget for the day, so I was perfectly content to sit in the sun and watch the girls play in the little playground the garden center has for children. How smart is that! 

Life does not get any better than bare feet, a sandy play spot, and a swing. 

After a really busy, crazy week, this one looks to be a bit quieter. We will continue to work on our various garden projects. We have a lot to do. The center circle remains my top priority, while the HG wants to finish the irrigation system. Soon it will be time to plant tomatoes and the rest of the vegetables. The Icky Place needs a lot of work, too. 

Here is a sneak peek at the kitchen back splash, due to be tiled this week. I am excited to see how it will look. I think we chose really pretty tiles to accent the granite. Next week the grand reveal.

 I hope you have a fine plan for the week. I wish you rain if you need it, sunshine when you want it, and lots of good gardening.

PS Check out more mosaics at Monday Mosaic hosted by Judith at Lavender Cottage. Oh and in the header my precious bleeding heart bloomed for the first time this spring. She is preserved here as a lovely water color using the Waterlogue ap on my iPad. I love technology.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Lady in Waiting and Other April Musing

He's 18 months old now, and still very much a handful. For those of you who have not yet met Boone, let me introduce him. He is a rescue pup, adopted from a veterinary clinic in a tiny grasslands farming town Grant, Nebraska, about 3 hours from where we live. He was 4 months old when he brought home after the Head Gardener had picked him out from a photo online. His mother was a smaller weimaraner and his father was a German short haired pointer. We named him Boone Doggle, a rather catchy name for high powered pup that would require a firm hand and a lot of attention. With a very sweet personality, he is independent, strong willed, and a hunter by nature. While he does respond to some voice commands, he still requires his electronic collar so that he can be called back to the house when he is off on his daily reconnaissance looking for whatever trail scent his nose picks up.

And so little shocked was I when the Head Gardener came in with a baby rescue:

Tiny, wet, cold, covered in dog slobber, the poor baby cottontail surely was terrorized.

The HG had seen Boone chasing something, or rather he had seen something running away from Boone. By the time he got to Boone, he was at the back door with a wad of fur in his mouth. We have been working with Boone to Drop It on command, one command that he is not good at.

The grand kids were all here, of course, concerned, curious. Ellie thought we should keep it as a pet. No, I firmly said, reminding her that the bunny was wild creature and needed to be free. We wondered where to turn it lose, deciding out by the garden. The neighbors have a large windbreak with a variety of trees and bushes where cottontails live, so we thought that it would travel across the pasture to safety. However. With all the kids running around yelling and screaming, it only traveled a few feet. One of their defenses is to lay low, hunker down to the ground to hide. By day's end the bunny had spent all day in the rain soaked grass, so we decided to relocate it.

Hunkered down in the wet weeds, we feared that Boone, once on the run again, would find it. And sure enough, once he was let out of his kennel at the end of the day, he got back on the bunny's trail.

Out by the barn stuff collects--old fence railing and irrigation tubes--, the kind of stuff that makes goods hiding and burrowing places for little critters, especially the cottontails. So the HG placed the bunny underneath the pile of fence posts and irrigation pipes where he would be warm and safe from Boone's searching. Most often the bunnies can outrun Boone and are always on the lookout for the predators and the dog. Will he make it? Well, of course he will. 

April: Spring's Lady in Waiting

This week's mosaic that will be shared at Lavender Cottage shows just how fickle the Lady in Waiting can be. I came home Friday from town to a bit of snow on the ground. It had been raining since the day before, cold, windy--the way that most April ladies behave. Temperamental, provocative, whimsical, undependable, especially for gardeners wanting to get out get some yard work done, April has her own way. Not waiting to get my camera from the house, I parked the care and took a few shots with the iPhone.  

And while I should be out working in this center circle, I am working on the blogs today because it is just too cold and windy to be outside. We are supposed have a few days of this capricious weather. But you know the old saying, April showers bring May flowers.

So we all anxiously await for these beauties to reach full bloom:

Perfectly pink peonies 

the spring and summer perennials, including agapantha and iris

and the coral bells

and the lovely bright orange tiger lilies.

All are awake, craving April's showers.

Rose Report

The verdict is in on the roses in the front courtyard, for it looks like the new shoots are coming up from below the graft with means that the graft has died and the wild rose is taking over. I'll have not that. Next week end our favorite nursery in Longmont will have its annual Run for the Roses sale, so I plant to rouse the HG out of bed early to get down there before the rush. I hate to reinvest in roses again, but I love them and this is first time I have had such a colossal loss. 

In The Garden

Little is happening in the garden, but the garlic shows signs of life.

And I harvested the first of asparagus. Oh, my it was so sweet roasted in the oven with a medley of other vegetables.


The little hens are now in the main coop still eating baby food.

We have decided that Pertelotte is nesting and will let her sit on her eggs to see if she can actually hatch any.

Chanticleer and Browny have been exiled, sent to live in the dog crate for excessive and aggressive behavior terrorizing the other older hen and Pertelotte. Browny continues to lay her one egg a day, now producing large green eggs with double yokes. 

The baby of the flock, Goldie lives along with a fake owl for her companion. She roosts on top it at night. Soon she will be able to join the rest of the flock.

Kitchen Remodel

I am still holding off on the grand reveal of the newly remodeled kitchen because the job is not done. The count top is in, the new sink and garbage disposal are working, the wiring for the under counter lights has been installed. Now we wait for the back splash tile work to be done the end of April. Then you shall see the final results.

A Shameless Commerical

The kitchen in the current dollhouse project nears completion. If you want to see more, visit my other blog Ann's Dollhouse Dreams.

I have a very busy week ahead with medical appointments. Won't bore you with the details. All general maintenance; none the less, tedious and not how I want to be spending my time. Cooler temperatures with rain, clouds, thunder, and maybe some light snow, so gardening looks to be perhaps at the bottom of the to-do-list.

And so my friends, here I am at the end of another long post. I hope you have enjoyed the photos and the narrative. I'll be visiting about Blog Land over the week. I hope I can keep up with all of you. Have great week. Thanks for stopping by. 

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring Flings

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We've been busy this week as Spring flings herself about. I am sure that you are busy trying to keep up with her as she busts out all over the place. Feels great, doesn't it as the weather warms, the sun brightens, the days grow longer, and the gardens come alive?

The work never ends and we thrive. I have new pink muck boots this year to tromp around in, a gift last winter from the HG.

While we are busy here getting the Garden Spot in shape as Spring dances around, I am reminded of family and friends who are not afraid to let their gardens sleep in.

For example:

My cousin and her husband have probably returned from an Italian excursion while we worked in the vegetable garden and remodeled the kitchen (project still in progress).

My newly discovered childhood friend works hard to get her self published memoir in circulation. We had a great visit last week over chicken salad, hers embellished with red cabbage, currants, and grapes; mine served with apples and celery. Separated for 50 years, and we make almost the same salad for lunch. A life time ago in art class in junior high, Mary drew this caricature of me and my horse. I promised her then that I would keep it until she became famous. She has had a bit of fame over the years; now she writes a column for a local newspaper and  does some stand up comedy/readings at a local cafe in Denver.

Another dear friend took her daughter and grandchildren to Las Vegas for a few days of play over spring break. Aside from gaming, they found so much to do. She kindly invited me to go with her and I would have loved to get away, but we were in the middle of the kitchen remodel.

Lastly, my former colleague and dear friends at the university are now knee deep in freshmen research paper rough drafts and conferencing as the semester winds down. I do miss them, but I have to admit that I am glad to be hugging trees.

Here at the Garden Spot we have much to do:

Waking up the Trees

All of the new fruit trees were swaddled in chicken wire and burlap last fall at the insistence and with help of Tree Hugger Heather. While the Head Gardener worked on rebuilding the pond filter Saturday, I unwrapped the tress. They all survived the winter.

The first and only blossom on the summer apple tree. Hopefully there will be more blooms as Spring warms more.

The North Star Cherry was suffocating underneath her heavy blanket. I swear I could her take a long deep breath as her covering was removed. She has so far provided a very nice yield of cherries each year, given her dwarf size.

Dear, sweet Eastern Red Bud has awakened, too, but very slowly. The red buds in Greeley only 11 miles to the south are in full bloom--the ones that are alive, that is. They winter kill here so easily.


The HG worked on replacing this old trash can/pond filter that froze last fall. We had an early freeze while he was away working corn harvest. The filter froze, sprung a leak that nearly drained the pond to the bottom. He replaced the tall can with a Rubber Maid livestock water tank. Here he drills holes in the side for the hoses that bring water in from the pond and send it back filtered to the pond. He used most of the materials in the old filter.

Hoses attached, now he will begin layering in the filter materials.

Bricks on the bottom help support the filter material. He adds plastic filters for the lava rocks to rest on.

The lava rocks used in the old filter have been cleaned and placed in the filter.

The final layer, poly fiberfill will remove the sediments and dirt from the water. He has more to do, but at least the water is now being filtered.

Already doing it's job, the filter begins to clean up a long winter's worth of muck for the water.

Still need more work and a good cleaning, the pond begins to come back to life. Fortunately we didn't lose any of the goldfish over the winter. I have landscaping to do and perhaps we will move the rocks around some.


The old hand cultivator comes in handy, still as the HG ditches the rows for watering the onions and garlic.

I remember watching the HG's grandpa ditch the garden on the old farm years ago. 

Sundance and Pop stand by watching and waiting and begging to go to the front pasture.


The Garden Spot requires a lot of watering. The pasture and lawn benefit from the automatic system.

The garden, on the other hand, requires an old fashioned hose hooked to a timer.  

A side note: Many have commented on our planting garlic in the spring instead of the fall when it should be planted. The nursery man said to plant it now and again in the fall. I am excited for this first time crop.


I have disliked this old sink since we moved into this house. It has now been replaced by a sleek modern composite sink. I don't want to wear you out on the kitchen remodel, so I'll tease you a bit and hopefully next week the project will be done and I'll share the before and after photos.

Horsing Around
The four girls: Elinore, Lucy and Lily with Pop and Mom with here
wild, golden boy Sundance. 
What better way to spend a Sunday afternoon? 

Playing with My iPad

I will leave you with some eye candy using Waterlogue on my iPad to create these two water colors. First, my only African violet has finally bloomed. 

She's very pretty, don't you think?

Washington DC may have its beautiful cherry blossoms, which I have never seen, but Greeley, CO has its crab apple blossoms both white and in shades of pink all over town now in full bloom. These trees line the walk along side the newest resident hall on the University of Northern Colorado campus. I took the picture last Friday while I was on campus to tutor. The trees are so pink and you know how I love pink. 

So while my friends and family travel about doing exciting and even exotic things, the HG and I stay close to home enjoying the beauty that surrounds us tending to our garden, hugging our little fruit trees, playing with the horses, caring for the hens.  It's a very peaceful, quiet life and we rather like it that way.

Have a fabulous week. Make sure to swing by Judith's Mosaic Monday at Lavender Cottage to catch this week's mosaics. 

Thanks for stopping by.

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...