Sunday, July 26, 2015


As most anyone, I am fascinated by flight: an airplane lifting off of the ground then soaring thousands of miles about the clouds, following the curve of Earth, fast. We reach our destination in 1 hour 45 minutes when it would take 17 hours to drive. Arriving rested and ready to play for a week.

Then there are the birds and the bees and the butterflies that propel themselves seeming effortlessly through the air with only the force of their own muscles and stamina. 

Flight of any sort requires lift. An airplane, a bird, a bee, a butterfly must be able to lift itself as well as propel itself through the air. Take a moment to read the article in Science Daily that dispels the myth that bumble bees shouldn't be able to fly at all, as we have thought for decades. Instead, they rely on their brute force to get off the ground to go from plant to plant. One of the articles that I read referred to them as the cargo tankers of the insect world. Wikipedia also has an interesting bumble bee discussion, too.

These were the biggest bumble bees that I have ever seen, too. They'd load up then head south for the nest.

I stepped outside the other morning headed on a certain errand--to get the mail, maybe--when I saw a pair of swallow tailed butterflies dancing in the Manarda. I had been waiting for them to show up all summer. Forgetting my errand, I returned to the house to get the Canon with the telephoto so that I capture their images. I wanted to get them in flight.

   By Emily Dickinson

   From Cocoon forth a Butterly
   As Lady from her Door
   Emerged--a Summer Afternoon--
   Repairing Everywhere--

   Without Design--the I could trace
   Except to stay abroad
   On Miscellaneous Enterprise
   The Clovers--understood--

   Her pretty Parasol been seen
   Contracting in a Field
   Where men and Hay--
   The struggling hard
   With an opposing Cloud--

   Where Parties--Phantom as Herself--
   To Nowhere--seemed to go
   In purposeless Circumference--
   As 'were a Tropic Show--

   And notwithstanding Bee--that worked=--
   And Flower--that zealous blew--
   This Audience of Idleness
   Disdained them, from the Sky--

   Till Sundown crept--a stead Tide--
   And Men that made the Hay--
   And afternoon-- and Butterfly--
   Extinguished--in the Sea--


 July: The Month of the Lily


Transplanted from the UGLY PLACE last summer, this day lily bloomed for the first time in its new spot in the garden that wraps around the back of the patio. The dark red was a welcome color in a garden sea of pink.

Agapnathus, her garden companion, makes a nice contrast with her trumpet shaped blooms in a lavender-periwinkle color.

On the north side of the house living with the other tiger lilies lives this tiger lily. I don't have name for her. Any idea? She is pinkish on with a dash of brown. One my faves. I only have two stems growing, so I hoping that she will reseed herself.

She probably belongs to the lilium family.

Then we have these gorgeous plants. I shared photos of the Anderson Wheat Farmers last week harvesting wheat. This is what Mrs. Anderson grows in her garden, these gorgeous tree lilies that are at least 6 feet tall.

 They certainly are a must have in my garden. Now I just need to figure out where they would do well. She ordered the bulbs from Gurney's Catalog. Check out this link for their description: Tree Lily

Playing in the Water

I am so grateful for an automatic underground irrigation system here that the Head Gardener has worked so hard to get automated. Without it, gardening here would be nearly impossible. Our hot, dry climate spells certain death for many plants that are not natives to Zone 5. I think I almost see smiles on these little faces. Can you?

I saved the best for the last. If you have visited Ann's Dollhouse Dreams, my dollhouse blog, you would have had advanced notice. I am pretty excited to be able to return to the university to teach one more time. I received an email a couple of weeks ago from the English department executive assistant asking me if I wanted to teach a few classes. My first question was what is a "few?" I did decide to teach two sections of English 122, college composition, a course where we teach essay writing to incoming freshmen. I loved my job, but I was tired and worn out and the I just was not enjoying myself, so I retired, but oh my did I ever miss it. I will teach Tuesdays and Thursday beginning August 25 until December 15th. I promise to keep blogging. 

This week has a bit going on. Tomorrow I drive to Denver to bid farewell to a cousin who passed last November in Washington. She grew up in the Denver area, so friends and family are having a memorial for her and her husband who passed shortly after, too. I will probably see family that I have not seen in years. And Lucy has her birthday; she will 7. The heat is on, too. The garden is beginning to show the wear and tear of heat, wind, and hail. It looks like it is ready to rest. We are starting to wear down too with all of the weeding and still cannot keep up. What about your garden? Is it showing signs of slowing down? Are you slowing down?

I hope you have a splendid week. Thanks so much for stopping by. 

Monday, July 20, 2015

This One is All About Birds

It is late Sunday evening and I am just starting the post. I always want to make sure that I get something done for Mosaic Monday, so here is this week's mosaic. It is all about birds, cardinals, to be exact.

We arrived home from Texas late last Monday. I feel like I have sorely neglected the blog, so hopefully I will get caught up this week with perhaps more than one post for the week. Of course while we were gone, the garden went crazy, especially the weeds. There was enough rain over the week that the plants were in good shape. Still there was a lot of catching up to do. 

We stayed at a private ranch near Austin in the Texas Hill Country where it is very pretty. One of my favorite things to do is bird watching. We take an ATV (all terrain vehicle) into the wooded area beyond where the cows graze. You have heard my lament that we don't have the Northern Cardinal here in Colorado when you post your wonderful cardinal photos, so what an adventure I had just sitting in the woods quietly watching the cardinals come into the automatic deer feeder that normally would serve deer hunters. Instead, it is a perfect feeding station to catch birds in their natural habitat.

A female cardinal feasts on corn as the male flies in.

Like much of the South and much of Texas, the Ranch is plagued by wild boar. The cardinals use the the live pen trap as a landing to come into the feeder.

Two males, which I later decided to be father and son since the one male I photographed was rather ratty looking.

Cardinals are not the only birds to visit the deer feeder. I need to brush up on my Texas song birds, for the woods is alive with bird chatter. I do believe that a birder needs to be able to first identity the bird by song so that she knows what to look for. Only after I downloaded the photos did I realize what a gem I had here. I knew that it was not a cardinal. The lighting in the forest is shaded and shadowed, so the photos did not turn very clear; none-the-less, I can proudly say that I photographed my first painted bunting, another song bird that does not visit Colorado.

Only after I blew up the photo in iPhoto was I able to determine the green on the under tail to make sure of my treasure.

A female cardinal at the feeder. Sitting on a tall tripod, the corn feeder when full automatically spins out kernels of corn for deer. At this feeder, you will find lots of birds and squirrels.

I am thinking that this is a female painted bunting.

Another frequent visitor that afternoon was the tufted titmouse, another little bird that we don't see here in Colorado.

In retrospect, hubby and I had a wonderful time just sitting in the woods on the ATV with our hosts watching birds and snapping photos. I used my Canon DSLR with the 75-300mm lens which for as close as we were to the birds, it was adequate, but the lighting played havoc with focus and clarity. Any suggestions for how I can improve my bird photography? 

The garden had survived our absence. The next door neighbor did a wonderful job taking care of the horses, watering, and looking after the hens. The housekeeper cleaned the house for me and kept the fish fed, so it was easy to get back to life as normal. Boone and Mo went to the boarding kennel. They love Boone there and take good care of him. Mo, on the other hand, a grumpy old cat, no doubt hated every moment of being caged. But he was safe and fed.

Thursday we packed again and headed to eastern Colorado so that the Head Gardener could help with wheat harvest while the grain cart driver went to a volleyball camp (the 15 year old daughter of one of the farmers).

There he is driving along side the combine as the wheat is blown into the grain cart from the combine.

I never get tired of watching these giants move steadily at a decent pace through the ripened wheat.

What work.

With the grain cart full, the HG deposits the grain in the semi to be hauled to storage.

A long, lonely road back to the farm to deposit the wheat in storage bins.

Lunch on the run. The Head Farmer takes the lunch we delivered to him back to the truck. He will be able to eat while the truck fills. Anderson Wheat Farms, a family business, farms 11,000 acres with the help of two brothers, a nephew, a hired man, and a teen-age daughter, and with the occasional help of the my Head Gardener. 

So that is about it. I have taken a lot of photos of the flowers that bloomed while we were gone. I'll do another post this week once I settle down after being gone so much to show the new blooms. And I do have some exciting news to share, but now it is time for bed. Our farmer friend is spending the night tonight, so I will get up early to fix him breakfast before he goes to his meeting. That's the life of the modern farmer: working harvest one day, off to the Big Town the next for meetings. 

I hope you had a great week. I have done some blog reading and commenting, but I know that I missed a lot and if I missed you, I am sorry. I think my blog break is over. 

Have a sweet week. And thanks so much for visiting. Don't forget to drop by Judith's for Mosaic Monday. 

Monday, July 13, 2015

Deep in the Heart of Texas

Somewhere in Texas relaxing and riding the range.

We will return  home late Monday, hoping to find the Garden Spot in fine shape when life will get  back to normal, including blogging. Make sure to stop by Lavender Lavender Cottage to visit other wonderful blogs for Mosaic a Monday.


Enjoy my iPhone photos gathered on my iPad 

Mamma and baby, a classic Texas scene, a grand old court house, and white tail deer in a hay field on a misty morning, some of my favorite photos.

Monday, July 6, 2015

Just Chores

Interesting things are happening here at the Garden Spot--at least I think so. We had a very quiet Independence Day, choosing to stay home to get some much need chores and projects done. We are taking time off this week, flying away to visit in Texas where it will be hot, but hot is hot no matter where you go. So if I don't get next week's post up, I am on the return flight home.

So let's see what happened here last week.


The water feature needed maintenance early in the spring, but there were other projects that took priority, so Friday the Head Gardener donned his fishing gear and went fishing:

The water lilies before we drained the pond down stood tall above the water on long, thin stems, dancing in the breeze. We have had these lilies for years and this year they have been gorgeous, huge and plentiful.

But the pond needed some work.

Step 1" Drain the water down. When we do pond work, usually it is early in the spring before the water lilies wake up so that I can separate them, feed them, and we can clean muck out of the bottom. This year the lilies have been spectacular with huge blooms, healthy, and hardy. You can see in the photo pots that had tipped over, so he cleaned things up as best he could. Next year we will get to the maintenance  earlier.

Step 2 Dive in. Well not literally. 

Step 3: Slip Slide and Away. Green algae is very slick.

Step 5: Refill. About all he really got done this time was to remove the empty pots and rescue the last year's fledgling lilies that need to be where we can get to them in case we want to give them away. Still full of algae, the pond will benefit from fresh water and algae treatment will be added more regularly. I have given up hopes of having a crystal clear pond; however, we did get a filtration system and pump from the neighbors who covered up their water feature. So sometime when the HG doesn't have anything else to do we will increase the the filtration and movement of the water.

Making Hay While the Sun Shines

I am so glad that we don't have to depend on farming for a living because this year the weather has been brutal on the farmers. First we suffer suffocating heat with little or no rain. Now we have plenty of rain, too much. Rain, go to California where they really, really need you.

The hay cutting, then, was delayed two weeks because we have had so much rain, which really did make for a very healthy field of hay. The HG estimated 120 bales, about 20 or more over previous years.

I watched the tractor for make a full round, took a few photos then went inside  to let JG do his job. I love the smell of freshly cut hay. This time of year, the country side is fragrant with fresh cut hay and alfalfa. 

Mending Fences

One of the horses, Sundance we assume, has learned to lift the gate off of the hinges to escape into the hay field, Smart horse, I suppose, but a very dangerous move on his part. Once we discovered the boys in the hay field and the heavy metal gate on the ground, the HG knew that he had to fix all 10 gates on the property. The previous owner had put the hinge  pins on wrong with both pointing up so that the gate could easily be lifted up by man or beast. Now we can leave knowing that the boys will stay put. I could just imaging the rodeo if Sundance had gotten the gate stuck around his neck and couldn't get it off. I shudder to think of the tragic results.

New Faces In the Garden

 Queen Anne's Lace showed up this year in the Ugly Place. It grows by the road at the neighbors. My dad called it wild parsley and always said that it was poisonous to horses and cattle. I looked it up on line; it is also called wild carrots and once used as a folk medicine to prevent pregnancy. I was worried about it being toxic for the dog and cat. It seems safe.

Wild cilantro--I planted cilantro in with the strawberries and sage last year with not good results. The strawberry patch is now a chicken pen and it seems that the cilantro found a new home all by itself, too. I tasted it to see what it was. I actually thought that it had been a a volunteer carrot gone to seed. Hidden amongst the dill weed, it was easy to spot with its white flower.

Agapanthus is gorgeous planted next to the yucca. Oh I love the yucca blooms.

OOOOO and AHHHHs please for this gorgeous day lily. She cost $30 dollars a few years ago, purchased (not by me) by the HG from Oakes Day. She goes by the name Beautiful Edging, appropriately so.

This manarda is one of my favorite varieties. Easy to grow, it has such a fascinating bloom cycle.

Each stage is beautiful in its own right. And the color is gorgeous. The humming birds will flock to her later in the summer.

I have more of the garden to share, such as Flight of the Bumble Bee and Sick Plants, but I think I have taken enough time on your computer screen. So I'll save those stories for later.


Won't you agree that there  is nothing better than family? When the message came from cousin Sarah that she was in Denver for the a few days, I made sure to let her know that we'd come visit her in the city if she had time. And she did, so we met her for dinner.

Sarah  (on the left) lives in Sioux Falls, SD where she and her family have a quilt store selling fabric and sewing machines. She was in Denver to film some classes. Her hotel was in the theatre district in downtown Denver. Look what's playing! It was last night for Wicked. Oh how I wished I had purchased tickets. We splurged, ordered desert--Heather and  I shared a poppy seed with black cherries in phyllo dough. Sarah and the HG had chocolate decadence. And of course there was the trip to the lady's room. I suppose folks do take photos in bathrooms, do they? Well, I had to take this one. I call it 21st century graffiti. Instead of scribbling and carving up lavatory stalls, it seems trendy and certainly more civilized to leave one's mark on a Post-It note. The HG said he found the same in the men's bathroom. And the pointy feet? LOL. As I was putting my iPhone away, my finger hit the camera button. At first I thought I had a supernatural photo of witch's feet. LOL. Turns out that I accidentally snapped hubby's feet in his western pointy-toed boots.

Family always. We marveled at how it had been 15 years since we had seen Sarah--her wedding day. But it was like time had never passed, for aside from catching up on over a decade, it was like we had know each other forever. We do keep in touch on Face Book, but hugs and laughter are better.

I hope you enjoyed the garden photos this time, for this morning the garden is ruined. We had hail yesterday. The water lilies along with everything else were shredded. The good news: the garden is resilient and by the time we get back from Texas it will be back to its old self.

Thanks so much for joining me. Be sure to visit Judith at Lavender Cottage where I will post my Monday Mosaic with all of the other wonderful Monday Mosaics.

flight of the bumble bee

science Daily

The Last Hollyhock

(Note: if the font in Safari is too small: press option command + keys to zoom your Safari screen.)  Here in Northern Colorado, we are all f...