Tuesday, April 24, 2018


I didn't want to be one those are those folks who don’t take down their Christmas decorations at the end of the holiday season. You’ve seen the houses with the lights still strung around the gutters, gussets, and chimneys. You’ve wondered how the neighbors could leave the mini twinkle lights draped around the tree branches. You drive past the house everyday wondering why they don’t clean up and put things away. The Head Gardener always get our Christmas lights down and packed away mid January or even sooner, but me? Not so much. The one thing that I am in charge of lingers and lingers until after Valentine’s Day. Makes sense to me. Red is the color of February. Valentine’s Day. Right? And evergreen is a year round kind of plant material. After all the Garden Spot has a dozen giant pine trees. The truth is I just kept forgetting to take down the Christmas wreath. 

For the past several weeks, as we leave the house thought the front door, a little bird--a house finch--would fly out of the court yard. We inspected the front of the house but couldn't see any place where a bird could possibly perch, much less nest. Then Sunday when I walked out the front door I caught sight of the little fellow fly out of the Christmas wreath. "Great!" I thought thinking that the bird had probably made a mess in my wreath. Karma for not getting it put away. So I looked at the back of the wreath and instead of a mess, I found a nest with two little babies.

You can't see the babies, but they are there and I will keep you up dated on their progress. So the neighbors and passer-bys can say and think whatever then want. The Christmas wreath will stay up until the Finch family is done with it.

And then the weather has not been Spring’s normal temperament. I’ve been wondering if Old Man Winter has been pushing his own agenda, refusing to give up his power to the energetic, warm-hearted tender lass, Srping. Oh she has tried to assert herself. Much to her own credit between cold winds and flashes of snow, she has offered a few sprinkles of rain and moments of sun, which really haven’t been enough to lure me out into the garden with much enthusiasm. But Sunday was so beautiful and there are those annual chores that must get done early. So I followed the Head Gardener outside, feeling the warm sun on my face and taking deep breath of fresh spring air. We were ready to get down to work. 

The daffodils have been spectacular this year, but they have had a bit of struggle, surviving wind, frost, and dustings of snow. While I bemoan the fact that Spring has been so cold, the flowers have flourished. They have been in long enough that the clumps are all thick and lush with blooms. I worry each year too about the my precious Eastern Redbud because we have had others die after the winter. But look, she is blooming. We still are not frost free here--not until after Mother's Day, so we are holding our breath, hoping that a major frost does not kill the buds on the fruit trees. The apricots are beginning to bloom, showing three blooms, the peach trees are still sleeping--trying to wake; the cherry trees are all budded out, including the new one that we planted last year, and the apple tree we hope will have branches heavy with apple. Hoping. The hawthorn that we planted last year survived the winter, and will have beautiful little white flowers shortly.

We are doing better at getting our trees to survive the winter. Here in Colorado it is not the cold that kills trees, but the lack of water. Our winters, while cold, are often very dry with little snow. We may have one huge storm all winter and then little moisture the rest of the season, so the Head Gardener must water the young trees mid winter, sometime a couple of times to keep them going. 
Tool of the Month

Black and Decker  20 V Max Hedge Trimmer

I have planted several clumps of ornamental grasses. The front center circle has three clumps that have grown so big that I can't use nippers anymore to cut them back by hand, so last fall I purchased the hedge trimmer.  The chore is much easier now. First we tape the clump tightly with duct tape and then cut below the tape to get a nice smooth cut. Works great. Not only did we trim the grasses, but we also cut back the peonies and other plants that needed last year's growth removed.  The trimmer is batter operated and I am glad that we have added it to our garden tools.

Now the front point looks cleaner. I still need to do more cleaning and maybe even redesigning the point. It gets pretty messy in the summer with bind weed that takes over. The grasses will grow and wave in the breeze and we will enjoy them.

Last week I bemoaned the fact that my iPhone photos were out of focus. I discovered that I was uploading them with at the lowest quality so when I tried to upload at best quality, they essentially wouldn't upload. I had 13 photos that I wanted to used today, but the uploading stalled last night and I decided that I will use my Canon for the blog photos. Any suggestions on the phone images?

Well, I suppose that it is time to start my day. I tutor at the university Writing Center today, so I need to get day started. 

Thanks so much for visiting. Join me at Normandy Life for Mosaic Monday--a fun place to be.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Turn Left at the Blue Whale

The Summer of 2012 we were spell bound by the horrific wild fire that was destroying thousands of acres of beautiful mountain forest just west of where we live. We worried for friends who had built their log cabin home on the top of a mountain. We had spent time helping them work on building their dream home. While they built the home, they lived in a house trailer with their two young children, living a frugal life with a windmill and generator to provide electricity and they hauled water up the mountain. The young man cut down trees for his home, hand stripped them, log by log of the bark, and built his home. We had visited them only once when the home was completed when they had a picnic to thank everyone for their help.

And  then the fire years later. It took everything but the house: a shop with tools and a garage with a vintage corvette. We had taken a couple of drives up into the mountains to see the burn damage, but had not visited our friends, so yesterday we took a nice Sunday afternoon drive to visit them. I took photos with both the iPhone and my Canon. For some reason my phone camera does not take very good photos anymore--probably because I have dropped it too many times.

Their turn off the main highway is an easy one: turn left at the blue whale on to Whale Rock Road (I actually took the photo on the way out).

And then we begin the long six miles ascent to the top of the mountain on narrow, windy lane. My anxiety level rose just as quickly as the road climbed the hill. In the previous trips, the dense forest hid the steepness of the hill side below road. With my acrophobia in full bloom, I clutched the arm rest on the door of the pick-up as we slowly wound our way up the mountain.

In between anxious gasps, I was overwhelmed by the damage that the fire had caused. A once lush, green pine forest was gone, leaving behind a stark, barren landscape for miles and miles and miles--as far as the eye can see. 

The forest floor flora has recovered, but with such a dry spring the wildflowers have yet to bloom, though it is early yet for them and with a goodly amount of moisture wild flowers will be spectacular and the mountain sides will be lushly green with charcoal black accents.

Wildlife has returned to the barn forest, but our friends made note that the deer are eating the new baby trees that are sprouting. Deer for some reason, our friend had read, need pine needles in their diet, even if just baby pines.

The fire burned so rapidly that it skimmed over the ground and burning trees only enough for the heat to kill those that didn't actually catch fire. Even ground debris didn't burn up only got scorched. And that to me was the sad part that the fire didn't really clean up the forest debris, only made it look worse.

At the top of the mountain, the foot hills sprawl eastward to finally meet the city of Ft. Collins and beyond to our home out on the prairie, and on a clear day--a really clear day-- as far Nebraska. With the forest now cleared away, the network of roads is easily seen as some hardy souls return to the mountain life, a much altered mountain life.

Our friends loved their mountain home that they worked so hard to create and the place where they raised their children. They returned after the fire, but our friend admitted to being angry for a long time, now he seems to have accepted the altered landscape and will not leave his home.

Our friends were lucky not lose their home because 50 other homes were burned. They have accepted their altered landscape and still enjoy the view. Looking northeast to Wyoming on the far horizon.

Meanwhile back on the prairie at the Garden Spot, I went out to take photos of the garden, and of course the hens wanted out, but I took their photo instead.

Look: asparagus. Two spears won't go far. A nice nibble. The other clumps have yet to send up shoots. The rhubarb will be ready soon, too.

Thanks for stopping by. I appreciated you kind thoughts last week. Thank you.

I am linking with Maggie for Mosaic Monday. See you there.

PS After a long absence from working on the dollhouse, I'm posting on Ann's Dollhouse Dreams, too. 

Monday, April 9, 2018

Just a little Patience

Spring is having a hard time taking a foothold here in northern Colorado. She has been so slow to emerge or maybe I am just being inpatient. It seems colder and dryer than in years past or maybe I am just impatient.

The daffodils are blooming, but they have had to endure freezing cold and a light blanket of snow, but they are hardy and preserve, looking gorgeous and beautiful and make my heart sing.

The Easter Bunny found his way--I marked the trail so that he could leave plenty of eggs for the grandkids to find

The sprinkler system had its trial run this morning, but not without a lot of drama. The Head Gardener went to turn on the pumps for the two wells that supply the irrigation water last week only to find that the electrical meter had been tagged and disconnected last fall without any notice to him as the HOA president or any of the other five land owners in our little community. The meter has been replaced and the pumps are working fine. Everyone is ready irrigate.

The winter birds are still hanging around. The little downy woodpecker enjoys the suet and we had  new visitors who stopped for only a day or so to rest, I guess, a pair of crossbills.  We have fewer cotton tails because either the hawks or the great horned owls or the fox family that has returned are all working together to control the bunny population.

So that is Spring here at the Garden Spot. 

Spring this year has brought our share of sadness, too. A special cousin only twenty-nine passed. A few weeks later an elderly aunt found her way home and the next day her son who had been her care-giver joined her. And our neighbor died suddenly last week, too. We will have to look after her husband. He will need some extra attention. 

Sundance has been released from stall rest. He was getting worse. You know how your feet feet swell when you don't get up and move around, well, the same with horses. He was having signs of edema in his belly, his shoulders, and his neck, so the vet said to let him out of the stall so that he could walk around a little more and he seems to be doing better, but he still limps. 

Here's wishing you a great week full of daffodils. 

Thanks for stopping by. 

Linking with Maggie at Life in Normandy. Be sure to join us there.

I'm Back

 Well hello there. I haven't posted since the last rose. It has been a long, cold winter and even now as Spring tries to make her Grand ...