Thursday, July 3, 2008

Happy Fourth of July

This combination appears every year, just in time for the 4th of July. Planting was unintentional, but I sure do enjoy it.

Paprika Yarrow

My day will be spent cutting back more salvias, as well as the Russian Sage so that it isn't so thin and leggy when the monsoons come, which they usually do, even in a dry year. Speaking of dry, the other day it was announced that we had received only 2.8" of precip so far this year, compared to the usual 8". That's quite a difference. That was before a good rain that we had yesterday. Just stay away hail!!! I will be happy to spend the weekend at home and not out on the road, just nice a quiet (I hope) and taking care of my gardens. Can't ask for more than that.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Over The Top Garden Art & Other Stuff

We visited an estate sale last weekend and this caught my eye. Just what I needed for this corner of the patio where our fountain used to sit. They wanted $50 for it but gave it to me for $30. And, of course, I just couldn't leave it alone. Those cute little shelves were just calling for something to sit on them. Now I have a place to showcase some of my watering can collection.

One BIG Fuzzy Bee!
Time to cut these back
The Salvias were stunning this year as set off by the Silver Sage
Summer has arrived for sure, as we will see temps in the 90's this week. I have already begun cutting back the many salvias in the strips. They certainly have been lovely and thick this year. I feel sorry for the bees that are trying to get a last minute taste as I hack off the tops. I tell them not to worry... there will be more soon.
Evelyn is lovely as usual

This Heuchera looks nice to welcome visitors. I can't find the tag to identify it.

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Beautiful Blues

Iris and May Night Salvia

Blue Montana

I just about made it for GBBD for June! But being only a day late is not all that bad, considering this is the first month I have made this year! Seems to be a theme going here, and it's BLUE. I do love blue/purple flowers and they are in abundance in my gardens this time of the year.

HUGE leaves of Japanese Anemone due to my special winter mix

For some reason the salvias are particularly strong and beautiful this year. Even my DH noticed and commented on them. The stems are so tall.

False Indigo

Creeping Turkish Veronica

A few daisies to break up all of the blue

Bright Blue Flax

While I lost a large number of new plants to winter kill, the older perennials really prospered. I'm wondering if it was the special winter mix I put on them last Fall (EKO Organic Compost, Earthgro Garden Soil, horticultural corn meal, Yum Yum Mix & Winterizer, and alfalfa pellets.) To that mixture I added bits of cotton bole and mushroom compost that I had left over. It certainly has been worth the effort, now that I see the results.

It's About Time??

Know that statement, This is the first day of the rest of your life? Well.... that is more fitting for me today than I'd like to admit. I can't believe it has been sooooo long since I've updatede my blog! Good grief... there are still snow photos of April! It's not like I forgot or anything. Illness and dealing with my father's death had to take priority over everything else for a while. As of this week I finally have his house cleaned out, remodeled, and ready for sale. What a difficult journey that has been, especially not feeling well. The house was in horrible condition because of my parents' declining health in the last several years and it needed a LOT of work. Throw in a handyman who was as slow as molasses in winter, and a recently diagnosed back condition, and there you time or energy (mostly energy) left over for blogging. I feel like I have my life back as of today. There are so many things that had to go undone for the last three months that I had to do triage every day to see what would be a priority. Thank goodness my wonderful DH did a good job of cleaning up the perennial beds in the Spring and putting in some new plants. I was only able to keep up with a little weeding and some watering. But bless their beautiful little hearts, those perennial beds have just carried right on without me. That's one of the wonderful things about perennials.

We had a very strange, cold spring with little moisture. Not a good tulip year. The cold got to them, as well as most of the new plantings I put in last Fall. Quite a few plants and bushes suffered a lot of winter damage. The problem was that it was sooooo cold, and yet sooooo dry!

I missed Bloom Day on the 15th, but did take some photos which I will go ahead and post a little late. I'm looking forward to catching up on every one's blogs and getting back in action. Gardening will be limited while I have a shot in my back and start some extensive physical therapy. But I plan to take care of myself now and get healthy. Gardening is my inspiration!

Monday, April 21, 2008

Don't Like the Weather? Just Wait!

That's what they say about Colorado. I think the rest of the sentence is something like 5 minutes. There are many areas of the country that use this saying, but in Colorado, we really mean it!

Here we are, all cleaned up and ready to go for another year. I love this Silver Sage. Temperature was in the 70's.

And... here we are a couple of days later. we are the next day. Back to Spring again!

This part of the area that is under construction in the back.

Yes, there are tulips under here somewhere!

Pasque Flowers a week ago.

And, here they are buried in snow. True to their nature though, they recovered nicely the next day.

Aliums trying to grow through the snow.

The weather has been beautiful, although windy, for the most part since this last snow. But don't count on it staying that way. We still have a couple weeks or so before we are out of the snow danger zone. I've seen it snow a foot or more in late May... we'll see how it goes this year.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Ready to Roll for Another Year!

Glory of the Snow (Chionodoxa luciliae)

Okay, bring it on Spring! I'm ready. Every day there are new green sprouts springing up among the last of the winter debris. This is also my blogaversary. I began my blog last April, 2007. It's hard to believe it has been one year already and that Spring is coming so fast now. We still have snow every couple of days or so, but it is not staying around long, thank goodness. Soooo.... bring it on Mother Nature, and let's get this show going for another beautiful year!

Pasque flower (Pulsatilla vulgaris)

My very favorite spring flower is beginning it's beautiful display. And after coming close to getting run over last winter by a neighbor's truck. It's a hardy little thing.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

March Continues Like a Lion, For Me

Looking back over March, I can't believe so much has happened. This month now seems like a year. Lots of good and lots of difficult times. So, please excuse this self-indulging post before I get on with the 2008 gardening season.

My doctor had just informed me that I still had another six weeks to fully recover from my second round of bronchitis which is sweeping the country. The next day my father began his final decline and passed away on March 12. The beautiful part of this sadness is that he was 92 years, and had been ready to leave his earthly body since my mother died 2 1/2 years ago. He missed her immensely every day. He was always a very stubborn man and refused to go to a doctor for many, many years. It is very difficult to care for someone like this, as I didn't know what to do when he became ill. His greatest wish was to die in his own home and not go into a nursing home (don't we all want that?) and I shouldered a great deal of stress in supporting him. (I kept thinking that any day now a social services person was going to knock on the door and tell me that I was guilty of elder abuse... keeping this declining person from medical care, all by himself and almost blind.) But he was actually happy being alone and was a very independent person. FINALLY I got him to agree to ente a hospice/palliative care program and this was a lifesaver for me and a way to honor his wishes. They were great most of the time, but as with almost all healthcare services these days, were overburdened and not always available for as long as a few hours when a crises arose. In the end they were really there for me and I could have not done it without them. I now have the wonderful image of my dad being placed in his new hospital bed which he LOVED, holding onto the rails that made him feel so secure, and smiling as he looked out at his beloved backyard for the last time. That was probably his last conscious interaction, and in the years to come it will mean everything to me to have honored his last wishes. He died peacefully the next day.

Now, onto more pleasant times. My wonderful son who lives in Boulder supported me every day and continues to do so. I am so fortunate to surely have the MOST wonderful son in the whole world! Don't most of us mothers think like this??? He celebrated his 40th birthday in the middle of all of this and I feel bad that he had to share such a special day during such a difficult time. Being the great person he is I didn't hear one complaint, and I hope we can make it up to him one of these days. He even sent me these beautiful flowers to cheer me. Didn't I just say how great he is??

Back to gardening! We had a couple pretty good snow storms so far in March, including a good one Easter Sunday. They melted fast and have added lots of good moisture. The snow pack in the mountains is 126% of normal, so let's just hope it doesn't all melt at once and cause flooding in various areas of the state. My heart goes out to the people in Missouri and other areas that have suffered recent flooding.

My DH has cut back almost all of the perennials, grasses, and trimming. How nice and fresh it is to look out at my strips and see lots of little green areas and many tulips peeking through the ground. It smells fresh and wonderful. The little crocuses always bring a smile to my heart.

As to my Garden Tracking program....well.... I haven't even had a chance to install it yet. My plan now is to get it started along with spring flowers and begin recording with this season. I will play catch-up later in the year when things hopefully calm down. I spend my days doing triage...whatever needs the most attention at the moment gets done. I'm really anxious to get caught up on my favorite blogs. My joy comes from taking a nice stroll along my gardens, smelling the fresh spring air, and listening to the beautiful chirping of birds. Aren't our gardens such solace at times like this? They give back so much for the time we spend tending them. There is nothing like working in a garden to bring a feeling of peace, calm, and gratefulness for all that life has to offer.

Spring is here, days are warming, and my heart is healing. What a beautiful time of year for a new beginning!

Monday, March 3, 2008

March Comes in Like a....Lamb?

Such a wonderful, short reprieve from winter! Saturday was 73 degrees, a NEW RECORD for that date. It was quickly followed by snow and cold the next day and a chilly, frosty 16 degrees this morning. March is typically our snowiest month of the year with an average of 9.4 inches of snow. February brought only 2.7 inches of snow, well below the average of 5.1 inches. It made up for it with cold, however, and those 2.7 inches consisted of mostly ice on the roads. There's a good chance we will have snow for Easter (not unusual in any year) as this year it is so early.

I usually take advantage of every semi-warm March day by cutting back all of the plants that I left for winter interest (a lot this year). There are over 20 Russian Sages that need to be cut back and that is quite a job. I like to get it out of the way so that I don't walk over the many tulips emerging. I do it a little at a time, since my old body won't be used to this kind of exercise yet. Not that it ever does though. I'm really concerned about getting my gardening started this Spring, as I have been so sick with bronchitis. It has been a month now, with two doses of antibiotics and one relapse. Today is the first day that I am feeling half-way human. Now, if I can just keep it up. Seeing all sorts of little green shoots peeking through the ground certainly goes a long way towards cheering me up. Along with the birds singing more each day.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Garden Management Software

I've been researching several programs for managing my plant information on my computer. Right now all of my information is in various hand-written journals that I keep from year-to-year. When I want to look up a specific plant I have to go to the year and try to find the info on this plant. This takes a lot of time, and I would love to also have a photo of the plant without having to print it and paste. What a time I've had trying to fine a program! Last fall I purchased a program from Canada: Garden Management System. I was really excited, thinking this would be the ideal system, but I am not satisfied with it for various reasons, mainly that the garden description information for each plant is very awkward. I also have trouble returning to the main menu without having to completely reopen the program each time. I am going to return this product.

So.... on with my search. My next choice that got me all excited was Premier Gardens Management System. This program would be just about perfect it if worked. I downloaded the free trial. I've contacted their support several times with no response and am about to give up on this one, much to my regret. The problem is that it will not let me enter all of the plant information that is needed. I thought perhaps because it was just a trial version. But again, they will not respond to my emails.

Another one that looks like it would be good is Garden Tracker. But again, I cannot find a way to purchase this product and have not heard back from their email service. Guess I'm just going to have to give up on this entire project.

This was my big winter project. Now I'm way behind in everything because of being sick with bronchitis. I thought I was over it and got a relapse, so here I am again! I've been dealing with this thing for a month now and am really tired of it. Not much energy to do very much. Hope I will be better very soon!
UPDATE: Well, I made up my mind and ordered Garden Tracker. They were very responsive to my email inquiry and the program does everything but wash the dishes. It has all sorts of reports you can generate, you can make labels for all sorts of things, a handy workbook, etc. I didn't order everything, just the software version because I doubt I will have the time to use everything it offers. Now I'm excited about receiving it and hope it meets my expectations.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Love Is In The Air...Count Those Birds!

I've noticed some subtle (and some not so subtle) changes in the animal/bird behavior in my backyard. Every morning, the first thing I do is take feed out to my platform feeder and check the water in the birdbath. What's that I'm hearing??? Little house finches are starting to make some noises... little chirping sounds that will soon lead up to their beautiful mating calls. There is nothing so beautiful to hear first thing in the morning. The Eurasian Ring Necked Doves are mating, and so are the squirrels (they're the not so subtle ones). And the Flickers are beginning their mating calls. Could it be that Spring is in the air??? Yea... can't come soon enough for me.
To celebrate, I submitted my list to the Great Backyard Bird Count that is now in progress until the 18th.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Valentine's Day 2008

Happy Valentine's Day 2008! Another milestone towards the arrival of Spring....and Color... and Flowers! It feels as though it has been ages since I've been able to smell my roses, walk in the sunshine, marvel at my gardens. Sigh!!!!

It's another cold, snowy day here in Colorado. Yesterday in was about 60 degrees. Can you believe that? Yep, that's Colorado. My husband got out the frozen hose and watered for me. I'm still recovering from bronchitis and need to stay quiet a while longer. Six weeks my doctor says until I'm over this thing! Meantime, my seeds have arrived from Park Seed. Where in the world am I going to plant all these??? I've started a database for my plants, which is not going well. I plan a post about it as soon as I have worked with this program a little more. And yea.... I've purchased my 2008 hand written journal. Every little sign of progress is met with enthusiasm and joy on this cold, winter's day. My DH is going to get us some takeout so I don't have to go out today. What a gem!

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Four More Weeks... So They Say!

A weatherman said that we only have four more weeks of winter! Hah! If only. I'm really sick of snow. This has been another of those winters where a system rolls in every couple of days. Luckily we haven't been really dumped on like last year (knock on wood). In anticipation of the end of these "four weeks" I just HAD to see some color, so I'm posting a few of last summer's photos, just to see something other than white!

Having been down with a nasty virus the last week or so I'm now far behind in my winter chores, but I DID get some seeds ordered from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and they are on their way! Mostly lettuce, spinach, cucumber, herbs, and squash. It will be fun to try some new varieties. And I continue to gather ideas for my back yard birdbath garden makeover. One of these days I will draw out a plan. In the meantime I continue to enjoy all of the birds, especially the Ring Necked Doves, but NOT the damn starlings that make a mess out of everything. I hate these birds as much as I hate the grackles in the summer. Always something!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Thinking About Slow Food...

One of my favorite places for growing herbs. It is protected from the wind by the side of the house and faces south. Herbs love it here. This is my very favorite rosemary plant that I have been able to winter through one year. I'll have to see about this year... I have it covered and protected as much as possible.

It's time to get serious about ordering seeds. This year I would like to try my hand at some heirloom varieties. There are many excellent blogs to peruse on the subject of seeds. In the meantime, I become more and more interested in Slow Food. The first time I heard this term I could not understand what it meant, (I thought it was food that takes a long time to cook?) and I still don't have a real hold on it, but am beginning to think that it has a lot to do with what I have already been doing.

I have always cooked a lot from "scratch" and with lots of fresh foods. I try to eat as few processed foods as possible but I'm afraid if truth be told I still have a ways to go. I'm not an "activist" but do try to live my life in a responsible way, thinking of the environment and my impact on the earth. Again, I have a long way to go here too, especially when I read what others are doing. Boy, do I feel guilty sometimes. However, the best I can do is to be me and do as much as I can in my own small ways. One thing that I'm proud of is that I changed to using biodegradable kitty litter instead of the heavy old clay stuff. Anyway, getting back to my point... thanks to a book about Alice Waters and Chez Panisse Restaurant, I found the Slow Food USA site. I especially was drawn to this way of thinking:

"Slow Food is also simply about taking the time to slow down and to enjoy life with family and friends. Every day can be enriched by doing something slow - making pasta from scratch one night, seductively squeezing your own orange juice from the fresh fruit, lingering over a glass of wine and a slice of cheese...") particularly the part about lingering over a glass of wine, and how I do love cheese! All this has made me excited to choose which veggies I will plant this year.

As to the book about Alice Waters, I found it VERY enjoyable reading, and quite interesting about her life and restaurant. It did, however, make me exhausted just reading about all she does and continues to do. Not to be funny, but she does have a LOT on her plate (all good, slow food, of course). She has inspired me. I plan to read her new book about simple, Slow Food and how to live that way of life. Hopefully something will rub off on me! For anyone who enjoys reading about food and interesting people I highly recommend this book.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

And... Another!

Here we go again. Another day of snow and cold. It was a very frosty morning with a beautiful full moon. The average temperature for January is now 28.1 degrees. Colder than usual. I need to get my seeds ordered soon.

To add more room for veggies I'm thinking of moving the large pots to the front and filling them with vegetables.

There was a wonderful article in our local paper the other day about container plants. It was right on subject for me because I'm trying to find more room for veggies this year and have decided to try some large containers placed next to the raised beds. About the only place we have full sun in the back. It gave me some interesting ideas:

Pepper Mini Belle produces a decorative plant.

Lettuce Mini-green Improved produces tennis ball-size heads.

Balconi Red Tomato has an exceptionally sweet taste.

And this sounds nice for shade: Blazin Lime Iresine

Something to think (and dream) about!