Nature Friday ~ July 30, 2021

Nature Friday

Welcome to the last Friday in the month of July. As we typically do on Fridays we’re joining our Pacific Northwest pals, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on a blog hop. Make sure you click on the link to see what else others have shared.

Once again it’s been hot and dry in the Mile High, but don’t despair, the King of Purple (with his long-time collaborator, keyboardist and friend, Morris Hayes) managed to serve up some good purple ‘moisture’ from his infamous vault with a new release debuting today. If you’re a fan of the Purple One, this one from the grave is a pretty poignant release penned back from years ago. Here’s a sneak listen. Take it away, Prince!

Ok, now that we’ve gotten a lovely purple shower, let’s see what Nature is singing around our neighborhood landscape.

Lilies have been putting on an amazing show. From the dark exotic ones to beautiful peach/rose-colored hued, they are screaming “it’s summertime, peeps and WE. HAVE. ARRIVED!!”

Flowers

It’s that time of year where things are also beginning to prepare for the next season with shrubs beginning to produce fruit. If there were bears roaming the city, they’d be happy as a clam at high tide with these offerings seen around the ‘Hood.

Berries

Doesn’t that Red Currant look luscious?

Grape
Oregon Grape

But for me, the signal that maybe, just maybe, summer is starting to transition toward autumn is seeing Plumbago starting to bloom. Plumbago is probably my absolute favorite garden groundcover. It fills in nicely with a lush shade of green even during the hottest part of summer and then blooms with beautiful little blue flowers in late July and August. It performs equally well in shade or full sun and isn’t too picky about its soil though well-drained is always preferred. Two additional bonuses for including this plant in the garden is its low-water requirements and deer resistance. Late next month, the leaves will begin to turn a gorgeous shade of mahogany making this plant a multi-seasonal star in our urban landscape.

Flowers

Wherever you’re at, we hope your weekend is beyond ‘pawsome’ and you’ll find sufficient time to take in the beautiful sights that Nature so graciously dishes up. For you summertime lovers remember there are just 54 days until the official arrival of autumn so enjoy it while you can. The Ranch Hands are nothing if not great inspiration for savoring walks while taking time to stop and smell the roses.

Flowers

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ July 26, 2021

Monday

I am not self-medicating with chocolate. The nice lady at the shop wrote me a prescription. Well, she called it a receipt…but whatever.

Here’s to the good kind of self-medication. May all your meds this week be sweet.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 23, 2021

Nature Friday

Happy Fri-Yay! Please join us for this week’s edition of Nature Friday where we join those lovable ‘anipals,’ Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard but don’t forget to check out what others shared by clicking on the link.

It’s been another week of heat with the Ranch Hands wilting. We’ve been going out on our morning constitution at 5:45 am. to avoid the warmer portions of the day. I guess when you wear a fur coat the season known as Hades summer isn’t that enjoyable. And then there are the smoke filled skies that drift in as the day unfolds. Not exactly conducive to walks except early in the day. We continue to hope all the current wildfires get controlled soon. In Colorado as in most of the western U.S., wildfires continue to rage while last year’s burn areas are causing flooding conditions on nearby highways. I-70 has repeatedly been closed this week to cleanup mudslides near last year’s Glenwood Canyon fire.

The urban landscape though is full of sun-loving perennials. Let’s take a gander at a few we’ve encountered, shall we?

First up, a gorgeous trumpet vine. They guys are amazing. Strong and vigorous, they can shimmy up a wall or structure like nobody’s business. Although frequently considered invasive, pruning and deadheading can corral their vigorous growth which can reach between 30-40 ft. (9-12 m). They should not be planted near a house or at the base of a tree as they can damage foundations and strangle trees. Still they are beautiful on a telephone pole. Rated at Zones 4-9, they are readily adaptable in most conditions. Hummingbirds enjoy the tasty nectar while other birds often make nests or otherwise hide in the dense foliage.

Flowers

While running an errand this week, I noticed cattail was in full glory near a small drainage area. A herbaceous perennial sometimes referred to as reeds, these guys have always captivated my interest. There’s a large batch of them near West Pines that Sam used to investigate before we visited patients. Leaves are hairless, linear, alternate on a jointless stem that bears flowering spikes. The ‘flower’ forms a dense sausage-like spike on the stem. Once fully ripened, the heads disintegrate into a cottony fluff from which disperses seeds by the wind. What would otherwise be a rather unsightly drainage ditch becomes beautified with the addition of these plants.

Flowers

Back at home, the lupines continue to form seed pods oh joy but are being crowded by numerous sunflowers that mysteriously appeared a couple of seasons ago. In their 3rd year, they are beginning to seriously crowd the lupines. It’s certain heavy duty garden tools may have to be brought out to bring them both to heel as they’re both becoming too invasive. Still, how can anyone not smile whenever they see a cheerful sunflower, even if said flower ‘looks’ the other way (actually I couldn’t get a decent shot straight on because of the position of the sun)?

Flower

Wherever you’re at, we wish you good weather, clear skies and enough spare time to enjoy spending time in nature. My cherry tomatoes are finally beginning to ripen. The smell of fresh, garden ripened tomatoes are filling my senses and teasing my tastebuds.

Tomatoes

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wordless Wednesday ~ July 21, 2021

Landscape

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Monday Musings ~ July 19, 2021

It’s Monday and that means we look to start the week out with a smile. There were a number of contenders for today’s contribution but Ranch editor Norman picked this one from our Indian Hills friend as he identified with the sentiment.

Signs

We hope you have a good week avoiding any unpleasant happenings. Make it a good one!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 16, 2021

Nature Friday

Happy Fri-Yay. Welcome to this week’s edition of Nature Friday where we join our pals, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Make sure to check out what others have shared by clicking on the highlighted link.

We’ve had a full week with lots of happenings starting out with Norman visiting hospital staff and patients while bringing loads of smiles to folks wherever his bear-like shuffle took him. He had a couple of junior volunteers (high school student interns) shadow him as well. While he may may have problems feeling comfortable when riding elevators, he definitely knows how to bring smiles to people once he’s on solid ground.

Norman

But enough of how busy Norman and his chauffeur were…this post is about what Nature was up to and she has been very busy. The Mile High City is in the height of summer and she happily shared some real beauty from one end of the 80202 to the other. As we inch toward the weekend, temps are rising again but blooms around the ‘Hood don’t seem to mind too much.

This week’s “best of show” is the perennial Campanula, commonly known as Bellflower. I just love the delicate veining on the blooms. But don’t be deceived, this flower is quite hardy.

Flowers

We found this gorgeous beauty along this morning’s walk and it practically begged to be photographed. Campanula is a group of over 300 annual, biennial and perennial plants that appear from small to large size, in multiple colors. Typically found in shades of lavender, purple or blue, the open cup-shaped flowers also are found in shades of pink and white. These plants can spread over seasons with the shorter varieties making excellent ground cover although most bellflowers begin blooming in July and will keep flowering until the first frost. Bellflowers are cold-hardy and can be useful specimens in areas with hard winters. They usually prefer full sun for best flower production, and enjoy well-drained soil that receives moderate moisture. Once established, bellflowers can tolerate periods of drought. Bellflowers have been around since the Middle Miocene period as evidenced by fossil seeds being found in the West Carpathian Mountains of Poland in extracted, borehole samples of fresh water deposits.

Bellflowers weren’t the only beauties encountered in the urban landscape this week. Rudbeckia, (commonly known as Black-eyed Susan) continues to provide cheerful blooms during our daily walks.

Another fun flower we encountered this morning is a wildflower often naturalizes unlikely places…Ratibida columnifera, sometimes known as upright prairie coneflower, or “Mexican Hat.” There weren’t any at my previous home until a lone one showed up one day in gravel border next to the driveway and it multiplied to a large number of plants over the years. These cuties are members of the Aster family.

With long leafless stalks that bear flower heads of three to seven ‘sombrero-shaped’ flower heads that grow from 1-1/2 ft. to 3 ft. tall under the right conditions. The flowers range from dark red and yellow, to all red or all yellow. The brown disk protrudes 1/2 to 2 in. above drooping petals with leaves on the lower portion of the stem being feathery and deeply cleft. Seeds form from the brown disk and can naturalize in unexpected spots. A fun-looking wildflower to encounter when out and about, wouldn’t you say?

Flowers

Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you are able to get out and find some of the beauty Nature is gifting us this time of year. For those of you who have been broiling in the summer heat, console yourself with the fact that there are ‘only’ 68 days left before the official arrival of autumn. But who’s counting, right? Stay safe, cool and enjoy your weekend.
Live, love, bark!  🐾

Monday Musings ~ July 12, 2021

The Ranch’s ‘great invention’ is headed off to hospital for the next couple of days so we’ll no doubt be late reading your posts. We hope you smile as much as the nurses and patients will that we’re going to visit this week. Happy Monday, peeps!

Smiles
Image by Lynn Johnston via Pinterest

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

Nature Friday ~ July 9, 2021

Nature FridayHappy Fri-Yay! and welcome to this week’s edition of Nature Friday where we join our ‘anipal fur-iends,’ Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Make sure you check out what others have shared by clicking on the highlighted link.

It’s been very hot in the 303 (the heat dome from the PNW has now moved eastward) but one day earlier this week a real gully washer of a rainstorm that moved quickly through the neighborhood was enjoyed. It cooled things off nicely for the evening, cleansed the air and hydrated all the parched trees and flowers nicely and I knew exactly what would sprout from it a couple of days later. Weeds…but that’s another story. What sprouted were mushrooms!

Mushrooms

Most of the time we get the little dome topped ‘shrooms known as Coprinopsis atramentaria (common name, Alcohol Inky or Coprinus comatus (Shaggy Mane, both images below courtesy of Coloradomushrooms.com) but these guys caught my eye in a yard we walked past this morning where the rain had definitely helped the weeds.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms

So why did they spring up practically overnight? Mushrooms are fungi or at least the reproductive part of fungi, that live in the soil. Most of the time, fungi just stays hidden, working quietly as it breaks down organic material. But when conditions are right, they burst forth, like desert flowers blooming after a rain spreading spores into the air and disappear once the sun comes out or the soil dries up. And trust me, it’s been dry. And hot.

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a good thing for the garden though I know most people don’t appreciate them in their lawns. Most fungi that sprout up in the lawn is not toxic but just the same, it is still probably best to not let your pet to nosh on any. Since Norman and Elsa only encounter mushrooms while on their walks, I feel confident they won’t, considering there are far more interesting things that will capture their interest (like the bunnies that have been seen a few times this week and of course, tree rats). They’d always prefer a moving target over any weird looking mushroom to check out.

Fungi decompose lignin based organic matter which is found in woody material like tree roots, stumps, tree leaves, or decaying mulch, twigs, etc.

The benefit of having a fungi rich soil is they help break down the  harder to digest tree leaves or stems that can often build up in a thatch layer in the grass. Fungi produce a strong enzyme that is able to break down woody material which is why you’ll find mushrooms near decaying organic matter such as stumps.

While I’m certainly no mycophile, I’ve always wondered why I’d see mushrooms under a drip line or near a tree stump.

The beauty of fungi is that they help plants survive conditions of stress; i.e. low fertility, drought, temperature extremes, and root pathogens. Ain’t Nature grand in the overall scheme of things?

So the bottom line is when you see mushrooms in your lawn/garden, it’s more than likely a very good thing while breaking down organic material.  Do you have ‘shrooms in your garden or just in your dinner salad or on top of a slice of pizza?

We hope you have a terrific weekend. Whatever you do, we hope you enjoy getting outdoors and looking at all the interesting sights Mother Nature provides.
Live, love, bark! 🐾

In Purrsuit of Flavours ~ July Edition

Purrsuit

Welcome to the July edition of “In Purrsuit of Flavours” where we  join our host “fur-iends” The Canadian Cats and the French boys over at Easy Weimaraner’s Blog. This month’s theme is “Fruit loose and Fancy free.” Here’s Norman to walk you through our take on fruit-apple roses.

Recipes
Image from Cooking with Manuela  website

Thanks, mum. When you said we were going to make apple roses, I confess, I shook my head in disgust. Fruit, seriously? Barf. You know I’m not a fan of fruit, but being the good boy that I am, I thought “oh, all right,” I’ll do it for you because I know it makes you happy. As it turned out, I tasted a few of those apple slices and you know what…blimey…they were actually tasty.

There’s a old saying about eating an apple a day…well we’re gonna modernize that saying by combining apples with a cook’s best friend in the kitchen…puff pastry.  So let’s get started, shall we?

Ingredients:

1 sheet of Pepperidge Farm puff pastry
2 red apples
Juice of half a lemon
1 TBSP flour to sprinkle the counter
3 TBSP of apricot preserves
Powdered sugar for decoration (optional)

Recipes
Image from  Cooking with Manuela website

Thaw the puff pastry at room temperature. Prepare a bowl half filled with water and the lemon juice. Cut the apples in half and core. Next, cut the apples into paper-thin slices (leaving the peels on) and place slices into the water/lemon to keep them from turning brown.

Microwave the apple slices to make them slightly soft and easy to roll. They should be cooked just long enough to bend without breaking. I think I did mine for a little more than 3 minutes.

Unwrap the puff pastry over a clean and lightly floured counter. Roll the dough into a rectangular shape approximately 12 x 9 inches (30 x 22 cm). Cut into strips, each about 2 x 9 inches (5 x 22 cm).

Recipes

Recipes
Here’s a close up of the top edge

In a small bowl, mix the apricot preserves with 2 TBSP of water. Microwave for about a minute to make the preserves easier to spread a thin coating on each strip of dough. Arrange apple slices on one edge, overlapping one another but make sure the skin side sticks out a bit. Fold the bottom part up on to the dough’s edge. Starting at one end, carefully roll the dough, keeping the apple slices in place. Seal the edge and place in a greased, regular muffin tin. Bake at 375ºF (190ºC) for about 40-45 minutes until fully cooked. Sprinkle with powdered sugar when slightly cooled.

Recipes

These are best eaten while still warm and crisp but they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days or in the fridge for up to 3 days. You can warm them up in the oven before serving.

Mum can enjoy the finished product; I’ll just happily munch on the leftover apple slices. My Ninja sister who detests fruit even more than me, just doesn’t realize what she’s missing.

So there you have it. A pretty and reasonably easy to make dessert using tasty fruit with just a couple ingredients.

Norman

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Monday Musings ~ July 5, 2021

We hope you survived the 4th. Clearly there were no supply chain problems when it came to obtaining fireworks if last night was any indication. Booms were very loud and steady until shortly after 1:00 AM. It’s simply inconceivable so many people were so thoughtless. While I understand wanting to have fun and celebrate, blowing up loud fireworks nonstop, well into the night seems beyond excessive or necessary.

But enough of the past, it’s a new week with a clean slate, so let’s begin it with a smile.

Smiles

Here’s hoping your favorite scent remains available. Have a ‘pawsome’ Monday.

Live, love, bark!  🐾