Nature Friday ~ July 10, 2020

On a day that’s expected to cross into the triple digit territory, getting out in nature might be a challenge. Neither the Ranch Hands nor me do well in the heat which has been relentless for days on end recently so seeing nature at her finest has been fleeting. A few sights have been inspiring but the harsh bright light took some of the luster off otherwise lovely summer perennials. Still, on a neighborhood errand-running jaunt where I took a different route from normal, something other than crispy-crunchy plants were discovered yesterday.

At any rate, it’s Friday, we somehow managed to survive the miserable heatwave burning through much of the country and we’re joining our ‘furiends’ Rosy, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. When you click on the link, you’ll be able to see what the Gang and others around Blogville have shared this week. So let’s get started, ‘kay?

So what’s currently blooming around our neighborhood? Well, glad you asked. Gladiolas are out for one. Although I’ve never planted any (I have enough trouble keeping tulips from flopping over in early spring), they sure are pretty. Check out this flashy one!

Flowers

Sorry for the harsh lighting; I came across these beauties mid-morning and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it was BRIGHT.

Another staple out this time of year are commonly known as daylilies (Hemerocallis). Did you know Hemerocallis comes from two Greek words (hēmera) “day” and (kalos) “beautiful.” That pretty much nails it in my mind.

Flowers

Native primarily in eastern Asia (including China, Korea, and Japan) they are now popular worldwide because of their showy flowers and their hardiness with over 80,000 registered cultivars. Some are fragrant and others will rebloom later in the season. Daylilies are actually not true lilies, despite having a similar shape in the flowers. According to Wikipedia,

prior to“2009, the scientific classification of daylilies put them into the family Liliaceae. Unlike daylilies (which have a fibrous root system), Liliaceae species grow from bulbs and are harmful to humans and animals if ingested. It is a common misconception that daylilies share the same toxic properties of true lilies.” Hemerocallis are toxic to cats and may be fatal if ingested.

Hemerocallis come in a variety of colors from the classic yellow, orange, and pale pink varieties, to vibrant reds, purples, lavenders, greenish tones, near-black, and near-white. So far there has not been any successful hybridization with primarily blue-colored flowers.

Next door to the daylilies garden, a newly planted garden was emerging as a fairy habitat. It should be interesting to see how the interspersed plants develop around the multiple village structures as we move toward autumn, which for those needing some hope with the weather is 73 days away (you’re welcome). I loved seeing all the various little stone and shell constructed buildings.

Fairies

Some people are just too clever (and/or have too much time on their hands).Fairies

And just because they’re naturalizating all over my garden, how about a bright cheerful sunflower to welcome the weekend? We hope your weekend is extra special. Stay safe, sane and please wear a mask when you go out but most of all keep smiling.

Sunflower

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ April 24, 2020

It’s another day in the cluster known as the coronavirus epidemic, but (and only after I looked it up on the calendar–heh, heh…and many people thought paper calendars were obsolete), it appears we’ve reached the day once known as Friday. Today is also the last Friday of what seems like the longest April ever. Today is where we happily join our fur friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard to check out what Mother Nature  managed to dish up for us.

Snow
Last week

While last week’s storm brought a fair amount of snow, it melted quickly with mild temperatures and sunny days. With that much snow, you never know what will or won’t bloom so this week was a nice surprise. A few daffodils were brought indoors to bring a cheerful spot of nature inside.

Flowers

How nice to not have any shovel snow with a nice break in white stuff, giving the landscape a chance to wake up. Trees are for the most part have barely begun to leaf out, but I have noticed shrubs and perennials are definitely yawning and stretching toward the sun. Let’s look at what a visual difference a week makes after a nice drink of water.

Flowers

We took a different walking route a couple of days ago and came upon a front lawn in bloom with thyme. Pretty little purplish blooms that are easy to maintain.

In my own garden which always tends to be late waking up, the lupine, poppies and peonies are beginning to wake up. Blooms can’t be too far off.Flowers

After snow every week this month, it’s a welcome sight seeing flashes of phlox in borders along our daily walks.

Flowers

My luck with growing tulips in the past has been a definite gardening disappointment. For years, tulips have been deliberately avoided but then I planted a package of mixed bulbs a few years ago which included a few tulips figuring if they didn’t grow, they would at least provide a some compost to the crummy clay soil. They have performed surprisingly well despite their reputation for being finicky after spring storms. I wasn’t sure if these guys would bloom as they were just forming buds late last week when they were dumped on. In the past, tulips have not been particularly forgiving with  spring snows but these surprised me. Imagine my delight as I walked around the garden early this morning and noticed they are blooming.

Flowers

Even some red columbines were starting to bloom much to my delight. They became very unhappy with me last summer when they were ‘somewhat’ neglected during a hot spell. [Note to self: don’t forget to water the columbines this year]. Another surprise that wasn’t white.

Flowers

The Ranch is still sheltering in place despite some restrictions being lifted  beginning on Monday. It should be ‘interesting’ to see how many bazillions of haircuts are given next week. I’ll probably be wearing a hat for the foreseeable near future.

Coronavirus

Any plans this weekend? Whatever you plan to do, we hope it includes loads of smiles with bits of nature sprinkled in for good measure. Happy weekend!

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ January 24, 2020

It’s Friday and that means we’re once again joining our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard for this week’s Nature Friday blog hop.

As you’ve heard me whinge about tell you countless times, scenes of nature around the Ranch in January are rather limited. Can you say brown, blech and blah? It’s been very dry even as it seems unseasonably warm for this time of year. Typically it’s bitter cold during the National Western Stock Show (which ends this weekend) but this year temperatures have been in the 40’s and 50’s F which is highly unusual. I’m not complaining mind you, but without some snow soon, things will be drier than a old dog bone.

You have to really search if you want to find signs of any color in January when the landscape tilts toward bleak.

Ornamental Grass

Lately I’ve been on the prowl for any little sprouts making their way up to the surface for life sustaining Rocky Mountain sunshine. I squealed out loud when I happened upon what looks like a very early bird tulip. This poor little guy has no idea what may be in store for him down the road.

Flowers

Not far away in another garden, there was a beautiful Helleborus niger, more commonly known as Christmas Rose. After seeing gobs of brown, this was such a welcomed sight. It give me hope all is not lost during the blah-er scenes of winter in  the Mile High City’s January landscape.

Flowers
Helleborus niger (Christmas Rose)

Are there any signs of spring are happening around your neighborhood now? Do you have any big plans this weekend to check some of the beauty Mother Nature offers?

If you haven’t visited the K9 shop lately, we invite you to check out some of the newest handcrafted items.

Teaser alert…there will a BIG announcement next week so enjoy the weekend and come back to find out what’s huge around the Ranch. Happy weekend!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ November 22, 2019

It’s the Friday before the U.S. Thanksgiving Day holiday and nature apparently thought it would take some time off from showing much beauty with the palette largely greys and browns-blech. That said, we happily join our furry friends Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard as nature around Blogville often shares its bounty in surprising ways.

Our urban landscape is now in full drab mode and more than slightly dreary despite very welcome warm days earlier this week. This time of year may not be so unusual for most of the country, but in sunshine rich Colorado (there are over 300 days a year sporting sunshine), it’s noticeable. The forecast is now shifting toward cloudy days with cold and snow in the near forecast. Just before the weather shifted, nature provided a lovely surprise to an otherwise bland palette. Why is November so generally dull?

As the afternoon sun began to set, a bright glow from the western sky filled the living room as I began to think about fixing dinner. Scenes like these images will go a long way in making November far more pleasant.

In a matter of a few fleeting moments, the sky went from subtle to ‘gonna knock your socks off.’

Sunset

Sunset

A slight glance southward showed a scene that just lit up my soul (with apologies for the hideously visible power lines). In less than ninety seconds, nature’s beautiful show made me forget all about drab November.

Sunset

May you experience some beautiful sunsets over the weekend. Do you have any fun plans in store before the holiday season begins in earnest?

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ November 8, 2019

It’s Friday and time to showcase a slice of the beauty from Mother Nature. It’s also the time where we join our furry buddies, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard to check out what others in Blogville share in the hop because you can’t get too much  beauty from Mother Nature.

The weather has been pretty nice for this time of year with today pushing 60 degrees and tomorrow cresting the 70ºF mark. To which I say, yes please! While I really don’t mind cooler temps, i absolutely love the 60-70ºF range. If there weren’t dried brown leaves, you might think it was spring instead of autumn.

But enough of the weather, let’s get to the pretty. Naturally not much is blooming in the garden this time of year so let’s go into a greenhouse and check out some orchids instead.

Flowers

Orchidaceae (orchids) has over 20,000 currently known species, and they can be quite showy, with flowers in an array of colors, shapes, and sizes. While delicate looking these guys are hardy inhabitants when cared for properly.

Flowers

All orchids share some similar characteristics like bilateral symmetry of their flower, where the flowers often appear upside down, supine or upward facing. They nearly always show highly modified petals, fused stamens and carpels, producing very small seeds.

Flowers

Orchids are perennial herbs and lack a permanent woody structure. Orchids do not flower more than once on the same stem generally. Stems should be cut just above the bottom two nodes, or joints after the flower is spent.

Flowers

The showy orchids favored by most people are usually phalaenopsis hybrids (known as moth orchids). These plants enjoy strong (but not direct afternoon) light with either southern or eastern exposure. They need high humidity and turbulent airflow around the roots with regular periods of drying alternated with heavy watering (or drenching rains if you happen to in Hawaii where some of these images were taken). Orchids do best in temperatures above 50 degrees and below 85 degrees.

Orchids have graced the Ranch for somewhat limited lives but lack of long term success hasn’t deterred me from being captivated by these beauties. I mean, whenever I see something as beautiful as these exquisite plants, I want to bring those showy flowers home. Who can resist a beautiful orchid in the winter? I know I still look for something similar to this blue orchid (previously shared earlier this year) which I brought home several years ago from the local grocery store. Although it didn’t survive nearly as long as I had hoped, it sure looked lovely while it did.

Flowers

Have you had luck growing orchids at home?

We hope you are able to get out to enjoy nature this weekend and to find some of the varied beauty Mother Nature offers.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ November 1, 2019

Greetings to our favorite day of the week. It’s also a fresh new month, November. Egad…WHERE has this year gone? One day you’re welcoming tulips and the next day it seems like you’re planting new ones. W-H-A-T? Nonetheless, put me down in the “happy it’s Friday again” category while we tag along with our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard and we stroll throughout Blogville checking out the beauty of Mother Nature.

For those of you keeping track, there are 53 days to Christmas. I know, I know…but judging by the fact that we just rolled the calendar over to a new page, the heavy set guy in red will be coming down chimney in no time. With the weather being unseasonably cold this week, it got me to start working on various handmade gifts for family and friends since walk-abouts weren’t going to be possible.

Sam
Wait…why aren’t we going walking?

It was so cold and snowy this week, we really didn’t get out to check out much of what Nature offered. Everything was white anyway and I was busy shoveling an enormous corner lot (what in the world was I thinking buying a house on a corner with twice as much sidewalk as normal houses?!) and just trying to keep myself warm and the dogs occupied.

Sam & ElsaEver notice how dogs can get cabin fever much quicker than humans? Like many dogs, the Knuckleheads nap much of the day, but the naps seemed shorter with more frequent with loads of plaintive glances and relentless nose nudging to pay attention to the clearly depraved canines. One way they can pass the time away when they’re bored, is through annoying behavior.

Shoveling out a “pee-atio” area for the dogs was nearly as important as keeping their minds engaged. Poodles can be picky about their bathroom thrones and not just any spot will work for their fragile little psyches as I’ve discovered. They experience Goldilocks syndrome and everything must be just right.

Because of some uneven flagstones, it’s not an quick job shoveling out part of the dog run to keep poodle tushes from being kissed by snow during their constitutionals.  I thought I was doing the Knuckleheads a solid. Indeed…they promptly went to the opposite end where the snow depth was 10″ deep to do their business. Thanks guys. I can’t tell you how much I enjoy frostbitten fingers trying to help you out.

Dog run

One thing about Nature is how a snowstorm can change the landscape. Earlier this week I shared the photo of a gigantic icicle that formed (my friend Sorryless referred to it as a ‘support column’ and he wasn’t far off–it took a number of attempts to knock that sucker down-if you missed it, click here). Yesterday, as the snow began to melt, it seemed as if Nature was piling globs of frosting around the garden and fence line. It was beautiful and allowed me to forget the backbreaking job of shoveling it from the endless sidewalk.

Snow

Snow

But all is not lost as we wait for the full melt. On cue, the ‘Christmas cactus’ (that has coincidently never bloomed any time near its namesake) decided to wake up. That riot shock of hot pink always makes me grateful for this indoor show of beauty that Nature provides at the most unexpected times. And here I thought there wouldn’t be any foliage this week.

Cactus

Here’s wishing you a fantastic weekend with the hope you manage to stumble across something beautiful out there even if the weather doesn’t cooperate.

Nature Friday

P.S. Don’t forget to ‘fall’ back this weekend. Enjoy that extra hour of sleep.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 25, 2019

Whew…we made it to Friday and you know what that means…it’s time to celebrate the beauty Mother Nature provides. As usual, we’re joining our furiends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard on this last Friday of the month. My planned post went bye-bye with the arrival of our second snowstorm yesterday. It seems like autumn is engaged in a 15-round battle with winter.

After the first snow of the season a couple of weeks ago, I wasn’t sure if autumn would recover. But she proved she had what it takes to provide some Mile High beauty even if it was somewhat muted. Snow doesn’t always impact the changing colors here but the bitter cold definitely did. And yet it was as if Autumn rolled over, stretched and said “up yours, Winter” and proceeded to produce some beautifully colored leaves just for spite.

Autumn

While Colorado is more well known for its golden aspen leaves this time of year, a few other trees offer color more commonly associated with the East Coast. Elms, Lindens, Silver Maples, and Ash trees were hit hard by the freeze but a few other trees colored up nicely including the ornamental pears.

Autumn

Autumn

Even with the latest snowstorm, red and white showed up and provided quite a show.

Autumn

Autumn

The landscape had melted by mid-afternoon having received a nice quenching drink after several days of drying winds. Today and tomorrow will be back to lovely autumn temperatures with another storm expected to arrive Sunday. And right on cue, Mother Nature is set to disappoint timid would-be trick or treaters with cold temps and more snow next week. In any event, we’re not letting it hold us back. The Ninja and Knucklehead have made it their personal life’s mission to turn me into a human kite on our walks. Cool, crisp weather seems to be their fuel for sprinting with abandon.

Have a great weekend and enjoy whatever Mother Nature offers you. She always offers some kind of gift and life is definitely richer when you accept it.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 19, 2019

We made it to Friday-woohoo, no thanks to the blistering heat Mother Nature has been doling out. As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing this weekend, we’re also celebrating the 72nd birthday of astrophysicist and epic guitarist from Queen, Brian May, PhD. Commissioned by NASA, this anthem, his first solo song in 20 years, celebrates the latest mission by NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft, which just set the record for the most distant spacecraft flyby ever. So let’s hear it for May and the universe. And because it’s Friday, we’re joining our good friends and Nature Friday hosts, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard.

Mother Nature and I are not on speaking terms this week. Like most of the country, we’ve been baking in triple digit temperatures. Luckily the humidity in these parts barely registers in the low teens so at least we don’t have that with the heat. We are looking forward to 65 days from now…the official arrival of Autumn. I know, I know, I heard your digital groaning at that thought but neither the Knuckleheads or I are hot-temperature fans. Sure we enjoy the longer daylight hours , but the heat, um…no thanks.

So this weekend we’ll be lifting our eyes toward the skies enjoying the universe’s wonder, and then take a look down here on Mother Earth to take in summer’s bountiful lavender harvest at the annual festival tomorrow at the Denver Botanical Gardens, Chatfield Farms location. Here’s an image from last year’s festival. What are your weekend plans? Stay cool and enjoy nature this weekend.

Lavender
Lavender Festival, Chatfield Farms, Denver Botanic Gardens

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ March 22, 2019

Happy Friday! Spring officially arrived this week and despite the potential for more spring rain and snowstorms, just seeing it’s officially spring on the calendar now seems to have made a difference with our moods. We join our hosts, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard, for this week’s edition of the Nature Friday Blog Hop.

We’ve been seeing lots of spring bulbs teasing us that spring was on its way (only to be three weeks. With the official arrival of spring, something magical even occurred in our own garden. Yesterday I noticed a small flash of pale blue in some ground cover and thought maybe a wrapper had blown in and gotten stuck. To my surprise, some blue grape hyacinths planted a couple of seasons ago have started to naturalize amongst the Vinca. These little cuties known as Muscari come in shades of white, blue, and purple. They  are very easy to grow and aren’t the slightest bit fussy about soil conditions and will thrive in sun or light shady conditions. My original group was planted several feet south of where they were now and I was charmed to see how far they’ve migrated. I don’t mind another ‘caravan on the march’ and think the garden will be richer for these new additions. The buffet table was set for lunch and noticed the season’s first bees noshing away (bee is located on the back side of the tallest Muscari). Once the photos were downloaded, I also noticed the season’s first ladybug to the right near the shortest flower.

Muscari should be planted in early fall so moisture can nourish them before winter sets in. Plant in groups of ten or more, setting the bulbs twice as deep as they’re tall, and at least a couple of inches apart. Leaves will appear shortly after planting in the autumn but can be ignored. The flower spikes will arrive in spring when you most need to see colors other than tan and brown.

Hyacinths

The crocuses are just starting in my garden but we’ve encountered numerous ones around the ‘hood. They are one of my favorite spring bulbs. the bees sure seem to enjoy them as much as I do, for different reasons. This little guy had sacks of pollen on his legs.

Crocuses should be planted in late summer to early fall and require a minimum of 15 weeks of chilling to break dormancy known as vernalization. Planting times differ from other species and for best results should be planted 6 to 8 weeks before the first expected frost allowing a sturdy root system to develop before going dormant. If soil consists of clay, amend with organic matter, plant 5 inches deep with the flat side down and around 1 to 2 inches apart.

Did you know that saffron comes from the saffron crocus bulbs (Crocus sativus), an autumn blooming crocus? The spice is the red stigmas of its flower. Each flower only produces three stigmas and each saffron crocus bulb will only produce one flower. Now you know why saffron threads are so pricy. You’re welcome.

As for seeing ladybugs, did you know seeing them is considered a sign of good luck? We hope that luck works with digital sightings as well. May the luck of ladybugs grace you and hope your weekend is filled with all good things.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ March 15, 2019

Nature FridayWhile today is the Ides of March, we’re joining the fun with our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s edition of the Nature Friday Blog Hop. According to the ancient Roman calendar, the Ides signaled the first full moon of the month, which generally occurred between the 13thand 15th of each month. Though most of us associate the Ides of March as the day Julius Caesar was assassinated. Et tu Brute.

After this week’s “bomb cyclone,” with hurricane-force winds, extensive power outages (some still in effect today) and 8-12″ of snow and drifts, we thought we’d prefer to focus on the softer side of Mother Nature instead of her damaging impact on the environment.

This weekend is St. Patrick’s Day and a much better way to share a spot of nature by celebrating with some lucky ‘clover?’ While Oxalis is not a true clover (it’s part of the Wood Sorrell family), it does look like a plant most associated with St. Patrick’s Day (beyond hops in beer), the four-leaf clover. I’ve had this plant well over a decade and while it looks a bit bedraggled due to some inconsistent watering of late…my bad, this little guy makes my Irish heritage on my Dad’s side, smile. It recently finished blooming small white flowers. When grown outdoors, shamrocks tend to be somewhat invasive nature as their fast-spreading tuberous roots spread like wildfire. Indoors, they can brighten a sunny windowsill nicely as a charming houseplant.

St. Patrick's Day

As a nod to St. Patrick’s Day, Sam graciously agreed to pose for a photo shoot this morning while his sister, Elsa said “not no how, not no way and I don’t care what kind of treats you’re using as a bribe are involved.” Guess Ninja’s don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Still, everyone at the Ranch sends our best wishes for a fun and Happy St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

St. Patrick's Day
Erin go Bragh!

Live, love, bark! 🐾