Category Archives: Gardens

Fab Friday ~ October 6, 2017

Last weekend was the quintessential Fall weekend. Perfect temperatures in the 70’s, low humidity, and crystal clear blue skies define autumn in Colorado. The kind of weekend that is not only most welcome following a few days of misty rain with chilly temps, but the kind that beg you to stroll through gardens and enjoy the outdoors. And this weekend was extra special, as there were a gazillion tourists out enjoying it and who weren’t congesting the highways. Often confused with Monarch butterflies, the Painted Lady butterflies have been so numerous this year as they move south toward their warmer winter habitats but first they will gorge on tasty local offerings. They even have been spotted on weather radar. See stories here and here.

Radar images showing a 70-mile-wide wave of butterflies drifting across the Denver metro area. Source: National Weather Service via AP

What’s not to love about this time of year? The temperatures are usually mild and there is a special glow of light that turns everything golden and gorgeous highlighted by exquisite blues/purples contrasting against typical autumn colors. Many of the summer flowers have for the most part, given up center stage to their autumnal cousins although the annual Zinnias are holding out till the first frost. Hardy Mum, Aster, Black-eyed Susan and my personal favorite, Plumbago are all demanding the spotlight.

As I walked through the garden, the Painted Ladies explode upward, as they flit around in annoyance that their nectar banquet was interrupted. Quietly kneeling and holding perfectly still, I patiently wait for them to return and resume the meal. I am soon rewarded.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Butterflies in the mahogany colored foliage of Plumbago

Happy Flower Friday. Tomorrow is Sam’s 12th bark day so we hope you will swing by. There will be special treats for His Knuckleheaded-ness so let’s get this pawty started. But first, let’s entertain our good friend, Friday wine. Cheers!

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Larks and Lavender ~ Colorado Style

It’s full-blown summer here now and while it would be fabulous to travel to Provence, in the south of France, the next best option presented itself over the last weekend in the Mile High and bonus points were scored for not having to deal with TSA. While still relatively new as a commercial enterprise, Colorado’s lavender production has been increasing. Our arid climate lends itself to production of the herb with a climate that is similar to the Provence region with scads of sun, low water and few natural pests. The Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield Farms located in south suburban Littleton hosted a wonderful festival showcasing the garden’s 800+ plants with demonstrations and products, tours of the farm, and including music and kid activities. Beautifully landscaped mounds greeting visitors under gorgeous blue skies along with loads of vendors to share all manner of lavender products including soap, essential oil, dried bunches, potpourri. I wandered around sniffing to my heart’s content. Indeed everyone there seemed mellow and calm, no doubt due in part to the terrific effects of this special herb. We all know how wonderful lavender smells but did you know about all these positive properties?

  • Reduces anxiety and emotional stress
  • Heals burns and wounds
  • Improves sleep
  • Restores skin complexion and reduces acne
  • Slows aging with powerful antioxidants
  • Improves eczema and psoriasis
  • Alleviates headaches

Although I arrived a bit too late to attend any of the formal morning classes, I talked with a number of the vendors who were all extremely informative and happy to share samples of this fabulous smelling herb. I never saw a cranky person or child there and the hot temps \ would have been reason enough to be fussy. Lavender is such a great mood elevator and mellows out everyone.

Look at those beautiful mounds!

This vender was charming and cheerful while being ever so patient answering my questions on growing techniques. I have a number of lavender plants in my garden but learned several tips that may provide even more success with this fabulous herb.

Lavender bundles. No extra charge for bees.

There were other beautiful flowers at the festival

English lavender does better with our winter climate

Loads of happy ‘chill’ people at the festival.

More than just lavender at the Chatfield Farms

Fun garden art made from old spoons

Tons of lavender skin care products

Pretty Echinacea

More Echinacea plants

Even the Clydesdale was mellow

 

 

 

 

Lavender Association Booth with distillation equipment

All in all, it was a great day in the sun and I was able to gain some valuable info about maintaining and improving my own lavender garden. Even when leaving the parking lot that was filled with hundreds of cars, I was relaxed and calm no doubt due to all the sniffing of lavender plants and infused products. How do you enjoy lavender?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Gardeners and Dogs


Gardeners and Dogs…deceptive title because this isn’t about the ever romantic pottage garden harvesting all manner of herbs and salad ingredients, while the dogs snoopervised the non-stop back-breaking weeding. Nope. And we’re not talking about the joys of wrecking a manicure from digging in the dirt to harvest any $150.00 a piece tomato (as I recall that was about the amount I calculated the last garden I planted veggies at the Ranch, accounting for tools, water, compost, time, etc. and presuming the squirrels didn’t get it first). Even though I do love to garden, wrecked manicure notwithstanding, instead what I’m talking about is even if you live in a high-rise condo with no yard, you’re a gardener if you have dogs that go outside. Only those peeps living on Antarctica are probably not gardeners and well…they’ve got other problems. 

 

How is it possible that we are all gardeners? Well, remember that post talking about nasty grass awns? Those horticultural nightmares have dried out and are just waiting to be widely dispersed. This morning’s walk showed me just what joys to expect [insert breathless anticipation here]. Don’t get me wrong. I love grasses…those exquisite textures gracefully swaying in the garden.  

Otherwise known as ornamental grasses. 


What I’m talking about here as the latest assault by Mother Nature on gardening dog owners is this clumping, upright grass that’s a bear to eradicate from the landscape. Often called pearl millet, I have always called it “Velcro grass.” The leaves are hairless except at the base. But it’s those bristly seed heads that cause major problems. Growing up to 3 ft. tall, these things stick to socks, furry legs, noses, wherever they can attach their dastardly evil heads. Not everyone may have this botanical scourge (lucky you). But you probably have stuff we can’t even begin to nightmare about in the Wild West. I just discovered a website that identifies weeds that grow where ever you live in the US, with apologies to our Canadian friends for not showing what might harass them (See: http://www.preen.com/weeds). This site identifies 3 separate categories: broadleaf, grassy and woody weeds. Yeah, I know, it’s sponsored by a chemical herbicide company, and around the Ranch we go organic but the information it provides can be invaluable for identification purposes. Besides, it’s much more ladylike to call it what it really is known by than spewing like a drunken sailor the kind of vocabulary I normally use when I’ve had to pick out, one by one, those millions of pearled seed heads from my socks or from the dogs’ legs, ears, snouts or chests. Trust me when I say they are no picnic in the park to remove, thus the PG-rated name for our purposes. Even though I now know what they’re really called, they’ll still probably be referred to as Velcro grass or one of the more colorful HBO names I normally blurt out.  And just so that you can benefit from my past ineffective removal experience, even washing socks wasn’t a very simple way to remove those damn things. 

With Elsa shoving any and every thing into her mouth (eyeglasses, socks, grass of all stripes, just to name a few items) I have to go organic to protect her from noshing on anything sprayed with chemicals (my go-to herbicide is non-toxic table vinegar) and then watch her like a hawk when we’re outside the safety zone of the yard.

So have I convinced any of you condo/apartment residents that you really are gardeners? Do you have similar herbaceous squatters? Got any tips for removing them from socks?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

 

Monday Musings

Is it really Monday again? Seems like Friday was here a second ago and poof…now it’s Monday. Guess extensive gardening in nice weather speeds up time. While the dogs ‘snoopervised,’ the garden got spiffed up nicely. Now if only I could find the BENGAY® and Icy Hot for the aching back! Did you do anything fun over your weekend?

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Game On Dude!

Normally when it’s been ‘game on’ in the past, it means I’m trying to match wits with a certain blonde knucklehead. This time however, we’re talking about a totally different game.

I’ve tried, really I have. Living in an urban setting, there is a surprisingly diverse wildlife population. Foxes, all sorts of songbirds, a couple of mangy coyotes, an owl, a pair of hawks, some raccoons and of course, squirrels. I enjoy watching them as they adapt to city life and have managed to co-habitat easily with them. That is, except…for the squirrels which seem to be some sort of spin-off from a Hell’s Angels fur gang, minus leather jackets. Lately they’ve become even more bold.

Source filched from the web

Oh sure, we all like to think of our little Sciuridae fur-iends as impossibly cute and even entertaining. Isn’t the one above just beyond adorable? Yeah right. The ones in my neighborhood are a lot more like this one. They’ve eaten screens, chewed ginormous holes in the trash and recycle bins to scrap out that lone tiny piece of stuck cheese in the discarded pizza box and left giant holes in the compost bins. Ordinarily I wouldn’t mind it they stuck to the compost bins and enjoyed a strawberry hull or two, but crimmin-Italy…not the dang window screen…again!!

Source: another filched image from the Web

Less than two weeks ago, the most brazen of the 3 or 4 that have been terrorizing gracing the Ranch from large tree in the front yard chewed through the screen in the kitchen presumably to snack on some bananas. Must be offspring from the one from a few years ago that broke in through that same screen and devoured a package of brownies on the counter. Yesterday as we were returning from our early morning walk, we arrived to find a blur whiz past us. Naturally the Ninja huntress took off after it. She nearly caught him too. Sure gave him a scare as he double timed it up the utility pole just out of jaw’s reach.

Meanwhile, back at the scene of the crime, I realized we had caught him ‘screen-handed’ though by the time I retrieved Elsa from chasing him, the only thing left was yet another torn screen in the exact same spot as the prior 2 times. Little bastard. If it only happened a few times every 4 or 5 years, I probably wouldn’t be so cranky about it. But this was less than two weeks ago!! So I went out to the garage to see if I still had any rat traps. While I didn’t find a rat trap, I did find a couple of mouse traps and baited them with some peanut butter. Not 30 minutes later that same hoodlum snatched the glob of PB off one and triggered the other one from the window sill. Are you freaking kidding me??!!

Ok, pal…it’s game on now and I’m going full nuclear. I’m going full Bill Murray from “Caddyshack” and plan to catch that little rat bastard. Have you ever been victimized by a rogue gangster squirrel? While I consider myself a major animal and wildlife lover, this. has. got. to. stop. We’ll be visiting our friendly hardware store this morning to stock up on armament.

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Flower Friday

A couple of days ago I went back to the zoo with a friend and as we walked around the 87,000 kids on their school field trips before school closes, I began to notice that the zoo has done a remarkable job of improving their flower beds throughout the grounds. While we strolled past the giraffe exhibit where our own new baby, Dobby was growing like a weed, I was startled by a gorgeous Swallow Tail butterfly.

I was completely mesmerized by its flitting among a narrow bed of lovely purple blooms. Then quick as wink, I happened on this bee and snapped before I could change lens. I didn’t think it would show up since the lens was really too long for the shot, but when I downloaded it, I was a bit surprised.

At this point, I consciously started looking at the flowers more closely and then it happened…that-stop-your-heart screech from a peacock who was behind me. But what a lovely sight. Guess he thought so too.

But because it was the zoo (and I did go there to see anipals), who can resist one of the local freeloaders (with apologies to Facebook fur-iends who have already seen a couple of these). Squee! Here’s to a wagnificent weekend. Hope its grand. 

Live, love, bark! ❤︎

Wildflower Wednesday

We’re training a recruit and doing hospital visits this week…busy, busy, busy but hope to have a post ready by the end of the week. In the meantime, we’ve gone into hiding.

Hiding in the wildflowers, but not tip-toeing in the tulips

Live, love, bark! ❤︎