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 ~ December 20, 2019

Can you believe it, Christmas is just 4 days away?! Yikes…are YOU ready? It’s been a busy time of year so naturally we’re running behind. But we’re never behind when it comes to Nature Friday where we join our hosts, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard and take a look at nature around Blogville  in beautiful ways. This time of year limits inspiring nature unless you’re into snow patterns so let’s look around the house where some beautiful plants are taking center stage this time of year.

There are a number of indoor plants associated with the holiday season. Let’s take a gander at favorite one we have-genius Schlumbergera, otherwise  known as Christmas Cactus. Right on schedule the vibrant fuschia hued Christmas cactus started blooming. But by right on schedule, I mean before Thanksgiving. It’s one of two “Christmas cactuses” (cacti?) that bloom around the Ranch. Provided I can keep Elsa from thinking she can take small nibbles off the flowers. This one and a nearby hibiscus seem to be too enticing for her to resist.

Christmas cactus

Seeing color like this brightens my mood when the supply of sunshine dwindles throughout winter days when our landscape is at its brownest. When the first hot pink buds begin to arrive, it always makes me smile as I look forward to the show about to erupt. This guy has been around for nearly two decades and never fails to dazzle though it’s beginning to wane the closer we get to Christmas day.

The other one is a shy fellow that was gifted to me by my son when he moved  to Hawaii. It makes appearances (which always chagrins my son since it never bloomed for him after he brought it home), but only on a somewhat limited basis. While returning some art supplies to the studio where it lives, I noticed this one of two, gorgeous blooms.

Christmas cactus

This year’s show isn’t going to have nearly as many flowers as in past years for heaven only knows why. But that beautiful coral color is worth even a minimal display. This guy gets coddled and yet never performs like the pink show-off above. Like I said, a very shy guy.

While its common name is ‘cactus,’ in the Northern Hemisphere, they are called Christmas cactus, Thanksgiving cactus, crab cactus and holiday cactus. It is a tropical plant that hails from Brazil requiring higher water and humidity requirements than its Southwest cactus buddies. Keeping these beauties in shape for their annual bloom-fest is simple though. Water deeply whenever the top inch or so of soil is dry. Repot if the soil is hard and compact, or allow the water to slowly penetrate tight soil. They should only be fertilized when the plant is actively growing or when blooming. Soil should be a well-draining potting soil mix.

Christmas cactus likes bright, indirect light for best blooming conditions while avoiding cold, drafty locations or one close to a heat source. They’re pretty easy to maintain and pinching back stem ends following blooming makes for a bushier plant.

Do you have this seasonal beauty in your home? What Christmas plants are your favorites? Kudos to you if you’re totally ready for Santa’s visit next week.

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! 🐾

Not Nearly Wordless Wednesday

As we dread anticipate the arrival of an Arctic cold front set to arrive later this evening, we plan on enjoying the upper side of a 60 degree swing between now and Thursday. Today’s high is expected to hover near a comfortable 80 F degrees while tomorrow’s low is set to plummet somewhere in the mid-to upper-teens. It shouldn’t be a long lasting front as the weekend is slated to return toward the 60’s through most of next week but it will be a shock to the system that’s grown accustomed to warm days.

So before Ol’ Man Winter does his harsh drive-by, how ’bout a few more images from my recent trip to Vail to remind us how fabulous this time of year really is?

Vail
Bristlecone Pine, Betty Ford Alpine Garden
Vail
Betty Ford Alpine Garden
Vail
Vail, Colorado

Happy Hump Day.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

Nature Friday ~ September 13, 2019

Today is Friday the 13th and I’m handling today’s post for mom. Sam here. Despite the superstition surrounding Friday the 13th, I think it’s lucky for mom that I’m taking over for her today as we join our Blogville fur-iends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard. Did you know Friday the 13th occurs any month that begins on a Sunday? According to a local NPR station, “the last time a full moon happened on Friday the 13th was on June 13, 2014, said Paul Hayne, assistant professor in the Department of Astrophysical & Planetary Sciences at the University of Colorado Boulder. “You might say it only happens once in a blue moon,” he said. “This particular full moon is unique in the sense that it both falls on Friday the 13th and it’s also the Harvest Moon.” A Harvest Moon is the closest full moon to the fall equinox, when our days start to get shorter than our nights. The fall equinox is on Sept. 23. The last time a Harvest Moon happened on Friday the 13th was on October 13, 2000. The next time a full moon will happen on the superstitious day will be in August 2049.” Pretty cool stuff, huh?

The mornings have been wonderfully cool (today it was just 48F and the Ninja and I showed our super sled dog skills dragging pulling mom on our the walk) but it warms up during the day (into the 90’s this weekend). Who knows nature better than me, Ace Snooper-Sniffer about snuffing out nature’s coolest stuff? After all, I know all the best places to check out where I leave loads of coded messages for other doggos who walk in my paw prints. As mom’s whined told you multiple times, it’s been hot and dry this summer. After a nice little shower a couple of days ago (the first in forever in our ‘hood), something strange happened. These guys started popping up in the weirdest spots. This first one is located in one of my all time favorite spots to read pee mail. The nerve that now there’s a house there now. Ugh…naturally that means mom won’t let me sniff there now. Boy she can be such a killjoy!

Mushrooms

Look how the guy managed to push itself up through that mulch. Makes you wonder how much force nature used to that.

While we were walking this morning, we found this straight line of mushroom caps.  I think they’re making a stand against some garden mouse.Mushrooms

I think this little fella is a tad sleepy-see how he’s leaning sideways.

Mushrooms

We noticed something else kind of weird in our own garden. Mom planted a couple of vegetables (a cherry tomato and a pepper plant) in pots this year to see how’d they fare. In a word, the cherry tomatoes have been going “nuts.” Mom is thrilled but I don’t like them, they’re veggies and as a Standard, well…I have my standards concerning anything remotely sounding veggie-like. As in…nope, nada, ain’t happening. Elsa of course thinks otherwise, but then she eats wool socks so she obviously has no standards. There’s never any rhyme or reason as to what shows up in our garden.

Veggies

Mom saw new  ‘neighbor’ this week. Although a pair of falcons have been seen a few times in the past couple of years several blocks away, she’s never seen one this close to the Ranch. He was pretty skittish and she couldn’t get very close so this isn’t the best photo with a cell phone, but it’s still pretty cool. Elsa and I would have made him fly away flushed him out for a close up but mom won’t let us. That woman is too heavy handed with killjoy stuff.

Falcon

Mom was hoping he’s looking for squirrels who are eating acorns. Gawd knows there is a gigantic bouquet of those buggers. But he was still pretty cool to check out.

We hope you’ll be able to enjoy a beautiful Indian Summer weekend but don’t forget to enjoy some nature at the same time.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ September 6, 2019

Let’s hear it for the arrival of our close personal friend, Friday. This is also when (after a hearty welcome) we join our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard and stroll around Blogville checking out the beauty of Mother Nature.

It’s been a busy, if not shortened week and I’ve been somewhat derelict in finding a lot of new blooms to share so let’s take a look at some of of the our insect friends, pollinators and predators around the Ranch.

Insects

Honey and bumble bees are our best friends in the garden; they pollinate flowers and create that scrumptious nectar, honey. I’m not sure what that little stick-like bug is just to the left of this bee but he watched that bee working for a long time. I think he’s some sort of ‘voyeur’ bug.

Insects

Moths and butterflies are also big pollinators in the garden. This colorful guy was filling up like a thirsty SUV. Check out the schnoz on that dude. You’d think he was drilling for oil.

Insects

The Plumbago is in full bloom right now and the bees and butterflies are grateful for the tasty smorgasbord being offered.

Insects

Known for their triangular heads, bulging eyes with flexible necks, long bodies that may or may not have wings, all Mantodea have forelegs that are enlarged and perfectly adapted for catching and griping unsuspecting prey. Their upright posture, while remaining stationary with forearms folded, has led to the common name “Praying Mantis.” I couldn’t get as close as I wanted without scaring this bad boy off (thus the lousy image) but was so excited so see him in the garden that I named him Harvey. I’d never seen one before in person. Mantis generally wait for prey to venture close by and only eat live prey. Because they lack any chemical protection, they often stand tall spreading their forelegs and fan their wings out to make them appear larger and more threatening. Mantises lack chemical protection, so this display is mostly a bluff. If pursued, they may slash their captors with raptorial legs. They are a fascinating garden predator.

Spider web

Some garden residents build remarkably beautiful homes. Around the Ranch, those intricate structures often don’t last long. Whenever I happen to absently walk into one encounter one, too often I start simultaneously screeching while wind-milling my arms like a maniac trying to remove the web from my face. The neighbors no doubt think of me as that crazy dog lady who flips out with spider webs. I’m really not an arachnophobe and find spiders quite fascinating, but that close-to-invisible, Velcro-like fiber turns me into an arm flapping weirdo. It’s a wonder I don’t lift off the ground trying to get that stuff off my face.

Whatever you do this weekend, I hope you are able to get outside. Mother Nature is still offering a whole lot of wonderful and should be enjoyed. If you live on the east coast, we hope you stay safe and dry. But before you go outside and savor Indian Summer, don’t forget to check out the e-shop for items including the recently published BarkBook chock full of easy to make tasty recipes, stylin’ bandanas, hand-painted note cards, and “Scrubbies” (which work great as exfoliators on uprights or work hard cleaning your veggies or around the house in general).

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 30, 2019

Welcome to Friday where we join our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in the Our Backyard. Today let’s stroll around the Denver Botanical Gardens where ‘gardening with altitude’ is how we roll in the Mile High City.DBG

Officially created in 1951, the Denver Botanic Gardens has come a long way from its humble roots. Beginning as a small rose garden in Denver City Park near the Museum of Natural History, it became clear the garden was a bit too public as the roses were constantly being dug up by visitors. Thus a number of influential city leaders began looking for a more secure space. They found a large flat spot a couple of miles to the south in the Cheesman Park neighborhood. Originally Denver’s first cemetery, the graves were relocated (although an occasional grave still turns up every once in a while) and the garden oasis began to evolve into what it is now. Featuring the largest collection of plants from cold temperate climates around the world, it includes seven diverse gardens that primarily include plants from Colorado and neighboring states.

DBG

Located just behind the Ruth Porter Waring House (originally used as the administration building and gift shop), the Romance Garden has a spectacular Chihuly sculpture (from the 2014 exhibit). It’s beautiful during the day but near dusk, it is even more spectacular.

DBG

At the opposite end of the gardens is the Shofu-en, or the Garden of Pine and Wind, a traditional Japanese strolling garden, another visitor favorite. Drawing its inspiration from the area’s climate and plants from Colorado’s Rocky Mountain region, there are 130 character pines transplanted from the foothills. The garden was designed by Koichi Kawana and is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year.

DBG

No visit is complete without a stroll around the Monet Pool. The spectacular collection of water lilies in bloom this time of year are always well visited.

DBG
Courtesy of denvermodern.mariah.com

Last on this tour is the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory. This structure is unlike any in the world, built from concrete (Charles Boettcher made much of his fortune in concrete), it contains faceted and curved plexiglass panels specifically designed to have the condensation flow down the structure into the watering system. When built, it was the only tropical conservatory between Missouri and San Francisco. Some 2000 species are cultivated in the conservatory.

DBG

Hope you enjoyed this week’s tour of nature in the city. The DBG is my favorite 24 acres in town and a wonderful place to spend a few hours enjoying elements of nature in a hectic world which proves you can find amazing views of nature even in an urban setting.

We wish you a terrific Labor Day ‘howliday’ weekend and hope you are able to get out and enjoy some of the many fine offerings nature provides on this last weekend of summer.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 23, 2019

Welcome to another Friday where we join our fur-iends and Nature Friday hosts, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard. I hate to sound like a broken record, but it’s [still] hot in the Mile High. A small shower with more thunder and lightning than rain blew through Wednesday evening which did help cool things down. The dogs have decided they are not fans of thunderstorms which is strange since nothing used to bother Sam but in his golden years, has become visibly distressed the moment he hears any thunder. This storm was a loud one so he was most verklempt.

Sun and heat loving perennials continue to take center stage around the hood. Come along one of my early morning walks where I came across an enormous trumpet vine that had fully covered an entire utility pole. Passing by, it was literally abuzz with bees and wasps enjoying the sweet nectar so I had to stay a comfortable distance away from them but I still just had to stop and take it all in.

Flowers

Flowers

For some reason, the sunflowers have been very prolific this summer, popping up across gardens throughout the neighborhood. My own garden is being taken over by them. It’ll be an interesting fight between the Lupines and the Sunflowers to see who takes over. I’m hoping they can learn to share the space since both are so pretty.

Flowers

Continuing along on the walk, I came across a beautiful, deep red Rose of Sharon shrub who was showing off. Such a pretty plant, but quite toxic to pets. The spent blooms are especially enticing to dogs so care should be exercised when incorporating this beauty in the garden landscape.

Flowers

Maybe Mother Nature’s way to warn us of its toxicity are the spikes surrounding the closed bud?

Flowers

One of the neighbors whose garden I enjoy walking past recently installed a new glass ornament with its whimsical look made me smile.

Falmingo

That’s about it for me. Tomorrow Sam and I will be attending the annual awards luncheon for pet therapy members and their dogs. It’ll be nice seeing the gang again since we’ve been absent this summer after Sam’s illness and recovery during June and July. I’m looking forward to meeting the newest members who have joined our ranks and for celebrating some of the program’s superstars. Are you doing anything fun this weekend? Whatever you have planned, I hope it’s a ‘pawsome’ weekend.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 16, 2019

Is it just me or is August flying by? Seems like only yesterday that it was the 4th of July. At any rate, we’ve breezed through to another Friday. And if it’s Friday, that means we’re joining our fur-iends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard.

WaterlilyThis week is all about waterlilies. A recent trip to the Denver Botanical Gardens proved this is prime time for viewing these plants. Frenchman Joseph Bory Latour-Marliac (1830-1911) often considered the father of hardy waterlily hybridizing, creating over 100 hybrids in a rainbow of colors using species from around the world, including North America, as parent plants. Until the introduction of these hybrids, most people in Europe were only familiar with their native white-flowering hardy waterlily, Nymphaea alba.

WaterlilyIn 1889, Latour-Marliac displayed many of his new waterlilies at the World Fair in Paris, where they won first prize and caught the attention of one Claude Monet. Monet placed an order with Latour-Marliac’s nursery (which still operates to this day in Le Temple-sur-Lot, France) and soon thereafter, planted them in his new garden in Giverny. The rest is history.

WaterlilyThe Botanic Gardens’ collection includes twenty of Latour-Marliac’s historically significant hybrids in its own “Monet Pool” that were originally introduced in the gardens in the early 1900’s.

Waterlily

The day was sunny and bright (not the best for picture taking) but the reflections were stunning on the still water. The ducks were actively skimming the sides of the pool for whatever it is that ducks eat and dragonflies flitted about enjoying the sunshine and warm temperatures.

Waterlily

Hope you enjoyed strolling through one of my favorite areas at the Denver Botanical Gardens. Enjoy a fabulous weekend and don’t forget to enjoy some nature yourself.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾