Nature Friday ~ October 22, 2021

Nature Friday

Welcome to this week’s edition of Nature Friday where we observe some of the wonder in Nature. As always, we’re joining Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard.

We walk past these pretty cool plants all the time and I’ve always wondered what they were. They’re especially perfect being planted in that useless area between the street and sidewalk. I finally figured out they are known as Datura, a plant originally from South America (Datura are related to Brugmansia which looks similar but whose flowers droop downward while Datura blooms always bloom upward). These plants are best known for their bold trumpet shaped flowers and rapid growth. Despite considered a short-lived herbaceous perennial, their self seeding habit assures continually new plants.

Flowers

Reaching a height up to 4 feet (1 m.) tall, the blooms are fragrant especially at night and make a striking appearance in any moon garden. The flowers are generally white but edged in purple. The flowers are quite large, with soft stems with lobed leaves which have a grayish, green tinge to them and are slightly furred. The prickly looking pod ensures they’ll be back year after year. The seeds inside these pods look similar to tomato seeds but be kept away from pets and small people as these plants are toxic.

Flowers

They make such a beautiful statement in the garden and their fragrance is divine.

Flowers
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin Horticulture

On yesterday’s walk, we took a different route to spice things up and boy am I glad. While many things in the urban landscape are winding down at the end of a long, dry summer, and looking rather dull, image my joy at seeing this reblooming bearded iris along our walk. They are such an appreciated addition to any garden.

Flowers
Reblooming Bearded Iris

Always welcome in the spring, it brings even greater joy in autumn when it blooms a second time.

We’re poised for a great weekend with mild temps in the 303. For the last few days of October, I’ll take it. Norman is ‘pawticipating’ in the hospital’s annual Halloween Fall Festival with pet therapy parade tomorrow and hope there’ll be some fun photos to share next week. We hope you have a ‘pawsome’ weekend and enjoy the amazing elements of Nature.

Halloween

Live, love, bark 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 15, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to this week’s edition of Nature Friday where we take a look around our urban neighborhood to see what Nature has served up. As always, we’re joining Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard.

Leaves changing colors continues to be hit or miss. One tree will show color while the tree right next to it steadfastly holds on to the green. It’s one of the oddest autumns I’ve ever seen. Earlier in the week, mild warm days graced the Mile High which allowed for extended walks around the ‘Hood.

Trees

So let’s check out this week’s most interesting plant discovered on one of our afternoon walks. I’ve seen these eye-catching plants around before but never knew what they were called until I did some further investigating. Castor bean plants (Ricinus ommunis) are often planted for their striking foliage. Originally native to Ethiopia, the plants are now cultivated throughout the world. Caster bean seeds have been found as far back at 4,000 years ago in ancient Egyptian tombs. The oil obtained from the plant was used to light lamp wicks and is still cultivated as a natural laxative or massage oil. With it’s extremely high fatty acid content, it can be useful for treating dry skin. Caution should be exercised however when planting these striking plants around small children and pets, as the seed pods are extremely poisonous. After looking it up, I was grateful I didn’t touch those seed pods. {shudder}

Castor Beans

Castor bean

Yesterday Mother Nature decided to do a runner and skip town with temperatures plummeting and snow falling in some metro areas (though not in my neighborhood). The nearby mountain ski area, Arapahoe Basin received 14″ of white stuff and will officially open one lift this weekend, bringing a collective hear-hear from Front Range hardcore skiers.

Here in the city, a light freeze from a few showers left a hint of frozen water in the solar bird bath last night but warmer temps will return by Sunday (forecast calls for 75ºF/23ºC). Colorado’s yo-yo weather remains intact.

First Freeze

While I don’t mind temperature changes since Nature has been more than generous with warm temps thus far, it will take some time getting used to juggling two leashes with poop bags while wearing gloves. The dogs seem to not only enjoy the crispness in the air but also the inability of my easily adapting to manage yet one more thing in hand on morning constitutions. Elsa in particular finds these are her best squirrel hunting moments and seems to relish turning me into a kite at the drop of a hat. Stay turned, no doubt there’ll be a good story about me landing on my back side while the dogs enjoy seeing me trying to ‘master’ the art of prestidigitation.

Any plans to get out into Nature this weekend? Whatever you do, we hope you have a ‘pawsome’ outing.

Live, love, bark!🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 8, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to Friday where we take a look around an urban neighborhood to see what Nature has offered. We’re joining Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard who host this weekly blog hop. If you click on their link you’ll see what others have shared.

Before we share this week’s nature sights, I want to thank everyone for your gentle and kind comments yesterday on Sam’s Sweet Sixteenth birthday. I greatly appreciate your warm, tender support. It means the world to me knowing that Sam touched your life.

So let’s get started looking at this week’s scenes. Autumn is definitely in the air even if it isn’t showing up with colorful leaves although a few more are starting to change. Finally. When you live in Colorado you’re spoiled with beautiful bluebird hued skies and shockingly gold leaves on aspen trees and brown just doesn’t cut it. It’s true we generally don’t have a lot of the bright oranges and reds you’d see on East Coast trees, but the contrast is still breathtaking.

That said, we did see some unusual autumn sights around the ‘Hood. As we begin to prepare the garden for winter, we’re seeing fewer butterflies but a  lot more evidence of spiders. This spider web caught my eye after a brief morning watering. The glistening drops on the web in the early morning light really captivated my interest. I watched for several minutes to see if some cheesed off spider was scurrying around trying to dry off and felt a bit badly that some industrious arachnid had received a cold shower early in the morning. While I’m a bit afraid of spiders, I welcome them in the garden (inside the house…not so much).

Nature

One of my neighbors has a Golden Raintree (Koelreuteria paniculata) in his front yard which always captivates my eye. It looks unusually parched this year no doubt given to the drought-like conditions we’ve all endured. Still, when a breeze is evident, the lantern-like pods shimmy and shake like a Vegas chorus line.

So what’s the story about this unusual looking tree? It’s one of few trees that have yellow blooms which cascade all over the canopy in midsummer. Once seed pods begin to form in late summer, they usually turn orange and resemble little lanterns. These more brown-than-orange colored pods still provide visual interest. A moderately sized tree, Golden Raintree is quite hardy, standing up well to heat, harsh climate conditions and city pollution which proves that it won the trifecta. They are hardy in Growing Zones 5-9, and tolerate temps to -10ºF below zero (-23ºC).

After showering the garden with one of the season’s last waterings, I ran into this Aragog look-alike a couple of mornings ago. Although the photo appears fairly light, it was actually taken shortly after sunrise and needed to be highly edited. A motion detector in one of the forelegs lights the eyes up and startled the living daylights out of me as I came round the fence. Even the dogs paused and proceeded to cautiously investigate. Me…I stayed as far away as possible from that thing! Guess I need to be far more considerate when watering around spider webs. Hopefully there’s a strong padlock on the storage shed that will likely house this giant in the ‘off-season.’ I’d hate to have him chase me down for inadvertently evicting one of his cousins.

Whatever you do this weekend, get out and enjoy Nature. But watch out for Arachnids.🕷

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ October 1, 2021

Well, well, well…October already? It’s not even Halloween yet many retailers have begun displaying Christmas decor, much to my chagrin. Honestly…the trees in my ‘Hood haven’t changed colors yet but I’m supposed to get jazzed up about a holiday that’s 85 days away? Umm, that’d be a hard no.

Ok, I’m off my soapbox and now will join our PNW pals, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on their weekly blog hop. If you click on their the link you’ll see  what others in Blogville have shared.

As I’ve noted before, there isn’t a whole lot of leaves changing color yet. Because summer has been so hot and dry in Denver, I suspect most leaves may simply turn brown and fall. From what I’ve seen on social media though, the nearby mountains are showing off beautiful swaths of gold aspens. Hopefully we can get up soon to see for ourselves.

Here is one of a few trees around that has begun its annual change but not a whole lot of change is apparent yet.

Trees

And this tree had only one spot that was changing colors deep in its interior and it was actually more brownish than orange. Most trees continue to show signs of drought stress throughout the city.Trees

While walking along our usual route, we came upon this bright orange pumpkin planted between the sidewalk and the street. Seeing it made me mentally kick myself for not planting seeds in the garden this spring especially since canned pumpkin continues to be in short supply in stores. Probably crowded out by Christmas decor {grumble, grumble – I know, stop kvetching}. Between COVID disrupted supply chains on the simplest of products and persistent late season rainfall in states that provide the bulk of pumpkins, who knew there’d be a shortage of canned pumpkin? By the way, did you know that  the state of Illinois produces nearly 80% of the nation’s pumpkins?

Pumpkin

Thanks for nothing, Hurricane Ida.

Halloween

Whatever you plan to do this weekend, we hope it includes some time outside enjoying October’s splendor. Have a good one.

Live, love, bark!🐾

Nature Friday ~ September 24, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome and happy Friday to you. We’re joining our Pacific Northwest friends, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on their weekly blog hop. Be sure to click on the link to see what others have shared.

According to the calendar, it’s ‘official’ ~ Autumn arrived a couple of days ago and the Ranch Hands and I welcome the new season-our favorite. Although it’s fairly dark when we typically take our morning constitution (and on the crisp side-it was 39ºF/3ºC earlier in the week), we’re relishing the more civilized temperatures. It will mean however that we’ll need to carry a hand torch with lack of early morning light with each passing day.

Dark Side
Image Courtesy of Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce CEO tweet

The Ranch foreman was out of town for a couple of days visiting her Dad so today’s pickins’ are a bit on the slim side. Still it’s good to see that summer is finally beginning to move into the rear view mirror. Good riddance, I say.

So let’s get to it, shall we?

In my urban neighborhood, folks tend to get pretty wound up about decorating for certain holidays. And even though it’s more than 5 weeks away, a number of homes have already been bitten by the Halloween bug. Insert eyeroll here.

Halloween

You may remember this porch from a recent post. Perhaps the newly installed ‘coven’ is there to protect the premises from future visits from any masked criminals.

From the back patio at my Dad’s, I marveled at the bluebird clear skies. It was a simply gorgeous day where we spent time relaxing and just soaking it all internally.

Blue Sky

Notice the absence of any changing colors? I’m beginning to think it’s been so hot this summer, the majority of leaves will just go straight from green to brown without any seasonal color change in between, especially if there’s an early frost. In Denver, the average date of the first freeze is October 7.

The light during autumn tends to be golden anyway, but the pièce de résistance of time spent with Dad was yesterday’s sunrise. Just. glorious. color. welcoming the day.

Sunrise

So how were your outings this week? See anything particularly exceptional? We hope you have a great weekend enjoying this special time of year. Norman and I will be attending the Old English Sheepdog Rescue Picnic and fundraiser on Sunday (we’re hoping for loads of photo opportunities). Just picture for a moment, more than 40 “Norman’s” running around. I know, the mere thought makes me giggle just thinking about all those wiggly OES bums. Whatever you do, we hope you enjoy the beauty Mother Nature offers.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Nature Friday ~ September 17, 2021

Nature FridayHey everyone…it’s “Fri-Yay!” so that means we’re joining our ‘fur-iends’, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on their weekly blog hop. Be sure to click on the link to see what others have shared.

This week Norman and I went south to Pueblo West for a short visit with my Dad for a couple of days and to catch up with my sister from Maryland who was also visiting. While I love the Colorado mountains, I’m always struck by the beauty of seeing prairies around Pikes Peak to the north from the comfort of  Dad’s home.

Pikes Peak
Pikes Peak in the distance

The view to the southwest is equally beautiful with the Greenhorn Mountains rising above ‘fruited plains.’ Whenever I walk the dogs, I just have to stop and stare at the beauty of golden prairies with the mountains as a stunning backdrop.

Mountains

As we took our morning constitution we also passed by a horse property which often has several horses, donkeys and a few ponies in one of the pastures. On this morning they were in the front pasture and trotted over to check the ‘horse on the leash’ with the human (with apologies for the sun flare that refused to be edited out).

As I’ve come to expect with this boy, Norman draws a crowd. The black and white pony had been lying in the early morning sunshine but took one look at Norman and immediately got to his feet and trotted over to the fenceline to get a better look-see.

Pony
Howdy!  Pony…meet pony

Everyone got their sniffs in and all species seemed to be bemused with one another.

While the daytime temps still continue to be toasty, over the past couple of days the weather seems to be engaged in a slow roll toward the autumnal transition. This morning’s temperature at 5:45 am was a crisp 48ºF (8C) with early morning walks requiring a hand torch since it’s still quite dark.

Yesterday was the Ninja’s 5th Gotcha Day. It was a quiet celebration, per the little lady herself. Elsa’s not really into being in the photographic spotlight as you can tell below. On the one hand it seems impossible that it’s been 5 years since this world wind fur pile came home with me. Her puppy mill personality quirks are still evident but her sweet loyalty toward me brings many smiles. And even with a couple of recent seizures, she’s doing well while continuing to vex her big brother. Oh Elsa…you’re such a pill but I love you just the same. On the other, it’s been quite the journey. Guestimated to have been between 3-4 at the time of her adoption, she’s reached her prime, despite ups and downs. Happy Gotcha Day, sweet girl! Party on…your way.

Gotcha Day

The arrival of autumn is typically marked with leaves changing color but while there isn’t much of that going on just yet in the city, there are signs beyond cooler morning temps. This maple tree is still 95% green with only one small area morphing into autumn splendor.

Autumn

As squirrels and other critters begin preparing for winter, acorns have now begun to form with some dropping already. It won’t be long now even if daytime temps will stay warm. As a lover of 4 distinct seasons, I will welcome this annual change.

Acorns

Enjoy your weekend and make sure you get out there to check out this amazing time of year.

Live, love, bark!  🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 20, 2021

Nature FridayWelcome to this week’s edition of Nature Friday where we join our pals, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Remember to click on the link to see what others have shared.

Summer continues to march ahead toward autumn and some days we find ourselves at the corner of ‘yay’ and ‘nay.’ Yay because there’s so much beauty out there and nay because it’s exhausting keeping up with closed highways, air quality warnings from smoke, while keeping up with the war against weeds, hot temperatures and bugs. Doggone grasshoppers are constantly startling all of us.

For the past hundred years or more, most people lived in densely-populated cities with roads usually laid out in logical, organized grids often named after trees, landscapes or a combination thereof (in Denver they are often alphabetized making it easier to navigate). As folks began to move to outlying suburbs, it became common for those bedroom communities to name streets after trees, plants, or landmarks. As often happens with urban development, developers are typically responsible for naming streets in the neighborhoods they build. Street names are based on certain desirable traits developers want associated with the neighborhood. Their suggestion is submitted to the city for review with different municipal departments (police, fire, etc.) reviewing the name. Street names are supposed to be easily identifiable and unique in the case of an emergency. Did you know there is even a word for the name given to a street: odonym. Odonyms aren’t only functional; they are interesting markers that identify the culture or geography of an area reflecting local landmarks, communities, and regional traditions.

Highlands Ranch (a southern Denver suburb) is well known for streets having the same base name, with the addition of “Street, Avenue, Place, Circle, Drive,” etc. tacked on at the end confuse people to differentiate it. It’s maddening if you’re not familiar with the area and are trying to say…deliver pizza. Hmm, was it 100 Ashwood Street, Lane or Place? More than one GPS app has driven people to the brink before getting them eventually to their destination.

I’d never seen that same phenomena in Denver…that is until recently when I was out walking along a different street in the former Elitch Gardens neighborhood to see if there were any notable flowers along a different route. While I know the area fairly well, I was completely blown away when I reached the corner of 36th and hell in Northwest Denver.  Notice the sign names. Gah!! Say it ain’t so.

Signs

Do you think spiders ever get confused trying to get back home after a long day working in the web?

Nature

Sigh. Well enough of the soapbox rant on street naming conventions. Let’s check out what we saw along that street.

Flowers

Nothing says summer like a border of Echinacea. They soothe the soul with their happy presence and provide pollinators with a nice smorgasbord of nourishment.

Speaking of nourishment, back at my garden I’m counting down the seconds until these babies are fully ripened. I’ve never planted Roma tomatoes before as I watch them set flowers ever so slowly, then begin the long morph toward juicy ripeness. That delicious scent of fresh, garden tomatoes automatically tantilizes the taste buds into blissful salivation.

Tomatoes

Tomato

We hope your own garden is providing interesting sights and smells while inspiring you to get out to check out the landscape in your area. Just make sure you know street, avenue, or place you’re on. Have a great weekend enjoying Nature.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wordless Wednesday ~ August 18, 2021

Flowers

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 13, 2021

Cross your fingers and throw some salt over your shoulder — it’s Friday the 13th! We won’t be doing any battles with a machete-wielding maniac in a hockey mask today but instead let’s throw caution to the wind on this most superstitious of days and join our pals Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard on their weekly blog hop by sharing some pawsome photos from Nature’s banquet table.

Despite the Friday the 13th cultural superstition in Western culture of Friday the 13th, no black cats or broken mirrors can dominate this week’s beauty even if believers can’t quite explain why we have this fear. Oddly enough I learned there is actually a term used to describe the irrational dread of today’s date as “paraskevidekatriaphobia” (Say that fast 10 times!) which is a specialized form of “triskaidekaphobia,” the fear of the number 13.

Enough of the superstitious hocus-pocus, let’s see what  Mother Nature dished out with us on our daily jaunts this week. While we haven’t had any rain for the past 10+ days, an early morning supplemental watering showed water droplets on a blooming lily. Water drops on blooms or foliage always draws my eye and captivate my attention. That old saying “Water is Life” is more true than ever in our arid climate.

Flowers

On a recent rare morning where the sky was actually blue rather than smoky grey, we found some Origanum Libanoticum flowers (commonly known as Lebanese oregano or hopflower oregano) near the merry-go-round carousel in the old Elitch Gardens neighborhood.  I can’t remember the last time I saw blue skies like this. The smoke continues to foul the air in the Mile High City most of the time and we continue to pray for all those affected by the wildfires in the West.Merry-go-roundDon’t you just love those cascading bracts?

Flowers

Phlox continue to bloom their sweet little heads off and fill the air with something other than a smoke infused scent. I had to stop and get close to smelling these when normally I could smell them nearly half a block away.

Flowers

We pass by a border flower bed filled with Rudbeckia every morning that just compels me to stop and stare. Such a beautiful shock of color.

Flowers

Last but not least, my feeble attempt at imitating Georgia O’Keeffe with this gorgeous Rose of Sharon bush that just started blooming. The centers are incredibly vivid while the blooms themselves are a creamy shade of pale pink

Flowers

Well that’s all for this week. May your Friday the 13th be a safe one but you are able to get outdoors to revel in the beauty Mother Nature shares with us all when we take the time to look. Stay safe, avoid walking under ladders but make sure to enjoy the weekend.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 6, 2021

Whoa…is it really August already? Egad, this year seems to be flying by after last year’s slow roll. Hard to believe there are only 47 days until the official arrival of autumn. And rumor has it that the pumpkin spice season is set to arrive in the near future, maybe even as soon as three weeks. With temperatures back up in the 90’s, I’m not sure I’m ready for that kind of social phenomena where things begin quickly evolving to the later seasons of the year when pumpkin spice everything shows up now and Christmas decorations not all that far behind. Last year I think Costco had decorated trees up before September 15. Ugh.

Nature FridayAs usual, we’re joining those adorable fur-kids, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. And don’t forget to check out what others have shared by clicking on the highlighted link. Today Norman is going to share this week’s nature finds.

Norman: Thanks, mum! Yes indeed mates, flowering shrubs are  taking center stage in the Mile High. On one morning walk this week, we passed by a border of beautiful hydrangeas. I wanted to stop and read the canine bulletin board, but mum quickly ushered me along, well out of ‘reading’ range. I can’t believe she won’t let me leave my two paws worth of life observations at those bushes. Trust me, it’s not for lack of trying either to leave messages for other neighborhood chaps (she gets a real upper body workout when I put on the brakes). I mean, how can a well informed doggo stay in the know when they can’t read/leave messages? Mums can be so rude sometimes! It’s not like I’m some kind of paw dragging barbarian. Sheesh.

Flowers

If bees can leave messages, why can’t I?

Another showy bush around our manor is the beautiful Rose of Sharon or common hibiscus. It can grow to a height of 9- to 12-feet (2.5 to 3.5 m.), is native to eastern Asia but well adapted to growing in most USDA plant hardiness zones. It often reaches a spread of 10 feet (3 m.) and makes for a lovely privacy border. It’s easy to grow and attracts birds, butterflies and other pollinators. Rose of Sharon bush prefers moist, well-draining soil, although it will tolerate most conditions except those that are soggy or extremely dry. They come in a variety of shades including white, pink, purple and red. This particular beauty lives at the Sloan’s Lake park. The lake area recently closed due to blue algae being found at the lake. Mum won’t let us anywhere near the water but this beauty is near the playground and restroom area. It’s not nearly as fun staying on the path around the lake as when we can roam close enough to the marshy reeds where we can check out all the cool critter scents.

Flowers

There are still flowers blooming around our neighborhood and mum was raving about these Zinnias being so pretty. She spent a few days earlier this week deadheading and removing most of the lupine in the garden saying she wanted to plant some zinnias in their place next year. They’ll provide color all season long which is lacking in our garden right now.

Flowers

We hope you’ve been enjoying some of Nature’s gifts and are able to get out over the weekend to spend some time checking it out. It can be good to leave a message for us neighborhood pooches when your mum says it’s ok. After all, we enjoy gossip just like you uprights do. Have a pawsome weekend doing whatever you do. Okay?

Norman

Live, love, bark! 🐾