Nature Friday ~ May 17, 2019

Yay, it’s finally Friday and we couldn’t be happier putting this week in the history books. But that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a little nature, right? Even though we are in the heart of the city, there are lots of spaces where one can get away from the constant noise and hubbub. While out running around doing errands this week I came across this mini-stream between a couple of parking lots. It enchanted me enough that I climbed down the bank and just stood there for a few moments taking it all in before resuming the challenging battle against returning to the hamster wheel known as urban life. Sadly, I scared away some bathing birds who undoubtedly thought I was trespassing, if their squawking was any indication.

City Stream

Once home, I realized the woodruff in my garden is beginning to green up and bloom. Apparently a little Ladybug also discovered it and was busily noshing for aphids or the other little crawly things they enjoy. It gave me another opportunity just to quietly watch and relax while nature did its thing.

During this morning’s walk-about, I noticed one of the neighbors has replaced their turf grass into a carpet of tiny purple flowered groundcover. It won’t need mowing and I don’t ever recall these flowers being quite as prolific and lovely as they are this year. Guess last week’s snow and rain encouraged an enhanced bloom now that the temps have moved back into the 80’sF. The spring temperatures have been so fickle this year; one week in the 30’sF and a few days later up into the 80’sF. Springtime in the Rockies is never dull.

Sam & Elsa

Sam continues to feel better; thank you for all the sweet thoughts and POTP. It’s made quite the difference in bringing back the Knucklehead’s smile.

Nature FridayHave a wonderful weekend and don’t forget to visit Rosy and her brothers and all the other ‘pawticipants’ in this week’s Nature Friday Blog Hop.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 3, 2019

Welcome to a new month and a new Friday. That of course means it’s time to join our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s edition of Nature Friday Blog Hop. This week I am joined by an assistant to show off how fickle Mother nature can be with some photos from a training session with none other than…the Ninja.

Mother Nature dealt quite a hand this week with snow, rain and cold but things are now headed back toward lovely spring-like conditions. Elsa  ‘offered’ her modeling talents before Mother Nature began dating Ole Man Winter again (are Ninjas really capable of offering?). Most of the week temperatures rarely left the 30’s F and barely reached the 40’s yesterday. I keep hoping Mother Nature will leave that Winter guy.

Before showcasing the return of spring, let’s see what the jerk boyfriend looked like. You remember him. The one who Mother Nature can’t seem to stop from stringing along periodically. Even with the snow storm that blew through, the grape hyacinths didn’t seem to mind him nearly as much as us peeps did. They are gloriously colorful, once they shook off Old Man Winter’s dandruff. Even the late-blooming tulips in my yard managed to survive with nary a problem.

Winter

Tulips

Elsa and I went out to run a few errands and like always, we used the outing as a training opportunity. Elsa is eager to please and performs the sit/stay command like a champ. Even with distractions, she was nearly flawless. Good girl.

Spring

She actually looked directly into the camera a couple of times although her usual MO is to look away. I think a certain brother told her that’s the way to offer her modeling talents. She frequently follows his instructions but one in a while, she’ll give you some magic.

Elsa

Elsa

While I try not to overwhelm her on these training sessions, I do change-up the length of time I ask her to stay and, at different places. This girl is far too smart and needs the challenges they offer. She performed flawlessly along on a street we’d never been down with loads of interesting smells to distract her, yet she managed to nail it perfectly.

Elsa

Teaching a dog like Elsa to focus on a hilly location with lots of undergrowth while trying to keep my balance and not poke out an eye with a branch, keep her in a stay position all the while trying to highlight a flowering apple tree, can prove interesting and required a couple of tries. I’m sure a rabbit had hung out in the undergrowth which if you know anything about dogs with a high prey drive can sabotage any training session. The photo itself isn’t anything to write home about nature-wise, but the fact that she managed to sit without breaking the stay seemed like a big deal in my books. Her progress with learning new things continues to improve and provides confidence. I can’t help but wonder if ‘Ninja swagger’ with Elsa will be a good thing or my downfall.

Elsa

For the most part, the tulips are beginning to wane (except for those in my yard-yay) but we did manage to visit this garden with some pretty pink ones still. Last year they were amazingly beautiful, this year, the beds hadn’t been cleaned up so they’re not quite as lovely, but still managed to coordinate with Elsa’s bandana, proving once again that Mother Nature will sometimes still work with you.

This weekend is shaping up to be warm and sunny which will be most welcome in the 303. Elsa and I hope you are able to get out and enjoy it. Sam indicated he plans to laze about in the sun as he contemplates the complexities of life. Happy weekend, peeps and pets!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ April 26, 2019

It’s Friday so that means we’re joining our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this another edition of Nature Friday Blog Hop. This week the ‘editors’ decided at our staff meeting to share a touch of the woods despite them being miles away and the minor detail of the Ranch hands living in an urban landscape. Sam in particular likes this first exhibit, it smells heavenly to both him and his ‘huMom.’

FlowersAs the early spring bulbs begin to wind down, we’re beginning to notice a transition to other spring bloomers. Golden Alyssum, sometimes called basket-of-gold plants (Aurinia saxtilis) is starting to pop up along our neighborhood walks. This easy to grow perennial signals that spring is moving full speed ahead toward the full blooming gardening season. Hardy from Zone 3 through 7, this taxicab-yellow addition likes a sunny garden location with well-drained soil and will tend to die back once the weather takes on hot summer temps. It doesn’t particularly like overly rich soil, wet or humid conditions which tends to make it well-suited for Denver’s high mountain desert conditions. Once the blossoms drop, a quick shear of the top third of the plant will freshen its look and prevent it from going to seed. You can divide the plants in the Autumn.

Planted at the base of a tree with south-west exposure, Golden Alyssum provides a nice wooded area look to my neighbor’s garden. Frequently planted as a ground cover with bulbs, it keeps the garden looking less bedraggled once all the daffodils, tulips and other spring bulbs have finished blooming before summer perennials take center stage.

Another woodland looking plant that is beginning to show up is Creeping Phlox (Phlox subulata). Suitable for planting in nearly any soil conditions, it likes sunny exposures though it will tolerate partial shade. Soil should be well-drained. Cutting back spent blooms may provide subsequent blooming. the plants are about four inches tall and can spread up to two feet providing a blanket of blooms in bright shades of pink, lavender, red, white or bluish-purple. This low-maintenance evergreen plant works well on slopes or other  areas, can spread between rocks or tumble over a wall and makes it perfect for creating a woodland look in the landscape garden. Creeping phlox is drought-tolerant hardy in USDA Zones 3B through 10 and requires supplemental water only during warm, dry weather.

Flowers So as you think of Mother Nature this weekend, don’t forget to look toward woodland looks to making the transition from early spring bulbs toward warm weather plants. Hope your weekend is full of beauty and peace.

Flowers

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ April 19, 2019

Today is Good Friday and another week is in the books. I hope you’re ready for the Easter weekend. We’re once again joining our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s Nature Friday Blog Hop, Good Friday edition. Today we’re gonna take a look at Mother Nature’s flowering trees that are starting to enter into the spring landscape. Ornamental pears have begun to blossom and when we see these around the 303, we know spring has definitely sprung (yes, I do realize that there is still good chance for a snow shower or two over the next few weeks but I’m too busy enjoying spring to worry about it now).

Ornamental pear trees (known as Bradford Pears) have been planted all over the urban Denver landscape. Known for its conical shape and showy blossoms, they are taking front and center stage now. My two assistants graciously agreed to pose near a band of them lined up along the parking strip between street and sidewalk (for Elsa, it was a sit/stay training moment and she passed…we like to multitask on our walks).

Trees

A closeup shows clusters of pinkish centers amid white blossoms. When I was researching these trees, I was shocked to learn many people are not fans, in fact, many have called for their removal as a menace to modern landscaping. They cite invasiveness and lack of biodiversity as well as structural issues since their branches tend to split when the trees are anywhere from 15-20 years old. In the early 1900’s, Frank Meyer, a plant explorer from the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture went to China to find the most disease-resistant strain which could be grafted to existing pear trees. Good Ole Frank found what he thought would be a good variety and brought back 100 pounds of seed and, for a while, it worked like a charm. The trees will grow in nearly any soil, mature quickly and bloom early in spring with bright orange foliage in autumn. They are one of the first blooming trees in spring and the last to drop their pretty leaves in autumn. Landscape architects thought they’d found the perfect tree. It soon became the most widely planted tree in the U.S. By the 1990’s however, landscapers discovered the ugly side to these pretty additions to suburbs and office parks. While these trees’ symmetrical structure is attractive, it leads to what’s known as “weak crotches” (all limbs branch out from the trunk). This weakness often causes them to split apart. Additionally, storms contribute to extensive splitting damage. Over the past several years in my own neighborhood, storms have decimated many of the trees (including the two across the street leaving them badly deformed and misshapen). The owner can’t bear to cut them down and continues to try to save them. Bradford pears don’t self pollinate, but cross-pollination can occur with the other strains of ornamental pears resulting in problematic hybrids.

The introduction of these trees underscores the fact that too often there are unintended consequences requiring contemplation before moving ahead. Remember, it’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.

And because they have been as spectacular as I’ve ever seen, here are more tulips from around the neighborhood with apologies to my Instagram followers who are probably sick of seeing tulip after tulip on my feed. My own tulips are taking their own sweet time (in their defense, that happens when they aren’t bathed in sunlight the livelong day). They give a real Keukenhof Gardens feel even if I’m thousands of miles from Lisse, Netherlands.

Tulips

Tulips

 

 

 

 

 

 

TulipsTulips

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope you are able to enjoy the lovely renditions of Mother Nature and have a wonderful and joyous Easter weekend.

Easter

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ April 12, 2019

We managed to make it to another Friday so that means we can share what cruelties ‘dear’ Mother Nature offered this week as we join our blog friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard in this week’s edition of Nature Friday. On Wednesday morning, we came upon this lovely. Mind you, a blizzard was forecast for later in the day so I especially wanted to capture these pretties in case the weatherman was accurate and they’d be buried. It was misting lightly and chilly that morning. Especially chilly considering it had been 80 F just the day before. I haven’t seen any tulips this pretty and unusual and probably wouldn’t have given them a second look if it weren’t for that gorgeous foliage. So striking, wouldn’t you agree?

Well the blizzard came and went, the dogs and I huddled together and watched as wind blew and four inches of the white stuff fell. The wind caused all sorts of problems for travelers, the governor put the National Guard on notice, the airport pretty much closed and streets and walkways got icy But we managed much better than with the bomb cyclone a couple of weeks ago….meaning no power outage.

Mother Nature frequently gives new meaning to “Springtime in the Rockies” but seasoned residents know things around here can change in a heartbeat. I was curious to see how those tulips fared so yesterday afternoon we went out to see the damage. Tulips, while pretty as a postcard, tend to flop when they get wet and unlike the hardy daffodils who often bounce back with nary a droop, tulips often tend to stay bent in submission.

Imagine my surprise when I saw them in not too bad of shape. Granted they are a bit protected against a retaining wall, but with their long stems I expected them to be pretty much bedraggled.

Even my hyacinths didn’t seem too worse for the wear. Looks like we dodged a bit of a bullet. The wet snow was mostly melted by the early evening and everything seemed transformed into a verdant landscape which is why I, for one, love spring storms. Their moisture is essential to keeping things alive and thriving in the Mile High climate as well as topping off reservoirs that will be tapped all summer long.

Everything just takes on a new vibrant look after a spring storm. Even a few early blooming trees began to celebrate the white manna from heaven and the lupines are showing how hardy they are. Take that Mother Nature-you can’t hold us down, they seem to shout!

Along with all the pretty stuff greening up, so too have those rotten weeds. Sigh.

Things will be cool for the next few days but should be right back in the 60’s and 70’s by next week…just in time for another round of ‘Springtime in the Rockies.’

So our advice for this weekend, get out there and enjoy what Mother Nature offers, if you don’t like that particularly flavor, wait a few hours, no doubt she’ll offer something more in line with what you will find tasty.

My laptop is feeling a bit puny still and went back to computer ICU yesterday {sniff, sniff} so this was crafted on an iPad, with apologies for not being able to figure out how to add the appropriate links, etc. in the WordPress app (like where in the heck is the dang spell check button?!) oh well, at least I didn’t have to try to post on a phone keyboard-I have no idea how people can do that effectively. Guess it just takes time to get used to what device you utilize. Funny how dependent we are on our devices and how those very machines take every opportunity to show us who’s really in control. At any rate we hope your Friday is wonderful but your weekend even better.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ April 5, 2019 Edition

It’s Friday-yippee we made it! Please join us as we visit our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s edition of the Nature Friday Blog Hop. Spring has definitely sprung this week. Warm days in the 70’s have coaxed loads of springtime bulbs to bloom and with all the snow we received this winter, they are quite lovely.

Come along with us on our walk, where we took a different route to see what else was blooming around the ‘hood. We first came upon a front strip of bi-colored tulips. This formal garden is laid out symmetrically with straight borders along the sidewalk and around the house (unlike my hodge-podge cottage garden).

Flowers

Pops of red make quite the statement in an early spring garden shouting to all pollinators, “Stop here, free lunch!”

Tulip Flowers

Further along our walk, we came upon another sunny border of pretty hyacinths. I’ve now seen hyacinths in six colors from white, pale yellow, pink, magenta, lavender and deep purple varieties. This border makes me long for a sunnier front garden since part of the day my garden is shaded by a large tree. Still they can’t be beat for fragrance and splashy color and even Sam buries his snout in these beauties for a nice deep inhale of their exquisite fragrance. It should be noted that most spring bulbs are poisonous for pets and definitely monitored when encountering them.

Apologies for the excessive bokeh effect; I had to hang over the fence to capture these blooms and was nervous I’d either fall on my head or get all tangled up upside down on the chain link fence. Imagine that for a moment. Entertaining for the you perhaps, but definitely not pretty.

Hyacinth Flowers

Many neighbors have started setting out pansies which do well despite chilly evenings and provide needed color in a brown landscape. Planting tender annuals doesn’t occur around here before Mother’s Day due to frost dangers. We’ve even experienced snow squalls in the first week of May over the past couple of years so patience is definitely a virtue when gardening here. Pansies with their smiling faces provide us cabin fevered peeps an easy way to shake off the winter doldrums.

Flowers

We hope you are able to take a walk around your neighborhood this weekend and see how spring is waking up. Enjoy a spot of nature and have a terrific weekend.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

Nature Friday ~ March 29, 2019

It’s hard to believe we finally reached Friday this week after everything that happened earlier but even harder to believe it’s the last Friday of the month. Where in the world did March go? We once again join our hosts, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard, for this week’s edition of the Nature Friday Blog Hop.

Nature FridayMother Nature must have received the memo to stop messing around and start delivering some actual spring to us winter-weary folks. This week we’ve seen a bevy of spring bulbs blooming in bright pops of color in a landscape of brown, underscoring the hope that the things will start to warm up and start acting more normal.

 

Can you practically smell that luscious hyacinth scent?!

Not sure what this tall tree-like shrub is, but the droopy, whorled seed heads were  intriguing. Note to self: keep an eye on this one as it begins to leaf out.

You know spring has definitely arrived when this ‘flower‘ shows up. The common dandelion is already out in full force. Although temps will be somewhat cool today and snow is forecast for the weekend, the past few days of 60’s and 70’s F have been most welcome. And that welcome seems to be on display on the lovely flowers we encountered around our neighborhood after being frequently buried in white stuff. Daffodils are shouting in bright yellow, deep purple hyacinths rich with that heavenly scent and brilliant red tulips have likewise been calling attention to their spring arrival. I noticed some leaf budding on lilac bushes. Wasn’t sure if I’d see spring with the seemingly endless cold winter, let alone what it might look like, but yesterday’s walk-about, reassured me that spring has definitely sprung in the 303.

Sam and Elsa also seem to be noticing fresh, new smells too. They walk with noses down  to the ground, inhaling the scents of spring. That, or they’re reading a canine version of War and Peace. Sam rarely looks up, instead preferring to keep his nose close to the action. He seems to be a slow reader whereas Elsa’s nose gesticulates up and down, back and forth, getting the Cliff Notes version of olfactory clues. Then again, she could be ‘reading’ classified ads for dogs. Who can tell with these guys? All I can say with any certainty is they seem to be enjoying the landscape as much as me.

Whatever your plans include this weekend, we hope it has loads of fun and remarkable beauty.

Tulip

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Gambling on Nature

Hello sports fans, it’s moi, Elsa. Mom said if behaved myself and didn’t get too rowdy, I could join 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.

Paw prints
Art paw prints by Elsa and Mother Nature

Well all I can say about Nature this week is…what the dog?! We experienced it all this week-warm/cold/wet/dry/grey/sunny…and that’s unlikely to change any time soon. Wednesday there was a slushy snow/freezing rain that fell on top of the 4″ of snow that fell earlier. By Thursday probably 80% of it had melted except for northern exposures. Then there are humans who try to influence nature by changing time, which happens this weekend. Yup, the dreaded Daylight Savings Time switch arrives early on Sunday in the US. On the surface, it seems like a good idea…dinner arrives an hour early…color us dogs happy!  But then there’ll be an hour less of sleep which will make for crabbish sleepy huMoms and one hour less of any potential Spring. Messing with time seems like hoping a Vegas casino croupier will be your friend when he smiles and says, “Go ahead, roll the dice, hit me, or place your bets,” but we know how that often ends up where spring is concerned. When you play Blackjack-Spring edition, shouldn’t you actually win once in a while? 

More than likely, nature will deal these guys instead of the Spring we’d like.

Deal the cards

When we went out for our walk, we saw more signs that Spring might be in the air but I’m not holding my dog breath. When we got home, mom looked at the calendar that saw that the dreaded time gyp arrives and then groaned. We all know mom groans are never a good sound.

Tulip bulbs

The reticulated irises and crocuses mom shared managed to survive the snow fairly well. Talk about hardy little devils. They must be Ninjas in the bulb world.Irises

More than likely I’ll end up being up to my elbows in white stuff soon since March is our snowiest month of the year. But it’s not all bad, snow is fun mom, trust me.

Elsa in snow
Here’s my happy face that doesn’t want to walk on a cleared sidewalk and stay dry

So what’s your bet? Aces or jokers? Either way, don’t forget to ‘spring’ forward. Whichever way the cards are dealt, we hope there’s a full house or three of a kind for weekend fun, even if it will be an hour short.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

Monday Musings ~ February 18, 2019

Let’s start the week out with a smile but not the kind of smile Mother Nature is giving us today. After seeing the first batch of crocuses blooming on Friday, she apparently took a left turn, put a down payment back on winter and dropped a couple of inches of white stuff. She isn’t funny at all. She’s cold and sadistic. The temperature is only 10º F.

Sprinkler smile

Have a great week and don’t forget to smile.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ February 8, 2019

Nature Friday

Welcome to another edition of Nature Friday at the Ranch hosted by our California friends, Rosy and her brothers over at LLB in Our Backyard. We hope you’ll swing by their backyard and check out theirs and others tip of the cap to Mother Nature.

You can say things have been unseasonable around the Ranch lately. Normally our coldest weather comes in January when the Stock Show is in town. This year however the weather for the most part was quite balmy. A number of days even had peeps wearing shorts with their puffy jackets (yeah, I don’t get that either-wearing shorts with a ski jacket is very common around here). January and February typically have little in the way of snow and yet we’ve had two snow storms in consecutive weeks with 10 and 6 inches respectively. I don’t mind the snow, but the below zero temps following this latest storm seems beyond what is normal for this time of year. Yesterday it was -5 F and just barely over 0 this morning, so let’s go for a little orchid action to warm things up.

It’s been some time ago but I found this beauty hanging out forlornly at the grocery market so naturally I felt compelled to ‘rescue’ it. It was the only blue one and I knew it would be a lovely addition around the Ranch. Isn’t that blue color simply exquisite? I don’t know how they get the color, but it’s beautiful and made me feel like I was back in Hawaii.

Orchid

Speaking of Hawaii, I would be remiss to not include a photo of the real deal in its natural environment. Located just north of Hilo on the Big Island is the Onomea Bay and the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. With 2,000 species, representing more than 125 families and 750 genera, this is just one many beautiful plants located in this one-of-a-kind garden.Their orchid collection is particularly spectacular. Just check out this specimen. Talk about colorful and delicate looking!

I don’t know about you, but after seeing photos of tropical orchids, I can once again appreciate all that nature has to offer even as I look out the window at a wintry white-scape. I hope we won’t have to bundle up like Eskimos again, like yesterday. Lacing up 10 snow boots, donning three coats and mittens was more exercise than the actual walk!

Snow

Have a super weekend and get out there to enjoy all the beauty Mother Nature has to offer but stay safe and warm.

Live, love, bark! 🐾