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! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 9, 2019

Let’s hear it for the arrival of Friday! If it’s Friday, that means it’s not only our most welcomed friend, but it’s also a time when we stroll around Blogville checking out the beauty of Mother Nature. As usual, we are joining our friends, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in our Backyard.

This should come as no surprise to anyone who follows along with our whinging antics, but it’s been hot. I mean, H-O-T. With temperatures in the upper 90’s a fair part of this week and little moisture in our ‘hood, you’d think there wouldn’t be much to look at. Wrong! It’s Rudbeckia season. Often referred to as Black-eyed Susan’s, this beautifully colorful perennial is a herbaceous flower belonging to the aster family. Growing throughout the US, the Black-eyed Susans is actually the state flower of Maryland and a symbol of horse-racing’s Preakness race.

Black-eyed Susans grow to between 12 to 40-inches in height, and 18 to 12-inches in width across the petals. Its stem is hardy and covered with tiny stiff hairs. This plant is fairly resistant to the wind and the elements, making it easy to grow in all conditions. It’s probably why you see it often along highways and in meadows.

The leaves arrange themselves in rosette form around the “bee,” with the plants shooting leaves from the stem in the second season. The leaves have a toothed edge with a rough texture. The plant produces a flower heads consisting of 8 to 20 orange-yellow florets that cluster into a cone-shape and turn dark toward the center. They are part of the coneflower family.

Flowers

Ever wonder how this garden favorite got its name? The scientific classification actually comes from Sweden. Born in Västerås, Olaus Rudbeck was a famous botanist and professor of medicine at Uppsala University. Black-eyed Susans garner its scientific name, “Rudbeckia,” from the Swedish scientist although Rudbeck didn’t name the flower himself. Botanist Carl Linnaeus, who studied under Rudbeck’s son, named the plant in loving memory of Rudbeck and his son. The Black-eyed Susan belongs to the Asteraceae family, which includes other coneflower species.

Flowers

We hope you are able to get outside and enjoy a lovely summer weekend and check out all the beauty Mother Nature offers. Like this pretty sunrise from this morning.

Sunrise

* * * Exciting News * * *

Recently I mentioned there’s be some exciting news coming and now I can share it with you. For some time now I’ve been working on writing a collection of treat recipes in a cookbook BarkBook. After exploring numerous publishing options, I decided to ‘publish’ it in our e-shop in the form of a download with a portion of sales benefitting local pet rescue groups. With lots of starts and stops (including a catastrophic disappearance somewhere in the Cloud) requiring me to lose my mind a total rewrite, this baby is now done. I’ll be beta-testing the download process over the next few days but wanted to give you advance notice that it’s coming soon. Finally. I feels like I’ve birthed an elephant. Stay tuned for the official arrival ( hopefully next week). In the meantime, don’t forget to check out the e-shop for bandanas, hand-painted greeting cards and (now) another new item, “Scrubbies” (which work great as an exfoliator for uprights or work hard cleaning your veggies-we use ours all around the house for cleaning too). Check them out!

BarkBook logo

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 2, 2019

Hello troopers. I see you’ve made it to another Friday. Elsa here. HuMom told me she’s up to her eyeballs in alligators working on a couple of big projects and said I could be responsible for today’s post. Well actually she wanted my brother to do it but he passed. Not sure how that works, but I’m going to give it a go nonetheless. Like always we’re joining our ‘fur-iends’ Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard. Be sure you visit them and all the other excellent contributors.

While I was pawing through her 87 jillion images (whew, that lady has got some serious organizing to do when she’s done with her projects), I came across a photo from before my time. Boy do I wish I could have been there with her and my brother that morning. Sloans Lake is an urban, man-made lake in the park with the same name that’s just a hop, skip and jump from the Ranch. There are lots of water sports activities on the lake, some ‘furbulous’ walking paths around it and a spectacular view of downtown Denver. And the geese…oh my! What strange and unfriendly creatures they can be. Can you imagine they want nothing to do with a gorgeous girl like me? I know…hard to believe. I just want to say hello for crying out loud but they don’t want to be sniffed by Ninja’s I guess and will let you know in no uncertain terms.

Sloans Lake

Sadly we don’t get over there as much as we’d like, it can be jammed with visitors which makes me go into full-on Ninja mode anxious but when we do make special trips, boy are we rewarded. A walk around the lake when it’s not crowded is well worth it.

Sloans Lake

This time of year, Rose of Sharon bushes are blooming and the ones here have gigantic flowers. Mom won’t let me go near them. Those blooms while very attractive to dogs in ‘pawticular,’ are extremely toxic and bad for us fur-babies. Be sure to click on the link to learn about the dangers of this shrub with pets.

Rose of Sharon

Well that’s it for me. I need to go harass play with my brother and then take my morning nap. Have a great weekend. We hope there are some beautiful sunrises in store for you this weekend. Mom hopes to have a big announcement soon so stay tuned.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

Nature Friday ~ July 26, 2019

Welcome to the last Friday of July. Today we join our good fur-iends and Nature Friday hosts, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard with a ‘flashback Friday’ about the nature we encountered this week.

You may recall me mentioning my plans to visit the Lavender Festival at Denver Botanical Garden’s Chatfield Farms location but what I didn’t mention was a different reason for visiting-to see the recently opened Stickworks exhibit and what a great two-fer it turned out to be.

Nature provides us not only with gorgeous flowers like lavender, but also many of the building materials we use to build homes. Enter internationally recognized artist Patrick Dougherty who builds open-air, site-specific stick sculptures who recently completed his 300th installation of his career. This was not his first in Colorado. Dougherty has completed a handful of sculptures in the state, including the one still standing in Vail. This spring, he returned to Colorado to construct a distinctly different exhibit at Denver Botanical Gardens Chatfield Farms location.

Stickworks
“In One Fell Swoop”

Each exhibit is specific to the site upon which it is installed and all of  Dougherty’s creations are created using locally-sourced materials to minimize the environmental impact. Because Colorado is relatively arid, this exhibit is expected to last longer than average installations. I know I’ll be visiting the Chatfield site often over the next  couple of years.

Stickworks
Artist standing in front of  exhibit, “In One Fell Swoop” [courtesy of 303 Magazine]

As he frequently does, Dougherty utilized a dedicated team of volunteers when he created his stick installation at the Chatfield location. Denver Botanical Garden volunteers helped shape the structure, weaving small branches to ensure the sculpture’s integrity as well as in the finishing touches. The Botanical Garden staff used sticks from within the grounds, as well as materials from neighboring homeowners spring cleaning efforts and material from BLM land. Two truckloads of long yellow sticks from the Fort Collins area helped create the sweeping sense of motion of the snakelike shaped structure.

Stickworks

The scale of this maze-like installation is impressive at 60 feet by about 30 feet and towers at 13 feet high.Stickworks

Drone footage shows the exhibit during construction.

Stickworks
Photo by Scott Dressel-Martin, courtesy of Denver Botanic Gardens.

Shall we go inside and take a closer look?Stickworks

Stickworks

Stickworks

The intense sun of Colorado has already weathered the structure in just three months.

Incredible, isn’t it? Because nature provides more than just sticks and stones, here are a couple of other beautiful images from Chatfield’s Lavender Festival. Included with more than 2000 lavender plants was the joint venture with the Butterfly Pavillion in a seasonal habitat containing Swallow Tails, Monarchs, Mourning Cloaks and Painted Ladies butterflies.

Lavender Butterfly Butterfly Butterflies

Have a great weekend and don’t forget to get out there and enjoy all that nature provides. And now for a couple of images from our garden that began blooming in the last couple of days. Isn’t nature grand?

Flowers Flowers

Nature FridayLive, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 19, 2019

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

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

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

Lavender
Lavender Festival, Chatfield Farms, Denver Botanic Gardens

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 12, 2019

Our favorite day is here so that means, we’re joining our good friends and hosts, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard. Other than the arrival of the weekend, we love Fridays because wine arrives too. After a stressful week, a lovely glass of wine at the end of the day sure hits the spot, don’t you think?

We know wine comes from grapes which are vines so we thought we’d highlight another vine plant nature has been showing off this month in spite of pizza-oven heat. Our favorite vine in the garden (other than the grape) is Clematis.

Clematis

With nearly 300 species within the buttercup family, Ranunculaceae, one of the most popular of the hybrids in the Clematis family is C. Jackmanii. It has been a garden standby since 1862. This cultivar was named after 19th century British nurseyman, George Jackman. As a hybrid, “Jackman” comes from the marriage of C. Lanuginosa and C. Viticella. Clematis can be woody and deciduous; there are also herbaceous and evergreen varieties as well.

Jackman blooms in our Zone 5 garden in July and like many Clematis needs support. It likes well drained soil and shallow rooted plants around the base provide the necessary shade to cool the roots. It does not like ‘wet feet’ and seems to do well in a xeriscape garden. Jackman has large (5 inches across) blooms, which come in a dark purple-violet color.

Here’s one last look at Jackman with best wishes for a terrific weekend. We hope you are able to enjoy a bit of the magic that Mother Nature provides.

Clematis

Nature FridayLive, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 5, 2019

Although we missed the past couple of weeks, we’re back today joining our fur-iends, Rosy and her brothers from the LLB Gang for this week’s edition Nature Friday. Mother Nature opened up a can of whoop-ass on the Mile High yesterday with multiple thunderstorm cells storming through with hail but not before two of nature’s most beautiful urban trees bloomed. These two trees are stalwart sentinels around the city: the Catalpa (Catalpa speciosa) and the Little-Leaf Linden (Tilia cordata).

The Catalpa is a large ornamental shade tree that produces dense clusters of white flowers and long seed pods. While I lament the long pods after they drop throughout the garden like pick-up sticks, the flowers are incredibly beautiful and very fragrant. After yesterday’s intense weather, many of the flowers were shed and rather look like popcorn on the ground. The heart-shaped leaves are huge, ranging from 6-8″wide and 6-10″ long. Growing up to 70 ft. tall, this long-lived tree (50-150 years) provides a wide spread 20-40′ and thrive in Denver’s dry climate, requiring little water once established.

Catalpa tree

The flowers resemble orchids. Here’s a closeup of the flowers and leaves.

Catalpa

The Little-Leaf Linden is a medium-large shade tree with a symmetrical shape that is easy to maintain and requires little or no pruning. In North America, Lindens may be known as ‘basswood.’ In early summer clusters of highly fragrant yellow flowers fill the air with a divine perfume that attracts bees. Following blooming, dangling flat clusters of nutlets replace the flowers. Lindens are another long-lived tree and also produce heart-shaped asymmetrical leaves with pointed tips and serrated edges, though they are significantly smaller than Catalpas.  They provide great shade in the intense Colorado sun.

Trees

Here’s a close-up of the flowers, nutlets and leaves. I wish there was some way to share that incredible fragrance. I often stand below these trees and inhale deeply for several moments. Elsa thinks I’m looking for squirrels and goes on alert but I’m just reveling in that divine scent.

Trees

We hope you and yours survived the Fourth (it sounded like a complete war zone for hours in my neighborhood-the worse ever in the 17+ years I’ve lived here) and I hope there are no more terror filled nights again. I ‘may have confronted a few neighbors and called the police‘ and with lack of sleep for the second night in a row, am in no mood for any more encounters. Before last night I was known as the nice lady with the two standard poodles who always carries dog treats in her pockets but now probably have a less flattering moniker after last night’s insanity. People seem to think they are entitled to disregard municipal ordinances because they are ‘being patriotic.’ If you want to be patriotic, how ’bout you vote and not think the rules don’t apply to you (maybe this is that ‘scrappy’ thing I referred to yesterday). Respecting veterans fragility, along with victims of active/mass shooting scenarios not to mention terrified pets seems like a better way, but what do I know. I’m just that {&#@%-ing} lady who tried to comfort her terrified, shaking, panting dog who never hurt a flea and wondered why his world turned into an absolute living hell for several hours.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ June 21, 2019

” Into Each Life a Little Rain Must Fall” [Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]

Rain dropsNot sure Longfellow had this quote in mind for the first day of Summer but this is what greeted the Mile High City today.

While Summer officially arrived earlier today (9:54 A.M. MDT), my Internet was missing (hence this late post). But we wouldn’t miss an opportunity to share some of the good and bad Mother Nature offered this week with our hosts Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our BackyardIt’s been one of those days and since we couldn’t post the intended potpourri of lovely, I thought I’d share some of the not so lovely aspects Mother Nature dished out on this cold and rainy day.

There are elements of nature that aren’t quite as picturesque as the beautiful flowers that are just beginning to peak. Weeds fall in that category but even some of them can be quite stunning. As in this wild dandelion. That bloom is over 3″ across and I couldn’t help but wonder if that meant when you blew those seeds, you’d have more wishes fulfilled.

Dandelion

Along with weeds, some nasty critters are part of dear Mother Nature. Two days ago, the neighborhood nemesis (aka Hoodlum Bastard Squirrel “HBS”) decided to grow a BIG pair and attack the other kitchen window that faces the street (this makes the 4th time squirrels have chewed through the screens). From the living room I heard something crash in the kitchen and went to investigate and found HBS scrambling over the drapes and behind the herbs looking an exit like his life depended on it (it did-I was super cheesed off at this latest ballsy move by the little creep). Lots of HBO words were screeched which frightened said HBS which made him totally freaked (there were skid marks in the sill) out but he managed to exit the same way he broke in. For my part, I wailed my head off and then began looking for the roll of screen material and spleen tool to repair the latest damage. Man, you’d think the mouse traps on the outside sill would be a hint he’s not welcome here. Frankly, he’s not welcome outside either, but that’s another story. Who knew squirrels were so clueless?

Squirrel

Despite these bad elements Mother Nature provided for the arrival of summer, I’m not completely oblivious to the beauty she does offer. Rain drops on this nearby Clematis this afternoon looked especially lovely.

Clematis

So how’s the weather on your first day of Summer? Anything like the cold, wet stuff we have going on in the Mile High City (which is forecast here for most the weekend)? We hope your first weekend of summer is sunny and bright.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾