Nature Friday ~ July 10, 2020

On a day that’s expected to cross into the triple digit territory, getting out in nature might be a challenge. Neither the Ranch Hands nor me do well in the heat which has been relentless for days on end recently so seeing nature at her finest has been fleeting. A few sights have been inspiring but the harsh bright light took some of the luster off otherwise lovely summer perennials. Still, on a neighborhood errand-running jaunt where I took a different route from normal, something other than crispy-crunchy plants were discovered yesterday.

At any rate, it’s Friday, we somehow managed to survive the miserable heatwave burning through much of the country and we’re joining our ‘furiends’ Rosy, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. When you click on the link, you’ll be able to see what the Gang and others around Blogville have shared this week. So let’s get started, ‘kay?

So what’s currently blooming around our neighborhood? Well, glad you asked. Gladiolas are out for one. Although I’ve never planted any (I have enough trouble keeping tulips from flopping over in early spring), they sure are pretty. Check out this flashy one!

Flowers

Sorry for the harsh lighting; I came across these beauties mid-morning and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and it was BRIGHT.

Another staple out this time of year are commonly known as daylilies (Hemerocallis). Did you know Hemerocallis comes from two Greek words (hēmera) “day” and (kalos) “beautiful.” That pretty much nails it in my mind.

Flowers

Native primarily in eastern Asia (including China, Korea, and Japan) they are now popular worldwide because of their showy flowers and their hardiness with over 80,000 registered cultivars. Some are fragrant and others will rebloom later in the season. Daylilies are actually not true lilies, despite having a similar shape in the flowers. According to Wikipedia,

prior to“2009, the scientific classification of daylilies put them into the family Liliaceae. Unlike daylilies (which have a fibrous root system), Liliaceae species grow from bulbs and are harmful to humans and animals if ingested. It is a common misconception that daylilies share the same toxic properties of true lilies.” Hemerocallis are toxic to cats and may be fatal if ingested.

Hemerocallis come in a variety of colors from the classic yellow, orange, and pale pink varieties, to vibrant reds, purples, lavenders, greenish tones, near-black, and near-white. So far there has not been any successful hybridization with primarily blue-colored flowers.

Next door to the daylilies garden, a newly planted garden was emerging as a fairy habitat. It should be interesting to see how the interspersed plants develop around the multiple village structures as we move toward autumn, which for those needing some hope with the weather is 73 days away (you’re welcome). I loved seeing all the various little stone and shell constructed buildings.

Fairies

Some people are just too clever (and/or have too much time on their hands).Fairies

And just because they’re naturalizating all over my garden, how about a bright cheerful sunflower to welcome the weekend? We hope your weekend is extra special. Stay safe, sane and please wear a mask when you go out but most of all keep smiling.

Sunflower

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ July 3, 2020

Welcome to Friday where we join our hosts and friends, Rosy & her brothers for this week’s edition of Nature Friday. For uprights in the U.S. we’re entering a long, July 4th holiday weekend. Due to COVID cases spiking throughout much of the country, it may be a very different kind of Fourth than usual (though we have our paws crossed it means less fireworks which both dogs detest but we’re not holding our breath). Anyway, let’s check out Nature’s finery around the city.

Nature FridayDespite temps in the 90’s again all week long and for the foreseeable forecast, you’d think I’d plan running errands a little bit better by doing them early in the day, but you’d probably be wrong. Yesterday afternoon I needed to get something out in the mail missing the early mail drop so I had to walk over to the nearby Post Office. As I got closer, I kept hearing a strange bird making a ruckus but couldn’t figure out from where it was coming but lo and behold, I stumbled upon this fella bathing in a puddle of runoff water. Wha….wait, what the heck is that?!

Hawk

I couldn’t believe my eyes! Seeing red-tailed hawks (which is what I think this guy is) in the city isn’t a frequent occurrence, at least not in my neighborhood. I stopped to watch him bathe and sip some water. Slowly I moved a closer being  careful as to not startle him. That noisy bird I heard must have been part of his security detail and was on the overhead powerline I soon discovered.

Hawk

Cropping this photo pixelated it but I think you can see a fairly decent profile. Isn’t he something special? Last week the dogs and I were treated to raccoons and rabbits and now this week, a hawk. Pretty amazing considering the ‘Ranch’ is just a couple of miles from downtown Denver’s central business district.

On the way back from the Post Office I came across this garden beauty, Kniphofia, often called Torch Lily or Red Hot Poker. That last moniker seems to describe the weather…hot! And since it is frequently windy, it’s very dry. Fifty-six percent of the state is under severe drought conditions, while 68% of Colorado is experiencing at least moderate drought. With the majority of the snowmelt gone, it’s clear that it will be a rough summer. We can only hope monsoons will arrive later this month to help in the short term.

Flowers

The Ranch Hands and I hope you will be able to enjoy some nature this weekend and enjoy a happy and safe ‘howliday.’

Norman

Elsa

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ June 26, 2020

Welcome to Nature Friday where we join our friends and hosts, Rosy, her new sister and her two brothers at LLB in Our Backyard. Be sure to visit them and see their brand new sister, Sunny who is as cute as a button. The dogs enjoyed bringing last week’s sniff around  so much last week, they asked if they could do an encore today. So…take it away Norman and Elsa.

Norman: Right, mum, thanks. I’m really chuffed to be able to share another edition of nature which, if you follow us regularly has been interesting. I mean yesterday’s early morning raccoon sighting was absolutely gobsmackingly brilliant! This morning my sister and I looked for them but only found our bunny friend, Roger who didn’t seem all that keen on chatting with me.

Elsa: Wait…what…a bunny?! How’d I miss Roger? I always see him way before you do. This is a travesty. I’ve been robbed!! Where’s justice when you need it?

Bunny

Norman: Blimey, sister…you especially need to pay attention to today’s garden plant, lavender. Mum told me this is time of year when lavender is in full bloom. Because of the pandemic, there was no lavender festival to visit but that doesn’t mean we can’t fetch some lavender info and images for everyone from around our garden from previous posts. Of course you can her posts from a past festival for additional images. We all know how wonderful lavender smells but did you know it helps reduce anxiety and emotional stress, heals burns and wounds, improves your sleep, can restore skin complexion and reduce acne, helps slow aging with powerful antioxidants, improves eczema and psoriasis and helps alleviate headaches?

Elsa: This is just all wrong. Can’t believe you didn’t tip me off that Roger was out. I thought you were my loving brother! What gives, dude?

Norman: Calm down and stop spinning, sister; there’s no need to ‘throw a wobbly.’  You need to chill out to keep your stress levels low. Remember your seizures.

Elsa: Lavender?! You made me miss a bunny and you think I’ll be content with sniffing a dumb plant. Argh…you are a clueless moron if you think lavender will substitute for a chance to chase a rabbit. Sheesh, “calm down,” he says. Calm down when there’s a rabbit around and I missed him!!! Grrr.

Lavender

Norman: Blimey, someone needs to stop whinging on about the oddest things. My sister could especially use a long sniff of this brilliant plant. Did you know lavender helps release tension and calms the mind? Lavandula (whose common name is lavender) is a genus of 47 known species of flowering plants from the mint family. Native to Europe, northern and eastern Africa, the Mediterranean region, southwest Asia and southeast India, it does well in temperate climates and is a favorite in mum’s garden. Hers are the most widely cultivated species, Lavandula angustifolia which has deep fragrance and color. The bracts (or buds) are perfect for sniffing, saving and savoring right now.Lavender

Elsa:  Whatev. I’m not as keen on it as Sam was and you seem more interested in catching the bees when you’re out in the lavender bed. I’m more focused on the squirrel in the tree above the lavender patch. He mocks me and as a Ninja, I simply just cannot let that stand.

Norman: You, more than anyone would do with a good sniff of this plant. It’s well known for calming the the anxious. Those buds (known as bracts) have the strongest scent before they open into their little flowers. Mum even makes some wonderful goat’s soap with her harvested lavender buds.

Elsa: Ok, I’ll start paying more attention. I suppose a bit of calm is good for anyone. I’ve heard that lavender essential oil works wonders on burns. Mom was taking something out of the oven the other day and I heard a lot of HBO words. She got out a little bottle of lavender essential oil and put it on her thumb and she actually “ahhh’ed’ out loud. No blister, no pain, just fast relief.

Norman: Yes, it is the bee’s knees for treating burns and she even used it on me last week when it looked like I might have an infected ear. It felt so much better and the redness was gone overnight. I feel so much better knowing lavender is a universal oil that is used to balance the body whenever there is a need. It even helps repeal nasty insects that often plague pups and peeps.

Elsa: Ok brother, you’ve turned me into a true believer in the power of lavender. It’s especially fragrant in the early morning hours before it gets too hot.

Lavender

Norman: It really does; I made a point of checking it out after our early morning constitution. Now let’s go hunt butterflies.

Butterflies

Elsa: Umm, yeah…no. I hunt rabbits bozo, not butterflies. Besides, that isn’t a butterfly you British fool. It’s a Painted Lady moth who are taking a vacation in our garden before heading up to the mountains. Sheesh, when will this guy ever learn?

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ June 19, 2020

It’s Friday, June 19th (known as Juneteenth in the US or Emancipation Day) and the Ranch hands are here to share scenes from our garden with our hosts and friends, Rosy & her brothers for this week’s edition of Nature Friday. Be sure to click on the link to see what’s been going on elsewhere in Blogville.

Norman: Hello mates, since we’re the sniffers around the Ranch, we only thought it fair to share some of what we sniffed out.

Elsa: Ahem…not so fast dog breath…I searched out some of these things too. You probably pee on more things than you actually sniff.

Norman: I say dear sister, that’s rather rude unkind of you. I beg your pardon, I must protest by saying I do my fair share of sniffing. Remember it was me that found those sunflowers that are popping up all over.

Elsa: After which you promptly ‘watered’ them.

Norman: There, there now…let’s not go there. First off, in the purple category, mum’s clematis is in bloom. And what a beauty it is!

Flowers

Elsa: Yes, it is rather nice but hope those are real water droplets!

Norman: Oh course, it is. I. know. the. rule: “no ‘watering’ of flowers in the garden.”

Elsa: Yeah, but you do tend to break that rule. I thought I heard mom say just yesterday to not pee on the peonies.

Norman: Huh, erm…what? I don’t recall her saying any such thing! And frankly I’m a bit cheesed off that you think I’d deliberately break the rules.

Elsa: Whatever dude. I sniffed out some Hemerocallis, known as Stella D’Oro lilies. These babies re-bloom…did you know that?

Flowers

Norman: My goodness, I rather think those are quite smashing! They’re not far from a tree which grows in our garden that I’d never seen before. Mum says it’s a Catalpa tree and they grow quite large. With their large heart shaped leaves, they’ve begun to bloom now. These trees grow quite tall reaching 40-60 ft. (12-18 metres) and grow relatively quickly. The flowers appear in broad panicles in early summer while ‘fruit’ appears in late summer or autumn. Known as siliques these pod-like beans grow to approximately 20–50 centimetres (8–20 in) long and are full of small flat seeds. These trees provide good shelter from rain and wind, making them an attractive habitat for many species of birds. They do not present many threats of falling limbs (despite having soft wood), but the dark-brown ‘fruit’ husks that drop in late summer tend to be a bit of a nuisance.

Flowers
Catalpa flowers
Trees
Leaves and pods

Elsa: I notice you check it out every day when we head out for our walks.

Norman: I’m just reading the canine bulletin board. Please note I myself, have never watered it.

Elsa: Yet. Why don’t you show everyone the sunflowers that are popping up all over the garden.

Norman: Right…this one just popped up a couple of days ago. I guess they like the sunny, hot weather we’ve been having. Rather cheery flowers, wouldn’t you say?

Flowers

Elsa: I suppose so. You’re the flower sniffer, I just sniff for grass spots to do face rubs/rolls in.

Norman: Ah yes, sister, you do tend to find strange spots in which to roll. Not sure what that’s all about. Care to share?

Elsa: Nah, if I have to explain you wouldn’t understand it.

Norman: If you say so. Anyway, we’ve enjoyed sharing all the blooming lovelies from the garden this week and I am personally chuffed to bits to say I no longer have to wear a cone of any kind! Life is pretty good though mum says for me not to get too excited…I still am on activity restrictions for another week or so. Still, it feels good to get out and walk about sniffing for flowers without that bloody cone. I ‘pawsitively’ feel groovy these days, especially in my new tie-dyed scarf mum made for me.

Norman

Elsa: You do look pretty spiffy if I say so myself, big guy. And thanks for helping out with the nature flower parade. We hope everyone has a safe and happy Juneteenth weekend celebration. Cheers!

Norman: Cheerio, mates!

Elsa: Ugh, this guy is so thick. It’s live, love, bark! 🐾 you British dolt!

Wordless Wednesday ~ June 17, 2020

Butterfly
Swallowtail

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ June 12, 2020

It’s been a wild week at the Ranch beginning with hurricane force winds over last weekend and a busy schedule but that doesn’t mean we can’t showcase the good, the bad and the ugly that Mother Nature offered. As is customary, we’re joining our friends Rosy & her brothers for this week’s edition of Nature Friday. Let’s see what Nature dished out but don’t forget to check out what Blogville offered elsewhere by clicking on the link.

The wind storm that blew through was devastating around the town. Nearby parks were particularly hammered with several trees downed. It’s heartbreaking seeing fully mature trees ripped up out of the ground or large branches snapped off effectively destroying a tree. I was surprised the silver maple in my front garden wasn’t impacted. Not so far away, it looked like a war zone. Workers removed the broken branch a couple of days ago to assess the damage to the house and front porch. The force that snapped that branch off must have been unbelievably strong.

Trees

Evergreen trees with their shallow root balls are particularly vulnerable when high winds hit. My heart was heavy seeing so much carnage laying across the grass and Elsa and I stood there for a long time taking it all in.

Trees

These images make you wonder why nature choses one tree but left two others  nearby unscathed.

Trees

But all was not lost this week despite the damage around the ‘hood. While the peonies and irises finished blooming, new flowers appeared. Mock Orange shrub is in bloom now and its heavenly scent with its beautiful blossoms are impressive.

Flowers

Deep purple Salvia is blooming, adding bright color to the landscape.

Flowers

And the ever cheerful Achillea ‘Moonshine’ (yarrow) is beginning to brighten up the garden space replacing spent lupine and poppy blooms. Unlike some invasive yarrows, ‘Moonshine’ doesn’t spread everywhere.

Flowers

And like the Beverly Hills Cop theme song, the heat is on with 90’s in the long range Denver forecast. With some easing of pandemic restrictions, a day trip to higher altitudes with the Ranch hands may be called for but in any event, after this crazy week, whatever we do, chillaxing will be at the top of the weekend agenda as ‘somebody‘ will be counting down the hours until certain headgear comes off while staying cool. Paws crossed your weekend is great.

Norman

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ June 5, 2020

We somehow managed to make it to Friday which means we’re joining our hosts, Rosy and her brothers in checking out what Mother Nature is sharing around Blogville. Don’t forget to click on the highlighted link to see other posts.

To say this has been a helluva week is an understatement. I feel like I’ve been pulled through a knot whole yet rather than highlighting the ugly, let’s focus on the beauty that we’ve seen. So sit back and prepare yourself for a long visual string of some of my favorite flowers around the Ranch garden as well as from around my neighborhood.

After 15 nanoseconds of spring, the Mile High City fast forwarded directly to blistering summer heat despite the calendar saying there’s [technically] three more weeks of spring. Lupines, irises and peonies are front and center. You’ve probably guessed by now that I have a love affair with poppies that are also front and center all over city landscapes. My favorite shade of poppies are the salmon pink colored ones. Just look at these gorgeous blooms from a nearby neighbor’s garden. Every year I say I’m going to plant one of these and every year I can never seem to find one. Sadly this year, diverse and interesting plants are in even shorter supply at big box stores and many of the small greenhouses I’ve shopped at in the past aren’t open or their supplies are severely limited.

Flowers

Bearded irises are also have been making their appearance known. I dug this guy up from my previous yard. It’s nearly 20 years ago and is always a showy beaut. It starts out ‘black’ and fades to this dark purple as the bloom opens. It’s my absolute favorite of the iris collection around the Ranch.

Flowers

After what looked liked a less than stellar year for the lupines, they’ve been giving Mother Nature the middle pedal. “You won’t squelch us,” they seem to shout.

Flowers

A wide drift of Cerastium tomentosum, more commonly known as snow-in-summer, makes me and bees very happy when it blooms. Starting out small, it grows each year and fills in the space it’s given and then some. It’s beginning to cover the flagstone walkway as it blooms and will need corraling after blooming.

Flowers

Peonies are the showy guys in my garden. Magnificently scented, they are in their blooming glory. It’s probably my favorite garden flower and I only wish they lasted longer. A couple of peony bushes were hard hit by last month’s freeze and it seems like blooms will be less this year but no less lovely. You can almost smell their heavenly scent.

Flowers

Flowers

A tour around my garden is never complete without a look at a simple but always reliable annual shot of color. I abandoned planting annuals years ago but Snapdragons continue to volunteer freely with a bit of encouragement from me (i.e. water) and it’s always interesting to see how the colors change and morph each year with some help from pollinators no doubt. Originally these guys were a solid shade of light pink without the yellow spots on their ‘throats.’ Talk about hybridizing.

Flowers

Along our regular daily walks is a professionally xeriscaped front yard that changes with the seasons to always look beautiful. Normally cactus doesn’t pique my interest but look at these amazing colors. This garden always has color and texture guaranteeing a long stop to check everything out.

Flowers Flowers

Along with these cactus and other xeriscape plants, were are a few bright rose bushes proving once again that xeriscape doesn’t necessarily only mean cactus and rocks to look beautiful.

Flowers

We hope your weekend is safe and you’re able to take in the beauty that’s out there. Stay safe, stay sane and keep smiling.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 29, 2020

With everything that’s happened this past week, coupled with pandemic blur, is it really Friday? If it is, that means we’re joining our ‘fur-iends’ Rosy, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. We hope you’ll click on the link to see what the Gang and others around Blogville have showcased this week.

Last week we had planned on sharing some views from around our neighborhood but alas, Norman’s emergency put everything on hold. So this week we’ll share sightings from earlier days when we were out and meandering about. We call that time BNE, or ‘before Norman’s emergency.’ Spring arrived and exited nearly as quickly over the past couple of weeks moving straight into summer. One day it was in the 40’s and the next near 90’s. Mother Nature sure knows how to give a Ranch hand whiplash!

This week, let’s take a look at some of the critters that are showing up in mega numbers. After a four-year absence, the Army Cutworm has arrived. What is an Army Cutworm, you ask? In the Mile High area, we call them, among other things not fit for a GP audience…Miller Moths (Euxoa auxiliaris). Why are they called miller moths? Fine scales which easily rub off, cover the wings of all moths reminding people of the dusty flour that covers the clothing of those people who mill grain. Most people think they’re nasty but they tend to be merely a nuisance for urban gardeners.

Moths
A Miller Moth hanging out along the garage door

Once again, weather patterns are responsible for their abundant migration. According to CSU entomologists, a dry, late winter and spring to-date most likely are responsible for boosting populations as the moths look for nectar to feed off before moving to the high country where they will summer.  With fewer plants due to drier conditions, moths are more likely to concentrate in areas where vegetation is already in place — like backyards and gardens. But it’s not just the unusually dry weather, a harsh mid-April freeze killed off a lot of potential vegetation for moths to feed off. That freeze killed many blossoms from a wide variety of plants that would have been in peak bloom in May. Moth populations have been generally below average over the past four years which seems to make them seem there are far more now. They are notorious for vexing city dwellers, flitting out from behind window coverings, lampshades, closets and doorways.

Another critter that we sometimes come across on our walks are snails. They have always fascinated me until I saw just how destructive they can be. Notice these freeloader shredding a bearded iris leaf and the other one munching on some Delosperma (Ice Plant).

Snail

All is not lost in nature though, as our garden poppies finally made their presence known in today’s early morning light. They seem to glow from within. Whatever you do this weekend, make sure you get out and enjoy the weekend.

Poppies

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for all your sweet comments, thoughts and prayers regarding Norman. He continues to improve and as of pre-dawn today, he’s ‘stormin’ back. The trick now seems to be how to contain this “bull in a china shop” until the cone comes off and stitches are removed, scheduled for next Wednesday. Lord help me contain this boy while he bashes the dickens out of furniture, walls and the back of my legs. But that’s a far better place to be than last Friday where I worried he would not survive GDV. Make it a great weekend with many thanks again.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 15, 2020

Spring has finally been coaxed out of hiding though some elements have been slow to appear. That dang frost at the beginning of May really did a number on things effectively eliminating most fruit tree crops with all tree buds getting zapped. Recovery will take some time though sadly the fruit trees won’t. Three of the trees at the Ranch are just now beginning to emerge and expect them to fully recover with a spot of Summer arriving next week. I checked on a Canadian shrub rose and couldn’t decide if it had died or was just extra slow leafing out this year. Yesterday’s inspection showed there’s life, but a whole lot of pruning will be in its future. Again with the whiplash conditions Mother Nature, seriously?! Course it could be worse, last year this week we received snow so I guess I should count my blessings.

It’s Friday so that means we’re joining our friends, Rosy and her brothers in checking out what Mother Nature has been up to around Blogville. Be sure to check out their link, things are super pretty in the Pacific Northwest.

Our daily walks have provided such glorious sightings even if some of the flower displays are not their usual splendor. Still I think we managed to pick some lovely exhibits for why it’s important to get out there and check things out.

First off, we found some brilliant blue Prairie Flax on the side of a sidewalk. This charming re-seeder always brightens my day with its glorious color.

Flowers

Isn’t it pretty?

Seems like some flowers are competing against one another for the prettiest award. One of my neighbors recently planted a beautiful Columbine. Quite the stunner, eh?

Flower

Because my garden is shaded much of the day due to large trees I’m a big fan of shady plants. While walking around yesterday, I came across a large bed of Lamium, also known as deed-nettle. I had to take it all in by lingering for several minutes. Look how it lites up even dark spots in a garden with its silvery-variegated foliage.

Flowers

Poppies are beginning to emerge from their winter sleep, and I’ll confess, I’m a sucker for these Oriental beauties. Those crepe papery flowers just intrigue me and the large blooms make for a stunning appearance. The bees were in heaven checking them out.

Flowers

Whenever Bleeding Heart appears, I realize what a beauty this spring entry is. For years, I didn’t have any success growing these perennials but since moving to this house, they seem to be making up for earlier failures. This year was a bonus appearance with a phantom Allium coming up in the middle of the Bleeding Heart. A two-fer!! Be still my beating heart. Still wondering where that Allium came from, since I didn’t plant it. Flower

Looks like we’re in for a beautiful weekend. Next week there’ll be a few days in the 90’s so the mutts and I hope to enjoy the more moderate temps while we can. Having one black dog, one with a double-coated fur coat and my own constitution that wilts in heat, we plan to enjoy it while we can. I hope you get out there and see what’s nature has been up to lately. And while you’re at it, enjoy the weekend!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday

Wish I Were There Wednesday ~ May 13, 2020

More than ever, I wish I were here visiting with my parents and taking in the breathtaking surrounding landscape. *Sigh* Rotten pandemic.

Pueblo

Live, love, bark! 🐾