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! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ March 22, 2019

Happy Friday! Spring officially arrived this week and despite the potential for more spring rain and snowstorms, just seeing it’s officially spring on the calendar now seems to have made a difference with our moods. We join our hosts, Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard, for this week’s edition of the Nature Friday Blog Hop.

We’ve been seeing lots of spring bulbs teasing us that spring was on its way (only to be three weeks. With the official arrival of spring, something magical even occurred in our own garden. Yesterday I noticed a small flash of pale blue in some ground cover and thought maybe a wrapper had blown in and gotten stuck. To my surprise, some blue grape hyacinths planted a couple of seasons ago have started to naturalize amongst the Vinca. These little cuties known as Muscari come in shades of white, blue, and purple. They  are very easy to grow and aren’t the slightest bit fussy about soil conditions and will thrive in sun or light shady conditions. My original group was planted several feet south of where they were now and I was charmed to see how far they’ve migrated. I don’t mind another ‘caravan on the march’ and think the garden will be richer for these new additions. The buffet table was set for lunch and noticed the season’s first bees noshing away (bee is located on the back side of the tallest Muscari). Once the photos were downloaded, I also noticed the season’s first ladybug to the right near the shortest flower.

Muscari should be planted in early fall so moisture can nourish them before winter sets in. Plant in groups of ten or more, setting the bulbs twice as deep as they’re tall, and at least a couple of inches apart. Leaves will appear shortly after planting in the autumn but can be ignored. The flower spikes will arrive in spring when you most need to see colors other than tan and brown.

Hyacinths

The crocuses are just starting in my garden but we’ve encountered numerous ones around the ‘hood. They are one of my favorite spring bulbs. the bees sure seem to enjoy them as much as I do, for different reasons. This little guy had sacks of pollen on his legs.

Crocuses should be planted in late summer to early fall and require a minimum of 15 weeks of chilling to break dormancy known as vernalization. Planting times differ from other species and for best results should be planted 6 to 8 weeks before the first expected frost allowing a sturdy root system to develop before going dormant. If soil consists of clay, amend with organic matter, plant 5 inches deep with the flat side down and around 1 to 2 inches apart.

Did you know that saffron comes from the saffron crocus bulbs (Crocus sativus), an autumn blooming crocus? The spice is the red stigmas of its flower. Each flower only produces three stigmas and each saffron crocus bulb will only produce one flower. Now you know why saffron threads are so pricy. You’re welcome.

As for seeing ladybugs, did you know seeing them is considered a sign of good luck? We hope that luck works with digital sightings as well. May the luck of ladybugs grace you and hope your weekend is filled with all good things.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ March 15, 2019

Nature FridayWhile today is the Ides of March, we’re joining 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. According to the ancient Roman calendar, the Ides signaled the first full moon of the month, which generally occurred between the 13thand 15th of each month. Though most of us associate the Ides of March as the day Julius Caesar was assassinated. Et tu Brute.

After this week’s “bomb cyclone,” with hurricane-force winds, extensive power outages (some still in effect today) and 8-12″ of snow and drifts, we thought we’d prefer to focus on the softer side of Mother Nature instead of her damaging impact on the environment.

This weekend is St. Patrick’s Day and a much better way to share a spot of nature by celebrating with some lucky ‘clover?’ While Oxalis is not a true clover (it’s part of the Wood Sorrell family), it does look like a plant most associated with St. Patrick’s Day (beyond hops in beer), the four-leaf clover. I’ve had this plant well over a decade and while it looks a bit bedraggled due to some inconsistent watering of late…my bad, this little guy makes my Irish heritage on my Dad’s side, smile. It recently finished blooming small white flowers. When grown outdoors, shamrocks tend to be somewhat invasive nature as their fast-spreading tuberous roots spread like wildfire. Indoors, they can brighten a sunny windowsill nicely as a charming houseplant.

St. Patrick's Day

As a nod to St. Patrick’s Day, Sam graciously agreed to pose for a photo shoot this morning while his sister, Elsa said “not no how, not no way and I don’t care what kind of treats you’re using as a bribe are involved.” Guess Ninja’s don’t celebrate St. Patrick’s Day. Still, everyone at the Ranch sends our best wishes for a fun and Happy St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

St. Patrick's Day
Erin go Bragh!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ March 1, 2019

Nature FridayIt’s Friday which means we are joining our fur-iends Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s edition of the Nature Friday Blog Hop. Be sure to click on the link to check out nature around Blogville.

Mother Nature seems to be very confused judging by the bizarro weather she’s dishing out. Severe rain on the West Coast, tons of snow on the East Coast with warm temps followed by bitter cold and snow in the Rocky Mountains. I can’t remember when I experienced such yoyo conditions.

When we were out on our afternoon walk yesterday, we discovered positive signs that Spring really is around the corner. Check out Exhibit A.

Irises

These blue beauties are called reticulated irises. Growing only to about 4-5 inches tall, as early blooming Spring bulbs they provide the promise that Spring really is being worked on for a soon-to-be roll out. Reticulated irises are hardy down to USDA planting zone 4a (with temps as low as -34.4 °C/-30 °F). Beware though, they are toxic if ingested and should not  be planted where pets could inadvertently snack on them.

Reticulated irises are a huge favorite of mine, yet my eagle eye always scans the landscape for my other early blooming Spring crush, crocuses. These striking tiny gems caught my eye and for good reason…they are fabulous.

Purple crocus

Seeing these lovely blooms gives me hope that Spring will arrive soon, despite a winter storm watch for our region. I hope they don’t mind being dumped on by the white stuff. Ignorance is truly bliss, isn’t it?

Have a great weekend, especially celebrating National Read Across America Day, which is Dr. Seuss’ birthday tomorrow, March 2.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ February 22, 2019

Nature FridayHi guys, Sam here. Today we join our fur-iends Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s edition of the Nature Friday Blog Hop. Be sure to click on the link to check out nature around Blogville.

Mother Nature decided to take a detour away from Spring, beginning last weekend. It’s been c-o-l-d with a couple of dustings of the white stuff.

FlowersLast Friday we saw these crocuses blooming. Their cheerful blooms brightened our spirits and *POOF* just like that, Mother Nature decided to snow on their sweet little heads. We haven’t walked past them again to see how they fared since it’s been too cold to walk that far. We hope they are hanging in there. Mom looked out this morning under some dead leaves in our garden to see if there was any action there and lo and behold…these little heads were checking to see if it’s safe to come out through patches of snow. Woohoo, guess maybe Spring really is planning on arriving. At some point.

Flowers

There’s a chance of snow again today so I guess I’d better go outside and cover those babies up so they stay safe and warm. Next week should be warmer so we expect the garden to make us look forward to warmer springtime days. We hope you have a fun weekend.

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! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ February 1, 2019

Nature Friday
Is anyone else having a hard time comprehending the fact it’s February already? Wow, where did January go? Today we once again join our fur-iends Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard for this week’s edition of Nature Friday Blog Hop. I also want to take a moment to wish my baby brother a very happy birthday. Hope your day is extra terrific, Bro.

So on this first Friday in February, since so much of the country is gripped in a Polar Vortex of epic proportions, I figured let’s go back to the beach!

I could walk up and down the beach in Mexico a million times and still be enchanted with the scenery. Just looking at the golden sand, blue sky and foamy surf warms me up. Sure beats shoveling snow filled sidewalks, doesn’t it?

There is some very entertaining about catching a glimpse of pelicans whenever I’m at a beach location. I love that they always seem to be flashing a smile at you, especially just before they swoop in and filch a part of your lunch. This guys trailed the boat in hopes of a tossed fish and was amply rewarded for his aeronautics.

And what beach is complete without a catamaran or parasail? The colors themselves are enough to warm a winter soul, don’t you think?

Finally, as this little sculpture with his colorful painted surface suggests, the beach is just plain fun. We stumbled across an art gallery in Old Town Puerto Vallarta curated by a fellow from Corsica. He had relocated to Mexico over 30 years ago and loved the spirit of his adopted country. He was showing several of these dog-themed sculptures that were so charming. Who would love stuffing one in their bag for the trip home?

Hopefully these images warmed you up a bit. To our friends caught in the jaws of bitter cold, we’re thinking of you and hope you stay warm and safe. May your weekend warm up enough where you can get out and enjoy some nature with all the brightness of a sunny day. For me, I think it’s time to anticipate a tasty birthday toast for my brother. Cheers!

Live, love, bark! 🐾