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! 🐾

 

Nature Friday ~ June 14, 2019

Today is Friday where we join our fur-iends, Rosy and her brothers from the LLB Gang for Nature Friday. ‘Technically’ I’m still not here, but I couldn’t let an opportunity pass to celebrate the wonder and beauty of Nature. Originally, I thought this post was scheduled earlier this week and you may have seen the video on our Instagram account (you do follow us on Instagram, right-well what are you waiting for?) and suspect foul play by the WordPress gremlins nixed the intended post. No matter, we can still enjoy a quiet relaxing moment from the beautiful state of Hawaii.

No trip to the Big Island is complete without seeing a turtle. A very big turtle came up on the beach to see what was shakin’. Uhh, dude, hope you put some sunscreen on before you began your nap. Because I respect nature as well as appreciate it, please know this turtle was not touched. These magnificent creatures are so fascinating to watch in their natural habitat.

Turtle
Chillaxin’ in the sun

We hope your weekend is filled with beauty and loads of the beautiful relaxing images from nature. See you next week!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

 

Nature Friday ~ June 7, 2019

It’s Friday and you know what that means…we make a point to showcase all the beauty Mother Nature freely provides us…when we look around. As always, we join our ‘fur-iends’ Rosy and her brothers from LLB in Our Backyard in sharing what we’ve observed. Like much of the country we’ve managed to receive frequent rain showers. Just as the garden was bursting forth with color galore, a quick hail storm threatened to put the kibosh on the beauty, but we actually managed to dodge the bullet unlike that monster that hit us a couple of years ago. But enough about the weather (can’t change it anyway, right?) so let’s get right to the beautiful and fascinating sights from this week.

Appreciating nature in my ‘hood only requires a quick walk and when you’re out and about a few times a day with a couple of knuckleheads, that’s extra easy. Walking with the dogs, seeing what interests their snouts provides me with observing things too many people miss because they have their noses stuck in a little screen. It’s still astounding that people think they’re walking their dog, but are actually tethered to a small screen. They neglect to see the beauty (or dangers) surrounding us. What’s an observer of life to do? Relish what IS seen!

I had to make a few extra trips to the post office and library this week and walking to each location allows me to see stuff I wouldn’t if I drove. Like this dragonfly that landed next to the sidewalk. I nearly missed him. Those transparent wings nearly made him  invisible but for his body being a bright green.

Dragonfly

Speaking of pollinators, check out this gorgeous Swallowtail butterfly that flew right past me. I gasped and worried he might take off before I could pull out my phone and contort myself near enough to capture him in this rose bush. Such a showy dude!

Butterfly

Walking offers a terrific way to see some other garden friends, the bees. Whenever I come across purple or blue flowers, I know there’ll be somebody in there either drinking the nectar or scooping up pollen.

Bees & Flowers

Tucked into a corner of a pie shaped sliver of a garden on the way to the library, I came across a beautiful little oasis complete with mini Stonehenge water feature.

Water feature

This garden contains lovely flowers including this lovely rose and Heuchera (Coral Bells) where one can stop and meditate for a few moments while the sky grew moody, suggesting a storm. It was just too lovely not to linger, even if I did get wet.

Roses Heuchera

Smiling inside and out as I left this beautiful area, lo and behold another beauty  screamed out at me. Ice plants are very common around here but I’d never seen this color combination before. It was definitely worth the wait!

Ice Plant

Arriving back home after my wanderings and being contemplative after seeing such beautiful sights, I stopped and took in my own front garden. It gave me yet another opportunity to savor everything Mother Nature offered this week.

Home Garden

As I walked up the front walk, I began to notice the jungle, otherwise known as an arm-shredding rose bush near the front door. I had been planning to move it but the weather didn’t cooperate and I feared transplanting it after the late snow storms might kill it. Now it’s spread like a virus and is covered in buds (along with those prickly thorns). But now, it has the first delicate blooms.

Rose

Have you taken time to appreciate Mother Nature this week? I sure hope so. Enjoy the  weekend and don’t forget to “stop and smell the roses” along your way.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Twofer Friday

Nature FridayNormally we welcome Friday with a toast…hey it is Friday after all, the gateway to fun weekends, but today it’s a twofer. Today we join our friends Rosy and her brothers (one of whom is celebrating the big s-e-v-e-n we might add) from LLB in Our Backyard with Nature Friday and also to celebrate World Parrot Day with our avian friend, Kismet, a curmudgeon blue Indian Ringneck parrot. Don’t forget to click on the links to see what all is shared from Blogville for these two special events.

Happy birthday, Arty. Seven never looked better and well, Kismet…you may be a curmudgeon, but hey, on you it looks good. We hope you both have a fun filled day full of treats and smiles. And yes, that does mean lots of sunflower seeds, Kismet.

FlowersTo celebrate, we’re sharing a bouquet of purple taken earlier this morning. With Mother Nature bringing lots of moisture to the garden this May, the Lupines, Irises and other early perennials are showing why this time of year is a favorite around our ‘hood.

Lupines

Another purplish-blue standout in our garden also happens to be the state flower, the Columbine. Growing up I didn’t realize Columbines were any other color than this beautiful purplish-blue though I now know there are other colors. Seeing the morning light shine through the delicate petals makes me realize why the blue version was chosen as our state flower.

Columbines

World Parrot Day

When I first moved to the Mile High City, my son was given a cockatiel bird who lived with us for over twenty years. Guinevere was quite the character and I was surprised that I became pretty  attached to her. I don’t have any digital images of her but hoped that Kismet will not be offended by this last photo homage from a few years ago after a family of squatters sparrows moved into a holiday garland near the back entrance of the house. It’s the closest thing I have in my digital library to honor her. Having neglected to remove the garland after the holidays (too wimpish because it was too cold, too snowy and probably too lazy as well), once I realized they’d built a nest, I didn’t want to disturb them and were delightfully entertained while they were residents. Which mostly translated to being dive bombed by the parents whenever I came out of the house or shrieked at by the babies for interrupting their meals. Birds aren’t the most affectionate of Mother Nature’s creatures, but still they sure are lovely and fascinating to watch.

Birds

Hope you enjoyed this week’s twofer, Nature Friday and World Parrot Day. Make it a great weekend and get out there to enjoy what Mother Nature shares with us every day. For those of you in the Midwest who have been pummeled with storms, we are thinking of you and sending oodles of poodles of thoughts and prayers. Be safe and keep smiling.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ May 24, 2019

FlowersWelcome to another edition of Nature Friday where we visit our ‘fur-iends’ Rosy and her brothers from The LLB Gang. We’re finally greeting with gorgeous blue skies this morning which should last for at least for the next couple of days. It’s still chilly (in the 30’s at this writing) but should warm up nicely (until the next round of cooler weather returns).

Poppies

Despite the chilly weather and snow this week, the number of blooming plants we encountered during our daily walks and in our garden have been surprising. The many lupines, irises and peonies in my garden seem to have taken the snow with a grain of salt and are either blooming or will, in spite of what nature threw at them this week. Take the Oriental poppies for instance. The colorful, herbaceous plant of the Papaveraceae family, poppies are very easy to grow and come in shades of white, yellow, pink, orange and red. Red poppies have been used as the symbol of remembrance since the trench warfare in the Flanders, Belgium poppy fields of World War I.

California poppy
Photo courtesy of Planet Natural Research Center

This year, as any West Coast  resident can likely attest, the California poppy bloom has been spectacular due to all they rain they have received. California poppies (Eschscholzia californica), with their fern-like foliage and lively orange, red and yellow flowers are very drought-tolerant plants that are self-seeding and offers long-lasting blooms that provide reliable, easily maintained plants especially with extra moisture and goodness knows, there’s been plenty of that to go around this year. Last year a couple  magically appeared and quickly multiplied around the garden. Though mine haven’t bloomed yet, they will burst onto the scene soon once the weather warms up. Guess I need to do more thinning this weekend if this spot is any indication of their self-seeding abilities. That spot used to be bare but is now filled in with new lupines, sage and California poppies. Guess the Mile High can be jungle-like given enough prolific seeders and some moisture.

Poppies

Having been cooped up and shivering all week long, I plan to get out and check out what Mother Nature has  been up to after this week’s storm. Do you have any plans that will get you out to enjoy some of the beauty Mother Nature’s willing to share? Hope your weekend is full of beauty and fun.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

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! 🐾