Category Archives: Weekends

Floral Friday ~ July 27, 2018

Last Saturday the annual Lavender Festival was held at the Denver Botanical Garden’s Chatfield Farms location. Having had a terrific time last year (click here for a flashback), I wanted to check it out again this year. It was hot but heavenly and I wasn’t disappointed.

Last year’s festival featured around 800 lavender plants. This year the festival featured nearly 2000. From white to pale pink, to blue and purple, there’s something for everyone to love. I’m all about the dark purples and the darker the better, but every single plant was a stunner. And that divine fragrance…swoon. As I walked through the rows, I was struck by the mesmerizing effect this incredible plant has on people. In an age where everyone seems to be constantly jockeying to get ahead of everyone else, people were kinder, gentler and just more consider to one another. It was a pleasure being there, even amongst a huge crowd. Knowing it would be a warm day, I had arrived 30 minutes after the festival opened thinking I could avoid the crowds. But the crowd was already so large, a sheriff’s deputy ‘kindly’ blocked me just as it was my turn to turn onto the access road leading toward the entrance. Harumph…dude, should I bring you back a big bunch of lavender to lighten up your cantankerousness, I grumbled to myself, in between HBO words.

Us plebeians were directed to the backside of Chatfield and I began to wonder if I’d need  4-wheel drive to cross through that back-forty pasture. Up, down, swerving back and forth to avoid small car swallowing ruts, I traversed the access road to find myself in the middle of a fallow pasture that had been turned into a temporary parking lot. At least I had sense enough to wear close-toed shoes unlike many who were clad in low-heeled sandals whose feet were going to be dirty in a matter of seconds as we hiked through the dusty pasture toward the pick up area where ‘farm limos’ waited to whisk us closer to the entrance. Look out Uber, you’ve got some serious competition out there.

Near the ticket booth, I was greeted to a picture perfect, blue-sky day guaranteed to lower the aggravation quotient.

Having pre-purchased my ticket the day before, I didn’t have to stand in the 50+ deep ticket line and made my way toward nirvana. Despite being early in the day, I was surprised there was already a sizable queue at the wine and spiked cider tents. I like wine with the best of ’em, but if you are in need of an alcoholic beverage at 9:30 in the morning, you definitely could benefit from wandering through rows of lavender in which to mellow out.

Lavender does surprisingly well in arid Colorado and English lavender in particular, is quite cold-hardy and generally thought to have strongest fragrance over its French and Spanish cousins. Lavender’s overall health benefits and healing properties were discovered more than 2,500 years ago. A powerful antioxidant with antimicrobial and sedative properties, the Greeks were the first to experiment with this natural remedy and soon the Romans and Egyptians were on board. Many monarchs in Europe made lavender widely popular. Lavender’s underlying chemistry allows for the diversity in its many medical to culinary uses, with a range of biochemicals, terpenes, and acetates accounting for the healing properties of lavender. Okay, enough with science and history of this awesome plant, let’s check out the festival.

Lavender and lemon flavored pops for those with a sweet tooth

This blooming Red Yucca plant was exceptionally striking

This is where a scratch-and-sniff screen would be incredible (Lavandula Augustifolia – English lavender)

Lavender with Black-eyed Susan’s

A pretty bucket of English Lavender

A visitor soaking up sun and scent among scads of lavender

Beautiful white lavender

Some of the new plants

Craft offerings galore

Whiskey pops for adults

Sweet smelling handmade soaps

Wildflower backdrop for a row of lavender

Pretty coneflower with insects

Don’t know what this plant was but it was so beautiful among some lavender sprigs in the meadow

Musical entertainment rounding out the festival

Hope you enjoyed the festival as much as I did. Have a great weekend!

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Floral Friday ~ July 20, 2018

It’s been hotter than bloody-blue blazes this week and while there’s still 64 days until the official beginning of autumn, this week’s entry, Zinnias, seems to enjoy the hot weather.

One of the easiest of all garden plants to grow from seed and one that is exceedingly cheerful and colorful in the garden, deer resistant zinnias  bloom until the first frost. Zinnias provide a burst of color and attract butterflies. An annual that must be planted every year, they have bright, daisy-like flower heads on single, erect stems that can grow up to three feet tall. When deadheaded, you’ll have a show of flowers all season long to enjoy. They make a great addition to the cutting garden.

We hope you have loads of cheer today and throughout the weekend. I’m hoping to not evaporate this weekend at the annual lavender festival held at Denver’s Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms location (you can read  about last year’s festival here). What are your plans for this weekend?

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Sunflower Friday

A recently new addition arrived at the Ranch. Volunteer sunflowers! And I couldn’t be more delighted. Here’s to a sunflower happy kind of weekend.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Floral Friday ~ July 6, 2018

It’s easy to get distracted as I come and go in and out of the house. Yesterday as I was looking around for a blooming plant for today’s post and watering the flowers in containers, I realized a couple of things.

First of all, most of the garden plants are in that “in-between place.” As in nothing much is blooming now. My garden tends to be heavy blooming in late spring and as the heat of summer wears on (will summer ever ‘chill’ out before winter), fewer flowers bloom. One notable exception are the volunteer Snapdragons which have managed to consistently bloom precisely where they were never planted. ‘Snaps’ are prolific re-seeders and have managed to make their way across the entire yard. I love Snaps. They are such simple flower, but one that always makes me smile and of course, always entices me to pinch their jaws and say some silly thing like I’m some sort of plant ventriloquist. Come on…you do it, too. Just like the lupines, they have managed to find homes in some of the oddest places. These guys managed to take over a pot that hasn’t seen Snapdragons in years. This pot usually is home to geraniums. Ironically, I’ve never planted yellow or white snaps. Ever.

Second, bumblebees are mesmerizing. As I watered the containers, I was delighted to see not one but several bumblebees noshing away. Check out those gigantic ‘golden-ish kneecaps’ on this guy. I’m surprised he was able to keep afloat.

Anyway, bumblebees remind me to randomly walk about and check out the landscape a little bit closer. Just be careful, you just never know when a Snapdragon is going to cannibalize you (apologies for the out-of-focus bee–in some circles that might be  considered ‘artistic’). In this case, it’s clearly a reminder to work on focusing and depth of field, even with an iPhone.

Who’d have thought pink Snapdragons devour bees with chubby orange knees?

When holidays fall on a Wednesday. It’s almost like having two super short weeks in one. Nothing like going from Monday to Friday twice with a day off in between. Here’s to a lovely Friday and an even better weekend. Stay cool if you can.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Floral Friday

It’s hotter than bloody blue blazes in the Mile High (triple digits yesterday). And the perfect time to feature a  plant that accurately describes those temps. Known as Kniphofia or sometimes called tritoma, they are commonly referred to as Poker Plant or Torch Lilies. These guys are part of the Liliaceae family and thrive in USDA zones 5-9. Classified as an upright evergreen perennial, native to Africa with a clumping habit, there are more than 70 known species. Producing copious amounts of nectar when blooming, poker plants are attractive to bees and hummingbirds. The swallowtail butterflies have been recently seen swooning around them.

These babies need room to spread (note to self, be sure to divide these guys this autumn-notice the one coming up in the Canadian shrub who has also become insane fairly large-yikes). Preferring full sun they are not fussy about our crummy soil. They do require good drainage and don’t like ‘wet feet’ so no planting in bogs, ‘kay?

Poker plants are hardy and moderately drought resistant although some regular water is required in order for them to reach their full potential. Make sure they received adequate water during hot, dry spells and providing a 2-3 inch layer of mulch will help. Deadheading will encourage more blooms. These guys can be divided in the autumn and their crowns should not be planted deeper than 3 inches. Water throughly upon division and liberally mulch and you should have a new plant next season. Just make sure you provide enough space (something I clearly misjudged when they were planted in a few years ago).

Now it’s time for me to enjoy an extra-large glass of well-iced lemonade and work from inside the house in air-conditioned bliss. I realize many of you have had very hot temps already with the high humidity so I’ll stop whining now. Ummm, after second thought, nope, no I won’t. I’ll just finish by saying, it’s too damn hot!

Have a great weekend and try to stay cool. 

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Flower Friday ~ June 22, 2018

It’s Friday so that means it’s time to feature lovely flowers. Today we’re going to take a little different tack by showcasing one of the most gorgeous flowering trees in the Denver area…the show-stopping Linden tree.A reliably large shade tree (they can reach 50-130 feet at maturity), they adapt well to Colorado’s wide-ranging climate and alkaline soils. Linden’s have a very flexible wood making them ideal as wind breaks. In late spring/early summer, they burst with tiny yellow, fragrant flowers and right now they are at their peak. The heart-shaped, green leaves will turn yellow this autumn.

Linden trees are not particularly bothered by most common tree pests and are somewhat slow-growing with slender, upturned branches creating a dense, uniform crown with a conical shape. They are easy to grow, hardy to -40°F with maximum elevation at 7,000 ft. The trees can discharge a fair amount of nectar which attracts bees so you won’t want to park under them for long since the nectar can damage the finish if left on too long. But the scent is heavenly and a highlight of our morning walks. Sometimes I just stop and inhale that sweet fragrance for several moments. It’s a wonderful zen moment in the early morning quiet.

Close-up of Linden tree flowers

In addition to today being Flower Friday, it’s also “Take Your Dog to Work Day” so Sam and Elsa will be hanging out with me in the studio today. Will you be able to take your pup to work with you? Have a great Friday and an even better weekend!

Office mates

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Floral Friday ~ June 15, 2018

It’s Friday and that means it’s time to check out the flowers. Most of our flowers have finished blooming and the various planted wildflowers are still kind of thinking about blooming. For a minute I thought I’d have to share some recent watercolors I’ve been working on. Boy, are you guys lucky that I walked around to the side yard and found this. Perhaps this Canadian scrub rose is ‘rioting’ at the recent decision of the US applying tariffs on Canadian imports?

Here’s a closeup. Isn’t that pink exquisite?

Here’s wishing you a super-duper pink Friday and an even better weekend. Happy Father’s Day to Dad’s everywhere.

Live, love, bark! 🐾