Nature Friday ~ August 28, 2020

With the concept of time being totally upended during this panDAMNic, how in the world did we get to the last Friday of August…otherwise known as Hades for those of us in the midst of wildfires with scorching temps and little moisture. With 24 days until the official arrival of our favorite season, we’re hoping the weatherman is correct with his forecast for cooler temperatures beginning today. I’m not sure I’ll know how to act in temperatures that aren’t in the 90’s but you can bet your sweet bippy I’ll be sure to give it a go. Well enough about the weather. Let’s join our ‘fur-iends’ Rosy, Sunny, 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.

This week saw me being confined to the house. After a dog on human accident last Sunday where Elsa zigged and I zagged, I haven’t been able to give them their usual walkabouts where we explore our urban nature. Luckily I did manage a quick early morning visit to the Denver Botanical Gardens over the weekend, the first since it reopened with timed reservations and reduced visitors. And despite cutting my visit short, it was definitely worth going.

Waterlilies

The waterlilies at the botanic gardens are in fully glory and are a frequent favorite of visitors. August and September are prime viewing times for waterlilies with the most awe-inspiring “Water Platters” (Victoria ‘Longwood Hybrid’ and Victoriacruziana) taking center stage. They are measured in feet sometimes as much as 6-feet across), unlike the smaller waterlilies that are merely inches in size across. Both are beautiful and make the pools a garden favorite. An interesting footnote regarding the “Monet Pool” as shown below is the addition of a non-toxic, food-grade black dye to the ponds weekly when needed in order to maintain the dark coloration seen throughout the displays. This dye performs multiple tasks. The first being it blocks out sunlight deterring growth of algae, all the while hiding the planting containers and creating a beautiful reflective surface that makes the aquatic plants stand out even more.

Flowers

Wildlife lives in harmony at the gardens as numerous ducks frequently skim the pond surfaces for food. This female Mallard was hard at work but then decided to turn stalker after her shift follow me to a nearby bench where I was able to take in the whole pond in all its fabulous glory. She was within touching distance but I kept a watchful eye to exit quickly should ‘things’ get real. She maintained a jovial demeanor, smiling for the camera though I missed capturing any winks. I called her Estelle and she didn’t seem to object.

Duck

Flowers

These strawflower flowers bring vivid colors to any garden or craft project alike, making lovely dried-flower bouquets. Strawflowers resemble daisies in form, but unlike daisies, their petals are stiff and papery. In fact, they aren’t true petals at all, but a modified leaf known as a bract. Native to Australia, they are easy to grow and thrive in bright, sunny spots.

Flowers

‘Tiger Flower’ (Tigridia pavonia) is one of the best-known species from the genus Tigridia, of the Iridaceae family. Sometimes referred to as jockey’s cap lily, Mexican shellflower, peacock flower, Tiger Flower is widespread across Central America. Their blooms open early in the morning and close up near dusk. A fresh bloom opens daily.

Update to the wildfires ~ Glenwood Springs:

The fire (known at the Grizzly Creek fire) has consumed over 32,000 acres, is now 68% contained, I-70 reopened earlier this week and firefighters are hopeful in making progress with lower temps and the potential of rain with higher humidity to make their job just a bit easier. The largest wildfire in Colorado’s history, the Pine Gulch fire near Grand Junction, is now 77% contained and has consumed over 139,000 acres. We continue to pray for firefighters and those folks living near these fires (as well as all other wires in the state).

We hope you have a great weekend. My family will be convening to celebrate my dad’s 90th birthday and we’re looking forward to the clan celebrating our Patriarch with a mirthful gathering in the mountains filled with loads of good food, spirits, and raucous fun. It ain’t everyday you toast 90 years along with his good health.

Enjoy whatever you plan to do, and make sure you are able to enjoy some of the beauty Mother Nature dishes up. Posts will likely be sparse but don’t worry. We’ll be around enjoying each other and the cooler temps, but probably not particularly active online.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ August 24, 2020

Norman

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 21, 2020

Welcome to Friday where we join our friends, Rosy, sister Sunny as well as her brothers from LLB in our Backyard to take a gander from around Blogville to see what Mother Nature served up this week. We’re still in the grips of the Dog Days of summer yet and continue to look forward to autumn’s arrival in 31 days.

The garden is looking more than a bit parched, supplemental watering hasn’t seemed to make much of a difference with the crunch, crunch look of dry straw and not much is actually blooming right now beyond the Plumbago. The sunflowers are the only plants that seem to be thriving in the dry heat though a quick walk around early this morning showed some of their leaves are showing signs of heat stress. Hearty Plumbago  (Ceratostigma plumbaginoides) is my all time favorite ground cover, and is now sporting its signature blue flowers and its leaves will soon begin to morph into a lovely shade of mahogany red. This plant naturalizes well, is deer resistant, and will survive well with minimal supplemental watering, and is one of the most versatile groundcovers for cold climates growing in both sun or shade and most soil types, making it a perfect perennial to add to any garden.

Plumbago

With the heat and lack of rain, it’s been more important than ever to keep the fountain filled for the occasional thirsty visitor. For every wasp that takes a drink, one invariably will fall in.Wasp

As I watched this bee for several moments, it seemed as if he was using his front legs to beckon the solar fountain to provide a bit of a shower. I can’t help but wonder how he manages to hang on without falling off the side of the fountain. One fell in recently but I managed to fish him out; he flew off to dry out and then continued with his pollinating work in the garden.Bees

While I’d even be willing to put out a water bowl for guys like this, I think the Ranch hands would scare it away whenever it was seen. I came across him on a walk about the neighborhood a couple of days ago before the heat kicked in. He looks like he’s holding up okay and is probably finding water that has pooled on sidewalks or gutters.

Bunny

The fires here in Colorado and throughout the West continue to burn with little abatement. I read yesterday that California received nearly 11,000 lightning strikes in a 72 hour period this week and no doubt, more fires will result from that kind of meteorological activity. We hope everyone who is affected by them remains safe and especially pray for the safety of firefighters who are working hard in brutally challenging conditions. Stay safe, sane and keep smiling.

Nature Friday

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nearly Wordless Wednesday ~ August 19, 2020

Up, up and away!

Balloon

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 14, 2020

Greetings nature lovers. Welcome to Nature Friday where we join our hosts and friends, Rosy, Sunny & their brothers for this week’s edition. Nature appears to be pretty upset judging by the numerous wildfires that have popped up around the state. The most concerning one is near Glenwood Springs where my brother and SIL just moved into their newly built home. Known as the Grizzly Creek Fire, it doubled in size overnight and now has consumed nearly 15,000 acres. I-70 has been closed in both directions and it is unknown when it will reopen. The fire began August 10th, is zero contained and some residents have been advised to be prepared to evacuate. The cause of the fire is undetermined but there are some suspicions it may have been human caused. This view was taken of the smoke and flames just south of the Colorado River on August 11, 2020. It gives you an idea of the roughed terrain in the area. That guard rail in the foreground is I-70.

Fires
Photo Source: InciWeb-Incident Information System
Fires
Map of the Grizzly Creek Fire. The red line was the perimeter at 12:47 a.m. MDT August 13, 2020. The white line was the perimeter about 24 hours before. Source: Wildfire Today /USFS /NASA

Another larger fire, the Pine Gulch Fire is located 18 miles north of Grand Junction, has now consumed over 70,000 acres as of this morning. Started two weeks ago and attributed to a lightning strike, the Pine Gulch fire is burning in remote, rough terrain of pinyon, juniper, oak, and sagebrush.  It is now the 5th largest in the state’s history. Hot, dry and windy conditions have forced three days of red flag air quality warnings with temperatures soaring into the 90s and windy conditions, with gusts up to 27 mph.

Fires
Source: Denver Channel 7, KMGH

The smoke from these fires has reached Denver making for blazing sunrises and sunsets as well as unhealthy air quality alerts. This eery image was taken a couple of evenings ago from the front garden.

Fires

The Cameron Peak Fire fire near Chambers Lake, also popped up yesterday afternoon in Larimer County, 18 miles northwest of Fort Collins, and has grown to over 1500 acres in a matter of just four hours. Evacuations have been ordered. Fire season is always challenging in a state with high mountain valleys, canyons and wide open vistas but with the state suffering from a widespread severe and statewide drought, nature has us back on our heels right now.

While Mother Nature can provide us with all manner of beauty, she can get cranky real quick. It’s wise to act consciously whenever your path crosses with nature. Obey campfire bans and for heaven’s sake, please don’t throw your cigarette butts out the window when you’re driving. While we encourage everyone to enjoy Mother Nature, please be careful. And pray for those who are fighting these wildfires and all those who are personally displaced and affected by them. Stay safe.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Wish I Were There Wednesday ~ August 12, 2020

Sunset

Ahhh, I feel relaxed just looking at this photo from my last trip to Mexico. It may be too early, but I’m thinking there’s a margarita with my name on it later this evening. Happy mid-week.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday ~ August 7, 2020

Welcome to this week’s edition of Nature Friday. Ranch hands Elsa and Norman are here to share some of the urban nature we encountered this week. First though, we begin with our usual “broken record” lament: it’s been hot, hot, hot. Again/still. The good news for anyone else totally over it only forty-five days until the official arrival of autumn. You can bet we’re keeping our eye on the calendar. But enough of our whining, let’s join our weekly hosts, Rosy, Sunny, Arty and Jakey from LLB in Our Backyard. Don’t forget to click on their link, to see what they and others around Blogville shared. So let’s get started, alrighty?

Norman & Elsa

In addition to several bunny sightings, we’ve been seeing one especially pretty  plant on our morning walks; Evening Primrose (Oenothera fruticosa). This one looks beautiful mixed in with some orange penstemon. As the day warms up, the blooms close so it’s  best to check them out in the early mornings when the sun isn’t too intense. There must be something extra fascinating about this one because that barmy brother of mine sure likes to check it out. Mom won’t let him sniff too closely or for too long since there’s a rule of no peeing on flowers while on our walks.

Flowers

Another favorite mom likes to walk past is this Angelonia angustifolia. Often called Narrowleaf Angelon or Summer Snapdragon, it’s a colorful plant she can see as soon as we turn down this street. Native to Mexico and the West Indies, it comes in colors of deep mauve to violet, white, blue, light pink or bicolored. It’s typically known as a perennial in Zones 9-11. Since the Ranch is in Zone 5, it must be similar to its cousin, the common snapdragon since it reseeds itself every year. It’s quite drought tolerant, a good thing for our area which hasn’t seen rain in oh, let’s see…forever. Mom thinks we’ll may see snow before we see any rain.

Flowers

You may recall when Norman showed off the volunteer tomato plant in our garden a few weeks back (click here for that story). Mom noticed a red spot this morning and took a quick pic (she was trying to avoid getting sprayed by the sprinkler). It’s pretty exciting to see lots of little flowers and tiny tomatoes all over it but to see the first one turning red just blows mom’s mind. Hate to break it to her that it’s going to be the world’s tiniest salad since these are cherry tomatoes but she’s still pretty excited.

Tomato

Every day we walk past a cute little cottage garden and notice this piece of garden art out front. Doesn’t it seem rather appropo with the way things are trending these days? Comedy and drama.

Masks

We hope you have a wonderful weekend and are able to experience some of the beauty nature provides. We’re enjoying the return of our favorite sport. While it’s weird to be watching hockey in August, we couldn’t be more thrilled with its arrival. The league and its players have been über diligent playing in their bubble with no positive cases of coronavirus (with much thanks to our Canadian hosts for providing two safe venues in Toronto and Edmonton). Let’s hope mom hasn’t jinxed her team now.

Hockey

Hockey

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Nature Friday