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! 🐾

Meme Monday ~ April 22, 2019

Sam

While you’re waiting for us to get back from making rounds, sniff around the newly updated e-shop. We’ve added a couple of items in the Hand Crafted category and finally have a new payment platform (Stripe). With your order, we’ll include a hand-painted watercolor greeting card (blank) with envelope as a token of appreciation for being a valued customer. As always, there’s free shipping, too. Have a ‘pawsome’ week.

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! 🐾

Therapy Thursday ~ April 18, 2019

A couple of weeks ago Dogtor Sam and I did our regular monthly stint at hospital and hospice. But there was nothing ‘regular’ about them. All our visits are special in my mind, but these were extra special and, I’d like to think, we made more than a few peeps feel just a bit better.

Just as we were about to go to hospice, a tall, thin fella who seemed somewhat frantic come up to us and wondered if we would take the time to visit his daughter who had not seen a pet visit while she’d been in the Neuro-Critical Care ward. Not going to this area very often, I was more than happy to swing by after our assigned floor was completed (we were way-laid several times by other requests). We headed over to NCC and arrived at a room where a pale young women weakly smiled when I knocked on her door. I mentioned her dad had asked us to drop by and she said she’d love a visit. Sam knew exactly what to do. Patient “Kristy” clearly had a lot of recovery ahead of her, but her face lit up when she saw him. She and her visitor squealed out loud when she saw Sam. I knew he was probably tuckered out, but this boy knows what to do and does it. I wish I were as good as he is at the end of long visits, having people pawing at you, hugging on you and just generally being 110% “on” for hours. “Kristy” was clearly tired but enjoyed an abbreviated visit. Leaving the hospital, we then headed over to hospice.

HospiceWhile we made the rounds visiting with a new hospice doctor, all the nurses and a few visitors, we ended up spending a lot of time with a fairly young-looking woman and her daughter at hospice. It was almost an afterthought visit, as we’d seen so many people, Sam was petty tired and their room was full of family members paying their respects.  In those circumstances, I don’t generally intrude, especially when the end is so close (according to the nurse), but when “Kate” came out into the hallway and said how much she could really benefit from a visit, how could we refuse? “Of course,” I replied, “we’d be more than happy to spend some time with you.” She indicated the patient was her husband, which totally surprised me since I erroneously thought the man in the bed was her father. A daughter came out and we all convened in the middle of the hallway. Sam seemed refreshed and eager to check them out and when the woman knelt down in front of him, he patiently gazed as deeply into her eyes as I’ve ever seen. She teared up and said how much she needed him that moment. I just smiled not knowing if there’s something I should say, or even what to say.

The thing is, Sam knew exactly how to bring a smile to her face. She teared up, her daughter also smiled and they both thanked us repeatedly. Sam wagged his tail in reply.

When we visit with peeps, especially those far too young to be at hospice, it’s sometimes hard to know what to say to comfort them. Especially when the end is so close or unexpected. Thankfully, Sam knows exactly what to do and takes over. A well-timed tail wag, a soulful look, and he provides oodles of poodles of comfort. This guy knows exactly what people need and delivers it with no coaching from me. I stand there like a lump, my mind racing as to what I can do to provide loving comfort as the patient transitions on to the next life.

The following day at West Pines had more impactful visits. Sam really connects well with the patients who are in recovery, and seamlessly manages to bring relief to the staff as well. This knuckleheaded dog has such compassion for hurting patients and staff. As we were preparing to sign out, a staff person came by and asked if she could have a minute with Sam. Attentive and accommodating as always, he obliged. She lingered on the floor with Sam, saying it had been a really rough day, but to spend some time AND receive a kiss from him, made all the difference in her day, not to mention mine. This dog makes my heart swell. We’re going back next week and look forward to more rewarding encounters.

Sam

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Almost Wordless Wednesday ~ April 17, 2019

Prague

As a nod to past travels and Easter week, this week’s edition of Almost Wordless Wednesday is a travel memory to Prague with a Czech artisan hand painting eggs. Makes you wonder what creature laid that egg over her shoulder, doesn’t it? Here’s to a good “Spy Wednesday.”Click on the link for details of why it’s sometimes known as “Spy” Wednesday.

Live, love, bark! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ April 15, 2019

Even though today is the dreaded Tax Day filing deadline in the US, let’s start the week out with a smile instead of a moan. And what could induce a bigger smile than an elephant?

One of the most recognizable animals in the world, the largest living land mammal is social, extremely intelligent and demonstrates uncanny problem solving skills.

Elephants

Here’s to a terrific Monday. Get out there and climb a few fences but do it safely and try not to trample too much of the surrounding  scenery.

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! 🐾

Monday Musings ~ April 8, 2019

It’s T-minus six days until the premier of the final season of The Game of Thrones…but who’s counting. It’s been way too long since hunky Jon Snow graced our television screens and at least at my house, his absence has been sorely missed. He may know nothing, but who cares? Am I right? I am however feeling slightly gypped that there are only six seasons for the beloved series’ final season. What the bloody blue blazes, HBO? #notfair

Then there’s the dwarf Lannister who has entertained us over the years and reminded us that true to his family motto, “always paid his debts.” Couldn’t help but chuckle with this pun which has been floating around social media lately. Elsa was quite willing to ‘pass along’ her updated version of the PSA to start out the week.

Lannister

We hope you had a lovely weekend and that this smile is the beginning of a terrific week, culminating with the season premiere. Let’s hope the final season satisfies ‘The Pack Survives’ needs.

Live, love, bark! 🐾