Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Things are coming up

I've got tons of strawberries ripening everyday, and they are so sweet.
This is horseradish, I've never grown it before, but I use a lot of fresh horseradish, so decided to plant it in the yard this year.  I read that it can be quite invasive, so I buried a 5 gallon black tub and planted the horseradish root inside. We'll see how this experiment goes.
My scallions are out of control.  But they have a beautiful bloom on top, that draws the honey bees to them, so all is good.  I've actually cut the blossoms off and put them in a vase in the house, quite an unusual centerpiece.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Crazy Cucumbers

Earlier this week I read an article about a small heirloom cucumber called the Mexican Sour Gherkin.  It's not much bigger than a jelly bean, and the tiny little fruit look like baby watermelons.  Supposedly they have an ultra crunchy texture, a cucumber like taste with a touch of lemon.  Sounds good to me.
The ornamental vines have tiny leaves and flowers, and are easily trellised.  I ordered them from Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Company that evening and they arrived today.  Within 30 minutes of receiving them, they were in the ground and watered.  I really have no idea how well they will produce here, but they just look so darn cute, I had to have them.
Naturally, I can't just order one seed packet, so I looked for something else unusual.  I discovered another cucumber called Dragon's Egg.  It looked fun also.   And then there was the Parisienne Carrots, small round carrots that are very popular in France.   I enjoy trying something new in the garden every year.  I'll let you know how these turn out.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Our trip to the Bison Ranch

The American Bison is the largest land animal in North America.  We took a road trip up to Laramie, Wyoming yesterday.  Males can stand six feet tall from hoof to shoulder and weigh from 1000-2000 lbs.  Females are a foot shorter and weigh half that.  The Bison is a grazer and eats mostly grasses and sedges.  It will occasionally eat berries and lichen.
My girlfriend's nephew has a Bison Ranch and we went on our annual jaunt to see the newborns.  There were over 200 new calves with most  of them being only a month old.  Newborn bison are reddish brown and can stand shortly after birth.  At two months the calf will start to develop shoulder humps and horns, and are usually weaned by seven months.
We had fun wandering around the various buildings and pens that make up the ranch.  Enjoyed a great BBQ lunch and brought back some drought tolerant, nitrogen fixing plants for our gardens; Bird foot trefoil, Caragana,2 Groove milk vetch, purple iris, along with some hybrid alfalfa seeds to attract butterflies.

This little guy is thought to be about two days old.   We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to see these impressive animals that live on plains, prairies and river valleys.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Some wildlife in the yard

This is Sammy, our live in-the-back yard Garter snake.  Some mornings I'll find him sunning himself on the deck or curled up on a piece of flagstone out in the sunshine.  By the time I get my camera, he's moved.  We've seen him in our yard for the past 5 years.  I know he also frequents my next door neighbor's yard as well.
Although this photo isn't as sharp as it could be, it gives you an idea of how big Sammy is, about 3'.  With three bird feeders in the yard, a fish pond, many fruits and vegetables, Sammy's presence seems to keep unwanted rodents away.  As long as the squirrels just take the fruit from the tops of the trees, I will share with them.
There is a Mama Dove sitting on her nest in the willow tree out front.
The neighbor's honey bees use our bird bath as their watering hole.

This is the biggest bumble bee I've ever seen.
He is so large, he can't get his whole body into the snapdragon.
It's been fun watching him in the plants for the past few days.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Sweet smell of roses

This afternoon I went to check on a strawberry patch I have back near the potting station, and these three roses were open.  Just stunning. 
And yes, it smells as good as it looks.  I love the Bayer systemic products for my roses.   It's a three in one product-- fertilize, insects and disease.
Happy Summer Solstice.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Garden fresh greens

What have we got here?  Kale, arugula, spinach, freckles romaine, butterhead, micro greens, mizuna and mesclun.   Looks like the beginning of a great salad.

 This is after spinning my salad greens and  letting them dry.
Made a paste of minced fresh garlic, a little salt and some olive oil, that I'll brush on these giant Portabella mushrooms before cooking on the grill.

And then there was a roasting chicken that came off the grill.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Poppy Fields Forever (think Beatles)

Enjoying Denver Botanical Gardens after my volunteer time, I walked the Poppy Fields.  Unbelievably spectacular.  Some of these flowers are ginormus. (That's probably not a real word)
These salmon colored poppies were exotic.
Look at the fringe on this flower... incredible.
White poppies with stunning  purple centers. 
Isn't this pretty?  You've got to fall in love with Poppies.
Who can't appreciate this beauty?
Truly, this is my favorite photo.  There were actually six bees in the center of this flower.  Some of them would land on my hand as they flew out and steadied themselves, but they weren't interested in me. 
Lastly, the Foxtail Lily.  They look like candles, enlightening me to wanting them in my yard.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Another Planter to fill

We decided to change the look of the plants at the back fence.   But first this  6 1/2 foot Weeping Norwegian Spruce had to be dug up and moved to my friends house.  I really did like him, but he was in the wrong place, so he took a little ride in the back of the truck.
Now, the Hops needs to be dug up from around the base of one of the Grape Arbor posts.  Don't know where he's going yet.  The post will be pressure washed, stained and repositioned before we're done.
A temporary post is placed to hold up the corner of the arbor, while everything else is cleared out.
It's ready to be planted.   As projects go, this one didn't take that long.  I guess it's time for me to go plant shopping, and you know how I feel about that:))  Where are the car keys? 

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


As I've commented in earlier posts this year, everything seems to be coming in late.  Usually the Peony's are blooming by Memorial Day. 
But they are just coming alive in mid June out here in the Denver area. 
There are so many varieties, it's amazing.
I just love their beautiful fluffiness.
I always think of our Moms when the Peony's come in to bloom. My Mom tells me when we lived in Iowa, (which was the first 6 yrs of my life), we had a 60 foot hedge of Peony's  in the back yard.  I remember the house, but I don't remember the flowers.
My husband's Mother also use to nurture them in their family garden in Baltimore.
I have ten Peony plants, and I look at each one everyday that they are in bloom.  It is a short window as flowers go, so I appreciate their beauty while I have them.
Two of my white plants, have an odd characteristic.  Each flower has a few of what I call 'blood spots' on some of the petal edges.  It's almost as if a paintbrush dipped in red paint was waved over the petals and dripped as it passed from above.  

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Kaffir lime tree

My Kaffir lime tree arrived in the mail today. Yippee!!  My girlfriend packed him up fresh on Tuesday morning in the Florida Keys and he arrived healthy and moist this morning.  According to Nikki Phipps, author of The bulb-o-licious Garden,  this dwarf citrus tree, can reach up to 5 feet tall, can be grown outdoors (year round in zones 9-10), but is best suited for indoors. The Kaffir lime tree thrives in potted environments and would benefit from placement out on the patio or deck. They prefer full sun, are cold sensitive and need to be protected from frost. It's a perfect match, those are the conditions he'll be living in.  Summer months he'll be outdoors, when the first chance of frost is pending, he'll move inside with the other citrus trees.

 This is how he arrived, surrounded by peanuts and wrapped in ziploc bags to hold in the moisture.  At 5 1/2" tall, he's a good traveler.  The limes are dark green and have a bumpy surface.  They produce very little juice, for that reason neither the fruit or flesh is rarely used, but the plant is prized for its leaves which are used in Asian cooking.  It has distinctive leaves which look like there's a second leaf growing out of the tip of the first leaf.
This Western Robin appears interested  in what's going on.  Actually, I think he just finished taking a bath in the trickling waterfall by the fish pond

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Orchids, are they worth it?

Orchids don't really belong in Colorado.  They thrive in a tropical, humid environment, the opposite of what Colorado offers. They are an easy grow in Florida, and very much worth having.  Many will bloom 3-4 times a year in Florida.  So this winter I decided to make a point to water and fertilize my orchids on a weekly basis and see if this made a difference.  I know people that encase their orchids in a mini humid greenhouse, so they will bloom.  Personally, I don't enjoy seeing them through plastic.
I do have one blooming now.  So the effort I put into it did make a difference.  But in the big picture...they still require too much investment here, so I need to move on.  I still enjoy their beauty, but there are hundreds of plants that need my attention now.  Happy that I had a bloomer again.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The many shades of green

It all started while I was laying in the hammock looking up, admiring the Oak leaves against the blue sky. The Oak tree is an anchor for one end of the hammock, the other is an Aspen.  As I glanced around at the perennials I started thinking about all the different shades of green that surface this time of year.  Soon there will be every color of the rainbow mixed in but for now, it is all about the GREEN.
With grass like this you can't 
wear shoes. It just feels great
to be barefoot on this lush carpet.
Lupine, one of Colorado's native plants. 
Sage, it has a great texture.
Love-in-a-mist, so fern like.
Romaine lettuce.
Siberian Bugloss, the perennial 
Scented geraniums.
Jacob's ladder, which fondly reminds
me of the laborious switchbacks,
by the same name, as you 
ascend from the bottom of the
Grand Canyon.
Clematis, soon to be covered in purple.
Bronze Fennel, a butterfly magnet.
Oregano, a must for the kitchen.
Hosta, almost looks blue.