Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Rock Wall Aspen Garden

It's been a flattering summer. I've received a whole bunch of requests, from flower lovers, wanting to hire me to design their gardens. Wow. I'm always shocked when I get one of these notes. [Because I've got way more passion than talent when it comes to such things.] And, I really don't want to turn gardening into a job. However! Last week, I heard from a Colorado couple looking for ideas on a newly created Rock Wall Garden. Hey! I've got one of those. AND, it's high in the Rocky Mountains, just like mine. Easy peasy.

It's prompted me to get in gear and do something I've been threatening to do for quite some time ~ spell out the big, long list. The low down on flowering perennials. Because they all flower at different times of the year. This bunch should provide a garden filled with riotous color from early spring right up until the snow flies.

This one's for you, Jerry. Thanks for the note. :)

Clockwise from top: Allium, Fritallaria, Daffodils, Chinodoxia, Crocus
 First off, consider planting a ‘double footprint.’ By that, I mean squeeze as many flower bulbs as you can into your perennial garden. You'll be delighted with the early spring color. Mountain flower gardens are very slow starters, so this is a great way to perk up the dead surroundings in early spring.

Bulbs bloom at different times. Tulips are delightful, but they’re also quite tasty. Deer, Elk, Moose, and most critters will ignore the bulbs on this list:
  • Earliest bloomers in your garden will be: Chinodoxia, Scilla, and Crocus. 
  • Followed by naturalizing Daffodils and Grape Hyacinth. 
  • Latest blooming bulbs will be the Allium and Fritallaria.
Speedwells, Ornamental Oregano, Wild 4 O'Clocks and yellow Allysum
Consider 'Draping Perennials' that will cascade down the front of your rock wall:
  • I'm a big fan of Allysum Basket of Gold because it blooms very early, often at the same time as spring bulbs.
  • Yellow Sulfur Flowers and Prairie Zinnias continue a long season of yellow color draping over rock walls, after Allysum has finished flowering. 
  • If you're not partial to yellow, consider Blue Wooly Speedwell or Thyme Leaf Speedwell ~ prolific purple and blue ground covers that drape nicely over walls.
  • In summer, Cascading Ornamental Oregano adds a gorgeous touch. One of my all time faves. Paired with bright fuschia Wild 4 O’Clocks, this is a real show stopper.
Penstamon, Pasque, Jupiter's Beard, Perky Sue, Perennial Geraniums, Salvia, Columbine.
Long-blooming summer perennials:

Plant these upright perennials behind the flowers that cascade over the rock wall. Bloom times depend upon weather and altitude. At my altitude, which is 7,000 feet, these burst into bloom in June: Salvia, Catmint, Jupiter's Beard, Thrift-leaf Perky Sue, Rozanne Hardy Geranium, Columbines. Pasque and Penstamons are great additions to this mix though their flower time is much shorter.

Agastache: a magnet for little hummingbirds
* We have the great fortune of plentiful hummingbirds in Colorado and Utah. Do these little guys a favor by planting a drift of Agastache. This is a tall perennial, for the back of your rock wall garden. Hummingbird Mints are available in a rainbow of bright, bold colors, with delicate flowers that wave in the breeze.

Blue: Lavender and Russian Sage, Pink and Red Yarrow, Black Eyed Susan, Blanket Flower, Coneflowers.
Mid to late summer perennials pick up the slack as our season begins to wind down:
Coreopsis, Blanket Flower, Yarrow, Coneflowers, Rudbeckia Black-Eyed Susan, Lavender, blue Russian Sage, paired with bright yellow Solidago.

* This, of course, barely touches the tip of the iceberg when it comes to fanciful flowers for a mountain garden. These are the mainstays at my home because they're tough, drought tolerant, long, long bloomers, deer resistant and... gorgeous!

Happy Gardening.

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Mish Mash Monday

If you had trouble waking up this morning, you are not alone. Scroll to the bottom of this post to discover why. 

Beaten down by yesterday's storm, a rescued sunflower.

We had one of those great 50-50 storms yesterday ~ when it's black as night on one side of my house: thunder, lightening, torrential downpour ~ all the while the sun is shining brightly on the other side of the house.

Storm clouds over Deer Valley.

Of course, it rained on the sunny side of the house, too. While the sun was shining. One of the many odd things about life in the mountains.

But, it cooled things down a bit and, for that, I am grateful.

Meg & Phantom, hanging out under the apple tree.

The heat of summer is beginning to wear on me, though I'm sad to see that we're inching ever closer to the Dead Season.

Spelling an end to gardening. And, horseback riding. Poking about the less traveled trails, in search of new, delightful wildflowers.

High Uintah Trail
I'm soooo ahead of the game, this year. All ready for winter. Which is odd, given that it's the last week of hot cha cha August and the a/c is still blasting away.

This Wild Columbine was the very first flower I purchased for the garden. 
Let's all wish her a happy 10th birthday.

Had 3 biggy projects that needed to be done before the snow flies. Fully intended to procrastinate on that to-do list right up until it was too late to do anything about it.

But, the gal at the dry cleaners wasn't having any of that business. She handed me a card and said 'call my husband.' He can do anything. And, she wasn't kidding. He fixed the broken driveway. Fixed the broken garage door. He even fixed the hallway disaster that had been a nightmare for so long it never occurred to me there was any way out from under that mess.

Wild Prairie Coneflowers are a great water indicator for Western gardens.
When they begin to weep, your water-wise flowers are ready for a drink.

Mr. Over-Achieving Handyman gets bonus points for not rolling his eyes at my creativity.

I have a half moon shaped driveway, with a gigantic crack that goes across the entire thing, and in the center is the Big Rock Garden.

When I heard he was planning to fill said crack with new cement, I scampered off to Homely Depot to pick up the biggest, baddest, heaviest, dutiest outdoor electrical cord I could find.

Dianthus rarely get a tip of the hat in this blog, which is too bad. I'm hugely dependent upon these little ladies for spots of bright color, all summer long.

We squished the cord into the fresh cement and bada bing! Bada boom! I now have electrical power in the Big Rock Garden.

Yeah, yeah, I know most folks would have hired an electrician to do some type of fancy outdoor outlet thingy that wouldn't electrocute passers by. But my cutting corners method achieved the same result for next to nothing. And, I have home owner's insurance. So, whateva.

Here's a fab example of what NOT to do. 
When planting annual seeds, in whiskey barrels, first check to see just how big they grow... and, clearly, you should not take any planting advice from me.

Hot Tip:
If you're a tomato grower, at high altitude, now's the time for you to get creative, too. Place flat rocks around the base of your plants. The rocks heat up during the day, and radiate that heat in the evenings. Keeping tomato plants toasty warm.

Why bother? Because tomatoes switch sugar production when the temps drop below 50 degrees. They're more interested in keeping their vines healthy than providing you with an award-winning tomater. This is a great way to fool them into thinking it's still July.

Here's hoping y'all survived the weekend. I did. Barely.

= ^^..^^ =
If you had trouble waking up this morning, you are not alone. And if you are struggling to find a reason to smile, that's not uncommon either. According to researchers, Monday mornings are so depressing that, on average, we don't crack our first smile until 11:16 a.m. Researchers also found that half of employees will be late to work, and will only log about three-and-a-half hours of productive work time. (So, let's ditch work and go play in the garden.)

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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Z is for...?



Name that flower. They grow easily from seed, blossoming in 8 short weeks. Providing a much-needed feast for migrating Monarchs. Toss a little happiness into the garden. You'll be glad you did. :))

This is [sort of] a Wordless Wednesday. For more participants click here!


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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sonic Blooms

Welcome to the happy home of a certified flower freak. [That would be me.]
John Cabot Roses: She blooms ALL summer long and will still be budding with the first snow fall.
Feel like taking a walk through the garden? Fair warning ~ it's gonna be a long virtual hike. You'll need to scroll waaaay down south to reach the end of this particular post. Here's hoping you don't get lost along the way.

Wild Coneflowers: from seeds collected on the South Dakota prairie.
I was inspired to do this after a long overdue chat with my oldest and dearest friend, Hazel. She's coming out to visit me at the end of September. When most of these beauties will be long gone.

It's a shame, really, that we can't ever schedule a visit when the joint is alive with color.

The month of August is my time to shine ~ Perky little posies popping out all over the place. And, I find that I spend every waking moment out there, enjoying the view.

Such uniform Daisies. Not sure how I managed that one.
I've always had a soft spot for Shasta Daisies. Makes me sad when they're done blooming so I grow 3 different types to keep up the flower power, all summer long. [Alaska, Snowcap, and Miss Muffet.) Tip: Plant by seed vs. purchasing the gallon-size perennials. They suffer mightily when root bound. They grow taller and happier when they can wiggle their toes.

Shell Pink Dianthus always makes me think of my friend, Bev.
A total stranger, shopping in Homer Depot, turned me onto Dianthus ~ such frilly little things. I was drooling over her purchases when she educated me that in spite of the fact that they're sold as annuals, they're hearty perennials up here in the mountains.
 
Phlox
Right about the time the Catmint and Dame's Rocket lay down to die, Phlox and Helianthus pick up the slack...

Helianthus, perennial sunflower

Peppermint Phlox is one of the cutest little August bloomers in the garden. See the copyright on this photo? I've taken to doing that when I post them on Pinterest. I bitched for a solid year about Pinterest because everyone was stealing my flower photography and posting them on Pinterest, claiming those pics were theirs.

An exasperated friend finally threw up his hands and said why don't you just put a circle c on those photographs and join in the fun? Well, that's an awfully well-balanced attitude. Why can't I just be pissy and complain?

Miniature Hollyhocks
I finally agreed that if you can't beat 'em, join 'em. And, I do love Pinterest. Though nobody seems to love me. I think I've got 5 whole followers over there. But, it's still loads of fun.


This is the great big mystery bush, adorning the street garden. It's an absolute magnet for bees and butterflies. And, I haven't a clue what it is...


Phlox and Russian Sage peek out from beneath a Prairie Fire Crab Apple tree. Several master gardener friends gave me a hard time for planting 3 trees so close together but I think it's good to know your limitations.

Since I'm supremely talented at killing young trees I hedge my bets by planting 3 at time ~ in the high hopes one survives.


Tick... tock... Russian Sage has the unhappy job of being an alarm clock for the season.

I adore the fragrance and the soft, velvety feel of it's blossoms. But, once it begins to flower I know my gardening days are numbered. Autumn is on it's way.


Ornamental Sweet Pea vines have the run of the front porch.


Fuchsia Yarrow is a big, fat bully, bordering on weed status. I dig up half of it every year but no amount of murderous activity slows her down.

And, last, but not least, one perky little Zinnia sharing a container with Mexican Sunflowers and Golden Marguerite.

Do you fertilize your gardens? I probably should, but I don't. Those Bloom Booster fertilizers are too expensive!

Save a dime by purchasing a bag of rock phosphate instead. It's organic (Miracle Grow is not) and your flowers will love you for it. Toss them a few banana peels, too.

Natural forms of phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) are fairly easy to come by ~ those are the goodies that boost your flower power.

If you made it to the bottom of this extra long post, I thank you kindly for stopping by.

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Thursday, August 16, 2012

My Little Hummingbird

Here's today's Zen-y Moment in the garden. Try not to get dizzy on the last part. I'm still learning the ropes of this new camera!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Garden Bloggers Bloom Day ~ August, 2012

Mexican Sunflowers are this year's favorite new addition. An outrageously orange annual, planted by seed, in an old whiskey barrel on the deck.

They say it's going to rain. But, it never does. And, the stark contrast between the two halves of my property is very sad, indeed.

Phlox pretties up a sad sack pack of tired blue Delphiniums.

Haven't the heart to show pictures of the back half of the yard. The dry brown area that relies on rainfall which never comes.

Heavenly Blues

I automated everything in the lucky half of the yard. An in-ground sprinkler system plus timers on the deck, and timers in the veggie garden, too.

My previously 'Always Thirsty' flower patch is quite delighted to no longer have to rely on the slacker gardener [that would be me] turning on the hose.

Sweet Pea Climbing Vines
With all that wonderful, consistent water to get new perennials off to a strong start... I decided that this should be the year of the climbing vines.

Giganto Wisteria
I'm gaga over the delicate pink color of these dainty Sweet Peas and those Morning Glories [above] ~ Oh, my! What a stunning sky blue...

I gambled on a cold hardy Kiwi Vine (zone 5 ~ Do you believe it will survive? I'm skeptical.) Plus, 3 bright orange trumpet vines, 4 purple Clematis climbing vines.

And! One vine to rule them all... 

A Wisteria! She's grown 15 feet in her first summer. Once she reaches the roof, I'll be training her to wrap around the room addition. Truth be told, I've killed more Wisteria than any other gardener on the planet. But, I have high hopes for the Missus. She seems to really like it here.

Pop over and say hi to Carol @ May Dream Gardens, Creator of the Bloom Day Meme.

Here's a whole bunch of bright August bloomers, photographed early this morning while in my jammies. (The new neighbors are never too appreciative of that stuff.. but they have learned to look the other way.)

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chief Joseph Trail Ride 2012

Into the wild...
"Next year? Will you be back next year...?"

People kept asking as we all ~ wistfully ~ said good-bye.

Yours Truly riding my horse, Sable, with Kirk and Snuffy.
 This was a reunion, of sorts. 175 lovers of spotted horses converged on Yellowstone National Park for the annual Chief Joseph Trail Ride. The only horses allowed on this ride are registered American Appaloosas.*

Janet and Phantom posing in front of the giant buffalo herd.
For the first time, in 26 years, and probably the last time, ever, the National Park Service invited us to ride through Yellowstone's stunning back country, along the historic Nez Perce Trail. Where we encountered a 500+ herd of wild buffalo.

I always put my hands on my hips when I haven't the faintest idea what I'm doing. Gives folks the impression I do! :)

What an amazing experience! Had to giggle a bit when we came back out on the busy road and saw tourists gleefully photographing one lonesome buffalo. I didn't have the heart to tell them what they were missing.

Seriously? You don't have a valet to carry this bag?

I didn't photograph buffalo at all, because I don't care about them. I think the National Park Service should invite Wild Mustangs to graze on these hallowed grounds. Wouldn't that be a sight to behold?

Me, again, early morning water crossing. I had no idea 4 a.m. existed until this trail ride.
It was not an easy ride. They never are. We covered 100 miles in 5 short days along the historic route traveled by the Nez Perce Native American tribe.

Of course, no one bothered to tell me, or Janet, that we had to be fed, packed, saddled and ready before the sun came up. (If they had, it's doubtful we'd have gone!)

Wild Fireweed
I'm not very good at photographing people. I spent my long days in the saddle capturing Yellowstone's amazing wildflowers.

Wild Gentian
And, here's a whole bunch more!




* It takes 13 years to complete the Chief Joseph Trail Ride, spanning western wilderness from Oregon to 40 miles shy of the Canadian border, where this band of Native Americans was forced to surrender to the US Calvary.

** The Nez Perce Native Americans bred these stunning spotted horses for agility and endurance.