Friday, May 31, 2024

The Start of the Season

It is the last day of May. And spring has finally arrived in the mountains. 

We're lightyears behind gardeners in kinder climates. Who are likely showing off landscapes filled with brightly blooming flowers. But we're getting there. And it's nice to step outside in the early mornings - to photograph what's happening.

Heavenly Blue Morning Glories are flowering like crazy! They should be. I planted them in January. 😊 That's snow in the background. These beauties are toasty warm, flowering in the sunny window. It's a well-known fact that we cannot control the weather -- but there are lots of ways to wiggle around what Mother Nature has to offer. 

Jack Frost (aptly named) Brunnera doesn't care about the nasty weather. Often the first flower to bloom in my garden. Tiny little things. Smaller than my thumbnail. [Plant in full shade.]

And wild Meadow Phlox doesn't care about the drought. 

Which is a good thing -- because, climate-wise, it's been weird around these parts. Snowing and freezing in late May. Beastly hot and dry in April. So hot, I would have turned on the a/c - it was 85 (f) degrees in this house. But the a/c was still buried beneath a drift of snow! 

The volatile weather might be why the Flowering Almonds have decided it's time to kill themselves.

While it was raining, then snowing, then freezing.. I attended a Floral Arrangement class with my daughter.

That was so much fun. This is my masterpiece. ↑

Plus - I learned something super helpful about cut flowers. Dissolve a couple tablespoons of sugar + the same amount of white vinegar into a quart of water. Cut flowers will last a lot longer.

And we welcomed a new furry friend into the fold. 

It has been a hard, hard year for me. My dog, Charlie, passed away from what vets are calling the 'mystery illness.' Plaguing dogs in 14 western states. 

That just tore me to pieces. The only time I was in touch with my emotions was when I lost my temper with well-meaning friends saying life goes on. I don't want life to go on. I want life to go back to the way it was before. 

But loneliness has a way of changing your mind about those things. And when this little guy was dropped into my lap. By another one of these well-meaning aka incredibly annoying + far too controlling friends. I decided to keep him.

The view from my window. The view from up here.

Here's hoping the weather is kind and your gardens are brightly blooming.

Sunday, April 28, 2024

Utah Tulip Festival

* Scroll to the bottom of this post for tips on visiting the Utah Tulip Festival.

On the one sunny day, in between the recent rains, I took a long drive to tiptoe through 55 acres of Tulips. 

I can count on one hand the number of Tulips blooming in my own garden - that number is one. ↑ This one. Because it's cleverly hidden in a planter on a second story deck so critters can't reach it, to eat it.

Here, in Utah, we have what is called a burrowing ground squirrel, who dearly loves to eat my Tulips. Locals call this animal a Pot Gut. Every spring I like to call them little bastards. 

Hence the motivation to drive to Lehi, Utah, to the Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival.

If you and your friends have ever entertained the notion of taking a spring Tulip Trip, you might want to pay Utah a visit. 

Logistically, it's so much easier than the Michigan Tulip Festival. < Which is a great festival! 

The Utah Festival involves lots less driving.

We're not nearly as impressive as the Keukenhof Gardens. But like I said. Logistics! You don't have to fly to the Netherlands to enjoy the pretty flowers.

I have maybe 200 tulip pics clogging up my phone at the present moment. Thought you might enjoy taking a peek at some of the better ones.

If you're planning to visit this season - hurry up. Tulips are blooming 30 days ahead of schedule. Some are already past peak bloom time. 

We've had a hot, dry spring which does not bode well for the upcoming gardening season. 

Took this day trip, immersing myself in these beautiful flowers, because I think it's a really good idea to get out of your head now and then.

Last night, a young woman in her 20's, sent out what sounded, to me, like a distress call. [From the tone of her voice.] 

"Women over 40 give one piece of advice to women in their 20's." 

Tiktok being the place that it is... responses included Women's Rights protests, Israel-Hamas war protests, political marches, product and company bans. All worthy causes. [Just FYI - the GardenTok part of Tiktok is wonderful. I learn a new trick every time I watch their videos.]

I told her to breathe.  

Naturally no one listened to me. Americans are very angry. They have every right to be. But it can feel exhausting. And I still feel I have a valid point. 

Breathe. Ignore the news for the entire day. Take a walk among the tall trees. Or better yet. A flower field. 

It is very, very easy to become overwhelmed with the negativity in the news, all around the world, right now. And while I don't believe it's wise to behave like those proverbial Ostriches -- who have never, ever, put their heads in the sand. I do believe it's important to Breathe. To take a deep breath. And step outside. Enjoy the simple beauty that surrounds you.

You might be surprised how good that makes you feel.

TIPS: Utah Tulip Festival AKA Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival. Located 30 miles from the Salt Lake City airport.

  • Plug ASHTON GARDENS into your phone for directions. If you use Thanksgiving Point, phone maps will send you to the wrong place.
  • Resist the urge to arrive at 10:00 a.m. Everybody shows up at that time, parking can be a nightmare.
  • Allow at least 3 hours to see all the beautiful flowers they have to offer.
  • And make darn sure.. you set aside extra time to have lunch at the Trellis Cafe.

Saturday, March 30, 2024

The Sun Shines Hot and The Wind Blows Cold.

Check out the flower buds. I've never seen a Wandering Jew flower. Is this common?

Busy month. Celebrating double birthdays, trying my luck on the ski slopes, finally biting the bullet and remodeling a 30-year-old kitchen, flying to LA to witness a California Poppy super bloom, re-potting nearly every houseplant in my house. Well. Now that March is finally over. I think a nap is in order.

Yes. I know. This is a terrible photo. :)

The Dahlias are blooming. Don't be too impressed. We're months out from beautiful flowering gardens, this high in the mountains. Sunny windows are the playground when it's snowing outside. 

Chopped most of the roots off my Kalanchoe - and she went absolutely bonkers with the blossoms.

Was equally abusive to the yellow Kalanchoe. With the same wonderful flowering results.

Which naturally inspired me to beat up on the orange ones, too. 

Kalanchoe are a favorite of mine. Quite common, most folks throw them away after they flower. But they're perennials. They'll re-bloom given half a chance

* Root trimming helps keep much-loved houseplants to manageable size. Inspires lots more flowers. Trim the skinny roots, don't cut the tap root, that's the one that matters.

I'm so head over heels in love with this girl, I thought you needed an extra large photo.

My darling granddaughter turned 6. 

Which prompted everyone to insult me about how I'm getting old. 

Why insult me? Howsabout complimenting the kid? Her dress is beautiful, she picked it out herself. It is not a blinding neon rainbow pattern. My little girl is growing up!

* My own daughter has the same birthday, hence the double celebrations. She avoids photos, believing that she's "getting old."

Age is a box people put you in. 

We decided our own mother was 'old' when she turned 80. Which seems appropriate. Thanks to media brainwashing my generation is considered old when they turn 60.

Lifting the lid off the age box, I decided to go skiing. (I live in a ski resort, it's only about 10 minutes to the slopes.)

Haven't skied in a long time and everyone assumes that's because I'm old. Enough already. I'm not that old. But I am rather tight-fisted! And I just can't believe it costs $240, for a single day lift ticket! 

Wish I could say skiing is like riding a bike. But I hardly ever fall off a bike. Though it was a nice fluffy powder day. The apres ski bar was fun and the tumbles were soft.


Plus. Skiing got me out of the house. While noisy men with power tools caused some mass destruction. I've been tolerating The Horrendous Kitchen for about as long as I can remember. It got particularly bad during covid. Remember covid? When everybody painted the walls because they were tired of climbing the walls? 


I chose a paint color called Grey Flannel Pajamas. Such a cute name. Turned out to be periwinkle, a purple Easter egg kitchen. Been scowling at that color choice ever since.

Poppies blooming in France.

Have you ever seen a super bloom? I was lucky enough to see one in France. And it's true what they say. Well, I don't know if anybody actually says this but I will. Once you tip toe through a stunning flower field like this one, you're desperate to do it again.

To continue avoiding the men with noisy power tools, destroying my kitchen, we took off to LA. The location for the most amazing super bloom Poppy Fields. And I had it all figured out. You know. Me. The gardener. Believing I know what I'm doing. Monitoring the nightly temperatures, the rain fall, etc. 

Yep this is gonna be the perfect week to go! 

We did not see a single Poppy the entire time we were in California.

Though we were surrounded by stunning yellow wildflowers along the beaches. While eating and drinking our way across Santa Monica. < Which is always a wonderful Plan B.


Returned home to a brand new kitchen. Where I sit at the new kitchen counter in the early hours of the morning, sipping my coffee and asking myself repeatedly. Why didn't I do this 20 years ago? It would have been paid off by now! 😉

Monday, February 26, 2024

Winter Garden

It's a jungle in here.  

Kangaroo Paw

Every sunny window is happily hosting a variety of flowering bulbs and perennials. 

Do you plant outdoor flowering bulbs indoors? I found it's my saving grace during the long dark of a cold dreary winter.

Temptation Amaryllis

Managed to photograph these on a bluebird day. But that's been very rare this winter. Lots of wind and dark grey skies.

Which definitely messes with the mood.

If I'm not looking at my flowers.. I'm looking out my window at this. Which clearly indicates we won't be playing in the mud any time soon.

* In case you're wondering, that's the Olympic Ski Jump across the meadow. They must be having a competition, I rarely see it lit up like this.

Above - Primula Denticulata - shade lover - perfect for indoor winter gardens. 👆

The Freckle Face plant 👆 - also a shade lover. Displays no flowers, just foliage - she sits on my nightstand, seems perfectly happy (has doubled in size) with light from my bedside lamp.  * Keep moist. *

Tiny Iris, about the size of my thumb.

I went a little overboard this year.  A preemptive strike against the winter blues.

And it works! See? 

You barely notice we're in the midst of another blizzard when you have fragrant Hyacinth blocking the view!

Science Experiments

Why do you have so many flowers?? Asks my darling granddaughter.

Color, fragrance, in a stark white winter world. 

Re-blooming Orchid (I'm as surprised as you are :)

The thrill of success when they bloom. The sobering acknowledgement of defeat when they don't.


I'm sure you've seen aisles of these bulb packets, on sale, typically 50% off at the end of November. 

  1. Grab some!
  2. Store Daffodil, Tulip, Hyacinth, etc. bulbs, in the bags, as you purchased them.
  3. Store in your refrigerator, the produce drawer is a good spot. 
  4. Bring them out after about 6 weeks of forced cold temperatures. 
  5. Grow in water, or plant in soil.
  6. Set on a sunny windowsill and wait for them to work their magic.

Once warm, bulbs are anxious to grow. You'll be surprised how quickly your windowsills are adorned with bright color.  

* Do not store apples in the refrigerator with your bulbs. Apples emit ethylene gas which messes with bulbs. It's particularly hard on Tulips. Which is why I only have one Tulip. Because I forgot. :))

Tuesday, January 23, 2024

Horse Life and Homemade Horse Cookies

This is a painting of Sable, and I, in Sunlight Basin. (We were featured in a magazine, inspiring a friend to paint this.) We rode down that mountain, shown in the background of this painting. And that's why people thought it was a pretty big deal. Sable's head is cocked at an angle because she's waiting for her cookie.

There's this meme going around on social media. Asking: What do you have, now, that you didn't have as a child? 

It's implying that adult life isn't all it's cracked up to be. You have everything now that you had as a child, back then your parents paid the bills. Therefore life was easier way back when.

This is a better photo of my partner in crime, Sweet Sable.
* Note that she is not tied up. She is free to run wherever she pleases.
She prefers to hang with me. (It's because of the cookies.)

What do you have, now, that you didn't have as a child? 

A PONY!!! I responded. Took me 20 years!!! Best midlife crisis. EVER!

Sable and I have traveled far and wide together. 
My turquoise camper provided a soft bed after a long backcountry ride.

I was "That Girl." The one who started begging for a pony when she was 4 years old. I was still begging for a pony in my 40's. And that's when I decided to grow up and buy my own.

That's me in the middle. Monument Valley.
When we hired a Native American guide to helps us navigate the backcountry.

Point Reyes National Seashore

Here we are in Iceland. Sable doesn't fit on a plane. Well, she could, but who can afford that plane ticket?? We did this adventure on rental horses.

We've ridden in lots of wonderful places, all in the middle of nowhere

And this is where the great debate begins. Because most horse owners throw a fit about giving their horses treats. I figure the horse is working much harder than I am, she deserves a wee bit of appreciation.

That's Sable, facing the camera.
* I don't know why people say that my riding buddy and I have look alike horses. Sable is clearly much prettier.

My riding buddy is one of those women who thinks it's a bad idea to give her horse a treat. So here's the story I like to tell, to defend my point of view. 

We were in the middle of nowhere, high in the mountains. Sitting on a rock, eating our lunch. When a freak storm hit. High winds. Lightening and thunder. Both horses bolted. And there we were. Stuck walking 12 miles back to our truck and horse trailer. In the rain. In bear and cougar country. As we were walking through the tall trees, we heard a terrible crash. Something running toward us. Oh my gods, I'll bet it's a bear. But it wasn't a bear. It was my cookie-loving horse Sable who came back to find me. She gave us both a ride the 12 miles back to the trailer. Where the horse who never gets a cookie, was casually grazing, waiting on our return.

* Horses aren't like dogs. She had no interest in saving me. She was basically just hoping she could eat another one of these: 

Oat & Molasses Horse Cookies

  • 2 cups grated carrot
  • 2 cups apple sauce
  • 4 tablespoons corn oil
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups flour

Easy Prep:

Stir together carrots, apples, oil, and molasses.
Mix in salt, oats, and flour.
Spread onto a cookie sheet and bake @ 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.

Mine contain extra carrots because that's what Sable prefers!

Be careful. The horses 'mobbed' me when I walked into the corral sporting these cookies. I know they meant well but oats & molasses is to horses what wine & chocolate is to us...

Also. Before you cast judgement that I must be rich to own a horse, let me assure that is not the case. 

I'm not rich. I'm irresponsible!