Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Bouquet Day!

Here's my sorry little submission for Noelle's wonderful meme: Monthly Garden Bouquet. All my little pretties can fit in a cordial glass ~ note the penny in the picture. (Feel free to ignore the hose :)

Okay! Onward and upward. 

These next two submissions are NOT mine. But, they're so cool I wanted to share. I hope you enjoy them.

My non garden-blogging friend, Karen, is a newbie to the world of Dahlias, but that didn't stop her from winning pretty much every prize in the house at last weekend's flower show.

Best Use of a Dining Room Table.
[These are just her winners. There were many more categories at the flower show.]

Three cheers for Karen. And, for Noelle, too. Creator of Monthly Garden Bouquet.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Mish Mash and the Mums

I'm on a mission to keep my new Hardy Mums alive. If you have any tips, I'm all ears.

I had to work all weekend. ALL weekend. As in 12 solid hours on Sunday but only half that on Saturday. Because Sandy suggested I knock off early to do wine and appetizers. (I'm only human.)

This is me working:

Well, actually this is me, behind the camera, killing time instead of working. But, yes! That's a real Sunflower.

Sometimes, when I receive a bouquet of flowers, I pull out the most favorite one and let it shine all by it's lonesome next to my computer.

That Sunflower replaced the previous Pom Pom Dahlia. Gone but not forgotten. An astonishingly perfect white Dahlia that kept getting more and more interesting as it slowly faded into oblivion.

Got the Dahlias for writing KC's press releases. (She grows them.) Got the Sunflowers for sending Jamie on my New Mexico horse ride 'cause I no longer wanted to go plus they wouldn't give me my money back.

Dearly Departed Dahlia

Got these gargantuan Mums for doing absolutely nothing. Seriously. I met up with Sandy for wine and appetizers, complimented her on the gorgeous Mums and she said, Here! Take them! (Don't ya just love how wine makes everyone all generous and stuff?)

Which makes me think I should be very forthcoming on flower compliments from here on out. You just never know when a gardener might be in the mood to gift you with something...

* After Googling Mums until my little fingers are all worn out, I'm beginning to wonder if the term 'Hardy Mum' is a conspiracy theory. Did you know Mums need to be planted in the Springtime in order to have half a chance at surviving the cold, cold winter? I didn't either.

** Mish Mash Monday is the brainchild of Monica, resident gardener to the fairies.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Unexpected Harvest

Our no complaints summer weather inspired a plentiful harvest of fruit I never intended to pick.

Crappy Apples

On express orders from pretty much everyone who's had to deal with me lately, I took a walk up over the hill, to visit the horses. Right after I picked them a couple buckets of crappy apples.

Not to be confused with crabby apples. (Recipe below.)

 Crabby Apples

The big apples aren't very tasty. The little crab apples are even worse. Unless you're a horse. (Though I've discovered a few cups of brown sugar can take the edge off pretty much anything.)

Walnut Crab Apple Bread Recipe
  • 2 cups crab apples, schmooshed, seeds removed. (might want to get rid of those stems, too.)
  • 1/2 cup butter (lightened up: 1/4 cup butter + 1/4 cup applesauce)
  • 2 eggs (lighter: same amount, liquid eggs)
  • 1 cup brown sugar (real maple syrup is healthier, but I haven't goofed around with it)
  • 2 tbs. milk
  • 2 tbs. cinnamon
  • 2 cups flour (+ 2 extra tbs. flour if you live in the mountains, like me.)
  • 3/4 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins

Bake in a bread pan @ 350, for about an hour.

And, be warned:

* I've had mixed reviews on this recipe. I liked it. Bella thinks prepping and cooking baby crab apples is a huge waste of time. (She'd much rather eat them raw.)

What's that you say? These things produce fruit??
My soul goal for planting crab apple trees was the heavenly pink, white and fuchsia flowers in springtime. Fruit, if any, could be a tasty treat for the birds. Or, so I thought. We're gonna need lots more birds...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

This one's for you, Rod.

My brother, Rodney, passed away ~ very suddenly ~ this month. After a life long battle with a rare, incurable disease known as Ehlers Danlos syndrome. He received his first heart valve transplant at the Mayo Clinic before I was even born. 

We were very connected through this blog. He read every post I ever wrote. (He’d send me emails if he spotted a typo. :) Each time I sit down and think about blogging I end up thinking about my brother, instead. 

This post is not about flowers, it’s a clumsy attempt at saying good-bye to one very special guy.


On a whim, 4 years ago, I started a blog. That first entry included some seriously deep prose: Hellooo. Welcome to my blog! After that I didn’t know what to say. And, probably would have bagged it. But, one month later, my Mother had a stroke and thus began the year from hell.

For some odd reason, I decided to stick with the blog and turn it into A Positive Place. My rule was firm: Blog happy, or blog not at all. Plenty of sad shit in the world. Let some other hack cover that beat.

It forced me to search for a highlight in an otherwise miserable day. Besides, it didn’t really matter what I wrote. Nobody read it. Except for my brother, Rodney. He read every post, we’d yak about them over the phone, and he'd send me a note if he spotted a typo. (English majors… they’re an odd lot.)

The only time he lost control and actually posted a comment on my blog was when I threatened to buy a horse. “Are you out of your GD mind!?” he exclaimed. I bought the horse anyway. Ended up buying two, since he was so vehemently opposed to the idea. ;)


If you've ever lost someone close to you, then you know how it works. It begins with a brief statement, spoken too quietly, leaving you wondering if you heard that correctly. You need it repeated. Some relative, one step removed, tells you somebody died, and even though you’d like to scream and holler and accuse that uncle of lying to you, you feel obligated to be equally quiet and polite. I should know. Been through it often enough. First Dad, then Mom. And, now my dear Brother. He was only 62.

Been drifting ever since. Up above. Down below. I didn’t come home sad. I came home angry. A flurry of activity. Watering, weeding, buying autumn flower bulbs. And ultimately throwing those flower bulbs away.

Moved out of my bedroom, into the guest room. Couldn’t sleep in the old spot anymore. Couldn’t sleep in the new one, either. Which is why ~ of all the caring gestures from friends: flowers, soup, herbal teas ~ when Kel showed up with an Ambien and suggested I simply disappear for 8 hours I thought to myself, now that’s not a bad idea.

Of course, the next morning it dawned on me why I’d been doing such a poor job of handling this. My brother was there to help me through the other times. My constant. The tough one when our father died, a savior when my divorce began to consume me. Coordinated every gory detail when our Mother passed away, 4 years ago, this month.

Selfish, shallow, inept me. With this one, I’m on my own.

We could not have been more opposite. He was older. Wiser. Sick, always. Spent most of his life indoors. (I only came indoors when it was raining.) Every once in a blue moon, I succeeded in dragging him off to places he never should have gone. Ireland, Germany, Hawaii, 4-wheeling in the Utah mountains. Dangerous stuff.

That's the thing about illness and death. When it overshadows everything, you don't fear it. You get to the point where you tell jokes about it. Which is what we did. Pretty much all the time.

And, now he’s gone. Just like that. To a better place, where I can no longer keep an eye on him. And, while I know this is a good thing it may take awhile before I reach a point where I truly believe that.

Thanks for listening.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ~ September, 2010

Photo above ~ meet the perp. Happily munching his way from the front garden to the backyard. AND ~ he invited a few dozen of his close, personal friends so things are looking a little ragged around here.

You know how people always brag that their gardens are alive with color? Well, mine's half dead with color.

Lots of bright bloomers, but most are just halfsies. Relentless deadheading helps but after 5 months of long hours, hot sun and hard work these gals are pretty worn out. (Me, too!)

Big applause for this young lady. Columbines are generally June bloomers but ~ like I said ~ I'm a relentless deadheader. I do believe this is the latest I've ever seen a Columbine flowering in my garden!

I should be speaking the praises of Sedum, today. (Love that plant.) Thought I'd be a rebel and clap my hands for Potentilla instead. Petal Pink Potentilla, that is. The hardest working waterwise shrub in my gardens. Been blooming all summer.

White David Phlox ~ looks gorgeous in a vase and the fragrance... oooh la lah.

Plentiful daisy wannabes ~ volunteer Asters, Zebrinas, Marguerites, and (truly) wild Coneflowers.

Last but not least, Moth Orchids! Yeah, yeah, I'm sure you think this is cheating but they're squeaking in on a technicality. They've been living outdoors all summer! This is their 2nd re-bloom at Chez Kate, so I think this counts.

Oh! And, in case you're wondering... I'm planning to paint those garden chairs. Some day. Real. Soon.

As always, go give Carol of May Dreams Gardens a great, big hug for creating this wonderful Bloggers' Bloom Day monthly tradition.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Final Exam

"The Chocolate Flower prefers dry, pitiful soil."

That statement got me sooo excited!

After all, shopping for perennials that enjoy my harsh, garden environment is like braving the Nordstrom's shoe sale when you know, full well, your size 7 foot is the same size as a million other women sporting a Mastercard. (When you do find something that fits, chances are good that it's probably sold out.)

Which is why I was thrilled to find the Chocolate Flower.

It's easily mistaken for a Tickseed Coreopsis, until you brush past it, without thinking, and get a surprising whiff of that pretty chocolate fragrance.

This time of year, my waterwise perennials fidget nervously in the soil. It's report card time.

Did they learn their lessons? How to survive in the land of the inept gardener who sometimes wishes she'd started a horseback riding blog instead?  Because it's not like I'll coddle them with the promise of a do-over. No, no. Visions of the compost pile haunt them night and day.

Chocolate Flowers get an A+. Berlandiera lyrata USDA zones 4-8. Save yourself some $$$ and plant this easy bloomer by seed.
Hey, Smarty Pants:
Think you know a thing or two about native perennials who dream of a comfy life in your garden? Click here and take this wildflower quiz.

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Riding the Red Rocks

Earlier this summer, I did a very smart thing. Huge cause for celebration since that doesn't happen all too often.

Frustrated with everyone's lack of motivation to go horseback riding, I got online and joined a group called Backcountry Horsemen of Utah. Doesn't that sound butch??? To my relief, it's a 50-50 mix of women and men, all mild-mannered cowgirl wannabes just like me.

Now, I'm not mature enough to do anything alone, so I secretly filled out membership forms, forged the signatures(!) and paid the annual dues for two of favorite horse loving pals!

It worked like a charm.

Soon after that, this mother/daughter team checked their emails and were surprised by a horse adventure newsletter. (Yeah, yeah. I gave out their email addresses, too. Nothing is sacred with me.)

What horse owner could resist such a grand adventure? A month later we found ourselves trotting along the real, true Butch Cassidy trail in the Red Rock Canyons of southern Utah.

And, yes, I let them think it was all their idea...

Best photo from this fun trip: It's Jamie taking a picture of me, while I'm taking a picture of her. :)

* Red Canyon is located just outside of Bryce Canyon National Park, in southern Utah. As the story goes, Butch Cassidy escaped the local sheriff in the rugged back country of Red Canyon, now dubbed the "Cassidy Trail."
** You can rent horses and ride the same trail we did. BUT, IF YOU DO, you must absolutely, positively, promise that you will NOT rent horses through Ruby's Inn of Bryce Canyon City. You see, I found abused horses in their corral. And, I've got the pictures to prove it. I've turned them over to every animal rights group from here to Washington, D.C. Now, I'm on a first name basis with the Garfield County Sheriff, who's In like Flynn with Ruby's and refuses to investigate this case. Which has me thinking that Butch and I could have been fast friends had we met in Red Canyon a hundred years ago.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Sonic Blooms!

A vacation is what you take when you can no longer take what you've been taking. ~ Earl Wilson

It feels soooo marvy to get OFF of an airplane. To grab my bag from the noisy carousel. Turn my back on the rest of the sardines who were squished into the same plane as me...

Then, slide back into the familiar life I so gleefully abandoned two short weeks ago.

And, I suppose that's the great thing about vacations. How they knock a little sense into me. I return home, unable to recall what had been making me so batty that I desperately needed to leave.

This time around, I vacationed with two of my best buds: Week one I traveled with my happy little horse. Week two I scooted off to Oregon with a Master Gardener who is simply gaga over Dahlias.

Do you grow Dahlias? They're too fussy for me but after wandering through entire acres of bright blossoms, bigger than my head, I have half a mind to try.

I'm particularly giddy over these perfect, little Poms:

In case you're wondering... Yes, they do come in other colors than pink. I didn't realize that's all I photographed until I got home! ;-)

For everything you've ever wanted to know about Dahlias, including how not to kill 'em, click here.