Monday, May 30, 2011

Divine Little Moments

Feel like taking a hike through the Utah Desert? The plentiful rains that have made my own spring a misery, have given new life to these harsh surroundings.
Loco Weed
 Ages ago ~ long before we took the plunge and re-located to Utah ~ I visited the crazy friends who'd moved here first. Certain they'd lost their marbles. Fully prepared to talk some sense into them!

We skied for 2 days and then set out to explore the southern half of their unusual state, a few hours and a world away from the snowy scenes of the northern half, in the midst of a high mountain winter.

At our desert campsite, I peeled off my heavy winter coat and spotted a curious little cutie waving in the breeze:

Globe Mallow
My first encounter with the desert wildflower, Globe Mallow. Isn't she a beauty? (If I had a better camera I could show you an entire field of them.)

'Twas those same dear friends who dragged me down there this weekend. And, I went, though I was in no shape to go. I'd had a freak horse accident, a few days before. Which just added to the unhappiness of this cold, damp, no-gardening-for-you-dear-Kate, sorry excuse for a springtime.

Which has the greater affect on your mood? 
a)  People? 
b) Weather? 

For me, it is most definitely the weather. I battled depression the entire time I lived in the Midwest ~ never realized until I moved to sunny Utah that it was a malady bright blue skies could easily cure.

Wandering through the soft sand of the San Rafael Swell is an ideal time for reflection. On what brought me here in the first place and why it's a fine place to be. Once again, all is right with the world ~ thanks to a stellar combination of great friends, a delicious bonfire and glorious desert wildflowers.

PS: Happy Memorial Day. Here's hoping the sun was shining wherever you pitched your tent.

* Find the San Rafael Swell about an hour west of Moab along I-70, in southern Utah. These pics were taken in Little Wild Horse Canyon.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The New Normal?

Wild Lupine
During this elongated monsoon season, I’ve been keeping tabs on my friends in New Mexico. They’ve not had a drop of rain since December and I watch the dust swirl beneath their horses’ feet as they canter through the back country.

Wild Milk Vetch
Our own weather guy has been trying mightily to take our minds off the fact that we’re getting New Mexico’s rain (and probably yours, too.) If his latest trivia tidbit ~ how this is the coldest, rainiest spring in 35 years ~ was a feeble attempt to make us feel better, it is absolutely not working for me.

I keep wishing things will 'get back to normal.'  But, as time drags on, I'm beginning to wonder... is this the new normal? As in no such thing as normal and all weather patterns are extreme?

Wild Buttercup
On this 26th of May I am ~ finally ~ seeing leaf buds on my Lilacs. Not flowers, mind you, just the lime green hint of leaves preparing to unfold for springtime. Isn't that astonishing?

The weather here, there and everywhere has been depressing the hell outta me. I'm one of those do-goody two shoes who likes to volunteer and feels guilty over the plight of others. I'm grateful that I don't live in tornado country and happily donated my garden budget to those that do. Which was part bleeding heart though, I'll confess, it's an equal amount of selfish frustration.

Prairie Primrose should survive. She likes to keep her feet wet.
Not terribly excited about adding new flowers when I no longer know what will grow here. There's standing water in my backyard and waterwise perennials rotting in those make believe lakes.

I filled my gardens with natives and xeriscape perennials because I wanted to do right by the weather. It's hot and dry here, made great sense at the time. (Plus, it's way fun to smile smugly at my next door neighbor who goes into debt, every summer, on water bills to keep his Kentucky blue grass green.)

Uinta Groundsel
But, now I haven't a clue what to do. Other than to watch and wait.

To see how my Grand Plan Gardens fair under the regimes of the new normal. Who knows? Maybe they'll love this cushy new lifestyle. Maybe they'll think getting watered every day is a good thing. Though, I kinda doubt it. And, I'm preparing myself to file this soggy mess under ‘damned if you do.’

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Belated Bloom Day and Big, Big Plans

Freesia bulbs (flowering indoors)
I missed celebrating Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day ~ though I guess that didn't really matter. Seeing as how we've experienced one of the coldest, rainiest springs on record.

The meadow across the way has morphed into a deep lake. A still, quiet place with no wildlife sounds. Which is a little unnerving. I mean... if the frogs are depressed with the weather just imagine how us land lubbers must feel??

I'm grateful for some color, indoors, during this cold, wet spring.
We've been having big fun in spite of the cold...

My darling daughter is getting married! We just returned from Willamette Valley, Oregon, where we were scoping out wedding venues.

They found the perfect spot ~ this place:

Vista Hills Winery, Willamette Valley, Oregon
It may not look like much in the photo but the inside is designed to feel as if you're outside and it's about as perfect as it could be.

Here's where things became all kismet and spine-tingling...

Wine Country Farm, Willamette Valley, Oregon
This is MY favorite spot in Willamette Valley.

Freesia bulbs flowering indoors
It's where I'm gonna live just as soon as I win the lottery. (And, it won't be long, now, 'cause I bought a powerball ticket at the airport.)

I suggested we stay there because I'd always wanted to show daughter L this special place.

The following morning, when we visited the wedding venue (they hadn't told me which places they were looking at,) we discovered their most favorite spot is walking distance ~ right down the road ~ from my favorite spot.

Isn't that wild??

PS! This is a picture of me right after they suggested I pay for this extravaganza....

* Bloom Day: I do have a few stalwart flowers shaking off the rain, snow, sleet and misery of this tough, tough month. But I'm so delighted with the Freesias blooming indoors that I wanted them to take center stage...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Bell Pepper Uprising

That's 1 dollar and 94 cents for one bell pepper.

And, so begins the revolution.

I'm a little outraged by food prices. And, I imagine ~ unless you've been living under a rock ~ you are, too.

Before you reprimand me... may I just say I wouldn't be nearly so outraged if I'd purchased this pepper at some groovy organic farm?

At least, in that scenario, I'd be assured a lot of love and affection, not to mention safe practices, went into the growing of it.

But, I didn't. I snatched it up, while running errands at Walmart, 'cause I needed dinner on the table in about 40 minutes. Did you know that bell peppers rank #7 in the Dirty Dozen? The top 12 veggies that contain the most pesticides?

Truth be told, I'd much prefer to fill my gardens with beautiful flowers and leave the produce planting to farmers.

But, I guess, as a gardener, I'm feeling financially ~ and morally ~ obligated to buck this whole skyrocketing price thing and thumb my nose at the man. 

Because... it is kind of ridiculous, don't you think? That we gardeners can grow a basket of bell peppers, from seed, for the price of a single pepper at the store?

Save a Bundle ~ Quick-Growing Veggies for Mountain Gardens
  • Bloomsdale Long Standing Spinach
    • matures in 42 days
  • Coronado Crown Hybrid Broccoli
    • matures in 58 days
  • Early Contender Bush Beans
    • matures in 49 days
  • Little Marvel Sweet Peas
    • matures in 62 days
  • Black Cherry Tomatoes
    • matures in 65 days
  • Fat 'N Sassy Hybrid Sweet Pepper
    • matures in 65 days
  • Scarlet Nantes Carrot
    • matures in 70 days
Mountain Veggie Growing Tips
Most every veggie has a quick-growing cousin that does well during our short mountain summers. I choose a lot of veggies based on how quick they reach harvest. Growing them in containers, on the deck, often delivers better results. The soil stays warmer at night and it's hotter on your deck, during the day.

    Friday, May 06, 2011

    Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival

    Isn't this the most delightful spot for a picnic?

    Down in the Salt Lake City valley, 3 thousand feet lower in elevation ~ and a full month ahead of the chilly scene in my own mountain garden ~ is a beautiful spot called Thanksgiving Point.

    Filled with acres and acres of happy spring tulips.

    Warm sunlight tap dances across their pretty petals. Snapping this grumpy gardener out of the deep, blue funk that always accompanies an icy cold spring.

    The valley (as we call Salt Lake City) is a blessing in springtime. When absolutely nothing is happening in my own garden, a quick trip to the lower elevations provides sweet inspiration.

    Oh, I know what you're thinking... you feel sorry for me for living way up there in that snowdrift, don't you?

    It's not so bad. Spring arrives a bit later. And, yes, that's maddening for a gardener. But, in another month, those proverbial tables will turn. My smug valley girl friends will be roasting in 100-degree heat and they'll be visiting me for a much-needed break.

    * Thanksgiving Point Tulip Festival: If you're heading to the festival, giddyup. We stubbornly waited for the first picture-perfect spring day but we were surprised to see that many of the tulips were already past their prime...

    Hot Tip for Locals:
    Tulip bulbs are perennials but they don't care. Thanksgiving Point digs up approximately 250,000 Tulip bulbs, every year, and sells the bulbs to flower lovers like you and me for a dollar a dozen. 

    Oh, you did NOT seriously think I was going to tell you when they go on sale, did you? No, no... smaller crowds = more for me!

    Tuesday, May 03, 2011

    The Merry Month...

    Desperate times call for desperate measures! 
    Nabbed these Sun Stars at the local supermarket.

    When the sun popped out, I was giddy as a schoolgirl.

    If we can believe the local weather guy, it has rained ~ or snowed! ~ 20 out of the last 28 days. So, it took a moment to jar my memory. To soak in the warmth of that absentee sun and remember what it’s like to be living in a high plains desert.

    Then the storm clouds rolled in. Again. 

    Don't get too excited. 
    These Tulips and Hyacinths are flowering indoors.

    Of course, no one should be allowed to complain about the weather. Unless, you’re from Alabama. Good Lord… all those tornadoes clustered together… it looked like a scene from that movie, The Day After Tomorrow.

    Christmas Cactus - still blooming!
    Did you know that you can take Red Cross Disaster Response certification courses online? I would very much like to do that.

    Far too frequently, I see situations where people need help, and I think… well, I’ve got frequent flyer miles. I did the Habitat for Humanity thing, after Katrina, but I possess no real skills to help people in such dire need.

    And, while I don't know half of what they're going through, I know a little bit about what they experienced for a few terrifying seconds. I survived a tornado. In my Ford Explorer, which was pretty much destroyed. To this day, high winds make me a little loopy.

    Who knew? Clematis seedlings flower this early?
    On a significantly brighter note... did you just go ga-ga over Kate Middleton’s wedding bouquet??

    Hyacinth, Sweet William, Lily of the Valley… 3 that I nurture in my own gardens, made it into that historic bouquet.

    Thanks to Tivo, I knocked that 8-hour royal wedding down to 35 minutes. (Long live the fast forward button.) I thought her flowers were as stunning as the dress.

    Plus, this sentimental Mom shed a couple tears when Will and Harry stepped out of the limo.

    Diana seems to be very influential with women in my age group. (Or, well, maybe just me and Bev...) But, I think she'd have been proud to see how her darling little boys turned into such impressive, young men.

    * I missed yesterday's Mish Mash Monday (Garden Faerie’s clever invention) so perhaps we could dub this Trivial Tuesday?

    Here's hoping for bright sunshine, wherever you are.