Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The Cowboy Garden

I personally think they need a teensy bit o' blue. I mean... blue is for boys.. right?

Do you 'design' your own gardens? I have two that involved considerable thought AND planning!  So, there. 

The rest? Not so much.

In fact, I have one ever-growing strip along the perimeter of my property called the Impulse Garden. And, I gotta say... that's my favorite. There is absolutely no rhyme or reason to this garden. It reflects the little pretties I simply could not resist while skulking about my favorite nurseries.

But, it works. In doing exactly what a garden should do. It makes me smile.

See that spot by the wagon wheel? It's 8 feet wide. On the shady side of this photo, it's another 8 feet wide. Though neither side is very shady. It is hot as blazes down there [zone 7]. In summer, those twiggy trees leaf out very nicely.  (Cottonwoods) 

So, here's your mission ~ should you decide to accept it ~ what flowers should we plant at the historic San Acacia Schoolhouse? (And, please keep in mind they cannot be toxic to horses.)

Last time I was down in sunny New Mexico, I was invited to plant a garden for my cowboy friend.

He's got the right idea. Because almost all horse owners are women. And, the hundred or so horse loving women who ride with them every week would certainly love some TLC given to the historic San Acacia schoolhouse that he owns.

Now... I could go on forever and a day about how I think it should be a crime that they use that amazing building to store saddles and such. I want to buy it! I want to live there! But, I digress...

Being boys and all... they get a little wiggy with petal pinks, lavender, and OMG! roses. So, I created this loud and proud garden in honor of the cowboys in search of their softer side.


Here's the deal ~ It's still in the planning stages. So, please offer your 2 cents! Our only restriction is that it needs to be Red, Yellow, with some Orange. {Seriously??} And, non-toxic to horses.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Cold Climates

Don't get too excited. She's growing in a sunny window. I'm weeks away from seeing bright beauties, such as this little darling, blossoming outdoors.

But, here's a question for you flower lovers. I think she's just about the most perfect Daisy one can grow, but it's not a Daisy at all. Do you know who she is?

My gardening world looks like this. Tender green shoots popping up all over the place. Hardy bulbs, thumbing their nose at the chilly weather, promising great things to come. Which is why I glean such joy from playing in the mud. 

Spring is such a delightful time. A reunion, of sorts, cleaning up the garden beds, looking at the green shoots and trying to remember which plant is which. And, there are some flowers out there!

While raking away winter's debris, I spotted pink Chinodoxia doing her level best to assure me that garden season has, indeed, arrived.

But, it's still pretty chilly out there. That's why I grow so many perennials indoors. All kinds of flowering plants, who really shouldn't be here. There's that Daisy again. Have you figured out her name? Well, now, here's another challenge for you. What's this one? Those fuzzy green buds might be a dead giveaway.

Guess again. Such bright, fun colors, they don't even look real.
Pics taken on my iPhone
I was on the phone this morning, chatting with yet another mortgage banker who is just dying to re-fi my house. He asked how long I'd lived here. (Shouldn't they know that, if I'm allegedly pre-qualified?) Had to do the math in my head but when I said 10 years it sort of hit me...

This is the year! They say it takes 10 years to grow a proper garden. I don't know if that's true. But, I will say that playing around outdoors yesterday was an impressive treat. I hardly have room for any more flowers...

Though that's never stopped me before. :)

Monday, April 22, 2013

Tomato Tips and the Ultimate Trip

It's Earth Day. Tiny flakes of snow fall quietly outside my window on this dull, grey Monday morning.

I got online for a brief moment but everyone is posting 'Take Action!' pictures and pledges on Facebook, so I decided to disconnect ~ until accusations over who's ruining Mother Earth simmer down a bit.

I'm jaded. Yes, absolutely very jaded. Always have been. Always will be. (Especially on Mondays!)

I do think it's wonderful that we have this day, that inspires so many people to take action, raise awareness, change their habits. I wish I could hop on the Earth Day bandwagon and be all hopeful and optimistic. It's just that I never see any real improvement.

And, I also believe the primary culprit is global population, not the fact that we Americans drive cars that drink too much gas.

But, things are looking up! I saw this little ditty in the paper and thought to myself: Ah ha! Now you're talking!  If there's too many peeps on Earth, let's send a few yahoos to Mars!

They're serious. They already have 1,000+ applications. But, where is the white picket fence?
Note the fine print...
A nonprofit that aims to send the first human colonists to Mars by 2023 will start taking applications in July of this year. Previous training in space travel is not required, nor is a science degree of any sort, but applicants do need to be at least 18 years of age and willing to leave Earth forever. As of now, a flight back to Earth is not part of the Mars One business model.
So, back to that snow outside my office window. Which comes later and later, every year. I'll not complain about the snow because we're in desperate need of moisture but it is messing with safe planting dates in a big way.


Safe planting date in Park City, UT at 7,000 feet is June 15th. Yup. The growing season is half over in normal places and we're just getting started.

What does this mean if you're high up in the mountains and you're hell bent on growing tomatoes?

Grow Veggies in containers. 
* Tomatoes need warm nights in order to wow you with a delightful harvest. When temps drop below 50 degrees (F) tomatoes switch sugar production and you'll end up with totally tasteless tomatoes ~ just like the ones you buy in the supermarket.

Who says you can't control the weather?
Drag those containers indoors, on a super cold night, and thumb your nose at Mean Ass Mother Nature! Move them to a sunnier spot whenever you please. If you love homegrown veggies and you also love the mountains, learn to love containers.

One More Hot Tip:
* Do not go running off to Home Depot to buy a gigantic bag of Miracle-Gro potting soil, in which to plant those tempting little tomatoes. You're planning to eat these goodies. Miracle-Gro and other chemical, synthetic fertilizers, are prohibited from use in certified-organic farming. Amend garden soil with compost and perlite to create a lighter soil mixture, with better water retention.

Well, that's all from here. Have a happy Earth Day and don't forget to send that application to go live on Mars ~ to all those people in your life who need a smack upside the head.

Much love,

Friday, April 19, 2013

Buddy and The Orchid Brigade

Kit Cat Buddy, sniffing the Orchids
Friday is Orchid soaking day.  And, I generally have a little helper named Buddy. He's my sweet little kitty who seems to enjoy gardening as much as I do.

Once a week, the Butterfly (Phaleanopsis) Orchids rest for 30 minutes, soaking in a kitchen sink full of water.

In that water, I dissolve 1-2 tablespoons of fertilizer.

Use a 30-10-10 fertilizer, if growing orchids in bark.

If you're growing them in another medium you may want to considering switching them to bark. They live longer with bark (better drainage) though they require more nitrogen. (Hence the '30' of nitrogen with 10 of phosphorous and 10 of potassium in that 30-10-10 fertilizer mix.)

Water is not that big a deal to Orchids. In their natural environment, they're sometimes categorized as Celestial (found in the high tree canopies) and Terrestrial (found in boggy areas, such as the marshes in Florida.) The orchids posted here need less water than most, though they will surely die if you follow the latest trend of placing an ice cube in their pot - thinking you've done them a favor.

Phaleanopsis Orchids appreciate a deep soak, every 7-10 days, depending upon the humidity in your environment.

* These are all re-bloomers, that I've owned for ages.

PS: I've owned that cat for ages, too. He turns 15 this year!

These photos were taken with my iPhone, hence the substandard quality. I'm really getting lazy about life. So much easier to snap on the phone than rummage through the office mess to find a camera.

Have a great weekend, everybody!

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Spring Break with Sable

Thank heavens for a sunny window.
I arrived home last night, greeted by snow flurries, after a glorious long weekend in the hot New Mexico desert. But, I was also greeted by this pretty Anemone blossom... which lifted my mood considerably...

Sable & I on a photo shoot.
I was in central New Mexico visiting Sweet Sable. My Appaloosa mare who is currently enrolled in charm school. :)

That's what I call it when I send a sassy horse down to ARA for a spring tune up. After a long winter, of doing nothing but standing around in the snow, horses can become very skittish. Spring is an ideal time to get bucked off, so I play it safe by letting my cowboy friends (who aren't afraid of bucking broncos) gently re-introduce the horse to saddles, bridles and all things spooky.

Now, that's probably way more information than you ever wanted to know about what the horse and I are doing in the above photo.

We're doing a photo shoot of these folks! For some upcoming advertising:

It's okay if you don't like the picture. I don't like it either. It wasn't my first, second or even third choice for the ad. (By the time Sable and I had finished our work for the day, we had 200 better pics to choose from.) But, that's the ongoing dilemma when you work in advertising. The client makes the final decision and you just scratch your head and wonder why.

Sable ~ surprise, surprise ~ turned out to be one of the best photo shoot assistants I have ever worked with! She did not feel compelled to give me her opinion on how I might do my job a little bit better. I'm thinking horses over humanoids for here on out. Plus, she never complains when I ask her to schlep a few cameras.

I'm sort of suspecting that she was being extra sweet on me so I wouldn't make her trot to the top of that ridiculously high hill...

 White Sands National Monument: The sand is loose, it gives way beneath your feet, 
and that takes a little getting used to ~ especially if you're a horse. 
In this pic, I'm walking Sable down a sand dune for the first time so she can figure things out.

I love this horse. So much so, that after we wrapped up the photo shoot, I took her on a day trip vacation to White Sands National Monument. Oh, it was so beautiful! 250 square miles of pure white sand, deep blue skies, hot temps warming my winter bones.

We galloped and galloped, racing across the white sand dunes with a dozen of her stablemates ~ aka her horsie friends.

She had a blast and so did I. Just wish it could have lasted a wee bit longer than 3 magical days...

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Friday, April 12, 2013

Friday Funny

I'm following the lead of my blogging friend, Snowcatcher ~ who entertains us every Friday with some cute little thing that she's found online.

This made me giggle and I hope it brings a smile to you, as well.  :)

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Window Gardens

A big, sunny window keeps this gardener sane during the long winter months. For more Wordless Wednesday participants click here!

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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

A Guessing Game

Behold! The first garden blossom of 2013.

And, here's my little darlin' the very next day after spring said bye-bye and winter returned with a vengeance.

"We need the moisture" ~  So sayeth all the people who refuse to let me bitch about the flip flopping of seasons. And, I agree. Though I do think it's incredibly annoying that we waited, with baited breath, all ski season for some decent snow. Now that the ski resorts are closed? We're blessed with a full blown winter storm.

But, we did have a nice reprieve. True spring weather graced the mountains for one long, lovely week. Tender green shoots were popping up all over the place.

How are you at recognizing perennials as they're gearing up for warmer days? Test your knowledge on these four:

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Sunday, April 07, 2013

Growing African Violets

Rebel's Night Breezes African Violet
It's always a mistake for me to visit Home Depot. I grab the cart and push off quickly, determined to by-pass the flower department. With blinders on, I make a beeline to the more mundane departments, such as plumbing, or electrical.

I like to pair micro-mini roses with the violets. Such a pretty combination...
Though, that rarely, if ever, works. Some little pretty catches my eye and this time it was the Violets. I need another African Violet like I need a hole in my head but, somehow, two more of them found their way onto my window sill.

I'm justifying this by composting the old Violets, in favor of some new fresh blooms... because older Violets run out of steam. They flower less profusely and the leaves get kind of ratty.

Ness Ruffled Skies African Violet
Growing Tips:

African Violets grow perfectly for 2 types of people:
1) Residents of Tanzania
2) Indoor gardeners with a lot of time on their hands

If you don’t fall into those two categories, you’re probably an African Violet serial killer... like me! And, Sandy... and, pretty much everyone else I know. Come springtime, stores tempt us with these darling little house plants though the average life expectancy in my home is about 6 months.

Lyon's Spun Sugar African Violet

* The quickest way to kill them is by over watering. Water when soil is dry to the touch.

* Another good way to do a bad job is to water them from above. They absolutely hate getting their leaves wet. Set them in a saucer and let the roots slowly take a drink.

* East windows, with morning sunlight and bright light for the rest of the day, is ideal.
√ If leaves start turning brown, the plant is getting too much light.

Tommi Lou African Violet
Give them highly diluted 10-10-10 organic plant fertilizer, once a month. Spend the extra dollar on African Violet soil. It does make a difference.

Strawberry Sundae African Violet
Or, better yet... don't re-pot them. For indoor flowering plants, it's not always a good idea to re-pot them; they flower best when root bound. Have you ever noticed how the plant is super cheap but then a ceramic pot costs a fortune and special soils are pretty spendy? The flower is the hook to get you to spend tons of money on accessories you may not need. But, then, I'm a cheapskate.

These pretty, little flowers grow wild in one small place on the planet, the rain forests of East Africa. Make them feel at home by creating a humid environment.

Bob Serbin African Violet
Put a layer of stones in a deep saucer, fill with water, and place your flower pot on top of it. (Pot should sit above the water level.)

The water will slowly evaporate upwards, creating the perfect flowering environment for your African Violet. Which, incidentally, is not a violet at all. But, that's a story for another day...

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Wednesday, April 03, 2013


Sharing coffee while we're harvesting hollyhock seeds to mail to blogging friends.
* This article is in celebration of paperblog's 2nd anniversary. Have you been there? Click here to visit their gardening community. It's fun!
Delightful Sweet Peas. Allow them free reign over your deck or patio. Easy to grow from seed.
Earlier this year, I was helping a friend get a brand new blog off the ground. He's a great writer, with a quirky point of view, just the thing we writers love to discover, as we wander through the blogosphere.

Surround Tulip bulbs with Daffodils & Ornamental Onions so critters won't find the bulbs and eat them.
He was very excited and I was excited for him. So much so, that I didn't have the heart to tell him how very long it takes for a blogger to get noticed.

Though, it's not nearly as hard as it used to be. I sent him over to paperblog, to register his blog and, hopefully, get his blog noticed way faster than the old school method I was forced to use.

Neat, sweet and petite.. Baby Bellflowers
I started my blog back in the dark ages.

In 3 short weeks, I'll celebrate my 7th year of blogging. Hard to believe that I could drone on for seven solid years about trying to keep a garden brightly blooming this high up in the Wasatch Mountains.

Short summers, weird soil, June snows, September frosts... My blogging tagline should read: "Abandon hope, all ye who enter here." :))

Some of this is a 'heritage garden.' These are Mom's Bearded Iris.
I was a blogger long before blogging was cool. There was no Pinterest, no Twitter, no Facebook ~ restricted to college kids, at the time. Whenever I'd tell people I had a blog, they'd look at me funny. The few who knew what blogs were, thought it was just another dumb idea of Kate's.

Stunning Double Hollyhocks tower (7 feet tall) over shorter perennials.
But, those of us who were into blogging knew it was more than a dumb idea. We'd discovered something pretty special.

It offered us something so very valuable. You see, before blogging, my only outlet was to bore friends to tears talk passionately about gardening ~ to good friends in the real world. Most of whom didn't give a rat's ass about how I'd found the absolute perfect fertilizer combo for the John Cabot Roses.

I loves me some John Cabots
Through blogging, I met hundreds of people who were just as wacky as me! People who would rejoice in my successes and give heartfelt consolations on my miserable failures. [Of which, there are many. Don't even get me started on the Wisteria.]

We spoke the same language. 'Twas here that I found my peeps.

Heirloom Tulips: this type will naturalize, the bulbs divide, producing more tulips every year.
Anyhoo... fast forward to 2013 where everyone wishes they'd started a blog ages ago. (Suckers...) Because it's through social media that hobbies, like gardening, happily flourish. With people who actually care. Along the way, we meet new friends, with the same interests, from all over the globe.

If you've been on this blog before then you know I rarely pat companies on the back. But, if you're looking to expand your friend list, consider giving paperblog a try. You never know who you might meet.

* Emma, from paperblog, invited me to write about them, in celebration of their 2nd anniversary. And, I'm happy to do so. I've gotten a lot of blog followers by being connected with them. It also connects me with other bloggers that are way harder to find. Such as the folks publishing in their trekking magazine. Thanks to them, I spend a little time, every afternoon, dreaming about new places to explore.

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