Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Wordless Wednesdays: Purple and Pink

Prettiest blossoms in the garden {today}. Don't ya just love spring flowers?

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Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Mountain Lilacs

President Grevy Lilac ~ love the blue of this one.
Thunder and lightening rolled down off the mountains, sending myself and the Bad Dog scurrying for cover. So much for our weed pulling.

And, that's kind of disappointing because the new summer office hours kicked in today:

Up at noon, to work by one, an hour for lunch and then I'm done. 
Wouldn't that be grand??
Snow White's seven dwarves had the right idea...
Sensation Lilac ~ Love everything about this one :)
It's more like this:

Struggling to figure out where that noise is coming from at 5 a.m. And, then bashing the heck out of your alarm clock. Sleep walking to the kitchen. Staring off into space while the coffee pot percolates it's magical brew.

The real summer work hours are 6 a.m. to noon - then I come back to work late in the afternoon.

Mid-day is my time. Usually, it's spent putzing with the flower beds.

People accuse me of being a slacker for working in my gardens when a project is due (or, overdue) but pulling weeds involves your hands, not your brain.

It's a great Zen-y way to think through all the work problems that need to be tackled. When I sit back down in front of my computer, I generally have a good idea on how to fix them.


Over the holiday weekend, a friend of mine mentioned she'd hired a housekeeper. I imagine she was saying that because it looks like a bomb went off in my house and she thought I should clean up my act.

So, I did! Sort of. I hired a tote that barge and lift that bale teenage boy who cleans up the mess I make while weeding. Because, unlike other gardeners, who carry a bucket with them while weeding... I rip out the weeds and toss them over my shoulder.

Beauty of Moscow Lilac
I don't really mind that mess. It's visible progress on the bane of my existence: the grasses that work their way into the garden beds. But, my landscaper tenant just can't stand it! He's used to doing a neat and clean, professional job. He finally couldn't take it any longer, so he sacrificed volunteered his reluctant son for the clean up act. :)

Here's hoping you all had a wonderful, warm, adventure-filled holiday weekend.  

Mountain Lilacs:

When properly selected, Lilacs regularly outlive the gardener who plants them. And, they love, love, love the mountains. Any variety does well at 7,000 feet altitude.
Popular at 8,000 feet altitude
- Syringa x persica 'Persian' Lilac

Popular at 9,000 feet altitude
- Syringa x prestoniae 'Donald Wyman' Lilac
- Syringa patula 'Miss Kim' Lilac 

Popular at 10,000 feet altitude  
- Syringa x chinensis 'Chinese' Lilac
- Syringa vulgaris 'Common Purple' Lilac
- Syringa vulgaris alba 'Common White' Lilac
- S x prestoniae 'James MacFarlane' Lilac
- Syringa meyeri 'Korean Dwarf' Lilac
- Syringa x prestoniae 'Royalty' Lilac

Popular at 12,000 feet altitude
- Skiing and snowboarding on the 4th of July

* Give them lots of sun. Neutral soil. A wee bit o' horse poo works wonders! Prune right after blooming as they begin developing next year's buds asap.  Remove the oldest, least productive, branches to keep them looking lovely.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bombarded with Color!

Flowering Almonds
 Isn't she a stunner? Flowering Almonds are so delightful. As I look around the homestead, I wish I'd planted a dozen more...

 On a cold spring, it could be June before perennials flower this high up in the mountains. While plants are greening up, trees and shrubs take center stage.

 They're going nuts this year ~ because of our plentiful rains.

Golden Currants
 I have not ~ as yet ~ turned on the sprinklers. And, that's a whole month later than normal.

Sweet Honeysuckles
 In the beginning, I was hoping for fruit, but I was sorely disappointed. Fruit trees don't produce much of a harvest at this altitude.

Flowering Plums
What scraggly fruit they do produce is a fancy feast for the songbirds.

But, who cares? They're gorgeous!

Early Lilacs
Everywhere I look I'm bombarded with color. And, this is only half of them! I've got a batch of later bloomers waiting in the wings... :)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

That Proverbial Road Less Traveled: Why Does it Make Everybody Nuts?

"You're doing a wonderful job...
You're just doing it all wrong."
Yes. I grow Tiger Lilies in my house. Because... I like 'em! 
If you have an issue with that, perhaps you should just keep quiet.

It takes me a good week to recuperate after European travel. And people are very understanding about that. Oh, yeah, the jet lag, they say. But, jet lag doesn't bother me. It took me one nap in Munich to recover from a 17 hour flight and correct my body clock to an 8 hour time difference. And, one good night's sleep to do the same thing after my return home.

[It's called espresso, people. Don't knock it, 'til you've tried it.]

I also grow Geraniums indoors. People are weird about this one, too. 
That's an outdoor plant, they say. So go plant them out there. 
I like having them indoors. But, that's just me.

It's not the sleep deprivation that leaves me discombobulated for a week. It's the pondering of how people behave toward me and the ongoing confusion over how to deal with it.  

Should we address perceived slights when they are directed our way? Or, should we ignore them, hoping it will just go away? I tend to ignore ~ where I'm from that's called being polite ~ which is probably why it happens so often.

[For years, I attributed the unwanted advice syndrome to my blonde hair. Perhaps, they think I'm stupid? But, I died my hair brown and it kept happening so that theory was shot to hell.] 

This one makes people completely batty. I grow Clematis indoors, as well. 
They're generally so big, they're flowering before they find a permanent home in the garden.

It felt as if every one of my 14 travel days included unwanted commentary on how the choices I've made are all wrong and here's how you could do things a wee bit better.

Geez. Whatever happened to that whole 'marching to the beat of a different drummer' idea? I like that one. It works for me.

Now, I imagine this happens to everybody. And, I take it too personally. So, what do you do? Do you fight back? Or, do you walk away?

The whole 'sit down little lady and let me tell you how it's done' generally starts with the biggie: "Why didn't you ever get remarried? You should, you know." {Well, in case you haven't noticed, half the people in America are single. And... maybe I don't want to?} {Parentheses = things better left unsaid.}

She loves it here. And, I'm glad she does.

"Who do you think you are, owning a horse and riding her all the time? I can't afford that so therefore, you, Kate, should not be able to afford that, either."

{Whoa. Wait a second. Your mountain climbing endeavors equate to a very expensive hobby. Why is your sport acceptable and mine is not?} {Parentheses = things better left unsaid.}

"Why don't you have a roommate? That's popular for single people these days." {Oh good grief... Maybe I'm not lonely and apparently you are?} {Parentheses = things better left unsaid.}

I had barely sat down to dinner, at our international sales meeting, when I was blindsided by this:

My client announces to the two men who joined us: Aw, you young guys are stuck sitting with us old hags. {Old? Hags? Clearly that woman is uncomfortable with growing older. But, I'm not. There were plenty of open tables. I imagine the guys chose to sit with us because we're very smart professionals who can help them climb the corporate ladder.}

Strike 4. I'm single. I love my horse. I don't want a roommate. And, I just discovered I'm an old hag. But, here's the one nobody ever likes to talk about: I'm very happy just being me. In fact, I'm so happy it never occurs to me to try to make you feel miserable.

Some gardeners consider the old, wild roses the bane of their existence. 
Because they grow the way they want to, and flower however they please.

In foreign countries, everything is different.

Not better, mind you. Just different. And, when we're visiting, I personally feel we should go with the flow. You don't throw a temper tantrum because you can't find Texas BBQ in Slovenia. You eat the Knödel and tell everyone it tastes great. (It does.)

Wouldn't it be cool if everybody behaved like that? All of the time? If they just went with the flow and stopped trying to change things?

It would certainly make my life easier...

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Ciao Bella

I'm a wee bit sad ~ to say good-bye to Italy. Such a beautiful country. Why must travel time fly by so quickly?

But, I'm a lucky, lucky girl. To have seen this magical area in the first place and also to see it through the eyes of a local! I have a close friend who lives here.

She met, and married, an Italian 6 years ago. Perhaps I should have been shopping for an Italian, instead of hanging out in the Rose Gardens! ;)

I visited her in 2011. A dark time for me. My brother had passed away, very suddenly. And, I was having a tough time dealing with that. We were pretty close.

Sarah wisely suggested a change of scenery. She found me a teeny, tiny little apartment in Bressanone, Italy, about an hour drive from Austria. Quite literally across the street from her home.

Not only did I get to explore Italy. I also got to live like a local! Which is so much fun... navigating the oddities at the grocery store and getting lost in a maze of cobblestone streets. 

I remember hopping off that plane in Innsbruck, leaving a dull, grey, winter landscape behind... and everywhere I turned, bright blossoms greeted me.

Flowers, you see, they are very good for the soul. It was fabulous therapy back in 2011. And, even more so this time around.

I hope you've enjoyed the pictures and stories. It's sure been fun. And, now it's back to the states where, with any luck, my gardens are blooming just as brightly. Sans the castles, of course. :)

Thursday, May 16, 2013

To the Salt Mines... Literally!

On my last night of our international sales meeting in Germany, we were treated to the most amazing thing.

Deep below the Salzberg mountain is a working salt mine.

It's been in operation since the 1500's. (I was educated to the fact that salt mines always 'employed' slaves, hence the reference to all of us working stiffs...)

I dressed pretty sharp for this dinner. Which was a waste of time. Because they make you put on miner's suits!

Then, you hop on a little train that takes you down into the salt mine..

From there, we sailed across an underground lake in the near pitch dark.

Next up! We use an ancient wooden slide to reach the lowest level. In groups of five, or six, you sit on these polished wooden slats and slide - very fast - to the bottom! No big accidents, in spite of our best efforts while goofing off...

(My photos of the train and slide didn't come out so I snitched some pics from the salt mine website... :)

When you get to the depths of the salt mine... voila! A dining room!

Where we gnoshed on all kinds of gourmet goodies...