Sunday, April 24, 2016

Blue Meadows and the Saddle Sore-ority

“Then the spring came, and all over the country there were little blossoms and little birds.” - Oscar Wilde

Had an awfully hard time getting out of bed this morning. Partly because I was shivering under the covers. Mostly because I was listening to the song birds on the other side of the open window. 

A sweet morning serenade.

It's still cold. Though that doesn't matter so much... as long as the sun shines.

The Bluebells are rejoicing and so am I.

All that rain. You know... the rain I've been complaining about for weeks now? :)

It has inspired remarkable blooms in the meadow.

Which, in turn, has inspired leisurely afternoons in the saddle.

Sweet Sable is an Appaloosa ~ best known for the polka dots on their bee-hinds.

Sable & I have been prowling the meadow in search of wildflowers.

She likes to eat 'em and I like to take pictures ~ before she gobbles 'em up.

"The angle you choose, when photographing your flowers, is very creative." That was a kind, and undeserved, comment from a blog visitor.

True confessions... it's not creativity. It's the sweet trifecta of old age, a wee bit o' laziness and a very tall horse.

So much easier to snap flower photos while I'm sitting in the saddle. Hopping on and off a tall horse is hard work!

She's the best photo assistant on the planet. Having learned to stand motionless while I'm taking pictures.

What's in it for her? Why, a cookie, of course!

Mertensia Alpina.
The Mountain Bluebells are absolutely stunning this year. 

Horse, Sable, also recognizes the ringtone on my cellphone. The moment it rings, she stops, drops her head and starts quietly grazing.

She knows I'm chatting with a client. Best not to blow my cover. (No cookies, if you blow my cover.) Said client probably assumes I'm sitting in a dreary office working on my computer.

We often ride to the old white barn. 
The path follows a babbling brook where wildflowers are plentiful.

Ah, the life of a freelancer.

This month, this year, I am celebrating 18 years of not working. Well, I work. I actually work pretty hard sometimes. Most times.

But, when I'm sick of work I go ride my horse and since I'm a very lenient boss I never yell at myself for playing hooky. :)

Meadow Phlox is blooming along the Willow Creek Trail.

My farrier (horse shoe guy) is forever lamenting the good, old days.

Before smart phones and wireless and all those gadgets that are super intimidating. To him, not to me.

I keep quiet while he's ranting about how great life was way back when. Though, I fail to see what was so good about those days. When, during the work week, we were cooped up in a cubicle, tied to a land line, waiting for the weekend to arrive.

Meadow Phlox comes in pink, too.

I'm old enough to remember high school days in the dark ages. Before anything made life easy!
It's only saving grace was that it was pink.
Sitting home (for an entire weekend!) waiting for some shy boy to get up the nerve to call me and invite me to prom. I had to stay home because the answering machine had not yet been invented.

Give me technology over that inconvenience any day.

Here's hoping you all had a lovely week in the garden.

~ kate

* Alpine Bluebells, Mountain Bluebells, Mertensia Alpina are all the same flower ~ so call them whatever you wish.

They did an 'okay' job of soothing colic in babies and horses ~ back in the days when we relied on a princess phone for a hot date.

As delightful as bluebells are... best to enjoy them in a wild environment.

Rich garden soil and consistent watering would encourage them to grow like crazy, squeezing out all of your other garden perennials.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Bulbs, Bears and the Ice Storm

Lady Derby, Heirloom Hyacinth, 1875

Oh, happy day! The sun is shining!

A thin layer of ice melts from the garden. Hyacinth do their level best to shake off the last remnants of winter, providing a wee bit of spring color.

General Kohler Heirloom Hyacinth. (1878)
Find rare Hyacinth at Old House Gardens.

Cat's not happy. With good reason.

I love cats, hate litter boxes.

On the last sunshine-y day (which feels like a lifetime ago) I put his litter box outdoors in celebration of spring. Transforming him into a full on outdoor cat.

He woke me at dawn to inform me that I had absolutely jumped the gun on the switching of seasons. And, it is waaaaay too chilly to expect him to do his business outdoors.

It's been cold.

Really cold.

When I went to pick up my eggs, heat lamps were warming Bob's designer chickens.

Plentiful color, indoors, though, which always brightens my day.

I force Tulips every year, because it works wonders on my mood when I wake to grey skies and April showers snowstorms. (Store bulbs for 6 weeks, in a paper bag, in the refrigerator. It's just that easy.)

Did you know that cut Tulips continue to grow in the vase? 
Yes, indeedy, they do. And, they don't last very long as cut flowers 
because they need energy from the bulb for best blossoms.

That's a cat in the background. Pete likes my Tulips, too!

I grew these bulbs next to my computer so, during the work week, I could watch them quietly move from bud to blossom.

On the home front, it was another week of waiting...

Waiting with baited breath for the sun to warm our bones, for the blessings of spring to boost our spirits.

Meanwhile, back on the windowsill..

We've got pumpkins!

And Tomato plants. Rosemary, Hollyhocks. Percolating nicely in the sunny window.

Buckets and buckets of happy Tulips...

And, a bear problem.

Yup. Bears.

I'm a member of the High Uinta Backcountry Horsemen. (Which is pretty much all women so I don't know why they call it that.)

Actually, I'm a brand new member and I wouldn't have become a member at all if I had attended a meeting before I paid my dues.

The first meeting was all about defending yourself against bear attacks. 

Apparently, they have counted 45 black bears on the trails we were planning to ride.

The forest service calls them opportunistic predators. 

Meaning... they're not plotting to heist your picnic type basket. They're planning to eat you for dinner.

We participate in search and rescue on horseback.
It's downright amazing how many tourists get lost in these woods.
Seriously? Since when did berry-eating black bears gravitate to the carniverous side?

During the lively discussion re: defending yourself in a bear attack: You need to stand your ground and fight back. (Yeah. Like that's ever gonna happen...) I snatched the last cookie from the tray and hightailed it outta there.

"Kate!" Calls the woman in charge. "You need to know this stuff," she says.

"I already know what to do," I replied. (And, I'll bet you know, too.)

Best way to prevent a bear attack is to go ride somewhere else.

Or, if you must be out on that trail...  Make darn sure you're riding the faster horse!  :)

Tulip growth is affected by gravity and light. Flowers will curve upwards and bend toward the sun. In the garden, Tulips and Daffodils are BFFs. In the vase, not so much.

  • Plant Daffodils to surround your precious Tulip bulbs ~ critters can't smell your Tulips and therefore won't eat them.
  • Cut Daffodil stems emit a sap-like substance that can kill cut Tulips, if placed in the same vase. 

Happy Gardening!
 ~ kate

PS: Folks have been asking about the Hyacinth. They are all heirlooms, available at Old House Gardens because I'm doing my part to prevent these stunning flowers from disappearing from our world. Old House did not compensate me, in any way, for plugging their terrific cause and company.

Saturday, April 09, 2016

Charlie and the Flower Factory

First, he steals my heart.
Then, he destroys my garden.

The next door neighbor's garage sale began at the unthinkable hour of 6 a.m. (I'm always impressed with people who will rise and shine that early looking for a bargain.)

The moment the first customers arrived, Charlie went bonkers barking and barking.

Not because he was alerting me to stranger danger. Oh, no.

He thought it was pretty darn silly for those folks to be shopping when they could come on over to his yard and play fetch!

So, I, too, got up super early and marched out there, to retrieve my over-zealous pup, taking stock of the disaster that is my yard, now that he's my roommate.

Deep holes, unearthed perennials and all sorts of horrific gardening crimes...

Gypsy Queen, Heirloom Hyacinth [1927]
Charlie witnessed me doing the unthinkable ~ digging a hole ~ planting spent Hyacinth bulbs I forced in the house.

If I dig, he thinks he can dig, and since I don't speak dog we are locking horns, big time, on this issue.

Amidst a pile of doggie toys ~ my brand new bedroom slippers (Charlie! Bad Dog!)...  I spotted tiny blue stars speckling the side yard. Scilla has jumped the boundaries of the well-defined garden beds, flowering in the lawn.

I love these little gals but they are as out of control as that diggin' dog.

Not a whole lotta news to report from this neck of the woods.

It was a grey, cold, do-nothing week. I find it so hard to get motivated when it's dreary outdoors. 
I cooked, I cleaned. Played with the horses.

Killing time, waiting for spring to arrive.

Which, it has - to a certain extent. Though I guess it won't feel that way until we see some serious sunshine.

~ kate

Growing Scilla:
I've been in love with pretty blue Scilla since I was a youngster in Minnesota. They are incredibly cold hardy. Zone 2! We're talking the North Pole, here! Plant the bulbs on top of Daffodils for a pretty show. The bulbs, and flowers, are quite tiny, but they will give you great joy in early springtime.

* Similar to Grape Hyacinth, you should plant 50-100 bulbs to make an impact.

Saturday, April 02, 2016

Two Month Tomatoes and More Speedy Mountain Veggies

Behold! The Crocus are blooming!  
* It's not as cold as it looks. :)

Warm spring weather has graced the mountains for three long, lovely days. The last of the snow is melting away. First flowers and tender green shoots popping up ~ indoors and out!

I was so surprised to find Winter Jasmine blooming at the barn.
It usually flowers in February - in the snow! - zone 5.

Teasing warm temperatures is how Mother Nature tortures the lovers of high mountain living. Feels like summer! Maybe I should plant something?

Grape Hyacinth have blossomed in the rock garden, where huge rocks warm the soil 
and give spring flowers a jump start on the season.

Sadly, I'm 2 months out from planting season ~ so I've started more seeds on the windowsill.

Two Month Tomatoes
On my windowsill, 4 excellent mountain veggies are taking root.

What's so great about 'em? 
Instant gratification! 

They are fast as lightning. If you're a mountain dweller, you might like these ~ they do very well in high altitudes.
* If you have ADD when it comes to gardening, you might like them even more. :)

Thessaloniki Tomato: matures in 60 days.
This Greek tomato is perfect for those of us who want garden tomatoes and we want 'em right now! Two to three inches, in diameter, and super tasty.

Cocozelle Zucchini: matures in 50 days.
I spent the winter in Arizona, where everyone, every day, is trying to give away lemons. :) They sound so exotic for us folks in snow country but lemons are to Arizonians what Zucchini is to northern gardeners. We have too many and they grow too big. This little darling barely reaches 6 inches and it is fabulous! Slice in half, grill with Parmesan cheese and a wee bit o' hot sauce? 2 die 4.

Oxheart Carrots: matures in 65 days.
Oxhearts are rare carrots, now, but they were the go-to carrot a long time ago, when people had root cellars and stored produce for hard times ahead. Oxhearts can be stored for months and taste fresh-picked.

* Finding flower seeds is easy. But, when have you ever seen a carrot seed?

Heirloom carrots survive in frozen winter soil. The next year, they send up flower stalks and that's how they produce their seeds.

I grow them for a different reason: these fat, round beauties make sweet treats for happy horses.

In addition to those goodies, I am - for the first time ever - growing some Hollyhocks from root cuttings. There is hardly any point to this. Hollyhocks do better, growing from seed. But, these are Yellow Heirloom Hollyhocks! Very hard for me to find and well worth the effort. Thanks, Jeanne!

On the home front -- I'm TV-less. But, not really.

Shipped a mountain of boxes, wires and remotes back to Directv, 
in favor of Apple TV and a simpler life.

I don't believe this happens very often any longer. But, do you remember when it happened all the time?

You'd mention last night's episode of something and - inevitably - somebody would say: "Oh, I don't watch t.v." It felt condescending and kind of snobby.

These, days, I think they've changed their tune to say: Oh, I don't do Facebook...  :-)

Anyhoo... My reason for kicking Directv to the curb is lack of brain power, not arrogance. One evening, while trying to work the 3 remotes in perfect sequential order so that I might actually get the dvd player to play... I threw up my hands and said: This is ridiculous! No wonder I watch most of my shows on the iPad. It's easy!

So, now the t.v. works like a gigantic iPad! With one button to push, so I can't screw up and I'm shallowly entertained all night long. With no commercials.

And, no, I haven't as yet tuned into Gossip Girl but this non tv watcher is giving me some big ideas.

Here's hoping y'all have a deliriously fine weekend, playing in the mud.

Happy Gardening,

PS: Plz don't be offended if you've sworn off t.v. I probably should, too. But, then I'd have no excuse to postpone cleaning the house....