Thursday, July 21, 2016

Wildfires and Wild Four O'Clocks

A year after she puts down roots, you will never need to water her again.
Hot winds blow, relentlessly. Stirring up trouble across our wild meadows.

No rain in many weeks. All that was green is turning brittle and brown.

The summer drought. Never-ending, blustery winds... Conspire to create these heartbreaking wildfires. Threatening to cancel our grand mountain adventure. And, that will be the second one this year.

I sit here, with the blessed air conditioning cranked to full blast. On call for a week long horse back riding adventure ~ scheduled to depart tomorrow evening.

This was a photo from yesterday's news ~ near where we are planning to ride.

We're waiting to hear if it's safe to head up there ~ into Wyoming, where wildfire season is wreaking havoc.

In the midst of all this weirdness... the 4 O'Clocks are making up for everything!

The heat? The drought? Who cares??

They are lovin' it!

* These beauties got their name (and their hutzpah) from handling extreme high heat by waiting to flower until the end of the day. After the sun dips below the mountains and the air cools, clusters of pretty pink flowers open en masse. Hence the name 4 O'Clock.

Aren't they amazing?

** We all have that one spot in our garden, where nothing grows. If it's a sunny spot, give 4 O'Clocks a try. 
- Plant them in the most inhospitable spot in your garden. And, make sure you're happy with that spot because they cannot be transplanted. They put down long, strong roots ~ to siphon water from wherever they can find it. Once uprooted, they will surely die.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Space, Relativity, and the Big, Bad Pine

Amazing things began to happen... The very second we dropped the 120 foot tall pine tree ~ that had, long ago, over stayed it's welcome in this tiny yard.

I enjoyed sunlight in my living room, for the first time ever.

I could see the high hills, and mountain tops, off in the distance.

Charlie photo bombs my excellent, new view.

I got a phone call from the neighbors who never talk to me! Because they were mad as hell. The nerve of me, killing a perfectly healthy tree.

The sun shines down on gorgeous Valerian.

It is, I suppose, a horrendous crime to be felling a healthy tree.*

But, if I put my snooty gardening hat on... and climb up on that (even more snooty) gardening soap box...

I should be allowed to scream at the top of my lungs:

It's not my fault!

I wasn't the fool who planted that tree right next to the house, 25 years ago. A tree that will require 200 square feet of space when he's all grow'd up. Which he was.

Mr. Pine had grown so large that he devoted the better of part of each day, scraping siding and shingles off the house.

Sun worshippers rejoice!

During the ice storm, he waved his big arms and broke the picture window. A window that pictured only him, because he was so large, all I could see were pine boughs.

Once the big, bad tree was gone, I realized something marvelous... this is not a tiny yard at all. It just looked that way when one huge tree took up so much space.

More sun = More fun

Turns out this is a huge yard! With all kinds of flower power potential.

Charlie & Pete, observing the destruction from the upper deck. 
I was surprised they weren't bothered by the sounds of the chainsaw.

The big, bad pine will be replaced by pretty in pink Kwanzan Cherry trees, a tiny choice that actually fit within this landscape.

If you're gonna be a tree at my place, you must do more than just stand around and look green. You should provide a flower, or two.

I've already started tossing out seeds! To nurture endless drifts of my most beloved wildflowers.

* I call him the big, bad pine because - in spite of what neighbors claimed - he wasn't all that healthy.

He suffered from needle blight, he was very weak, and that makes him susceptible to the pine beetle that is killing most of the evergreens in our forests.

Take a look around my neighborhood, and you'll see this needle blight everywhere. It's a sad, sad thing. These trees should all be treated. But, that is a very expensive process. And, I'm off my soapbox, now, so I don't think I'll be ranting and raving to my neighbors.

Why Kwanzan Cherry Trees? 
In addition to being absolutely stunning... They are a wee bit drought tolerant (hey!) and, sterile. Which means.. they don't produce fruit that makes a mess in your garden.

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Into the Faerie Forest...

* There is a real, true Fairy Forest in Utah. This path is not it. Scroll to the bottom of this post to find directions to that trail. This location is called the I'll Never Tell Trail. It must remain a deep, dark secret.

Daughter, Lauren, and her adorable pup, Ellie, exploring the most magical of trails.

So, what are YOU doing this 4th of July weekend? We're avoiding public places because our puppy dogs are terrified of fireworks. 

Come along with us, on a virtual hike... through a lush garden -- which is pretty dang hard to find in a high plains desert like Utah!

I call this spot 'magical' because every inch of it is covered
with happily blooming wildflowers. So many that it almost looks 
as if someone planted them! Perhaps those elusive fairies?

True confessions: I am not much of a hiker. To be honest, I never was...

In my early years in the Midwest, I enjoyed hiking in the woodlands of Minnesota because it was... well... flat.

Meaning, it wasn't hard work. It was pure joy.

James Buckwheat [Erigonum jamesii] 
When you got hungry, you'd inevitably find wild raspberries and blackberries growing along the trail.

How sweet is that?

It's awfully hard to find flat, fun, unpopulated trails in Utah. Seems like we're always forced to scale a mountain in search of a pretty view.

Or, fight the crowds who have also discovered this path.

This is my summer to explore the High Uintas on horseback. Where alpine meadows stretch for miles.

To ride off trail ~ to abandon the well-documented paths, in search of unspoiled places most folks will never see.

And, it's smart that you DON'T try to find these trails, because it is remarkably easy to get lost in these dense woods.

Unless you're riding my horse, Sable, who is a homing pigeon to the horse trailer.

Which houses the cookies, that motivate her to enjoy these wildflower expeditions. She never loses sight of our path back to the parking lot... and the yummy treats that beckon.

Wild Onions [Allium canadense] If they smell like onions, eat 'em. If they don't they'll probably poison you.
I, of course, found this trail on my beloved horse.

Came back with my daughter, this 4th of July weekend -- to tackle this trail on foot! Something I haven't done in many years. It's lots easier on a horse. :)

Queen Anne's Lace ~ Wild Carrot ~ Don't eat it! ~ Looks exactly like Hemlock and you know what that is..
So, where are we?

Oh, I'll never tell. Because I'm learning a lot about wildflowers this summer.

I'm learning that these flowers flourish when we leave them alone.

Fireweed [Chamerion Angustifolium] named as such for it's quick propagation after wildfires.
And, in this place ~ that nobody knows ~ they rejoice in ways I'd never imagined.

I hope you've enjoyed this virtual adventure, of the magical place we call the Faerie Forest.

Thanks for coming along!

~ kate

* The more well-known Fairy Forest, along the Mirror Lake Highway, is a delightful little hike to take with your kids. Click here to visit the blog that documents this hike, and gives great directions to get there.