life with a nut, part three

Greetings and salutations everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here today to, well, talk a little about the nut I live with. You may remember me from such similarly-themed posts as “Life With A Nut”, and “Life With A Nut, Part Two”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristically appropriate pose.14102901I’m feeling quite good, I must say, and the guy I live with has been taking care of me pretty well (even to the point of putting some butter on my freshly-steamed piece of pie pumpkin so I would eat it), but, you know, he is kind of a nut.

Take today, for instance. He suddenly got the idea that since the sclerocactus seed sitting outside in pots hadn’t germinated in a couple of years, which is typical, he decided to go through the pots and pick out the seed, to save it for later. (The seed will be chipped and germinated under pseudo-laboratory conditions. There’s a YouTube thing showing how to do that, you just look up “germinating sclerocactus seed”, and there it is.) Some of the seeds did germinate this past spring, but he said this was taking too long. Like there are other things to do.

So this was what he looked at. Go ahead, find the seed. The seed is black, shiny, and hard as a rock. It can sometimes take years for the seed coat to abrade sufficiently that water can get in, and start the germination process. Which is why chipping is quicker. 14102905Here’s the seed, right at the end of the tweezers he went out and bought. The little black thing.14102906Another one. This is seed of the endangered Sclerocactus mesae-verdae. 14102907In this picture, seed of Sclerocactus havasupiensis, right smack in the center of the picture. 14102908The guy I live with collected more seed than you might think was possible using this method, with several different magnifying lenses, and then afterwards said he was really dizzy, and had to go inside.

He went back out a minute later to take pictures of the moss growing in one of the troughs, because it’s all green and fuzzy now, and he mentioned George Schenk’s book Moss Gardening a while ago. The moss dries to almost nothing during the summer. This one isn’t so in focus, but he said it was hard to focus when you’re so dizzy. (Orostachys spinosa in the picture, too.)14102903


14102904The guy I live with is mighty proud of this moss.

I’ve heard, and maybe told, the story of how the guy I live with tried to encourage moss to grow on the troughs by spreading buttermilk on them, and then a few minutes later heard this “strange, rasping sound”, which was my Uncle Pooka licking off all the buttermilk….. and so he collected a few pieces of moss when he was up in the mountains and planted them in the troughs.

Oh, I need to show one more thing. Two more things, really, with three pictures of them. After the guy I live with came home from the store, he made his typical round of the garden, and got all excited, the way he sometimes does, and came back in for the camera. (Then went back outside with it.)

This was what was in flower. Crocus niveus. The flowers are almost two and a half inches (6cm) across. niveus1



niveus3“To be precise,” he said, “it’s Crocus niveus AH.0166….”  Whatever. I know stuff like this makes him happy, and so I go along with it. My mommy did too, up to a point.

Okay, that really is it for today. The guy I live with says he’s still dizzy, and I’m not sure I feel all that sorry for him, since anyone would know that this could happen. I’ll leave you with a picture of me taken while all the seed-searching was going on.14102902


Until next time, then.

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more autumn stuff

Greetings and salutations everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you some pictures of our garden before it gets frozen solid. You may remember me from such posts as “Carpets” and “The S Word”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. I regret to say that this wasn’t a day for totally focused pictures, but I think you can still tell it’s me.14102714They say it might freeze tonight, though maybe not for our garden, since we’re so close to the foothills, and when cold weather comes from the west, it stays warmer over here because of the westerly winds, so, we’ll see. (When cold weather comes from the north, forget it.)

Here’s the cold weather. This is looking west-southwest. 14102717The guy I live with thought it might be appropriate to take some garden pictures, just in case. Some of these aren’t hugely in focus, either, but it started to rain a little, and he said it was hard to hold the camera and an umbrella at the same time. (Yes, we have an umbrella.)14102704

14102703I’m in the next couple of pictures, which of course makes them really excellent. In the second one, there’s practically nothing in focus, but you still get the autumnal effect. 14102705

14102707The rarely-photographed path to the “way back”, by the shed.14102711The rose ‘Darlow’s Enigma’ is blooming in the little garden, my mommy’s garden, on the right. The garden starts right by the post, there. 14102712And the willow aster, Aster praealtus, elsewhere in the garden. This starts flowering really late. (We’re not going to say “Symhphtytrhm” or anything like that; we say “aster”.)14102706The redbud is all yellow now. This one is from Oklahoma. I’m not sure that makes a difference. 14102713And the spindle tree, Euonymus europaea.14102701And what’s really flowering like crazy are the various selections of Salvia greggii. They either like the shorter days or the cooler weather. Maybe both. 14102702Oh, well, time for the big news. If you read the blog before I took it over (I know, like why would you, but, say you did), you’ll remember the trellis and the state of disrepair which it was in, well, look at it now.14102710The guy I live with bought some lath, and spent some time rebuilding the whole thing. The only really weird thing about this job is that the ones slanting from upper left to lower right are inside on the left panel, and outside on the right. Oh, and the panel on the left is narrower than the one on the right. My mommy would not have approved of this faulty arrangement, and would have made the guy I live with redo the whole thing according to her exact specifications. Or she would have done it herself.

“We’re not building the Taj Mahal”, after all,” the guy I live with would say, when they worked on things together.

But, of course, they were.14102716


Until next time, then.



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planting daffodils

Greetings and salutations everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you the latest and greatest news from our garden. You may remember me from such posts as “No Pain, No Gain” and “‘Hepped Up On Goofballs'”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a rather debonair pose.14102501I’ve been feeling pretty darn good lately, what with my live-in chef at my beck and call and stuff like that. I don’t take goofballs any more, by the way. I have a different medication. The weather has also been exceedingly excellent. Right now, it’s 76F (24C) and 12 percent humidity.

The guy I live with has been planting daffodils. You can see some bulbs being soaked here.14102402These came from Old House Gardens; they sell “heirloom” bulbs, and the guy I live with said that’s what he wanted, since he said the modern hybrids would look out of place in the garden here. I guess he knows. (What he really wants is all the little species from Morocco and southern Spain, but they don’t seem to want to flower in the middle of winter here, like they ought to, and just put up leaves every autumn instead.)

He consulted the authority on old daffodils.14102502



And then he ordered. He says soaking the bulbs is a good idea, but I already talked about that.

The bulbs still aren’t all planted, because the pace of life around here is very, very slow.

I guess it’s time for the obligatory crocus pictures, too.

Crocus pallasii

Crocus pallasii

Crocus niveus

Crocus niveus

And, Titanopsis calcarea has started to bloom. The guy I live with says the plant thinks it’s still in South Africa and this is spring, because it blooms on and off all winter.14102405That’s pretty much it, for today. The guy I live with went and bought an electric leaf blower to get the leaves off the rock gardens, and it makes a lot of noise. The gas one that we had decided to leak, and that isn’t really the best thing, but it did last for many years. Leaf-blowing only happens here about three times a year. The guy I live with says brooms and rakes are better. They certainly make less noise.

Oh, and the bird bath got cleaned, and then two blue jays came right down and took baths, and flew away as soon as the guy I live with got his camera. That sort of thing happens a lot.

I’m going to go back to doing what I like to do the most, now, if you don’t mind.14102403


Until next time, then.

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another autumn day

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live, and here to bring you the latest news from our garden. You may remember me from such excellent posts as “Sprinkles” and “Vexations”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. I’m wondering what the guy I live with is thinking. Usually it isn’t much.14102201Here I am in another characteristic pose, which I think is just as good. Slightly out of focus, gazing off into the distance, pondering the imponderables. That sort of thing.14102202I’ve been feeling pretty good lately, I guess, and now have a live-in chef, which is extremely excellent. I’ve lost ten pounds, too. The guy I live with is happy about that.

I do get poked and prodded kind of a lot, and have to take pain pills, for arthritis I think, which the guy I live with smears olive oil on, and sticks down my throat, so I won’t taste them. The olive oil turns out to be high-quality olive oil, the kind you can drizzle on things that are supposed to have oil drizzled on them, and it’s really good.

Things are quite autumnal around here. I’ll show you.14102203


14102205Leaves have been falling all over the place. The guy I live with told me that that’s why another name for autumn is “fall”. You can see some of them here. (The reason there’s a line of them is that there was a hose there, and it got moved. Isn’t that interesting? I noticed that the blue pot is leaning, too, and maybe someone will write themselves a note to get the pot leveled.) The other day, the house was filled with leaves, and the guy I live with vacuumed them all up, and then we tracked in more leaves, which was excellent.

We have crocus and cyclamen, still, and I’m supposed to show some of those, too.

Crocus robertianus

Crocus robertianus

Crocus boryi

Crocus boryi

I can’t say that I see what all the fuss is, here, but the crocuses make him all excited and in a good mood, at least for a while, so I guess that’s okay.

These cyclamen ultimately came from Tile Barn Nursery in the U.K. Which is why they’re named like that.

Cyclamen mirabile 'Tire Barn Nicholas'

Cyclamen mirabile ‘Tire Barn Nicholas’

Cyclamen mirabile 'Tile Barn Anne'

Cyclamen mirabile ‘Tile Barn Anne’

The guy I live with said we might go to England and he would wear a really big overcoat with lots of pockets and that when we went through customs, he would look as innocent as possible, all the while drawing as much attention as possible to me, which of course would be very good indeed. And we speak the language, too.

The pace of life around here is pretty slow, which is how we like it. The guy I live with got his hair cut a while ago; that was awfully exciting. He even put the trash out last night so I didn’t have to get up at 6:45 this morning. I got up at 10:15, instead.

I guess that’s really all I have for today.14102101


Until next time, then.


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a golden afternoon

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, and here to bring you the latest news from our garden. You may remember me from such posts as “The Grape Bush”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.14101901I guess I’m feeling okay now. The guy I live with got me an appetite stimulant (yes, another pill), and so now he’s been having to go get me roast turkey breast and make rice for me, because apparently the pill makes me want “people food”, but he says that’s okay with him. He even smoked a salmon so I could have some. It was good.

Oh, and the bell there? Maybe I’ve said before, but that was put in by my mommy so my grandpa Flurry could ring the bell with his nose when he needed to go outside. I don’t use it, because the back door is almost always open these days. Even in winter.

Doesn’t the light behind me look all autumnal and Halloween-y? I even have a crocus with that name, to show you now.

Crocus cartwrightianus 'Halloween'

Crocus cartwrightianus ‘Halloween’

That’s another crocus you can get saffron from, if you didn’t know.

Hardly anything has happened around here that hasn’t been totally centered around me. So you know things are fairly excellent. A couple of nights ago, the back door was closed, and the guy I live with got all scared and stuff because there was a loud crash in my fort, which you can see from the first picture is right next to the chair which the laptop sits in front of, and what had happened was that I saw a black cat on out the patio, looking in right at me, and I got so startled I hit my head on the roof of my fort. I was okay, though.

It’s really yellow around here. I can see yellow, so I know. The biennial from Utah, Oenothera longissima, got devoured by flea beetles this past summer, and the guy I live with totally gave up on it, but look what’s happening now. (He forgot to take the fallen leaf out of the flower on the right.)14101904The honey locust has completely turned color now.14101908And the Wasatch or canyon maple, Acer grandidentatum, has turned too. 14101905We have a lot of grape vines around the garden. Birds sowed these, by pooping out the seeds, according to the guy I live with. They’re Vitis riparia14101911

14101906The oldest one has climbed up into the “desert bamboo” (Fontanesia fortunei) almost twenty feet, but you can only really see how far up it goes at this time of year. This picture was taken looking more or less up. 14101909The guy I live with said that “a golden afternoon” might be a good title, because there’s a book called that too, and it could make us look more sophisticated if we occasionally included a literary reference.

He also said, like I haven’t heard this five hundred times before, and even posted about it before, that Gertrude Jekyll rhymed her last name with “treacle”, and that her parents were friends with Robert Louis Stevenson, which is where he got the name for his story, even though it’s mispronounced all the time. There’s not much we can do about that, according to the guy I live with. He says the same things over and over again; all the time, too.

Oh, it’s a pretty enjoyable book, by the way.14101910I guess that’s all. The guy I live with said I’m very good at making posts out of nothing, but, to be literary again, I would remind him that when someone asked Yeats how he wrote a particular poem, he replied “I made it out of a mouthful of air”, and so there you have it. 14101902


Until next time, then.


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on the mend

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to bring you the latest news from our garden, and (definitely more interestingly) the latest news about me. You may remember me from such posts as “Dogs”, in which I think I introduced myself, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristically sweet pose.14101501If I look like I could be cuddled, it’s because I can be. My mommy cuddled me all the time, and as many of you know, I’ve been really sick, and technically still am, but I’ve been stuffed full of medicine now, and even ate some roast beef and, of course, some Brie. True, it wasn’t the most expensive Brie that the guy I live with could buy, but it was still really good.

I did hurt one of my toenails, so my walks aren’t going to be all that long until that mends, but I feel so much better that I thought a short post might be in order.

Oh, this is funny, though it didn’t really involve me. The kid across the street, who “might be in second grade” sometimes comes over to hang out after the bus drops him off, until his parents come home from work, and the other day the guy I live with was kind of at a loss as to what to do, seeing as how he was in the second grade in 1958, when all kids had to play with were sticks and rocks, but then he suddenly had the brilliant idea of letting the neighbor kid use the Pik-Stik (the “grabber deal” that he uses to pick up stuff when he can’t bend over or he’ll get dizzy), which the neighbor kid thought was “totally cool”, and the two of them walked around picking up trash; the guy I live with held the trash bag. Even the beer and wine bottles someone threw into the field, near where I walk, got picked up. The guy I live with said he was “a genius” for thinking of this. I had to listen to the “genius” business for the rest of the day ….

Today, the guy I live with got these things in the mail. They remind me of the thing that grabbed John Hurt’s face in the movie Alien, which was a really scary movie, but the guy I live with said they were eremurus, and not to worry. It’s true that these are only ordinary eremurus (E. stenophyllus), but we didn’t have any in the garden any more, because of what the guy I live with calls “trowelitis”…..14101502You plant the growing part just below the surface of the soil, and then spread out the roots very carefully (they don’t really need to be soaked), making sure that none get broken (or dusted with sulfur if they do).14101505The guy I live with says you then ignore all the stuff people write about “drainage” and things like that, because eremurus grow in a climate similar to ours, though it is important not to plant them in a place where there’s standing water in winter. We only have one place like that, where water from melting snow flows down both the paths, north and south, and into the “way back”, which of course is where there were some eremurus planted last year, and they rotted away to nothing, since the soil was frozen, but the top part was ice water, for weeks on end.

And, oh, he says if you think eremurus are cool, which they are, then there a Russian website with pictures of lots of species (can be translated), and when the guy I live with looks at that, he wonders how he could get a bunch of seed of all of these, besides going there himself.

I was also going to show bunches of crocuses blooming here today, because autumn crocuses are one of the guy I live with’s absolute favorite things (besides me, of course), but I’m only showing two pictures.

Crocus speciosus

Crocus speciosus

Crocus pallasii

Crocus pallasii

If you want to see more of our crocus pictures, there are more in our photobucket. There are still more to come, and so watch that space for the next couple of months.

Thanks for all the comments wishing me well, by the way. I have things to do now.14101506

Until next time, then.

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some autumn color

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, filling in for the guy I live with, who’s too distracted to be able to function properly. You may remember me from such posts as “Under The Weather” and “Trials And Tribulations”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.14101201Events of this morning have revealed that I’m pretty sick, and I’m going in for ultrasound tomorrow morning. My doctor said it could be some upper gastrointestinal inflammation, so we’ll see. You can probably guess what the guy I live with thinks is going to happen.

So I don’t want to dwell on this too much. I know I could make a whole post just about me, but I’m not feeling so hot, as maybe you can tell by my characteristic pose.

It was “desperately gloomy” and chilly yesterday, and then rained, about a quarter of an inch (1.25cm). They said it could snow, and freeze, but it didn’t do either of those things.

Instead, the morning was clear, if a bit cool. I prefer cool weather. 14101302


The guy I live with got some daffodil bulbs in the mail (yes, believe it or not, he sometimes orders bulbs from regular places), and, again, soaked them in water. He says daffodils need to form roots as quickly as possible in our climate, and that soaking them triggers rooting, whereas (I do say “whereas” sometimes) just planting the dry bulbs would make it difficult to get water to them in heavy soil, unless it rained for days. Maybe I already said this. The guy I live with repeats himself so often that I’ve picked up the habit.

He did figure out that soaking them in the bag made more sense than soaking them out of the bag.


(He forgot to change the settings on the point-and-shoot, which is why these pictures are so small. Now come real pictures.)

Various forms of Salvia greggii are still in full bloom. I think this one is ‘Cold Hardy Pink’.



And ‘Furman’s Red’. There are bunches of other forms in the garden here, for testing, because the guy I live with says that there’s no place where Salvia greggii grows in the wild where it gets really cold, and so he thinks if these are hardy, all the others must be too. That’s proved the case with ‘Wild Thing’, ‘Grenadine’, and some others.



And some autumn color. Colorado isn’t known for autumn color, except for aspen, so gardeners have to do most of the work. (This next one is a native plant, though.)

Ribes aureum

Ribes aureum

Cotoneaster acutifolius

Cotoneaster acutifolius

And the tecoma ‘Orange Jubilee’ is flowering like crazy. The pot that this is in is extremely heavy, and when it gets moved inside, the guy I live with employs “plant-moving language” which I understand is similar to “car repair language”. But much different from “dropping a fully-planted trough on his finger” language. We have a regular tecoma, T. stans, that’s got tons of buds, and also gets moved inside. My mommy grew that one from seed, from Southwestern Native Seeds, about a quarter century ago. It’s pure yellow. 14101206Incidentally, the beauty of the plants is matched by the fact that if he leaves them outside and it freezes, they grow back, just like if he forgets to water them.

Well, that’s my news. I admit that it really is more about me than the plants, but I go in early tomorrow, and my doctor has known me since I was extremely tiny, and I don’t have to be put under for the ultrasound. I can just lie there. Like I always do.


Until next time, then.

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