the long lead

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani 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 “Our Winter, Thus Far”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. This was taken last Tuesday. It’s still characteristic. I’m guarding my Personal Hill, which is just behind me. It was pretty chilly that day. On my morning walk, the jet contrails looked like they were frozen. Maybe they were.

This picture is looking south.Looking east. Then it warmed up again, the way it does.

The guy I live with said that there were honeybees clamoring to get into the Snowdrop Frame, so he opened it to let them in.

The bees seemed to be pretty happy visiting the snowdrops.

The guy I live with was also happy because the amsonia seed he sowed on the seventh germinated very quickly. Usually nothing happens with amsonia seed but, as you can see, serious things are happening here. These are Amsonia eastwoodiana and A. tomentosa (which some botanists say are the same species). Dryland plants from western Colorado and Utah.That’s really the gardening news, here. He thought these seeds would need stratification or have to be sown outdoors in pots and then nothing would happen, but instead this is happening, the seeds just sown in pots, the pots put in a propagator under lights, and with a heating pad underneath.

He also sowed the paintbrush seed. We were going to show how it was done but there wasn’t anything to it and it had to be done in a hurry because we were expecting more snow. The seeds were rubbed, which I guess you don’t have to do, and then sprinkled in the troughs next to the native grasses which have appeared in the troughs (not totally by accident). Then the snow would push the seed farther down into the soil-less mix in the troughs, hopefully.

So this happened yesterday.There’s a funny thing about winter here. Everyone gets worried when it doesn’t snow. They even say to water the garden in the winter. This winter, people were totally panicked.

The guy I live with, who’s a worrier, as I mentioned a couple of posts ago, never worries about whether or not it will snow in the winter, and never, ever waters the garden in winter. And nothing bad has ever happened. He’s even had people over to look at the garden after a winter of no watering and they still think the garden should have been watered. The guy I live with said that people can freak out and water if they want to, but it’s not going to be done here.

He explained that we’re surrounded by a flora, extending hundreds of miles in every direction, which has never been rained on in the winter, no one ever waters it, and yet the plants still live, because they’re adapted to dry winters.

The snow that falls on the garden in winter is just snow. Like the Zen saying, “Mountains are just mountains”.  It evaporates under our hot winter sun, which is good, because a lot of the bulbs in the garden would rot in the winter if they got wet.

The snowdrops are a different story, because they’re growing now; not dormant.

Anyway, it wasn’t very cold but there wasn’t much of anything to do in the garden so I spent time on the soft Pottery Barn sheets, like any normal person would. I wasn’t sleeping, as you can see, just being as soft as the sheets. Today the sun came out. The guy I live with has been watching Sherlock Holmes on TV and he said he would get out “the long lead” yesterday (like in the Bruce-Partington Plans, at the end, in the TV version), so I could enjoy walking in the snow more than usual, and it was even better today, though it was also windy.

That’s really all that’s been going on here. Oh, the guy I live with got some pistachios which were supposed to be roasted and salted but they were unsalted. He said that he couldn’t re-salt them once they were unsalted. I didn’t understand that. It was a really big deal, though. They were icky, so he got some roasted and salted pistachios to make up for it, later. He said that Chess loved pistachios, but I haven’t tried them yet.

And he said the snow might be gone by June, so I guess I’ll be spending quite a bit of time walking on the long lead, sleeping on the bed, and on the couch. The guy I live with has been sitting with me on the couch in the evenings, and I like that a lot. We listen to records. I guess they’re called CDs now, but about his favorite thing to do most of his life was to sit and listen to records, so he still calls them that. Gardening always came in second.

Well, I know this has been another of my rambling posts. I’ll leave you with another picture of me almost on the couch.

Until next time, then.






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the new way

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

Here I am in a characteristic pose.I know this is a bit subtle. We purebred border collies can be awfully subtle at times. Even unassuming. On the other hand, I am right in the center of the picture.

Anyway. A couple of things.  One was the sunset last night. (But wait until you see this evening’s.)And the other, I think on the same walk, took the form of an unexpected encounter. The guy I live with had a hard time keeping me calm. So that was those two things. We also saw a coyote but the pictures are of it hiding behind a bunch of underbrush and impossible to see.

The guy I live with is irked with the weather. He’s always irked about it, one way or the other, but lately, extra-irked. It was fifty-eight degrees here today. (About fourteen Celsius.) And it’s supposed to be that warm next Thursday and Friday. But tomorrow night the low is supposed to be five. At least there isn’t a prediction of baseball-sized hail. That’s why he likes winter here, “awful though it may be”, better than summer.

It’s warm but the soil is frozen a little way down and so not much is happening. A few crocus (Crocus laevigatus) were dug up today, planted in a plastic pot, and set in the Snowdrop Frame because the guy I live with said they were getting mashed where they were, but he did plant them on my Personal Hill. I think you can see where they were dug up.I guess next year everything is going to be hugely mulched to keep the soil from freezing. Just with leaves and stuff. My Personal Hill is going to be planted with thymes. The soil doesn’t freeze here very often but it has this winter, and there’s been a lot of complaining. There’s always complaining, of course, but I mean a lot, this time.

It even rained here. For maybe ten minutes. The guy I live with said we can still say it doesn’t rain here in the wintertime, and if people get confused we can say, “It rains as much in Denver in the wintertime as it snows in Malibu in the wintertime.” He said no one talks about buying a snow shovel after they move to Malibu. (I mean if he knew someone who had moved there.) So we can say it doesn’t rain here in the wintertime.

But the soil is frozen. At least in most places in the garden. It’s isn’t on the north side of the house, because there are a bunch of leaves on the soil, which is good because other things are happening there.

The guy I live with said these might all be ”Theresa Stone’ which is an especially early one, every year, even if it gets cold later. Or maybe we should say it flowers reliably just after the first of the year. He sometimes spells the name “Teresa” because that’s how his second girlfriend, in second grade, spelled her name. She kissed him on the playground of Patrick Henry Elementary in Long Beach, California, and so he remembers that. She wore glasses and lived on Hackett Avenue. He walked her home one time, but maybe she moved away after that. (“Not because of it”, the guy I live with said.) The image of walking home with Teresa is still vivid and has an aura of loss about it. But he did move away, to a place where they had snow in the winter instead of rain.

I do digress, don’t I?

The “way back” got most of the raked-up leaves and yet there isn’t much of anything planted there. Geranium macrorrhizum, a bunch of “heirloom” daffodils, and a few other things. So a couple of days ago we started going a new way on our walks. It was really only new to me.

We crossed the frontage road by the highway, since the landscape maintenance crew had left all the ice-melting stuff on the sidewalk and the guy I live with didn’t want me walking on it for hundreds of feet, and there wasn’t any on the sidewalk on the other side, and so we went down that sidewalk and then turned right, which is to the east, before we got to the highway, and walked down this little road. The guy I live with said that Flurry and Pooka used to walk down here, and then turn around at the end, and walk home.

This is looking west, of course. I say “of course” because that’s Mount Morrison, with Red Rocks. So we’ve gone down the little road and turned around. 

The guy I live with said that when they used to walk here, and that would have been back in the last century, there would almost always be large hawks on top of the utility poles. There was one there on our walk but it got scared away. Probably by me. Then we made a movie of my evening walk. It’s kind of long, and windy, but we walk at a brisk pace, and it’s available in High Definition if you click on that. I like walking fast sometimes. I had to look at a piece of black plastic on my way up to the canal road, otherwise it’s just us walking.  Except when we stop and point the camera at the sunset, and it takes a little time to adjust to the light, well, I hope you’ll agree that it’s a pretty impressive effect.


Until next time, then.







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