another cold front

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the purebred border collie, hunter of voles, 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 “Mostly Iceless”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. The old biscuit-on-the-head ploy, again. And not hugely in focus. It was a pretty nice day, considering. You can see how the little mugo pine ‘Carstens Wintergold’ kind of glows.The snowdrop frame was uncovered for a while today.There are seeds germinating in the propagators upstairs. This is Poliomintha incana.And all the seeds from Alplains, mostly penstemons, were sown and the pots put in the frame. The frame was supposed to have bulbs in it but still doesn’t. The guy I live with said he wasn’t going to order any seeds this year and he wasn’t going to do this and wasn’t going to do that, and just might spend the next several months just sitting in the chair he sits in, staring at the rug on the floor, but I kind of wondered if this wasn’t counterproductive. This is a difficult climate in which to garden, I think, and sometimes he does lose heart, but then keeps going despite things.

So he ordered the seeds and when they arrived he seemed a bit excited, and started talking about how blue the flowers were, and how he envisioned maybe a slight slope on a hill somewhere in, say, northwestern Colorado, where penstemons grew wild, with the dark blue, almost black, bee-kissed flowers swaying in the breeze, and then he got this far-off look.

I get that look too, but for different reasons. Anyway the seeds were sown and I started to look forward to bunches of blue flowers, like were here in the old days when a book was being written about them. I can see blue.

One of the advantages of growing things from seed, if you were wondering, is that you can have plants that you sometimes can’t get from nurseries. The little Aethionema oppositifolium was flowering today in the rock garden. (There are a couple in troughs, too.)This little plant is also known as Eunomia oppositifolia. I wondered about the gender agreement when I heard this; you know, Aethionema oppositifolium, but Eunomia oppositifolia, until the guy I live with said that the Greek ending –nema was neuter gender and so the specific epithet would take a neuter ending, -um. 

I was very glad to learn all of that, of course.

It was seventy degrees today. About twenty-one Celsius. Seventy. And windy. Even super windy. If you’ve been following my blog for any length of time you will know that seventy degrees in winter means a sudden drop in temperature very soon after, and sure enough, the temperature tomorrow night is predicted to be four. Four. That’s minus sixteen Celsius, almost.

So there is going to be a drop in temperature of almost seventy degrees in less than forty-eight hours. Really. I could hear a heavy sigh, every so often, coming from the kitchen, so I though it might be best to come into the kitchen and spend some time in my Kitchen Fort, close to the guy I live with, and all the sighing.

I have to listen to a lot of this. Maybe in exchange I get to do a lot more hunting for voles that I might otherwise do. Of course I’m not really allowed to do anything but just look.

This is me just looking. Here, by the cottonwood, I was certain that there was something lurking in the grass under the leaves.

The guy I live with said he wasn’t just going to stand there while I lay on the ground waiting for a vole to show up. I can smell them, and hear them, but have never seen one.

He said they were like big mice, and that maybe eventually I would see one.

So that’s pretty much everything that’s been going on, plus the incredible drop in degrees we’re expecting tomorrow. I could talk about how the wind is blowing plastic grocery bags all over the place, and how some are flapping in the branches here and there in the garden, but instead, I’ll leave you with a short film of me on my walk today, in the wind, by my own back fence.

Until next time, then.



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into the wilderness

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 “A Bit Of Work”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.I like to stand in the door like that; half in, and half out. The guy I live with said that Slipper, a purebred border collie who lived here before me, liked to do this too. It’s nice to feel icy wind on my face while my hindquarters are ultra toasty, but the guy I live with said it was too cold for me to do that and to come back inside.

The other day we had snowdrops in flower in the shade garden. And kind of a nice sunset.Then it snowed. The guy I live with said everyone around here was complaining because there hadn’t been much snow this winter. He hates snow and thinks people who complain about not having snow are just odd.

Every so often someone comes to the door, even though I try to viciously and loudly dissuade them from doing so (the guy I live with said split infinitives are okay), and what these people who come to the door do is try to talk the guy I live with into buying something. He never does. He hates it when people try to talk him into something; he says that’s been the story of his life, people trying to talk him into things (he’s never tried to talk anyone into liking classical music), and one thing they try to talk him into is liking snow. It never works.

Well, I like snow, and I don’t need to try to talk him into liking it. I know he likes me and so we go for walks in the snow, even when it’s really cold.

Today it was sixteen degrees, which is about minus nine Celsius, and eighty-eight percent humidity. The humidity made it feel very cold, but I liked it anyway.

There was a big hawk in the cottonwood, as usual. Almost in the center of the picture. People aren’t suppose to drive through the field, which is open space, but they do anyway.

If you think that looks cold, it’s because it is. Those are pinyons, Pinus edulis, on drip (which is weird because they don’t need to be watered at all here). Last autumn the cones were full of nuts. The guy I live with talked about taking them home and roasting them, but he said collecting them was a sticky business, and he didn’t have a bag to carry pine nuts in.

What I wanted to do, though, was do some exploring in the area behind where the guy I live with was standing when he took that picture. Like if he turned around, we could go into this area I’ve always wanted to check out.

The guy I live with said it was a wilderness. It’s by the creek, and so he said we could go down and wander around there. You can still see the hill. 

The hose thing you see looks like it’s part of a drip irrigation system for the trees on top of the hill in the picture I showed earlier. Kind of weird to see something like that in a wilderness.

It was fun to explore the wilderness but the guy I live with had a hard time following me because he’s the wrong height for wilderness exploration. I know I’ve seen Norm, the coyote, exploring in there too, in the summertime, while I was walking up by the hill.

The only other thing that’s been happening here is a lot of moaning and groaning about the seed mix the guy I live with has been using. For some reason, maybe he wasn’t paying attention when he did it, the mix is full of some kind of compost which has way too many wood chips in it. “What is it with wood chips?” he asked, and of course I had no answer.

The wood chips get all moldy and eventually they get this blue fungus. One time, about twenty-five years ago, the guy I live with got some “soil conditioner” and dug it into the soil, and even now when he digs into the soil in places where the conditioner was added there is all this fungus in the soil. Maybe it’s okay but it looks weird.

So anyway he tried to screen out the largest of the wood chips but it still left smaller wood chips. Now there’s talk of making a mix out of vermiculite, perlite, coarse sand, and not much else. Apparently that’s been done before and it was the most successful mix that has been made. “A whole lot better than mixes made with peat moss or wood chips.”

Another choice would be “decent garden soil”, that is, just the dirt, with perlite and some other things mixed in. The soil in the field would be perfect, but he might get into trouble digging there and taking the soil.

It will be interesting to see what happens. This is something the guy I live with totally obsesses about. I don’t find it all that fascinating but I do have to hear about it.

So that’s the latest news. It’s supposed to warm up again tomorrow. Maybe the snow will be gone in a couple of days, like “it should be”. 

Until next time, then.

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