Hello everyone; once again it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to tell you all about my exciting day in the garden. You may remember me from such fascinating posts as “The Front Yard” and “A Close Call”, among so many, many others.
Here I am in a characteristically horticultural pose. Here I am, stepping in something. Yes, this can even happen to purebred border collies.
Anyway….they said it was supposed to snow tonight. It’s tonight now, and it’s snowing, but before that, well, it wasn’t, as you can see, and so the guy I live with took some pictures of the snowdrops just to prove he has snowdrops.
There will be a much bigger display later, or at least the guy I live with says there will, but for now, he’s perfectly content seeing a few snowdrops in bloom. See, Denver has these weird winters, where it snows, then eventually the snow melts (really, it evaporates), and it gets really nice and warm for a few days, and then it snows again. This is one of those “then it snows again” times.
Here’s one of the rock gardens. The path on the right is really icy so he sprinkled some sand on it so I wouldn’t slip. He says he’s going to do something about that path later this year. What, I don’t know. That’s a fastigiate blue spruce all tied up. I probably said that before. Oh, I did, because he’d done such a bad job and had to fix it. The path on the north side of the garden (below). It gets more sun than the south side, which is why he keeps taking pictures of it. The thing that’s fallen over on the left is a cage for a little oak from Palo Duro Canyon. Squirrels try to dig up the little oaks because the acorn is sometimes still there. And that’s an Arizona cypress wrapped in burlap.
About the burlap. The guy I live with says that until conifers have developed a root system that’s sufficiently large as to equal the above-ground foliage, they benefit from being wrapped. He does occasionally water the needles for the first couple of winters. That’s right, the needles. I keep saying he’s kind of a nut but in this case he says he knows what he’s doing.
The shrub framed by the arbor is the lilac, ‘Annabel’, which could be in bloom in about ten weeks. That’s nice to think about.
You may also wonder about the upturned flower pots in the middle there. I wonder too.
Whatever, huh. Since they said it was supposed to snow tonight, the guy I live with did some furious seed sowing. Or, I should say, furious sowing of seed. The seed wasn’t furious. Here are some pots with a mix including calcined clay, for various species of xylorhiza. The xylorhizas are woody asters and he’s had trouble getting them to grow. In the wild they mostly grow in clay.
Here are the seed pots in the frame, ready to be snowed on. Being snowed on is good. The window screen is to protect the pots from being washed out by heavy rain. We occasionally do have heavy rain, but not in winter, that’s for sure.
Well, I didn’t really have much to say, as maybe you can tell, so why not finish this post with a few excellent pictures of me. This is me looking at something. This little triangle-shaped bed has flat rocks and native grasses. Maybe I’m looking at one of the grasses.
Here I am walking down the path, avoiding the ice. There isn’t very much planted at the end of the bed behind me, because, well, because there isn’t. Some plants got removed because the guy I live with got tired of them. I’m not worried that he’ll get tired of me, though. I walked up the path, and then down again, because you can see paw prints. Of course I had to walk down the path first.
And, lastly, me heading back to the house. I don’t know why the guy I live with hasn’t done anything about the chicken wire cage lying on the ground, but he hasn’t. We have a lot of chicken wire cages in the garden. Some people think this is weird, or even unattractive, but we have rodents. Or, he says, “Could it be that the rodents have us?”
Anyone who has toured a garden or two or three knows why the chicken wire, Chess, and accounts for it in viewing. Believe me, you have a wonderful and idiosyncratic garden in which to walk. I’ve been touring gardens for two, maybe approaching three decades here in the US, Europe, Australia, NZ and Japan, and the eye knows what to disregard. Or to regard more closely. A gardener knows how to look at a garden, believe me. What I’ve never had done for me in all my touring is have sand sprinkled on my path. You live a luxurious life, Chess. Deservedly so, you cutie pie. Go ask for a biscuit with brie on top.
Thanks. I did actually get some brie, because the guy I live with brought some home today. “Look”, he said, “brie.” It was good. I also got a new pillow, really just a pillow from the bed downstairs; a Ralph Lauren goose down pillow. It’s pretty soft. The guy I live with does know that there are millions of people all over the world sleeping on pillows that aren’t goose down, but this was my mommy’s pillow, and he thought I might like it instead of the feather pillow I had before. It used to smell like her, but it no longer does. So, in a way, the guy I live with says this is me roughing it.
Relish your precious birth, Chess…you and all the plants at your compound are certainly spoiled! Have you ever noticed how the guy you live with sometimes tries to make it look like the plants in his garden are no big deals, that they grow themselves, that they are barely ever watered, etc.? Anyone who reads your daily diatribes can feel the intense care (dare I say love?) that is showered upon you and all living specimens at your place. My cats get slivers of sandwich meat, you get pate de foie gras! My Arizona Cypress gets bathed in the frigid, dry wind and the guy you live with wraps his in swadling clothes! Maybe practicing loving kindness comes with age?
It could very well be. The guy I live with has lost more Arizona cypresses to wind (not cold) than possibly anyone else on the planet. Normally he puts up a big cage around them and then wraps burlap or frost cloth around that, but this time he didn’t. There are two big healthy ones here which benefitted from the wrapping when they were younger. Once they get going, then everything seems to be fine. Eerily…I think that’s the right word, eerily….the one from Baja California, Cupressus montana, isn’t wrapped, and looks pretty good. Foie gras. That sounds good. The guy I live with is uneasy about things like that, but he has made pate before. Oh, funny story. One time he made chopped liver. He bought some crackers for it, too. You know, real chopped liver. With chicken livers, hard boiled eggs, onion, and schmalz. (He rendered his own chicken fat.) When it was all finished, and in the refrigerator, my mommy said she wasn’t going to eat anything made with chicken fat, and that was that. Well, the next day, when the guy I live with came home from work, about two thirds of the chopped liver was gone. My mommy tried to pretend that my grandpa Flurry and my uncle Pooka had “snuck into the refrigerator and eaten most of it”, but the guy I live with knew better, because there were crackers missing, too.
This is actually a great way to polish off the remaining holiday brandy (purchased only to enhance the Glogg):
CHICKEN LIVER MOUSSE WITH BACON AND WALNUTS (The Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook)
8 slices bacon, diced
1 pound chicken livers
1/2 cup brandy
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 med sized yellow onion, chopped
1/4 c. Hellman’s mayonnaise
1 t. dried thyme
large pinch ground nutmeg
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts
3 T. chopped fresh Italian parsley
Crumbled crisp bacon and chopped parsley for garnish
1. One day before serving, fry the diced bacon in amedium-size skillet until crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
2. Saute the livers in the hot bacon fat over medium-high heat until brown on the outside and still pink on the inside, 4-5 minutes. Remove from the pan and reserve.
3. Pour the brandy into the skillet over medium heat and deglaze. Add the cream and heat to boiling. Reduce heat and simmer until reduced to about one cup.
4. Process until smooth the livers, onion and reduced cream in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
5. Add the mayo, thyme, nutmeg, salt to taste, and lots of pepper. Process until smooth. Add the diced bacon, walnuts and 3T. of parsley and process just until blended.
6. Transfer the liver mixture to a crock or decorative serving dish and refrigerate covered overnight to allow the flavors to blend.
7. Garnish the pate with crumbled bacon and parsley. Serve with crusty bread or assorted crackers.
Yield: 3 cups
Oh dear. The guy I live with will have to make this for me, with no walnuts but extra bacon……
I think I dug up and lost or too deeply buried a very expensive snowdrop bulb last fall, which makes me somewhat irritable this spring. Maybe I shouldn’t be buying expensive snowdrops until I’ve stopped piling up dirt and moving things around, which is to say, never again.
Watering conifer needles? … ???
The guy I live with is irritated about stuff like that all the time. His first batch of named snowdrops was trampled horribly when the first section of fence was put up. (He did the rest and didn’t trample anything.) Wait til he discovers he planted all the corydalis upside down……. (He planted a bunch of erythroniums upside down and had to dig them all up and replant them.)
Watering needles, yes. “Time for a lecture.” It’s too bad my mommy isn’t here to describe how the guy I live with’s jaw hung open, with no talking at all, when he first went to Jerry Morris’ house, which is just down the street, and heard him talk about conifers. It was like meeting Treebeard. Somebody with this intense and intimate connection to conifers. Though you will read contradictory information online, conifers do absorb water through their needles. In winter, not so sure. Most native conifers are adapted to being in total stasis for months on end at this time of year (the roots of blue spruce can be frozen to temperatures of -100F or lower for months), but whether or not they absorb water through the stomata in their needles is something the guy I live with is not prepared to say, for certain. Unlike other conifers, cypresses don’t form resting buds for winter; they just stop growing. But with tiny root balls and big above-ground mass, he thought maybe a little watering, under the burlap, couldn’t hurt. It’s difficult to get a conifer with such a small root ball fully hydrated prior to the onset of winter.
It’s nice to have Jerry Morris for a reference down the street. He’s almost mythic. You live in quite the neighborhood.
Cindy was stunned when she visited the nursery, and then later, the garden. Pictures were posted a while ago. And then, there’s “the pump” (a.k.a. turgor pressure): the masses of the above-ground plant and of the root system have to be equal, else the plant, starting at the tips of the branches, starts to die. The inverse, roots too long and plant too small, means there aren’t enough resources for the plant to pull water and nutrients from the roots, hence the advantage of root pruning. There was a study back in the 1950s done on the ponderosa forest in Arizona, and it was discovered that the trees respond to fog or mist, by growing, even if no actual rain falls.
Perhaps the guy you live with should spray-paint the chicken wire cages in funky colors and turn them into garden art? You do have a very rich garden to explore, even if you have to avoid pesky rodents and overturned pots. The snowdrops make me hope that we will soon get a warm spell here in the frigid wilds of NYC. It is so cold that my brother is refilling his bird feeders three times a day in order to give the wild birds the calories they need to stay alive in the cold. I’m glad that you have a down pillow to sleep on to keep warm and cozy, and an apparently unlimited supply of cheese.
That’s a fine idea. There’s an awful lot of chicken wire and hardware cloth cages, though. One thing; the chicken wire does rust, and eventually it’s hard to see. Some plants do get their cages removed when they get bigger, and if the garden is on tour, the chicken wire over the troughs is removed. It’s snowing here. We have three bird feeders, a thistle feeder which isn’t used much at this time of year, two suet feeders, a squirrel feeder and the corn feeder thing, and a heated bird bath. My mommy loved birds, and so we’re keeping up the tradition.