back to the nursery

Hello everyone; it is I, Chess the purebred border collie, here to show you what happened when I got left alone once again. You may remember me from such lonely posts as “Another Lonely Day”, “Guarding The Fort”, “Left Alone” (both posts with that name), “Home Alone Once Again”, and “Left Alone Again”, among so many, many others, not all of which I got left alone in, but in quite a few I did.

Here I am in a highly characteristic pose. Why anyone would want to leave me alone is beyond me.meWell, the guy I live with wasn’t really gone for very long. I know he doesn’t like to leave me. He went to Timberline Gardens again, mostly to see if he could lift a yucca he thinks he needs. He says if he can’t lift a plant, he can’t buy it, because if he bought some big, heavy plant, everyone who might help him would suddenly be called away on urgent business, and he’d have to wrestle the thing into place all by his lonesome. I don’t help either. I only herd, and, being retired, I don’t do much of that any more either.

So I have some pictures here. They could very well be pictures of the same things he takes pictures of every time he goes there, but maybe not.

Most of the hardy perennials weren’t outside on the tables yet, but some had been moved out. He went into the greenhouse (actually, the “cool house”) first.14040501


14040502Coleus. My mommy loved coleus and used to arrange them oh so artistically in the big pots which now stand empty in the garden here, because the things the guy I live with does and the word “artistically” are never used in the same sentence. 14040511


14040509 14040508 14040507 14040506 14040505 14040504 14040503Then into the greenhouse.14040513 14040512He went to get a yucca he could lift easily, one whose label said “Yucca faxoniana × carnerosana“, which I don’t have a picture of because he forgot to take one, but it looks kind of different, and could even be hardy. The yucca book by Fritz Hochstätter says that both species grow in west Texas, and are differentiated by the length of the perianth tube. Flora of North America says they are “genetically distinct” but doesn’t list Y. carnerosana for Texas, so …..(I don’t really care about any of this).

Anyway, he managed to get a picture of some seed-grown Yucca rostrata from Black Gap in western Texas, which sounds like a cowboy movie setting, and even the little plants have been completely hardy here, which is saying a lot. (The one called ‘Sapphire Skies’ has not been hardy here. He tried that twice.) 14040514He also had to go into the agave house to get some agaves, but didn’t take any pictures because I’ve already posted a bunch, but took a picture of the outdoor cactus frames.14040515Then, finally, to the heavy yuccas. These are Yucca faxoniana, which is completely hardy here, and the guy I live with doesn’t know why it isn’t planted more. Oh, that’s not true. He knows perfectly well why not.

He tried to lift this one, and he was able to. (Only a forklift can lift the one behind it.)14040516This one he couldn’t lift.14040517Well, so that was that. I think he’s not going to get one of these, but will wait until the one he does have grows a trunk. It does make him think of elephants. I’ve never seen an elephant, but I have seen the trunks down in the crawl space, and I can’t imagine what an elephant might look like after having seen those trunks, and the ones in the pictures here. Elephants must be really scary.

The best remedy for thinking about scary things, especially after a couple of hours of being left alone, is to spend some time in my fort.

I hope you enjoyed the nursery pictures.IMG_9056_edited-1


Until next time, then.


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18 Responses to back to the nursery

  1. Oh, Chess, I did coleus in the 60s and 70s as houseplants, the mealy bug-ridden things. If coleus goes outside, sites are never the same as the nursery’s and color changes radically. Still, these new hybrids are cool and intriguing, and I thank you for sharing.
    Do you mind quite so much being left alone when the guy you live with goes out to gather food? Or is it the collecting of plants that leaves you bereft? Remember, these trips of the guy you live with do provide fodder for your blog posts. And this post has two photos of you, the first of you with play toy, you looking askance at whatever’s occurring. Does the guy etc., ever show you pics of yourself? Whatever’s occurring is the capture of totally adorbs. The second photo, tres atmospheric. Where is Whistler when needed?

    • paridevita says:

      I have separation anxiety. My buddy Slipper taught me how to howl like a banshee when my mommy and the guy I live with left us, and I still do it. A-roooo. Like that. The guy I live with does mostly stay at home, though, because he likes hanging around with me. The pictures of me that I like the best are the ones where I look noble. Or the ones where I look sad and pathetic. Or soft and cuddly. The guy I live with has never seen me bare my teeth at anyone, dog or person, by the way, though I am really ultra aggressive when people come to the front door. (That’s because both my mommy and my buddy Slipper left me, and I’m afraid people who come to the front door are going to take the guy I live with away from me. That’s what he says, anyway. I think I’m just an excellent guard dog. I guarded my mommy, with my buddy Slipper’s help, all those years when she was at home drawing, or writing, or working in the house or garage or garden.) Here, coleus intensify in color, because we have 33 percent more ultraviolet than at sea level. Flower colors here are often very intense, and many visitors remark on that. (The guy I live with says that up in the mountains the colors are even more intense; he remembers the deep, deep blue of Penstemon caryi in the demonstration garden of Colorado Alpines in Avon…down the highway from Vail.) The elevation here also accounts for the snow instead of rain at this time of year.

  2. petabunn says:

    I agree Chess why would anyone want to leave you alone. I’m sure though if you were a better traveller your guy would take you absoutely everywhere with him, who can resist you. Great setup of plants in the greenhouse, hard to leave without a few extra plants and what an amazing display of coleus, my mum used to have some way back when. It sounds like yur guy came home empty handed. Adorable you and Lambchops.

    • paridevita says:

      He did come home empty handed as far as coleus are concerned, but brought home some very scary agaves, which he knows for sure are completely hardy here, so they’ll go out in the garden and be scary there. I know enough to stay away from them, though.

  3. Fisher, the Wonder Dog says:

    You could say that garden clean up at the manor house began in earnest yesterday afternoon. My daddy was up on a ladder with a pruning saw cutting dead spruce branches, which I found to be intolerably scary and so had to retire to my balcony. The gate to the veggie garden was opened for the chickens to begin turning the soil. (We had a rat infestation last fall, which, I am pleased to report has finally been remedied, and so the raised beds all pretty much need to be rebuilt, which is on the list of spring chores this year, but first we let the cluckers go at it—they’ve had a difficult winter and need some fun in their lives, or so says my daddy) My grammy, who says that her fall from respectable society began in earnest this past winter since if she wasn’t wearing ski pants, she was wearing sweat pants, and has now taken it to what she claims is the next, and possibly final level in that she has discovered the joys and comforts of overalls and now sees no earthly reason why she should ever wear anything less comfortable ever again, spent the day gathering fallen dead twigs and branches and tying what I will go out on a limb and call the most beautiful faggots I have ever seen. She says it will, indeed, be sad to see them burn in the fireplace–although I will never have to see that happen since I stay far away from the living room when there is a fire in the wall. My grammy readily admits that gathering twigs and tying faggots can hardly be considered participating in serious garden clean up—we all knew she was stalling, but no one said anything. We figure she’ll get to the garden when she is good and ready. I think maybe seeing your guy’s latest pictures from Timberline Gardens may help to provide the boot she seems to need. It’s a good thing we don’t have a nursery like that around here as my grammy would most likely spend all her time looking and buying and have no time left for planting. And that might make my grampy nuts. She did start talking about a pilgrimage the last time you posted some pics—what harm could that do, right?

    • paridevita says:

      An excellent story, thank you. The guy I live with might say that pilgrimages can do a great deal of harm unless one leaves the wallet at home. He and my mommy talked about moving to western Oregon when he retired. She was against it for some reason. I think I know, though; he would be at places like Cistus every day and I would have to have water and crackers for breakfast and dinner. He also has taken to wearing gardening pants again, ones that have been frightfully patched up here and there, because he complains about the number of belt loops in regular jeans (only five), whereas the stone-washed ones have seven. More belt loops, more staying-up power, he says. There was a time when the gardening pants had been banned from the house after he cut a bunch of firewood from dead branches here and was pushing it down the street in a wheelbarrow, wearing slippers and his tattered gardening pants, and suddenly realized what a spectacle that might have been, had anyone been watching. Rather like the time that the old truck gave out in the grocery store parking lot and he and my mommy pushed a grocery cart full of groceries (with the store’s permission) all the way home. I quite agree about fires, though the only ones here are in the chiminea out on the patio, and they only happen about once every couple of years.

      • Fisher, the Wonder Dog says:

        I could be mistaken on this, but based upon my many years of observing and striving to understand the behavior of my human charges, it may be safe to say that pushing wheelbarrows down the street whilst wearing slippers is generally something best done unobserved. Same can be said of pushing full groceries carts outside the confines of the parking lot. But alas, sometimes a person gots to do what a person gots to do, and to heck with what the neighbors think! At least I think that’s how it works…..

      • paridevita says:

        I’m pretty sure you’re right. Keeping one’s gardening pants on is a good idea too. Just because they’re a size too large is no excuse for not wearing a belt. There was this time …..but never mind.

      • Fisher, the Wonder Dog says:

        In addition to staying up without the assist of a belt, bibs function much as would a Swiss Army knife, were it to find itself reincarnated as a form of apparel. I wouldn’t personally know, as I have no personal experience with these troubling concerns.

      • paridevita says:

        Indeed. My mommy suggested that the guy I live with get a pair of overalls. But then she also tried to talk him into getting an earring. (He said he’d compromise and get a nose ring, if it could be a shower-curtain ring. Never happened, of course.)

  4. Vivian Swift says:

    Dear Chess: Good job herding the Lambchops. And oh my, I bet your mommy did wonders with coleus. Now I now what goes wrong when I try to grow colorful coleus here on the shores of the Long Island Sound.

    Last May I went to the Majorelle Garden in Marrakech where among all the stuff that is worth looking at was an area dedicated to a “collection” of rare and unusual cacti from the Americas. The group of really tall cacti supposedly “adds a vertical element to the garden”, which I thought was hilarious, but the idea of *collecting* cacti in the first place was highly amusing. The idea of collecting cacti to grow in the Saharan steppe had me in stitches.

    On second thought, it might have been the palm tree collection that was full of rare and unusual specimens. But palm trees I can understand. They too are (for the most part) vertical, and they also give shade and make a very pleasant sound when a passing breeze ruffles their fronds. But cactus? Dear Chess, I would love to know what it is about cactus that some people, such as the guy you live with, find appealing. (Except the yuccas — they have a thought-provoking form. I get that.)

    P.S. There’s also a cactus “collection” at the Chelsea Physic Garden in London that is pretty pathetic. Or is it a “cacti” collection?

    • paridevita says:

      I guess partly it depends on that elusive thing people call “taste”, and the even more elusive thing people call “design”. The guy I live with feels that way about so many plants he won’t even mention them here, because then no one would pay any attention to him. (Like they do anyway…) As I’ve probably said before, one of the two fights the guy I live with and my mommy had in 27 years of being together (though of course they got mad at each other from time to time, like normal people), was over the presence in the garden of bearded irises with ruffles. Even though, technically, he made the garden for her, he dug them all up and put a “free iris” sign on the driveway. (The other fight was whether or not you can smoke a turkey and a salmon at the same time. He had to throw away the turkey.)

  5. Deborah S. Farrell says:

    I have the same rule about being able to lift things myself. Guys often try to be helpful to the little (5’1″) lady when I’m buying rocks for the garden, but I tell them no thanks. Except one time, and then I couldn’t lift the rock out of the trunk, and well, my husband could & did, but it ended up in the bed closest to where the car was (not where I’d intended to put it). Lesson learned.

    It also needs to fit in my Vibe. When I was looking for serviceberry bushes last fall, the only one the local nursery had was full grown — would have needed a forklift to lift it. uhhhh. No thanks.

    • paridevita says:

      We have a dolly, and a cart, though when the guy I live with ordered the three pinyons he miscalculated their actual weight by several hundred pounds. That story was told on the blog, I think. He wound up dragging them into the back yard with a hay hook my mommy bought to decorate the shed, and his heart was beating so fast he felt like a hummingbird. He was told later that this was what was called “good exercise”, a phrase he now equates to “almost dying”. My mommy was only an inch taller and she moved a lot of heavy stuff by herself, but when it came to digging post holes and things like that, she made the guy I live with do that work. The thing about really big plants, which I guess they call “landscape size”, aside from the weight, is the price, and what if they died? It isn’t like all the plants that have been planted here have lived. A smaller plant is more likely to be able to get its roots “right” as it grows, especially here, where it hardly ever rains when it’s supposed to. You don’t get that instant effect, which the guy I live with admits he likes, but the next year, when the big plant is dead, the effect is less than desirable. (There are some large dead plants in the garden here that no one ever notices, which the guy I live with thinks is really funny.)

      Oh, incidentally, I was going to mention this on my post but forgot. Usually I complain a lot when the guy I live with goes out into the front yard, if I can’t watch him working, but you know how so many people in the horticulture industry and also water providers are suggesting people get rid of lawns and put in gardens, well, there was a garden down the street, a garden mulched with rock and planted, very different looking, and the new owners are ripping out the garden and putting in a lawn. So there’s this big pile of rocks down the street, and someone I know really well heard the sound of rock being moved, and went down to see, and was told he could take as much rock as he wanted, so he moved a bunch today. The rock is technically the wrong size (too big), but the right price, and it’s going in the front yard, where almost nothing ever gets planted any more.

      • Fisher, the Wonder Dog says:

        A big pile of free big rocks! How wonderful! What a score for your guy! We are huge fans of garden rocks—dignified and carefree and seemingly very grateful to have been given a good home—who could ask for more?

      • paridevita says:

        These are larger than pea gravel, but smaller than “river rock”. Their uniformity is not very attractive, but it can be mixed with smaller rock later. The chain of events is funny. The last neighbor ripped out the lawn, and the guy I live with took all the turf to use as backfill for a project next door. Now he’s taking the rock. Not all of it, though; there isn’t really a place for that much rock. The best, he says, is a mixture of pea gravel and 3/4” or less. I don’t like walking on any of it.

      • Deborah S. Farrell says:

        Yes, I always go for the smaller plants. I’d love to have the immediate effect of a big tree, but I do think the smaller ones do better & there’s the eventual payoff of seeing a big tree where a small one was planted.

        I’ve had that kind of cardio experience doing yardwork, too. I dug out BIG clumps of miscanthus, and then dragged them uphill on a tarp, grunting and wheezing all the way. The clumps were too big for my Load Hog, which I bought at Handy Andy (no longer in business) about 20 years ago. I love that cart.

        I love rocks. I moved some of my favorite rocks from Flint to here in the trunk of my car. They disappeared off the deck before I could put them out. What kind of a psycho steals a person’s rocks (off her deck)?! I had a party several years back & told people the only acceptable gift was a rock for the garden. People cheerfully complied. Yay! They rock! I rock! You rock! We rock!

      • paridevita says:

        To answer the last (rhetorical) question, the guy I live with says that people can be extremely weird. But that there’s weird that affects you, and weird that doesn’t. Swiping rocks is the first kind of weird; wanting green grass in a semi-arid climate is the second, but it’s so common here that it only seems weird to an outsider. Like, visitors who’ve never been to Denver and expect to see sagebrush and cactus and instead see acres of green lawns and tree-lined streets and all that. (Until they come to our yard.) The guy I live with said his heart was beating 120 beats per minute. He once took a pain reliever and didn’t read the instructions and that happened, and he called the doctor who said that was okay. Not all the time, but for a while. One of the trees that has a reputation for not being very hardy here is the redbud. There’s one in the garden here, and they’re all over Denver, but the reason for that reputation is that the tree has a taproot, and quite often taprooted plants don’t do well when transplanted from containers.

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