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. You may remember me from such posts as “Bunnies On The Grass, Alas” and “A Close Call”, among so many, many others.
Here I am in a characteristic pose. Not hugely in focus or anything like that, but still characteristic. You may wonder what the green blanket is doing pushed up against the front door. The standard answer is “It’s just there”, which is, of course, extremely enlightening. In the winter, cold air comes in under the door, and so the blanket functions as what they call a “draft dodger”. At other times of the year, it prevents people from bashing in the front door and taking our manor house by storm. So the guy I live with says, anyway.
I was about to say something else, but now I’ve forgotten. Here I am about to say something else, but forgetting what it was.Oh, I know. It’s nest-building time around here. (I could have remembered just by looking at the title of this evening’s post.)
The guy I live with took pictures through the kitchen window, which is double-glazed. He says he hasn’t had a glazed doughnut in about twenty years, and so double-glazed sounds even better. I have no idea what he’s talking about, as usual, though if it’s food, I understand completely.
The nest is going into the alpine fir, Abies lasiocarpa. I’m glad I don’t have to build a nest. I have my fort, and then my bed, upstairs, with the soft Pottery Barn sheets, and I let the guy I live with sleep on part of it too. He set up the box fan in the window a few nights ago, and it blows really nice chilly air onto my face, while my hindquarters are tucked warmly under the blanket. I like that a lot.
My mommy made a little platform years ago, to put nesting material on. Pieces of string, burlap, all kinds of stuff like that, which the birds could use for building their nests. The robin here is using last year’s blue grama grass for nest material, because the platform is gone now.
The guy I live with left me alone last night to go to the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society’s (whew) plant sale, and came back with a lot fewer plants than I thought he would. He forgot his camera and also forgot to take pictures of the plants he bought. He said he was going back to Denver Botanic Gardens, where the sale took place, today, and take some pictures, but his belt broke, and he didn’t know where his other belt was. He found it this afternoon, but said that DBG probably had a rule about pants, which I didn’t understand, since I don’t wear them. He also said something about using a piece of rope and maybe some red suspenders, but that didn’t happen. Fortunately, I think.
So today some gardening was done, after the robin finished collecting pieces of dried grass. I helped by watching.I think the metal pole that holds the solar lamp really is leaning. My mommy wouldn’t’ve stood for such a thing. For her, everything had to be level in all the ten directions. The guy I live with makes mental notes of such things, this leaning, that needing to be picked up or weeded out, or moved, but he claims his mind is going, slowly. I’m not sure what he means by “slowly”.
There are a few obligatory plant pictures to show you, too. Here’s Fritillaria pallidiflora, which the guy I live with grew from seed. He says in China it’s a medicinal crop.And if it’s blue you want, check out the buds on Penstemon arenicola. The guy I live with had a terrible time getting the camera to focus on the buds, for some reason.And finally, the lilac, ‘Annabel’. The guy I live with says that ‘Annabel’ is “the Sharon Stone of lilacs”. I don’t know what that means. Like so much other stuff he says. I suspect most of it is just babbling.My mommy loved lilacs. ‘Annabel’ is a “hyacinthiflora” type, a hybrid, and it blooms earlier than the regular lilacs. The whole way back garden is scented of lilacs right now, just by this one lilac, though it’s pretty big. He got this, and several others, from Heard Gardens in Iowa, years ago. They grew lilacs on their own roots, which sounds reasonable. I wouldn’t like being on someone else’s paws, that’s for sure.
I think that’s really all I have to talk about tonight. I guess I’ll let you go now, with me in another characteristic pose.
Until next time, then.
Dear Chess: Your half hot, half cold sleeping habits seemed a tad eccentric at first, but then I saw that picture of you in your gardening-watching pose, half on the patch of soft new grass, half on the stony gravel path… It’s as clear as your black and white self. You’re a Yin Yang Master. No wonder your characteristic pose is so dignified and so awfully CUTE too. You’re all about the dichotomies. You are one deep dog.
Thank you for the pictures of the wonderful Spring activity in your garden. All my experiences of Spring this year have been vicarious, and so far this one with the nest-buildng robins and theColorado lilacs is my favorite.
I agree, I’m very deep. Though my buddy Slipper liked to stand at the kitchen door, with his head out in the cold, and his rear end all toasty from all the warm air pouring out of the house. He could survey stuff that way. My mommy didn’t like that very much. She had so many rules. The guy I live with has hardly any. That’s why the back door is almost always open now, because after my mommy died, the guy I live with felt sorry for us and so just left the door open, so Slipper could be half hot, and half cold. Lilacs are nice. The guy I live with keeps threatening to take them out, because they occupy so much space and do nothing for 51 weeks of the year, but then they flower.
The scent of lilac always creates a tsunami of nostalgia in me. My grandmother had lilac bushes, and I loved them. I planted one a couple of years ago, and it has two blooms this year.
I enjoyed the photo of the blue Penstemon arenicola. That’s one blue flower I haven’t bought yet. Maybe I should get a book on penstemons, hm?
I’m really having fun with the blue flowers this year. I planted some annual lobelia in 2 shades of blue today. And I found some blue flower shaped LED solar lights, which I bought. My husband wonders if maybe I’m carrying the blue flower thing a little too far. Au contraire. I’ve been fighting the urge to buy a blue hydrangea. I’m pretty sure I will lose the battle.
Nice to see the robins at work. The trees are just starting to leaf out here, so we should be seeing the cardinals and robins building nests in the next week or so. They often build nests in the star magnolia right outside the kitchen window, and I’ve seen the robin shimmy in the nest to shape it to her body. I’m always amused by the things they find to decorate the nest — cellophane pull strips, artificial flowers, feathers from other birds (esp. our neighbor’s chickens).
Cavity nesters, like bluebirds, can & do start nesting earlier here. The other day, I looked out the window and saw a red-shouldered hawk sitting on top of the birdhouse in which the bluebirds are nesting (5 eggs now). I know that red-shouldered hawks are not bird eaters like Cooper’s hawks, but it still made me very nervous. When I see things like that, I go all Dorothy from the Wizard of Oz: you don’t have to look farther than your own backyard . . . for happiness, to see something amazing. It’s so very nice to see the happy & amazing things in your backyard, too.
Thanks; it is probably easier to be happy just where you are. The guy I live with occasionally yearns to be somewhere else, but here is okay. Um, dog hair is excellent for nests. On the nesting-material platform my mommy built, there was a nail pounded in, and dog hair could be put on it. I imagine it makes a very soft nest, because, well, after all, I’m pretty soft. Penstemon arenicola, “sand dweller”. The guy I live with says it might not be happy outside of its native habitat (Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Montana), but you never know. His grandpa had a hydrangea and used to stick nails into the ground because I guess in the 1950s that’s what they said to do, to make it blue. It never turned blue. The guy I live with says trying to acidify soil is not very enjoyable. Lilacs. There is an excellent, out-of-print book on lilacs, by John Fiala, which kind of makes you want to grow more. ‘Victor Lemoine’ is like the ultimate lilac. Double, heavily scented.
Yes, I’ve heard of the nails to make the hydrangeas blue. I think it was supposed to be the iron. I usually throw down a handful of the acid fertilizer for most of my flowering trees & shrubs every spring, and they seem happy.
Nothing seems to happen when the guy I live with uses fertilizer. He was approached, via email, by a couple of companies to see if he wanted to promote fertilizer, and pictured himself dressed like one of the Blues Brothers going door to door with a briefcase full of fertilizer samples. He said thank you very much, but no. He’s retired. (All a person has to do is click on the gravatar with me on it and find the email, so it’s not like it’s a big secret.) Oh, the one time that something did happen was when he used epsom salts on the plumeria here in the living room, and it perked up immediately. There is some evidence, though, that watering cacti with acidulated water and nitrogen derived from ammonium increases growth and flowering. Articles by Elton Roberts in the Cactus and Succulent Journal. What this does is imitate rainfall. Anyway, I do some of my own fertilizing.
Flower Show, Library Book Sale, Pancake Breakfast weekend here in the village, but I burst through the busyness to appreciate the Chessness of the Universe. Lilacs, sigh. I’m able to grow only ceanothus, I lust after ‘Victor Lemoine,’ I do. The scent. Birdies. Haven’t observed nest-building, but I watch for minutes at a time birdies splashing in the backyard fountain. Mesmerizing. Emotional Sunday here, last offering from a fabulous nursery/repository of historic old roses. Ordered La Reine de Violette, Climbing White Maman Cochet, and Cornelia. Hope I get them all, I’ll worry about planting space later. Your photos, Chess, fabulous, showcasing a range of personality. Each time you show yourself in the garden, I gain appreciation for the guy you live with’s garden.
The guy I live with has threatened to bring the camera upstairs to the bedroom to show “how difficult” it is to get me out of bed in the morning. he says that might change peoples’ perception of me. I mean, the Pottery Barn sheets, even though the least expensive ones, are really soft, and the morning sun shines on me, and, well, et cetera. It’s ironic that the guy I live with would trade being able to grow lilacs for being able to grow blue-flowered ceanothus in a heartbeat. Gardeners are like that. (There is one hardy blue-flowered one, Ceanothus greggii var. franklinii, but he just has the white flowered regular greggii.) There was a ‘reine des violettes’ here, back in his rose period. (Just like Picasso, huh.)
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