weather and other complaints

Greetings and salutations, everyone; once again it is I, Chess 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 “Turned Up Missing” and “Form And Texture”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose. I’m a lot more nervous about the weather than I look, but that’s typical of a purebred border collie, you know. 14062611It’s been dark and thundering for days on end now, and I don’t like it at all. The guy I live with says he’s getting Seasonal Affective Disorder, and maybe I am too. They (you know, “they”) keep promising it’ll dry out here any time now, but it doesn’t seem to.

This is what it looks like here in the morning. (Not too early in the morning, of course, because I like to sleep in.) Blue skies, but you can see the clouds forming over the mountains. 14062600This is what it looks like at noon.14062611Not that it’s been raining a lot, just scary thunder and lightning. The other day, lightning hit so close we could hear that electrical snap, and I was afraid I would see my skeleton, like in cartoons, but I didn’t. I sat bravely and nobly in my fort while the guy I live with complained about the endless darkness.

Things are going on, anyway. It’s funny how that happens. Even when you think every day is exactly the same, things are really changing.

Here’s a cactus flower picture. This is Opuntia polyacantha, I guess. 14062604And the Cotinus ‘Grace’, which the guy I live with said was sure to die over the winter, didn’t, though it’s been needing a lot of water, since the root ball isn’t big enough to support the hugeness of the plant he got. He says this has been known for a long time, but sometimes people don’t think about it, and they jump to conclusions about a plant when nothing should be jumped to. There aren’t enough roots, that’s all. Watering, especially root watering, is a great help. 14062603Since it was so gloomy, the guy I live with took some garden pictures. My mommy always used to complain about the sun, how it wasn’t good for taking pictures, but now that summers seem to be so dark and dreary here, there can be more picture taking. He says his pictures aren’t as good as hers would have been, but still, you can get some idea of what goes on here.

You might wonder why there are so few shots of the front yard on our blog. The guy I live with says it because it’s easier to walk out the open back door than to have to open the front door and go out in front. I guess I understand.

Anyway, here’s a shot of what it looks like if you were sitting at this chair. Notice that the pots have been planted with pelargoniums. The guy I live with says that makes us seem very continental. He picked these colors because he was told by the ladies at the paint store that he had no color sense at all, and so he said dark red might make the garden look less gray and drab. Penstemon cobaea on the right. He says “gray and drab” is what a garden should look like here. He says a lot of things, though.14062605Next, looking over the rock gardens, facing more or less west. The prayer flags are old ones, and there to remind the guy I live with that there are new plants which need watering.14062606Looking down the north path, if you’d walked a little way into the garden. 14062607Looking at the same arbor from the middle of the garden. That’s Verbascum densiflorum right smack in front. 14062609Out in the “way back”, under the arbor, the light was really weird, but you can see that the newly-sown buffalograss is sort of coming in. He’s been cutting down the dead parts of the chokecherry on the right.14062608In other news, here I am in the garden. I don’t know what it was that I was looking at; maybe nothing. You can see the spot on my right side where I think a foxtail awn stuck in me. I get checked for them constantly, but they’re sometimes hard to find. The purple thing you see on the right is a cross between the purple-leafed sand cherry and Prunus andersonii he got at the RMC-NARGS plant sale from Agua Fria Nursery. I guess the motto here is, “If it’s weird and different, we need it for the garden.” Purebred border collies excepted, of course. 14062601I still get to go on my walks, of course, though sometimes we have to wait until it stops thundering, or go between thunderstorms, which takes a lot of skillful planning. I don’t like to go on my walk if it’s thundering, what with the possibility of seeing my skeleton and all, but sometimes there are walks that just need to be gone on, no matter what, and, being extremely tough and brave, we go on them anyway.

The county came by and mowed, which the guy I live with said was “stupid”, since the grass won’t grow back and just weeds will, and besides, now there are foxtail awns everywhere on the ground, which I pick up in my coat, and they also come home in the guy I live with’s socks. See what I mean? 14062613There are whole areas that are nothing but foxtail. The guy I live with says if they would just stop mowing, the smooth brome would smother everything.14062614If the area above doesn’t look familiar, it’s because I’ve decided to go a new way on my walk; really the old way, before we started walking down the creek path, but that’s so full of hay now, from the mowing, that it’s no fun to walk on any more. This used to be a scary woods years ago.

I still go on the canal road, of course. If you look closely you can see where the road divides, and goes off to the left; well, that’s the way I like to go now.14062612Because of all the disturbance of the land, there are monster thistles here now. Onopordum acanthium, Scotch thistle, is especially huge, as is Canada thistle. These are Scotch, here. There are hundreds of them, and they’re taller than the guy I live with.

On the left, a few plants of blue grama grass, the State grass of Colorado and a component of our “lawn”, and ten trillion plants of cheatgrass, or downy chess (not named after me).14062615Huge burdock (Arctium lappa) plants along the canal road. 14062616Okay, I guess we covered everything. A few garden pictures, a lot of complaining about the weather, and the foxtail, and the mowing mentality of the powers that be, and all that. I’ll close now with a picture of me struggling through the hay and foxtail awns on my way home.14062617


Until next time, then.



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15 Responses to weather and other complaints

  1. Kim Bone says:

    Your garden is looking beautiful…I’m going to Newcastle, Wyoming w/ Kelly for the 4th of July!

  2. Deborah S. Farrell says:

    Chess, I’m sorry you’re having to endure so much thunder and all those foxtail awns. Such an exceptional dog deserves better! The weather has been strange in Indiana, too, with strong storms & tornados north of us, where my dad lives.

    I had a berry good day today ~~ I found 2 ripe blueberries on the $1.99 (clearance) blueberry bush I planted 2 years ago, and 1 ripe Juneberry on a bush I planted this year. None of the 6 downy serviceberry bushes I planted this year flowered, so I was not able to have a berry tasting trifecta.

    We figured out that Daisy’s medical problems were due to the dog food company changing to a grain-free formula. The new recipe has 2-1/2 to 3 times as much protein as the old formula, and that much protein can be hard on dogs, especially older dogs (she’s 10). So the search is on for a lower protein replacement.

    • paridevita says:

      My food is mostly gray and icky, and comes in a can, from the vet’s. I like it okay, I guess. Would rather have bologna and cheese, of course, which is what the guy I live with was eating for dinner when my mommy met him. She changed that pretty quickly. He went to Whole Foods this afternoon but didn’t get any fruit. He got some non-dairy ice cream, though. Ice cream ought to grow on trees, in my opinion. The weather here has been extreme, to say the least. The guy I live with says he never wants to hear the word “severe” ever again. (Add that to the list that starts with “iconic”.)

      • Vivian Swift says:

        Ooo! Ooo! Can I get in on the List of Banned Words? For the past two years I’ve been reading a lot of garden books and I have a list of words I never want to see again in any garden or gardening context:
        Sacred space
        Jewel or jewel-like or gem
        Calming force
        Paradisiacal, paradise (except for when that’s the garden’s actual name, such as the Islamic genre of garden design called the Paradise Garden)

        I’ve been writing a garden book of my own and I refuse to use any of these words. My editor has a copy of this list so she can red line me if I let one of slip past my internal censor (it can happen after I drink too much fruit). A garden is not a gem! A garden is not a gem! Only a gem is a gem! A garden metaphor needs context to be a gem! Calling a garden a “gem” is lazy writing!

        P.S. I admit to using “iconic”. Once. Because the willow trees in the Square du Vert-Galat in Paris really are iconic, n’est-ce pas?

      • paridevita says:

        Well, though, a glade is a real thing, assuming one possesses a woodland……. “Edit” is a word the guy I live with doesn’t care for, in terms of gardening. Edit is something someone else does to one’s writing, not to a garden. “Can you come edit my garden? I’ll pay you handsomely.”

      • Vivian Swift says:

        Square du Vert-Galant.

    • Vivian Swift says:

      Cheerios. I use Cheerios as filler for my dog’s breakfast and dinner stews. My dog lives with nine cats so despite our best efforts, she often ate protein-rich cat food which I know is not good for her. On a neighbor’s recommendation I got her some Mighty Dog wet food and even tho the vet advised me that Mighty Dog is the crappiest dog food out there, Boogie Girl loves it even more than cat food and at her age (17) I think she’s entitled to doggie junk food…however, I also mix the Mighty Dog with a highly rated (expensive) organic dry dog food because otherwise, if Boogie Girl sniffs anything too healthy, she just pushes the dish aside with her nose and then days later I am standing in the den wondering how a bowl of moldy dog food got under the sofa. And I also use Cheerios to hide the foul stench of the good-for-you food. The same neighbor who told me about Mighty Dog also told me about Cheerios and her dogs live into their late teens and most of her cats hit their 20th birthdays so I figure she knows what she’s talking about. Boogie Girl loves Cheerios.

      But even as a bend-the-rules kind of doggy mom, I would never feed my Boogie Girl bologna. Your mommy was right to rescue The Guy You Live With when she found out he was eating bologna for dinner. And as for fruit, I operate under the assumption that a vodka tonic with a squeeze of fresh lime fulfills the daily recommended dose.

      • paridevita says:

        And a potato is a vegetable. (As in vodka.) The guy I live with occasionally buys mortadella from one of the Italian delis around here, and I get some of that, but not a whole lot. I also know there’s a small wedge of gorgonzola dolce in the refrigerator … I had to have my sore looked at today and it was aspirated, so I was stuck with needles despite a promise I wouldn’t be, and so on the way home I got a plain McDonald’s hamburger. That was really excellent. I’ve only had them one or twice before in my life.

  3. Knicky Twigs says:

    The garden is looking really terrific! I know how difficult it is to endure the stupidness of the powers that be, but endure we must. You may look forward to returning to your magnificent garden, even if it means foxtails must be plucked.

    • paridevita says:

      Thanks; it’s rained here some, which really helps the plants. Maybe the wind will come up and blow all the foxtail awns away. This can be a windy place, but never when we could really use it, it seems. The guy I live with thought about taking his leaf blower, which he hardly ever uses, out there, but then he worried he might set the field on fire. An alternative would be calling the people who insisted the field be mowed and asking them to clean up this mess, but he’d have better luck talking to my water dish.

  4. Marcia Blum says:

    I have a neighbor that has mowed around his house since building in the meadow. All that grows now is Brome where he has mowed – that and the Timothy were the hay grasses that were here from the old ranch and rangeland. It is amazing how the other native grasses just next to all of this have disappeared in the mowed part. I am committed to my meadow. I pull, pull, pull what does not belong there.

    • paridevita says:

      The only place here where the smooth brome has reached peoples’ back fences is at our house. Everywhere else it’s mowed, or sprayed (probably illegal), and the bare spaces are filled with weeds. Duh. (Not that smooth brome isn’t the ultimate weed.) We think that the last time there were native grasses here was in the early 1970s, when the neighborhood was built. Once smooth brome moves in, the end is near. But it does keep down other weeds. And everything else. Where the woods were, are now nothing but foxtail and cheatgrass, with the occasional blue grama tuft. There are some trees, pinyons, etc. too. A company came in and laid a drip system (for unknown reasons), and that was torn apart by dirtbikers years ago, but it’s still functioning, because you can hear gurgling and sputtering in places where there are no trees. They also planted hundreds of native wetland plants north of the canal, along the creek bed, and then walked away from the planting. All of the plants died because they never got watered. There are some interesting living native plants here, like Populus balsamifera, balsam poplar or hackmatack, a tree of Canada, but according to Weber also found in montane and subalpine areas here, though uncommon. There were a few trees right where the creek goes under US 285, but when the wooded area north of us was bulldozed, all the cottonwoods were removed. They’ve come back in force, and so has the balsam poplar. You can smell it long before you approach it. Very pleasant. How it got there is anyone’s guess.

  5. Wow, the garden looks glorious.

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