the ghost in the grapevine

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 up to date on the latest news from our garden, and all kinds of other stuff. You may remember me from such posts as “Mice In The Rice”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.That’s the “bulb frame” behind me, though there aren’t any bulbs in there, yet. The guy I live with wasn’t sure what sort of soil to put in there, and finally decided on filling the frame with pea gravel, and planting bulbs in “pond baskets” with sandy loam or something like that. Eventually this will get done.

I like this part of the yard, even though it’s pretty bare. Chess, the purebred border collie who lived here before me, liked to lie here too. There wasn’t a bulb frame there, then. It’s one of the warmest places in the yard, especially in the winter.

The last couple of days here have been extremely gorgeous.Today it was seventy-six degrees (that’s about twenty-four Celsius) with twelve percent humidity. Yesterday, the wind came up and lots of leaves blew off the trees, but unfortunately most of the leaves are still there. You can kind of see the “mountain wave” cloud that appeared yesterday. (You can also see the spot on the camera lens. The guy I live with can’t find where the spot is. He looked online to see how to replace the lens and you have to have that done professionally, so he said the lens would have the spot.)It’s supposed to snow on Monday.

They say we might get eight inches (twenty centimeters) of snow, with a low on Monday night of twenty-two (minus five and a half Celsius). The guy I live with is not hugely happy about this, but it does happen here, sometimes, and “No one ever said this was a great climate for gardening”. Then it will warm up again. The snow will probably break a lot of tree branches and make a huge mess in the garden. But we’re used to that.

Back to more pleasant news.

I got to go up into the mountains on Thursday. The guy I live with and his friend took me up there. He brought his camera but didn’t take any pictures of me in the mountains, so I guess a photographic record will have to wait for another time.

The mountains are really cool. Literally and figuratively. There were all sorts of new smells. Smells are one of the best parts of walks, if you didn’t know. I got to see things like deer poop, and elk poop. The guy I live with’s friend used to live up there and so she was an expert on such things. I even saw deer bones. They were pretty scary, and I jumped high in the air, until I totally checked them out. I didn’t see any deer or elk, though. The guy I live with told his friend how Chess was just walking out into the “way back” and a big bull elk stuck his head out from behind the pea shrubs, and Chess went completely berserk, which I would do too, because elks are huge.

Anyway, there are things happening in the garden, even with snow looming in the future. The guy I live with was talking to a friend in the nursery business about Salvia greggii, because some people have a hard time growing it, but it’s been reseeding here. This is a not-very-focused picture of four salvias, only one of which was planted. Maybe you can see that the one in the back is slightly darker; that was the one that was planted.The trap is just there for looks, like we’re being threatening or something. The wire cages are for crocuses.

Speaking of salvias, the guy I live with bought some ‘Shangri-La’ salvias the other day, because “the leaves looked cool”.He’s afraid this will need a lot of watering here, but there’s no way to tell until we try it. Still, the leaves are cool. He said he grew one of the parent plants, Salvia moorcroftiana, decades ago. It needed watering here.

We have mushrooms coming up. Someone did say they might be edible. The guy I live with said he’s not going to try them. He ate a Destroying Angel mushroom when he was two, and still remembers the doctor making a house call. That was a long, long time ago.There are crocuses all over the place. This is Crocus speciosus, one of the most attractive, and readily available. It’s been seeding itself in the garden for years. This was just what you might call a “casual picture”. And there are lots of cyclamen. This is Cyclamen hederifolium in the shade garden. And I guess some self-sown Crocus speciosus. Not much is in focus here. The stake is to mark the boundary where the cyclamens are, so no one walks on them.

Colorado really doesn’t have a lot of red where autumn color is concerned, but the Wasatch maples, Acer grandidentatum, native to the western slope, do turn red.

Maybe this has been said before, but some botanists consider this species to be the “western expression” of the eastern sugar maple, Acer saccharum. Early settlers in Utah tapped the little trees for syrup. The sap runs in March, here.

So that’s been what’s happened in the last few days.

Today, we were just doing stuff, the way we do, when all of a sudden there was something in the grapevine by the kitchen window. I barked a lot. I was pretty sure it was a ghost, because it’s that time of year. The guy I live with tells me fairly often that we do live with ghosts, but nice ghosts, but I was sure this was the other kind. He got kind of weirded out, because I kept looking, and barking, and he looked too, but couldn’t see anything, even though I was sure there was something there. He said there wasn’t, but I had to check. You can see how super careful I was being. Neither of us could find anything in the grapevine. I had a case of the creeps for a couple of hours after that.

Oh, and speaking of weird things, the guy I live with said to say, as a public service message, that he doesn’t know why all the older posts have the “word wrap” that they do. He isn’t going to go back and redo everything, but for some reason the text wraps strangely around the pictures. Just to let you know.

So that’s it for today. For the last few days, actually. I’ll let you know if the snow wrecks the whole garden, of course, and maybe even report if there’s tons of complaining. There’s bound to be, as you might guess.

I’ll leave you with a picture of me, surveying my domain.

Until next time, then.




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17 Responses to the ghost in the grapevine

  1. tonytomeo says:

    That Wasatch maple look interesting because I have never seen one before. We have the bigleaf maple here, which is also a sugaring maple; but no one believes that anymore. People think that maple sugar only comes from New England and Canada.

    • paridevita says:

      Some botanists think the Wasatch or canyon or bigtooth maple is just a sugar maple that went west.

      • tonytomeo says:

        Yup. I have heard it that way. I am not familiar with it.

      • paridevita says:

        The guy I live with says that some years ago, at a nursery which is now closed, there were several Wasatch maples for sale, “landscape size”, for seventy-five dollars each. He still regrets not buying a few, but, you know, money. There is a more tree-like selection, Manzano, from the Manzano Mountains in central New Mexico, but it doesn’t get much autumn color here, because of the “late inherited growth strategy”.

      • tonytomeo says:

        When I selected sugar maples for the landscape, I got the ‘common’ sugar maples from a grower east of Portland, that supplies most of the bare-root sugar maple cultivars that we can and grow for landscapers. They are what they call ‘seedlings’. They grow them mostly as understock for fancier cultivars, but happen to sell some as seedlings too. They are only slightly genetically variable, which is still more variable than the cultivars. We do not have much autumn color here, and all the natives turn only yellow.

  2. Susan Hunter says:

    I like the Salvia moorcroftiana plant. I have had one for several years in a big, thick-walled ceramic
    pot that holds moisture well. I have some other things growing with it with pink or red flowers to contrast with the silvery leaves. It has flowered once or twice too. . I hope you get some rain or snow soon. Albuquerque enjoyed several rare rainy days last week..

    • paridevita says:

      We like rain here, for sure, minus thunder, but what they’re predicting here is not so great. Though the low for Monday night keeps changing. The guy I live with said that he heard on the radio ages ago that it had to be 27F for two hours for real damage to occur (not to tomatoes, which would be toast), and 27F is the predicted low, now. (It was 22 earlier.)

  3. Tracy says:

    Mani last weekend I went to the National Sheepdog Trials. The Border Collies have to be champion herders to enter. They were amazing but none could hold a candle to you.

  4. Barb K says:

    Hmmm, I wonder if the ghost was one of those shadows on the wall of the house. Perhaps it was moving in a threatening way and combined with the scent of a creature who passed in the night. A black and white creature? The closest we ever came to an elk in the yard was a cow. All the other dogs ran in fear but the half border collie chased the cow home. No surprise, huh? It sure is a beautiful time of year in your garden isn’t it? Well, until Monday and then it will be a different kind of beautiful.

    • paridevita says:

      I don’t know what it was lurking in the grapevine. Something scary, no doubt. The guy I live with said it couldn’t be a grapevine caterpillar, though, because it’s too late in the year. It really is a beautiful time of year, here, especially if it doesn’t snow….. There’s a post, done before the quality of the blog increased exponentially (when Chess took over), called ‘’Of Elk And Apples”, which shows the elk here. I hope they don’t come back.

  5. Theodora Gurns says:

    Is it snowing? Lucky you, having maple red in your garden, the garden that’s not easy. Apparently, in New Hampshire, where folks come to peep at leaves, trees are showing little color this year, pale yellow to drab brown. Something to do with late hot weather not producing enough chlorophyll for leaves to turn color. We all know how seriously the guy you live with takes his soil, so it’s not surprising the bulb frame remains empty. You look like a lounging centerfold, Mani, posing by the frame. The cyclamen hederifolium looks as blue as a gorgeous pre-snowfall sky. When ghosts are sensed here, they usually reside on the other side of the wall. Doesn’t stop the barking, though. Still, tell the guy maybe to check. And then you do look like your ears are doing a fine job of domain survey. You’re welcome.

    • paridevita says:

      It did snow. It’s mostly melted now. My walks were kind of wet, but not very cold. It might freeze tonight, which is early for here, but not, I guess, for Denver. The guy I live with knows something about preparation for winter dormancy. Longer night length would cause leaves to start to turn, but it also has to get cooler. He said that the Wasatch maple might not need the cooler temperatures as a factor, because cold can come in the Rockies a lot more suddenly than “back east”. One day it can be hot and summery, the next, snowing. There aren’t many plants that turn red in the autumn here, though at DBG there’s an enormous Shumard oak that I hear is pretty glorious (they don’t let purebred border collies visit), and a Quercus texana, too, and Quercus buckleyi. The native Q. gambellii usually turns yellow but there are some that turn a beautiful red. The guy I live with got a whole bunch of acorns, once, and some were from a oak collected in the Oklahoma panhandle and described as being “next to ultimate red”. Nothing happened when he planted the acorns in pots. That was a few years ago. But now, this year, there are little oaks all over the garden. Maybe some are from those acorns, tossed out after nothing happened.

      • Theodora Gurns says:

        Yes, tossing out after nothing happens, Mani, is often a great technique. Toss out all ghostly thoughts at least until November.

      • paridevita says:

        The guy I live with has been watching scary movies, so I have to leave the room. Mostly, when seed pots are tossed, nothing happens. It’s also possible that squirrels have been burying acorns, since there are a lot of oaks in the garden.

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