the yellow pigs

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. You may remember me from such posts as “Bunnies And Flies” (which was my very first post in my very first May), among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.I think the guy I live with was doing something scary like pressing buttons on the stove, which is why I had to be way out where I was. Behind my Personal Hill. Sometimes things can be scary.

We haven’t had much of any thunder–talk about scary–despite the way the afternoon and evening skies look, which I understand is increasingly typical for this time of year and the next few months.But someone has been setting off huge, loud firecrackers and so I have to stay pretty close to my fort. I prefer my kitchen fort for total safety, though my upstairs bedroom fort will do in a pinch.

There have been ants swarming, or whatever it is that ants do when they all gather together, on our walks, lately.These are really little ants, but they still bite, so I avoid them. I also hop gingerly over the red ant piles because the guy I live with, who knows my likes and dislikes pretty well, says that having red ants crawl on me would be very high on my list of dislikes. Having something land on my is even higher on my list, but red ants don’t fly.

Speaking of things that fly, the guy I live with said “The yellow pigs are back”, and at first I was confused, because I know pigs don’t fly, but he meant goldfinches. These pictures were taken using the point-and-shoot zoom feature so they’re not super sharp, but you get the idea.You can see that the thistle feeder was only filled a little, which is kind of an odd thing to say, since if it was filled it would be full, but I guess we say “fill” even if we don’t makes things completely full.

The reason why it was only partially filled was that all through the winter the thistle feeder had thistle seed in it, and the guy I live with discovered that the seed had gone rancid, or old anyway, so he bought some new seed and put only that much in the feeder to see if anyone was interested, and now the goldfinches are visiting, and they will eat a lot of seed. He says goldfinches are pretty delightful so the “pig” business is what they call a term of endearment, not a criticism. The feeder will be completely filled in the next couple of days, because there can be twenty goldfinches on the feeder at once.

We have another visitor, too. 

That’s a male Bullock’s oriole. We’ve seen females too. They all really like the grape jelly in the feeder. There should be half an orange skewered on the rod that the feeder hangs from, but someone forgot to buy oranges.

I know I talk about orioles every time they show up here, but maybe I also didn’t say that even though this feeder is an excellent one, when it was filled with sugar-water one year a bunch of bees got trapped in it, so it doesn’t get filled with sugar-water any more.

What else? Oh, the lilacs are flowering; this is a very good year for them. But ‘President Lincoln’ has bacterial blight or something really bad and so may have to be removed, or at least severely pruned. You’re supposed to clean the pruner blades with alcohol and the guy I live with wondered if cognac would be okay. There’s a bottle of Hennessy which is used for cooking, though not very often. I think there isn’t any rubbing alcohol in the house. Anyway this problem began year before last, and seems not to be getting worse, but also not to be going away.

And now we have tomatoes. I know this is hard to believe. There are four different kinds.I guess these will be grown in large plastic pots. You can see that one has already been potted and is sitting in the glazed ceramic pot.

Today I was left alone at home, all by myself, so that the guy I live with could go to the big plant sale at Denver Botanic Gardens. He bought three plants. (An Arctostaphylos ‘Cascade’ and two Phlomis crinita.)Why even go? The guy I live with’s friend had to work, and parking in inner-city Denver is not what you would call a delight, so, why go?

I know I already said that May is not the guy I live with’s favorite month. It’s Number Twelve on his list of favorite months, in fact. He said it was the smell of May in Denver, partly, that evoked all these traumatic memories, as well as the onset of severe storm warnings, but also, the last day of the month will mark eleven years since he retired.

Retirement was something he always fantasized about and when he retired it was so massively traumatic that he thought about going back to work again, started worrying about all kinds of things, and then two years less one week after he retired, his wife died very suddenly, and all of that comes back with the scent of May.

On the other hand, he’s gone to the plant sale possibly every year for the last thirty years, and Denver is extremely beautiful at this time of year, so going seemed like the right thing to do, even though I didn’t get to go.

I think the main reason why bunches of plants weren’t purchased is that the guy I live with had a hard time finding a parking place, and would have had to drag plants about ten blocks, to the car. Of course the real reason why he didn’t buy a lot of plants is that he didn’t buy a little red wagon like he said he was going to. He had a wagon, about sixty years ago, and couldn’t say what happened to it, and just never got around to buying another one.

So anyway that’s what’s been going on. Mostly really nothing. I’ll leave you with a picture of me relaxing on the patio. The concrete is extremely cool, if you didn’t know. 

Until next time, then.



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all of a sudden

Greetings and salutations, everyone; yes, once again it is I, Mani the purebred border collie, Mani the Sprechhund, 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 “Stuff You Didn’t Know”, among so many, many others.

Here I am in a characteristic pose.Maybe you notice what’s happened since the last time I posted. Another new fence. Or I should say another replacement fence, to replace something which was very ugly. (It may look like it slants down to the right, in the picture, but it is totally level.) Another section needs to be added to the right of the one you see there, so that the little garden called “The Enclosure” is really enclosed, at least on three sides. I guess when that fence gets built, which might be pretty soon, I can tell the story of that garden, though it’s probably been told two or three times already.

So all of a sudden it’s May. I guess this is not the guy I live with’s favorite month. And the thunderstorm warnings have started. This was taken looking northeast, yesterday, when it wasn’t May.The guy I live with hates thunderstorms. I feel the same way. He said that if we won the lottery we might move to a place where they don’t have thunderstorms, and just while away the while pleasantly, instead of cowering in terror for four straight months, the way it can be here some summers.

At least he doesn’t work any more. There are of course some things about working that were good, but being separated from home when there was a bad storm here, and he was working, was not a good thing, and that anxiety still surfaces from time to time.


So far nothing has happened, weather-wise, so I thought I would show some pictures of flowers.  A couple of these were posted on Facebook but will look better here.

This is Gentiana verna, which was grown from seed, and has been in the trough for many years. It even reseeds into the trough. The plant was bigger but a large section was accidentally pulled out some years ago during an episode of frenzied weeding. This colony of Fritillaria pallidiflora was started from a few plants grown from seed, years ago. The bulbs have produced a lot of seed; there are even more plants than you can see here. It is kind of amazing that this happened, since so many other attempts at growing bulbs from seed have been spectacular failures. It’s been a variable year, I guess you would say, for the Juno irises. Some flowered last month, some got frozen, and some didn’t flower at all because it got too cold right as the buds were forming. But Iris bucharica, which is one of the easiest, is having a very good year.

These have been in the garden for a very long time, but were dug up and replanted a couple of years ago. That seemed to do them some good. The bulbs, which have long fleshy roots attached to them, are pretty deep in the ground.

Iris magnifica, which is another Juno type, is “new at the zoo” this year, from Odyssey Bulbs. Now, as you may know, we purebred border collies are not allowed to drive cars. This is partly because we never get issued driver’s licenses, but mostly because we can’t see red. Like for stop signs and stop lights. This is what the guy I live with says, anyway. In other words I’m not much into red flowers.

There are several red tulips flowering in the garden, or so I’m told. This is Tulipa butkovii, one of the reddest. Also one of the hugest. When fully opened the flowers can be six inches (fifteen centimeters) across. 

The guy I live with has been alternating between “The Big Bang Theory” (obviously) and “Midsomer Murders”; the shows are on the TV but he doesn’t really sit down and watch them. They’re just on. And then get replayed all the time.

I mention this because I’ve kind of been going on, without explaining the Sprechhund business. In one of the episodes of “Midsomer Murders” it’s said that Sykes, the star of the show, really, is a Sprechhund, which is German for “a dog you talk to”.

The guy I live with said that wasn’t German, only sounded like it, but I am a dog that he talks to, and talks to a lot. Like on our walks and pretty much all day long. He says this and he says that. Then he says more things.

I talk, too. I know you know that if you’ve been reading the blog for a while. Just yesterday I had a whole bunch to say while the guy I live with was on the phone and the person on the other end could hear all the things I had to say. I got shushed more than once, but kept on talking.

I could go on and on about myself but maybe it’s time to wind up this post. I’ll leave you with another picture of me in the garden, carefully guarding everything, and not worrying about thunder. 

Until next time, then.



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