Gardening + Nature

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Duck Musubi at Lucky Dumpling

Lunch buffet at our favorite Indian restaurant – Mirch Masala. Second to naan!!

Ingrid’s brood…

neon, always neon…

Time in the garden – it’s really coming along now!

Did someone say walk?

the Platte River

freshly canned cherries!

I am writing this on Wednesday, the second day back from an unexpected staycation. We were originally going to snake a winding route along Western Colorado, with stops in Telluride and Grand Junction, places this native is slightly embarrassed to admit I’ve never been. Both of us were super excited to scale mountains and skim creeks previously unknown to us. Then I blew out my knee while trampolining (kid at heart, right here!) and couldn’t walk. Giant sad face.

It was so incredibly painful. I spent a week on the sofa and hobbling around on crutches, as any amount of weight on my leg made it scream in pain. The lesson? Listen to your body! Don’t push to get your money’s worth at the trampoline gym when you already feel satisfied. Rest and enjoy the time you’ve had. I really wish I had done that. Boy howdy.

Ever the optimist mated with yet another, we didn’t really feel it was a loss, save for the annoyance of pain. It was nice to putter around the house, watch scads of gardening and home improvement shows, start and finish projects. We cleaned and organized the shed, which finally enabled us to get our bicycles out of the basement. Then there was a trip to the garden center and the purchase and planting of a dozen more sweet scented lovelies, like dianthus and phlox. Greg built a much needed roof over our wood pile. If you give a good look, it’s in the third picture of the garden and looks great! We’re especially glad to have made it entirely from scrap.

You may be laughing that this was more work than play, but, oh, we did play! We enjoyed whole days lounging in the garden, watching every growing thing, birds and  insects flitting about, sipping mango iced tea. We grilled to keep the house cool and ate out a bit, happy for old favorites and to try new to us Lucky Dumpling, enjoying that gorgeous and yummy duck musubi. Then there was a nice morning at Garden of the Gods, lunch in Manitou Springs, and an evening with our Portland neighbor Ingrid and her brood of five on the Colorado Springs leg of their epic summer vacation.

We also went north to meet two of my nephews and parents for lunch. That was followed by a stroll along the Platte to get Juniper’s wiggles out before heading to Michael and Mary’s for a retirement and 40th Wedding Anniversary celebration.

And the cherries! My sweet neighbor Judy offered up her fruit laden tree, and I picked almost seven pounds of ruby jewels, watched a movie or two while seeding and stemming, and canned what I hope to be enough for two generous pies. My cup runneth over, peeps, in all aspects, again and again and again…

A chickadee nest taken from our bird house, the majority of which, I believe, was made from Juniper’s fur. So cool!

pavement rose – an unfortunate name for a stellar scented shrub

lamb’s ear

traditional hyssop in blue and pink

Jupiter’s beard

dianthus

yarrow

showy milkweed

opuntia

pink evening primrose

callirhoe

rose that came with the house

purple cranesbill

Hiya! Welcome to more encouragement for turning a lawn into a xeriscaped oasis. First off, look at the variety of flowers currently blooming in the front yard. Do you notice a theme? I didn’t want to feel overwhelmed by color in either garden, so I chose to have only pink, white, purple, and blue out front; and red, orange, yellow, and white out back. Though there are a couple of aberrations, the opuntia (I thought it was pink) and the rose, which was one of the few plants that came with the house. Perfect in its imperfection.

So, aside from all the beauty and color, another great reason to consider a garden is the cost. If you’re lucky and have a well cared for lawn from the get-go, this may be of little interest. Since our back garden was such a mess of weeds, we would have needed a lot of pricey mediation to get it right. And at about 5,000 square feet, the minimum price to tear out the weeds, prep & grade the soil, and install a less thirsty sod would have cost about $25,000. Who knows how much it would cost to water, either. One neighbor said she pays about $200 a month. As our friend Sean would say, “That’s A LOT of cabbages!!”

Not to say we haven’t put a chunk of cash into the garden, about $10,000 for the front and back, but that is for everything – 15 tons of rock, hundreds of feet of edging, rental of the Bobcat, the cost of hauling away the old patio and associated garbage, more than 40 yards of mulch, and all the purdy plants, trees, and shrubs. But, as I mentioned in my last post, our maintenance costs are next to nothing.

I can’t imagine how much more we’d be paying to keep a lawn looking nice. All that crabbiness from moving the hose hither and yon surely would have led to a sprinkler system, which, for our large yard, would cost about $5,000 – 6,000, not counting annual maintenance. Maybe we’d upgrade to a riding mower ($1,200 – 2,500!) to cut down on the hour-long mow, too. So many cabbages!

So, yeah, we’re pretty happy with our choice to have flowers, shrubs, and trees over a lawn. It’s easy and pretty and so filled with life!

Illuminated skies over our little slice of Colorado Springs and the deluge that followed. I wish summer could always be this way, enough sun for life without sweaters, ethereal rises and sets, and enough rain to keep the earth damp and our two hearts aloft.

Oh, love…

crested white prickly poppy

orange horned poppy

red birds in a tree

feverfew

Japanese honeysuckle

black raspberry blossom

blackberry

red currant

lemon variegated thyme

It is frequently asked or plain assumed that our garden is more work than a lawn. All those plants – they must consume our days with backbreaking labor. Only the first half is true now. They do consume our days, in observation of spritely butterfly, bee, hummingbird, and sometimes wild romping dog in and amongst their blossoms. Our work is minimal, a few minutes here and there to pull errant weeds, a bit of water here and there when it is scorching.

It’s the real beauty of xeriscape. The work is mostly at the beginning, getting the groundwork laid, doing the planting, watering to get everyone happy and established. Had we chosen a lawn, we’d have so much more labor.

When we first bought the house and had a lawn out front and the giant weed patch in back, it took and hour and a half each week to mow and trim. Don’t get me started on all the time it took to move the sprinkler to and fro, getting every last square of turf, and the volume of water and fertilizer it required to keep it barely green. How crabby it made me! I LOVE green and crave it like mad when deep in the throes of winter, but I am wild about foliage and color and height, too. Grass simply cannot offer what a varied landscape can.

So, think of this as encouragement, for anyone considering a change of garden scene. Choose plants wisely, and do the hard work to get it going, and your garden will be more joy than care, too.

pussy toes

coral charm peony

this yarrow starts yellow then gets rusty

helianthemum

foxglove

going bananas peony – it’s really called that!

Every time I walk the garden looking for new blooms, I think of my Grandma Tess and how she’d ask me to post pictures of our Portland garden blooms. I feel as though we wander the garden together, these days, with her voice telling me what she likes and helping me find those rogue weeds trying to disguise themselves as other foliage. Here’s to you, Grandma!

 

 

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A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.

Victor Hugo

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