Gardening + Nature

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orange horned poppy
prickly poppy buffet
rabbit brush
morning glory

The final garden hurrah is upon us, with a cold snap to arrive by the end of the week. It was a challenging summer: the deaths of two beloved children, a horrible job left, a knee injury, a surgery, and wretched COVID. We are ready to move forward, to welcome the frost and snow. A new season to begin again. Cheers to that!

I simply cannot resist the beauty of a perfect burger, grilled by the G-Man, of course. I am grateful he took up the mantle. I bake, broil, braise, and saute with the best of them indoors, but do not enjoy outdoor cooking AT ALL. Number 1,460,000 we are a match made in heaven.

In an effort to use a plethora of petals and keep our high desert skin as dewy as possible, I found a recipe for easy hydrosols and made a batch of rose. It left behind this gorgeous pink rosewater, and, as you well know, I hate waste, so I whipped it into a lemonade. It was delicious, a singular flavor I fail to find the words to exactly describe.

Blueberry Lemonade Cookies, the perfect summer treat, even though we are almost full on Fall, eek! I used the Cloudy Kitchen Funfetti recipe, substituting 3/4 cup dried blueberries for the sprinkles, one tablespoon lemon juice for the vanilla, and the zest of one large lemon. Highly addictive, they are delightfully tart with a crispy edge and soft middle. Even Greg, mister chocolate, loves them.

It is canteloupe season! This year has been especially flavorful.

You know how sometimes you forget the resources you actually own and look for the new? In one such fit for salad recipes, I was scouring the interwebs before remembering a Williams-Sonoma cookbook sitting right on the living room shelf. This is my riff on their Caesar Style with Poblano Chiles (page 23). I didn’t have poblano but a plethora of diced green chiles and Costco shredded rotisserie breast, so here we are. It was most delicious! In true Southwest style, I paired it with a glass of fizzy prickly pear lemonade. Yum-yum.

As somewhat of an organization freak, I enjoy me a well organized shelf and drawer. I had a hodge-podge of bottles, jars, and zip-top bags here, and it honestly made my head hurt. I found some snazzy jars with bees on them at Sierra (since they were closeouts and could run out at any moment, I am not including the link), bought a boat load, and got to work. I also have a slightly embarrassing number of washi tape rolls and made the most of a cute polka dot pattern. How wonderful to easily find what we are looking for!

Sunflowers, sunflowers, sunflowers!

The horsetail milkweed blossoms are so tiny in comparison to the bees but no less favored for their sweet nectar!

My mom gave me some old seed packets she had lying around, and this zinnia is one of the few that sprouted! It grew into an amazingly large bloom in a fuscia hue.

This plant-filled stock tank hides our unsightly gas meter and is looking its very best. Also, how cute is the volunteer marigold?!

In an effort to save birds from an untimely death by flying into our sliding door when we first moved in, I bought a roll of polka-dotted film that prevented the glass from reflecting. It worked quite well until this summer when it started to flake and peel. I found the rainbow reflecting adhesives (“sticking” with water!), and Greg and I did the not-so-fun job of removing the old and replacing it with the new. How about that beautiful rainbow in the morning light?!

The World War II Aviation Museum here in Colorado Springs flew these planes over the weekend. The first is a North American B-25 Mitchell, and the second is a Grumman TBM Avenger. Pretty cool! I love how they have the ability to keep this history alive.

I think Juniper knows, even in sleep, what the sound of a lens cap being removed means. Mama, are you trying to take my picture???

More garden shots for you. The desert willow has hundreds of blooms and a near constant stream of bees, hummingbirds, and hummingbird moths. I often sit mesmerized at the living room window watching the spectacle.

I can’t believe the robins and squirrels haven’t gobbled all of the choke cherries, but here we are with an intact bunch.

Aspen leaves quaking in the breeze. With an abundance of rain this season, this tree, transplanted from a sprout in the front garden, has grown an astounding three feet this year to make it about 10 feet tall. Fingers crossed it makes it through winter!

Our reddest sunflower. Have a wonderful week…

jupiter’s beard
fern bush
red birds in a tree

Hello! Welcome to our garden in full flower. With an abundance of rain and sun blessing our little parcel of land, we’ve had massive, jungle-like growth. A tad over the top, to be sure, but I’m delighted to keep the zooming insect bellies full (note the three bees on the fern bush!). We also had three pretty nasty hail storms; one so extensive it looked like snow on the ground for several hours afterwards, oof. As you can imagine, I am even more pleased my flowering friends are doing so well. A tale of resilience, absolutely.

The surgery to remove my gallbladder is scheduled, huzzah! It is a few weeks from now, which feels wonderful and right on time, as my various intestinal woes are on the increase. My surgeon is youthful and seems quite confident, competent, and thorough. That said, if you could send your good thoughts along, I would sure appreciate them!

chive (on…)
prickly poppy
evening primrose
evening primrose, again

Nothing but Flowers. Do you know that song, by the Talking Heads? “This was a shopping mall, now it’s all covered with flowers.” It’s delightfully jangly, but when you listen to it, and kind of like Radiohead, who got their name from Talking Heads, there is a covert darkness in the lyrics. I don’t like it or them any less for it, however. Heck no.

I have been on a bit of a David Byrne bender, as of late. I subscribe to his Reasons to Be Cheerful newsletter, and then saw a 60 Minutes interview with Anderson Cooper, which sent me off to the races. Greg and I watched Stop Making Sense in its entirety, after only seeing snippets but having owned the beyond stellar (interstellar?!) soundtrack since I was a whipper-snapping teen. That suit!

We also played our fave songs on a nice loop and watched True Stories, which is David Byrne at his sweetest oddball best. I could listen to him talk all day, peeps. Fact.

Fellow former Toyota Celica owners (or maybe you still have one, which would be massively wonderful), there is one, nearly identical to mine, in the parking lot of the mall. I did a couple happy rewinds, nostalgia in all its splendor. Hoot and holler!

As for the flowers, all of these are neighborhood grown, half in our own garden. It is looking beautiful in these parts, to be sure. Hoping the same for you, and prayers up for north-easterners suffering in the deluge and nearly the rest of us in the U.S. of A., boiling in the heat.

Hello there! Bebe’s son-in-law came for a visit and brought a whole passel of back yard pecans(!!). Greg and I are grateful she decided to share and equally so for the shells, as the work at getting them off prevents us from eating too many at once.

We’ve had quite a bit of Pacific Northwest style rain, as of late, greening pastures and shrouding Pike’s Peak with snow later than any time in our memory. How gorgeously fantastic it has been!

When my parents visited, my dad bought some orange juice and never drank it, so I fashioned cocktails, tequila sunrise style. Pretty and tasty!

After watching Leguizamo Does America, I was inspired to check out Diasporican, a book on Puerto Rican cooking. Especially intrigued by any endeavor that eliminates the need for wheat, I dove headlong into the making of a jibarito, a plantain sandwich created by Puerto Ricans living in Chicago. They deep fry their plantains, but I am not interested in any such mess or fuss, so I did a little pan fry. Next time I will pop those babies into the oven because it was still a little more work and oil than I was after. Anyhoo, the sandwich was muy delicioso, but very filling, so I’ll do it open-faced next time.

In the same cookbook, I saw a recipe for shrimp and chorizo over polenta. I returned the library book before I made it, so I was without an actual recipe, but Greg and I had no complaints about the end result. What a marvelous flavor combo.

A little garden tour completed while sipping my morning coffee. With all the rain we’ve been getting, it is looking rather lush.

The top blooms are penstemon that volunteered in the garden. My delight is magnified by the fact they are volunteers that I transplanted from another spot. They did some nail-biting dramatic drooping, but are super champs now. Huzzah!

The second photo is the stunner of a view from the back door. My heart swells each time I see it. The weird ring of rocks in the foreground surround a clutch of sunflower sprouts I hope to keep Juniper from trouncing.

Speaking of Juniper, how about our cute explorer? She’s simply the best. I’m wearing my space sandals, named so for their neon quality that is surely visible from on high.

A question: has any other fellow gardener had lousy luck with true red peonies? Three photos from the bottom are my three plants. All planted at the same time, the two on the left have been going like gangbusters, while the red one, just like it did in Portland, is minuscule. So disappointing.

Luckily there is much to keep me distracted from the peony plight, like the hollyhock grove in the bottom photo, all of which are also volunteers. I can’t wait for their colorful show!

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