Monday, June 30, 2008

Colorado Rocks! (Seriously)

On the road to Vail: Mountains everywhere! Mountains!!! Like it's the most normal thing!

I've been kind of "worded out" lately, so I've decided to cover my Colorado getaway mostly in photos, à la my Photo Friday posts. (We'll just ignore the fact that it's Monday and that I've really only ever done one Photo Friday post, K? K!)

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens: View to Mt. Vail, Dryland Montane Garden

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens: Juniper snags and view in opposite direction

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens: Alpine Rock Garden

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens: Trumpet gentian

Betty Ford Alpine Gardens: Shrubby penstemon

I noticed altitude effects in Vail (the gardens are at 8250 ft/2515 m, the highest elevation gardens in the U.S. (Ann Arbor is at 839 ft/256 m!)), panting and wheezing like I'd just run a marathon. I had my sun hat, drank a lot of water, and walked really slowly through the garden. So slowly that retired couples and families with strollers were zooming by me. I wanted a sign that read "Caution: Michigan lowlander. Please pass."

The next day, I visited the Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG).

DBG: Planting near gift shop, not even considered a "garden" on their map!

DBG: Close-up of foxtail lily (Eremurus x isabellinus)

DBG: Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora). I've never seen this in Michigan. It's hardy to 0 F, so I may try it and mulch it really well. I love the thin leaves and pink flowers! (Click for my white-flowering yucca.)

DBG: Plains Garden

DBG: Another view of the Plains Garden

DBG: Alpine Rock Garden

DBG: Lacebark pine close-up (cool, huh?!)

DBG: Water-Smart Garden

DBG: Water-Smart Garden close-up (click for more on water-smart gardening)

DBG: Wildflower Treasures or Cutting Garden

I spent the next few days in Colorado Springs with my niece and nephew.

Garden of the Gods

Garden of the Gods: Mica in granite

Colorado Springs Utilities' Cottonwood Creek Park Xeriscape Demonstration Garden (Pikes Peak in background. Big mountains, big blue sky!)

Pikes Peak: Crystal Creek Reservoir

Pikes Peak: Bottomless Pit Pullout

Pikes Peak: Snow! Getting closer to summit (see previous post for view from top)

Pikes Peak: Rain looks really cool in the mountains

In conclusion: 1) Michigan is really flat, 2) They were actually building in Colorado Springs (offices, roads, homes)--very unlike Michigan. 3) I would move to Denver based on my experience at the Denver Botanic Gardens alone!

Friday, June 27, 2008

A New Blog!

Hello! I've returned happy (but tired!) from Colorado, having had a wonderful time! I will write about that shortly, as well as share photos (mountains! mountains! mountains!).

To whet your appetite (or make you nauseous, depending): My niece Sam and I on top of Pike's Peak (14,110 feet / 4,300 m) in Colorado Springs.

In the meantime, I thought I'd let you know that I'm writing another blog, Full Bloom. The host, MLive, is the online presence of various Michigan newspapers, including my local Ann Arbor News. They had asked for gardening blogs, so I submitted Garden Faerie's Musings, thinking they were going to compile a directory. Turns out their Home and Garden section was looking for bloggers, and so Full Bloom was born. Please stop by and leave a comment or two. (You have to register for an MLive ID, but it's not too painful!)

I'll keep blogging here, sometimes referring to a post at MLive, and sometimes doing just the opposite. Because I'm versatile. Or contrary. Or something!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Let's Walk in My Garden

Thanks so much to everyone who sent me photos to use in my PowerPoint presentation in my containers class. The class went well and I got some positive feedback, which I'm sure was based in large part on your photos!

Things are in full bloom in my garden. Let's take a short walk. It's not so humid today, and I've made us lemonade.

The sage makes a nice backdrop for the blanket flower, don't you think?

We've had a lot of rain this spring and my various salvia got quite big. I love this combo with Jupiter's beard.

I grew this baptisia from seed (don't you just love the rattly seed pods in fall?) and, after five years, it's really come into its own.

It's a little hard to see, but I love the pink coral bell flowers in the background of the lavender buds--they both sway in the breeze and look so elegant.

I'm so excited that my yucca has finally (after two? three? years) sent up a flower stalk! It's about five feet tall. And my oh-so-cute Diablo ninebark is flowering its heart out in the background. I got these (there's a twin out of sight) a few years ago in gallon containers for $3.33 at a Home Depot fall sale. They have really taken off!

This spiderwort is next to my front door and I love seeing its friendly flowers as I leave for work. They close up in the sun. That's a purple sand cherry to its left and some Russian sage behind it, which blooms after the spiderwort has died back.

To the left of the sand cherry is my groovy little prickly pear cactus. It has not flowered in the previous few years, so I can't quite tell if that new growth is in fact flower buds, or more cactus sections. Do you know? It kind of looks like a lobster, doesn't it? Mmmmmm... lobster.

And look! Remember the groundhog eating my lettuce and kohlrabi? Most of the lettuces and one of the kohlrabis have grown back (though who knows for how long they'll remain intact!). There are also some cosmos and zinnia seedlings farther down. And the tomatoes look nice, too. Clearly, the groundhogs did not like their foliage, but my friend Amy tells me she has seen a groundhog shake her tomato cage, trying to get the fruit to fall. I swear all groundhogs have Ph.D.s!

Moving into the little north-facing side garden, don't you just want to kiss this sweet painted fern? Um, hug? Erm, admire from a standing position at a respectful distance?

Aren't the buds of my black cohosh cool? The little visitor seems to think so, anyway. Can you see it? I knew you could!

Moving into the backyard, that's my little cat garden with all kinds of catmints. That's Walker's Low in bloom now (though it should be called Walkers Not-At-All-Low, but I can see marketing problems with that), as well as valerian (it's just as calming for cats as for people). Purrrrr!

And, you're really in luck today because my time machine is back from the shop, so we can go back two weeks to the start of June. OK, get in. Yes, it's perfectly safe and well-tuned now. I'll just adjust the controls here... and there... and oopmh (that one always sticks) there. ZZZZZZoooomRattlesShakeFunkyLights. OK, we've arrived safely!

Look, geraniums are still in bloom.

And so are the vibrant purple bearded iris, which I got from a gardening client and friend, Sara.

The blue-eyed grass is a little wilted but it's one of my favorite spring plants. Noogie!

But the main reason we went back in time was to be able to see my peonies (also divisions from Sara) in bloom.

They were absolutely gorgeous, don't you think?!

Yep, I sure saved the best for last. But now it's time to return to June 14. OK, get in and hold on. No, not to me. OK, there you go. I'll just reset those knobs and switches (are you picturing the TARDIS circa 1978, too?) and here we go... RRRRrrrumbleShakeRattlePoofColors! We're back home. Thanks for joining me in my garden.

And, in honor of Father's Day and Austrians everywhere, I really hope Austria can beat Germany in Monday's UEFA EURO 2008 game, or they are out of the championship. My mom is German and a huge soccer fan, so it's a tough call. But my dad, who passed away in 1997 at age 59, was Austrian, loved all things Austrian, and loved soccer. And besides, I always root for the underdog, so, go Austria! Wien, Wien, kennst mich up kennst mich down, nur Du allein.