Tuesday, July 24, 2012

The Worst Critic

When I was in high school I worked on our high school newspaper, The Norther Lights. I was assistant editor and then I moved on to being the editor. I wrote a variety of articles over my years on the paper. Movie critic was one of the more enjoyable of the articles I had the pleasure of working on. It is so easy to sit out side and be a critic. I often wonder if thespians are as hard on themselves as some of the critics and viewers are.

A critics job is to evaluate, critique, and provide feedback based upon the subject they are viewing. They use a bevy of information, history, knowledge, expertise to provide this critique. Critics exist in many arenas of life. I am not sure if there is a difference between critics and judges. I would say yes, because a judge is giving an award in some form. Either monetary or for display. Critics may or may not be paid for their critique but they provide their professional or novice critique for the betterment of their industry, product, or to provide a knowledge base for viewership.

I have become my own worst critic. My neighbors comment all of the time about the beauty of our front yard and the hard work I have put into it. It truly is such a passion, it is borderline obsession. I wish I had great before photos of the yard when we first moved in. Perhaps I can do some digging and find some. I wasn't good at before photos when I started the re-landscaping.

Despite my evening toils-and I am not out there every evening working...But despite my evening toils I still cannot creat this Utopia garden. I continually work and buy plants and fuss and fight through frustration, tears, and sweat. Mostly sweat. A lot of sweat. I hate sweat.

I see all of the browning leaves and needles. The plants that aren't growing in the right direction. The plants I placed too closely and take notes to move in the fall. Although I have a degree in horticulture and along with this and arboriculture it is my job, I still have oversights.

To my credit we are experiencing one of the hottest summers I can ever recall. The scorch on plants and mite damage is rampant in Denver. The mites I can control, the scorch I cannot. Plants that have been established in the garden and thrived have all but turned to dust in a day. I am expecting a high water bill next month because some days I am watering twice. The frustration is with the goal of putting finishing touches on gardens in order to move on, I will be doing that along with replacements this fall. Uggh.

There are no pictures on this blog. A rather boring blog, but I want to showcase my successes and not share photos of my failures.

My ultimate goal is to someday have a garden that is recognized. Not just by neighbors, friends, and family but by critics. To rave reviews and perhaps maybe even a magazine article. Recognition. Not an award, just recognition. In order to get there, I have to get past the worst critic...MYSELF! Because it is mine I see all of its short-comings and missteps.

It does get exhausting at times trying to achieve something such as this. I shall not give up.

As Scarlett O'Hara said, "Tomorrow is another day."

Garden on.

:) Posted by Heather using BlogPress from my iPad. Happy blogging!

Location:W Flora Pl,Denver,United States

Tuesday, July 17, 2012


A couple of weeks ago I noticed these new critters on my pasque flowers. I didn't think much of them at the time. Thought they were kind of pretty in a bug way. Not lady bird beetle pretty, but unique and so grey pretty. I had never had them before.

Tonight I was out adding some water to the pond and the bog garden pot, and feeding the new goldfish when I discovered dozens of them. Only on the pasque flowers. I mean dozens.

I took several photos with my iPhone, but reached for my camera to take some macros. The pictures on my iPhone show their numbers but not their details.

I have five pasque flowers in the rock garden. Two of them are the same color, the others are other newer variations.

I emailed photos to my office manager, Lita, from work. I deal with insects every day, but most often it is with trees, shrubs, and grass. I have never had an insect or pest issue on my garden beyond spraying with water. I do a soil drench on the aspen trees for aphids each year because their honeydew drips all over the shade garden and our front porch. Sometimes when I have a slug problem I spread some organic bait. I am not really an organic gardener. I use pesticides at work all the time. I would rather spray it and take care of it and use cultural practices to treat. At home there just hasn't been a large need.

I texted Lita because although she is not an entomologist by trade she is a huge insect connoisseur. So between the two of us we figured it out. They are Ashgrey blister bugs. They have an interesting life cycle that revolves around grasshoppers. Last year we some issues with grasshoppers and I just let them be. It was not a threshold that required spraying. Now that I think back that may have been a mistake. These critters are actually feeding on the anemone.

So I will bring home some carbaryl and spray them. Can't have this going on in my garden.

This little guy was found on the backside crest of the waterfall. See how he blends into the pea gravel and small cobble ground cover? I have never seen this color or species in my garden or one this color period. He is rather grey and opaque. He is short-bodied and round. I only discovered one of them, so for now he can stay.

Have a great rest of the week!

:) Posted by Heather using BlogPress from my iPad. Happy blogging!

Location:W Flora Pl,Denver,United States

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Odds and Ends...

I realized after I posted my blog with the recent small projects that I did not include a photo of the pond lights at night. I has it in the initial blog I lost, but didn't get it in the recreated version. So here it is.

I bought six feeder goldfish today at PetsMart for .30 each. We shall see how they fare. I wanted to add some fish and get my cycle going and see if they can survive out there. Not just in the pond in general but we do have some rather larger raccoons that come around. I didn't want to spend more money on fancier fish and have them disappear. I don't have any photos of the yet.

The spring garden is full of white, pink, blues and purple. The summer garden is full of yellows and reds and the shades in between.

I purchased this lovely bird feeder. My first one ever. It hung for several weeks and then it was attacked. By a squirrel, I assume. It ripped off the nice little wood shake shingles trying to open it. This is a squirrel proof feeder. I had trouble opening it the first time. So I will be making a trip to a local hobby store at some point to buy new shingles and some weather proofing for it.

Captain, my angora mix. He is 13 now, a senior. He doesn't stray as far as he used to and can often be found lounging in the garden. In this photo he is glaring at Ms. Grecian Goddess. I hope in another month or two to purchase a matching St. Francis.

Jean's Dilly Alberta spruce.

Mini barberry. After the heavy rains a couple of weeks ago this little guy and the cotoneaster pushed some more growth. I will be pruning them back this week.

Old man bones sedum.

This is my next project. Beings that the other areas are coming along nicely, I decided I needed a new playground. I received a replacement white weeping spruce from work this spring-the original was killed by our visiting elk last year. So I still have a small patch of rocks to remove. This is the absolute worst part of the process. I hate it. It is so expensive to hire it done that I suffer through it on my own for weeks. Once it is done I have a stump I need ground out. Then I can rototill and amend and grade.

I am not absolutely sure what I am doing with the area, I do have a few great ideas. I hope to get the main foundations no background type stuff done before the snow flies, but we shall see. Keep watching for more on this area. I am super excited!

This is the second to last area in the front yard. I am confident the last section will be easy. I will be hiring a skid loader to come in and scrape that are off. Planting a small tree and installing raised beds for a community garden. This area will be easy. I already have it figured out.

Then. Shall start in the back. And hopefully perhaps put in some concrete edging instead of the meal that exists now.

I hope you all have a good week!

:) Posted by Heather using BlogPress from my iPad. Happy blogging!

Location:W Flora Pl,Denver,United States

Friday, July 13, 2012

Divide and Conquer

The best way to conquer your neighbor's hearts is to give them some of your hard-earned bounty.
This is my pond at the bottom of the waterfall rock garden. I can tell you before I even started this project, I had a vision. My vision was for a dry river bed with a copper basin at the bottom. I had designed the scree bed with a cut-out in it on this end or side just for this purpose. Knowing that in a couple of years I would be completing this project.
Over time my brain transitioned and when I started working the soil after its delivery, I knew it was to be a small pond with a real flowing waterfall. It is small. I didn't want a huge one due to the maintenance and the area I was working with. All of my gardens installed have been completed within the confines of the existing beds-from previous owners. So far it has worked out just fabulous. I have been able to accomplish all I have wanted, thus far.
Even though it is small, I just love it. At times I wish I had something larger so I could add more plants, have fish, and have a contoured bottom for variety. Perhaps someday in the back.
Last night I decided it was time to divide my pond plants. For several reasons. First, the iris didn't bloom very well. Probably because they had become so cramped the pot was no longer round. and I am visiting my parents' tomorrow for a family reunion. They live about an hour-and-a-half north of Denver, so I wanted to be able to share my bounty with them. They installed a pond in their front courtyard last year. And it feels so good to be able to share what comes so naturally for me.
I currently have an iris, a canna, a water lily, and another plant whose name escapes me now. I have the tags, so sometime soon I will upload my planting lists. The picture above was taken yesterday.
So here we go...

So here are the plants freshly pulled from their safe haven in the pond.

This area is typically used for my small veggie garden. I have left it allow this season. Not really on purpose, just one of those this that hasn't happened. At any rate, made a perfect repotting station. I turned over some of the regular garden soil.

I handed a few handfuls of organic compost and turned it over to blend it in.

I did re-use a couple of my pots, I bought some new strainer type pond pots, and I brought some recycled planting pots home from work. I placed a coffee filter in the bottom and filled with soil. The coffee filter does help Prevent the movement of the media out of the pot, causing it to foul the pond.

Roots were growing everywhere. Even into my filter in the bottom of the pond. I pruned these roots off and cut the pot to expose the plant.

I gently pruned some of the roots off the bottom of the plant. This is a good time of year to do this because in Colorado they still have about two to three months to re-establish more. I didn't remove more than about three inches off the bottom.

I cover the soil with my recycled gravel and some new pea gravel and pat into place. Finished off by dousing with water to allow some initial settling.
I had three of the four plants I started with in need of division. It couldn't have worked out better. By the time I was done I had three of each- a set of three for my parents, a set of three for myself to put back into my pond, and a set of three to give to my neighbors for their pond. A small thank you for allowing me to recycle some crushed granite into their side driveway. They weren't home at the time but had some little pretties at their garage door when they returned home last night. They loved them. And it felt good. I completed a project in my garden in need of completion and I was able to share what I had with a few people.
:) Posted by Heather using BlogPress from my iPad. Happy blogging!

Location:W Flora Pl,Denver,United States

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Plants Galore...New Beginnings

I had a blog 99.9% done and hit the wrong button on my iPad and lost the whole thing...

So here is to new beginnings, not the same, but new.

This spring I opted to not take on any new projects. Rather, I opted to finish some old projects and complete some enhancements. I have spent my fair share on plants and enhancements this spring. Mother nature has thrown a few curve balls this season. Unseasonable temperatures, forest fires, dry weather and monsoonal flows. But, I continue on towards my goal.

The scree bed is now four years old and the Rock garden water is in its third season. The perennial bed has been in transition as the aspens mature. Typically aspens are not viewed as a great shade tree. However, with compost, proper watering, and some great annual pruning I have created nice, compact aspens to accomplish this.

I continue to purchase rock garden plants for both the scree bed and rock garden bed to achieve my desired look and textures. At this point I estimate I have room for about a dozen more plants before it goes to maintenance mode. A variety of textures is important. I find my prospects in a variety of places and ways. My childhood BFF and I have attended the Denver Botanic Gardens plant sale for the past five years. I can always find something there!

I fell more in love with the fantasy, or as I call them miniature trees, this spring. Having found a local supplier with a good selection. You can find them at a local supplier too or check out www.twogreenthumbs.com. They are fabulous in the ground, in containers or in miniature fairy gardens. I snip them gently back periodically to maintain their shape. I have purchased about ten this spring. Here is a sample below.

I made some new additions last year and I cannot recall if I shared or not. This is my succulent pot. I bring it into the dining room to over-winter and enjoy the warm winter sun.

This spring while I was attending the DBG plant sale I purchased some bog plants. I bought plastic pot less the drain hole, filled it with regular garden soils and a bit of compost, planted my plants, and topped it off with some small polished river rock.

I purchased some shade plants from www.plantdelights.com. Some of them are, for Colorado, what I consider specialty and rare plants. Some of them are just other varieties of species I currently have. I will probably do a separate post on these.

The rock garden is filling in rather nicely. I am very pleased. The pond plants are doing very well and are ready to be divided. I winterized my pond each fall because it is small. I disconnect the pump and filter and move them into a large Rubbermaid tub in the basement for the winter months. NOTE: water has to be added periodically. So hopefully later this week I will be dividing them and along with my Iris and giving them away.

Some of other enhancement purchases this spring included a set of submersible LED pond lights. They provide a great atmosphere in the pond as the lights wave from the falling water movement. Great silhouette and shadows. I added a small birdhouse and a hummingbird feeder. No hammers yet, but I am hopeful. They have visited before.

That is about it for now. In the future I will share thoughts on using rock in your gardens, summer prunings of perennials to keep the garden looking fresh, and the perennial garden. I have also been working on plant lists with photos of my gardens to share. For now, enjoy my photos!

Always willing to help out fellow gardeners so just let me know if you have a question:)

:) Posted by Heather using BlogPress from my iPad. Happy blogging!

Location:W Flora Pl,Denver,United States