Archive | May 2013

Mid-May at Mirador

Bees drinking at the pond congregate in one specific shallow place, buzzing in and out and filling up.

Bees drinking at the pond congregate in one specific shallow place, buzzing in and out and filling up.

Intervention Lesson #72,329: I’ve been feeding thistle seed for years and run out on occasion without ever having a crisis. This morning, the thistle eaters have emptied a week’s worth of food in two days. By feeding them I’ve made them dependent on that source. Now trees full of fledgling pine siskins are desperate for seed I cannot provide on a Sunday morning in Crawford. The one store where I can get them in less than an hour’s drive doesn’t open until one. It’s ten a.m. I’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel to give them another two tablespoons. After that they must wait til after one.
So much to be done! Everywhere I look there’s no time to observe. Cheatgrass, Poa bulbosa, weeds, weeds, weeds to be removed, eradicated from certain zones, not altogether from the yard. Some with a weed-whacker, some by hand to protect the precious wild onions and the SCLI, which blooms in dainty yellow waves from the east side of the yard rolling through the fence into the woods. Schoenocrambe linifolia is a native mustard also known as skeleton mustard. The nickname SCLI comes from the botanical convention of combining the first two letters of the scientific name; if there are more than one plant with the same combination, they are named with a number following, for example PEPU7, another lovely yellow native plant whose bloom time has not yet come this season. I learned all this from my dear departed friend Gretchen Van Reyper, an enthusiastic plant expert who used to come every spring for a wildflower walk at least once, and regale me with the proper names for every plant we encountered. Yes, there were a lot! I have only retained about half of what she taught me, and with her now permanently gone, never to walk this way again, the knowledge both inspires and saddens me.
The early euphorbia donkey tail spurge continues to bloom. In looking it up to verify the name I find it is illegal to cultivate in Colorado and landowners are required to eradicate it! I didn't know that. But I remember that the Delta County Weed Czar made me promise one time to never share it with another gardener.

The early euphorbia donkey tail spurge continues to bloom. In looking it up to verify the name I find it is illegal to cultivate in Colorado and landowners are required to eradicate it! I didn’t know that. But I remember that the Delta County Weed Czar made me promise one time to never share it with another gardener.

The tiniest blue penstemons have opened, yesterday just buds, this morning tiny blue and purple corollas dazzle. Stanleya is up a foot high, five offspring from the original which I finally uprooted last year after it died, and one giant specimen that has crept up to abut the sagebrush. Golden currant moves from clusters of yellow blooms to approaching berries. The first Little Doctor columbine bud has appeared, the other blue penstemons are either in bud or beginning to bloom, pink penstemons are shooting up stalks, sturdy European pasqueflower continues to bloom and now spiky seedheads nod above the deep purple flowers. The first callirhoe blossom has opened, the vibrant crabapple has faded to soft pink as green leaves overtake the blooms.
Nepeta is ripe and buzzing with bees, in full and flagrant bloom all over the yard. Honeybees as well as natives like this funny little creature that looks like a cross between a bee and a mosquito.

Nepeta is ripe and buzzing with bees, in full and flagrant bloom all over the yard; honeybees as well as natives like this funny little creature that looks like a cross between a bee and a mosquito.

And the bees and bugs are back in full abundance with the flowers:
Sweet Bee on Vinnie's crabapple

Sweet Bee on Vinnie’s crabapple

European pasqueflower with what? Time to pull out the field guide.

European pasqueflower with what? Time to pull out the field guide.

A single bee drinking

Thirsty Bee

The red-eyed fly with its tongue in the tubular flower of the golden currant, last week.

The red-eyed fly with its tongue in the tubular flower of the golden currant, last week.

IMG_4128 IMG_4242

Wasp at the western sand cherry, Prunus besseyi Pawnee Buttes, last week.

Wasp at the western sand cherry, Prunus besseyi Pawnee Buttes, last week.

Honeybee at PBPB last week, before the blooms faded.

Bee 12 at PBPB last week, before the blooms faded.

Ant on crabapple

Ant on crabapple

European pasqueflower going to seed

European pasqueflower going to seed

This tiny blue penstemon has self-sown prolifically among the flagstone.

This tiny blue penstemon has self-sown prolifically among the flagstone.

And now the Ajuga blooms profusely at the end of the pond, and the honeybees are there too.

And now the Ajuga blooms profusely at the end of the pond, and the honeybees are there too.

Home Again

A welcome home party from my tight-knit community opened "The Season."

A welcome home party from my tight-knit community opened “The Season.”

The Bee Doctor came and I learned many things. More about that later.

The Bee Doctor came and I learned many things. More about that later.

The first wild cactus bloomed on our first walk to the rim.

The first wild cactus bloomed on our first walk to the rim.

Winter carrots from the tunnel have all been picked and processed into delicious carrot~ginger soup.

Winter carrots from the tunnel have all been picked and processed into delicious carrot~ginger soup.

Rocky is here for a week pretending to be a catahoula while his other girls are away. In Virginia!

Rocky is here for a week pretending to be a catahoula while his other girls are away. In Virginia!

The naturalizing tulips have bloomed in succession, the last to flourish these dreamy yellow dwarfs.

The naturalizing tulips have bloomed in succession, the last to flourish these dreamy yellow dwarfs.

And the bees continue to thrive in their lightened hive, while my relationship with them improves daily.

And the bees continue to thrive in their lightened hive, while my relationship with them improves daily.

I seem to be too tired at the end of each evening to even sit down and commit to putting a few words or pictures online. I am still doing Morning Rounds, every now and then, noticing that the Nanking cherry burst into full bloom two days after my return from three and a half months traveling in the east; noticing that the hummingbirds also returned two days after I did; keeping track of the magpie nest as its birds build it twig by twig in the juniper outside the kitchen window. Noticing each time the northern leopard frog plops into the small pond when I spook it passing by. And so much more!

“It was such joy to watch spring unfold at your house,” said my plant-watching neighbor once I returned just two weeks ago today. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of social reconnection, garden assessment, weed mitigation, housecleaning, food preparation, and simple relaxation that I can’t begin to think about reaching out through the ethers. I’ve barely had my computer on, much less answered my phone, with all the visitors and obligations that have claimed my time.

Suffice to say, I let the swirl of circumstances sweep me away for the past six weeks; my last few weeks in Virginia flew by with last minute visits and tasks and tendernesses, and then I traveled for a jam-packed week to get home, and now I’ve been undergoing re-entry for two weeks. One of these days real soon I’ll manage to unpack some of the experiences I had in Virginia, on the route home, and since I’ve returned.

The Bee Doctor came three days after my return, a god-dog is visiting for awhile, and tomorrow I fly for the first time in many years. More later!