Sunday, July 21, 2013

The White Buffalo cometh

I'm pretty sure the Native Americans who hold the White Buffalo sacred never envisioned it with golf carts zipping around in the background. But that's what I saw as I went to take this picture. Yes, all that greenery behind the buffalo statue (and what a statue!) in this high-altitude garden is a golf course. The background is the Williams Fork Range with the scourge of the mountain pine beetle very visible. They chew through and decimate lodge pole pines in an unrelenting onslaught.
This weekend we toured gardens at a much higher altitude of about 8,500 to 9,000 ft. in Summit County, Colorado. Rocks all over. It IS the Rocky Mountains but I think these below might have been brought in on a flatbed truck. Unfortunately we were destined to have a close-up view of a flatbed truck but more on that later.
Below, a stepping stone path through a wildflower-meadow look.
Just plain pretty. Love the Blue Spruce in the background.
I thought this was some new variety of Columbine since we see so many in the mountains. The Expert Gardener told me it was Trollius also known as Globe Flower. I think she looked at a plant marker.

This garden below was all about a fairy garden for the owner's grandchildren. Nice little stone bridge...
...and stone house with sedums growing on the roof. Clever!
Charming trellis...
...and lit-up seating area for fairies. The whole fairy garden was huge, tucked under spruce and pine trees behind a raised stone retaining wall. So well done, but so tidy I wondered if her grandchildren ever played in it. The one I made for my grandchildren looks like a tornado swept through it. Sheep upturned, houses on their sides, fairies askew like they've been on a binge. But this was one to aspire to.
Since we got lost finding the next garden we decided we might as well eat lunch. The Mountain Lyon Cafe hit the spot. I love this kind of place with a ton of choices on the menu, everyone is friendly, and there were lots of cars in the parking lot. That's the same as a good review for me.
Excellent - a buffalo head on the wall!
But that wasn't as surprising as what we saw on the way to the next garden - a buck on the roof of the Alpine Garden Center munching on poppies and pansies. Nice!
I really liked this fairly long waterfall but I liked the Sweet William even more.
Not a bad idea for an old whiskey barrel. But I think gravity will win out soon.
Nicely done walkway to a front door with volunteer violas coming up through spaces in the pavers.
Crack plant.
Dubious Gardener and Reluctant Gardener taking a break from all that up-and-downhill walking.
A lot of people used orange traffic cones to cordon off their driveways from garden tour vehicles. Not these homeowners.
They had some very effective simple plantings showcased against stone.
Is this stunning or what? Look at that bright burst of color against the white stones.
This was not a stunning moment. This is not us, but it's what happened to us. It's never a good idea to throw a rod on Interstate 70 on your way home. Sure glad I've been paying for that AAA membership (with 100 mile towing) for all these years. We could have used some of that White Buffalo karma though.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

They're different from you and me

The Neophyte Gardener has been on lots of garden tours with me. Sometimes The Dubious Gardener and The Reluctant Gardener accompany us but this day we were on our own. Just when we thought we were done for the season we spotted this tour in the paper and headed for the mountains. This was called The Rich People's Garden Tour. No it wasn't, we called it that. First up, a gorgeous adobe house and garden at about 7,200 feet above sea level.
Nice flagstone fire pit. These are okay in the mountains where I expect it to smell like a fireplace, but down in my neighborhood they stink. And I always think my house is on fire.
Lots of stone outcroppings on the property that they've used very well. I think the aspens were all quaking and that's why the top of the picture is blurry.
Just in case there wasn't enough stone they bought the entire installation of sculptures that were displayed at the Denver Botanic Gardens a few years ago. They're scattered around the property. I'm liking this stone mama and her chicks.
They also had a peacock, peahen, and a bunch of chickens in this enclosure. I'd love a peacock roaming around my yard. Wonder if they'd be a match for the raccoons?
The color on these yarrow! There's something about the high altitude setting that just makes colors glow. No Photoshopping here.
They let us inside the house in order to get to the rooftop garden. I gaped open-mouthed at the furnishings but we were moved right along. That wasn't part of the show. Ever seen a Christmas cactus like this? We hadn't. Look at those long fronds hanging down with one brilliant, fringed bloom at the bottom. I asked the owners (very nice people) what it was. They said, "some kind of Christmas cactus."
Next up was a charming huge abode named after the owner's ancestral 16th century castle in Northern Ireland.
I've never seen so much Kentucky Bluegrass in my life (but I've never been to Kentucky.) We were instructed to park on it. Eeek, seriously? I felt bad.
Not to fear, there was plenty more bluegrass across the creek. Really.
Lovely rushing creek bisects the property.
The outdoor dining table overlooks the creek. Nice antlers!
This stone wall enclosed a great mix of colorful flowers. It went on and on. Three gardeners from a local landscape company work on the property one full day each week.
The next home started out as a fishing lodge in the 1950's. It's not a fishing lodge anymore and has lots of walled gardens. This is such an iconic look for the Colorado mountains ( besides forest fires) - Aspens and Blue Spruce.
More rock outcroppings. And the ubiquitous clay ollas. We like this a lot in Colorado.
Sculpture lady at the edge of a small water feature.
How about those columbines!
The flagstone terrace was added after the fishing lodge phase. It overlooks a huge pond stocked with fish specifically chosen to eat the algae.
That's some serious stone stacking.
We got lost on the way to this garden situated on a flat meadow. The GPS took us to the top of God-knows-where-mountain and wasn't the least apologetic about it. After making our way up and down a few burro trails we finally pulled up to this owner-maintained garden. We'd left the serious money behind but this was no slouch. I'm a sucker for these dovecote birdhouses. This one was full of Barn swallows.
Nice pond with evergreen plantings surrounding it.
They had a huge enclosed vegetable garden called The Garden. The wall sculpture below the sign let us know why it was enclosed.
Some serious twig work for a tomato cage.
Very floriferous rose bush adorned the entrance.
These little allium were so dinky and cute. I think I need some. Drumstick?
Throughout the day, we heard garden visitors questioning each other about the identity of various plants. When no answer was forthcoming The Neophyte Gardener supplied them. Did I mention she's become The Expert Gardener over the years? As a result, people just ignored their friends and started asking us all the questions. She made me proud. Every once in awhile, just to save my own pride, I'd throw in an answer to something pretty obvious. Oh, that's Monarda, also known as Bee balm. (Believe me, I know people who can't identify a common robin.) So, this went very well until we came to this plant below. The landscaper told us it was campanula? Huh? The owner at this garden also said campanula? When I think campanula I think sweet bellflowers hanging their little heads, not a burst of fireworks flower. But I guess it could be a variety called Freya, just introduced last year. What do you think?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Screaming in the night

No, it wasn't me watching a late-night scary movie. The action was all in my backyard thanks to what sounded like 100 raccoons fighting amongst themselves at 1:00 AM. Seriously, how can they make those blood-curdling screams? And why? Were they so thrilled to find so many things in my garden to trash? Look, pond plants to throw onto the gravel! Bird feeders to raid! Let's open this one with our creepy little hands and scatter the contents! Knock over that birdbath! And that one! Just for good measure break this!
Really, I'm so over raccoons. I grew up reading Thornton W. Burgess and all his lovely tales of the animals in The Green Forest. Bobby Raccoon was naughty enough back in 1950, these guys would be the updated version. Bawby Bad-Az and his Marauding Thugs.
Yeah I know they look cute but have you seen the teeth on those guys? I'd be just as likely to chase a mountain lion out of my yard - which is to say I wouldn't. And especially not at 1 AM. There could be all kinds of creepy stuff out there. If there were fairies in my yard they'd be dead.
I can't think of any good reason for raccoons. Can you? Wait, I just thought of one.