Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The yard is in bloom!

  I have counted  fifteen Lilac bushes in the yard.  They need to be trimmed back so they can continue to grow strong, but we won't tackle that job until they are through showing off. 
The air is thick with lilac scent, and we have enjoyed numerous large bouquets. 
Lean in and smell!

Last May we purchased several Hydrangea plants at a local growers.  This is a flower that captures our attention year after year.  They need to planted in an area with indirect sun and plenty of water to keep them flourishing throughout the summer.

Our yard came with oodles of Bearded Iris.  They are magnificent and have bloomed well on the morning side of the house.  Sometimes the bulbs become too shallow in the ground and won't bloom.  We have removed the bulbs that have done this.  In another year the bulbs will multiply again, and we'll be back to more blooming stems. 

Blue Salvia is a perennial plant that dies's back in the winter, but about March it begins growing again.  Now we have an enormous display of blue spiked flowers.  It sets any garden area off with interest, and...... all time favorite, (a must have) is Hot Lips Salvia!  It starts out as a small plant but in no time becomes large, and airy.  It attracts hummingbirds!  We have watched the tiny birds move from bloom to bloom for the longest time.  This is one plant I search for until I find it to plant year after year.  It is a perennial, but depending on the winter we have it does not always live through the coldest days. 

And, sweet Nasturtium finds a spot in my flower garden most years.  The seeds from last years plants sprouted and we are enjoying the outcome from them!  This is not something that always happens, again, due to our mild winter we are lucky! 

In the past month we have planted five blueberry plants and five raspberry plants.  They began putting on berries.  One night, never to be seen or heard, deer came and helped themselves!  I'm recovering from the shock!  They also wiped out three rose bushes!  This last week while driving down the driveway a raccoon came loping across our lawn, and I wonder what he had in his scope?  I shooooood him off, but he'll be back.  In the meantime we have taken precautions, and hopefully no animal will be munching on our berries or garden again.  The farm store had something in the form of a spike that smells bad to these animals.  It won't hurt them or hurt the produce.  We'll see if there are any more garden thieves!  :)  Hmmmm...a bunny was seen, too!  He was headed for the neighbors, so I let him hop off!  I don't know what to do about bunnies?  Plant more than we need? :) 

In the meantime we will enjoy our blooming yard.  There is much more to come and we simply take the beauty in with great appreciation! 

Monday, May 6, 2013

A time of rest and restoration.

The past couple of weeks were taken up with a lovely car trip into a southern desert of California.  Death Valley National Park was our destination.  It is a place where the earth is laid out wide open for all to see and wonder about. At first glance it looks baron and destitute but it is quite the opposite. There is life all around and it isn't lost to the eye for all the traffic and commerce we are used to in our cities.   
Death Valley lies beyond the Sierra Mountains and Panamint Mountains.  Bad Waters, Death Valley, is the lowest point (at 280 feet below sea level) in the United States, and is said to have the hottest recorded temperatures on the earth, at more than 130 degrees. 
Upon our first descent down into the valley, we drove slowly and saw this parched coyote walking up to Panamint Springs. 

And...and few more critters crossed our path......

........a black lizard with half a tail.......

...Pup fish, which have an amazing story of survival and intrigue! They dehydrate and lay dormant in the earth until water comes, and then rehydrate themselves once again.  They don't need immense depths of water, and are on the protected list of fish that could easily become extinct due to their small numbers and limited environment on the face of the earth.

 Here is the boardwalk that allows people to follow the stream bed and view the fish in this harsh existence. 
We saw several Killdeer birds that stood in the waterway and we wondered if they eat the salty fish?

Buzzards circle in the sky at Furnace Creek Ranch.  There are so many that...again we wonder how they find enough to eat.  There are just so many dead animals, and it doesn't seem likely there would be enough for them to survive.  But, as you can see...they do survive and multiply! 

The black specks in the sky are the buzzards.  There are more than a hundred in this one area.

The above photo was taken from our patio and looking towards
 the swimming pool at Furnace Creek Ranch.  Palm trees are not native to Death Valley and they are only seen on the ranch.  If any do spread their seeds and sprout up outside the ranch they are removed so that  native species can thrive.

I could go on and on about this favorite vacation spot of ours, but I will leave you with a few landscape photos, and maybe you will understand why we come back time after time. 

Zubrinski Point

Dante's View
There were professional photographers at Dante's View, and they took this picture of us.  We enjoyed talking with them and found out they came from Newport Beach, Ca.  The draw for them is obvious and I'd like to see their work! 

Upon leaving the area we drove up and up and up and then down and down and down to see the beautiful Sierra Mountains.  They followed us along the road until we were long on our way headed back to our Willamette Valley. 

Our week was indeed a time of rest and restoration.  We are now back at home ready to begin a very busy Summer and Fall full of blueberry and hazelnut harvest!  Jim will being doing that while I am arranging flowers and delivering them in our community.