Spring Marches in at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Well I did my monthly visit to Denver Botanic Gardens in March. It was lovely.
I “discovered” these lovely ducks in Marnie’s Pavilion, but have yet to figure out what kind they are. Very cute and about the only birds I saw or heard there!
 Lovely Crabapple tree full of last seasons fruit. No robins partaking though.
And the conifers….oh my are they lovely. Speaking of Conifers, I’m taking a class there April 20th, taught by Pat Hayward. Conifers Class. I can hardly wait.
There were a few sneaky crocus flowers that I enjoyed very much.
 Such teeny exquisite beauty.
 And here is a midget kind of an Iris. Amazing.
 Little tiny spots of glory here and there.
 In some places they had names which I appreciated.
 I love this – I think it’s Little Bluestem grass – the pink stuff and more crocus coming up.
More lovely bunches.
A rather brazen group here. Makes one want to lay down next to them and have a conversation.
Snow drops I think. Wow.
 Birch and Pine Trees. Does life get any better than this?
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Cowboy! The Sailor Dog?

 Cowboy The Sailor Dog, Yep! That’s Me!
Um. Wait. Excuse me, where are we going? This thing is rocky. 
This is NOT looking good Cap’n. Are we gonna DIE?
Cap’n Al, full of.. of..
Confidence. Yeah, that’s it.
I’m looking for fish, trying to balance.
 Here is our view from our boat thing. We are waaay out in the middle of the water.
But I’m not scared. Nope not me.
Bravery Pupsonified.
Cowboy, The Sailor Dog!
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Simon Is Thankful, And So Are The Birds

My beloved husband Al hung up my bird houses recently. It was a sunny February afternoon. Perfect for climbing twenty-plus feet up in the air on a big ladder with heavy birdhouses and a drill. 
I appreciate it, I really do.
 Al used to be a cable TV Advanced Tech and spent a lot of time on a ladder like this high in the air. I think this ladder weighs like 90 pounds.
 Here he is:
 And here is the big, heavy flicker house now in place.
This one was tricky as the tree is small, down a hill and right by the lake. 
A Downy Woodpecker house.
Al is installing a nice WBU Robin’s ledge house on the shop.
He’s even smiling. He loves me. Up he goes with a Chickadee house to install on a Russian Olive tree.
I wonder who will use it?
 Now he’s heading up high to install a Chickadee house on an Ash tree. You try climbing a ladder with both hands full!
He doesn’t even mind when I tell him exactly where to hang it. 
“Tell me what to do, but don’t tell me what to do.”
 Hey! Simon’s back! He certainly approves. It’s been a long, dark winter in the shop for him. Look for him next time you visit.
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Cowboy Messing Around At Starbucks

Here is a little video of me training Cowboy. He is learning the different movements that go with the cues of “stand” (stand) “park” (sit) and “squish” (down). Once we have the behavior I want it I’ll add the correct name. Stand is pretty good, so I didn’t give it a beginner name.
Please ignore the extensive luring and cueing of “squish”. He’s good on carpet, but didn’t like the chilly concrete!
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Curious Colorado Conifers and a Bird.

My February adventure at the Gardens. My February trip to the gardens was a fun one. Before I left I was perusing the Denver Botanic Gardens website and found this walking tour for February about Ponderosa Pines. As many of you know I have a serious conifer (cone-bearing trees) addiction. I printed out the tour, and off I went.
 Pinus Ponderosa Tour, by John Murgel, Horticulturist. Thanks John!
After figuring out where I was in the gardens and spending 5 minutes oohing and ahhing over the wrong kind of pine tree, I got on the right track and visited these “Ponderosa Pines in the late juvenile stage”. 
Upon closer inspection of the bundles of needles, called ” fascicles” I was amazed to discover, yes, it’s true! Ponderosa Pine needles come in groups of three. Imagine!
 As I made my way to the next Pine exhibit, these Lodgepole Pines called out to me.
 “Hi!” They said, “Look at our straight poles and our lovely cones!” So I did.
These lovely ancient Bristlecone Pines were much more stately in their greeting, gently nodding their branches as I passed by.
 Then I was distracted by this curious tree – Paperbark Maple. Curious indeed.
 Ahh! Here we are! The next trees on our tour are actually Austrian Pine, common trees that are often mistaken for Ponderosa. They have more of a grayish bark, and this: 
TWO needles per bundle. Seriously cool. 
 Now feeling quite confident in my navigational abilities I found, on my own, with out circling the wagons, the “Dwarf Conifer Collection”.  It was all I could do not to grab a shovel and take these babies home.
This is a Ponderosa Pine! They call these little beauties “sports or witch’s brooms” that have been pruned out of mature trees and grafted onto rootstock. This one was maybe 3 feet tall.
 Here is a little Colorado Blue Spruce. I will be taking Pat Hayward’s Conifer Class in April and I can hardly wait.
On to the next point of interest. A grove of trees in the Gates Montane Garden.
Here is a lovely group of Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine and Mexican White Pine.
Heavenly.
 Bark of the Mexican White Pine.
Needles. Of course I don’t remember how many needles per bundle.
 Bark of the Ponderosa Pine.
 Beautiful Ponderosa needles.
Curious bark of the Douglas Fir.
Interesting and soft needles of the Douglas Fir.
Last stop on the tour for me was the tallest Ponderosa in the gardens.
While I saw and heard very few birds this visit. I did hear a flock of juncos in the trees.  Found this beautiful female Slate-colored Junco. 
Nice ending to a perfect outing!
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Hey! Bird Walks in Loveland Again.

Birding Loveland, We’re Crazy Around Here.
Saturday, February 23 8:00 a.m. Downtown Loveland.
Meet and park at the south Chilson Rec Center parking lot. Look for my red Xterra. We will walk through the neighborhoods in the area. Birding downtown can be pretty interesting in light of all the great plantings and trees. We will end our walk with coffee at the Coffee Tree afterwards for those who want to. Expect to walk a couple of miles.
Saturday, March 23, 7:30 a.m. Namaqua Park.
Meet at the park. We will be birding the park and along the river. Meet at the Coffee Tree after.
Saturday, April 27th, 7:30 a.m. Chapungu Park at Centerra.
Park at the North end. We’ll bird the park. Coffee at the Barnes & Noble after. 
Come join us. You never know what we might find!
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Northwoods Adventure

I recently went on a birding trip to the Northwoods. A place I had never been.
It was beautiful. 
Great Gray Owl Habitat. We did not see one.
My friend Carol and I after seeing the Northern Hawk Owl in -26 degree temps.
 Wisconsin, Yellow River.  Canada Geese and Trumpeter Swans.
A frosty Black-capped Chickadee.
Such a captivating bird – Boreal Chickadee.
Hoary Redpoll on right.
A fun photo of a Brown Creeper. 
 Red Squirrel.
I love this. Common Redpolls, Blue Jay and Pine Grosbeaks.
Northern Hawk Owl.
Beautiful country. Beautiful birds.
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Tiptoe Through The Tulips. Next Spring That Is.

Here is our new fence. It needed something here on the side that faces west, toward the road. So I got out my trusty baby Troy-built tiller.
I went over this mix of gravel road base and nice soil about 6-8 times. The little tiller did the job.
 Then I raked and raked and raked the soil out.
And raked.
And took a break from raking to take this picture and get some air. (Poor, poor Globe Willow tree, but we had it pruned and sawed and snipped. Hopefully it will flourish again next spring.)
 Still needing air, I took another picture. Nice rake job, eh?
 Finally, after pouring 300 plus bulbs of various tulips and daffodils in a big bin and mixing them up, I scattered those bulbs in the trench, taking time to even them out a bit. 
 Then I got to rake some MORE. Putting all the soil back over the bulbs. About a week later I added about 4 inches of nice topsoil and some “pole peeling” mulch on top of that. So..
Hopefully we’ll have gloriously riotous color in the spring!
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Drunk in the Gardens

None of the birds in the Denver Botanic Gardens would admit anything.
 But I’m sure the Robins were drunk. 
Fermented Crabapples were everywhere, on the trees and on the ground.
They were imbibing heavily.
Even the squirrels were embarrassed. 
After all that liquor, they needed a drink.
 This was the place, where it all was going down. The lovely Oak Grove happened to be surrounded by Crabapple Trees. Why wasn’t it called Crabapple Grove?
Or better yet, The Robin’s Pub?
 I had to leave for awhile and visit other parts of the Gardens. It was getting dangerous. I’m sure one robin has a piece of my ear.
This feller was singing a delightful whisper song. Ever heard it? Kind of like they’re singing under their breath, so you only hear it if you’re right next to them. With your mouth hanging open at the wonder of it.
 This Spotted Towhee was completely mum. Wouldn’t say a word about the robins behavior.
I think the Cedar Waxwings were guilty too. When I finally found them, deep in the pines, trying not to fall off their perches as they preened, they were buzzing and trilling under the influence.  
All in all, a rather liquorious day at the Gardens. 
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Merry Christmas! Kids Can Make Everything Fun!

 Kids can make everything fun.
 And Al and I have a bunch of them.
Eleven, to be exact.
 We’ve never been bored.
 We’ve rarely been lonely.
Always have we been entertained.
And sometimes pushed beyond our limits.
But our children have taught us many things.
And we do our best to enjoy the moments.
 Hopefully we’ve taught them a thing or two.
And hopefully the learning was fun at times. 
 We love their sense of fun.
We love their sense of humor.
 And their sense of adventure.
 Even though growing up can be painful at times.
 There is always room for love and compassion.
 And hugs.
They are ready to try most anything.
And take time to smell the flowers.
And have good conversation.
They’ve been ready and willing, mostly, to try new things.
And discover their passions and gifts.
They probably keep some things secret.
But laughter is only a moment away.
 They love each other with great passion.
 And have become friends along the way.
Sparks fly occasionally.
But they typically are quickly repaired.
They don’t mind taking the lead.
 Or taking a rest when needed.
 I am blessed continually by their smiles.
 And thankful hearts.
 Someone is always off exploring.
 Or trying to get others to follow.
Or gallop off into the sunset.
 Or climb to the top of the mountain.
Some seek solitude.
Others enjoy a crowd.
All of them love snuggling.
They’ll leave their mark on the world.
I am blessed.
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