Monday, May 4, 2015

Springtime in the Rockies

When I think of spring in Colorado, I think of nouns like
vicissitude,
or adjectives like
unpredictable, capricious, and fickle.

I consider myself an authentic Colorado mountain girl.
I was born at the foot of Pikes Peak,
and graduated from high school at the foot of Mount Massive.
I know I should not be surprised if it snows in April, or in May, or even in June.
I've seen it snow on the Fourth of July in the mountains.

Today, I live at 6,659 feet above sea level.
The air in the morning is a bit nippy and brings back memories of spring days in the mountains when I was a young girl and living at 10, 152 feet above sea level.
I wish I had words to describe how that cool breeze coming down my valley from the mountain feels.
All I can tell you is that it whispers to me that it is 
springtime in the Rockies.
That is code for:  Expect anything from cold, to rain, to sunshine, to hail, to snow all in one day, or even all in one hour.

I have never planted annuals before Mother's Day.
In fact, I usually don't plant  much of anything until we are at least half way through May.
Several weeks ago, my daughter asked me what to do about aphids on her rose bush.
She sent me a photo of the plant.
She lives in Utah.
She'd already trimmed the rose back and it had a few buds.
I never cut back my roses in Colorado until mid May.

*********

Gardens are a form of autobiography. ~ Sydney Edison


When I lived in Pueblo, Colorado at 4,692 feet, I planted sooner than I do where I now live.
To be honest with you, I wasn't even sure I would plant anything this year.  
The deer, the rabbits, and the climate have caused me to
rethink everything I ever knew about gardening.
If card carrying members of the Colorado Master Gardeners came by my house right now,
they'd make me turn in my certificate that says I am a master gardener.
Let's just say that gardening where I now live is a big challenge for me.
Venturing out into the yard last week, when we finally had a break in the rain, I went looking to see how the perennials I had planted last year were doing.
I could see that my neighbor's peonies were up several inches as I looked out my window, so I was anxious to see what mine were doing.
I'm always so excited when I see peonies peeking out of the ground in early spring.
The peony I planted last year did not come up.
Nada.
Nothing.

The poppies have not come up.
The larkspur did not come up. 
I don't even have blue flax coming back.
It looks like the hyssop didn't make it either,
nor did the lavender plants.
I tried just planting a few things last year as I get to know my new gardening space.

The deer had eaten huge chunks out of the dwarf Alberta spruce I'd planted.
It is all so disheartening.

At least the clematis was coming back to life and growing like crazy.
Also, I was thrilled to see that some of the lily of the valley I transplanted from my mother's yard last spring are coming up.
The original beginning lily of the valley plants that I dug from my mother's yard had come from my grandmother's yard in Colorado Springs over forty years ago.
As I dug up the plants,
transported them over 300 miles,
and planted them again,
I felt like I was bringing those much love plants home and reestablishing my roots in my hometown.
Lily of the valley bouquet for my mom.
Flowers from her yard.
May 2014
Thank goodness those plants at least made it.

Even with all the vicissitudes of spring weather,
and with my feelings of defeat when it comes to establishing a new garden in what sometimes feels like a hostile  gardening environment,
spring conjures up dreams of gardens yet to be.
On the first day that I felt like driving and being out and about after my recent pacemaker implant,
I headed off to the garden shop.
It is spring.
I had to dig in the dirt.

I'm going to try again this year to get something established around here that looks somewhat like
a semblance of a thought and care went into the landscaping around my home.

I loaded up potting mix for planters even though I don't particularly like to plant in planters.
At least the hanging baskets and such can't be reached by the deer and rabbits.
I then bought some feather meal.
They say that is good for discouraging the deer from nibbling while also giving plants some nitrogen.
I couldn't find Deer Scram that Kathy at Kathy's Peace told me to buy,
so I bought the highly recommended Bobbex Deer Repellent.
By the time, I had some garden soil, fertilizers, and deer repellent, I had already just about broken the bank when it comes to my "flower money."
It is still early, so I didn't want to plant much yet, but I did get some creeping phlox and candy tuft to plant along the stone wall next to the house.
I also bought some peony bulbs.
I haven't given up on those yet.
Everyone else around me is growing peonies, and the deer leave them alone.

As I head into spring, I will be writing a new chapter in my gardening biography.
Let's hope it is not a short chapter full of disappointment and discouragement.

***********
A Spring in My Step

I feeling so much better now that I am a bit over three weeks out from getting a pacemaker.
Today, I did my first exercise class.
I went to a Zumba Gold class.
It was so much fun!
I'm still not allowed to wave my left arm in the air over my head, but I was moving my feet as fast as I could while I tried to do the steps.
My heart behaved and my recovery after the exercise was excellent.
I felt great.
The goal of Zumba Gold is to build cardiovascular fitness, coordination, flexibility, and balance.
I need all of that!
My hips and thighs told me I had not exercised recently,
but my mind told me it is good to have fun moving to the music.
Have you ever tried Zumba?
Do you enjoy it?

What do you do for exercise?
I love to walk.
I also like group exercise better than working out on machines.
I like to do Pilates and really enjoy doing Pilates on the reformer.
Have you ever done Pilates?
I've done it for years.
You'd think I'd be better at it by now.
I'm not much of a yoga fan, but I do enjoy restorative yoga.
I hope to go to that class tomorrow.
I can hardly wait until I'm released to get in the pool again.
In three more weeks I can get in the pool.
I love to do water Pilates.
Have you ever tried that?
It is really fun.
At my exercise club, they even have water Zumba.
I think I'll try that soon.

*********

As I write, the rain is steadily hitting my roof overhead.
We are supposed to have rain for the next few days.
That is ok.
In Colorado, we are also prone to drought.
I am thankful for the rain.
Soon, I hope to be out there digging in the dirt again and starting another year of learning how to deal with new environmental challenges in the place that I now call home.











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