Monday, May 4, 2015

Springtime in the Rockies

When I think of spring in Colorado, I think of nouns like
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.

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.


Dr. Kathy McCoy said...

So glad to hear that you're doing well with the pacemaker and feeling renewed with the season! And so great to be able to enjoy the beauty around you (even if the garden was disappointing this year!)

Kay said...

I'm so glad things are working out even better for you, Sally. That is a relief! I love Zumba Gold although it doesn't feel like Gold as I'm sweating it out.

Margaret Adamson said...

I am so pleased your pacemaker is working well for yo adn you are back to exercising. I amsure you went get you garden the way you want it soon.

Jean said...

Glad to hear you're feeling much better since getting the pacemaker. I like to walk, too, and find my Fitbit very motivating for walking and other activities. I go to our community building three mornings a week for exercise, too: aerobics and weights. I make a homemade deer repellent that seems to do the trick. It saved my host as from total destruction last summer after I found it chewed down to the ground. I whip an egg and a cup or two of milk in my blender. I pour this into a spray bottle, then add a tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Mix this well and spray it on your host as, clematis, etc. Springtime in the Rockies sounds lovely, despite the ravenous deer!

Jean said...

Glad to hear you're feeling much better since getting the pacemaker. I like to walk, too, and find my Fitbit very motivating for walking and other activities. I go to our community building three mornings a week for exercise, too: aerobics and weights. I make a homemade deer repellent that seems to do the trick. It saved my host as from total destruction last summer after I found it chewed down to the ground. I whip an egg and a cup or two of milk in my blender. I pour this into a spray bottle, then add a tablespoon of liquid dish soap. Mix this well and spray it on your host as, clematis, etc. Springtime in the Rockies sounds lovely, despite the ravenous deer!

Terri Tiffany said...

I too have been wondering how you have been doing. It's good to read good news. I wish I had the nerve to try Zumba. I thought it sounded hard! Who knows? I might give it whirl someday.

Arkansas Patti said...

Wonderful news that you and your new pacemaker are getting along so well.
You have such a short growing season that it must be difficult to get going. Still, it is hard not getting your hands dirty isn't it?
Gardening is my main exercise but I also use my treadmill and stationary bike on inclement days.
My tiny town doesn't offer group exercises programs. Wish they did.

DJan said...

As a fourth-year gardener, nobody is ever going to accuse ME of being a master gardener, but I sure do have fun and enjoy getting my hands in the dirt, not to mention eating the harvest. We have a deer fence around our community garden, but I deal with the slugs here nonstop! :-)

Jeanie said...

It is so good to hear that so many things are going well for you. I expect you will have even your garden well in hand before too long.
Even with (or maybe especially with) so much rain this is truly a beautiful season in the Rockies.

troutbirder said...

Good news again, Sally. I've had to give many of my favorite hobby decade by decade but always adapted by finding new one. That process continues to keep me satisfied now at age 74. Combining birding, photography and lone walks with my GSD works best now. Oh and a little flowering gardening for variety...:)

Olga Hebert said...

Zumba! I would say that your heart with its pacemaker is a great success. Spring is certainly in the air with so many writing about flowers in bloom. Can't wait to see what awaits me in VT.

Barb said...

You and I are on the same wave-length! My seeds from American Meadows arrived last week so today I went (in the rain - not snow) to buy sand to scatter them. If more snow melts along my side garden, I hope to sow some by the end of the week. Some of the Perennials that do well at my house (over 10,000') are wild geraniums, campanula, poppies, pansies, snow in summer, columbine, and delphiniums plus a few others. These, however, come back year after year. I try to exercise daily and since skiing is over, I'm mostly biking and walking. Soon, I hope to start hiking! Happy Mothers Day, Sally - loved the pic of you and Mom.

Friko said...

Well, there you are, a bright and cheery post full of hope and zest and joy. Something good has already come out of the procedure, there is a definite change of tone in your post here.

It’s too sad when plants just don’t behave as they should. I usually try twice and sometimes even three times, but when they don’t come up or flourish for the third year in a row I give up and try something else.

The only exercise I do is walking. Every day, because of Millie. I am a solitary kind of soul, not much given to joining groups, although that would no doubt be good for me.

Jeanie said...

Such good news to hear you are doing well and getting more lively after your pacemaker installation. I think it will make a world of difference for you.

I've never been a good gardener but I'm lucky in that things in the ground are coming up -- but then, I don't have the deer issue. All bets would be off then. I hire a gardener at the beginning of the season to clean it out, then up to me. Most of my stuff goes in pots. I'm so very glad your love plants survived. Those would be the ones that mean the most, anyway!

Grandmother (Mary) said...

Good for you that your heart is well with its new aid. Zumba is a blast and I enjoy pilates as well. My favorite exercise is running and hope to get better at it when I move back to the states and join a running group. I do the kind that has walk breaks so I can run 'till 100 injury free! (

Nancy/BLissed-Out Grandma said...

Your gardening zone must be a lot like mine. I have bleeding hearts in great profusion right now, and the azaleas will bloom in a week or so, but there will be a long spell of no blossoms because it's unwise to plant annuals until May 20 or so. (Oh wait--just realized that's coming sooner than I thought!) I am totally impressed that you are doing Zumba already! I need to pick up the pace on exercise. I like yoga, pilates, walking, and tap dance, but I've been waaay too sedentary. Gonna get a fitbit, and plan out some kind of daily challenge for myself.

Betsy Adams said...

Hi there, Just stopping by to say “Happy Mother’s Day” to you. I’m sure you are having a fabulous day. I celebrated yesterday when one of my sons and his beautiful wife came to see us….

As you probably know, we’ve been out-of-town this past week and I haven’t done any blogging much at all. I hope you enjoyed my two Tulip blog posts while we were gone——and be sure and tune in tomorrow morning to find out what we’ve been doing this past week….

Enjoyed your post today! Amazing how things grow differently in different areas of the country. By the way, we highly recommend LIQUID FENCE to get rid of deer. You can order it online --and it's the BEST we have EVER used...

Walking (and hiking) is our exercise...


Deb Shucka said...

What a lovely post, Sally. It sounds like you've come through your personal winter and are blooming like crazy. It was fun to read about all your exercise choices, and inspiring as I look forward to a time when I can make similar ones. Sending you love.

Pam (Isabelle) said...

Glad you're feeling better. I do weekly Zumba - quite exhausting but fun! As for lily of the valley - it's a thug in my garden: comes up everywhere. I spend my life digging it up. But I love the perfume...

Relyn Lawson said...

If gardens are a kind of autobiography - I'm in trouble. I don't have one. ha. But, I sure do love other people's.

Barbara Torris said...

I loved the virtual "walk" through your garden. My flower garden is such a calming place for me.

Be well.