Posts Tagged ‘Spring in Idaho’

Horse Chestnuts, Dandelions and Garden Pests

July 31, 2018

I’ve taken gobs of photos this past spring and summer. It seems summer flies and it’s suddenly gone. Here it is now the first of August and leaves are already turning gold and falling. From the heat? Maybe. But the plants already know, summer is nearly over.

I’ve missed spring in years past. I notice the buds, next thing, the trees are out, all bushy and full, their blossoms long gone. How had I missed it? So I try to pay close attention to the blossoming of spring.

It begins with the dandelions – bees’ first feast!

Nice for the bees, not a great look for your front yard

I love to see fields of dandelions, however, by the end of April it’s a declared war, humans vs. dandelions, daily raging battles, humans extracting dandelions from suburban lawns – a war that can overcome the average adult strapping male.

Dandelions are clever imposters, posing as a fill-in for a gorgeous bouquet

So vibrant!

Ha! You think you can get away with this?

Yeah, like we don’t recognize a clump of dandelions

Oh, you think we don’t recognize that you’re not tulips? We’re totally on to you. Your gig is up!.

By early May tulips and daffodils command the show

Rudy finishes his inspection – May 5

Crab and May Trees flower and alight with buzzing bees

Then the lilacs bloom! – and fade so quickly. Don’t miss it! Fill your kitchen with their marvelous fragrance.

Bury your nose in their velvety moist blossoms!

My absolute favorite tree of all blooms in late May. I watch for it. There’s a big ol’ ancient one in town beside the Broadway Bridge on the Snake River.

“Oh Megan, pose in front of it!”

“Okay, mom, if I must.” June 2, 2018

The 6-inch blossoms stand stately on their limbs like lavishly decorated Christmas trees.

There’s a red variety too. I took a photo of one in Tautphaus Park:

I’d love to plant one of these trees in our back yard. Oh wow! Here’s a plaque by the big tree Megan is standing under identifying what it is:

‘Horsechesnut’
Shouldn’t that be two words?

Horse chestnut??? Hmmm. Well, okay.

By the first of June the flowers were all planted in our pots and flowerbeds – marigolds and zinnias, impatiens, petunias, red and blue salvia. Tomatoes and green peppers. Let the battle begin! You know, against slugs, fungus, heat, insects, weeds, crowding, drought, poor soil, under-fertilizing, over-fertilizing, over-watering, not enough dead-heading. And one more pest – our next-door neighbor’s dog, Einstein. Here – I’ve captured this ‘pest’ problem in this video:

Einstein is an escape artist. It’s simply impossible for his owners to keep him in their fenced back yard. They have given up. You will see in the video the ladder we propped up against the fence beside the arborvitae three summers ago to keep Einstein from jumping directly from his back yard into our garden. But, no matter. He simply jumps their fence and once he’s escaped his yard, we obviously can’t keep him out of ours.

This helps explain why I’ve been remiss all summer in writing my blog. I’ve been crazy busy. “Gardening” among other things. Figuring out why some stuff grows okay and a lot of it doesn’t. I’m not posting any closeup photos of our flowers. There’s just too much explaining to do. I keep learning, though.

This year I learned from the local nursery how important it is to apply their special brand of fertilizer on the flowers and vegetables – at least once a week!, to achieve, say, the desired effect for your next dinner party of showing off your happy bushy flower pots. Except if, on your petunia leaves, you start to notice what looks like a serious case of spider mites or maybe lace bugs, and you run a sick leaf down to your local greenhouse for their expert diagnosis, you might learn that applying liquid fertilizer to plants at the beginning of a 90-degree day will likely burn the leaves as if they’re infested with tiny bugs. On the other hand, with the application of liquid fertilizer on a 90-degree day, you could also maybe burn any existing pests off the leaves? I know. It’s hard to tell about these things, other than to admit your giftedness to kill plants.

Alas, by late summer the plants know to stop growing. So you can relax. I practice relaxing at home on the couch by example of our dog, Rudy.

Rudy demonstrates the proper way to flop

I’ll have you know, we think we’ve made some progress in discouraging Einstein’s over-the-fence leaps directly into our garden with the installation of a wind vane whirly thing we bought at my brother Eric’s shop.

Wind vane

With the persistent Idaho winds, it stands out as one very happy thing in our garden, downright exuberant in a high wind:

Oh, and all those blooming trees are now bearing fruit! We happened upon my favorite spring blooming tree this past week. You know, the “horse chestnut.” Sure enough, it has chestnuts all right.

Can’t wait to walk here barefoot when they ripen and drop off

Chestnuts coated in prickly spikes (Huh. that sentence rings like a new verse for ‘White Christmas.’) I picked a developing horse chestnut to show you, but it was too prickly to put in my pocket. David held it long enough for me to take a photo.

Horse Chestnut

Yeah, well maybe we should plant a horse chestnut tree in that corner by the fence as an added deterrent to Einstein. David did some research – found a link (click here) that tells all about the Horse Chestnut tree or ‘Aesculus indica.’It is in flower from June to July, and the seeds ripen in October. It’s common along the Himalayan Lowlands and its leaves are used as cattle fodder in parts of Northern India. “It is used in traditional Indian medicine, for the treatment of some skin diseases, rheumatism, as an astringent, acrid and narcotic, and in the relief of headaches.” Huh. I believe, with all this stress of gardening, it’s just what the doctor ordered.

Except all those horse chestnuts dropping to the ground in October would turn that area of our back yard into a snow-covered no-mans’ land with those horse chestnuts to greet us at next year’s spring thaw…

And I’d likely exhaust myself trying to keep the dumb tree alive, anyway. Maybe just turn our whole back yard over to dandelions.

The Grooviness of Spring

May 18, 2014

Southeast Idaho has a fifth season, called “Sprinter” – between winter and spring, which is basically … uh, winter, interspersed with a few hopeful signs of spring. Sprinter starts about when you think spring is supposed to – say, March 21, and it hangs on, and on …

This sprinter was made a little more spectacular by the extraordinary “Blood Moon” lunar eclipse that occurred on the crystal clear night of April 15. I snapped a photo of the moon over our back deck somewhere around 1 AM, at the beginning of the eclipse.

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Okay, so you can’t take clear photographs of eclipses using your smart phone. Dang-it! But it was fun to watch the moon disappear … uh, well, then hop into bed, because it was very late.

In early April we resumed our after-dinner walks. The light was coming back! – what a marvelous thing to greet each new day knowing daylight will last a few minutes longer today than yesterday, and each new day will grow longer for weeks to come.

The trees stand hopeful and strong against the evening sky

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Even in dormancy.

The face of an old ravaged man (winter?) is peering

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through these tree tops, as if to issue a warning: winter lurks!

Ah, but look! A robin. They’re coming back!

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This robin was perched on our honey locust tree in our back yard, albeit, looking as if he had second thoughts about his timing of migrating back.

Easter Sunday brings warmth, and blossoms!

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A flowering crab, maybe? These are the first trees to bloom.

Leaves unfolding on deciduous tree limbs drape the spruce trees in the background

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with Christmasy garlands.

Now, on every block spindly trees and gangly bushes are bursting open –

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even the tiniest branches are coated with blossoms.

Signs of spring abound!

Tulips (of course!)

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Daffodils and iris

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Dandelions! Oh sweet first appearance, oh harking of spring!

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Oh velvety perkiness and yellow brilliance!

Oh vast nectar for bees!

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Oh robust proliferation across lawns and green meadows!

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Uh, wait a minute. That’s right. Dandelion blooms curl over, then morph and pop back up as white fluffy-heads stuffed with countless downy-tethered seeds that parachute off and repopulate impeccably manicured lawns, rendering fruitless all good citizens’ previous efforts to eradicate the noxious weed.

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Which is not so great, when this yard belongs to you, or, as in this case, one of your neighbors. What’s spring without at least one yard in every neighborhood smothered in dandelions.

May trees line streets and driveways throughout the town. Right on the button, the first week of May, they bloomed. We have a gigantic ancient May tree right in our front yard

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I took a close-up of the tree through our upstairs bedroom window

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May trees are stunning, even on a cloudy day.

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Not to overlook another sure sign of spring – this one right in the comfort of your living room, let the winter weather rage! Sitting on your couch in front of the TV – you can enjoy the heightened excitement surrounding network series and shows as they build and climax to their season finales, whether you’ve actually been following them or not. David was cruising the channels and we happened onto ‘American Idol’ where they were down to the top four contestants and whittling it to three. But this night they had something really special in store for the viewer, something new and different, never before offered on the show. This week, each of the four remaining contestants would pose beside a cardboard shadow head or something (where YOU put YOUR head) so the viewer could snap a ‘selfie’ with them.

Groovy! I tried to do it, but couldn’t manage it – fiddled with my phone, fumbled around, which, of course, totally motivated David to rise to the occasion. He paused the screen with the first contestant, and proceeded to get himself into position. I snapped a photo of David setting himself up for his ‘selfie.”

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David successfully took the ‘selfie,’ possibly his first-ever. Here it is:

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(Don’t ask me who the contestant is. We both have no idea. This is the first episode of American Idol we have paid any attention to this whole season.)

Groovy, eh? David is such a radical dude, man. We are so hip!

Yesterday Megan piped up from the living room, “What’s it doing out there?” (the quintessential question of the day in Idaho). To which, of course, I flew out of the kitchen, raced to the dining room window, flew up the sash, just sure it was snowing. Which, it kinda was. Enough so to where you had to do a double take. I stepped out on the front porch and took this photo:

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It is snowing! Blossoms!

A high wind had kicked up. Basically stripped the May trees of their blossoms.

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Oh well, spring in Idaho. There. I said it! “Spring!”

The last clear signs of spring reside on our back deck – stacks of bags of ‘soil enhancers’ for the gardens. I bought them yesterday.

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Took a close-up of a corner of one of our gardens.

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So great to see the perennials back! Uh, well, those are tulips. Wind whipped.

Hey, wait a minute. That’s not all flowers. There’s a couple of imposters.

Dandelions!

Spring has sprung. Summer is just around the corner. Well, maybe not the next corner. I’ll surely recognize summer when it gets here. A sure sign of summer will be when David shaves that massive winter growth of hair off his face.