Saturday, April 12, 2008

Springtime in the Rockies

Just as I thought spring had finally arrived, I woke up to a world of white and at least three inches of snow. It will melt fast; green grass is already peeking though. This will be good for the lawn-seed I scattered awhile ago. I don’t water lawns much, and mine is getting thin so perhaps this will help. Generally, I conduct what I call are Turf Wars…and dig up great swaths of the water-wasting lawn and plant perennials and native plants that take both less water and care, to keep up.

Because I’m over anxious for flowers to come, I thought I’d show off some pictures I took last year. I like to pick a theme, Camera-Pics' is the one today. I am frustrated with my digital camera, after trying for several hours to get a shot of the Yellow-headed Blackbird that is hanging around with the hundreds of Red-wings who frequent my yard, I got a fine shot of dead grass. Dang, those birds are skittish; ever so slight a movement, and they’re all off and into the tall cottonwoods. Trying to learn how to use this camera, I finally got one clear shot of the yellow fronted bird…and it’s a mess. [sigh] This is what the Yellow-headed Blackbird actually looks like; a stunning bird. By the time I got my camera right, the birds were busy...and then they were gone.

As far as the camera-phone goes, I’ll have to learn to keep my finger out of the way, too. They can be pretty nice to have in case of emergency, like the very last time I hiked around on my property in the woods and saw my very first lizard in Colorado; an Horned Toad. Of course, I was camera-less at the time (not yet being into birds), but I got a shot of the little lizard to remember him by. Yes, it had been a dry couple of years, this was taken at nearly 9000’.

The Indian Paintbrush was taken on the roadside coming down the mountain. I only just discovered that Castilleja, as it is properly called, is a semi-parasitic plant which needs the roots of certain grasses and forbs to survive. Perhaps that’s why they make such poor plants in the garden. The plant is used by several butterflies, exclusively in some instances. In fact, I read…the flowers are edible and were eaten by Native Americans as a condiment with other greens. The plant can concentrate selenium, especially in alkaline soils, (the loco in locoweed!) and was eaten in moderation…but eating only the flowers offers similar health benefits as does garlic. The first Americans also made a hair wash from the plant and used it as a treatment for rheumatism; the selenium content being cited as the reason for it’s effectiveness for this purpose. Who knew? Doncha just love Google?

These other camera pics are flowers from my yard. A bright orange, Oriental Poppy with purple stamen, three of the large and likely quite old Peonies I inherited here and one of a Chrysanthemum sort of thing from Africa that was the most gaudy, shocking pink I’ve ever seen on a flower. I loved it.

Spring will be here the meantime, if you forget your camera, use your phone!

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