Monday, March 31, 2014

Some Monday Ramblings and a Blog Giveaway Winner!

The last day of March and it is going out like a lamb. 

After a very wet week, we finally have some sunshine today! 

I was beginning to think we would never see the sun again. 

When I saw this rainbow, I knew there was hope....

The dark clouds are finally being pushed aside....

Oh, how I love that blue sky! 

The sunlight makes everything look so vibrant. 

The tiny white blossoms of the wild plum are fading now...

And falling to the ground like white confetti. 

The wild birds are pairing up to build their nests. 

This little Junco takes advantage of the suet cake I set out for the woodpeckers. 

The first Salmon Berry blossoms bring color to the greening woodlands 
and provide nectar for bees and hummingbirds.

Sunlight illuminates the first red tinted leaves of the roses

Peeking over holly and hydrangea. 

While we have waited for the rain to stop, Whitey has kept busy gathering things from around the house to guard on his bed. There are bones from his toy basket and a paper plate he licked clean and what else do I see? 

The cat food dish that he stole! 

He was actually sleeping on the hard floor when I went near his 'stash', 
woke up and warned me to 'stay away'. 

He is a funny little guy. 

I have caught a little 'bug' and have not been feeling myself, 
so I have been making good use of the couch and remote. 

I hate feeling under the weather when the sun is shining, but what can you do? 

So now a little drum roll, please.....and I will announce my Giveaway winner!

Number 6!
Chel from Sweetbriar Dreams!

Congratulations Chel!

Contact me so I can send you your prize!

Happy April Dear Friends! - don't be fooled!


Nor chance of birth or place has made us friends,
Being oftentimes of different tongues and nations,
But the endeavor for the selfsame ends,
With the same hopes, and fears, and aspirations.

- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow-

Thursday, March 27, 2014

An Early Spring Country Drive

Spring is awakening here in the foothills of the Washington Cascades. 

Come along with me as we take a little country drive! 

These purple plum trees are among the first to bloom here along
the beautiful fence-line of the local equine veterinarian's office. 

I'm sure this view helps the recovering horses feel much better! 

Further along we see our native Wild Plum 
glowing among the dark green of the Douglas Fir trees 
and the tall, wispy spires of  Red Alder and Cottonwood. 

A barbed wire and cedar fence keep out the curious. 

Behind a barbed wire fence, 
a small herd of cattle are dwarfed by a stand
 of Western Red Cedar, Red Alder, and Douglas Fir. 

The fields are greening up in places now. 

This newly blacktopped drive provides contrast to the mossy sidewalk and weathered fence. 

This looks a bit slippery!
A testament to our very wet spring so far. 

After a stop to visit my daughter, I head for home in the late afternoon light. 
I have always loved this beautiful Big Leaf Maple tree, and with the luck of no cars behind me, I was able to stop at the top of a rise and capture its beauty against dramatic skies. 

It does have a lovely view of the unfolding countryside! 

I turn a corner to see gathering clouds illuminated behind a beautiful horse farm. 

An approaching storm! 

The Cascade Mountains rise from the mist.
Farms in the foreground look like tiny toy houses....
Somewhere in there is the mighty Mt. Rainier, hidden in the clouds. 

A beautiful former dairy farm, now hosts a large pumpkin festival in the fall. 

These fields grow corn for a corn maze, and pumpkins, of course. 

This simple farm house overlooks Mt. Rainier when it is not hidden behind clouds. 

As we turn towards home, the fading light casts shadows along the snow covered foothills. 

Here we are at the top of the driveway! 

Say hello to the neighbor's horses through the fence. 

Home Sweet Home! 

Thank you for joining me on my spring country drive! 

Wishing you sweet journeys home. 


Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Reflections on Disaster and other things.....

In light of the recent disaster here in Washington State, I thought I would share with you some information. 

This is a photo from the Tacoma News Tribune. 

You can find more photos and information here.

This is such a horrific disaster and our hearts and prayers go out to all the families affected by this tragedy. 

Here is a split map to give you some perspective. 
The tiny town of Oso is approx. 55 miles Northeast of Seattle. 

We are located directly south as the crow flies, in between Seattle and Olympia about 100 miles away. 

Washington State is larger than some countries. 

With a heavy heart I ventured outside in the warm spring sunshine yesterday 
to work on my 'bench garden'. 

I had some help pulling a large root from Champ.

I found Champ on the Border Collie Rescue site. His foster care-giver was ready to give up placing him. 

He was given up for adoption for bad behaviors due to excessive teasing, (a family with two teenage boys) which led to him being locked inside a garage due to his subsequent aggressive behavior. 

Teasing a dog is abusive behavior. 

It leads to aggression and frustration, especially with an extremely intelligent dog like a Border Collie. 

He was highly reactive to many things, including loud noises, machinery, 
other dogs and people, and even shadows. 

He was starved, and gulped food and treats so fast, 
it caused blockages in his intestines for which he needed two surgeries.

But fate intervened and he was found by his loving foster care-giver, 'Joy' 
who trained him to be more patient and less reactive. 

Still, he was a handful. She was ready to give up placing him and keep him herself. 

If we had not come along, who knows what would have happened because a few months after adopting Champ, Joy died in an avalanche.
A tragic end to a dear, loving soul. 

We have had him nearly two years now and with gentle coaxing and sympathetic understanding, he has grown to trust us and for the most part, his bad behaviors have abated. 
But he has one behavior that has lingered. When he is frustrated, usually by loud noises, such as gunshots or power tools, he rips out grass and chews up sticks, sometimes still attached to their bushes. 
Our lawn and plantings have suffered, but over time we have shown him a 'safe zone' where he can rip to his heart's content, and  we have also trained him to 'get his ball' when he is frustrated. 

He loves to fetch the ball! 

And now I am using some of his 'talents' to help me in the garden!
If I have a stubborn weed or clump of grass that I can't budge, I ask Champ to do it! 

It is a 'win-win' situation. 

He is also an excellent watch dog and protector for me when my Ramblin' Man is off traveling for work. 

So with Champ's help, I planted two pots of Lenten Rose. 

I also planted some Black Mondo Grass, Forget Me Nots that I dug from the lawn,  and some unidentified ground cover I received from a friend.  

I already had several clumps of daffodils that were planted many years ago,
 and native Holly, Thimble Berry and Indian Plum growing alongside. 

Two large Alder trees will shade this area soon,
 but the late afternoon sunshine sends lovely light through the trees. 

It will be a peaceful place to rest after a busy day in the garden. 

I will continue to add to it over time. 

This is the view. 

I planted wildflower seeds in the rock garden and also in front of the Mr.'s tool shed. 

I also planted some Rock Cress and Creeping Phlox in the rock garden. 

Soon the Forget me Not and Wild Geranium (Herb Robert) will be blooming alongside. 

And the yellow blossoms of Creeping Buttercup, which is invasive and which I can't completely eradicate from my gardens. At least it is pretty! 

And now I hear that the North East is preparing for another snow storm! 

I grew up in New England and I am familiar with those long winters. 

Every area has their challenges for the gardener! 

Here the challenges are relentless gray skies and rain. 

This has been the 3rd wettest March on record here in WA State. 

With more rain forecast for the rest of the week, we may break the record. 

I'm sure this contributed to the recent disaster. 

Everything is covered in moss! This little mossy tree trunk has been taken over by the fairies. 

Can you see the doorway? 

The rare sunshine casts a shadow of my hand holding the camera. 

And turns newly emerging leaves into tiny, dancing lights. 

Nature's seasons remind us of the delicate balance we all dance to as we live our lives. 

We never know when the winds of change might blow our way. 

Nothing lasts forever, life is always moving, changing, growing, and transforming. 

Each moment never the same as the last. 

As we live out these precious moments, 
we must remember that we decide what is written on the eternal slate of who we are.

To be kind to all, to like many and love a few, to be needed and wanted by those we love, is certainly the nearest we can come to happiness.
-Mary Roberts Rinehart-

Happiness is to be found along the way, 
not at the end of the road, for then the journey is over and it is too late. 
-Robert R. Updegraff-

Today a new sun rises for me; everything lives, everything is animated, everything seems to speak to me of my passion, everything invites me to cherish it. 
-Anne Lenclos-

Friday, March 21, 2014

Spring Walk-About

Come along with me on a Spring Walk-About!

Our Camellia is blooming once again after suffering heavy damage from our ice storm in 2012. 

This is the first time she has bloomed since then. 

Nature is amazingly resilient. 

The first day of spring greeted us with gray skies. 

Then the sun came out. 

Then it hailed. 

Spring is a bit temperamental as she pushes Old Man Winter aside. 

One minute she is smiling....

And the next minute she is throwing a tantrum! 

Old Man Winter is running for the hills! 

New life is springing forth regardless of her moods. 

Here, a young Foxglove sprouts along a trail. 

It will take two years for this little sweetheart to bloom. 

She is deadly poison, but maybe not to everyone.....

Or perhaps whoever has taken a nibble, has succumbed to the fates. 

Western Bleeding Heart has sprouted in the underbrush. 

Soon, the forest floor will be carpeted with her lovely, pendant, lavender-pink blooms. 

We know that when she starts to sprout, 
it is time to stay on the paths, so as not to crush her delicate, lacy leaves. 

The lovely, lime green leaves of the Indian Plum light up the awakening forest. 

This small (6-20 ft.) under-story tree, which produces tiny purple 'plums' is a favorite food source of birds, deer, bears, coyotes, foxes and other creatures. 

It is the first nectar source for bees and other pollinating insects. 

Male and Female trees are needed for pollination. 

These are native to the Pacific Coast from Northern California to British Columbia. 

Native Americans also used it as a food source and made medicinal tea from the bark. 

Twigs were used as a mild anesthetic. 

As we walk along to the entrance of the property, this large cedar stump stands as sentry. 

When we moved here 30 years ago, this stump represented what was once an ancient forest. 

Logged at the turn of the last century, 
this massive stump is just now starting to fall into the forest. 

You can see we have propped it up as best we can. 

This section carries the scar of the logger's axes, 
where they would notch the tree to build a platform to stand on for sawing. 

I can't imagine cutting down such a magnificent tree. 

It breaks my heart....

You can also see that it is charred from an ancient forest fire. 

Here you can view it to scale with the dogs, Champ and Whitey Bear, in the foreground. 

Maple, Holly, Alder and Sword Fern grow alongside. 

It now offers shelter to small creatures and provides for woodpeckers who forage for meals. 

Its decay supplies nutrients for baby tree ferns and mosses. 

These 75-100 year old Douglas Fir look tiny by comparison, 
even though some of them are over 100 ft. tall. with trunks nearly 3 ft. in diameter. 

More signs of spring growth with this pretty ground cover, called 'Pacific Waterleaf'. 

We are blessed to have so many lovely native plants. 

But it is getting late and we should head for home. 

This is where I will be working for the next few days, planting a shade garden around my bench. 

I will start with these little beauties. 

Next will be Forget Me Not and a few other little treasures I've been growing in pots. 

A place to sit after a day spent working in the gardens. 

So while the evening sun illuminates the spring awakening hills, 

I bid you a good night. 

And Happy Spring! 

What are your plans for Spring? 


"We may see on a spring day in one place more beauty in a wood than in any garden."

William Robinson
The Garden Beautiful (1907)
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