gardening

I'm pretty sure that Red sighed with relief when I backed her into the garage late Thursday afternoon, home again after going 4,680 miles in the previous three weeks. (And five of those days we didn't drive anywhere. That's an average of 275 miles per driving day, which doesn't sound too bad until you add it all up!) 

Walking between my hotel and the conference center for Colorado's first annual Native Plants in Landscaping Conference yesterday morning, I crossed a large expanse of boring turfgrass lawn, an even larger parking lot, and then a smaller area of closely-mowed grass. As I traversed the mowed area, I looked and listened for signs of the shortgrass prairie that once stretched from horizon to horizon, defining the High Plains.


Like gardeners everywhere, in late winter seed catalogs flood into my virtual and real mailboxes, and I begin dreaming of spring, moist soil, and planting.


California is withering in a historic drought, parts of the southern Plains are experiencing catastrophic flooding, and here in southern Colorado, we’re unusually soggy from four weeks of successive snow and rain storms.

Spring is springing in my garden thanks to the huge dose of moisture from that pre-Earth Day snow, and there's change ahead for me as well.

Uintah penstemon blooming today in my rock garden. Uinta penstemon blooming today in my rock garden, offering its nectar and pollen to native bees.

What's up?

Last Thursday morning, I woke before dawn to the orange glow of light I associate with snowflakes diffusing the street lamp glare. When I opened the blind, I saw sticky wet flakes piling up.

It's spring, and I've been on the road giving talks and workshops about gardening as a way to restore the earth and our connection to this glorious blue planet.

For all of us, becoming indigenous to a place means living as if your children’s future mattered, to take care of the land as if our lives, both material and spiritual, depended on it.

Robin Wall Kimmerer, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants

Last week, a packet of seeds from Renee's Garden, my favorite supplier of easy-to-grow, delicious and beautiful garden seeds landed in my post box, my personal signal that spring is on the way.

My front and side yard "wildscapes," mountain prairie restoration projects-in-progress. My front and side yard "wildscapes," mountain prairie restoration projects-in-progress.

I exhausted myself this weekend engaging in plant therapy. That's a good thing.

Calliope hummingbird perched in my own "hometown habitat." Calliope hummingbird perched in my own "hometown habitat."
The first wave of rain goes by.... The first wave of rain goes by....

At about five-thirty this evening, a thunderstorm "walked" slowly down the valley on "legs of lightning," as the Navajo say. Jagged flashes struck the hills above town. Thunder boomed.

Last Tuesday afternoon, thunder rumbled ominously, cold gusts whipped up dust-dry soil, and the light went all storm-gray. I stood on the front deck watching streamers of rain approach and debated about whether or not to set out on my usual walk to the Post Office.

Tomato plants spilling out of their cozy insulated wall-o-waters. Tomato plants spilling out of their cozy insulated wall-o-waters.
'Poncha Pass Red' sulfur-flower buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum 'Poncha Pass Red') 'Poncha Pass Red' sulfur-flower buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum 'Poncha Pass Red')
My house site before construction. (The boulders are Richard's spare sculpture materials.) The house site before construction. (The boulders--which I saved for landscaping--are Richard's spare sculpture materials.)
The wide-open San Luis Valley with the Sangre de Cristo Range on the left, on the road to Durango. The wide-open San Luis Valley with the Sangre de Cristo Range on the left.

I've been on the road teaching and speaking so much this spring that I sometimes forget what is next.

Part of the kitchen garden at Terraphilia in fall. Part of the kitchen garden at Terraphilia last fall.
Sand cherry, our earliest-blooming native shrub, along the creek that borders my formerly industrial lot. Sand cherry, our earliest-blooming native shrub, along the creek that borders my formerly industrial lot.
Golden currant (Ribes auereum), a native shrub that blooms early, produces berries birds love, and turns orange to crimson and fall. Golden currant (Ribes aureum), an early blooming native shrub that produces berries birds love, and turns orange to crimson in fall.