Sunday, March 29, 2015

Spring into Summer

General Grounds

Friday I caught up with Ric in the Japanese Garden while I had my docent vest on.  He had a great time photographing the Magnolias plus the flowering cherries, peaches, and pears. 

We moved into the glass houses where he captured the Cyclamen, lilies, Ferrocactus, and palo verde.  Tulips and daffodils were in profusion throughout the garden. 

My interaction with visitors were wonderfully positive.  Whether local or from Canada, they all were enjoying the gardens on a picture perfect day.  I for one also got to control a number of blue Ingress portals and that pushed me over the top to 6th level. 

Tecolote Peak

Caro and I had a lovely 2½ mi. hike on Saturday.  Temps were record-breaking on the warm side, the NM skies were flawlessly blue, and an occasional cool breeze came by.  We ate bento box lunches, ascended to the top of Tecolote Peak, enjoyed the 360° views, and returned in good time. 

Mahonia and an unknown, low-growing, clumping mustard were blooming. The hike took us through areas with scrub oak, juniper, pinon, and cholla growing side-by-side with Ponderosa and fir trees -- a very heterogenous environment.  


Trudy is out and about, leaving only a large divot where her burrow was.  Interestingly, it's about 3' from where she was dug in when I last saw her in the fall.  When I see her next, I'll get a weight for the record books. 

Meanwhile, we haven't seen Tootsie, the new hatchling, eat anything.  Meal worms disappear, but I'm not sure if they are crawling away or being consumed. 

The two boys are, as expected, still hibernating.  They wake up at least a couple weeks after Trudy. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gathering Pace


The Nature's Notebook data collection continues apace.  We are tracking 3 cottonwoods, 3 four-winged salt bushes, 2 Siberian elms, a golden current, a rabbit bush, and a cholla.  The mobile app is not perfect, but generally useable. 

After making the rounds in the Cottonwood Gallery for 3 Mondays in March, I would do "general grounds" as a docent, which is just random wandering in the Garden answering questions for visitors. 

Turtles Awake

Tuesday March 24 when Caro went to water the plants in the backyard, she spotted a tiny turtle.  He or she doesn't have a yolk sac, so we believe it to be one of Trudy's hatchlings who survived by over-wintering in the ground behind the bed where our Cosmos were.  The little fellow has been dubbed Tootsie until we get a fix on its gender, which might take years.  Tootsie currently resides in a cat-proof turtle-arium indoors.  So far, it hasn't begun eating, but that's expected after coming out of hibernation. 

Meanwhile, Trudy popped her head out yesterday, March 26.  It won't be long with temperatures almost reaching 80 before she's roaming around the yard.

The Gardens

The Sasebo Japanese Garden continues to impress with blooming Magnolias, cherries, and quince.  Tours start next Wednesday and I'll be shadowing the first one.  Once that box is checked, I'll be certified to give tours on my own. 

Elsewhere, Crocus has given way to daffodils and the Pasque flowers continue to bloom.  Some early tulips are flowering and others are on the way.  Fruit trees and their ornamental cousins like flowering apricot are going strong. 

Next Thursday will find me at a pollinator discovery station for the Spring Green education event.  It coincides with spring break, so I expect the place to be overrun with kids of all ages. 

Miscellany at Home

We purchased a 7-gal. and a 15 gal. golden bamboo recently.  The smaller container was actually the taller plant.  We cut it in half, planted it in 2 of the areas where the Buddha's belly bamboo was.  The larger container with the shorter plant went in a new hole (thank you, Baldo, for excavating that monster). 

In the front, a sprinkler leak was unearthed but is beyond our ability to repair.  Sprinkler guy is due here any minute. 

Finally, the online county extension advice system worked well.  I submitted photos and a summary; they responded within the week.  Turns out our Photinia has red tip disease.  We cut all the infected wood out and Baldo hauled it to the dump.  Next step:  spraying weekly with Daconyl. 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Docent Training, Phase 2

Shadowing the Winter Wool Festival

From 12:00 until 2:00, I hung out at the Plant Fibers table, watching how a Discovery Station worked.  There were about 45 interactions tallied, most being with families who were enjoying the warm day. 

Garden Training

Deb Furstenberg and Maria Thomas spent the morning and the early afternoon walking us through the Sasebo Japanese Garden.  There was an amazing amount of information....

Tours to start soon on Wednesdays and perhaps Saturdays. 

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Winter Strikes Back

The Mid-week Stroll

Wednesday was a cool but sunny day with only the occasional breeze out of the north.  The forecast was for rainy weather, so Caro and I thought to take advantage of the nice weather.  We hoped to follow up on the nice experience that Ric and I had had the week before. 

We strolled through the front gardens back to the Sasebo Japanese Garden.  As is so often the case, it was empty.  We enjoyed the koi, the winter views of the garden without the foliage that screened them in summer.

We took a brief stroll past the screwbean mesquite.  Eventually, we got back to the Vitex Plaza and watched the wood ducks.  The tame ones came right up to us while we were on the lower steps. 

Snow in the Garden

Thursday the predicted storm rolled in and by Friday morning we had 3" of snow on the ground.  More than we had expected, we saw that Ric was e-mailing us early about going to the garden for snowy photographs.  By the time I'd shoveled the drive and called him, he had left for the gardens. 

As it turns out, the entire city was on 2-hour delay, including the gardens.  Ric had been turned away by locked gates.  We caught up with him at 11:00 and the three of us headed back. 

We had the garden to ourselves.  The paths were largely clear and for the the next 2½ hours we enjoyed the winter scenery, photographing with abandon.  Every view was fresh and new.  Crocus poking out from the snow, dark Vitex branches topped with snow, bamboo tunnels frosted white, Japanese lanterns covered with 3" of frosting, roadrunners in the snow.  We got to leave the first footprints in the virgin snow as we got farther back. 

While Ric and Caro took standard photos, I was able to capture photo spheres of the garden and connect them into a constellation.  We stopped at the farmhouse to enjoy some hot tea from my thermos before feeding the ducks at the pond.  Ric and Caro came away with some great wood duck shots. 

The Winter Wool Festival

The snow resumed on Friday night.  By Saturday morning we had 6" and it was looking grim for my volunteer work at the Winter Wool Festival.  Indeed, soon there was an e-mail and then the follow-up phone call--the BioPark was closed (along with most of the city).  Within two days the snow was gone (except the piles I shoveled off the driveway).  The Festival has been rescheduled for this Saturday, so stay tuned for that. 


Another storm brought a brief nighttime rain shower followed by what was to be a cold and party cloudy day.  We picked up Ric and headed for the Crest.  There the wind was biting and the clouds stayed in place all day.  But we had a grand time snowshoeing over to High Finance (closed on Tuesdays) and then back through the woods, which were mercifully protected from the wind.