Sunday, May 29, 2016

Snow Canyon and Bryce Canyon Memories

Earlier this month, my husband and I enjoyed a trip to Bryce Canyon.  On the way (from Vegas), we stopped in for a couple of days in St. George Utah, and enjoyed the Snow Canyon State Park, and the Red Cliffs National Conservation Area.  What a beautiful area.  Coming from the rainy and lush Pacific Northwest, I can never get enough of those red rocks, and the blue skies.

We have been to Bryce Canyon probably 4 times now, and I am always impressed by how spectacular it is.  Unfortunately, photos don't do it justice, you need to visit to truly enjoy it.  But here is my attempt to share some of the beauty of that amazing place :

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Natural Stone Arch in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

I have also been to Grand Canyon twice, and to me, Bryce Canyon is more beautiful.  In terms of its vivid colours and God-created sculptures (hoodoos and arches and other funky rock formations), and Bryce feels so personal and accessible.  The U.S. National Park Service has done a great job at making so much of it accessible by paved roads and lookout points.  But there are also a number of trails down into the heart of the canyon.  In an hour or less, you can be down at the floor of the canyon, with hoodoos surrounding and towering over you.

You pass through magical archways...
Archway in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

...and see beauty all around.
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

I am fascinated by the trees there, how they survive under what seems to be very harsh conditions:
Tree on Cliff Side in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

I am also amused by the rock formations, some which look to be stone carvings, this one of a large hawk, overlooking the path through the canyon (do you see him, looking to the left?):
Rock Formations Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

This one looked strikingly like Joseph, holding the Christ Child, being visited by the Wise Men:
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Just in case you haven't spotted them, here they are :
Joseph and the Wisemen in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

And there's always cute wildlife to spot along the way :
Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.

Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah.
I hope to visit Bryce Canyon and that surrounding area many more times in my lifetime.

The Snow Canyon State Park (Utah) and the adjacent Red Cliffs National Conservation Area was also very beautiful, and offered up some surprises, too, such as these dinosaur tracks which we were fortunate to spot along on of the hikes :
Dinosaur Tracks in Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah.

Dinosaur Tracks in Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah.

The scenery there was also very photogenic, and as I am a plant-lover, many of my photos also showcase the beautiful plants surviving and blooming in what is fairly desert-like conditions:
Yucca Blooming in Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah.

Cactus Blooming in Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah.

Purple Bush in Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah.

Yucca and Cactus in Red Cliffs National Conservation Area, Utah.

Purple Flower Blooming in Snow Canyon State Park, Utah.

Flower Blooming in Snow Canyon State Park, Utah.
If you haven't visited this area, it is worth checking out, along with the amazing Arches, Canyonlands, and Zion National Parks, as well as the funky Goblin Valley State Park.  Oh, and Grand Canyon, too, while you're in the area.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Long Awaited Blooming of the Dove Tree (Davidii Involucrata)

I love how my garden surprises me.  Almost every time I go into the yard, I make a new discovery.  This morning was no exception.  My beloved young dove tree (Davidii involucrata) has started blooming.

When I bought the small tree (really a twig, when I first bought it) in May 2011 (5 years ago), I was told it could take up to 10 years to bloom.  I've read 15 years from seed, and 20 years from seed.  From what I had seen of this wonderful tree, it would be worth the wait.  See this post of my Davidii tree when first planted.

Here it is today, under overcast skies :
Young Davidii involucrata (dove tree or handkerchief tree) in bloom for the first time.

And here is a closeup of one of the "doves", which is actually a cluster of flowers surrounded by two long creamy-white bracts (similar in structure to a dogwood flower) :
Bloom of the dove tree or handkerchief tree (Davidii involucrata)

For some more background about this remarkable tree, which is described as a "rare tree in the nursery trade and the gardens of North America", read this post called "The Legend of the Dove Tree".

My discovery this morning almost overshadowed all the beautiful blooms out in the garden at this time of year, but I did pause to take a few photos of those also.

The apple blossoms are at their peak now, in early April.  The espalier in particular is noteworthy, as the restriction in its vertical growth translates to loads of flowers and eventually fruit :
Espalier apple tree blossoms / blooms.

Espalier apple tree blossoms / blooms.

Espalier apple tree blossoms / blooms.

On the non-blooming side, I am very pleased with these new geckos for my fence, which I bought from an artisan market in Costa Rica last month.  I sprayed them with several coats of acrylic sealer before taking them outside, since it would be a shame to lose those beautiful colours too soon :
Decorative metal gecko sculptures on the fence.

When I hung those, it inspired me to revive this set which had been faded by years of being exposed to the weather.  I only had red and orange exterior paint, so I sprayed the top one for now.  I was too lazy to remove it, so had my son hold some paper behind it while I just sprayed it directly in place.  I'll need to get some green or blue paint, and maybe some black, to revive the other one.
Decorative metal gecko sculptures on the fence.

Speaking of needing work, these poor frogs are always losing their eyes.  I've bought dollar store marbles a couple of times, and exterior glue, to give them sight again, but they keep falling out and disappearing into the yard.  They could use some re-painting also.
Decorative metal frog sculptures on the fence.

What a wonderful morning.  I didn't end up doing much work in the garden, but I sure have been more than rewarded for any work I have put in previously!

Monday, September 07, 2015

Fall Cleanup

I've been spending a lot of time in the garden recently, doing some major Fall cleanup.  The weather has been wonderful.  Relatively clear, but cooler.  Perfect for cleaning out weedy and overgrown areas before Winter hits.

I keep thinking I should have my camera, for some dramatic Before and After photos, but I tend to garden like a butterfly, flitting from place to place, not sure where to land and do some serious work.  And by the time I'm into it, I don't want to stop to find a camera, and I've already ruined my Before photo.

Today I started cleaning the underplanting around my Davidii involucrata tree, and I needed to step inside to flip the laundry, so I brought the camera back for a somewhat Before photo :
I'd already cleared an area, but you can see to the right and left of it, the succulents planted there had been overtaken by a creeping grass.  From my reading, I believe it's a type of creeping fescue.  A beautiful grass with a fine blade, and an ability to creep by underground runners to fill all available space.  Which is fantastic for lawn, but a disaster when it overtakes my garden areas.

This particular underplanting, I know I've weeded it diligently several times during the summer, trying to pull the clover and grass and other weeds from between the succulents, but have not been able to get ahead.  So today was the day for more decisive action.  I removed the grass and succulents and moss, and sorted it out, the moss and weeds into a large garden bag, and the succulents into little piles :

Then I replanted the succulents, and watered the whole area well:
Tree with handmade ceramic totems and succulent underplanting.

By Spring, I expect it will be established, and with much less grass growing through.  Although I don't think it will ever come back to the original design from 4 years ago.  Clearly, some of the plants dominated while others quietly disappeared.  Part of the design is covered by small everbearing strawberry plants.  But unlike other weeds which spring up unplanted and unwanted, these ones are welcome almost everywhere they chose to spring up, because they supply me with a fresh supply of tiny strawberries all summer and fall.  I can always find a small handful of these sweet treats when I visit the garden :

Here's the tree and underplanting from another angle, showing my ceramic totems :
Davidii involucrata (dove) tree with handmade ceramic totems and succulent underplanting.
...and :
Davidii involucrata (dove) tree with handmade ceramic totems and succulent underplanting.

Speaking of treats, I picked my last apples today, from the top row of my espalier tree :
Apple harvest.

They are not 100% ripe, the seeds are still a bit light, not dark, but I see too many apples chewed into, and the numbers are dwindling as the squirrels have been carrying them away.  Look at this beauty, this is the biggest apple in the bunch :
Apple from my espalier apple tree.

I did leave one apple for the ants, who looked like they were enjoying it :
Espaliered apple being enjoyed by ants.

No danger of running out of areas to clean up, either, if the good weather continues.  Look at the grasses coming through tiles of our giant outdoor chess board :
But as with everything in the garden, it can wait.  I'll be back.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Convergence of Passions

It's great when one's passions complement each other.  Like my current obsessions with creating pottery and gardening.  There is nothing better than being able to use a piece of pottery, not just admire it on a shelf.

Like these Japanese anemone, which I was fighting back in a section of my garden today, where it's spread too far.  It looks great in contrast with my handmade ceramic vase :

That same vase came in handy for displaying crocosmia which I was also cutting back a few weeks ago :

This crackled vase (the effect achieved with sodium silicate) looks pretty natural holding back some ribbon grass which I was also fighting back in my garden.

I have a number of platters which I use to hold fruit on my countertops.  This large swirly one is the most practical, and here is holding pears and asian pears from my garden :

That same platter is also great for floating camelia flowers, which tend to fall off their stems too easily if displayed in a vase :

Blog Widget by LinkWithin