Living – Places: 17
When we had our new cistern put in just a little over a year ago, the process resulted in a total upheaval of our parking area and the land beyond in front of our home (they even had to do some dynamiting). Afterwards, it looked a bit like a war zone.
We spent a lot of time that spring putting things back together. We planted native Blue Gramma grass seed on the little hill that resulted, which is doing really well this year, and Garima also placed a beautiful line of lichen rocks to separate the parking area from the area beyond.
Either the soil or gravel we used along those rocks must've been full of mullein seeds, because before long a dozen of them had popped up all along in front of the rocks. They're a biennial plant, so this is their year to grow large and flower.
We took out all the others, but we let this largest one, which is right in front on the little cistern hill grow. It shot up to 3-1/2 feet and is probably 30 inches around. The first yellow flowers started popping out today.
Now, I know it's an invasive plant, but I have to admit that I have a begrudging appreciation for it: it's impressively large and has a striking appearance, is as tough as nails and grows in the least desirable places, the leaves feel amazing (like fat velvet), and it's a biennial, which is a whole additional level of magical.
And yes, we did cut the seed heads off this one shortly after I took this photo. And yes, we do walk our property every spring and pop the tap roots of any of them we find, as well as other invasive species like thistle and butter & eggs.
Speaking of our annual fight against invasive plants, we have a great hand-forged weeding fork that we use for that job that is made by Red Pig Garden Tools in, I kid you not, Boring, Oregon. This tool makes it much easier to get down at the tap root even in our rocky soil, and it's strong enough to easily pop the gnarliest ones. We have several of Red Pig's tools, actually, and they're all well-made, tough, quality tools.
The next dozen photos are from early morning walks along the South St. Vrain Creek, just southwest of Lyons. This is Dogbane, a relative of Milkweed.
I like the way this flower has raised itself above the surrounding, purplish-tinged grasses.
The otherworldly Milkweed flower, as uniquely beautiful as the Monarch butterflies that drink its nectar.
Okay, I know thistle is an invasive species, but wow!
Clusters of White Yarrow flowers.
This looks similar to Money Plant, but it's actually Field pennycress.
These seed pods look a bit like miniature watermelons.
I love the contrast of the tan seeds with the fresh green grasses.
I'm not sure what these plants with the tiny reddish-orange flowers are, but the stand out beautifully in front of the green grasses.
It's amazing to me how things change so much as I walk along the valley. These dusty rose grass seed heads mingle nicely with the green plants and the Salsify seed head, creating a wispy feeling in this area.
Another scene change.
Evening Primrose. Another morning, another new flower blooming along the South St. Vrain river. Awesome spring/early summer.
Took an early morning walk with a colleague at Walden Ponds Nature Preserve this morning. So many vibrant song birds and waterfowl! And some beautiful flowers, too. I think this is Argemone polyanthemos (wild prickly poppy).
Over the course of the first couple of years we lived here, we made the pathways from wood chips, mostly from trees we've thinned out as part of our fire mitigation work. And each year after the wild grasses have finished growing to full height, I use a string trimmer to open up the pathways again.
Today as I was doing this, I came across a beautiful flower right in the middle of the pathway. I showed it to Garima, who told me it is a Mariposa Lily, which grows from a bulb, so it should come back each year.
Needless to say, we have permanently nudged the pathway to go around this beautiful wildflower!
A small Douglas Fir along the Finch Lake Trail.
Today, we headed a few miles up the Sandbeach Lake Trail on a glorious early summer morning. One of the first treats we encountered was a Wallflower in full sun, showing off what is my favorite shade of yellow, and playing host to a game of hide and seek.
The dainty solar arrays of Fendler Groundsel.
Potentilla, another yellow flower soaking up the rays.
Skullcap, with delicate violet and white flowers.
Looking down on the Wild Basin valley in full early summer glory, after a spring that had more rains than we've experienced recently, so everything is still beautifully green.
Another spray of Fendler Groundsel.
Stonecrop, which really does seem to grow its crop of yellow flowers straight out of rock.
Waxflower bush and bee.
Snowbrush, a bush with clusters of tiny white flowers and leaves that look like they'd make a decent tenon saw.
Valley sentinel. This is the closest I've come to capturing just how steep the walls of this valley are in places. In places it feels like if you took a misstep off the narrow trail, you'd slide and tumble hundreds of feet.
Another cluster of Stonecrop growing straight out of what looks to be solid rock.
Another favorite rock outcropping, this one towering high above us.
A closer view of the rock outcropping.
A final look back at the rock outcropping as we continue up the trail.
The remnants of a long dead pine, an expression of life changing form.
This sign always makes me happy.
Golden Banner near Hole-in-the-wall campground.
A favorite pausing place. The air here is so wonderfully fragrant.
I've tried to photograph this boulder several times. This is my best attempt yet, but I haven't been able to begin to capture how vibrantly green it is.
This was our destination today: a small, tranquil pond deep in the forest.
On the way back down, we passed a place where the forest was quite dense and dark, so this lone splash of sunshine brightly lighting a Heart Leaf Arnica really caught my eye.