RV trip part 8: volcano

We left off in the last post at Florissant Fossil Quarry at about 5:30 PM with a little over three hours of driving to go before our destination for the night: Capulin, New Mexico. What's in Capulin you ask?


Only a volcano, that's what!

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RV trip part 7: driving and finding fossils

Making our way home from Colorado involved three days of driving. I didn't want it to just be a rush home though with nothing to look forward to (as if being home wasn't enough) so I planned a few interesting stops. A hint:


Before getting to that though, I'll summarize the good and bad parts of the driving.

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RV trip part 6: close looks

Our August RV trip continued, as we spent a luxurious (for this trip) second day at a campsite. No driving meant time for biking and hiking and relaxing. If you remember from the last post, we were at the North Fork Campground in Colorado. We did get down to the river (White river) again this second day (August 24), but the photos look just like those from yesterday's post.


Hiking though gave me plenty of opportunity to capture some of the wild beauty close up.

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RV trip part 6: North Fork Campground

August 23 we arrived at the only spot we'd be at for two nights: North Fork Campground near Meeker Colorado. This was the view from our campsite looking south:


Although the campground host said that we chose the "worst" site, I think it was pretty great!


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RV trip part 5: more of GRC and the next drive

Continuing with August's RV trip, we left off in the last post at Green River Campground in Dinosaur National Monument. We only spent a single night there, but it was a great one as the stresses of driving and difficult deadlines were pretty much over for a while.


I showed the long views (mountains and such) last time, so today I'll focus on what I saw in the campground itself. The up-close stuff that I love so much.


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RV trip part 4: Green River Campground

After our short time at the Dinosaur Quarry building in Dinosaur National Monument, we made the short drive to the campground. Although there are several campgrounds in DNM, I chose the one closest to the quarry purely for convenience. From the map and satellite view I was afraid that it might be too close to the road to be as private as I'd like.


I needn't have worried.


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RV trip part 3: dinosaurs

I left off yesterday with a view of the hills around Dinosaur National Monument, where we'd be spending the fourth night of our August RV trip. Today we start with the dinosaurs...


...which you find here in the "Dinosaur Quarry" building. This is a 2-minute shuttle bus ride from the visitor center and is pretty exciting (the building, not the ride) -- if you have any interest in dinosaurs or fossils that is. Which I do.

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RV trip part 2: getting to Utah

In yesterday's post I condensed a couple of days worth of travel into a lot of words and few photos. That will eventually change today, as we made our way to eastern Utah and we saw things like this along the way:


But first I have to catch you up a bit more, without photos.


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RV trip 2017 begins

Back in mid-August my wife and I took our second RV trip out west. The first was in 2014 and was really fun -- and a lot of driving. This year's trip would be shorter but would also involve much driving: our goal was Colorado. (Since we live in the St. Louis area it takes a few days to get to Colorado unless you're a mindless driving machine.)


It took quite a bit of planning to get the route correct, especially since The Eclipse would be occurring during the trip. Learning months and months ago that totality would be visible only a few miles from our home was so exciting; my disappointment in realizing that our trip would take us away from home at that exact time was equally strong.

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The good and the bad

My garden -- like yours I have to assume -- is full of good and bad this year. Here's an example of good and bad in the same view:


It's the front bed between the driveway and the house. The Alocasia make it worth looking at -- they really set off the understory of bamboo and hakone grass. The bad part though is obvious: the clematis. All of my clematis vines do the same thing each year: grow like gangbusters, bloom, then halfway die during the summer. Blech. Maybe I should put the maypop here too?


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The near back garden

As I've mentioned several times this summer, I've ignored the garden for the most part. Somehow things have snapped into place though, and this part of the garden (made up of the driveway and beds closest to the house) is looking quite nice.


There is still a lot of "junk" on the driveway -- I have lots of projects in the works -- and those two pallets that I've been wondering what to do with? They made a nice little "fence" that hides the mess and gives me a place to put more plants. I envy the people who have fences and garden walls to use as backdrops.

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Say goodbye (to some bamboo)

I grow a lot of bamboo, as regular readers know. Most of them are quite cold-hardy for St. Louis, but there are a few of them that are marginal. This means that they don't do well in our winters, and after a few years I've given up on them.


So this is the last look at three of them: two that are just not hardy enough, and one that is flowering heavily. That flowering one is Phyllostachys propinqua 'Beijing' and is shown above.


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Tidbit

Just a tidbit, a morsel or two to let you know that I'm still here, and still planning on posting more regularly. (I have a big backlog of images to edit from the RV trip and more...)


This is the view from our bedroom window right now. Somehow this part of the garden looks fantastic, even though it has been pretty much ignored for months. The white flowers are the "weeds" that I let grow, probably white snakeroot. The yellow blooms are Rudbeckia submentosa, which always flops once it blooms. I have much of this in my garden now because it's the only way to get some of it to survive the deer.


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RV trip out west, teaser

I've had very little to post about this summer, and little time to seek out the details of the garden to even post about those. Last week though we took our second RV trip out west...


...so I actually have something to share! Sure, it won't be about my garden or any other -- unless you count Nature as the biggest garden (I do).


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Ack! Not cool, Photobucket

So you may have noticed that the images on most of the posts here (except for a few recent ones) have been replaced with Photobucket's "broken link" image. So annoying. I'd say that "it bugs me"...


...but that is not nearly expressive enough. I am so frustrated, especially since Photobucket told me that my links would not break until my account was up for renewal.


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Will it survive?

Ah, I bet you think I'm talking about something in my garden -- will it survive the heat, or drought, or whatever. Alas, I wish I were talking about a plant.


No, I'm talking about this blog. The thing you're reading right now.


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New trellis

You know I like to build things for my garden. You may also know that I like to upcycle, repurpose, reuse. Well the slightly cooler weather had me in project mode on Monday...


...and it all started with the parts of an old dog crate that I salvaged from my neighbor's trash a summer or two ago (I've lost track). Add a little cedar and I'd get a custom trellis!


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Agave love

I've had a decent (too big for my climate?) Agave collection for a few years, ever since several were gifted to me by a downsizing gardener. This is the first year that I've really been blown away by one though.


Agave weberi 'Arizona Star' loves its new spot on the south side of the house!


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Back in the garden again!

As you probably have noticed, I've been going long stretches this summer without posting -- sometimes only one post a week (or less)! Mainly this is due to a busy schedule that leaves little time for gardening, but it's also due to the weather, as it's just been a very hot summer. Until now that is.


High temperatures around 85ºF (29ºC) with lower than normal humidity have given me the will to spend some time working outside. With a long list of tasks to tackle -- some of them being quite labor intensive -- I just jumped in with the first thing I saw: Milkweed.


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New sculptures

I've been working on some new garden sculpture designs, sticking to my current focus of mixing wooden cubes with metal rods.


This is a variation on the earlier work, and I call this one "Quad Cubes Z".

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What the deer can't resist

Looking out of the kitchen window a week or two ago (the days seem to be flying by this year!) I watched a deer browsing near one of my garden beds, eating violets or something else in the lawn.


As I watched the deer nosed into my raised bed, seemingly eyeing my solitary remaining purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea). I waited, knuckles close to the window ready to knock if it looked as if it would bite the last bloom.


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Too big - pachypodium

We had a storm come through last night. I didn't hear it, but knew it this morning as I looked out the front window...


...at my Pachypodium lamerei. That big, spiky beast that is a focal point of the front garden. Wait, where is it?!

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Castor Bean: July

Another quick "snapshot" post, just to see where things are as of early July. Unlike yesterday's bananas which are already impressive, today's subject are the castor beans.


If they behave as they did last year they will reach 10' (3m) or more tall by the end of the summer, but right now they're far from that.

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Bananas

With July's heat here, I thought it was about time to take a look at a few of the more impressive plants in my garden. I'll start today with the bananas (Musa basjoo). It's late enough in the season for them to be a focus...


...but there's still plenty of time left for them to become truly huge and awesome. It's nice to snapshot what they look like at different times during the year.

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It's baby raccoon season

No, I haven't seen a baby raccoon (yet) this year. How then do I know it's time for them to start venturing out and exploring the neighborhood?


The first clue was my trash can being covered by muddy little footprints this morning.


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Another surprise

Yesterday's post was about my biggest surprise of the year (baby fish). Today I will share a smaller one, found in the front walkway garden:


The area takes a little while to get going, but is starting to look good now. The "surprise" item is a plant...


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The best surprise

If your garden doesn't surprise you at least a few times a year, I'd say that there's something wrong with it. One of my biggest sources of surprise -- both good and bad -- has been the pond. Almost six years old and different every year.


This year (after its makeover) it still seems to be settling in, with greener water than I'd like, but lots of oxygenator plants. Those are the key to today's post, the anacharis and hornwort.

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Some light

The evening sun backlights the plants of the front garden so nicely, sometimes I just have to go outside and get a closer look! Even the plants that are in shade now benefit (photographically) from the light reflected off the front of the house.



(I took these a couple of weeks ago, but I have seen a variation of it every day since. )

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Driveway surprise

This is my driveway behind the house, as seen from the bedroom window. It's the messiest part of the space because it's where plants are being repotted, things are waiting to be relocated, etc. Just a general working area.


There's something special about it though, don't you think?


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Opuntia attack!

No, I didn't finally get around to cleaning the leaves out of the cactus bed -- it's the Opuntia that was being attacked, not doing the attacking! The attackers looked like this:


Kinda cute -- as many insect nymphs are -- but still...


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Fawn Sighting

It's fawn season, so I'm not too surprised when I spot one in the garden or in a neighbor's yard.


I am surprised when one stands in the road for ten minutes to nurse though!


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Fathers Day is Mantis Day again

For some strange reason, the mantis egg cases that I keep in the refrigerator all winter almost always hatch on Father's Day. I'd say at least 80% of the years that's when it happens.


It happened again this year!


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Garden sculptures, for you?

Well, it has taken a little while, but the "cube" series of garden sculptures that I've been working on are finally available...


That's right, you can now purchase these for your own garden from my Etsy shop!


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Sneak Peek

Something I've been working on lately. You may have seen these if you follow me on Instagram (hint, hint).


I'm not going to say much about these yet...

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Going overboard: new planter creation

So I made myself a new planter recently. Here it's shown with some plants still in containers to try and figure out what to plant here (and what deer won't eat right at mouth level):


This project happened only because I've been storing our old kitchen sink in the garage for several years and have finally cleaned things up to make more workshop space. The sink had to go and I didn't want to just throw it away (even though somebody would probably have rescued it from the curb).

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Late emergence

It's almost summer (feels like it already at least in St. Louis) and most plants have already pushed out most of their new growth. Sure a few bamboos are still shooting, but pretty much everything else have finished their spring growth spurts.


Except for the tropicals that is, the plants that overwintered in my garage or basement or living area. Those are just getting started!


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Exciting, the deck

Actually, what's exciting is not the deck, but what is going on just past it -- and on it. First, the boxed bamboo (Phyllostachys virella) has had a big size up this year...


...and the tops of the new shoots are strikingly visible just past the deck railing. (This plant is in a box next to the stream.)

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Nightmare gets better without me

So nightmare area number two (aka my cactus bed) has gotten much better...


...without any help from me!


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Siblings

A quick look at some siblings of the wild variety in my garden right now.


Starting with chipmunks. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking "Hey, there's only one chipmunk in this photo!" You have a good point, but this is just a teaser.


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Nightmare area number two

Continuing the theme from yesterday, here's the second nightmare area in my garden right now. It's my "cactus bed".


There are so many things wrong here, I almost don't know where to start. The sad, sad yucca, the sweetgum sapling, but the main thing is the leaves. Yes, those have been there since the fall (if it's not obvious).


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Nightmare area number one

Emboldened by Peter's recent post about the less attractive parts of his garden, I'm going to share with you the three "nightmare" areas of my garden. Today's is actually the oldest part of my garden: the large raised planter box below the deck.


This was originally full of flowering perennials including shasta daisies and purple coneflowers. In recent years it's been the home to my main (and sometimes amazing) castor bean planting. Right now though it's just a bed full of weeds.


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Surprise return

I neglected my ribbon bush (Homalocladium platycladum) last winter. The previous winter I kept it in the garage and watered it a bit more than the other plants. This past year though it was in the garage again -- a bigger plant -- but I didn't water much.


The result was a dead ribbon bush come spring. Really a shame because I loved this unique foliage -- it will be missed for sure. But will it?


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Clematis, beauty and problem

I grow a few clematis, and for the most part they make me happy -- when the deer don't prune them that is. The one that I grow on my mailbox has performed quite well for me, especially considering how shady it is here.


I believe I purchased this as Clematis 'Piilu', but that's almost certainly not what it is. It looks so good with the variegated bamboo (Sasaella masamuneana 'Albostriata'), doesn't it?


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A little allium love

Just a little allium eye candy today.


Allium christophii might be my favorite, but is it only because I've only been growing it for a couple of years?

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What's wrong with this Agave?

I noticed that this Agave 'Impressa' (or at least that was how it was labeled) is looking a bit unhappy:


Lots of yellow in those leaves, especially the lower ones.


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Big leaves, cleanup time

My Indocalamus tessellatus bamboo has such large leaves, it's really a standout even among so many other bamboos. Unfortunately it gets bitten by winter quite easily and the new leaves emerge relatively late. So in the spring when everything is fresh and new (right now), this plant looks tattered and tired.


I've not pruned this one to the ground like I do with some of my others, instead using a more delicate pruning technique when needed. It's needed now!


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Rose Support Update

I thought I'd show you some updated photos of the rose support now that the plant has leafed out and blooming.


I love having structures peeking though foliage!


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Come on Monarchs!

Remember how I was recently hopeful that my large and ever-expanding colony of common milkweed would finally rear its first "crop" of monarch caterpillars?


Well, things are looking good! Or at least they were for a while.


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Robins

Robins made a nest in a disused hanging planter under the edge of the deck:


It's at about eye level for me, so I just raised the phone camera above the edge and blindly snapped these images. The first was taken April 19. I've often wondered why these eggs evolved to be blue. Seems like a bad color if you want to go unnoticed.


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Flood!

After a few days of heavy rain in the St. Louis area, heavy flooding is widespread. With perhaps 4" (10cm) of additional rainfall expected today and tomorrow, things are expected to get worse before they get better.


Although my house sits on high ground, my garden is still experiencing some flooding -- particularly the pond.


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