Friday, August 31, 2012

Ending, beginning

This will be the final post at The Garden of Live Flowers. Come find me at my new blog, 30 Acres and a Greyhound!


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Like a phoenix, a blog rises from the ashes

Long, long ago, I promised big upcoming changes in real life. It's just two little tiny inconsequential things.

1. I wrote and defended my dissertation and am now the proud holder of a PhD in biology! Also, I am unemployed.
2. TMCH* and I moved from Chicago to the foothills of the Rocky Mountains, just northwest of Fort Collins, Colorado. No reason other than we just wanted to!

Regarding the thesis, I still can't talk much about it until I get the chapters published, which is one of my tasks for the upcoming months. Grad school may officially end, but the work just goes on and on!

As for the fabulous new mountain lifestyle, I will have many many things to say about it over the coming years. While I'm still in zone 5B-ish, it's drier, rockier, clay-ier, and more acidic in the mountains. The growing season is probably also shorter. The trees are primarily Ponderosa pine, Douglas fir, and aspen, and most of the wildflowers are new to me. I have a lot to learn and I can't wait to dive in and share the joys of our new property and our new state with my readers!

The big story that underlies everything we do here is that we're in the High Park Fire burn area. While 88,000 acres of the county burned through much of June, TMCH and I fretted back in Chicago, absorbing every bit of news we could find and wondering if the house we'd put an offer on was still standing. Thanks to the erratic nature of forest fires, some careful fire-mitigation planning by the owner, and the dedication of the RCVFD, the house is fine and so is most of the property. It's too long a story to retell but TMCH did a great job here.

We did, however, lose a lot of trees and shrubs. Signs of the fire remain everywhere and every time it rains the smoky scent fills the air. Many of our canyon neighbors lost their homes and many of the hilltops are covered with charred black toothpicks instead of lush pines. Fortunately, the community spirit is strong, and rebuilding and restoration efforts have already begun. Another task for us over the coming months and years is helping our little bit of the forest recover from the fire and become healthy and beautiful once more.

Because of all these changes, I want to retire The Garden of Live Flowers and start a new blog in which I talk about gardening in the foothills, outdoor activities in Northern Colorado, post-fire restoration, and learning about the natural landscape around us. I will of course also talk about my houseplants, most of which survived the trip out here. I am going to ponder a name for the new blog and hopefully begin writing soon!

*Too Much Coffee Husband :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

The hiatus is ongoing, but I have to say one thing...

I finally got a Euphorbia obesa!! Thank you, Ted's Greenhouse :) Here it is with its new friends Euphorbia suzannae, Haworthia attenuata, and Sedum rubrotinctum.


Also, a voodoo lily (Arum cornatum) and a Dracula lily (Arum dracunis). I consider my visit to the Chicago Flower and Garden Show market a success.

And now, excuse me once more while I return to the Dissertation Dungeon. Sigh.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

TGOLF on hiatus! Awwwww.

I didn't realize until just now that my blog title acronymizes to GOLF. Looking for help with your backswing? Want to know how to turn that old golf bag into a super-cute planter? Look no further!

Anyway, I haven't posted here in a while, and that's partially from a bit of burn-out and partially from real life requiring my attention. I am scheduled to defend my dissertation this winter and when I'm not *absolutely freaking out* I am writing and analyzing data. There may still be an occasional post if something occurs to me, but mostly I need to set this part of my life aside. Same goes for the garden itself, which did remarkably well this summer considering I barely spared it a glance. (Fun Fact! Unharvested Swiss chard turns your hands bloody red when you finally cut it down in November. It's a little alarming.)

I will be back in the groove for the spring season, at which time I will have a big announcement and a new garden project to entertain you with. No spoilers; you'll have to wait and see!


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Citygarden, St. Louis

Last week I visited St. Louis to attend the annual Botany conference and present my latest basswood research (and did I rock? Oh yes I did!). My mom went with me for a little getaway and so on the hottest days of the year we found ourselves touring the St. Louis Zoo, the Central West End, and the Missouri Botanical Garden while mopping copious sweat from our brows. On Thursday after she caught the train for home, I did a quick architectural tour of the downtown area, and just for fun I walked to a park called Gateway Mall. Turned out that it was way better than a park; it was a recently-rebuilt space called Citygarden. I passed a lovely half hour touring its two city blocks of gardens, waterfalls, and sculptures.
The design is inspired by the geology of Missouri and is laid out in three bands from north to south: the Northern River Bluffs, the Middle Floodplain, and the Southern River Terrace.
The Missouri bluffs are recreated in beautiful blocks of rough and polished limestone,
with a forested region whose trees and understory plants, while still young, offer cool shade.
There is also a restaurant (glimpsed in the photo below) with a green roof, and a small amphitheater.
(Tom Otterness, Kindly Gepetto)
A waterfall makes the transition from bluff to floodplain.
The middle floodplain band has paths paved with black granite and is planted with soft-textured prairie grasses.
The river terrace is the most landscaped portion and is meant to reflect the fertile, cultivated portions of Missouri. An 1100-foot granite bench meanders through the gardens, suggesting a river wandering across the landscape.
(Ju Ming, Tai Chi Single Whip)
The river terrace also has a huge fountain with mini-geysers of water popping up at varying times.
(Jim Dine, Big White Gloves, Big Four Wheels)
The Citygarden is a cornerstone of the St. Louis downtown redevelopment and I hope that as more people discover it, it becomes as iconic as Millennium Park has in Chicago.
(Tom Claassen, Untitled (Two Rabbits))