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Hello from Bonsall in California! I’m here, with Cornelia Funke, for a week working on our book project. We are nearly finished with the first draft and just doing some last bits and pieces to the manuscript. It will be a plant book for children and adults, with loads of wonderful plant information in a story of a city girl and her introduction to the Green Kingdom. I think everyone is going to really enjoy this book and most certainly Cornelia and I are having a grand time writing it.

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Bonsall is quite a nice place to work, with a lovely big patio filled with shade, fruit and avocado trees and flowers.

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It has been a delight to spend time with Cornelia and Angie.

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And…there is a dragon labyrinth here with secret twists and turns filled with Rosemary, Hibiscus and Sycamore trees!

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Next door is Thorn Family Farm where Laurel and Larry grow cut flowers, loads of fruit and vegetables. It is so beautiful!

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Before I came to California for the book work, I was working in Mancos, CO. On the way there, I pass huge potato farms, with giant pivots filled with different kinds of potato crops. One farm is planting bands of plants that attract many kinds of beneficial insects and pollinators. By doing this they decrease the amount of insect pest pressure the potato crops have. They improve pollination of the potato crops so that they get good or even greater harvest yields. And, they greatly reduce or eliminate the amount of pesticides that they must use on the potato crops. In addition, of course, the plants that attract the beneficial insects and pollinators add a great deal of beauty to the potato fields.

It was difficult to take a good picture, as I couldn’t stand higher than the field itself, so I had to look at the pivots at eye level, but I think you can still get the idea.

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Last weekend I taught a class on wild plants and their uses. I limited the class size, which meant that we were able to make the learning experience much more personal. This group of women, plus one more, and myself had a very enjoyable day talking about loads of different plants.

In August we will have another class offered on all the ways you can use fruit plants. September will bring a class about the herbal uses of trees and shrubs. Go to the “classes & events” page of this website for registration information.

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I harvested leaves from the pink flowered Dandelions, I’m growing, to add to my spaghetti sauce. It was really a delicious meal, as now that the garden is giving us vegetables to harvest, I had fresh yellow squash and tomatoes to add to the sauce too.

There is really not too many things that will make you smile wider than knowing you have grown and harvested your own fruits, veggies and herbs to cook with!

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Chris, Shrek and I had a hike up Cottonwood trail. Two years ago I came within 3 feet of being nose to nose with a cinnamon colored black bear on this same trail…and no….this is not an exaggeration. No bears in sight this time.

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The wild flowers and butterflies are just amazing this summer!

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Even the mushrooms are quite beautiful.

Enjoy your last days of July and I’ll be back in touch soon.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

 

 

New Mexico Fruit Explorers: November Field Trip--Tooley's Orchard

tooleystrees Instagram posts (photos and videos) - Picuki.com

The orchardist rescuing fruit trees in New Mexico — High Country News – Know the West

We get young fruit trees from Gordon and Margaret and sell them at our Farm Stand store and nursery after we have grown them on a bit longer.
These are some of the best trees for our area and they are old heirloom varieties that have a memory for our soil, climate and elevations.
Gordon Tooley
I hope you will enjoy reading this article about the fruit tree expertise and work of two amazing people. Gordon and Margaret are the best there is!

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This week finds me writing this post from Willowtail Springs Nature Preserve & Educational Center in Mancos, Colorado. I’ve been coming here since 2010 both to work and for relaxation. Check out their website to see more about this amazing place.  Willowtail Springs in the Natural Sciences, Conservation and Ecology | Willowtail Springs Nature Preserve and Education Center 

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My home away from home is always the sweet little Garden Cottage, that overlooks amazing wild spaces, gardens and the spring-fed lake that all exists in this amazing place.

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This week I am here both to work a little and rest a little. We have been creating plant lists for many of the plants that live here, both wild native plants and those in the gardens around the building compound. The gardens are extensive, and beautiful even in this year of extreme drought, and the wild nature parts of Willowtail are equally extensive. Wildlife is very abundant. In fact, I’ve had a few encounters with a flock of wild turkeys on this trip, including young turkeys with their parents.

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Below is a photo of one garden here from past trips when drought wasn’t severe and the plants were thriving. This year the drought has been so bad that very little water is available to water the gardens. Still, the gardens are surviving quite well, although, I wouldn’t say they are thrilled about not getting regular watering, they are doing fine and very beautiful!

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The managers (past owners before the Preserve became 100% an educational non-profit), Lee & Peggy Cloy, have become dear friends. I treasure their company and I always learn new things while I’m here. This trip is no exception.

As we have been walking the property, creating plant lists of all the plants living here, we have had a chance to talk extensively about how the effects of climate change are really noticeable these days. We have spent much time talking about trees, as we are all passionate about trees! The impacts of the climate change on the trees, along with all the other plants and wildlife. is so significant.

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Although I have been working while I’m here, there has also been time to rest and work on my needlework. For those of you that have been reading my blog over the years, you will know that I often refer to my Willowtail trips as my “stitching retreats” and no matter what my reason for being here, I always have time for needlework. This trip I brought my needle-felting project with me and have been working on it. This project was packed away – sight out of mind – all through the spring and early summer busy farm season, and nothing has gotten done on it since late winter last year. That is changing now. Our farm is always busy…indeed, sometimes Chris and I feel like we could work 24 hours a day every day and we would never get finished with work tasks and projects, but now that the spring and early summer busy season is finished, there is a pace of more sanity in our lives. We work a lot, but we also have time now for a hike, to visit with friends, play more music and do some stitching.

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Life is good and we are in gratitude.

Now about trees….we all need to be planting more of them everywhere! We need to care for the ones that already are growing and existing around us as though they are sacred creatures. They are!!

Think about all the ways that trees take care of this world. The provide habitat for wildlife. They hold the soil and prevent erosion, while at the same time helping to protect and preserve much needed moisture in the soil and air spaces. They keep the planet cooler with their canopy of branches and leaves.

Think about all the ways that trees gift us humans. In many cases they provide us with food and medicine. They help us build things, weave things, and make other kinds of things. They provide us with coolness in the hot temperatures and in cold seasons, they protect us from wind and inclement weather. Trees give us places to rest and relax. Their branches even sing to us when the breeze passes through us. We should be grateful to them and appreciate them indeed!

So, please consider planting more trees in your community, at your home if you can, and support the wild spaces, both public and private where trees live. Take care of the parks and other open spaces near you where trees grow. You can even grow some trees in containers in your home to have them in your space if you live in an apartment or someplace where it is not possible to have trees growing in the Earth near you.

Think about them often. Teach your children and grandchildren to respect and honor them. Listen to our storytellers as they weave stories about all the trees on the Earth and in our imaginations. Know that they are “Beings” just as we are and be kind to them. If you use trees for different purposes, or if you must cut one down unavoidably, take a moment first to just say thank you. I belive the trees appreicate this kindness and consideration.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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I will be holding my annual Free Market event this Saturday, July 3rd, starting in the morning about 9:30am and going on until I get tired or it starts to rain or when everything is gone.

A Free Market is like a Yard Sale, except everything is totally free. If you find something in the Free Market that you like or can use, you take it home. Simple as that.

There are household items, some clothing, books – including children’s books, maybe some food items. There is a pair of roller skates, some Christmas tree stands, a couple of chairs – all sorts of things.

The Free Market will be held in the front yard at 1270 Field Ave. in Canon City, CO. No phone calls or emails about this please. Just show up and do some free shopping.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

I was so excited to grow this species of Dandelion, which is completely edible and used medicinally, but has pink flowers instead of yellow ones. It is a different species from Taraxacum officinale.

This one is Taraxacum psuedoroseum.

The Osha in my gardens has been there now for 3 years and this summer it is flowering. I hope it will have mature seed so that we can begin to propagate it for retails sales from farm grown mother plants. That would be a lot more sustainable and Earth-friendly than harvesting seeds from wild Osha to plant to have as plants for sale to gardeners. It looks so beautiful and with the extra rain we had this spring, it is happy.

Our Turmeric plants finally, finally decided to wake up from their winter sleep. Turmeric goes dormant in late winter and doesn’t sprout again until early June, but this year, it waited until mid-June to sprout. I was hoping it would sprout before we closed the Farm Stand & Nursery for the season, but no such luck.

So did the Passionflower vine in the garden, which is usually coming up by Memorial Day. This year it didn’t come up until this past week. It has seemed like a lot of plants have been late breaking out of their dormant winter sleep this spring and early summer, but they are happening now and oh so beautiful.

For the last 1.5 weeks, the Mother Does are birthing their fawns. So farm we have seen 2 sets of twins and this single fawn.

I was given a great honor by this mama deer, in that she came to the  nursery fence (she on the outside of the fence and me inside the fence) while I was watering the plants there. She stood by the fence for a long time, even as I moved closer to her in my watering chores and was only a few feet from her at one point. She just stayed there intently, so I started worrying that perhaps her fawn had managed to squeeze through the gap in the nursery gate and was inside the nursery and she was getting really worried that I would find it hiding somewhere in there. I looked all around and didn’t see it, so I was puzzled.

After about 10 minutes of her standing along the fence line watching me, she began to move away back by our bee yard where the honeybees live, and I thought she was just leaving and didn’t give it another thought. It was only a minute or so when she came back to about 50 feet away from me, which isn’t really very far, and she had her baby fawn with her!

She bathed the fawn and nursed it and allowed it to run all around in circles by her, all while watching to make sure that I was watching her and the baby. Of course I was watching! I was so excited and honored and thrilled that she had chosen to bring her baby out and show it to me. By that time I was standing on the empty benches in the nursery so that I could see better over the fence. Lucky for me, I had my camera with me and I was able to take a bunch of pictures. I think she was there for maybe 10-15 minutes and then she and baby walked back to the bee yard, crossed through the fence into the neighbor’s hay pasture and were off on their day’s journey.

So I will leave you thinking about baby fawns and ask that you be extra careful as you are moving about, especially when you are driving. These babies are only days old by now and they don’t know or understand that cars and people are not usually good things and can cause you harm or worse yet hit you and kill you. They and their mothers need us to be careful and watchful. Baby deer are playful and they run and play and bolt out into the road in a heartbeat. Please drive carefully and not too fast so that if a deer or their fawns runs out into the road in front of you, you won’t hit them.

Like all babies and young children, their world is a dangerous one, but at this point in their lives, it is just one filled with awe and learning.

Pal has taken to steeling Shrek’s bed of late.

I’ll leave you with all these thoughts about different and unusual plants, baby animals, and the magic of it all.

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It has once again been a while since I’ve written a post. May and early June are just so busy around here that I can’t fit everything into my days I’m afraid.

The Farm Stand garden I planted last fall is starting to shape up nicely. It is the home of the Dine Peach and the Strawberry Hawthorn, so it is a very special garden indeed.

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We are having such fun knowing that both of our Moms have new dog friends in their lives! This is Chris’ Mom with her new dog Bo. Bo is 5 years old and is proving to give Mom and Dad the wonderful companionship they had hoped he would when he first arrived in their home.

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We’ve also had quite the excitement this past week. There is a new member to my Mom’s household and she came to meet the farm crew this week.

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All the women that work here…Diane, Bethany, Kaila and Lizz, had a chance to love on this little girl. You’ll have to forgive all the puppy pictures, but we are all just smitten!

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Her name is Doodlebug.

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She is hardly bigger than a hand-full to be sure!

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And she belongs to my Mom. We all love her so much and she has only been part of Mom’s family for a week now.

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Now, back to farm news. Chris has planted several containers with Aster coloradoensis, which is a sweet little native plant. We hope to get a small seed crop from these 4 pots of plants.

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The two new colonies of honeybees are doing very well. Today, Lizz took the rest of the farm crew out to the bee yard for a lesson in beekeeping. The women really enjoyed it.

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Look at the poor Goddess Garden! It is nearly overtaken by weeds by now. This past week I finally had a small bit of time to start weeding my own gardens, including this one, and it is all starting to look a whole lot better. There is still much to do though.

Tomorrow, my hope is that I can plant my food garden with my peppers, tomatoes, squash and cucumbers and all the rest of the yummy vegetables I’m planning to grow this summer. If I can get that accomplished, I will feel like I am finally settling into the summer season. Wish me luck.

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So, all for now.

Summer Greetings,

I’ve decided to do a bit of extra teaching this summer. I’m offering 4 classes, one each month of the summer into early fall. Here is the information in case you would like to register to attend. If you know someone who might be interested in attending, please feel free to share this announcement.

With Green Thoughts,  Tammi

Tammis summer fall 2021 class flyer

Tammis summer fall 2021 class flyer (2)

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We want to let everyone know that we are canceling the remaining workshops and walk-about classes for this spring’s Open Farm Days.

 

Attendance has not be good for the workshops. We are guessing that there is still hesitancy due to Covid19 to attend group events, even outdoor ones, so we’re just going to embrace the obvious and cancel the remaining classes for this spring.

 

Thank you to all the teachers for the efforts you have put into the classes! Thanks to the folks who have attended.

 

The Farm Stand & Nursery store will, of course, be open thru June 13th. Hours are 9am to 4pm. We are closed on Fridays. We’ll hope to see you soon!!

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This is my fig plant as it looks right now, and it does look really ugly, but this is what fig plants do when there is extreme swings in the weather. First their leaves all turn yellow and ugly and then most of the leaves (if not all) fall off! Never fear. Your fig is not dying, nor is it sick, it’s just not happy with the season change.

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Now after a couple of weeks of that ugly nonsense, the fig plant is leafing out again with beautiful bright green leaves and getting a few baby figs. In another week or two it will look completely happy and healthy once more. Welcome to the life of your fig. No worries please.

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Bethany started work this week. She is the newest member of the farm family crew and she will be working mainly in the flower field with Chris and Kaila. We are thrilled to have her working with us!

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The Tanagers arrived two days ago and aren’t they a handsome lot! We have so many cool birds this spring (well, it happens every spring) and we are really delighted to be able to enjoy and observe them. If you are visiting the farm during our Farm Stand Plant Sale, and if you are a birder or want to be, bring your camera, and a nature journal too if you like, and take a stroll on the farm while you are here to see what birds you will notice. Believe me…there are a lot of them hanging around by now.

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We have had the most incredible spring this year, with nice spring rain, which doesn’t happen too often, and everything is showing it’s gratitude for the moisture including Chris and I. Thank you Mother Nature.

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Shrek says hello!

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It’s mid-May when the weather is safe to plant vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, squash, cucumbers, eggplants and such.  We do live in Colorado, so one never knows if we might get late frost, but I’m hedging that weather has settled enough by now to plant tomatoes. I’ll be monitoring the forecast to cover them if night temps get in the low thirties. Otherwise, it’s time to plant delicious homegrown tomatoes!

Let me share with you a few of our heirloom heritage tomato varieties. The picture above is the harvest from by garden last year.

Black Cherry is an old variety of large purplish cherry tomatoes that mature in about 75 days. This is an indeterminate tomato, meaning you need to stake or put a tomato cage around the plant to keep it from rambling. Huge yields of sweet tomatoes put this variety in mine and Chris’ top 10 choices.

Martino’s Roma is an Italian heirloom great for canning, making sauces and tomato paste. It’s an indeterminate tomato that gives heavy yields in approximately 75 days. Martino’s Roma plants can have a puckered look to the leaves, which is normal, but a bit odd looking. We have several good paste tomatoes, including Roma, Black Plum and San Marzano.

Siberian is a determinate tomato we love for container gardening. Determinate tomatoes stay bushy and don’t get so wily. They do not require staking. Siberian matures in about 55-60 days and is perfect for gardeners with shorter growing seasons, or those of us who are just impatient to start picking tomatoes. It is quite cold tolerant. A medium sized tomato great for salads.

Taxi Yellow tomato has been in our garden for 25 years. We always appreciate its reliability and good taste. A medium sized yellow determinate tomato that matures in approximately 65 days. If you want a good low-acid tomato Taxi Yellow is one to consider. Yellow Perfection is also a great yellow slicing tomato.

Finally, there is Zapotec Indian tomato. This indeterminate tomato gives large slicing tomatoes in about 80 days. Zapotec has sweet flavor and is wonderful on open-faced broiled cheese sandwiches or in salsa. The tomatoes are red and pillowed, making them look like a hot air balloon, rather than being perfectly round. Other large slicing tomatoes we love include German Heirloom Pink and Brandywine Pink.

We have around 60 varieties of heirloom and heritage tomato plants for sale in our Farm Stand plant sale this spring. You’re sure to find one ,or several choices, that will please your taste buds and fill your pantry. You can learn more about growing tomatoes in an earth-friendly way from Tammi’s book The Wildlife-Friendly Vegetable Gardener. All of her book titles are available in the Farm Stand store.

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Hollyhocks are an old-fashioned flowers that speaks of simple beauty, old farmsteads, the southwest, and they might even whisper you in the right direction of ye old outhouse!

What is that about, you might ask? Well, in days gone by it was traditional for hollyhocks to be planted near the outhouse. This was so that when visiting friends and family, even going to church for worship, the ladies could discretely find this important building without asking its location. They just looked for the Hollyhocks and went in that direction.

If you are exploring old farmsteads today you might see lingering hollyhocks that have maintained their population by dropping a few seeds each year. They don’t reseed in a nuisance way, but it’s not uncommon for a few volunteer hollyhock plants to show up in spring nearby the mother plant from the year before. Hollyhocks are biennial for the most part, and live for two years. Yellow hollyhocks are the only species of Alcea that’s truly perennial coming back year after year.

The oldest varieties of Hollyhock usually have single petal flowers. Some newer varieties have very nice double petal flowers. They bloom in many colors…pinks, reds, white, yellow and even a purple-red color that is so dark it’s called Black Hollyhock and not very common to find.  We will have 8 different varieties of hollyhocks this spring available in the Farm Stand store, including a double petal peach variety called Peaches & Dreams. If you visit our Hollyhock section in the Farm Stand you’ll find Old Fashioned Pink, Mars Magic, Red and Outhouse varieties of Hollyhocks to name a few.

All Hollyhocks have edible flowers, leaves and roots. You can eat leaves like salad greens. The roots are cooked like a carrot or parsnip. There are endless ways to use the flowers in herb butter, salads, to decorate cakes or float in a refreshing glass of lemonade or iced tea.

Like all members of the Mallow family, every variety of Hollyhock is medicinal to soothe irritated mucous membrane tissues internally or topically. It’s a great ingredient in skin salves and creams to nourish and sooth the skin.

Plant some Hollyhocks in your garden or nearby your porch to bring color and height to the garden. They can easily be seen from a distance because the flowers are pretty, large and showy. They are the token flower often seen around adobe southwestern homes. They grow in sun or part shade, with moderate watering. They tolerate dry conditions if they have too, and they’re not fussy about the soil, so they are happy in our clay or sandy soils. I think you will enjoy having Hollyhocks in your garden.

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I’ll leave you with this lovely plant picture. This plant has a name and it is LJ. It belonged to a very dear friend of ours, who was named LJ, and then it was his wife Ro’s plant after LJ passed over – an equally dear friend. Ro recently moved to Aloha land and LJ came to live with Chris and I. I wasn’t sure if this plant was going to be happy at our house, but as you can see, he is blooming beautifully! What a glorious gift to us.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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Chris and Lizz did some apple tree grafting last week. We’re hoping these go well. The scion wood was really small, but quite healthy. Keep your fingers crossed.

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Happy Henrietta is talking to farm visitors about these beeline pollinator patio planters. They are filled with annual flowers that will attract and provide nectar and pollen for many kinds of pollinator insects.

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We still have heirloom apple and plum fruit trees for sale in the Farm Stand nursery. There will be more fruit trees coming out for sale towards the end of May, including different apple varieties, apricots and peaches.

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Next Saturday we will raffle off the first of our two raffle fairy gardens. If you want to buy a raffle ticket to enter the drawing, they are $1.00 each, and money raised by the raffle is always used to buy fresh produce from a local farm to donate to the local food bank.

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If you are visiting, hopefully, you can take a few minutes to visit Tammi’s fairy garden in the back yard. All the wee young farm visitors have been having lots of fun re-arranging the fairy magic in this garden. I never know where the tables, chairs or other fairy items will be when I look into this garden. Children always seem to know where the fairy’s would best like their belongings to be ;-}

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We have had some really wonderful bird visitors this week too. This is a rosy breasted grosbeak and we rarely see them here, but sometimes they visit. We also had lazule buntings, other grosbeaks, a blue heron, and all the normal bird community of robins, red wing blackbirds, rosy finches, curve billed thrashers, gold finches and many more.

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With the wonderful rain we have had this past week, our fruit trees are in their glory of flowers! This is one of our cherry trees.

 

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Below is the winter red flesh apple tree.

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Today, the Austrian Copper rose started to bloom.

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And the very first Chocolate flowers. These will bloom now every day until hard frost near November. In the morning the flowers smell like hot chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven. Wonderful with no calories!

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We had some good friends, Mike and Shawna, surprise us with a visit on their way home to Nebraska. Such a treat to see them both.

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Shrek says hello.

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This is a surprise find. Some furry critter, maybe Chuck the rock squirrel that lives in the desert garden, has been making a stash under the cushion on our back porch furniture.  Whoever it was had the surprise on them when they came back to get some of their stash, because I cleaned it up and away.

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Just to make you smile.

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