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The first thing I want to say, is that WordPress has changed their format and I cannot make heads or tails out of the new writing editor. It’s terrible and I hope I can figure it out and get used to it soon, but in the meantime, please bear with me if my posts are a bit discombobulated.

We received a truck load of pots and trays of all kinds of sizes and shapes that we will use for next springs plant inventory. Of course, the truck arrived when Lizz had already left for the weekend and Chris was picking up supplies in New Mexico, so it fell to me to haul all these things to the back of the farm where the supply barn is located…one cart full at a time. Took me 2 days, but everything is put away.

This week our clay pot order arrives and a truck load of greenhouse soil, plus 175,5000 blank plant labels that we will use to print our information on and then put in each plant pot so that all of you will have information about the plant in that pot when you purchase it.

Ahhh…this is supposed to be the slow time of the year, but it never really feels like that in the moment.

Chris and I celebrated our 26th wedding anniversary on October 2nd! My husband is always so good at choosing the perfect gifts for me and this year, he came home from New Mexico with 2 gorgeous long chili ristras for our back porch. He could not have picked anything I will enjoy more and every time I go out the back door and see them, it just makes me smile.

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This is our deer drinking trough, which sits along side the gardens to the south of our house and near the driveway. Every day I fill this up because otherwise the deer would drain all the birdbaths, which, of course, don’t hold as much water. Many years back ago, we adopted this approach for supplying the deer and larger animals like squirrels, raccoons, skunks and such with drinking water, but we had a problem that the birds wanted to drink from the deer drinking trough too, and the little birds would fall in and drown since the trough is quite deep.

We solved that situation with Lizz building a small oak ladder that sat in the trough and the birds would use it to drink from, or as an escape route if they fall in. It has worked like a charm.

But our bird ladder, which was many years old by now, fell apart and wasn’t effective for the birds to stay out of the water while drinking. Problem solved! Lizz built a beautiful new bird ladder from a log and willow twigs this week.

I’ve been continuing my mornings walks at the river and it is such a pleasant way to begin my work day. Right now all the trees there are so beautiful with their autumn clothes of colored leaves. The river is very low, but it still sings as the water moves past. The sound of moving water is soothing and delightful.

I hope you have some place magical where you can go for a walk often, hopefully every day, or at least a few times a week. Nature is the very best healer and medicine maker for the stressful times we are living in these days.

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I discovered this secret place this week. Now, who do you suppose lives in this tree?

It could be a wild animal, but it might be a forest gnome or a fairy or perhaps some other magical creature. Hmmmm…something to ponder. I’ll be trying to figure it out too.

Every year or so I hold my Free Market event. A Free Market is like a yard sale, except every single item is totally 100% free. If you can use the item, you are welcome to take it home.

This Saturday, October 3rd from 9:30am until whenever I decide I’m done, everything will be set up in the front yard for your shopping pleasure. Please come by and have a look to see if there is something you can use or would like to have.  You’ll see the Free Market sign covering our farm sign and the flags will be up too as soon as I’m finished with the greenhouse watering and have everything set up in the front yard.

There will be quite a few clothing items, some books, audio books and movies, kitchen and household items, even a few groceries.

Come by this Saturday and say hello and have a look.

Last weekend, Chris and his fellow musicians played music for the Members Only Day at the Desert Reef Hot Springs. They sounded so wonderful. I got to soak in the hot springs while they played. I did feel kinda sorry for the guys, though, because they played just before dark and the weather started getting pretty cold by then. they said they had a hard time coaxing their fingers to play as they got colder, but they persevered and it was great!!

We went for a hike to enjoy the autumn aspen colors in the mountains, but it was just a bit too early really and the trees were just beginning to get their autumn colors. We had a glorious hike all the same.

This is really one of the most amazing and beautiful aspen areas around along Highway 9. The trees are old and big around and so tall and straight.

It is hunting season now, so Shrek has to wear his hunting costume while we are hiking so that they can easily spot that he is a dog and not a deer. Orange ribbons and his bear bell all outfitted and we are ready to go walking.

And I know I’m partial, but this must be the most handsome man on the planet – my husband!

We have been to the Sangre Mountains several times to hike this summer and it is always such a pleasure. When we go to the high mountains, I am always in the company of some of my oldest and best friends, like this Osha plant. This is the elevation of 8,000 to 13,000 foot elevation and the plant community is the first group of plants I ever learned to use as a young herbalist some 42 years ago.

I grow Osha in my garden these days, which is a very special thing for me, and I don’t harvest wild Osha plants for my medicinal needs. This is a plant that is threatened from commercial over-harvesting and climate change and so I feel it is important to respect it’s wild home, enjoy being there, but leave those wild plants where they are.

I do grow and use Scottish Lovage (Ligusticum scoticum) and Lovage sometimes called Garden Osha in the San Luis Valley (Levisticum officinale), as these plants are easy to cultivate and they are nearly identical to Mountain Osha (Ligusticum porteri) in their medicinal benefits.

All of these plants are recognized for their powerful medicinal actions to address respiratory challenges and for their antimicrobial benefits. They help you “breath deeply”! They all three have my utmost gratitude and respect for the medicinal gifts they provide when I or my family have the need of their benefits.

This week has allowed me time to take early morning walks along the Arkansas River near where I live. The drought has had it’s impact on the river water levels. To take this picture, Shrek and I walked nearly to the middle of the river, across river stones, so that he could get a drink. It never happens that I can walk that far from the banks and not have to worry about getting me feet even a little bit wet.

The plant colors at the river are starting to change into their autumn clothes too. In a few more days it will be breath-taking and beautiful!

I also want to share with you about another plant that needs our help these days and that is wild White Sage (Salvia apiana), which grows in the California mountains, and is being seriously threatened these days from over-harvesting, wildfires and habitat loss.

Many people will know this plant as a ceremonial smudge plant in the Native American traditions, but it is also an important medicinal herb. White Sage that is sold is quite often gathered wild by the thousands of pounds. It has a limited range in the region where it grows wild and it needs a break from being harvested. Several native tribal groups have asked people to stop wildcrafting (wild-harvesting) White Sage. I feel strongly we should honor that request and graciously not only avoid harvesting it ourselves from the wild if we happen to live or be visiting the places where it grows, but we should stop buying it from people and places that have sourced it as a wild-gathered plant. This is not to say that the people or places that are selling wild-source White Sage are bad, but rather I’m saying we all need to step up and do our part to help protect this plant in its wild habitat. Collectively, we can make a big difference to the survival of White Sage.

Now that I  have told you about the concerns, let me tell you this too…this plant does grow well in cultivation and seed can be harvested from cultivated plants and used to grow more plants. Buy some seed or better yet, buy a young plant next garden season and grow it yourself to meet any needs or wants you might have to use this plant either medicinally or ceremonially as a smudging plant.

White Sage is not difficult to grow. It is not cold hardy, but can be grown indoors in a pot during the cold months of the year. It loves being outdoors in the warm months of the year and it is truly a stunningly beautiful member of the Salvia (Sage) family of plants. It has whitish-gray leaves and stems and the flowers are ice blue. Bees, especially bumblebees, will enjoy it in your garden or on your patio next summer, and if you grow it indoors during the cold months of the year, you will enjoy the wonderful fragrance from the foliage.

A Guide to Growing and Respecting Sacred White Sage

I’m sitting here working in my Rabbit Hole, which is what I call my office when I’m feeling good about being stuck indoors working at my desk (I call it the dungeon when I’m not happy about doing office work), and I’m working on the text for Rosemary for the children’s book project I’m writing with Cornelia Funke, and low and behold I have learn a significant new thing about Rosemary!

Apparently, in 2017 Rosemary was reclassified by botanists and given a new Latin Botanical name. Rosmarinus officinalis is now called Salvia rosmarinus. Who knew and why didn’t they speak out loudly enough that the rest of us in the plant world would know this very important change too!!

Botanists are notorious for reclassifying plants into new genus’ or even plant families. It tends to make the rest of the plant human community a little crazy at times, because just like in this case, it’s really hard to keep up with these changes sometimes. It is important, however, that a plant’s Latin name be correct and up to date as much as possible, because the Latin Botanical name is the one name that the whole world uses for a plant consistently, as Latin is the same everywhere in the world.

So, with this new revelation in mind, I and everyone else at Desert Canyon Farm will be using the name Salvia rosmarinus for Rosemary going forward…starting today. And, Cornelia and I will also be using that Latin name for Rosemary in our book.

It’s going to take some getting used too though!!

Salvia rosmarinus  (syn. Rosmarinus officinalis)

Salvia rosmarinus ‘Arp’  (syn. Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Arp’)

Salvia rosmarinus ‘Barbeque’ (syn. Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Barbeque’)

Salvia rosmarinus ‘Foxtail’ (syn. Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Foxtail’)

Salvia rosmarinus ‘Gorizia’  (syn. Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Gorizia’)

Salvia rosmarinus ‘Lockwood’ (syn. Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Lockwood’)

Salvia rosmarinus ‘Madeline Hill’  (syn. Rosmarinus prostrata ‘Madeline HIll’)

Salvia rosmarinus  ‘Tuscan Blue’ (syn. Rosmarinus officinalis ‘Tuscan Blue’)

Salvia rosmarinus ‘Huntington Carpet’ (syn. Rosmarinus prostrata ‘Huntington Carpet’)

And many other varieties…

(photos copyright by Saxon Holt)

 

 

 

One of our favorite apples in the heirloom orchard is Winter Red Flesh Apple. This is a small apple and it has deep purplish-red skin and red flesh inside. Very tart, but yummy.

It makes the most gorgeous red applesauce, which is what I cooked up this past week. I cook the apples in the slow cooker with just a little butter, some brown sugar and a bit of cinnamon. It’s really good!

Well, our old label printer finally got to the point that we couldn’t kimp along with it any longer. Actually, we wore our printer out a few years ago and when Shortgrass Greenhouse retired, we adopted their label printer, which was an exact model to our old one. This year we wore that one out too, so there was no hope for it, but to have to buy a new label printer.

We were really hoping not to have to do this. These beasts are super expensive!! And all they do is print plant pot labels. I’m trying to make my peace with the necessity of this purchase and it will be very nice to have clear crisp labels that you can easily read to put into our plant pots going forward.

Cornelia and I are continuing our work sessions on the children’s plant book. It is a part of my daily tasks list. It is a fun part of my  every day.

The gardens are slowing down now with the shift to the fall season, but also with so much drought and heat, there really aren’t a lot of flowers blooming now. However, the California Poppies always seems to be blooming in the White Rabbit Garden and their beauty and cheerfulness keeps me smiling.

Many of you know that one of my greatest passions is hand needlework, especially embroidery. So you can imagine how thrilled I was when my mom sent home a stack of hand stitched table linens that my great Aunt Ruth did the needlework on.

My great Aunt Ruth has had a lot of influence on my life, as she was probably the first herbalist I ever knew and she taught me a lot about respecting plants and the gifts they give to us, as well as the pleasure that comes from growing a garden. She was also a very gifted artist and needlework woman and I so admired this in her.

All through my childhood and into my adulthood, she would write letters to me about things like plants and stitching. She lived in Prescott, Arizona, which meant that I didn’t get to see her very often, but those visits were always special and the letters in-between were equally special. She is long gone now, but I carry her name in my own as Tammi Ruth, an honor I hold very dear. I am going to enjoy using these table linens very much!!

We now have an indoor pool! The tether swimming pool has been moved inside the Woodstove Greenhouse for the fall season, as the cooler nights and shorter days meant the water was getting pretty darn chilly to swim in. With it being in the greenhouse (which we won’t use for plants again until after the first of the year), we can take advantage of all the passive solar heat that greenhouse builds up during the day and the water will stay in the 70’s we hope, which still quite good for swimming. I would never have guessed that I would have a greenhouse with a swimming pool inside!

I have a new camera, as my 20+ year old camera finally decided it didn’t want to do all the picture taking I was asking of it. It still works, but I take a lot of pictures and it was starting to go through batteries pretty quickly, so I used some of my fun money savings to get a new camera. Now I’m trying to figure out, as is Chris, how to use it. We took it on our dog walk last night at Mooveover Trail and we enjoyed such a grand sunset. I thought I’d share it with you. This is looking to the west.

And this is looking towards the Sangres in the southwest

Of course, Chris had to climb up on top of a big rock and pose with his walking beverage looking to the east. We are blessed to have so many mountains surrounding us where we live.

This is before the dog walk when Shrek wasn’t sure if we were really going to go ;-}  Needless to say, he was quite happy when we were on our way.

Enjoy a great holiday weekend.

For all of you that are farm visitors in the spring during our Open Farm Days, you will remember that we raffle off 2 large fairy gardens each year and we use the money earned from selling raffle tickets to buy fresh produce to donate to our local food bank. This week was the week we got that accomplished and we were thrilled to be able to purchase all the fresh vegetables we donated to the food bank from our neighbor farmers at High on the Hill Farm here in Canon City.

Jan and Brad started their farm 2 years ago and they grow a rather large market garden filled with a great selection of vegetables. They are taking new customers, so if you are interested in buying your veggies farm direct, you can contact them at 719-726-9200 to find out what veggies are currently available and schedule a time to visit them to make your purchase.

We were able to purchase Swiss chard, 2 kinds of summer squash, 3 different peppers including sweet bells, serranos and pablanos, green beans, cabbage and beets – I think a couple other types too that are alluding my brain at the moment. They also had other vegetables available beyond the varieties we chose for our order.

So, thank you everyone who bought a raffle ticket this spring. We earned $182.00 in ticket sales and that purchased 84 pounds of vegetables to donate!!! Yahoo. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

This sweet wildflower is a native species of milkweed called Horsetail Milkweed and it is blooming like crazy right now on the farm. The butterflies and beneficial insects love this plant!! It is an important food plant, like all milkweeds, for butterflies.

So, butterflies are notorious for getting aphids, and for whatever reason, the aphids are always this bright yellow-orange color. They stay on the milkweeds and they attract beneficial insects like the ladybugs and praying mantis. This is an excellent milkweed to grow as a wildlife-habitat plant. It does re-seed, though, so it should be planted in an area where you don’t mind having them spread.

We had a new farm visitor this week. This woodpecker got my attention when I heard it pounding away at the honeylocust tree (aka: the peace tree) in our back gardens. Pretty cook!

Cornelia Funke and I are hard at work on our new children’s book about plants. We are working in a concentrated way right now to make a lot of good progress on the writing, and as these sorts of things do, this project has changed its personality a bit and has become a grander and bigger story about plants and plant exploration.

One of the things I did this week was drag out my old doctor’s medicine bag that I was gifted with by my parents all those many years back ago when I graduated from herb school. You’ll notice that this doctor’s bag is filled with botanical remedies not synthetic drugs like we have now days. This doctor’s medicine bag is from 1894.

That is the near to the time frame when one of the characters in our children’s book was born!

You can see that the containers are still filled and sealed with wax.

I also have a collection of old botanical remedy products. So, as I was getting out my old doctor’s medicine bag, I started looking through these old packages and bottles of herbal remedies. There is one of Bay Laurel leaves, which is one of the plants we plan to include in our story.

Another of the plants we are including in the book is Dandelion and here is an old box of cut and sifted Dandelion Root.

I love writing so much. It is especially fun when it is a story about plant exploration  discoveries and adventures!

All for now! With Green Thoughts, Tammi

August 28, 2020, Friday    (Private Event)

CNGA & Desert Canyon Farm will host a Member BBQ & Farm Tour event

Ever been to a certified organic farm? This is your chance to do so and see one of the earliest commercial certified organic greenhouse operations in this part of the country (certified in 1996). Join your fellow members and explore Desert Canyon Farm where they grow over 1800 varieties of potted plants for independent garden centers and nurseries in Colorado and northern New Mexico. You’ll learn how they custom grow perennial seeds for Jelitto Perennial Seed Company, including many Plant Select varieties. Plus you can see their heirloom fruit tree orchard and lots of different gardens.

But there’s more! – the farm is registered as a certified wildlife habitat, a Xerces pollinator habitat, part of the Colorado Division of Wildlife’s Birding Trail and a United Plant Savers Native Medicinal Plant Sanctuary.- wow what a place! In addition to all of these wonderful features, you’ll enjoy the gracious hospitality of the owners, Tammi and Chris, as you relax and share memorable fellowship with your CNGA friends.

The BBQ is free for CNGA members to attend, but we do ask that you register. Sign up here.
To maintain Covid related safety protocols, please wear a mask and maintain social distancing.

We thank our CNGA member BBQ Sponsors:
CABATech
CPS Distributors, Inc.
Harrell’s

Ben Northcutt

Membership Manager

Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association

Phone: 303 758 6672  Email:  bnorthcutt@coloradonga.org  Web: www.coloradonga.org

Location:  Canon City, CO- Desert Canyon Farm       Time: 4:30 PM 7:00 PM MDT

We made a fast trip to Nebraska to visit Chris’ parents (Well, they are my parents too) this week. We haven’t seen them since the winter holidays, so it was wonderfully good to see them and visit. We visited outdoors, social distancing, but laughing and catching up. It was great to see them all.

Grami with great granddaughter Lydia and Grandson Randon.

Oh, before I get side-tracked, remember that we have a Give-Away Reading Library at the front of the farm near the edge of the Desert Garden. If you like to read, stop by and see if you can find something good inside that peaks your reading interest. If so, help yourself and enjoy!

Two weeks ago, I visited Willowtail Springs in Mancos, Colorado for a few days of writing, needle felting and relaxing. The gardens there are so amazing. It is a peaceful wonderful place that inspires my creative juices and nurtures my body and spirit.

The picture above and the one below were taken by Mayo, the Marketing Person for Willowtail and the owner of Katnip Photography. She owns the copyright on these two photos. If you like what you see in her photography, check out her website Katnip.

I loved the day lilies that were everywhere in Peggy’s gardens at Willowtail Springs.

We are in the middle of the seed harvesting season. Today, Chris and Shrek were picking seed while I wandered around the farm snapping pictures.

Let me take you on a virtual farm walk-about.

This beauty is Mojave Sage, which is not only gorgeous, but smells incredible and takes you straight into the desert in your mind’s eye. The hummingbirds and sphyinx moths love this plant, as do the bumblebees. It is also a Plant Select plant variety. This is one of our flower seed crops.

One of my most favorite perennial flowers is this Leopard Flower. To me it looks so exotic and the colors are truly amazing. Another seed crop here. After flowering, it gets dark purple-black berries when the seed is ready to pick.

Monarda Bergamo is just so incredible right now! This seed crop smells and tastes delicious! It is a great digestive herb and good for reducing fevers and soothing a sore throat. The leaves and the flowers are used. They are also great for cooking, and make an excellent substitute for oregano with a lemony twist to it. The bumblebees and other types of bees are all over these flowers right now!

Last year, Jelitto Perennial Seed Company, who we grow all these seed crops for, introduced this very special Gaillardia called Fire Twister. It has fluted petals and has different shades of orange, red and yellow. It is a most lovely Gaillardia to grow in the garden. Honeybees love it as much as I do.

Red Birds in a Tree is the appropriate name of this perennial seed crop. Another Plant Select variety, the hummingbirds are crazy for this flower and it’s easy to see why, with its bright pink color. See how the flowers are shaped like little birds, hence the name.

The whole flower field is jamming, with new flowers and ornamental grasses blooming every day now. It will be like this until Thanksgiving and there will be seed to pick until Thanksgiving!

Closer to the house are gardens of many stripes and colors. In the south bird garden there is a mix of native plants and beautiful non-native perennials.

Right next to our front porch is a patch of gorgeous volunteer Hopi Red Dye Amaranth and Sunflowers. Both of these serve as wildlife food for birds, raccoons, skunks, and two kinds of squirrels. The Amaranth is also a dye plant and a traditional southwestern native food plant. The leaves are nice cooked or eaten raw in salads. Of course sunflowers are also a food plant, but these here I grow just for the wildlife.

If you peek through the Desert Willow Plant, with its beautiful delicate pink orchid-like flowers, you look into our Desert Garden, which is planted in the center of our U-shaped driveway.

Desert Willow is also a native large shrub in the southwest and a favorite flower of many different kinds of pollinators.

The Desert Garden is filled with native plants of the southwestern States, including Colorado, Utah, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. You will see Native Zinnias, Indian Paintbrush, Agave, Yuccas, Penstemons, Fernbush, Ephedra, Fragrant Ash, and tons of other amazing plants.

Behind our house is my garden, The White Rabbit Garden, which is planted with so many different kinds of plants. There are lots of herbs, some veggies, shrub and miniature roses, Passionflower vines, even Osha grows there. In the center is a fire pit for cool evenings in Fall and Winter.

The Grannie Ducks, Hannah and Gretel, live in our pond with turtles, fish, frogs, red-wing blackbirds, other types of birds. The deer visit them several times a day for drinks. The Grannie Ducks adopted us two years ago when they came to live with us in our pond. They give me endless smiles. They are super old, and seem to be quite happy living in the fruit garden that surrounds the pond.

The fruit garden has peaches, cherries, loganberries, raspberries, blackberries, Juliet shrub cherries, dwarf mulberries, wild plums, and a fig growing in it. We also have an heirloom and heritage fruit tree orchard in front of our greenhouses with apples, nectarines, apricots, plums, peaches, pecans and walnuts too.

So, that’s the end of this virtual farm walk-about. I hope you enjoyed seeing some of the wonderful things that live with us on this piece of land.

Now, here is a question for you…do you have a bowl or basket or some other special place that you keep some of your special treasures and memories?

This is my bowl of special treasures and memories, which has been collecting bits of treasure for about 30+ years. Three is a blue glass egg, acorns, an American ginseng root, old glass bottles, feathers, a cashew nut in it’s shell from my honeymoon in Costa Rica with Chris, there are snail shells, stones, leaves and butterfly wings, seashells and a sand dollar, even a bit of deer antler I found in my garden one day. Every single thing is this bowl has a story that goes with it and priceless memories for me. Some where found at my home, many were gathered on trips or hikes and a couple things were gifts from special friends.

What’s in your treasure bowl of memories?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have a skunk family living in the desert garden and they are truly so much fun to watch. There are 4 youngsters and mum.

I’m writing to you this week from my writing/stitching retreat at Willowtail Springs in Mancos, Colorado.

I try to come here once a year, or at least every other year, and this “Garden Cottage” becomes my home for a few days. This year, I was supposed to come here to teach, but with the Covid19 situation, the classes were postponed until next summer 2021. Peggy and Lee invited me to still come, so I’m here enjoying the beauty and peace of this nature place.

The gardens here are world renowned and with good reason. Peggy loves to grow beautiful plants and the gardens suit her grandly. Her husband, Lee, makes it all possible by making sure that all the gardens can be watered, and we are not just talking about a couple of gardens, we are talking about probably 3 or more acres of gardens!

Meet Steve, who has worked with Peggy and Lee for years as a gardener. His love and care of the plants shows! I also enjoyed the company of Mayo, who is the right hand office person for the Cloys, and Lee. Sadly, I don’t have a picture of either of them to post here, but they are wonderful.

My time here is split between working on the children’s book project I’m working on with Cornelia Funke, taking walks and enjoying Willowtail’s outside spaces, and working on my new needle felting project.

I started this on Monday night (above).

Here is my progress from last night. Needle felting is so much fun. It allows me to enjoy working with the magic of colored thread, or in this case colored roving, and it moves right along so the projects don’t take as long as my embroidery projects typically do.

Last weekend we were able to visit Jake and Lizz’ farm off of Oak Creek Grade. There is this amazing Old Old Juniper tree there, and I couldn’t resist getting their picture sitting under it with Tess, their white Shepard.

The mother does and their fawns are all over our own farm these days and we are enjoying them so much! Here is mum in the back White Rabbit Garden.

Her fawn caught up with her, but not before first doing a bit of exploring in our desert garden on it’s way to the back garden.

Our swimming pool, with it’s swim tether system, has proven to be a great thing! The tether system allows us to truly “swim” in this small 15′ diameter pool. Chris is a serious lap swimmer, and with all the public pools closed from Covid19, having this set-up has meant he could continue getting in his daily lap swimming exercise. I use it too, but my swimming is much less serious. Still, it is great exercise and a chance to cool off (the pool is not heated) in the extreme hot temperatures we have been having the past several weeks.

I’ll leave you with this picture of the rock walls at The Banks area near our farm. Our evening walks with Shrek take us to this beautiful place often.

Yesterday, in the late afternoon, a wildfire began about 15 minutes from our farm. It started as a 1/2 acre and now is nearly 300 acres and 0% contained and just on the edge of town. It’s no wonder with temps near 100 degrees everyday, hot wind in the afternoons and NO monsoon rains so far. Yikes!!

Our farm ambassadors are plum worn-out, so they have been repurposed.

One of the projects that was supposed to happen in the spring, but I never found the time to accomplish it, was to plant a new garden in front of the Farm Stand sign and near the entrance door. Last weekend, I got that garden planted. The scarecrow farm ambassadors were filled with straw, so they were taken apart, the clothes bagged for another time, and the straw used as mulch in the newly planted garden.

This garden will be extra special because it contains two very special trees.

One is a Dine (Navajo) Peach tree that was grown from seeds gifted to a propagator friend by some Navajo Grandmothers that have been growing these peach trees on their land since the time of the Spanish Conquistadors were in Arizona. These Grandmothers wanted to make sure that the offspring of those original trees would be kept going. We are very honored to have one of those offspring trees and now it is living in this garden.

The other tree is equally special. It is a Downy Hawthorn tree and the haws from this tree taste like strawberries! No kidding – they really do! I have two of these trees to grow on the farm and one will live in this garden.

There are a lot of baby fawns now and they spend quite a lot of time here each day. This little one is one of a set of twins. They were outside my office window yesterday, so I snapped a couple of pictures.

This isn’t a great picture due to the window screening I had to take it through, but this is the other twin, who was headed for the shade of our north hedgerow. He managed to squigggle into the hedgerow under the maple tree and some other shrubs for a much desired nap.

This is my Yerba Mansa (Anemopsis californica) patch that grows just outside of the Plant Barn Greenhouse door. One of my favorite native medicinal plants and super important in my herbal medicine cupboard, Yerba Mansa is used for its antimicrobial benefits. It is especially useful for respiratory infections. It is the root that is mainly used and it tastes TERRIBLE, so I use it in tincture form. This is not an herb for preventative use, but rather is used when there is an actual health challenge happening.

On the trellis is one of our Passionflower vines (Passiflora edulis). This is native to sub-tropical regions and is found growing in the southern United States, but it is completely hardy here, and tolerates the hot summers so long as it is watered once a week, and the freezing minus-teens temperatures of our cold and snowy winters.

Look at this gorgeous flower!! It definitely reminds you of the tropics, doesn’t it, and it will produce passion fruits that are completely edible and delicious.

Another wonderful shrub is Fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium), which is in the background of this photo with the white flowers. This is a plant that likes hot, sunny and dry locations. It is native to the southwestern North America.

The honeybees and native bees absolutely love the Fernbush flowers! When it begins to bloom, they don’t waste a moment’s time, and get right busy working the flowers. The foliage of Fernbush is very fragrant and I love the smell of it. Brush against a branch of Fernbush and your nose will get a treat for sure.

At the base of this scarecrow is a vining native gourd called Coyote Gourd (Cucurbita palmata). This grows everywhere near my home. It also likes hot, sunny, dry locations, although this particular plant years ago decided it wanted to be a garden plant, and it grows along the driveway edge of the White Rabbit Garden here at the farm. I have made an agreement with this specific plant that as long as it vines along the edge of the garden, it is welcome to stay, but if it insists on vining into the garden and growing over top of the garden plants, then it will have to go,

Coyote Gourd has small gourd fruits that are a bit bigger than a ping pong ball. You can harvest them and dry them and then decorate them with beautiful paint or etch designs into them.  The gourds are filled with a very bitter pulp that is high in saponins, which is a constituent that suds up when it is exposed to water. Indigenous peoples where Coyote Gourd grows sometimes use this sudsy pulp to make a soap to wash clothes with.

An FYI about Coyote Gourd…if you live where it grows, use care before you walk through a patch of it, as this is a preferred shady place for rattlesnakes to hang out. Carry a stick with you if you must walk through it and roust out the snakes before you come upon them, aye.

The other happening of the week is that our yearly supply of firewood was delivered from the sawmill nearby. We heat our home using a wood-stove, and so we must have a good supply of ready firewood. Kaila will be stacking it nice and tidy and then we will be ready when the cold weather returns – hard to imagine that right now when it’s 100 degrees outside.

All for now. Enjoy a lovely week!

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

The Farm Stand store closed in mid-June and I’ve been trying to get things planted in my gardens, the house cleaned up after the spring chaos, and attempting to settle into something of a more normal routine now for the summer.

Lizz gifted me with a black hawthorn tree, which is now planted in the Goddess garden. I’m thrilled to have it in my garden! The plants on this cart have found their way into garden homes around the farm, and the food garden is finally planted. The weeding is overwhelming, and I haven’t even begun to get a grasp on that, plus there are roses needing pruned and a new garden in front of the Farm Stand sign waiting to be planted. Of course, all of this is in addition to the normal farm work each day, but slowly things are getting done and it feels pretty good to see the progress happening. Oh, and did I tell you I picked my first garden cucumber of the season yesterday? Ahhh…life is pretty good when a fresh cucumber finds it’s way onto your lunch plate!

As we are talking about surviving the spring crazy season and settling into the summer season, well… we are also starting to plant for next spring already. Lizz and I harvested some soft wood cuttings of the native Black Currant bushes this week to propagate plants to sell next spring in the Farm Stand. So the cycle continues to spin.

The farm is full of baby wildlife, which is very special to us, and reminds us of our true tiny role in the life of all things on this Earth. If you look closely at this picture, you will see that it is a tiny fawn curled up in the grass, staying “still and invisible” just as its mother told it to do, as I accidentally came across it while walking across our orchard. I often have my camera slung over my shoulder for those “just in case” picture opportunities, and this was one such moment when I was thrilled to have my camera in hand. Without hardly breaking my walking pace, I snapped a quick picture so as not to linger or disturb this wee creature and kept on walking.

If you come across a baby fawn or other baby wildlife critter, it is almost never abandoned or orphaned, but rather just “staying put” where mama left it. These fawns stay hidden in bushes and tall grass while their moms go off to forage. It is a way to keep the wee babes safer until they are a little older and better equipped to take on the world they have been born into. Don’t touch them or linger around them….just go on your way and mind your own business. 99.9% of the time mama will be back to fetch them in a little while. Best for baby animals, their parents and we humans if they don’t get attached to us.

Then, last night I was weeding in the garden and pulled a couple of dandelions near the Furman’s Red Salvia, when I noticed a clutch of quail eggs hidden away in the salvia plant. Mom was not nearby that I could tell, but I stopped work weeding that section of the garden and left to work in another area away from the nest so as not to disturb things further.

We’ve discovered a new trail to walk on for our evening dog hikes. This is a beautiful area not far from the farm.

The Scarlet Gillia is blooming right now profusely in these wild places.

One of my favorite native medicinal plants, Asclepias asperula, is close to blooming. The common name for this in wildflower id books is often Antelope Horns, but herbalists know it as Immortal.

Ever smell a Ponderosa Pine tree? These beautiful great trees have bark that smells like vanilla or butterscotch, depending on who you ask. I lean toward aroma of butterscotch. It is with great pleasure that I sniff the bark of the Ponderosa when we are on our hikes.

I want to tell you about an excellent book I’m reading right now. It was a gift from our friends Cheryl and Jerry, who know that I consider gardens and wild nature spaces as sacred places. This book follows that way of thinking too.  Actually, Chris and I watched a movie some time back about the woman who wrote this book and it was a wonderful film called “Dare to be Wild”. I highly recommend the book and the movie for people who want to think about their gardens as places where they are the visitor and not the master of a nature place. You won’t be disappointed.

Finally, we celebrated Dad’s 80th birthday with ice cream and smiles. Very special.