Thursday, May 15, 2003

Well, it looks like it's working at last. The day is bleary and grey and dull, about how I feel...maybe it will rain. Tulip acuminata is blooming today, this has got to be at once, the strangest and most stunning tulip I have ever seen, so oddly beautiful. The petals are long, slender and pointed, yellow flamed red at the tips, and change position from day to day. If you like unusual plants, this is a must have! I got it from McClure and Zimmerman- Peony 'Bowl of Beauty' is also blooming and is everything I'd hoped it would be. We have a solar greenhouse, and this year I put in flowerbeds on two sides of it (the third side had flowers but needs to be revamped too). The new bed are planted in oriental and asiatic lilies, hardy gladiolous (nanus), and the front bed had irises, which I left a few of. The side bed tapers off into a rock wall edging, which I recently completed, planting thyme, sedums, and herbs between the stones as it was built.

My only concern at this point is the rodents; I'm not sure of their precise identification. The locals here call them 'whistle pigs' or prairie dogs, although they're quite a bit smaller than prairie dogs, about the size of a guinea pig, and they have a short little tail. They build extensive networks of underground burrows and tunnels covering a large area. If they get into your garden, you can just forget about growing potatoes or most other root crops, and expect water to drain away and reappear quite a ways away when you water the garden. They eat plant roots from under the ground, leaving a plant wilting and dead for no apparent reason until you pull on it and see that the root system is gone, and they love to eat tulip and other flower bulbs, but not narcissus and daffodils, which are posionous, and were therfore interplanted heavily with the tulips...My boys, ages 10 and 8, derive great entertainment in catching these gophers. They lay a large PVC pipe near a tunnel, watch out the window for one to enter the pipe, and then they run down and carry the pipe up to the house (triumphantly) and upend the pipe, knocking the critter into a wire cage or trash can. The critter always finds a way to escape within a hour or two, and so they begin their search for another 'pet'. Unfortunately, the escapees then expand their territory by burrowing closer to the house and garden. Once one ran into the house, what a circus that was!!! And now, it is time for me to go and milk the goats.

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