Sunday, September 14, 2014

Visiting New Mexico -- Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument near Santa Fe

Our friend Sue Baum, spending six weeks in Santa Fe taking pottery classes at Santa Fe Clay, was told not to miss the Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks, so we happily went along on her visit. The directions from Santa Fe were clear and the distance not far, but we still managed to take a series of wrong turns (picture below). On the trip back to Santa Fe we got it right the first time!
Road Closed! Eastern New Mexico
Road Closed! Eastern New Mexico
Tent Rocks was worth the wrong turns we made before finding it.

Kasha-Katuwe National Monument, New Mexico
Kasha-Katuwe National Monument, New Mexico
There were strange and impressive formations, a combination of rock and sand, variously eroded. Kasha-Katuwe means "white cliffs" in the Keresan language of nearby Pueblo de Cochiti. Layers of volcanic deposits alternate, the harder layers protecting the softer from erosion.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Plant Story--Aspen, Populus tremuloides, widespread and speading

Quaking aspen, usually just called aspen, Populus tremuloides, is a familiar plant, which is part of what makes it remarkable. A member of the willow family, Salicaceae, it is related to willows and cottonwoods, and more closely, to aspens of Europe and bigtooth aspen, Populus grandidentata. 

Though you may also know some of its relatives, in North America you are likely to know it as well. Quaking aspen is the most widespread tree of North America. Of something like 1,000 trees in North America, it is Number One. Aspen is found from northern Canada to Mexico, from the Pacific to the Atlantic coasts (map at USDA Plants). The elevational range is also great, from sea level to 10,000'. 

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Visiting Iceland--the Intriguing Westman Islands

Westman Islands from Iceland
Westman Islands from the seashore in Iceland
I read Icelandic history in preparation for a trip to Iceland in 2012. The Landnámabók, the Book of  Settlements, written sometime between 900 and 1300, describes that in the first year of settlement, 874 or 875 AD, Hjörleifr Hródmarsson drove hard 10 Irishmen, whom he had captured in Ireland and enslaved, making them drag the plow, as he had only one ox. The thralls (slaves) made a plot. They killed the ox and said a bear had done it. When Hjörleifr led them out hunting for the bear, the Irish thralls killed Hjörleifr and all the Norsemen who were with him. The Irishmen then took the women of the small settlement, food and weapons and fled by boat to offshore islands. 

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Visiting Kauai -- Additional Impressions

I wrote about our April trip to Kauai a couple times. Here are some pictures from the trip that don't fit very well anywhere else.

I didn't mention the chickens. Chickens are all over the island. At first you think you're seeing them just outside someone's yard. Then you figure out that they are feral, like cats in cities. 

feral chicken, Kauai

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Dye Plant--Sawwort, Serratula tinctoria, Obscure Historic Yellow Dye

sawwort Serratula tinctoria
sawwort Serratula tinctoria
I like rescuing plants. You know, taking a sickly little plant, giving it good light and regular water and watching it recover. My relationship with sawwort began that way. 

I was new to Colorado in fall of 2006 and finding plants for the yard of my new house. So I was looking on the end-of-the-season garden racks for promising marked-down perennials at McGuckin's Hardware Store in Boulder ("Colorado's Favorite Store"!). I chose a pot or two and got chatting with the clerk. She pointed me to the edge of the garden shop where a couple of run-down, sad-looking plants slumped over the edge of their pots and said I could have them, no charge. How could I resist?!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Visiting Denver--The Denver Botanic Garden, the Plants as Art

Dale Chihuly's glass art, in the Denver Botanic Garden until November 2014, is very much worth seeing, but when it is gone, the plants will still be there. Influenced by Chihuly's glass, I looked at the plants and saw some fantastic shapes and colors--

shrimp plant

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Visiting Denver--Chihuly Art at the Denver Botanic Gardens

Chihuly glass, Denver Botanic Garden
Chihuly glass, Denver Botanic Garden
The Denver Botanic Gardens are  a glorious place.

Right now there is an art display of Dale Chihuly's glass sculpture throughout the garden.

The art makes me think about gardens and art: plants are beautiful without sculpture--in the next blog I have pictures of plants from the Denver Botanic Garden that same day, seeing it as "great art, by Nature." (link)

But the Chihuly pieces are a "must see" while they're in Denver (until Nov. 2014). I like some very much, for others I thought the garden more beautiful before they were added. And so it was great fun.