A Public Garden to Visit Now

This is National Public Gardens Week. I was all primed to write about all the public gardens we can visit, but as you know, many (most?) are inaccessible. For example, there are currently ten thousand tulips are blooming at Denver’s Botanic Garden, and no one can go see them. It breaks my heart.

I was feeling a bit despondent—I desperately crave flowers by this time of year—when I considered that not all public gardens are surrounded by walls. I typically drive to Denver because spring comes earlier at  5,280 feet than it does here in Colorado Springs (with our 6,000 – 7,000+ foot elevation). But we have gardens right here in town that I can visit any time.

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Ducks Do It

Two weeks ago I explained how birds manage to have sex. But somehow, there are always those species that make things more complicated. Last week’s explanation applied to 97% of bird species. But a few kinds of birds don’t follow the flock.

Take Cassowaries, for example. Both the male and female have what appears to be a penis attached to their cloacas, although the female’s is somewhat smaller than the male’s. It’s used during copulation, but it doesn’t channel sperm. Instead, after penetrating the female, the male expels his semen directly from his cloaca.

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Getting Into Shape

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When we think of combining flowers in a flowerbed or border, the first consideration that usually comes to mind is color. Do we choose warm  oranges and yellows, or cool lavenders and whites? Or do we combine the two, juxtaposing orange and yellow with deep violet, for example? Of course, color isn’t the only issue. Plants have other features that we should also take note of, such as height, foliage, and, in particular, bloom time. (There’s no point in combining flowers if they bloom at separate times of the growing season.) Then, we need to ask if they have the same cultural needs—shade vs. sun, or damp vs. xeric, for instance.

But how often do we consider flower shape when pairing blooms?

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Birding Your 5 Mile Radius

I love looking at birds. I love getting outside, going for a walk, spying that tiny ball of feathers nearly invisible in the bushes or hiding in the grasses. On a really good day, I even have the thrill of adding a new species to my life list. But now that I’ve been birding for 16 years, I find myself looking for an additional challenge.

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Stocky Seedlings

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If you’re planning to grow a garden this summer, odds are you intend to start at least some of your plants from seed. Here in Colorado, with our short growing season and unpredictable weather (such as the 70 degree drop last week), it’s worthwhile to start a lot of those seeds indoors.

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Birds Do It

Birding is not for prudes. Everywhere I look, birds are busy making sure there will be another generation to carry on. It must be spring.

First it was the Cooper’s Hawks. We noticed two on recent trip to a county park. The larger one, the female, was sitting on a branch, preening. The smaller male zigzagged closer and closer as he flew from tree to tree, finally landing beside the female. There was a bit of a chase, some friendly bickering, and the next thing we knew, she had flipped up her tail, allowing him access. He was quick to hop on, and in a matter of a second or two, the deed was over. I hadn’t even had time to focus.

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