Natural Landscaping

2015-04-13 13.18.35-1

Two years ago, our new home was a blank slate. Nothing grew on our lot, not even weeds. We’re located on a hillside, and the summer rains were eroding the subsoil left by the builder. It could have been discouraging, but I couldn’t wait to get started.

Landscaping is so much fun! It’s a chance to be creative and to express one’s personality. While I had some help with the overall design (the builder provided a voucher for a professional designer), the result is exactly what we had in mind. Our little piece of Colorado Springs reflects my love of birds and other aspects of nature, plus my husband’s desire for a place to relax.


Bird Photography: A few more tips

Pete photo of YCNH @EvergladesNP 31dec07 LAH 751This is the last (at least for a while) post in my series on better bird photography. If you missed the earlier posts, just type “bird photography” into the search box at right. I guess you could call these the odds and ends I didn’t mention earlier!

I think of line as the path my focus takes as it moves through a photo. Where do I look first? Where do my eyes go from there? In these examples, my eyes follow an S-curve as I look at the Swan Goose, while they move diagonally through the photo of the Black-necked Stilt. There’s a reason that pictures of meandering rivers and paths are so popular. We visit all parts of the image as we wind our way through. (more…)

Bird Photography: Balance & Color

Eastern Rosella Parrot_CheyenneMtnZoo-CO_LAH_4110As I mentioned last month, if we want our photography to look like art, we need to study art. I find that the more I learn about composition and design, the better my pictures turn out. Here are a few more things to consider when looking through your viewfinder.

Objects in a photograph have visual weight to them. Imagine that your photo is a seesaw, supported by a point in the middle. For example, a large, black crow to the right of the picture will tend to pull that side downward unless balanced by something else on the left side. Just as with actual weights, two or three smaller objects can balance one big one. Most pleasing pictures are visually balanced. Remember that a large open space can also have weight, so you don’t need clutter your composition. (more…)

Having a Row to Hoe

veggie-rows-dianapicchietti-monument-22july05-lah-025rEarth Day is this weekend, and what could be a more appropriate celebration than starting a vegetable garden. And for those of us in the Pikes Peak area, it’s finally time to get some dirt under our fingernails.

If this is your first year growing veggies, the first order of business is finding a promising spot for the garden. I talked about this in a previous post. Next, you need to decide how big to make the garden. This involves not only your desired yield, but also how you lay out the garden. Will you have traditional rows, wide rows (pictured here), beds (raised or otherwise) or a combination of these? Today I’m going to talk about rows… next Thursday I’ll cover beds.


Coops (continued)

hen_blkforest_20090729_lah_7828Last week I wrote about the design and layout of chicken coops. Today we’ll talk about the inside.


If your coop is large, you’ll need some light inside so that you and the hens can see. Also, chickens lay eggs when days are long, then stop and molt when fall arrives. If you want them to continue producing eggs into the darker months, you’ll need an artificial light source (and electricity).


Xeriscaping: Watering Zones

In our part of the world, water use is a huge issue. Western gardeners need to take their garden planning one step further, and think of plant materials in terms of their water needs.

Many of our traditional garden trees, shrubs, and flowers come from areas of high rainfall, such as the eastern United States and Europe. They need more water than they will receive naturally in this area. In order to keep them healthy, we have to irrigate on a regular basis. This puts a strain on our limited water resources.

Little water, bright color
Little water, bright color

Instead of buying the same old plants, why not take advantage of our distinctive western climate and grow plants suited for Colorado?

Xeriscaping just means making efficient use of the limited irrigation water we have available. This is done by planting in watering zones. The concept is simple: different plants need different amounts of water to survive and thrive. Just as most familiar plants need constantly damp soil, many of our most beautiful and interesting Colorado species will rot if their roots are always wet. (more…)