Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Houseplant season

In autumn, a young woman's fancy gently turns to thoughts of...houseplants. Several of my plants died during the move to Colorado--some because I left them on the patio too long (my poor violets!), some because they were stashed in the low-light basement too long, some just from general trauma and perhaps homesickness. I went into a holding pattern for a while, keeping the survivors alive, taking cuttings from semi-rotted succulents, and just waiting for time and interest to catch back up with me.

Finally! I am ready to get back into the swing of things. I had left many plants behind, mostly easy-to-find things like pothos and philodendrons and holiday cacti. This left me with a dearth of hanging plants that I needed to correct. I was thrilled to find a great source of cool plants here in Fort Collins - Fort Collins Nursery. I also received the order I placed with Glasshouse Works a few weeks ago.

New juniors from Glasshouse Works

I'll post more pictures later, and an updated inventory, but for now, here's the plant I won at the Sustainable Living Fair in September. It's a croton, Codiaeum variegatum, very pretty. Unfortunately, I know what happens to crotons in my care! I've had it for a couple of weeks and it's already lost leaves. It droops every two days. According to Mr. Subjunctive, it WILL get spider mites, if I don't kill it first. I'll do my best but sorry, little croton, you may be doomed.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Cleaning up the aspen grove

Our aspen grove lies between the meadow and the ravine south of the house. The larger trees are about 30 feet tall, and there are dozens of saplings. The High Park Fire burned through much of the grove in June, killing smaller trees and damaging or killing many of the large ones. Since the grove is so visible from the house, and it is our preferred source of firewood (aspen is less resinous than pine), we're diligently trying to clear out the dead trees this fall. For a small grove, it is turning out to be a daunting task, and it sets an ominous tone for the acres of burned pines awaiting our attention.

This was the aspen grove just after the fire, on June 29. IMG_9709

It was easy to see at that time what burned and what did not. IMG_9713

On September 11, we started clearing dead trees. This was taken from the deck just before we started. IMG_9963

Yesterday, this was the grove: IMG_0001
It's impossible to see a difference but trust me, there are far fewer trees now! Even with dozens of dead trees cleared out, there are a LOT of saplings and many larger trees still alive. Once we're done for the season, I will take a picture from the deck for a better comparison.

Some larger trees lost their lower limbs while the tops remain intact. IMG_0006

As I lopped off small dead trees (1 to 1 1/2 inches) in order to increase sunlight to the forest floor, I observed new growth at the base of nearly every tree. Aspens have thin bark, useless against fire, but their underground stems survive and even seem to be stimulated by the heat.

Here is a section that we haven't cleared yet; most or all of these trees are dead: IMG_0011

while this adjacent section didn't burn at all. IMG_0018

There are two piles of logs waiting to be bucked (=sectioned into fireplace-sized pieces). IMG_0004

TMCH built this nifty foldable bucking stand and is sectioning logs as fast as he can. I then put them in the trailer and drive them up to the woodpile. Like all of our neighbors, we are going to have more wood than we will ever be able to use!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Aspens in autumn

We have our very own aspen grove. It was hit hard during the fire and we've been clearing dead trees out seemingly non-stop, but plenty still stand. In late September/early October, they look pretty amazing.