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Of all the flowers I have growing around the house now, you would think that I should have a Columbine - after all it is the Colorado state flower (and has been for 110 years)! And now I finally do. The Columbine I have growing is not the White and Lavender Columbine (Aquilegia Caerules) that the Senate Bill 261, declared and Colorado Legislature approved on April 4, 1899 to be the state flower, but it is a Columbine that naturally occurs only in Colorado and its close proximity.

Mancos Columbine (Aquilegia Micrantha)

Today's flower-herb is Sweet Woodruff or Wild Baby's Breath (Latin name: Galium Odoratum). What, you have never heard of it? Perhaps that's because you are too young or not German enough. Until 1981 Woodruff (Waldmeister i.e. "Master of the woods" in German) was used in Germany, to flavor May wine ("Maiwein" or "Maibowle" in German) and beer (Berliner Weisse) among other things, but no longer.

Sweet Woodruff aka Wild Baby's Breath, Waldmeister, Galium Odoratum

Today's flower of the day is Scarlet Globemallow (aka Copper Mallow and Red Falsemallow, Latin name - Sphaeralcea Coccinea (Nutt.) Rydb.). This Colorado native plant requires very little water. While it is extremely drought and somewhat shade tolerant and will survive in most infertile soils, tiny amounts of water, full sun and organic matter will make this plant really thrive - expand rapidly and bloom with larger and more flowers.

Scarlet Globemallow (aka Copper Mallow and Red Falsemallow, Latin name - Sphaeralcea coccinea (Nutt.) Rydb.)

Today was another fun day on the farm. I spent the morning spraying the nasty perennial noxious weed, Canada Thistle with Milestone. Canada Thistle is also widely known as Canadian Thistle, California Thistle, Creeping Thistle, Corn Thistle, Cursed Thistle, Field Thistle, Green Thistle, Hard Thistle, Perennial Thistle, Prickly Thistle, Small-flowered Thistle and Way Thistle. Its Latin standard name is Cirsium Arvense.

Cosmos Bipinnatus (commonly known as Garden Cosmos or Mexican Aster or Cosmos)

I planted this "Giant Double" Peony from DirectGardening.Com in the fall of 2005. (Picture taken on May 27, 2009.) Now, almost 4 years later, it has finally grown big and happy enough to bloom. Granted, I didn't do a great job of selecting a site and planting it, but four years until the first flower is absolutely nuts! (Amazingly, it looks like the two peonies from Walmart that I planted just last year will start blooming in a few days, as well.)

Blooming Giant Double Peony from Direct Gardening

Optima is Eureka's line of small lightweight upright, reasonably full-featured and inexpensive ($40 - $80) vacuum cleaners. Included in this line are the following models: 430, 431, 431A, 431AE, 431AX, 431AXZ, 431AXZE, 431B, 431BX, 431BXZ, 431F, 437AZ, 439AZ, UK431A. Some of these are older, refurbished or models unavailable in the US and Canada. Current model numbers for USA are only Optima 431BX (available from, Optima 431F (available from Target), Optima 437AZ (available from Walmart) and Optima Pet Lover 439AZ (available from Best Buy).

Eureka Optima 437AZ vacuum cleaner and an old base with wheels fallen off

Two of the five choke cherry seedlings that I planted three years ago survived my inexperience of planting in Colorado clay soils, years of drought on Colorado eastern plains and multiple attacks by the "killer" rabbits that seem to browse chokecherries less than almost anything else we have growing around here. The trees are now more than four feet tall. Their bloom period is rather short (at most three weeks) and the flower smell is rather pungent, but not unpleasant. Blooming peaked late last week.

Choke Cherry (Prunus Virginiana) blooming in front of the house

Three years ago we planted 50 seedling wild plums (latin name Prunus Americana, also known as American Plum and Goose Plum) in front of what was previously a greyhound doghouse that prior to that was used for raising pigs. Last year we already had a few flowers on the trees, but none turned into fruit.

Wild plums in front of the converted greenhouse

Weather on the eastern plains of Colorado can be torturous for spring blooming plants like lilacs. Dry mild winters and strong winds combined with sudden subfreezing temperatures in April is the recipe for disaster. March often brings good rains and warmer days to Colorado, promoting early flower formation. Then you get a mid April frost and they are lost.

Lilacs in full bloom

This year we once again ordered "Farmyard Assortment" from Sandhill Preservation Center in Calamus, Iowa.

Last year we had great success with our day old mail-order chicks from Sandhill. For only $20 (plus $12 for insured shipping by USPS) last July we got 6 Bantam and 22 regular chickens of various breeds, as well as a Fawn turkey. Of the six Bantams, half (three) have died very young, as did a Single Comb Light Brown Leghorn and a Buff Minorca. Of the 24 surviving birds from last year only nine are roosters (one of which is a Bantam).

Month old chicks from Sandhill Preservation Center

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