Natures Goofballs

by Sandy Swegel

Nature’s such a goofball. Friday afternoon I was busy carrying the weight of the world. My mom has become bedbound. My dog has pancreas problems and has to eat and poop every two hours. I broke a tooth and there was nothing for dinner because I forgot to go to the grocery.  You know the kind of day.

So I took the poodle for a quick walk at a nearby lake.  The dog ran free and I look at wildflowers.  As we hiked there was a crazy flash of yellow all around. I tried to see what it was but by the time I looked, it was gone. The dog jumped at one of the yellow flashes.  A few feet further and there were more…and then I understood.  The sulfur butterflies had just migrated in. Everywhere tiny Sulphurs were frenetically flying in great swoops or zig-zagging so fast I couldn’t catch a picture.  They had just filled up on the nectar of a field of bright yellow wildflowers and now were wildly playing in a sugar rush of joy and delight.  What goofballs I thought.  How am I supposed to be depressed and downtrodden when yellow goofballs are flittering all over?

As if that wasn’t enough joy, we came upon the lake and it looked like it was Labrador dog day at the lake.  No less than seven labs were there bouncing in and out of the water chasing imaginary sticks or biting at the water.  Labs are definitely the goofballs of the dog kingdom.

It was all just too silly so I forgot about impending deaths and money worries.  Butterflies and labs are here to tell us that life is to be enjoyed like silly goofballs.

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Use Red to Make Your Garden Pop

by Sandy Swegel 

A friend is a marketing guru and always talks about wanting to make things “pop” whether its brochures, interior design or gardens.  Fall is a great time when colors pop. We naturally think of New England with its amazing Fall display. In fact, East Coasters coming to Colorado are often disappointed their first Fall. It is gorgeous here, but it’s pretty darn yellow. Yellow aspens are beautiful, but yellow and brown don’t pop as red does.


A neighbor has a wild red unkempt thicket of shrubs and trees along his fence that makes people stop in the road to take pictures. The key to its glory (besides the fact that it requires virtually no upkeep except watering) is huge shrubs and small trees…all with lots of berries: orange pyracantha with blue euonymous, intermingled with red viburnum berries. The whole thing is held together by a wayward Virginia Creeper vine that is one of the plants that does red here in Colorado.


Most of our gardens may be better organized. But a wild uncontrolled area that “pops” with bright reds and oranges is a joy to behold as the growing season winds down. Then the regular yellows and golden and brown of your xeric garden or your fading vegetable garden look beautiful against their red backdrop.



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Coming Soon: Grand Finale of Color

Coming Soon: Grand Finale of Color

by Sandy Swegel

Quit tidying up. There’s something you seldom hear. Sanitation in the garden is important year-round, but September is special in that we are slowly building up to the grand finale of Fall Color that changing leaf color brings. You can help make that more spectacular in your garden.

Leave colorful fruit where it falls. Keep the leaf blower locked up. This is the time to let the red hawthorn berries litter under the tree.  Likewise, crabapples and plums can be beautiful fallen amid leaves. In the vegetable garden, pick the huge squashes that are past their prime, but leave a few gnarly yellow gourds or huge white patty pan squashes next to the plant to show off in the crisp fall light.

Plant fall plants. Fall blooming crocus are sending up vivid purple heads now. I’ve spread them around so they come up like wildflowers here and there. I do the same with fall mums at the garden centers. I pick the smallest pots I can find and plant them here and there throughout the garden…like little mushrooms of bright color popping up.

Water if it’s dry. Lots of places had a drought this summer so you need to water to be sure that trees and perennials go into winter well watered. You also want to water so that the last leaves on plants stay in place and turn color instead of just drying up brown and falling off. A fall garden that is too dry just desiccates into brown ugliness.

No more deadheading. Let the rose hips turn brilliant orange on spent flowers.  Leave the finished sunflowers in place for little finches to land on.  Keep picking up diseased leaves and apples so rotten they call every raccoon in the neighborhood to gorge. But otherwise, get out the rocking chair and wait for the show.

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