Tag Archives: landscaping

Dragon Season

Dragon Rock emerges from winter rest
Dragon Kite created by me

It’s February, a season for dragons. We dug up this rock last summer when we planted the maple tree. I think it looks like a dragon’s face. I’ve watched it in summer, fall, and then lost it in winter. It gradually reveals itself as snow melts. Is it a coincidence the props manager for this season’s children’s theater  asked me to make 5 kites, and one must be a Chinese dragon? I don’t think so! I must need dragons this season. They’re here.

Chinese dragons are useful and powerful. Most live in water. Our creek has been running nearly all winter, so unusual. I can hear it from the house though it flows through the culvert beneath our drive with room to spare. Did a dragon bring this on? (I don’t think so.) Dragons bring rain, and probably snow, that’s needed for irrigation and they can prevent floods or stop them. “It is said that the dragon is a large-scaled reptile, which can become dark or bright, large or small, long or short, and fly into the sky in the spring and live underwater in the fall.” Perhaps my rock, which was buried all these years, has lived under snow all winter, a frozen form of water. Maybe it wants us to move it to the creek. We can do that. Fabulous Husband is just waiting for another tractor landscaping project, no doubt.

I welcome the strength of Chinese dragons this season as snow melts and spring appears. “The Chinese dragon symbolizes power and excellence, valiancy and boldness, heroism and perseverance, nobility and divinity. A dragon overcomes obstacles to achieve success. He is energetic, decisive, optimistic, intelligent and ambitious.

Unlike the evil energies associated with Western dragons, most Eastern dragons are beautiful, friendly and wise. They are the angels of the Orient. Instead of being hated, they are loved and worshipped.” Here is a fascinating site about Chinese dragons. For now, I’ll consider the dragons emerging in my life as donors of some powers I need now, or soon will.

 I will show the other 4 kites when I get their photos. I turned them into the props manager before I photographed them. One of the kites I painted after a Georgia O’Keeffe flower. It didn’t look like it fit with the rest. You can see that kite here before I painted over it.

I learned how to draw a dragon here and here. I cut a worn sheet and painted the kites with acrylics. I used wood dowels and string for the frame and then attached the kites to the frame with duct tape, the wonder tool. I found simple instructions for making a kite here. I hope they really will fly when I get them back after the play.

This is my response to the weekly photo challenge: seasons. Share an image evocative of the weather or represent the current “season of your life” in metaphor.



Mullein Meal

Landscaping to attract nature is not particularly challenging when you live in an ecotone where forest meets field in rural Idaho. Ecotones, the spaces where two environments transition into each other, are rich in diversity. These areas provide for more wild life than either zone on its own. Native Mullein grows readily in disturbed ground here and when this set planted themselves in my new vegetable garden I wanted to see how they would flourish. The fence is about 5 feeet tall so you can see how large these mulleins grew in top soil we brought up from the riverside. I didn’t expect to see this White-headed Woodpecker searching for insects that inhabit the flower stems. It worked over these plants for several days, as well as a stand of them along our gravel road.

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Designing my yard and garden to attract interesting birds and pollinators in the Rockies means promoting plants that attract these animals while resisting damage from deer, ground rodents, range cattle, and drought. Mullein is a sound choice that does all that and it’s a intriguing flower to watch develop. It’s super easy to grow and you’ll see it spring up in dry fields like a weed. These pictured grew as volunteers, but I have dug up the first year plants, the leaf sets, and successfully transplanted them. They build flower stalks their second year. This a fabulous plant for children’s gardens where they can feel the soft fuzzy leaves. Plus mullein is a wonder plant for respiratory problems and many other health issues. I dry the leaves in fall and make tea when my allergies attack.

If you don’t have access to the plant where you live, contact me and I’ll send you some seeds free. If you can find the plant try getting seeds from the flower stem and planting them in fall or transplant a first year root.

The color of warm

Interior design, landscaping, or fiber arts, the color of warm speaks for itself. You can plan warm hues to pop against contrast or gently blend its expression in a gradient like the sun set. Primary colors red and yellow evoke the feeling of warmth. Blue feels cold. Gradients of the warm hues say, “Feel warm! Feel warm!”

Interior design and landscaping

Before it was the trend I painted my west wall terracotta, a warm deep orange-red of America’s Southwest canyon lands. I wanted to feel warm in my coastal cottage like the sun setting at my Idaho home in the Rocky Mountains. I lived and worked on Washington’s North Olympic Peninsula in winter. The Strait of Juan de Fuca mirrors the season’s forever heavy grey sky. Evergreen foliage reflects monotonous daylight all day, the dull feeling of bleak, so I couldn’t feel time passing with the moving sunlight. The daylight just didn’t change through the day in winter.

Yet bunches of tiny crimson berries on my huge ancient holly tree screamed “Feel warm!” through my east window. People walking by in the mist would stop and stare at the red globes contrasting with spiky two toned leaves, entranced by the warm winter message. On cool holidays I clipped branches and left them by the side walk for people to take home. In a few January days, hundreds of buff breasted robins wiped out every bright fruit on the tree and sang a long crisp cheery chorus. The red berries and birds warmed the foggy landscape with their hues. “Feel warm!”

Fiber Arts, Knitting

While I knit a scarf for a child I am thinking of her favorite color, PINK, lots of PINK. Not my favorite color but I realized that I am knitting warmth not just with the warming power of wool but with the color of warmth. While knitting, I am warmed from the wool in my lap and the action in my hands but, on an intuitive level, I feel warmth from the gradients of red and yellow, orange, pink, and fuchsia. I like to play with contrasts so the colors pop, looking even more intense. Sometimes I put the contrast in the design, other times I show it with what I wear with the knitted garment. In some recent designs, I see that I have selected color ways from the warm hues for hats, socks, ear warmers, and i-pod cozies, too.


I photograph almost everything I knit before I give it away and some local shops have asked for my portfolio. Today, I considered the knitted items as subjects for a photo series on warmth, the color of warmth and I paid attention to a color pop already in the knitting design of a baby hat. How can I make my knitting portfolio more engaging? Let me get started with the first step. Most of these photos were taken indoors with natural daylight shining through a window. I used my Olympus E-10 DSLR, on manual at 125, F 2.7. I could have bracketed the shots but I wanted to see what comes from that setting. It was 4 degrees Fahrenheit last night and 18 degrees when I went outdoors to catch the sunlight and the contrasting blue sky for the scarf. The camera slowed down after several minutes in the outdoor cold while I was in the artist mode. Time and temperature were not affecting me until the tool told me to go indoors where it would feel warm.

Art is about observation, looking, listening, and feeling. And some skill and practice.