I still have apples

I am happy to report that I still have baby apple, plums, cherries, a few pears and the best lilac bloom ever.  The thermometer hit 30 degrees twice last week but the babies endured.  Is it global warming or only a cycle?  Whatever, for the first time in 29 years that I have lived here near Alfalfa, Oregon, I am going to have fruit on my trees.  Awsome. 

Blooming Right Now

The wild flowers are just beginning to really go into show mode.  It never ceases to amaze me that this terrain, this soil, that is just sand and for much of the year looks dead and barren, bursts into bloom in the spring. Life truly is wonderous.

Is this prairie rocket (Erysimum asperum) or western wallflower (Erysimum occidentale)?


Death Camas, Zygadenus venenosus


Bitterroot, Lewisia rediviva

Blooming Right Now

The wild flowers are just beginning to really go into show.  It never ceases to amaze me that this terrain, this soil, that is just sand, and for much of the year looks dead and barren, bursts into bloom in the spring.  Life truly is wonderous.


Is this prairie rocket (Erysimum asperum) or western wallflower (Erysimum occidentale)?




Frosty Nights

The challenges of gardening out here on the high desert and at the foot of the Cascade Mountains are many, but to me, the worst and most frustrating are the frequent spring and summer frosts.  We are on frost alert right now, full moon tonight, a risky time.  This apple bloom time has been the mildest (in terms of few frosty nights) in my 29 years of living here on this property..  I have had one tree full of apples once, and maybe three times we had a couple apples.  This year I am almost giddy, all four apple trees have fruit, as well as plum and pears trees are with babies.  Now I say my prayers, because tiny, baby fruit can still be frozen off of the limbs. 

Two nights ago it was 30 degrees on the thermoter in my front yard, but we had rain the night before and everything was wet, so not too much damage was done.  I did, however notice a bunch of my strawberry blossoms blackened.  Meanwhile, since there are not too many clouds this evening, I will carry in several dozen tender potted plants, I just do not trust it.

If we get through this crisis spot, we will maybe be safe again till mid-June when we often have frosts again.  Watch out around the forth of July and mid August.  Actually any night of the year can frost here in Central Oregon.  I have seen snow fly around the forth of July several times.  Our climate is warming, however, whether global warming or other causes or cycles,  I might get apples this year and  am for the third time having a lilac bloom. 



Ten Miles NW of the Badlands

The wild flower season is moving right along out here ten miles NW of the Badlands.  The sand lilies are just finishing up, and the western wall flower, milk vetch and larkspur are in full swing.  Just beginning, or in bud are the daisies, groundsel, bitter root and death camas.  All around Central Oregon the bitterbrush is in full bloom and soo fragrant.  It is a great time of year, the high desert at it’s finest.

Through the next month to month and a half is a really great time to visit the Badlands east of Bend, go Highway 20 to milepost 16 for the trailhead, the desert widl flowers are in their finest show. 

Juniper Trees

I do love juniper trees.  I feel sad when people call them weed trees, though by some definition they may be.  They spread into land that has been disturbed by man and animals  and have doubled their range since the early 1900s.  And they are not a commercially viable lumber on a large enough scale to get respect.

Juniper trees have been around this area for a long time, with their being much more widely distributed 2,000 to 4,000  years ago.  It is figured that 400 years ago their range was around what it is in our present time, and that the decline began about 200 years ago.  They get quite ancient, hundreds of year old.

Their berries are a major winter food source for many birds including robins and grosbeaks, as well as being a medicinal and a culinary herb. They flavor gin.  The bark can make baskets. The lumber is beautifully grained and is used as a specialty item. My mother, Margaret Meritt, a local artist, used juniper scenes as on of her favorite subjects and found them quite successful.  

I was impressed to see that their value is beginning to be recognized.  The Pronghorn Development, a golf community on Powell Butte Road that is situated in a beautiful juniper forest, is digging and potting the junipers that are in their way.  They put them in huge lumber pots, to be replanted later.  Good job.

Things I like about Bend

To follow Chuggnutt’s lead. 

I have lived in Bend a long time. We moved here in the winter of 1948-49, I went to H.E. Allen grade school (where Third Street Safeway is now) and graduated from Bend Senior High School (go Lava Bears.)  Bend of the 2005s is very different from Bend of the 1950s.  Some things have been lost from small town living and some things have been gained from growth.

Here are some the things I appreciate:

Choices of good restaurants, the Pine Tavern was about it for fine dining in the 50’s and early 60s.

Theaters, music, art galleries, movies, things to do.  There was not a lot back then, that is one reason I escaped right after high school graduation.

The round abouts and their art, it feels so cosmopolitan.

I have always loved our library, I whiled away many a happy hour in the children’s room when it was on the main floor of the old library in the back.

That it is still small enough I can live "in the country" and have a short, pleasant comute.

Juniper trees.










A sunny day sandwiched  between rainy days, the perfect time for planting seeds in the garden.  Things like carrots, lettuce, beets,  swiss chard and kolirabi; some flower seeds like hollyhock and poppies.  What fun.

The color was spectacular

Sure enough, the rhodies and azaleas were in full bloom.  They can be almost garish in their bright colors.  The iris’s were very nice too.  The shades of green in spring time down there are like a tapestry, just amazing.  But here I am, back to my high desert grey tones.  With all of this rain, however, things are looking actually lush.  I especially noticed the sagebrush (Artemesia tridentada) was looking positively radiant this afternoon.  The sand lilies are in full bloom, that is a picture of a sand lily at the top of the page, second form the left.  Were there is more moisture, the dandelions are spectacular.  A good year for dandelion wine, so many good blosoms.