Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pray for the prairie dogs, please!

I was in the Bozeman, Montana airport last September, waiting for my flight. An  ordinary enough fellow--probably my age--was sitting nearby with friends or family. He began telling them about he loved to drive out to thus and such a ranch in some Montana county and shoot prairie dogs, and how he did it in Idaho, and  here and there and everywhere it seemed. He was matter of fact: I don't know if it was for "sport" or for some sort of bounty (various agencies have paid for prairie dog eradication)...There was an undertone of cheeriness in his repartee I found incredibly repellent.

I have become very fond of the works of Joe Truett--a champion of Western conservation who writes eloquently and knowledgeably about this much maligned and misunderstood rodents: I highly recommend reading his book entitled Grass: in search of Human Habitat. You will never look at prairie dogs the same way ever again.

I sincerely hope there is some celestial place where the prairie dogs have the guns, and our Bozeman bozo is the prey. I find America's gun culture to be repulsive and contemptible.

These pictures of a tiny prairie dog colony--not more than a few thousand feet in extent--surrounded by apartment houses just a few blocks from my house. I am astonished at how they have persisted (and they're obviously loved by the surrounding apartment dwellers). There's another colony a few miles away that has a huge sign saying "For Lease or Development" in the middle of it...otherwise you have to many miles to see these original denizens of our region.

Of course, not only black footed ferret--but many other birds and mammals require prairiedogs for their survival: burrowing owls in particular will not persist without them. The very prairie itself is sustained by the churning of nutrients they bring to the surface. But alas, they're rodents--and humans have very little sympathy for that Order of Mammalia.

I have driven by this colony many thousand of times (it's that close to my house). I am embarrassed to say that this was the first time I actually stopped to admire and photograph them. Pretty eloquent testament to my own myopia. And I only did so because of visiting friends who were charmed and asked to stop.

You have to admit, they're really just as cute as pikas. Hard to believe we've obliterated so many in such a tiny moment of geologic time.

If you Google "Prairie Dog hunting" you will find out that there is quite a market for gun "afficionados" who love nothing more than blasting these little critters to bits. This is a typical page that shows how macho he-men get their jollies. I like to think of myself as a card-carrying liberal, who tolerates all manner of nonsense. But I have become more and more repulsed by the vast number of people who are enmired in all manner of "passtimes" that devastate what little tatters of nature are left.

Friday, October 21, 2016

A study in reds (Denver Botanic Gardens October 18, 2016)

All of these pictures were taken about 5:30-6:00PM on a rapid visit of two or three of the dozens of gardens at Denver Botanic Gardens. Ordinarily, we will have had hard frost by now, but this is obviously a special year. It seems the various shades of red/vermilion/fulminating scarlet are the theme of the evening and this blog, starting with Tigridia, which was still blooming in the Ellipse garden. For some reason, the images weren't all loaded sequentially--so scenes reappear randomly. So be it (I don't have the time or inclination to spend  hours fixing things!). I'll try and label what I can...

Diascia 'Flying Colors Red' in the Steppe Garden

Diascia 'Flying Colors Red' in the Steppe Garden

Diascia 'Flying Colors Red' in the Steppe Garden

Diascia 'Flying Colors Red' in the Steppe Garden

Diascia 'Flying Colors Red'  alongside Diascia integerrima 'Coral Canyon' in the Steppe Garden

Diascia integerrima in the Steppe Garden

Foliage of Arctotis adpressa in the Steppe Garden

Senecio speciosus
in the Steppe Garden

The Steppe Gardebn

Berkheya purpurea

Berkheya purpurea

Melinis repens in the Steppe Garden

Melinis repens in the Steppe Garden

Leonotis leonurus

Dia de los muertos altar

Dia de los Muertos dedication to staff horticulturist Ann Montague who died rather suddenly a month ago.

Ann's altar

Gate in Romantic Garden

Romantic Garden

Chihuly's "Colorado" sculpture in the Ellipse

Adlumia fungosa trailing in the parking lot

Adlumia fungosa

Digitalis purpurea v heywoodii

Aster tataricum

Eupatorium in seed

Amsonia in fall color

Aconitum carmichaelii

Verbascum nigrum in two color forms

Muhlenbergia reverchonii

Crataegus hybrida

Crataegus hybrida

Sweet alyssum (Lobularia maritima): incredibly fragrant

Chihuly's "Colorado" sculpture in the Ellipse

Chihuly's "Colorado" sculpture in the Ellipse

Hardy Agapanthus in seed

Katy Dickson taking a picture

Boston Ivy on the Waring House

Castor beans in the Ellipse

Chihuly's "Colorado" sculpture in the Ellipse

Amaranthus cruentus 'Joseph's Coat' mimicking Chihuly's "Colorado" sculpture in the Ellipse (or the other way around?)

Chihuly's "Colorado" sculpture in the Ellipse