Colorado is known for its fall aspens, but those tend to turn color and finish up by the first week of October. In Colorado Springs, our in-town color doesn’t really start kicking in in earnest until about that same time. So we get a nice long season of fall color most years. 

I’ve posted many times about the plants that are blooming in the park throughout the spring and summer seasons, but I’ve never really given a list of the trees that one can see in the north part of the park (the more “natural” part of the park where I concentrate my plant watching efforts). After a group of about thirty gathered for my annual tree walk early last month, I promised a list of the trees, so here we go….


Jacket closeup

I sewed a denim jacket! I had never even considered the possibility until I saw one turn up at Pattern Review, and it got the wheels turning. “Wait a minute….I have that marvelous Liberty of London twill that I bought, and I have been wondering what to make with it. I’ll bet it would look great as a denim jacket!”

(NOTE: If you’d prefer to read the somewhat shorter review I did on Pattern Review, you can find it HERE.)

Marvelous Liberty of London twill?? Yes! In July 2014 we visited London, and I came across Shaukat as a place for Liberty of London fabric. I thought it would be a good place to look for some fabric for a shirt for my husband. I would say Shaukat is THE place for Liberty of London fabric! Wow. And just a few feet inside the door, I saw this brushed twill version of the “Tresco” print, and it took my breath away. Two meters of it was my big souvenir from the trip. 


Choosing and Testing the Pattern
I was pleased to find there were jeans jacket pattern options from both Kwik Sew and Jalie, two of my favorite pattern companies. Unfortunately, they were all out-of-print. But with all our fabulous online resources, the upside is that one can still hunt for out-of-print patterns on Etsy and Ebay…AND there are sometimes PDF versions still available for printing. 


Crocus2016The poor little crocuses in my neighborhood may be starting to feel they have a stalker….me. Around mid-January, or whenever we have a nice warm spell early in the year, I start frequently visiting and closely observing the two sites where I usually see the first crocuses in bloom. Then I record the date! Not a terribly scientific process or record, it is fun.

This year I think I truly caught them on their first day or two since I visited four days earlier and there was no sign of them at all – not even leaves! From the photo, you can see it was early in the day before the sun had encouraged them to fully open.


So this year, it’s…..



The house finches don’t seem to want to be too predictable with their first mating song (that I hear, anyway). A few years, they’ve been early enough that I started to wonder if the “first” song of the year/season would start happening in late December of the previous year. But nothing like that happened this year!

It all seems to come down to weather. If we have big stretches of warm, sunny weather in late December and early January, I hear the song earlier. More traditional winter weather, and it is later. And I make a point of getting out often, so it doesn’t just come down to my not being outside as often in “real” winter weather. 

So this year, the winning date for first full house finch song is

Jan 28! (The latest date since I started keeping records!)

Here are my results from past years:

2015: Jan 23

2014: Jan 2

2013: Jan 17

2012: Jan 3

2011: Jan 3

2010: Jan 19

2009: Jan 12

2008: Jan 8

2007: Jan 15

2006: Jan 15

2005: Jan 23

Puccoon 2

This year’s “Wildflower Walk in Monument Valley Park” (sponsored by the Friends of Monument Valley Park) is coming soon!

I lead this walk every year (plus a tree walk in September). Recent heavy rains should make this one extra interesting. The walk is free and open to the public.

Join us and learn a little about the plants in the park!

Date: June 6, 2015
Time: 10:00 a.m. – noon
Where: Meet at the West Fontanero Street parking lot
(travel west on Fontanero St from Cascade Ave until it ends at the parking lot)


Douglas Fir in happier times in MVP


A few year ago I wrote a post about the trees we were losing to drought in Monument Valley Park in Colorado  Springs (see “What Severe Drought is Looking Like in Monument Valley Park”).  The drought and its effects have been harsh enough for us to even lose some of the super drought tolerant ponderosa pines that have lived in the park for years. We’ve had a bit more moisture the past year (including this past winter – yay!), but we are going to see the effects of the drought for many more years – especially on our older, established trees.

One tree species particularly hard hit has been the beautiful Douglas firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii). I started noticing they weren’t producing many cones a few years back, and then I started to notice browning of needles on branch tips, then whole branches started to die, and finally, entire trees were dead.

This continues, and recently the city seems to have found some funding to cut some of the dead trees down.


Group of Dead Douglas Firs Being Cut Down (check out that sky!)


The Douglas fir is native to the foothills in the Pikes Peak region and is classified as a low-to-moderate water user. Sadly, I predict within a few years, we won’t have any more of them living in the park.


Every year, I get motivated after the holidays to get my sewing room back into some sort of order so I can enjoy tackling new sewing projects. Things get a little hectic in there in late fall and early winter as I work on items for my Etsy shop (mainly the popular fleece Doctor Who scarves). Piles of fabric and other stuff form and grow….and grow. I’ve also recently moved from mostly quilting to sewing garments. This means different types of fabric and notions looking for homes in my sewing room – more piles. And several of the piles came to roost on an electronic keyboard and bench that was trying to make its home along one wall of the room. (In the photo, I’ve already done some initial straightening up – those piles of fabric are very neatly folded!)