Wednesday, March 2, 2011

A Few of My Favorite Things

by Laura Crum

Its been raining a lot lately, and I haven’t gotten to do much (make that any) riding for a couple of weeks. I also haven’t been able to get out in my garden much. We had such good weather throughout January and early February (when I wrote about riding the trails and the beach) that I am really spoiled and am now whining about what is very normal spring conditions here. Anyway, I wanted to do a post about things I love about my horses and garden—just to cheer myself up.

Many of us have written on this blog about not being able to ride as much as we want (or at all) for various reasons. A bad back or other injuries, too busy, the weather, fear issues, lame horses…etc. I have been subject to all these things from time to time, and even though I love my trail rides and have written about them often, I have to say that it’s the day to day living with horses that means the most to me. Horses as part of my garden, as it were. I like feeding and doing the chores, I like watching my horses turned loose to graze on the property, and I also like puttering around on their backs, sometimes with camera in hand, snapping things that look appealing in the garden. This is something I hope I can do even when I’m old—it doesn’t take much skill or athletic ability and its lots of fun.

I know I’ve mentioned here before that I love my garden, but perhaps I haven’t happened to confess that I’m pretty obsessive about roses. My passion for old garden roses is right up there with my passion for horses. I grow over a hundred varieties of roses here in this tangled, wild garden, as well as many native Californian plants, Mediterranean plants and bulbs—just to name the main players.

So here are some photos taken before the rain started, showing my garden in early spring.

My son’s horse, Henry, grazing in our riding ring at 23 years of age. For those who have started reading this blog recently, I bought Henry when hewas 19 and he remains perfectly sound and a wonderful, bombproof riding horse for my kid. He had colic surgery right as he turned 21 to remove an enterolith that was as big as a cantalope (its on my mantel—the ten thousand dollar rock), and has been as good as ever since he came back from this. Henry is the sort of horse that is almost impossible to find. Sound, absolutely gentle and reliable, confident trail horse, with good smooth gaits. We love him to death.

My trail horse, Sunny, grazing—this is his early spring color. He’s much darker gold when he sheds out. As you can see, neither of my trail horses are anything fancy, and should probably not be spoken of in the same breath as the sort of horses that Jami, Francesca and Terri are looking at buying. Mine are just a couple of hairy, sturdy little yaks who are great on the trails. They are both quite happy to have turn out time on grass instead of being ridden, thank you very much. But when I don’t have time or the inclination for a long ride, I often climb on them and walk and jog around the place, enjoying spring in the garden. That is, when its not pouring (which it is now).

So here are a couple of my early roses, shot from Sunny’s back.

Rose “Belle Story” by my front porch. Flowers very early in the spring—every year .

Rose “Mutabilus” reaches for the sky over my back porch. This one blooms all year round here.

The pond in early spring. The water iris will bloom later. The water lilies later still.

Laura and Sunny—note the sandals and halter. This is how unprofessional I am. Just puttering around on my horse in the sunshine. It takes me right back to my teenage years, when I loved to ride bareback in shorts and a bathing suit and sandals. Of course, I don’t look quite the same. But its all in how you feel, right? My husband insisted on taking this picture because he thought I looked silly riding in sandals. Thus my somewhat sulky expression. And yes, I do realize that it is not PC attire or gear, but this is the beauty of owning a couple of truly reliable riding horses. They may not be fancy, but they are highly unlikely to dump me—even bareback and with the halter and sandals.

Are there any other rose lovers out there? And do some of you, like me, like to putter around the garden on your horses? It’s a sedate, old lady pleasure in reality, I guess. I’m not galloping along as I would have at sixteen. Still, I’m having fun. Anybody else do this?

Also, do you guys enjoy these posts that are mostly photos? I have enjoyed seeing your photos on your blogs, but haven’t posted many photos myself in the past, mostly because my old computer wasn’t up to the task. Now I have a new computer (new to me) that will post photos. (Though as you can see by the placement of Henry's photo, I still haven't quite got this process down.) So, I’m curious—are posts with photos, or posts that are mostly photos, preferred, or do you like the “writing” posts better? And if you do like photos, what sort of things do you enjoy seeing photos of? Mainly horses? Or other things, too? I know I have very much enjoyed seeing photos that showed the landscape and gave the “feeling” of the various places that people and their horses call home. But maybe I’m the only one that has this thing for looking at roses? (I confess that I go to old rose websites and browse—so I’m kind of obsessed.) Any thoughts?


Anonymous said...

Fancy is as fancy does - they both look like great horses to me. I love best just being with and around horses, enjoying their personalities and interactions with each other and me. Riding is fun, but it's the day to day stuff that really makes me happy.

I do a bit of vegetable gardening and some native plant stuff - getting a bit of help from a teenager this year due to my bad back.

Vincent Diamond, author Holding the Reins said...

I'm happy with most anything y'all post. Whether it's pics or words, if it's about horses, I'm easy to please. I appreciate that you try to address serious issues such as horse rescue, and I also appreciate these light-hearted posts. The variety of interests (from dressage to roping to trail riding) give readers a taste of all disciplines.

Keep riding and writing, please!

Laura Crum said...

Kate--Yep, that's me, too. Just being with and around the horses is my number one favorite thing at this point in my life. And thanks--no, they're not fancy, but I like them--I think they're cute. Nothing like a 14.3 horse in my book (which they both are).

Vincent--Thank you. We all appreciate our readers very much, and I, too, love the variety of equine interests that this blog represents.

Martha Seaman McKee said...

What Vincent said. '-)

Francesca Prescott said...

Right, that's it, I'm coming over!!!! I'd LOVE to ride in my garden, but it would take a nanosecond to get from one side to other, and I've got a big garden by Swiss standards! But then Switzerland only has about 7 million people living in it...there's some international trivia for you! If I could have a trail horse as well as a dressage horse then I would, but our trails are kind of limited too. It's the space thing, you know. Well, that's part of it. Anyway, all horses are special, don't you think?

I love roses and have loads in my garden; wish I'd kept all the labels so I could brag about the names!!! I love old smelly ones (sorry, old perfumed ones!) and go out of my way at the garden centre to make sure I'm picking roses with a strong scent. And yes, I love seeing photos of you and your horses and your garden and environment.

Sorry to hear about the rain; if it's any consolation it's just grey and gross here. And cold, too.

But I'm going to Avignon in the South of France on Monday, to ride Mr Gorgeous Lusitano, and then vet him on Tuesday. Soooooo anxious.... I'll try to remember to take more photos of the landscape so I can show you :)

Laura Crum said...

Thank you Martha--I/we appreciate it.

Francesca--Yes! Lots of photos of the south of France, please, as well as Mr Gorgeous. I am crossing my fingers for you that all goes perfectly. And, I'm crazy about "smelly" roses, too. I have some real favorites in that department--I'll post about them some day (sneaking it in around the horse stuff). Have a great horse buying trip!

Shanster said...

Oh I would LOVE to have a Henry or Sunny in my herd! grin. That'll be the next sort of horse I look for when we have room for one.

Love green growing things. We have a wild rose bush outside our front door that I don't think you could kill if you wanted to... it blooms early June with bright pink single petals...not the traditional sort of rose.

I don't have an obsession with any one plant, tho' I absolutely love making our hard-pack, dirt yard into something nice to look at... we planted some native grass, I found xeric plants and our little "Deliverance" house is turning into a pretty little place. I'm jealous tho' of your climate and moisture... it's been difficult finding the right sort of plants at our place esp. when I don't baby them...they have to want to live! grin.

Shanster said...

Oh - I like both... wordy or pictoral!

Laura Crum said...

Shanster--I don't baby my plants either. When I say this is a wild garden, I mean it. The roses have to compete along with the native plants. Some can do it and some can't. I have about a fifty per cent success rate with the plants I've tried. Fully half of them have turned up their toes--roses included. But I love just watching what happens, what works and what doesn't. Needless to say, I've killed a lot of roses. But the ones who thrive here are genuinely tough plants. Of course, I've got a pretty benign climate. And my roses are not the fussy sort--big, vigorous brambles, most of them.

Dreaming said...

I saw a cluster of about 6 blades of green grass today - of course, it was coming up where there is supposed to be ground cover, so the only green I have seen is really a 'weed'! Your green grass is soooo beautiful!
I love roses, but I don't always take care of them that well - I don't always know what to do. I have a few plants in the garden - I actually gave them some water today - even though, as I mentioned, nothing is green...yet!
I agree with you about the joys of just being around and watching horses. My barn work is never a chore. Well, maybe when it is below 0.
As far as the type of post I like (and this is kinda what I do on my blog)... I like variety. Sometimes lots of pictures, sometimes just talk - blah, blah, blah!!

Susan said...

I like blogs with pictures, but I like good writing also. Your garden sounds and looks really nice. Take a look at my latest post to see how close things are to growing here.

C in WI said...

I like word posts and I also enjoy photos very much. Living in Wisconsin, we won't see gardens for months, yet, so I'm happy to enjoy yours through the blog.

I am like you. I love to trail ride and just fuss with my horses. They are all extremely tolerant and reliable and put up with my whims and silliness. It does remind me of my childhood on horseback where we practically lived on/around our horses from morning to night. I do wear a helmet now, though, as I feel it is sets a good example for the younger riders at the barn, and it is a safety thing.

Keep up the good work. I'm taking your latest book on vacation with me. :)

Laura Crum said...

Dreaming--I think those of you who endure these very cold temps in the winter are much braver souls than I am. I'm currently whining about a little rain.

Susan--I guess that's some consensus. Some photo posts interspersed with the articles and stories is what's preferred. Thanks for the compliment on my garden. I will try to check yours out.

C in WI--Thanks for reading my book. I would love it if you'd give me some feedback when you are done. I am currently working very hard to finish book number 12 and could use all the input I can get.

As for the helmet, yes, I know I should wear one. I'm not gonna defend my helmetless state. I do make my kid wear one. I will say that in a lifetime spent with horses, and knowing many people who have been seriously hurt and a few that were killed, I personally have known no one that a helmet would have prevented the injury. (I do realize that helmets have saved many lives.) The single best way to reduce our risk around horses is to ride/handle only gentle reliable horses and not attempt things that are over our/their heads. That and constant alert, knowledgable vigilance, even while handling this sort of horse. This approach would have prevented most of the serious wrecks I've seen. Again, not defending the lack of helmet, just pointing out that there is more than one way to reduce our risk with horses.

horsegenes said...

I love being outdoors and looking at the yard and garden that my husband tends to. I prefer ohhhing and awwing over it rather then to actually working in it. Thankfully my husband likes to work in the yard and have a vegy garden. I do my part by constantly telling how wonderful he and the garden are. We started a formal rose garden last year. We have room for about 8 rose bushes. Last year we only found 2 roses that we really wanted in there. So the hunt is still on for just the right ones. We decided that they have to be rich colors, fragrant with big lush blooms and pretty greenery.

And it goes without saying that any time, doing anything, with a horse is going to make me happy. Even the worse day with a horse is better than the best day without one.

I love pictures in the posts. Gives them a personal touch. The subject matter is all good. You guys do a great job with what ever comes along.

Laura Crum said...

kel--My husband does the veggie garden, too, which is the part of the garden that is the most work.

I can tell you about some lovely roses with rich colors and good scent, but my roses are all big, vigorous climbers and large shrubs, not particularly suited to a formal garden. i do not have any hybrid teas. However, I do have many old garden roses that are very tough and good "doers", so if you want some recommendations of that sort, do let me know. I like talking about roses almost as much as I do talking about horses (not quite as much, though).

horsegenes said...

What I know about roses you could put in a thimble. Any advice or hints you have would be greatly appreciated.

The ones we put in last year will be big hearty bushes. I left the tags on them so I will let you know what ones they are.

My daughter lost her old cat and insisted that we bury it in our rose garden. Then she went out and bought a rose to plant in the spot where she buried the cat. It isn't the type of rose that we wanted but what can you do? It is a smaller lavendar rose. I don't know if it will work out or not. The spot only gets full sun in the morning the rest of the day it is pretty shaded. In fact our whole yard is pretty much in the shade most of the day. It works well for a lot of plants but this is our first try with roses.

Laura Crum said...

kel--Roses do like sun. Some of them will tolerate some shade. Why don't you tell me what kind of color and form you like and I'll tell you what I have that's like that. I do not have "formal" looking roses. In the post the rose called Belle Story is about as big and formal of a blossom as I grow. The single rose called Mutabilus is much loved by me, but not quite what most people think of as a "rose". But yeah, I would love to help on the rose question--fire away.

A.K. Alexander said...

I love the photos, Laura! I also enjoy gardening if given a chance, although I don't have the green thumb that you do. As far as riding these days, it's become more about just the pleasure than any competition of it. I leave that up to my daughter.

Thank You for sharing!

Laura Crum said...

Thanks, Michele. Glad you enjoyed the post.

Anonymous said...

Hey Laura:
Back when we lived in Tucson AZ I had a rose garden and just loved it!!! If they have lots of irrigation then they do very well because of the sun shine. I too am a believer in the survival of the fittest!! No pampering by me, I have horses there is no time!!!
Now that we live in southwestern Ontario I'm going to have to figure out the secret to having roses here. And a veggie garden and I'd love to have some chickens....sorry getting ahead of myself here!!!!

Laura Crum said...

Lynn--I'm with you. Roses, a veggie garden, chickens...and horses, of course...are all essential parts of my garden.

HorseOfCourse said...

I also love roses, Laura.
And as you might guess I get SUPER envious looking at your pictures, because here everything is buried under a solid layer of snow...

My favourite is a rambler rose (a rosa helenae variety) which is called "Lykkefund".
It gives the most wonderful well of small white flowers with a tiny pink tinge around midsummer.
And it is sturdy. In our garden it is survival of the fittest, lol!

When it comes to the horses, I believe to have fun is most important. Both rider and horse.

Laura Crum said...

Horse Of Course--I have always wanted to grow Lykkefund! After reading your comment, I'm determined to find it and plant it here. My biggest problem with roses is that I have so many deer, and they LOVE to eat roses. So getting young roses going is hard. Once these big, vigorous ramblers get above deer height, though, there is no stopping them.