Spring Planting

Spring comes early to Las Vegas … at least we're hoping it does. We've noticed the trees budding and leafing out as we take our morning walks. The temps are a bit warmer and each day is minutes longer. We're getting itchy for a change and what better way to exploit our itch than to plant a garden. We surveyed all the local places for plant availability and price. We were opting for seedlings versus seeds. Walmart had all the regular flowers and veggies. Lowes and Home Depot were a bit more expansive in their offerings and the prices were good. The local Star Nursery has slightly higher prices, but the variety, quality and knowledgeable clerks sometimes make up for the price difference. We spread the wealth and bought stuff at each place.

We started with a large ceramic planter for the front entryway. It gets direct sun and lots of it. David ran a soaker from the sprinkler system to the big new pot. We bought bright purple and yellow violas, pansies and dianthus, all of which like full sun, and filled the planter.

big pot of flowers in las vegas nevada

Next, we chose three lavender plants for the side entry which we've just discovered has sprinkler heads. David fixed the ones that were broken and exposed those that were buried. After rock removal and a bit of soil work, the lavenders are in and looking fine.

lavender on the side of the house

Mary is working on the new backyard raised planters. She's keen on different varieties of peppers and tomatoes and likes to experiment with new things like kale and artichoke. Herbs are key on her grow list and she chose lemon balm, lemon thyme, basil, cilantro, mint … the list goes on. We'll be a well-herbed family and she plans to use them in her summer menus.

I took to the internet to figure out how to prune cacti and succulents. The universal answer … carefully! Armed with pruning sheers and long tongs, I trimmed back our prickly pear, removing several decayed and errant pads. I doubt it had ever been pruned. The aloe and yucca were also trimmed back and the front yard is looking much improved.

pruning prickly pears

There's still much to be done in the landscaping department. David wants to build a deck with more planters. We'd like to add a couple of trees and some shrubs and perhaps some border plants along the back wall. There's no rush. Las Vegas has four planting seasons and we'll do a little bit each time we visit. In the meantime, it was great being outdoors and initiating the rites of Spring.

Let's hope Mother Nature doesn't decide to do winter again!

Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve

henderson bird preserve nevada
henderson bird preserve nevada

Instead of our usual morning walk around the golf course, we drove four miles to the Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve to enjoy some early morning peace, quiet and bird-watching. As I've said before, we're not “twitchers”, i.e. avid bird watchers, but we do enjoy watching and identifying birds in beautiful settings.

Located at its Water Reclamation facility, the City of Henderson has done a great job with the bird viewing preserve for nearly 20 years. Over 140 acres of land including nine ponds provide lots of safe area and nesting for residents as well as welcome rest stops for migrants and visitors. It's one of our favorite places to visit when we're in the area.

henderson preserve nevada
henderson preserve nevada

We've never spent much time at the preserve during the winter months, so we weren't sure what to expect. We were waiting at the gate when it opened at 7 am and spent over two hours walking the maze of paths around the ponds. We certainly got our 10,000 steps in without any difficulty. Of the nearly 300 species identified on the preserve's checklist, we saw only a few and most of them were waterfowl. That said, the species we saw were relatively new to us (or our memories have failed us once again). The northern shovelers were in great abundance.

northern shoveler henderson preserve nevada
northern shoveler henderson preserve nevada

...and I don't remember seeing (or ever hearing about) buffleheads before. It's a great name though.

bufflehead henderson preserve nevada
bufflehead henderson preserve nevada

While ducks, coots, Canada geese and grebes swam peacefully on the ponds, falcons and hawks soared overhead looking for breakfast. The wary desert cottontails hid inconspicuously in the bramble and the smaller birds took refuge in the reeds and grasses along the shore. We saw one coyote prowling just outside the preserve's fence … watch out bunnies.

henderson preserve nevada
henderson preserve nevada

I got a kick out of the Quail Crossing sign with all the Gambel's quail milling around … obviously not jaywalkers.

quail crossing henderson preserve nevada
quail crossing henderson preserve nevada

The place was nearly empty during our entire visit other than a few photographers trying to catch the morning's “magic light”. Hopefully, serene, beautiful places like this will continue being supported and funded by local governments and organizations, providing a great place for walks and birders and a safe haven for our avian friends. We look forward to returning on our next visit to Las Vegas.

henderson preserve nevada
henderson preserve nevada

Valentine's Day 2017

happy valentines day It's Valentine's Day tomorrow and, of course, we plan to celebrate in style. Ethel M's, a local upscale chocolatier, has a botanical cactus garden that is pretty spectacular to tour during the day. Around Valentine's Day each year, they dress it up with a half million sparkling colored lights and open it to the public for night time viewing. We visited last year and decided it was worth another visit this year.

ethel m's cactus garden las vegas nevada

The night was mild and mellow. The full “Snow Moon” was obscured by the clouds. There was a sizable crowd at the gardens, but the number was not overwhelming. We strolled hand in hand along a maze of cactus-lined paths that twinkled and glowed in the darkness. Reds, pinks and purples dominated the “Lights of Love” (corny, huh?) display.

ethel m's cactus garden las vegas nevada

The use of backlighting and shadow made for interesting viewing. A new technology (at least to us) known as meteor shower lighting accounted for a fireworks effect. Dazzling brightly colored reflections danced on the walkways … candy for the senses.

ethel m's cactus garden las vegas nevada

We've made plans for an intimate, romantic dinner at Casa di Amore, a noted Italian restaurant in town that touts “Vegas the way it used to be”. Since we don't know what “Vegas used to be”, it'll all be new to us … but the reviews we read are great. We don't dine out all that often, so we're looking forward to this special occasion. How could we go wrong on Valentine's Day eating at Casa di Amore (House of Love)?

To look back at how we celebrated in years past, take a look at Valentine's Day in Australia in 2014 and Lesotho in 2015.

 

Hoping you're loved on Valentine's Day!