Returning to a Southern Oregon Spring

A fitting finish to our spring fling!

Our journey home was a footrace with the weather. It was as if the tornado warning at Palo Duro State Park, TX, was a premonition of what was to come. Dark storm clouds threatened us (or worse) all the way through Colorado, Utah, and Nevada. Thankfully, the eastern Sierras surprised us with a few days of warmth on which we thrived. Our final destination prior to the final push to Ashland was Butte Lake in Lassen Volcano National Park, home of the massive cinder cone and new territory for Sooney. Alas, the campground was still closed, so we hiked to the cone anyway and then located a private road on which to dry camp. The following morning was chilly, rain morphed into sleet, and finally the snow arrived. Thankful for our sturdy truck, the drive home was long and wet. There’s nothing predictable about spring.

It turned out to be a perfect time to return home, for Paradise Lane lived up to its name in spades. We pulled into the driveway after a long drive from Lassen and both of us, as if choreographed, exited the truck and proceeded directly to our back yard to reunite with a longtime friend. Blossoms were everywhere—large, small, fragrant and maybe not so much. Back-lit sun showers cleansed the air while we searched for strawberries and admired the fava beans fixing nitrogen into our fallow beds. Weeks of preparation 8 weeks earlier were amply rewarded and ours to enjoy.

After a predictable faux summer in mid-April, long-anticipated rains had returned to southern Oregon. Combined with oblique sunlight filtering through nearby trees, vivid colors took on a supreme richness with watery jewels suspended from every leaf. Wandering among the plants, we were dampened by branches heavy with moisture and embraced with fragrances both bold and subtle. Overhead, billowy clouds imitated faucets, fluctuating between sunlight and showers. And flourishing in all their glory were our wonderful irises. The traditional purple and gold “bearded” variety were fully developed and, although common, very special. Others had just begun their flowering: yellow ones, light blue ones, violet ones, and a white variety with a delicate blue trim. Waiting for prime time stood a couple of new ones that teased us as they ever so slowly unwound into their sublime majesty. And I associate it all to a sunny day way back in August.

Tim thinning out the bed.

Tim and Gay were visiting and helped dig up what was then an overcrowded iris bed. I’d watched a YouTube video where a professional grower showed how to dig up the plants, sort out the healthy ones with the best root stock, and replant them with plenty of space to grow. Tim and I dutifully followed all the instructions and reduced last season’s bed to a fraction of its size. An important tip from the video was writing the plant’s color right on the trimmed leaves with a sharpie pen before setting the rhizome aside to dry. It was that information that helped us lay out this season’s garden, resulting in 7 different colors and, hopefully, more to come next spring. The pleasure I get from growing (and sharing) irises adds so much to an already lovely southern Oregon spring. It’s also time to scout the neighborhood for colors we don’t have (and where to dig this summer).

Birds viewed during this (our final) leg of the journey:

Lahontan State Recreation Area, NV
American White Pelican, Double-crested Cormorant, Great Egret, Black-crowned Night Heron, Mallard, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Killdeer, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Great-Horned Owl, Dusky Flycatcher, Black Phoebe, Western Kingbird, Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, Barn Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, House Wren, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, American Robin, European Starling, Blue Grosbeak, Bullock’s Oriole

River Fork Ranch (800 acre preserve owned and operated by Nature Conservancy) is located at 381 Genoa Lane, Minden, NV 89423 is located at 381 Genoa Lane, Minden, NV 89423 in the Carson Valley.

American Pelican, Green-winged Teal, Mallard, Canada Goose, American Kestrel, Bald Eagle, California Quail, Killdeer, Belted Kingfisher, Black-billed Magpie, Red-winged Blackbird, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Brewer’s Blackbird