Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Cornucopia: Origins by Carol King

Cornucopia Photo
The cornucopia is the symbol of abundant harvest and is most often associated with Thanksgiving in the United States. It is a horned shaped vessel filled with an abundance of the earth's harvest. 

Cornucopia became an English word in 1508 when it first appeared in the dictionary. Its origins are from two Latin words; Cornu meaning "horn" and Copia meaning "plenty". 

The cornucopia has been a symbol of a great harvest for centuries and was probably first referred to in Greek and Roman myths and dates back to the 5th century B.C. My favorite is the Greek version: “ Almathea was a goat who nursed and raised Zeus. While playing one day, Zeus accidentally broke one of her horns. He was so saddened by this that he used his godly powers to fill the broken horn with whatever Almathea wanted so it became the horn of plenty. Zeus also put the goat's image in the sky and that is our constellation Capricorn.”

The symbol of the cornucopia was also used, along with rolling fields of grain, to lure new settlers to come to the New World. It is now in our national consciousness as a symbol for bountiful garden harvest and the sharing of food that has become our American Thanksgiving.  

Wishing you and yours a harvest of good food and good fortune! Happy Thanksgiving.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Amaryllis: The Joy That Keeps on Giving by Patti O'Neal

Samba Amaryllis, photo courtesy Donna Duffy

Amaryllis is a rare gift to a gardener, providing near instant gratification producing a magnificent spectacle in 4-6 weeks. It’s a gift of growing something and making it bloom right in the middle of snow and freezing temperatures. The trick for many is to get them to do it again the following year. 

Amaryllis is a tender bulb, meaning it does not require a chilling period to bloom.  These beauties originate in the temperate climates of South America where they grow and bloom outdoors.  Here in the chilly Rocky Mountains we enjoy them “forced” during the holidays of December and on into January and even February.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Gardening Power to the People: Planting Bulbs Video

It's not too late to plant spring blooming bulbs! Gardener Gail will show you how.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Prevent Floppy Paperwhites: Give Them a Stiff Drink by Carol King

Cornell University Bulb Experiment

Have you heard that drinking alcohol will stunt your growth?  Well this is certainly true with narcissus and amaryllis bulbs.

We bulb lovers love to force bulbs to bloom during the winter holidays.  They brighten an otherwise dark time in gardening. Narcissus (also known as paper whites) and amaryllis are notorious for getting tall and leggy and flopping over.  To combat this problem look no further than the liquor cabinet.

The Flower Bulb Research Program at Cornell University conducted experiments using various kinds of alcohol and discovered that plant height will be reduced by one third thus stopping the “flop over”. Alcohol interferes with water uptake, thus less cell stretching and shorter stems. Here are their recommendations:

“Start your bulbs in plain water. When roots have formed and the green shoot is 1 to 2 inches long, pour off the water and replace with a solution of 4 to 6 percent alcohol. If you are using 80 proof liquor (40 percent alcohol), that works out to one part gin (or the like) to 7 parts water.

Rubbing alcohol (either 70 or 100 percent isopropyl alcohol) can be substituted; just remember to dilute it more. Keep the beer and wine for yourself; their sugars damage plants.” 

Distilled spirits are watered down at a rate of 1 part to 7 parts water. Rubbing alcohol needs more dilution at a rate of 1 to 11.

So enjoy a glass of wine while you give the bulbs a good stiff drink of the hard stuff! Enjoy your beautiful shorter flowers.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Senior Gardening 5 – Tools by Carol Russell and Nance Tucker

Photo courtesy

The most important tool in the garden is either a mobile phone or an alert system. If you were to fall in the garden and couldn’t get up, a tool for communication would be essential.  Having a communication device will ensure that you can get the necessary assistance if needed.

There are a number of specially designed gloves that can improve your grip and protect your hands while you work. Some gloves have extra padding in the palm and finger joints that can improve grip, and cause fewer calluses and blisters.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Tips for Senior Gardening 4 - Raised Beds, Trellises, and Container Gardens by Carol Russell and Nance Tucker

Raised bed, Clear Creek Path in Golden, photo by Carol Russell

Raised garden beds, trellises, and container gardening are easier ways to grow plants and flowers because it brings the garden to you, eliminating most stooping, squatting and kneeling. They are also adaptable for gardening in a small backyard, an apartment patio, or on the grounds of a retirement home.

Raised Beds
To eliminate bending and kneeling entirely, think about raising your garden a few feet above the ground. Raised garden beds are great for seniors as the garden planters have legs bringing the gardens up to your level. Table beds are elevated and offer a shallow bed of 6” - 12” at a raised height and can be tended while sitting down. These beds are especially good for the chair-bound individual who wants to be able to get his legs underneath the bench so that he can work comfortably. 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Tips for Senior Gardening 3 – Pathways, Don’t Fall this Fall by Carol Russell and Nance Tucker

Concrete pathway, photo by Donna Duffy
After being diagnosed with a degenerative disease that affects balance, my first question was “How will I be able to continue gardening without falling?”  I found that garden accessibility starts with paths. Accessible paths allow for increased mobility and safety of movement throughout the garden. I went to the garden and wandered down a path: my typical walkabout. Was the path easy to walk on or was I paying more attention to where I placed my feet rather than smelling the roses? Edges in the garden are hazardous. A flagstone pathway is much more treacherous than a flat cement path.  

Also, places to pause are an integral part of pathways.  Did I need to sit down to appreciate a beautiful flower or a combination of great perennials? I should consider this location for a bench. Is the pathway cool as a result of shading? 

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Tips for Senior Gardening 2 - How to Design and Modify Your Garden by Carol Russell and Nance Tucker

Benches provide places to rest, photo by Donna Duffy
When I found out I had a degenerative disease I also learned I was part of a large group:  nearly 20% of Americans have disabilities. Although not everyone is handicapped, we all age. We need gardens that can take care of themselves as we mature.  My garden, like yours, needs to be easy to access, reasonably low maintenance but still beautiful. Following are a few design elements I learned, with advice from some experts, on transforming your gardening from a daunting list of chores into a rewarding, joy-filled activity. 

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Tips for Senior Gardening 1 – Maturing Gracefully with Your Garden by Carol Russell and Nance Tucker

Nance Tucker in the Jeffco PlantSelect Garden,  photo by Carol Russell
Many of us from the baby boom era are approaching retirement thrilled to finally have time to play in the garden but also with angst because our bodies just don’t function as they once did. After I was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease, I thought my gardening days were over - not so. I continue to garden and continue to learn. However, I needed some inspirational tips and science-based knowledge to improve my long-term, quality-of-life in the garden.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Fall Rose Care by Donna Duffy

The arrival of fall brings the realization that winter really will be here soon. Among all of your other fall garden chores, be sure to plan some time to get your roses “tucked in” and ready to brave whatever winter may bring. According to the Denver Rose Society’s publication “Growing Roses in Colorado,” there are five basic steps to remember.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Stratification and Vernalization of Seeds for Fall Planting By Joyce D’Agostino

With the arrival of fall, typically most gardeners feel that their work is done, other than possibly pulling vegetable plants that are finished and raking leaves. 

But if you would like to get a head start on planting some great flowers for next season, fall is a good time. There are actually some plants whose seeds need to have a certain amount of cold and darkness in order to germinate and establish. We are all familiar with planting flowers and vegetables in the spring, but all plants have different preferences for reseeding and growing. For example, some perennials and biennial plants are best sown in the fall to allow them to develop a strong root system. This method is called Stratification and Vernalization.

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Fertilize Bluegrass in the Fall for a Green Spring Lawn by Carol King

Photo Carol King
Did you know that fall is the best time of year to fertilize Colorado's bluegrass lawns and you still have lots of time to do this?  If you fertilize now, you won't have to do anything in the spring but watch your lawn turn green.

Planttalk Colorado give us the advice to "simply fertilize with nitrogen sometime during late September to early November at lower altitudes, and earlier in the mountains." 

The benefits of fall fertilizing include a healthier turf before winter, a healthier root system, and stimulating a turf that greens up earlier in the spring without excessive top growth. 

Fall fertilization produces dense, green spring lawns and should be a part of every good lawn care program.

For more information including how much nitrogen to put on your lawn see this fact sheet: