Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Spring-planted Bulbs, Corms and Roots

Photo courtesy pixshark.com

As you are thinking about your summer flower garden, don’t forget to include spring-planted bulbs, corms and roots. Some examples include gladiolus, dahlias, canna, lilies and tuberous begonias.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Pollinator of the Week: Flower Flies

Tachinid fly, photo courtesy of Beatriz Moisset
The two-winged insects (flies, gnats, mosquitos) is a very large and varied group. Many of them specifically visit flowers, such as the Syrphid flies or flower flies. They are not as hairy as bees nor as efficient at carrying pollen, but some are still good pollinators. The USDA Forest Service provides the following information about Fly Pollination.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Hardening Off and Transplanting Seedlings

Seedling Photo by Brooke Coburn
It is time to begin to transplant tender seedlings outdoors, and seedlings that have grown indoors up to this point need special treatment before being planted outdoors. These seedlings are used to lower light levels, protection from the elements, and ample water. So they will need to adjust gradually to the outdoor environment, a process called hardening off.
Hardening Off
Photo Brooke Coburn
Shade for new seedlings by Brooke Coburn
About a week before transplanting, begin placing the seedlings outdoors for a few hours each day. Place the plants in a location with light shade and protection from the wind so as to avoid scalding and wilting. A shade cloth, tree, or trellis can provide adequate shade. Each day, gradually increase the amount of time the seedlings spend outdoors until they can be left out even overnight. Keep a careful watch on the weather forecast, however, and be sure to bring the seedlings inside if temperatures are going to dip near to freezing.
Transplanting
Transplant seedlings on an overcast, cool day, if possible, after the danger of frost has passed. Loosen the soil and dig a hole for the transplant. Carefully remove the seedling from the pot, keeping as many of the roots intact as possible. Place the roots in the hole and move loose dirt back around to support the stem of the plant. Water right away with a solution of half strength fertilizer. Keep newly transplanted seedlings well-watered for the first three to four weeks after transplanting until they develop a larger root system.
Summary
Gradually acclimate seedlings to the outdoor environment by providing protection from sun and wind. Transplant on a cool, overcast day, and continue to provide sufficient water until the root system has developed. See the links below for more information and to find your local frost dates.
Sources
Buying and Hardening Seedlings http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1802.html



Monday, May 13, 2019

Pollinator of the Week: Leaf Cutting Bees

A female leafcutter bee collecting pollen. Image courtesy of Jim McCulloch.
This article is excerpted from Leaf Cutting Bees (Megachile spp.) by Beatriz Moisset, USDA Forest Service.
There are about 242 species of Megachile bees or leaf cutting bees in North America. They belong to a larger group that includes also other leaf cutting as well as mason bees; these are all very good pollinators with very interesting habits.
Megachile bees are black and furry. They vary in size, on average about the same size as a honeybee. Most bees carry pollen in baskets on their legs. However, Megachile is different; the underside of the female’s abdomen is particularly furry and is used for this purpose. If you see a black bee, about the size of a honeybee, with a yellow belly, you probably saw a Megachile.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Carnation, The First Mother's Day Flower by Carol King

Photo Colorado State University
Carnations were the very first Mother’s Day flower given when Anna Jarvis, Mother’s Day founder, distributed her mother’s favorite flowers, white carnations in 1907, during the first Mother’s Day memorial service.

"The Carnation Gold Rush" is a term used by Denver locals, historians and preservationists to represent the period between the 1880s and 1930s when the floriculture industry developed and thrived in Colorado.  Denver was once called The Carnation Capitol of the World, there were so many grown here!

Here are some interesting links about the carnation connection to Colorado history:



Carnations are members of the dianthus family and there are several hardy periennal varieties that work well in Colorado. They also called “pinks” from the Latin word pinct, which means pinked or scalloped, referring to the jagged edges of the flower petals. Here is a fact sheet on growing the “Darling Dianthus.”

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust


Happy Mother’s Day! 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Dealing with Hail By Joyce D’Agostino


Hail, photo by Joyce D'Agostino

For many of us, having to deal with hailstorms is a reality. In this area of Colorado, we are in a hail zone meaning that we can experience more than the average hail events, and some of them can wipe out your garden in minutes.

In 2009, the Denver area had a very devastating hailstorm that included powerful winds. This occurred in late July, after about 9 PM and my mature garden was shredded. Not only was this very upsetting, but it told me that in order to try to successfully garden here, that weather protection, especially from hail is a must. Just recently we had a very powerful hailstorm in this area that including very large hail so there was not only damage to cars, roofs and siding but also damaged anything that was unprotected in gardens and landscapes. Hail can happen in any season so finding some permanent solutions that can stay up year-round will help.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Pollinator of the Week: Halictid Bees

Sweat bee on wild rose,  photo courtesy LuRay Parker, Wyoming Wildlife

In honor of the upcoming National Pollinator Week (June 19-25), we are highlighting a different pollinator every week. This week's pollinator is the Halictid bee, commonly known as sweat bees.  Thanks to Vince Tepidino, USDA ARS, Bee Biology and Systematics Lab in Logan Utah for the following information.

Pollinators have distinct foraging characteristics – some are specialists that collect pollen from flowers of just a few kinds of plants. Others, like the Halictidae (sweat bees), seem to be "anti-specialists". To paraphrase the early 20th century humorist Will Rogers, they have never met a flower they did not like, and they rarely find one whose pollen or nectar is unyielding. Such generalists visit a wide variety of flowers and often seem to do so indiscriminately. Variety seems to be the spice of their foraging lives. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the Garden by Carol King

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "Fifth of May") is an annual celebration in Mexico held to commemorate the Mexican Army's difficult victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. In the United States the date has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture. To commemorate this fun holiday, expand your celebration to include Cinco de Mayo gardening!
Here are some ideas for plantings in your Cinco De Mayo garden:

Photo heirloomroses.com
Cinco de Mayo Shrub Rose: (Rosa WEDcobeju’) Flowers are a blend of smoked lavender & rusty red-orange, the festive shrub provides a variety of color in a single bouquet! Its clean, round habit is ideal for use as a hedge or in a border. CSU Fact sheet on planting roses in Colorado: Growing Roses in Colorado

Photo Hosta Photo Library
Guacamole Hosta: (Hosta x ‘Guacamole’) The apple green foliage in the center is bordered by dark green margins creating a dazzling effect. These large hostas grow two feet tall and over four feet across. It has a magnificent fragrance that comes from the large white flowers in late summer. Nebraska Extension Fact sheet for growing hostas: Growing hostas.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Pollinator of the Week: Rufous Hummingbird

<
Rufous Hummingbird, photo courtesy Pollinator Partnership

This article is excerpted from The Rufous Hummingbird: Small But Feisty Long-distance Migrant by Stephen Buchmann, Pollinator Partnership. 

 Many western and southwestern gardeners know the Rufous hummingbird (Selasphorus rufus) as a delightful often-unexpected visitor to colorful garden wildflowers or hummingbird feeders. These amazing small but feisty birds (only 3” long) weigh merely three or four grams; for comparison, a United States penny weighs about 2.5 grams. These birds are amazing aerialists, darting in and out, and can be relentless attackers of other birds and insects at feeders and flowers. They have long slender nearly straight bills. Their wings are relatively short and do not reach the end of the tail when the birds are perched on a feeder or nearby branches. They are also one of the few North American hummingbirds to migrate long distances. Rufous hummingbirds are a western species, rarely straying into the eastern United States.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Easter Lily Lore and Care by Carol King

Photo Tufts University
It’s Easter time and the ubiquitous Easter Lily is every where.  Did you ever wonder why we purchase these flowers at Easter time?  Historically speaking Easter lilies don’t have much to do with the Easter holiday.  They are not native to the Holy Land.  In Biblical lore, however, the lily is mentioned numerous times. One of the most famous Biblical references is in the Sermon on the Mount: Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. (Matt. 6:28-29). Often called the "white-robed apostles of hope," lilies were found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ's agony. Tradition has it that the beautiful white lilies sprung up where drops of Christ's sweat fell to the ground in his final hours of sorrow and deep distress.

Pollinator of the Week: The Colorado State Insect!

Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly, photo courtesy statesymbolsusa.org

Did you know that Colorado has a state insect? The Colorado Hairstreak butterfly (Hypaurotis crysalus) was designated the official state insect  in 1996 due to the steady lobbying of 4th graders from Wheeling Elementary in Aurora, Colorado (led by teacher Melinda Terry).

The Colorado Hairstreak is a small to medium sized butterfly with a wingspan of about 1.25-1.5 inches. The upperside of the wings is purple, with a darker border; coloration is brighter in the males. Small orange spots mark the lower outside edge of each wing. The underside of the wings is light blue with faint dark bands and orange spots at the base of the hind wing. Typical of other hairstreak butterflies, a delicate “tail” protrudes from the hind wings.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Pollinator of the Week: Hawk (Sphinx) Moth

A giant hawk moth (Eumorpha typhon) adult. Image by Alfred University artist Joseph Scheer.

This information is excerpted from an article by Steve Buchman, The Bee Works. You can read the entire article here.

Moths live in a wide variety of habitats around the world. They usually go unnoticed, except when flying erratically around your porch light, a streetlight, or other light source in the darkness of night. Most moths work the night shift, unlike their “respectable cousins” the butterflies. Moths represent a biological storehouse of interesting, dramatic, and unusual behaviors, some with roles as pollinators, others as food sources.