Saturday, February 17, 2018

Keeping Roses Healthy During Winter

Rose canes greening up in Lakewood - January 22, 2018

Have you taken a look at your roses lately? This warm winter has created conditions for the canes to green up very early. It’s way too early to prune them! Instead, check to make sure your mulch layer is still intact, and add more if you’ve lost some to wind or critters.

The following information from the Denver Rose Society gives tips on rose care during these late winter months.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

February Words of the Month: Monoecious and Dioecious by Carol King

In honor of St. Valentine’s Day and an homage to love in the garden, the February horticulture word of the month is actually two words: ”dioecious” and “monoecious"; terms that refer to plant reproduction. The pronunciation for the two words is “dahy-EE-shuhs” and “muh-Nee-shuhs”.

A monoecious plant is one that can reproduce (that is, bloom and set seed) all on its own. Monoecious is translated as “single house,” meaning that male and female flowers are found on a single individual plant. It does not need a partner: a single plant bears both male and female flowers. Examples of monoecious plants are birch, hazelnut, oak, pine, spruce, corn, and squashes.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

St. Valentine and the Gift of Fresh Flowers by Carol King

Photo fellowshipofminds
Legends and lore abound on why we celebrate Valentine’s day by giving flowers to our loved ones.  Here’s one of my favorites. This one involves the lore of forbidden love and has been favored over other stories by hopeless romantics.

Emperor Claudius II issued an edict forbidding marriage because he felt that married men did not make good, loyal soldiers to fight in his army. They were weak because of the attachment to their wives and family. St. Valentine was a priest who defied Claudius and married couples secretly because he believed so deeply in love. Valentine was found out, put in prison, and later executed.

The law of irony then came into play, as St. Valentine fell in love with the daughter of the Emperor. Prior to his beheading, St. Valentine handed the lady a written note and a single red rose - the very first valentine and the very first fresh flower.  From this, the gifting of flowers for Valentine's day began.

Friday, February 9, 2018

The 2018 Great Backyard Bird Count By Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino

During the fall and winter when most of us are not outside working in a garden, birdwatching is often an enjoyable pastime. If you love watching the native birds come to your yard and feeder, then you might want to participate in this important and fun project from the Audubon Society.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Squirrel Damage in the Landscape

Photo courtesy Plantalk Colorado
Today I counted 6 squirrels frolicking and playing in my elm trees, and spotted another three in my neighbor's yard. Squirrels can cause a lot of damage in the garden, especially in years when untimely spring frosts (like we had in 2017) cause poor crops of crab apples and other fruits. Plantalk Colorado offers the following information about squirrel damage to trees and landscape plants.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Crocus already? Too early?

Crocus leaves in Lakewood, 1/17/18
It’s early February and some crocus are already emerging. In fact, crocus leaves appeared in my yard in mid-January. What’s going on?

An early bloom certainly isn’t unprecedented in Denver and Jefferson County. The National Phenology Network (NPN) collects reports on the status of plants around the country and combines them with weather data to create models of where spring has sprung. Just last year, data from the NPN indicated that Denver’s plants were blooming up to three weeks ahead of the average for 1981-2010.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The Myth of Paper-based Sheet Mulch

Photo courtesy
Note: This information is excerpted from Horticultural Myths, Linda Chalker-Scott, Washington State University Extension. See link at bottom of article.

In their quest to create more sustainable landscapes – those that require fewer inputs of fertilizers, pesticides, and other resources – gardeners, landscapers, and restoration ecologists have focused on mulches. The use of mulches to suppress weeds and conserve soil water has a substantial agricultural history. Newspaper mulch, either as intact sheets or chopped and shredded, has been successful in reducing weeds and increasing yield in some row crops. Cardboard sheet mulch, often used in tree plantations, has been less reliable. These paper mulches are increasingly common in urban landscapes, especially restoration sites. Are they effective in suppressing weeds, maintaining soil water, and aiding plant establishment in this context?

Monday, January 29, 2018

Houseplant Choices

Maximum Yield Magazine offers eight of their favorite indoor winter houseplants.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Gardening Power to the People: Pruning Shrubs (Video)

When is the best time to prune shrubs? It depends! If it's a spring-blooming shrub, wait until the shrub has finished its spring bloom. Late winter is a good time to prune your summer blooming shrubs. Watch Master Gardener Gail's pruning tips.

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Use Caution with De-Icing Salts

De-icing salt applicator, photo courtesy
Winter is in full swing in Jefferson County! Even though it's been a warm winter, snow and ice are inevitable. In addition to shoveling all that snow, many people also apply de-icing salts to make the walkways safe and passable. While these products can certainly help ensure safe footing in treacherous conditions, they can also damage the landscape plantings that they contact. So – what to do? Protect your footing or protect your plants? It’s possible to do both.

Monday, January 22, 2018

January Word of the Month: Winter Quiescence

Photo courtesy Donna Duffy
Have you ever wondered what's going on with your tree roots underneath all that winter snow? Michael Snyder, Chittenden (Vermont) County Forester, explains the concept of winter quiescence - a state in which tree roots are resting, but ready.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Rosemary “for Remembrance” By Olivia Tracy

Rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis); photo courtesy of PlantTalk Colorado
During Shakespeare’s time, rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis) was often associated with memory or remembering; it was given as a sign of friendship, and the early Herballs believed that the scent could “quicken the senses and memorie” (John Gerard, The Herball, Or Generall Historie of Plantes, 1597). These herbals may have been on to something-- recently, scientists have found possible relationships between the scent of rosemary and improved cognition.4

Today, rosemary is a welcome presence (and scent) in an indoor winter herb-garden. A Mediterranean plant, rosemary doesn’t tolerate low temperatures well; however, when planted in a container, you can keep it indoors during the winter, and move it outdoors during the warm summer months.2 You can buy rosemary plants from a store, or you can start them from seed. (You can also propagate rosemary through cuttings; however, it is best to take cuttings from rosemary in the spring or summer.)3 
  • Plant your rosemary plant in soilless mix (potting soil),2 and be sure to allow the soil to dry between watering (rosemary is a fairly drought-tolerant herb).1 
  • Apply water-soluble fertilizer every few weeks to help the plant thrive in the indoor space.2 
  • Like most herbs, rosemary loves sunlight, so be sure to place your rosemary plant in an area that will receive the largest amount of possible sunlight (in a south- or west-facing window).2 
If you’d like more information about rosemary, other herbs, and herb gardening, the following webpages were sources for this post, and are excellent sources to explore: 
1CMG GardenNotes #731, Herb Gardening
3If you hope to propagate rosemary or other herbs by cuttings, you may find useful advice in this article by the Missouri State Extension: 
4Recent study exploring the relationship between the scent of rosemary and cognition in schoolchildren: