Sunday, August 30, 2009

25th Anniversary Harvest Show by Dusty M

Hail survivors played a key role in last weekend’s 25th anniversary Jeffco Master Gardener Harvest Show. Top winners in several show divisions were among gardeners “wiped out” by the devastating July 20 hail and other hail storms before and after that big one. Some entries were from plants that had recovered from the damage. For others, the judges were lenient in grading blemishes caused by the hail. A few came from plants in sheltered spots where they escaped damage.

In all, there were 277 entries in the show, held Friday, August 21, through Sunday, August 23, at Echter’s Garden Center in Arvada. The annual competition, staged by Jeffco Master Gardeners, was open to all gardeners near and far. It included vegetables, herbs, fruit, annual and perennial flowers, floral arrangements, container plants, cuttings from trees and shrubs, educational displays, garden photos, and scarecrows.

Diane, Rebecca and Michelle Sullivan of Arvada stand beside their garden scarecrow entered in the Jeffco Master Gardeners Harvest Show. The scarecrow was awarded a champion ribbon, as was Diane’s arrangement of dried plant materials.

Norma Faes, a Master Gardener from Golden, holds her champion thyme entry in the herbs division of the Jeffco Master Gardener Harvest Show held last weekend in Arvada.

Karl Tomaschow of Arvada won the championship of the vegetable division with the eggplant shown here. Karl grows a number of different vegetables in containers. All were wiped out by hail this year, but Karl coaxed most of them back into production, and was able to exhibit a variety of vegetables in the Master Gardener show.

Paul Luzetski, a Master Gardener apprentice from Evergreen, won champion in garden photography and reserve champion in everlasting flowers. His everlasting entry, three sprays of globe thistle (echinops), is shown here.

Show winners-web – Jack Shea (right) of Lakewood and Duane Davidson, Arvada, were overall champion and reserve champion among Master Gardeners who exhibited at the Harvest Show. They scored the most points in a tabulation of ribbon-winning entries by Master Gardeners in all divisions of the show. The gardens of both men suffered severe damage in the July hail storm.

A pair of single dahlia flowers entered by Linelle Zimmer, an apprentice Master Gardener from Golden, was awarded reserve champion in the bulbs, corms, and tubers division of the show. Other Golden award winners were Mary Kirby, champion rose, and Jim Faes, reserve champion vegetable (carrots). Other awards won by Lakewood residents were Cheryl Mulhauser, champion container plant (orchid), Jack Shea, reserve champion rose, and Jane Thorell, reserve champion, garden photography. Top award winners from Littleton were Mike Boyle, champion perennial flower (hibiscus) and Peter K. Szilagyi, reserve champion annual flower (cleome). Division award winners from Arvada were Duane Davidson, champion annual flowers (asters) and Charlotte Gottlieb, reserve champion floral arrangement. Tom Taggart of Wheat Ridge received the reserve champion award in the educational exhibits division for his display of mushrooms and bonsai.

More Pictures by Heirloom Fan

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Lion in the Garden by Donna Duffy

My friend Beth – a Master Gardener in Boulder County – has an unusual plant growing in her yard. It’s called Leonotis leonurus, a member of the Lamiaceae family, commonly called Lions’ Ear. Beth got the seeds for this spectacular plant at the Denver Botanic Gardens sale, from a woman who ordered them on-line. I was fascinated with this plant, and did some research. Here’s what I learned.

Native to South Africa, Lion’s Ear is a tropical shrub that can grow rapidly to 3-6’ tall in a single season from seed planted in the garden in early spring (Beth’s is already 7 feet tall!). Tubular two-lipped orange flowers (typical mint family) appear in tiered whorls that encircle the square stems. Flower petals purportedly resemble lions’ ears. Flowers bloom in the fall from plants placed out in early spring. Oblanceolate to lance-shaped green leaves (to 2-4” long) are aromatic when bruised.
(Turn volume up while viewing video)
The plant is beginning to develop side shoots from the main stem. Photos on the web indicate this is typical for this plant at this time of year. It seems fitting that the Lions’ Ear will reach it’s full glory as we move into the sun sign of Leo.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Gardening on the Cheap by Late Bloomer

This has been a strange year for this veggie and fruit gardener. First, frozen apple blossoms, followed by cool wet weather, lasting long after its time. Then two hail storms. It's very rare to have hail here, let alone such damaging storms. I've seen many violent winds and heavy rains in my day, but not in such ferocious combinations.

The results have not been pretty or productive. Last year at this time my daughter-in-law was coming over to pick an over-abundance of chile peppers and eggplant. This year, zilch. Nada. Now, with August half gone, and the peppers are just setting on and the eggplants beginning to bloom. I am hoping for a very long Indian summer.

As can be seen in the before and after images, four weeks after the first bad storm, the eggplants that were hail-shredded twice are taller and putting on new leaves and flowers. What troupers! Several pepper plants were uprooted with the last storm's swirling winds and driving rain, but the hail did little damage to them. The cosmos that adorn the garden were very unceremoniously thrown down, but they didn't seem to mind the bare roots; they just pointed their branches to the sun. Salvia and marigolds are un-phazed. All roots have been reburied and the plants propped up, so the garden keeps on keeping on...

I do have lots of green tomatoes and a plethora of yellow summer squash. The winter squashes—which I consider to be the jewel of the garden and kitchen—are making huge leaves and long vines—maybe too big and long. One acorn type is putting on fast-growing fruits, but the crown jewel, an heirloom called Hopi Orange, is only just blooming. I doubt there will be any 15 pounders this year!

Sadly, the apple tree will not have its usual every-other-year bounty. A late freeze look the blossoms before they opened. There are few apples, and those are hail-pocked and small. The good news, all the time usually spent putting up the bounty can be used for other purposes, like putting up my feet.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Hail Resistant Plants? by Gardener Dave

There are no hail-proof plants (cast iron plants?). There also may be no such thing as a “hail-resistant” plant. Their survivability depends on the severity of the hailstorm. Factors like hail size, hail-fall density, duration, accompanying wind and rain all enter into the damage equation.

I escaped the severe storm that wreaked havoc north and south on either side of Kipling St. on the night of July 20th, but my yard didn’t escape the swath of hail that crossed the eastern flank of Green Mountain on August 9th. It was not large hail and “microbursts” that caused damage in this area, but instead, relatively small hail a half inch and less with a high density that lasted around 15 minutes, along with strong NW wind and heavy rain.

After surveying damage the next day, I noted that some plants withstood the storm better than others. There were, as always in storms, areas that were protected to various degrees by house eaves, trees, etc. I am quite sure of the storm’s main direction, because my longish grass in the back yard was all lying down toward the S.E., and the hail came in 2-3 yards under my N.W.-facing back patio.

My trees seemed to take it quite well, although there were a lot of leaves on the ground. Perhaps the fact that the leaf canopies were very dense this year - due to a lot of available moisture - helped a lot. The majority of leaves on my front lawn and driveway were from my neighbor’s soft maple. My young redbud tree took it quite well, as did my linden and apple trees. Many leaves fell from my locust, but it still looks OK overall. Larger hail would doubtless have done much more tree damage.

Of course, all soft-tissue plants, such as begonias, impatience (including New Guinea), geraniums, and petunias were pretty well stripped. Also damaged heavily were daisies, coreopsis, black-eyed susans, and hostas. My canna lilies in front were spared, but only due to overhanging S.E. house eaves. I am not a vegetable gardener, but I can imagine how badly tomatoes, pumpkins, melons and most veggie plants must have suffered elsewhere.

Interestingly, my best survivors were the agastache, diascia, calibrachoa, (low) dianthus, most roses, ornamental grass, smoke bush, burning bush, astilbe, ivy (English), salvia, coneflower, and snapdragon. Peony leaves were badly scarred but intact otherwise. I am especially happy that my new Agastache ava and Agastache blue fortune, were still upright and blooming, just losing a few leaves. (The Agastache leaves do smell nice and “licorice-y” when ground up with the leaf vacuum though!)

Have we have seen the last of our summer hail? One never knows here. We just have to keep cleaning up and hope for a long, quiet, extended growing season the rest of this summer and fall !

Gardener Dave

Sunday, August 23, 2009


That’s a good question! How many color choices do we have? Well, there’s white, red, blue, yellow, pink, purple, and orange, but let’s not forget the variations of these basic colors. There must be dozens if not hundreds of colors!
How do we put colors together to create a pleasing palette? As is often the case, the answer is – it depends.
We can make a nice red, white, and blue garden; and yellows go well with blues, if that suits our fancy. There is an infinite number of combinations, limited only by our imagination and our taste.
We often try to introduce many colors into a garden spot, and this can result in a very nice display. Sometimes just using two colors will result in a dynamite scene.
But another interesting use of color is to concentrate on using the available variations on just a single color. Let’s take the color purple for example. Just look at a partial list of perennials that are a shade of purple: Russian Sage, Purple Coneflower, Lavender, Ajuga, Purple Ice Plant, Lilac, Gayfeather, Veronicas, Poppy Mallow, Salvias, Allium, Columbine, and Pasqueflower, not to mention the cultivars of Roses, Iris, Tulips, and Mums that can be a purple color. We can use gradations of purple so that between purplish red to purple to purplish blue, we have lots of opportunities to be creative.
Of course, we need to consider the cultural needs of the plants we choose. Some are xeric while others need more water. Some need full sun and others can do well with some shade. Other considerations in creating a plant list are the size and texture of the plants.

One example of what can be done is the xeric combination of Russian Sage, Purple Ice Plant, and Poppy Mallow (aka Winecups). With this combination, we have three different variations of purple, and we have two ground covers that look nice with the larger Russian Sage. Adding some non-flowering gray foliaged plants such as an Artemisia or Lamb’s Ear to the purple scheme would further enhance this garden.

For what it’s worth, here is a collection of factoids about the color purple:
-Purple has been traditionally associated with royalty in many cultures. Purple robes were worn by royalty and people of authority or high rank.
-A mysterious color, purple is associated with both nobility and spirituality. The opposites of hot red and cool blue combine to create this intriguing color.
-Purple has a special, almost sacred place in nature: lavender, orchid, lilac, and violet flowers are often delicate and considered precious.
-Because purple is derived from the mixing of a strong warm and strong cool color it has both warm and cool properties. A purple room can boost a child's imagination or an artist's creativity. Too much purple, like blue, could result in moodiness.
-The color of mourning for widows in Thailand, purple was the favorite color of Egypt's Cleopatra.
-Deep or bright purples suggest riches while lighter purples are more romantic and delicate. Use redder purples for a warmer color scheme or the bluer purples to cool down.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Wasps, Hornets and Sunflowers by Heirloom Fan

When the hailstorm hit my garden, I had just started getting a nice crop of bicolor sunflowers. I did some pruning in the days following the storm, and only one of the sunflowers has survived. But I am impressed with how fast it is recovering and setting new flower buds each day.
One other thing I noticed is that there are a lot of wasps and hornets crawling all over this plant. In reading some of the garden notes, I did find that there are beneficial wasps and hornets that are not only pollinators, but also feed on the destructive insects in the garden.

There appeared to be three types of wasps and hornets, one a solid black thin wasp, yellow jackets and one other wasp. Taking pictures of wasps and hornets is not easy – they are not busy like bees which can ignore you as you take their picture. As you can see, they zoned in on my presence right away, they turned and looked at me and their antennas went up. That was the end of the picture taking - I exited quickly!
I had a pretty good handle on controlling the yellow jackets but noticed right after the storm, they seemed back in full force. My guess is that many of them probably had their hidden or exposed nests disturbed or destroyed and they were back to work rebuilding.
Right now, none of the buds have opened on this sunflower but it does make we wonder when they do if the wasps and hornets will still be around. This of course can make it really hard to pick any of the blooms , but one solution will be to try in the evening when the temperatures are cooler and the wasps and hornets have returned to their hives.
So for the time being, I am enjoying the recovery of this sunflower, keeping my distance from the wasps and hornets and anxiously awaiting to see what the flowers will look like.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Musings of an Apprentice Master Gardener by Donna Duffy

There are a couple of things I need to admit right up front.  Before taking the CMG classes, I thought I knew a lot about gardening. My friends would ask me the name of plants, and most of the time, I could come up with a semi-accurate response. Now that I’m a Master Gardener (albeit apprentice), my friends ask me much harder questions. And I rarely know the answers. What I do know is how and where to find the answers, but why does that feel like cheating? When will I be able to rattle off a thoughtful, helpful, accurate answer like the real Master Gardeners? I think a better title for me would be “Master Gardener Wannabe Resource Specialist” – at least for now.

Before I took my Master Gardener courses, I would delight in a perfectly manicured perennial bed, well maintained lawn or lovely flowering vine. Now I find myself slamming on the brakes to ponder a semi-dead spruce or sick looking shrub, mesmerized by the 3 Ds: decay, disease, and death.
Although I love the way “cytospera canker” rolls off my tongue, I’m hopeless at identifying it in real life. When I look in the microscope in practice sessions, I get lost in the wonder of actually seeing the invisible – and completely forget the assignment. All that fuzz and color and puffy stuff makes me feel like I’ve been transported from the world of giants into a secret fairy realm.
In my own yard, I try to practice applying all the knowledge I’ve been exposed to, but often end up a bit confused. For example: after examining the “annual wrinkles” on several branches of my maple tree, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s somewhere between 2 and 19 years old. Maybe next year, with more practice, I’ll be able to narrow that gap.

And bugs! Who knew? Thanks to Whitney, I now feel nothing but anguish for the wimpy little aphid that can’t even muster the strength to climb back onto a plant after being washed off. I envision my soil as a ruckus underworld – a mini Sturgis of sorts – where tiny organisms strut their stuff, behave wildly, and overindulge on rotten matter and wet aphids. I can almost hear them hooting and hollering.
 Maybe over the winter I’ll have time to broaden my knowledge and increase my retention. For now, I’ll keep leaning on my masterful CMG mentors and using my research skills to prove myself worthy of my title. Just save the really tough questions until next year, OK?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Colorado State University Cooperative Extension Master Gardener Program in Jefferson County Presents the 2009 Harvest Show by Jack Shea

“Learning and Growing – Sharing and Showing” is the theme of the 25th Silver Anniversary Harvest Show sponsored by the Colorado State University Master Gardeners of Jefferson County. The show is open to all gardeners. Echter’s Garden Center will host the show for the fourth year at their location at 5150 Garrison Street in Arvada from August 22nd to August 23th.

New this year will be a Junior Division open to all gardeners under the age of 18. Junior gardeners will have the opportunity to win ribbons by having their gardening results judged against their peers in all divisions. Junior gardeners will also have the opportunity to enter their exhibits in the regular show divisions if they desire.

Again this year there will be a special “People’s Choice” program that will allow participants and the viewing public the opportunity to vote for their favorite entries on display. Participants in the “People’s Choice” program will be eligible for a number of garden oriented door prizes that will be given out through a drawing at the end of the weekend.

The 2009 Harvest Show features eleven traditional horticultural divisions for competition and display. In addition there will be a division for the display of garden photography and a whimsical division for the display of homemade scarecrows. Exhibitors will also be able to interpret the show’s theme by creating artistic arrangements of floral and plant material in ten classes of the Artistic Design division. All Jefferson County Master Gardener apprentices are strongly encouraged to enter the Harvest Show. All Master Gardeners receive service hours for their participation

The Harvest Show is held to provide a friendly venue for display of horticultural material grown by gardeners and to provide educational material and tips useful to gardeners. A number of educational displays and exhibits will be on display, including the Jefferson County Plant Clinic, the Colorado Native Plant Society and several others.

“The show is a great opportunity for gardeners to display the results of their gardening efforts and learn helpful information and gardening tips from other gardeners in the area,” said Heather Hodgin, Jefferson County extension agent and member of the Harvest Show organizing committee. “In addition to displaying our horticultural material, educational exhibits will also be on display.” she said.

Show booklets and posters publicizing the event are currently available in the Extension office. Show booklets will also be mailed to all Master Gardeners in early August.

Master Gardeners are encouraged to take copies of the poster promoting the show and request that they be displayed at libraries, shopping centers, grocery stores and other locations throughout Jefferson County.

Registration for the Harvest Show will begin at Echter’s on Friday afternoon, August 22nd from 3:00 until 5:00 p.m. and will continue on Saturday morning, August 23rd from 8:00 until 10:00 a.m. All entrants are encouraged to take advantage of the early check-in Friday afternoon if possible to avoid the Saturday morning rush. After judging at 10:30 a.m. all entries will be left on display during Echter’s normal business hours on Saturday and Sunday. Entries will be available for pickup on Sunday afternoon between 3:00 and 3:45 p.m. Any entries remaining after 4:00 p.m. will be removed.

Entry tags are available at the Extension Office, in the show booklet for reproduction, and on the Extension web site at The entry tag is the most important factor contributing to the smooth conduct of the show. All entrants are encouraged to take care in completely filling out their entry tags before they arrive at the show if possible.

Horticultural entries will be judged on consumer acceptability based on cultural perfection, quality, condition, uniformity and conformity. All entries must be grown or collected by the exhibitor except for entries in the Artistic Design Class 10. Each exhibitor may make only one entry per class or sub-class except where noted in the show booklet. Use of commercial leaf shine is not acceptable. Allowance will be made for hail damage when noted on the entry tag.

All Colorado Master Gardeners in Jefferson County are encouraged to earn service hours by participating as a show volunteer. In total about 75 volunteers are needed to have a successful show. There are many volunteer opportunities over the course of the three day event in seven different areas. Volunteer sign up sheets will be included in the Monthly Notes in July and August. All interested gardeners are encouraged to fill out the volunteer form and mail it back to the committee using the self mail feature on the form. Email sign up is also available.

Classes in the photography division have been redefined to include artistic photography, technical photography and all other photography that does not fit the first two classes. Photographers should keep the show in mind also throughout the summer as they look for photographic opportunities for display.

Additional information on the 2009 Harvest Show, show booklet, posters, entry tags and volunteer opportunities can be had by calling the Extension Office on 303-271-6620. The show booklet will also be available as a PDF document on the web at

Scenes from 2008 Harvest Show

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

It’s Peach Season! by Gardener Janet

One of my favorite times of the year is when the peaches from the western slope of Colorado arrive at local farmer’s markets and grocery stores. They are here now and I’ve already been enjoying them with breakfast, for snacks and, well, all day long!

Last year we harvested hundreds of little sweet peaches from my neighbor’s peach tree. He didn’t know what to do with them all and we were happy to help out. Growing peaches in the high plains area of Colorado is certainly not without challenges. In fact, that bumper crop last year was the exception. Sadly, there are no peaches on the tree this year. Click here for the CSU extension website and a very helpful guide to growing peaches in the home garden.

Whether you get your peaches from the market or your garden, here is a recipe that a friend of mine, who was a pastry chef on Martha’s Vineyard, shared with me years ago.

Peach Cups

Slice 5-6 Peaches (3-4 cups)
Toss w/ 2 TBSP sugar and 3 TBSP flour
Place in 9x13 pan or 6 custard cups

Prepare a dough to place on top of the peaches.

(This is the secret my friend shared and it is true for all types of pastry: Mix the dry ingredients with the shortening (in this case, butter) in a food processor. THEN add the liquid by hand (whisking with a fork in a separate bowl).

Mix the following in a food processor:
1 ½ cups flour
1 ½ TBSP sugar
2 ¼ tsp baking powder
6 TBSP butter

Transfer this mixture for the dough into a bowl and toss w/ ¾ cup whipping cream using a fork until mixed (be sure not to mix liquid and processed ingredients in food processor)

Roll out dough to about ½ thick. Lay over the peaches in the 9 x 13 pan or cut out circles with a glass about the same diameter as the cups and place one circle on each cup of peaches.

Brush the tops with cream. If you are using cups, place them on a cookie sheet.
Bake 15 min at 350 in the lower 1/3 of the oven.

Monday, August 10, 2009

What’s Wrong with My Ash Tree? by Mary Small

Many ash trees in the Denver Metro area are not faring well. Some trees have scattered dead branches, while others appear at least half dead. Some are prematurely dropping leaves.

While examining samples in our clinic and in the field, we’ve found that growth increments are shortened for the past 3- 5 years or more. I’ll explain what that might mean momentarily, but first I want to explain what growth increments are and how to look for them on your own trees.

Growth increments indicate the amount of growth a plant makes each year. The distances between what look like “wrinkles” on the stems are growth increments. To find them, start at the tip of a branch and move inward along the branch until you find the first set of wrinkles. This distance is how much growth your tree put on this year. Travel inward from that point until you reach the next set of wrinkles. That’s how much growth the plant made last year. You can continue to travel back in time and see how much your tree has grown. For many species, growth of anywhere from 6 to 10 inches is ideal.

Short growth increments can have several interpretations. If an established tree has shortened increments, something is stressing it. That’s why it hasn’t been able to grow much. Stressors in our climate include soil compaction, soil oxygen starvation, poor soil drainage, dry soil and/or construction activities that have damaged roots – to name a few!

Short growth increments are normal for a few years following transplanting. Trees spend their energy regenerating their root systems after transplanting, so they don’t develop much above ground. Certain species, such as pinyon and bristlecone pine just don’t grow much each year.
Shortened growth increments can also be the result of injury from hail, weed whackers, lawnmower dings and insects or disease. All of these can damage conductive tissue under the bark which interferes with the nutrient and water flow and results in poor growth.

“Ash decline” describes what is happening to many of our trees. The term is used to describe a problem that has more than one cause. In our geographic area, ash decline is believed to be the result of a combination of factors such as the poor soil conditions mentioned earlier, the drought and this year’s soggy soils. Insects are often part of decline as they are attracted to stressed trees.

What can you do to help? Prune out dead branches or remove badly-damaged trees. If fall and winter are dry, apply water to the root zone of trees monthly from Nov 1 to March 1. Apply nitrogen fertilizer to the root zone next spring at the time of leaf expansion

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Report From the Aftermath by Heirloom Fan

I am still doing some garden cleanup and the "wait and see" regarding which plants will make it and which may not.

I was surprised to see that some of my tomatoes began immediately leafing out again, some I am still waiting to see any signs of life. A few were shattered badly and had the foliage stripped so they will most likely not survive. But some of the more vigrous ones such as my heirloom pear tomato
have already leafed out. My two Japanese eggplant, which were stripped down to the stem both have new leaves going. I did some pruning the day after and then waited a few more days to reinspect to see if any more of the foliage or stems looked dried out and beyond help.

My vining crops like the cucumbers, squash and pumpkins were also hit hard. I did find two small Wee Be Little and Boo Be Little pumpkins still hanging in there, so transplanted them to the raised beds. I had a large stand of volunteer sunflowers which sprung up under the birdfeeder. All were wiped out but I was amazed this morning to see another crop starting, along with a few small corn plants.

I did put most of the plants that seem to be surviving under walls of water.
With this recent cool and rainy weather, they say that more wind and hail could be in store.

One thing, it will be interesting to see which plants seem to have the ability to withstand a dramatic assault like this and still try to keep on going. I don't know if I can get any tomatoes this year unless we get a later frost than normal, but not much has been "normal" this year!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Brown Garden Snail

The brown garden snail is the largest snail in Colorado. It is a native of Britain and parts of Europe and has been accidentally introduced to Colorado on nursery stock. It has been found in parts of Jefferson County. If you find some, and you might with all this rain, remember, it's edible and was originally introduced into California for escargot dishes. Perhaps Gardener Janet can prepare us a recipe!

Whitney Cranshaw, CSU Extension Entomology Specialist's article tell's us all about it!
Brown Garden Snail