Saturday, December 22, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Denver Botanic Gardens photo by PRWEB
Happy Holidays from your Jefferson County Colorado Master Gardener team!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Spring Blooming Bulbs Leafing in December by Mary Small

Tulips Leafing in December Photo by Mary Small
Last time I checked the calendar it was December.  So why are some of my spring blooming bulbs leafing?  And what will happen to them following this recent cold snap?

Fortunately my plants (and maybe yours) don’t “think” it is spring! It seems that when fall weather is mild, some bulb plants send up a bit of green foliage. (Some bulb species produce green foliage whether or not the fall has been mild!) In most cases, leaves stay just a few inches above the soil  throughout the rest of the cold period. If the weather is really cold, foliage may freeze and turn yellow or brown and shrivel.  But generally new leaves appear in the spring followed by flowering.

Plants native to cooler climates have a mechanism to keep them from blooming or growing at the “wrong” time, called “chilling requirement”.  This is the number of hours a plant has to be exposed to temperatures between 32 and 45 degrees F before the plant can break dormancy.  Spring flowering bulbs, perennials and trees all have a chilling requirement, although it varies among plant species. Once a plant has met its chilling requirement, it “waits” until conditions are favorable for growth before leafing and flowering.  In our area, the chilling requirements can be met by around February.

Soil temperatures are one of the triggers that tell flowering bulbs that conditions are favorable and its “good to grow”. So we can help slow the progress of spring flowering by adding a mulch layer over the soil where bulbs are planted.  This helps keep soil temperatures cooler and slow the spring leaf and flower development.  If you haven’t applied mulch, go ahead and do it now.
Otherwise Mother Nature has things well in hand.  Enjoy your holidays!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Poinsettia Care by Carol King

With proper care, the poinsettias that decorate your home during the Christmas season can retain their beauty for many weeks.

Follow these steps for best results:
Photo CSU
  • Choose plants with deep, dark green foliage and full, undamaged colored leaves, also called bracts. The actual flower is yellow and is located at the base of the bracts. Plants with tightly-closed flowers that have not yet shed pollen will last the longest in your home.
  • Place plants in the sunniest part of the home to ensure proper growth. Avoid placing a poinsettia near cold drafts, radiators and heat vents. To keep the color of the bracts bright, maintain your poinsettia between 50 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooler temperature prolongs bract color, but don't allow it to dip below 50 degrees.
  • Water poinsettias thoroughly as needed. If your poinsettia is wrapped in a decorative foil, punch holes in the bottom of the foil to ensure proper drainage and removal of excess water.

Contrary to popular belief, the flowers and leaves of poinsettia plants aren't poisonous, nor are they edible.     Here’s a great web site for “All Things Poinsettia” .

(Poinsettia care information from Planttalk Colorado.)

Monday, November 26, 2012

Political Yard Signs as Plant Supports by Stan Ames

If your candidate won and you’re “wired” or if you candidate lost and you’re droopy you can still have fun and do something practical with the remnants of the campaign.

Remnants? Yes, the left over yard signs are a valuable source of materials.  If your candidate had a lots of funds and used the plastic corrugated signs you can make a fairly decent tomato, bean  or pea plant cage out of three of the wire supports and six plastic wire ties. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Growing Broccoli in the Fall by Jennifer Verprauskus

Photo from Urbana Extension
After a mid-summer move into our new house, I realized I had missed my opportunity for growing some of my favorite vegetables. It was far too late to start growing eggplant, tomatoes or peppers so I kept with the excellent produce from my Community Supported Agriculture. I had many conversations with my husband about transforming our front and back yards into xeric wonders hydro-zoned with abundant vegetables but I knew it wasn't going to happen this season. Adding a new landscape wasn't our summer/fall priority. As I was getting the mail one day it dawned on my I could still grow a hardy vegetable crop. Broccoli and cauliflower love cooler temperatures, 40-70 degrees, and can withstand a light frost. They are an excellent Colorado early spring crop but can be grown in the fall as well.  

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Simple Structures Can Change Your Garden's Appearance by Keith Hamlyn

How about adding a vertical element without planting a tree?  Do you need a visual divider to change the look of your garden?  Try one of these relatively simple structures – an Espalier frame for your fruit trees or a permanent structure for your vertical plants. 

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

And What a Great Year it Has Been! by Steve Sherwood

On October 12th, five members of the Jefferson County CMG program took part in a Health and Wellness Fair at Lockheed Martin.  Over the course of the day we talked with an estimated 500 to 600 employees about gardening and the CMG program.  What made our booth special was the way we actively engaged people.  While many of the people staffing booths sat behind their table and waited to be approached, we waded right into the crowd and asked people if they had any gardening questions. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Needle Drop in Evergreens by Mary Small

Spruce trees are getting a lot of attention this fall. Their inner needles are turning yellow or brown and dropping off. 

To put your mind at ease, it’s not unusual for these conifers to shed interior needles beginning in late summer and continuing well into fall.  This is normal evergreen behavior.

In fact, all conifers (“evergreens”) including spruce, pine, fir, juniper and arborvitae lose their oldest needles every year. Contrary to what the name implies, “evergreens” are not really green forever. Their needles generally have a 2–4 year life span, although spruce tree needles live about 5-7 years. 

Thursday, October 25, 2012

BIRDS, BEES AND BUTTERFLIES… OH MY!! Attracting These Beautiful Creatures to Your Yard by Janet Merriweather

Photo by Tina Ligon

BIRDS: Be careful what you wish for when it comes to calling all birds to your yard! The type of seed you supply can somewhat determine what kind of birds you will attract to your feeders. Just remember, you cannot discriminate against your little feathered friends! When you call them, they will come, all of them! So, when you see all of the black birds and sparrows eating up your seed don’t cringe, rejoice in the fact that you are one with the bird world! Don’t hit the bargain table when buying your seed. You want the best food for the health of your little feathered friends. Things to consider: Suet can go rancid in the high heat, sunflower seeds and peanuts in the shell leave a mess, cracked and whole corn attract unpopular birds and squirrels. Just remember, the more natural the better. Try planting flowers and vines in your yard with birds in mind. Some good resources on the web are: National Audubon Society; and Backyard Wildlife Habitat Program;

Friday, October 12, 2012

A Case for Cover Crops and Green Manuring by Sally Berriman

Crimson Clover and Annual Rye Photo by Peg Tillery
A cover crop is simply a high number of plants, not grown for food but as plant material which is used to improve the soil.   When the cover crop is tilled into the soil, it is referred to as a green manure crop or green manuring.  The terms are often used interchangeably.  While cover crops have been used extensively in commercial agriculture, recently more home and community gardeners are starting to use cover crops on a smaller scale.

Cover crops are beneficial because they build soil structure, add organic materials, replenish soil nutrients, fix atmospheric nitrogen, protect the soil from wind and water erosion, suppress weeds and reduce insect pests.  Additionally, cover crops can provide a green and much more attractive alternative to an expanse of dry dirt during the off-season.  

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Fantastic Foliage Plants by Gardener Dave

If you are considering reducing maintenance in your annual garden next year, consider having fewer flowers and adding more foliage plants. When you find a “happy spot” for them, they will increase in size and become even more colorful throughout the summer. Most like more shade than sun, but many will enjoy several hours of morning sunlight if they are watered adequately. They require no deadheading and most take trimming and shaping well. They are available in many contrasting colors, all the way from greens to browns, maroons and reds - many are variegated interestingly and can make striking color combinations with other annuals or even some perennials. 

Consider mixing them in with other plants that like partial sun or shade, such as hostas, caladium, or begonias. Or, plant them in pots as “specimens”. They will grow and reward you with evolving, sun-dappled colors from spring up until frost with minimal care. They are colorful without being overbearingly bright or “in your face” and have the best effect where you can see them up close as you pass by.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Cut Above the Rest; Choosing An Arborist by Kate Sullivan-Sisneros

Liontailing Photo by Kate Sullivan-Sisneros

My neighbor to the North of us has two 30+ year old willow trees.  Recently, I watched helplessly as a local tree service butchered them with inappropriate pruning cuts.  This company must not have been aware of ANSI pruning standards (American National Standards Institute), as the tree was riddled with heading cuts – a big ‘no, no’ when pruning mature shade trees and ‘lion-tailing’ which shifts the weight to the outer making the tree more susceptible to wind damage.  And NO care was taken to safely lower the branches to the ground.  Instead, my husband said it was literally “raining branches.”  In the process, my upright juniper sustained four broken branches, leaving a gaping hole on one side.  This will not grow back.  Save yourself this experience and read this article!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Dual-Purposing Your Satellite Dish By Amy Norwood

Photo by Amy Norwood

Though you can’t see them too well in this picture, there are about twenty pieces of twine tethering my Chadwick Cherry tomato plant to my satellite dish.  And we still get TV reception!  So get satellite tv and throw out your tomato cages!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Harvesting your Pumpkins By Joyce D’Agostino

Rouge Vif D'Etampes (Cucurbita maxima) photo by Joyce D'Agostino

This growing season was a challenge for most of us due to the heat and lack of rain. Many pumpkin growers this year reported their crops maturing weeks earlier than the normal schedule due to the extreme drought conditions.

If you grew pumpkins this year, now is the time to prepare them for harvest and storage. Knowing when to cut and store your pumpkins is important.  Pumpkins are not only suitable for eating but are great for fall decorating and carving. Like winter squash, pumpkins take most of our growing season to produce the pumpkin. Choosing the right variety for your climate helps you achieve a successful fall pumpkin harvest.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Kim Bone's Garden

If you missed the Jeffco Master Gardeners' garden tour or the Garden Conservancy Tour then you missed Kim Bone's beautiful garden.  Here's a music video of it.  Enjoy!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Cider Pressing and Tomato Tasting 2012 by Duane Davidson

Tomato Tasting Table
Char and Tom Gottlieb's harvest season event, making cider and tasting multiple varieties of tomatoes, celebrated its 15th anniversary this September. Family, friends, neighbors, and Char's Colorado Master Gardener colleagues gathered in the Gottlieb front and back yards on a recent Saturday afternoon. It was a pleasant, sunny day with a hint of fall, a perfect afternoon to celebrate the bounty of garden and orchard.

Though gardeners agreed this year's hot temperatures hampered tomato production, they provided about thirty different varieties for the tasting. Many were familiar, but several newcomers were introduced by their proud growers. Some were a little sweeter, some more tart; all were delicious and fun to taste.  

Using the Cider Press
 As for apples, it was a bountiful year according to those carrying in large buckets and boxes to the cider press. They took their turns, first chopping the apples into small pieces in the grinder, then squeezing the juice out in the turnscrew press.

Word has spread about this gathering. Even a news photographer turned up to record this year's activities. Watch for a feature item in your newspaper.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Lavender Hyssop is a Great Bee Magnet by Joyce D’Agostino

Photo by Joyce D'Agostino
A few years ago, I overheard some gardeners remarking how much they enjoyed hyssop.  Since I enjoy growing herbs, especially those that produce both attractive flowers and fragrant foliage, I decided to give it a try.

I chose a Lavender Hyssop, Agastache foeniculum,  and started it from seed. The seed information promised that it would attract bees and butterflies.

Since this is a perennial, the first year it remained small and didn’t flower but did survive the severe hailstorm of the summer of 2009. It continued to grow each year since and this was the first year that it produced fluffy lavender flower spikes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Mulch-Moving Turkeys by Elaine Lockey

As if deer weren’t enough of a struggle for mountain gardeners, throw in some mulch-moving turkeys! 
Turkey surveying her handiwork
Ever since I put down new mulch on my garden bed, I‘ve had regular visitors who like to do some landscaping of their own.  A group of turkeys scrape out all the mulch onto the driveway and sidewalk with their strong feet, on an almost daily basis.  This not only causes a big mess but damages the plants. 

They are searching my garden for food, most likely insects as turkeys are opportunistic omnivores.  They eat a mostly plant-based diet of herbaceous green leaves, berries, seeds, grasses, and acorns.  Insects play a smaller but important part of their diet, especially for the young turkeys, called poults.  Insects might include grasshoppers, dragonflies, slugs and snails and beetles.  Turkeys do a large amount of scratching for food especially in the fall, so possibly coincidental timing with my new mulch.  They are enjoying the ease of moving the soft mulch to most likely find plentiful insects hiding within the bed.  

I wondered if this was a unique situation but I did find some fellow internet gardeners who have experienced the same thing.  And they weren't just mountain gardeners - many lived in suburban settings and reported that there were more turkeys moving in. There are some various solutions that they offered.  

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Golden Rain Tree Bugs by Gardener Dave

Golden Rain Tree
A  while ago Carol King wrote an informative article about box elder bugs on this blog. Well, my yard has now been “occupied” by some of their close relatives – golden rain tree bugs – uninvited by me, mind you, but very numerous all the same. They go by several other aliases: red shouldered bug, soapberry bug and Jadera bug – the latter comes from their Latin name “Jadera haematoloma”, apparently the most common species that we see here in Colorado.

The bugs have set up housekeeping near my one golden rain (GR) tree at the west side of my house – so far I have seen only a few actually ON the tree – but they are raising families and getting ready for a big celebration for sure!  So far their favorite spot seems to be out of the sun on a cedar fence about 6 feet from the tree. They are very active bugs – and most of their life cycle (except eggs) seems to be displayed all at one time.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Early Leaf Color is Drought Related by Mary Small

When fall coloration appears early, like this year, it usually means plants are stressed.  Many factors can stress trees, but in 2012, the likely culprit is the weather.  Conditions in the Denver metro area have been dry since fall of 2011.  March, June and July were warmer than normal months.  

The excessive heat and dry conditions can kill roots or stress them.  When roots are stressed they can’t absorb water well from the soil.  Tree leaves still continue to transpire (lose moisture to the surrounding environment) and the poorly functioning roots can’t supply the need.

During the growing season, trees are constantly making and breaking down chlorophyll (the green plant pigment) to produce starches and sugars, their “food”.   When a plant is stressed, it can’t produce as much chlorophyll, so the green color fades, allowing other pigments to show.  (These other pigments are always present, but masked by the presence of chlorophyll.)  So reds, oranges and yellows begin to appear even though the calendar tells us the normal leaf coloration period is a ways off.  

You can apply water to help improve plant health, although it won’t reverse leaf color changes now.  Be sure to provide water this fall and winter to help already stressed plants survive the winter. This fact sheet

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Growing Bee Balm by Joyce D'Agostino

In the last couple of years, I had focused most of my garden space to vegetables, however this year I decided to once again dedicate some of the space to flowers. Adding flowers to your landscape not only brings their beauty and fragrance, but they can also attract important pollinators.

There is such a wide variety to choose from, I decided to grow some that not only have flowers, but fragrant foliage as well. In addition to lavender and hyssop, I also grew Bee Balm (Monarda hybrida), also known as Lambada. The showy flower heads come in red, pinks and lavender and their tubular flowers hold nectar that attracts butterflies, bees and hummingbirds.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Tomatillos, Part II By Amy Norwood

This is a sequel to the excellent post on growing tomatillos by Elizabeth Buckingham dated September 6, 2011,  a post I wish I had read before I planted my single tomatillo this spring.  Elizabeth warned us about single tomatillo plantings.
Tomatillo Plant

As of this writing , my tomatillo plant is a beauty, big and full with lots of wonderful flowers that have so far not started a single fruit.  I recently grew concerned about the lack of fruit and tried to find an explanation.  I was surprised to learn that there’s little consistent and definitive information on the subject of growing tomatillos on the Internet, in print, and in the knowledge base of seasoned gardeners.  What I concluded from my research is that, to maximize your odds for producing a tomatillo crop, you should plant two plants of the same variety next to each other.   I’m an amateur gardener, so I hesitate to offer what sounds like an authoritative an explanation for this, but here goes:  tomatillos and tomatoes are in the same family and are often discussed interchangeably in the literature.  But, unlike most tomatoes, tomatillos don’t self-pollinate.  Two plants are required to make fruit. 

Monday, August 13, 2012

How to Begin a Garden Project by Kate Sullivan-Sisneros

Author's Garden After Planning
If you have never done any gardening before or have never seen it done, getting started can be a little intimidating.  Where does one begin? 

Step 1:  Begin by asking yourself a few questions: 
What do I want to accomplish?  Do I want to grow vegetables, herbs, flowers, shrubs or some combination of all of these?
How much time am I going to have to tend the garden once it is planted?  What is my budget?  Am I willing or able to irrigate my new plantings?  Am I limited by space such as living in an apartment or patio home?  Answering these questions will provide you with some direction.

Step 2:  What do you like?  When I got started, I began by looking at pictures of different kinds of gardens.  What was I drawn to?  What are you drawn to?  Everybody’s tastes are different.  The library and internet are great sources for the budding gardener.  “Lawnscaping” by Scotts was one of the first gardening books I bought at Home Depot. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Creating a Backyard Pond by Rich Haas

Have you dreamed of having a second home where you can privately enjoy a gentle waterfall and babbling brook leading to a cool, relaxing pond?  The trouble is, most of these great places are many miles away and most often have been turned into multi-million-dollar resorts! 

Why not create that paradise at your existing home?  It is easier than you think!

A little history: I enjoy gardening.  I turned about 95% of my property into a perennial garden.  That is why I signed up to be a Colorado Master Gardener. Then I happened to go on a “Pond Tour”.  I realized then that this was what I was searching for in a second home!  Why incur the trouble and recurring expense (2nd mortgage?) of a faraway destination when you can bring it right to your home?

All it takes a little planning, effort and some expense but think about how wonderful it will be to enjoy a cool, peaceful waterfall at a moment’s notice simply by walking out your back door! 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Hardy Succulents: Tough Plants for every Climate; Book Review by Pam Macy

 “Succulents are the drama queens of contemporary gardens,” states the back cover of this compelling book.  Hardy Succulents: Tough Plants for every Climate, by Gwen Moore Kelaidis, Storey Publishing, 2008, is a stunningly beautiful paperback, containing an abundance of close-up color photos and descriptions of succulents of every kind. After recently viewing Ms. Kelaidis’ garden during the 2012 Colorado Master Gardeners’ tour in Denver, and gradually realizing I was witnessing an experienced garden talent in action; there was no doubt I needed to purchase her book.  The array of succulents in her garden, both in-ground and in countless containers, was a visual feast.

This book is particularly useful for Colorado gardeners, since Ms. Keladis resides and gardens here (zone 5b). It references what will grow elsewhere but offers specific recommendations about what is most suitable for our western conditions. Reading the text often feels like talking to a good friend who is sharing her knowledge because she wants her friend to enjoy these plants just as much as she does, and to insure her success in growing them.  Ms. Kelaidis was a joy to meet; when I asked her about propagating hens and chicks, before I knew it, she had retrieved several starter pots of hens and chicks, and gave them to my companions and I!

Monday, July 16, 2012

Aphids by Gail Wilson

One of the most common insect problems we suffer here on the Front Range is Aphids.  They are so very common they are sometimes called plant lice.  These small, soft-bodied, pear-shaped insects are generally less than 1/8" long.  Green or black is the most common color but they can also be found in a variety of other colors as well. 

The insects survive by sucking the sap and juices from the soft, new growth, causing injury to plants.  These injuries damage the plant's ability to properly process food and causes the plant to lose vigor, wilt, distort or show spots.  Aphids can also transmit viral diseases from unhealthy plants to healthy plants.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Garden Tool Care at Its Finest: Oiled Sand by Gail Wilson

I have spent a fair amount of money on my garden tools and I work hard at keeping them in good shape.  One of the ways I do that is oiled sand and I would like to share that secret with you.

I use a 3-gallon plastic bucket because I found it at a thrift store but you can use a 5-gallon bucket or even a large trash can filled only about a third full.

To create the oiled sand I used general all-purpose sand and the most inexpensive motor oil I could find at the local big box store.  You can use mineral oil or vegetable oil but for me the motor oil was less expensive.   The success of the project is not dependent on the quality of the oil.    A 5-gallon bucket requires approximately ½ gallon of oil so for my 3-gallon bucket I used a total of about 1 and 1/3 quarts.  That is enough oil to moisten the sand but not enough to create a drippy mess.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Will my Green Bell Peppers turn Yellow? by Gail Wilson

Have trouble figuring out when peppers are ripe and ready for harvest? Here's a few tips to help.

First things first, different pepper plants produce different colored peppers so it is imperative that you know what type of peppers you’ve planted.

You can harvest peppers at any size desired, however, green bell varieties are usually harvested when they are fully grown, about 3-4 inches.  When fruit is mature, they break easily from the plant but less damage occurs if the fruit is cut from the plant.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Crops in Pots: Lessons from the Demonstration Garden by Patti O'Neal

Space – or the lack of it – often prevents people from even considering growing their own food.  But that need not be the case.  What you may perceive as a lack of space may be an opportunity to “think outside of the box” and enable you to grow at the very least, your two or three favorite edibles to use in your kitchen.  And it is not too late to begin even this year!

Container gardening with edibles is not only easy, but brings gardening to apartment dwellers, or those living in patio homes, condos or on small lots or even in community living situations.  About the only limiting factor is the orientation to the sun.  Vegetables, with very few exceptions, require minimum of 6 hours of full sun a day.  Obviously, some will plants will perform better with the optimum 8 hours, but 6 are doable and spring and fall crops of greens can even perform well with 4.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Grafted Tomatoes – REALLY? by Barb Klett

So why graft a plant that has only one season?  Isn’t that a lot of work for a little pay off? And expensive to boot?  Huh?
Grafted Tomatoes

REALLY, there are reasons for grafting tomatoes – the same reasons we graft other plants.  The rootstock is sturdy, disease resistant, stress tolerant, and/or they increase productivity.  The grafted part is said to have better qualities than the original rootstock, such as flavor or size.

Tomato grafting has been used in Asia and Europe for some time (since the 1960s) and is currently used in Mediterranean areas, while it is gaining popularity in the US too.  There are several reasons the grafted tomatoes are becoming so popular.  The rootstock is chosen to help deal with many kinds of abiotic issues including salinity, drought/flood and temperature extremes.  The rootstock selection can be effective against many fungus, bacteria, virus, and even nematodes and may help reduce use of soil fumigants.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Beckon the Butterflies! by Donna Duffy

A couple of days ago, I was standing in the yard with my 6-year old neighbor, watching a butterfly flit around the garden. She was thoroughly entranced until the butterfly flew away. With a heavy sigh, she shook her head and said, “I just wish they would stay a little longer.”

It’s true, butterflies often seem to be just passing through our yards. You can prolong their visit by changing some of your gardening practices to provide them the food and shelter they are seeking.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Water Vegetables Properly by Carol King

Drip Systems are best for watering vegetables. Photo courtesy of University of Mississippi
As if growing vegetables in Colorado weren't hard enough, did you know each vegetable has different water needs?  Watering your vegetables properly during the growing season is directly related to produce quality and yields.  Most vegetables use around quarter-inch of water per day during typical summer weather.  If the garden is watered every four days, apply one inch of water per irrigation.  Hot, windy weather will increase water demand significantly.   Many vegetables become strong-flavored or stringy with water stress.

CSU provides this list of  some critical watering needs for selected vegetables:
  • Asparagus needs water most critically during spear production and fern (foliage) development.  Less water is needed after ferns reach full size.

  • Cole crops (broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, collards, Brussels sprouts, kale, and kohlrabi) need consistent moisture during their entire life span.  The quality of cole crops is significantly reduced if the plants get dry anytime during the growing season. Water use is highest and most critical during head development.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Buffalo Grass Lawn by Carol King
Have you been considering a buffalo grass lawn? As drought rears its ugly head again and again  and water costs increase, more individuals and businesses are looking for alternatives to water-guzzling turf. Bouteloua dactyloides (buffalograss) is an attractive, fine-textured, low-water-use native grass that grows throughout the Great Plains from Minnesota to Montana and south into Mexico. This warm-season perennial establishes itself as a short (three to six inches tall) sod grass and spreads by means of runners called stolons. The runners form a turf that is solid, yet can accommodate wildflowers and native bunch grasses. Buffalograss is exceptionally cold- and drought-tolerant, and has no known disease or insect problems. It is ideal for large landscaped areas such as businesses, parks, and schools. (University of Texas at Austin)

Here's the complete how to for planting an attractive buffalo grass lawn.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Water, Accurately Applied When and Where You Want It by Dave Moland

Let’s face it folks – the era of our trying to simulate summer rainstorms when we water our landscapes is over. The “New Age of Aquarius” is upon us, and I’m not referring to astrological eras or meanings here. Aquarius in mythology was “the cup-bearer to the gods”, or the sign of the “water carrier”. We don’t have to water our gardens by carrying water in cups, but now it’s time for us all to apply our water much more wisely and accurately!

Having experienced a very dry March, and seeing the TV news regarding the relatively low mountain snow pack in our watershed areas, coupled with the fast spring melt and a very possible hot, dry summer, I believe that all forms of Water Wise Gardening – including drip watering, use of soaker hoses and minimizing our turf areas, will soon be “mandatory” in many areas of Colorado. Our prolific use of city-system water for overhead sprinkling of large lawns and gardens may soon be priced out of most of our budgets, even if not severely rationed.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Upside Down Tomatoes by Carol King

The next couple of weeks is tomato planting time along the Front Range.  Day and night time temperatures are still too low to support tomato growth so "wall of waters"  is a good idea until night time temps reach 50+.

Planting "upside down" tomatoes appears to be a big fad right now. While the practice is nationwide, there are some Colorado-specific concerns from Planttalk Colorado.
"Plants know up from down!  Auxins (hormones produced in the growing tips) turn stem growth upwards. When tomato plants are hung, new stem growth makes a U-turn upwards. In Colorado’s windy weather, the weight of the stems in windy weather can pull or break off the stem. The new growth will make another U-turn upward.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Online Resourses for Front Range Gardens by Carol King

The garden centers are buzzing; the big box stores are starting to burst at the seams!  Yes, planting season has arrived!  Are you confused about what to select for your garden?  So many plants, so little time.  Here are some online tools that focus on plants that do well in the Front Range in our semi-arid climate. 

Plant Select® is a cooperative program administered by Denver Botanic Gardens and Colorado State University in concert with horticulturists and nurseries throughout the Rocky Mountain region and beyond. The purpose of Plant Select® is to seek out, identify and distribute the best plants for landscapes and gardens from the intermountain region to the high plains. Plants are chosen each year that thrive in the unique and variable conditions of Rocky Mountain gardens. Many nurseries now carry plants with the Plant Select tag.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Dry Conditions Cause Turf Mite Damage by Mary Small

Our Plant Diagnostic Clinic has been seeing a number of lawn samples with the same problem - mite damage. Mite damage is caused by the dry weather we have experienced this fall, winter, and spring. Areas of the lawn looks dead, bleached or seems to be coming out of winter slowly. Damage is most common on south exposures, west or south slopes or in lawn areas next to sidewalks or driveways.

Upon close inspection, grass blades are speckled with whitish flecks. Some blades may be purplish. Living mites have been found in a few cases, but generally they are undetectable now. Turf mites are tiny, spider-like relatives that are active during the winter and early spring, when they suck sap out of the grass plants.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Foothills Garden Alert: The Hummers are coming! by Jan Boone

Photo from
Foothills Garden Alert:
The Hummers are coming!
The Hummers are coming!

No, we’re not talking about those tricked out ultra expensive SUV’s, we’re talking about those mighty winged dynamos that have spent their winter along the southern borders of New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and are making their way north again for the warm weather months.  We all can admit to having annual love affairs with these smallest members of the avian world.  Nothing tops their aerial antics, so now is the time to focus on our foothills gardens and how we can make our yards attractive and suitable enough that these little guys will stick around for the summer.  Our environment is perfect and suitably preferred by the hummingbirds. Their flights will range from 5,000 ft and up in elevation during warm weather months.  We have 4 main varieties in Colorado.  They are The Broad-tail, (the early scouts will arrive shortly), the Calliope, the Black Chinned and finally the Rufus, which will show up in July.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Steppe with Me & My Brother by Kim Bone

Kim Bone

I found out that my brother, Mike Bone's (Denver Botanic Gardens’ Curator of Steppe Collections) trip to to Great Plains/North American Steppe is very close to being cancelled;  last night he told me all about the trip and all the incredible things there would be to see and I'm convinced this is a trip not to be missed.  If any of you could tune into your spontaneous
spirit and get this jewel of an adventure revved-up; I'd guarantee a floral-full, mind-spinning, idea-creating, educational, good time trip.

Anybody up for a road trip?

Kim the Gardener 

p.s.  Lucky number 'thirteen' that's how many people are needed by the end of this week.  So don't hesitate give DBG a call and "book this trip."

Monday, April 9, 2012

New Online Gardening Resource from the Denver Botanic Gardens

Prunus padus 'Albertii' can be seen on the Cherry Blossom Blitz tour

The Denver Botanic Gardens is bringing gardeners an exciting and valuable new online resource.  Gardens Navigator allows you to search for plants growing at the York Street location by common or scientific name or by features or garden. Navigator can also help you find plants that bloom at certain times or by flower or leaf color to help you design your own garden.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Garbage Can Roses by Judy Huckaby

Ronald Regan Tea Rose
One of the truly excellent experiences I had last summer was the benefit of an unintentional act of generosity.  In July, I found two roses someone had put out in their trash. The soil in the containers was completely dried out, pulling away from the sides of the black plastic pots. All of the leaves, while green in color, were dry, crinkled, and crispy. One label read “Iceberg”, a floribunda (four foot or so tall bushy rose with many white blooms).  The other rose was a Ronald Reagan Tea.  Wait, what?

I quickly scooped up this find before it disappeared, returning home, dunked first one and then the other completely under water, weighing down the root ball with stones until air bubbles stopped.  I use this dunk and drain technique whenever I buy something from a nursery and again, directly before planting.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Rock Garden – Adding Depth and Dimension to Your Yard! by Vicky Spelman-Lang

Now is the time to start daydreaming for your next yard project – a rock garden.  They are great for slopes, or for building levels in an otherwise flat flower garden.  The nooks and crannies created with the rocks can make for unique planting areas.

 My motivation for building a rock garden came from seeing some aerials of the backyard.  Viewing photos from a birds-eye view allowed me to start envisioning a path to the top of our property, with a cactus well and rock garden integrated into the design.  The south-facing slope also meant wonderful light for this type of project.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Spring Yard and Garden Cleanup, or “Spring – Glorious Spring!” by Gardener Dave

Agastache Ava by Dave Moland

“In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt”
                                        - Margaret Atwood

This may be “one of our many springs” on the Front Range, but we will take the weather as it comes, because after all, what choice do we have? We can only hope and pray that our foolish and idealistic trees, operating on their own sense of the season, do not get frosted – thus losing their first crop of leaves and, in the case of the fruit trees, their precious blossoms.

We, as practical gardeners, will just make use of the pleasant warm days to start our “Spring Yard and Garden Cleanup” in preparation for “our actual spring” – which will come eventually, as it does every year. Meanwhile, let’s look at a few of the things we can do at this time of year. These have worked well for me over the many years I have been gardening.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Pasque Flower Signals that Spring is Here by Elaine Lockey

Spring arrives officially today, March 20, the vernal equinox.  By now you’ve probably been wandering around your garden looking for signs of spring’s arrival: buds opening on the serviceberry, bright yellow Winter Aconite flowers, Narcissus leaves emerging, or the sight of a robin.  One of the signs I look for is the emergence of Pasque Flowers, Pulsatilla patens (syn. Anemone patens). 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

It’s Time to Prune Your Summer Flowering Shrubs by Elaine Lockey

Rejuvenation pruning on an older Potentilla. The one on the left needs similar work.
Get out your pruners and loppers - it's time to do some pruning. Summer-flowering shrubs bloom on new growth from this year. Some examples are Potentilla, butterflybush, blue mist spirea and Rose of Sharon. They should be thinned or rejuvenated in the late winter or early spring before growth starts.  

Monday, March 12, 2012

Growing Plants From Seed

Photo courtesy Carl Wilson, CSU Extension
Finally March has arrived and it's time to begin starting plants from seeds!  When to start them is determined by their growing needs.  Here is a great CSU Extension Fact sheet that will set your seeds on the right track!

Read about it here.

And good luck with this growing season.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Daylight Savings Time! Turn the Clocks Forward!

Today's the day.  You either love it or hate it but turn those clocks forward one hour.

Here's an interesting article from Organic Gardening Magazine about the history of Daylight Savings Time.

Much of what you believe about it is false!

Read it here.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Caring for Backyard Chickens by Elizabeth Buckingham

Backyard chickens have become a popular trend over the past few years, and for good reason: chickens are a great source of entertainment, fertilizer, and of course fresh eggs. Chickens are relatively low-maintenance and low-cost, and unlike many other types of livestock, chickens can be kept in a modestly-sized backyard. As with any animal, it is imperative that you first honestly evaluate your household and lifestyle to ensure that you can devote the time, energy and money necessary to keeping your animals healthy and safe. Although chickens require very little effort relative to other household pets, they do still require care and protection.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Wicked Bugs!

Join Amy Stewart, author of Wicked Bugs, in a lively video as she highlights insects, like the mosquito, that have changed the world (and killed a lot of people).

Thursday, February 23, 2012

And the 2012 Academy Award Winner Elaine Lockey
Don’t you wish there was a category at the Academy Awards for best botanic movie? Most stunning landscape background?  Best use of a plant in a scene? Me too.  So since there isn’t, I went in search of a plant with star power that I think could shine in a future movie.

And so my selection for the winner of this year's award for most movie-worthy plant would be the Rafflesia arnoldii.  Its common name is Corpse Flower.  It also happens to have the world's largest flower.