Thursday, February 28, 2019

It’s National Floral Design Day!

Melbourne International Flower and Garden Show Winners

Who knew that February 28th was such an auspicious day? In addition to being National Floral Design Day, it’s also National Chili Day, National Chocolate Souffle Day and National Public Sleeping Day, my favorite. 

Floral Design Day was created as a unique way to celebrate a special birthday of Carl Rittner, the founder of the Rittners School of Floral Design in Boston over 60 years ago. Mr. Rittner is a pioneer in floral art education, and the people at Rittners felt that the idea of a holiday that celebrates floral design as an art form is a wonderful one whose time had come.  In 1995, Governor William F. Weld of Massachusetts, proclaimed this day as Floral Design Day. Carl Rittner will turn 105 this year.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Terminology for New Flower Gardeners

Mixed bed of perennials and annuals, photo by Beth Bonnicksen
If you are a newcomer to the world of flower gardening, welcome! Prepare to have a new addiction in your life. Getting familiar with some of the terminology will help you navigate the wonderful world of annuals, perennials, bulbs and more. Here’s a start.

Friday, February 22, 2019

George Washington and Planting Cherry Trees by Carol King

It’s George Washington’s birthday, (February 22, 1732) and it’s hard to think of our first president without the phrase “I cannot tell a lie” popping up.  The cherry tree myth is the most well-known and longest enduring legend about our first president. It was invented by one of Washington’s very first biographers, Mason Locke Weems. In the original story, when Washington was six years old he received a hatchet as a gift and damaged his father’s cherry tree. When his father discovered what he had done, he became angry and confronted him. Young George bravely said, “I cannot tell a lie…I did cut it with my hatchet.” Washington’s father embraced him and rejoiced that his son’s honesty was worth more than a thousand trees.1

Weems wanted to present Washington as the perfect role model, especially for young Americans. The cherry tree myth and other stories showed readers that Washington’s public greatness was due to his private virtues. William Holmes McGuffey, author of the McGuffey’s Readers, created a version of the cherry tree myth that appeared in his Eclectic Second Reader. This helped entrench the cherry tree myth in American culture. The myth has endured for more than two hundred years and has become an important part of Americans' cultural heritage.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

10 "Essential" Garden Tools

Photo courtesy Zac's Garden

Search the internet, and there are numerous lists of “essential” garden tools. Of course, your list will differ from others, based on the size and scope of your gardening efforts, your experience, the growing conditions in your landscape and your gardening goals. Following are ten of the most common tools that seasoned gardeners have in their shed.

Monday, February 18, 2019

New to Colorado? Five Gardening Tips for Success

Photo courtesy Colorado Dept. of Tourism

Welcome to Colorado! Regardless where you came from, you are likely to find gardening in Colorado different than it was in your home state - both rewarding and challenging. It's not too early to start thinking about your Colorado landscape. Following are five tips to help you get started on the right foot. 

Friday, February 15, 2019

Check Soil Temperature Before Planting Vegetable Seeds

Photo courtesy vegetable

More important than moon signs and more predictable than weather is another variable which drastically affects how seeds and transplants grow - soil temperature. Soil temperature is a factor which few of us consider important enough to check before planting yet it is probably the most important factor affecting seed germination, stand establishment and seedling growth. The following guidelines are provided by Dr. Jerry Parsons, Extension Horticulturist at Texas Agricultural Extension Service.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Happy Valentine's Day! by Carol King

Photo courtesy
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.

Monday, February 11, 2019

Gardening Trends for 2019

Photo by Donna Duffy

February is a good time to start thinking seriously about your landscape and gardening wishes for the coming season.  Every year, top gardening trends are listed from a number of sources. Following are five that might be interesting for Jefferson County gardeners. Check out the linked resources for more information and ideas.

Friday, February 8, 2019

How to Make a Cold Frame for Early Seed Start by Carol King

A cold frame is a simple structure that uses the sun's energy and insulation to create a microclimate within your garden. You can harvest and eat a salad in March! Cold frames allow starting plants as much as six weeks before planting-out time.

S.E. Newman, Colorado State University Extension greenhouse crop specialist has this to say:

Cold Frames
For an early start, sow seed in a cold frame and transplant it into the garden later. Seed may be started as much as six weeks earlier than outdoors. Locate the cold frame on the south side of a garage or dwelling. If built with a tight-fitting lid, the cold frame will hold sufficient heat from the sun to keep seed and seedlings warm at night. On warm, sunny days (50F or warmer), prop the lid open to prevent buildup of excessive heat. Close the lid in the late afternoon to trap enough heat for cold evenings.

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Pruning the Trees in Your Landscape by Peter Drake

Photo courtesy
Accustomed, as we are, to regard trees as an integral part of our home landscape, we would do well to remember that the trees we commonly enjoy usually need our help to continue their life here.

Beyond the willows and cottonwoods that have found homes along the rivers, streams and irrigation ditches, our Colorado Front Range foothills region is not generally hospitable to the varieties of shade and ornamental trees we’ve come to enjoy so much.  This broader climate zone still wants to be what it was before Euro-American colonization and settlement: a high plains desert, covered with durable grasses and low shrubs, and intensely vulnerable to climatic extremes which can split bark and easily kill top-growth, both new and old.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

What is a Heirloom Plant?

Heirloom tomatoes, photo courtesy

The following information was excerpted from What are Heirlooms, University of Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County, Sarah Browning, UNL Extension Educator.

Most gardeners are aware of the increasing interest heirloom vegetables have received in recent years. Just visit your local farmer's market in the summer and you're likely to find a wide variety of heirloom vegetables available with many unique shapes and colorations. But exactly what are heirloom plants?