Tuesday, November 8, 2011

How Did Your Garden Grow? by Donna Duffy

Autumn is the perfect season to step back and reflect on the successes and challenges you experienced in your garden this summer. Grab your garden journal and take a walk around your yard. Jot down detailed notes – your memory may fade over the long winter months. Consider the following:

·      What did you love about the garden this year?
·      Which plants thrived? What did you do to help them thrive?
·      Which plants struggled? What happened to them? What were their precise growing conditions (e.g., how much water, what kind of soil, how much sun)?
·      What insect problems did you encounter? How did you manage those problems?
·      What plants outgrew their space?
·      What do you want to do differently next year?

With these notes in hand, you have several months to research answers to your specific plant problems. The CSU Extension website, http://www.cmg.colostate.edu/ has a wealth of information to help you get answers to your gardening questions. You’ll find downloadable fact sheets to shed light on your most perplexing issues and provide guidance.

The fun part of planning is considering all the options for adding or replacing plants. One of the best resources to find plants that thrive in the Rocky Mountain region is the Plant Select® website: http://www.plantselect.org. 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.

Jeffco Master Gardeners Kristin Sutton, Jamie Gallagher, Jan Skibinski and Ellen Goodnight
Fair warning: once you open the website, you may find the time slipping by as you click through the plant lists and photos. You can check out the Plant Select®  “winners” for the past year or previous years. You can create your own customized plant list based on your unique growing conditions. There are galleries of landscape designs as well as downloadable designs. You can look at individual plant photos and eye-popping photos of gardens that incorporate Plant Select® recommended plants. You can even find a list of retail suppliers of these marvelous plants.

Next spring, take note of the nearly 90 Plant Select® demonstration gardens to visit and view Plant Select® introduced and recommended plants in real-garden situations. A great place to start is the Jefferson County CSU Extension at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds, 15200 W. 6th Avenue.