Saturday, April 28, 2018

Be a Habitat Hero!

Does your garden supply habitat for songbirds and pollinators? If so, you can apply for Habitat Hero designation. A Habitat Hero garden meets these five objectives:
  • Creates diverse layers, plus shelter and nesting opportunities for wildlife
  • Is waterwise, energy-efficient, and uses few or no pesticides
  • Provides natural food in different seasons, based at least partly on native plants
  • Offers water for drinking and bathing
  • Controls invasive species

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Square Foot Gardening by Vicky Spelman

Square Foot Gardening photo University of Florida
As gardeners, we often see the term "square foot gardening". Unsure as to what it means? It is actually an excellent way to arrange a garden bed and can solve a number of problems. The University of Florida explains it this way:

Square foot gardening is the practice of dividing the growing area into small square sections (typically 12" on a side, hence the name). The aim is to assist the planning and creating of a small but intensively planted vegetable garden. It results in a simple and orderly gardening system, from which it draws much of its appeal. Since the beds are typically small, making covers or cages to protect plants from pests, cold, or sun is more practical than with larger gardens.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Go Green(er) on Earth Day!

It's Earth Day - what better time to consider ways to go green(er) in your own landscape? Here are six simple steps to get started. 

Plant a tree. Trees help purify the air, give wildlife a home, and planting them isn't as difficult as you might think. Read CSU’s Tree Planting Steps to ensure your tree is planted correctly.

Friday, April 20, 2018

It's Arbor Day in Colorado by Carol King

The first celebration of an Arbor Day was organized by the mayor in the Spanish village of Mondoñedo in 1594. The first “modern day” Arbor Day happened in Spain in 1805 in the village of Villanueva de la Sierra and was organized by a local priest, Don Ramón Vacas Roxo. According to author and professor Miguel Herrero Uceda, Don Ramón was “convinced of the importance of trees for health, hygiene, decoration, nature, environment and customs” and decided “to plant trees and give a festive air.” After celebrating Mass on Carnival Tuesday, Roxo, accompanied by other clergy, teachers, and villagers, planted a poplar tree. The celebration and plantings lasted three days. The priest was so moved by the importance of trees that he wrote a manifesto in their defense and sent it to neighboring towns to encourage people to protect nature and establish tree plantations. From the Smithsonian.

The very first Arbor Day in the United States was celebrated in Nebraska in 1872 and was inaugurated by planting over a million trees in just one day. It was the idea of J. Sterling Morton, who promoted tree planting while employed for the Nebraska Territory. In Colorado, the third Friday in April each year is “set apart and known as "Arbor Day," to be observed by the people of this state in the planting of forest trees for the benefit and adornment of public and private grounds, places, and ways in such other efforts and undertakings as shall in harmony with the general character of the day established.”Colorado Revised Statutes (C.R.S. 24-11-104)”

Celebrate this Arbor Day by planting a tree of course! Here’s a video on “doing it properly.”

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Guttation: April Word of the Month

Photo courtesy Noahelhardt/wikimedia commons
Have you ever noticed tiny water droplets uniformly spaced around the margins of a leaf on a dewy morning? If so, you might have wondered what would cause dewdrops to form in such a regular pattern. In fact, you have observed a phenomenon called “guttation.”

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Money Plants to Soothe Your Tax Day Blues

It’s tax day again, meaning that many of us have money on our minds. Did you know that from 1918 to 1954, March 15 used to be tax day? In 1954 the IRS  moved it to its current date of April 15th. Because the tax covered more of the middle class, the IRS needed to issue more refunds. Pushing back the date allowed the Feds to hang on your money longer (

If you have the tax day blues, here are two “money plants” that might brighten your spirits though they won’t fatten your wallet.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Variegated Tulips: Beauty From a Virus By Olivia Tracy

Variegated Tulip (Tulipa), likely “Tulip Yellow Spring Green.” Photo courtesy of Olivia Tracy.

Have you ever seen tulips like these, tulips that look like they’ve been ‘painted’ with multiple colors? Many people love the look of these variegated tulips, and they’ve been popular since the 1600s, when Holland went mad for variegated tulip varieties and tulip speculation (and tulip prices) skyrocketed.1 While we don’t have this mania today, we can still buy varieties like Rembrandt, Princess Irene, Kaufmanniana and many others that promise beautifully variegated tulips. 

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Catkins Cometh! by Carol King

I  know that spring has “sprung” when the street in front of my house becomes covered with cottonwood catkins. Our neighborhood has many cottonwoods, poplar, willows, birches and aspen trees: all catkin-loaded!  And spring is definitely here.

The catkin is is a strand of tiny unisexual flowers, blooming on many species of trees. The flowers are tiny and inconspicuous, but the blooming catkins are lovely, though very short-lived.  Catkins rely on wind to spread their pollen, and we have certainly had the wind helping out. After the female flowers are fertilized, the male catkins wither and drop.

Each species of tree has its own habits and forms, which are interesting to contemplate. The brief beauty of the catkin-bearing trees hearlds early spring, a welcome sign of greenery to come!

The word catkin is derived from the Dutch katje, meaning "kitten", because it resembles a kitten’s tail. Enjoy this brief display which hints of Springtime!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Front Range Tree Recommendations by Carol King

Spring is typically tree and shrub planting time in Colorado.  The garden centers and big box stores  offer a huge assortment to choose from.  How does one know which tree to choose?  Choosing the right tree is essential to tree health and success. Don’t just go to the garden center and take whatever you can find.  Put some study into it.  

Ask yourself some questions. What is growing well in your neighborhood? What varieties are suited to Front Range Colorado and are most resistant to common insect and disease pests? What is the purpose of my tree?  Shade? Fruit? Windbreak?  This can be a daunting decision so here are some resources to help:

Front Range Tree Recommendation List, from Colorado Nursery Grower's Association, American Society of Landscape Architects Colorado, the Colorado Tree Coalition, and Colorado State UniversityExtension.
Recommended Trees for Colorado Front Range Communities, from Colorado State Forest Service,
Read more: Colorado tough: Great trees for your Western garden - The Denver Post 

Recommended Fruit Tree Varieties for Front Range Colorado

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Gardening Power to the People: Growing Blueberries in Colorado (Video)

Growing blueberries in Colorado is a challenge at best. Knowledge of soils and best planting practices will help you succeed. Patti O'Neal, Horticulture Assistant at the Jeffco Extension Office gives you growing advice in this useful video.


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Gardening Power to the People (Video): Starting Seeds Outdoors by Audrey Stokes

It's time to sow cool season vegetable seeds in your garden, along the Front Range! Colorado Master Gardener Audrey explains early crop seed starting in this short video.  The Garden Notes she refers to can be found here:

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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Spring Lawn Management Checklist for Colorado Lawns by Dr. Tony Koski

Photo Lawn Institute

Dr. Tony Koski, Extension Turf Specialist, Colorado State University Cooperative Extension offers  this advice for lawn management of bluegrass and other turf grasses.

Fertilizing the Lawn
  • Fertilization of lawns this spring (March-June) is a highly recommended practice. 
  • The ideal fertilizer will contain a mixture of quickly and slowly available nitrogen sources. Most lawn care companies use these type of fertilizer blends. 
  • Excellent fertilizer blends are available to the homeowner from local nurseries and garden centers. 
  • Fertilizer applied before watering is allowed will not cause a problem for lawns; adequate moisture from spring precipitation and irrigation (once it is allowed) will cause nutrients to be released to the turf. 
    Photo CSU

Aerating (Cultivating) the Lawn
  • Lawn aeration is a highly recommended spring lawn care practice. 
  • While deeper (2-3 inches) core holes provide the greatest benefit to the lawn, even shallow (1 inch) core holes will help to enhance water infiltration for the spring and summer watering periods. 
  • Overseeding may be done in conjunction with lawn aeration; this may especially benefit those lawns thinned by drought conditions or winter mite activity (avoid using crabgrass preemergent herbicides at the time of overseeding). 
  • Lawn aeration will help to control thatch, an organic layer that often impedes proper water movement into the soil. 
  • Lawn aeration, fertilization, and overseeding all can be done at the same time.