Thursday, May 30, 2019

Gardening Power to the People: Pollinators (Video)—Bee or Wasp?

What is that buzzing around my head and food? This video will help you identify helpful pollinators and troublesome pests.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Memorial Day and Poppies by Carol King

Photo by Tina Negus
The Memorial Day Organization tells us that Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in our nation's service.  Memorial Day was officially proclaimed on 5 May 1868 by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No.11, and was first observed on 30 May 1868, when flowers were placed on the graves of Union and Confederate soldiers at Arlington National Cemetery.
In 1915, inspired by the poem "In Flanders Fields", Moina Michael conceived of an idea to wear red poppies on Memorial day in honor of those who died serving the nation during war. She was the first to wear one, and sold poppies to her friends and co-workers with the money going to benefit servicemen in need. Thus a tradition was born.

In Flanders Fields
John McCrae, 1915.

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

Why not plant a poppy bed in honor of Memorial Day?     Poppies are easy to grow in Colorado.  They are drought and pest resistant.  Many varieties grow easily from seed.

Here's an article that will help you have success with your planting. 

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Pollinator of the Week: Squash Bees

Squash bee, photo courtesy Holly Prendeville, University of Nebraska

This article is reprinted  from “Squash Bees” by Jim Cane, USDA ARS, Bee Biology and Systematics Lab, Logan, Utah. 

Got squash? If so, you have the chance to see the most important floral specialists in agriculture, native solitary bees of two genera, Peponapis and Xenoglossa, the so-called “squash bees”. Look at your squash’s flowers during the first few hours after sunrise. Male squash bees will be darting between flowers, searching for mates. By noon, they will be fast asleep in the withered flowers.

Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Spring-planted Bulbs, Corms and Roots

Photo courtesy pixshark.com

As you are thinking about your summer flower garden, don’t forget to include spring-planted bulbs, corms and roots. Some examples include gladiolus, dahlias, canna, lilies and tuberous begonias.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Pollinator of the Week: Flower Flies

Tachinid fly, photo courtesy of Beatriz Moisset
The two-winged insects (flies, gnats, mosquitos) is a very large and varied group. Many of them specifically visit flowers, such as the Syrphid flies or flower flies. They are not as hairy as bees nor as efficient at carrying pollen, but some are still good pollinators. The USDA Forest Service provides the following information about Fly Pollination.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Hardening Off and Transplanting Seedlings

Seedling Photo by Brooke Coburn
It is time to begin to transplant tender seedlings outdoors, and seedlings that have grown indoors up to this point need special treatment before being planted outdoors. These seedlings are used to lower light levels, protection from the elements, and ample water. So they will need to adjust gradually to the outdoor environment, a process called hardening off.
Hardening Off
Photo Brooke Coburn
Shade for new seedlings by Brooke Coburn
About a week before transplanting, begin placing the seedlings outdoors for a few hours each day. Place the plants in a location with light shade and protection from the wind so as to avoid scalding and wilting. A shade cloth, tree, or trellis can provide adequate shade. Each day, gradually increase the amount of time the seedlings spend outdoors until they can be left out even overnight. Keep a careful watch on the weather forecast, however, and be sure to bring the seedlings inside if temperatures are going to dip near to freezing.
Transplanting
Transplant seedlings on an overcast, cool day, if possible, after the danger of frost has passed. Loosen the soil and dig a hole for the transplant. Carefully remove the seedling from the pot, keeping as many of the roots intact as possible. Place the roots in the hole and move loose dirt back around to support the stem of the plant. Water right away with a solution of half strength fertilizer. Keep newly transplanted seedlings well-watered for the first three to four weeks after transplanting until they develop a larger root system.
Summary
Gradually acclimate seedlings to the outdoor environment by providing protection from sun and wind. Transplant on a cool, overcast day, and continue to provide sufficient water until the root system has developed. See the links below for more information and to find your local frost dates.
Sources
Buying and Hardening Seedlings http://www.ext.colostate.edu/ptlk/1802.html



Monday, May 13, 2019

Pollinator of the Week: Leaf Cutting Bees

A female leafcutter bee collecting pollen. Image courtesy of Jim McCulloch.
This article is excerpted from Leaf Cutting Bees (Megachile spp.) by Beatriz Moisset, USDA Forest Service.
There are about 242 species of Megachile bees or leaf cutting bees in North America. They belong to a larger group that includes also other leaf cutting as well as mason bees; these are all very good pollinators with very interesting habits.
Megachile bees are black and furry. They vary in size, on average about the same size as a honeybee. Most bees carry pollen in baskets on their legs. However, Megachile is different; the underside of the female’s abdomen is particularly furry and is used for this purpose. If you see a black bee, about the size of a honeybee, with a yellow belly, you probably saw a Megachile.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Carnation, The First Mother's Day Flower by Carol King

Photo Colorado State University
Carnations were the very first Mother’s Day flower given when Anna Jarvis, Mother’s Day founder, distributed her mother’s favorite flowers, white carnations in 1907, during the first Mother’s Day memorial service.

"The Carnation Gold Rush" is a term used by Denver locals, historians and preservationists to represent the period between the 1880s and 1930s when the floriculture industry developed and thrived in Colorado.  Denver was once called The Carnation Capitol of the World, there were so many grown here!

Here are some interesting links about the carnation connection to Colorado history:



Carnations are members of the dianthus family and there are several hardy periennal varieties that work well in Colorado. They also called “pinks” from the Latin word pinct, which means pinked or scalloped, referring to the jagged edges of the flower petals. Here is a fact sheet on growing the “Darling Dianthus.”

Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom. ~Marcel Proust


Happy Mother’s Day! 

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Dealing with Hail By Joyce D’Agostino


Hail, photo by Joyce D'Agostino

For many of us, having to deal with hailstorms is a reality. In this area of Colorado, we are in a hail zone meaning that we can experience more than the average hail events, and some of them can wipe out your garden in minutes.

In 2009, the Denver area had a very devastating hailstorm that included powerful winds. This occurred in late July, after about 9 PM and my mature garden was shredded. Not only was this very upsetting, but it told me that in order to try to successfully garden here, that weather protection, especially from hail is a must. Just recently we had a very powerful hailstorm in this area that including very large hail so there was not only damage to cars, roofs and siding but also damaged anything that was unprotected in gardens and landscapes. Hail can happen in any season so finding some permanent solutions that can stay up year-round will help.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Pollinator of the Week: Halictid Bees

Sweat bee on wild rose,  photo courtesy LuRay Parker, Wyoming Wildlife

In honor of the upcoming National Pollinator Week (June 19-25), we are highlighting a different pollinator every week. This week's pollinator is the Halictid bee, commonly known as sweat bees.  Thanks to Vince Tepidino, USDA ARS, Bee Biology and Systematics Lab in Logan Utah for the following information.

Pollinators have distinct foraging characteristics – some are specialists that collect pollen from flowers of just a few kinds of plants. Others, like the Halictidae (sweat bees), seem to be "anti-specialists". To paraphrase the early 20th century humorist Will Rogers, they have never met a flower they did not like, and they rarely find one whose pollen or nectar is unyielding. Such generalists visit a wide variety of flowers and often seem to do so indiscriminately. Variety seems to be the spice of their foraging lives. 

Saturday, May 4, 2019

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the Garden by Carol King

Cinco de Mayo (Spanish for "Fifth of May") is an annual celebration in Mexico held to commemorate the Mexican Army's difficult victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. In the United States the date has become associated with the celebration of Mexican-American culture. To commemorate this fun holiday, expand your celebration to include Cinco de Mayo gardening!
Here are some ideas for plantings in your Cinco De Mayo garden:

Photo heirloomroses.com
Cinco de Mayo Shrub Rose: (Rosa WEDcobeju’) Flowers are a blend of smoked lavender & rusty red-orange, the festive shrub provides a variety of color in a single bouquet! Its clean, round habit is ideal for use as a hedge or in a border. CSU Fact sheet on planting roses in Colorado: Growing Roses in Colorado

Photo Hosta Photo Library
Guacamole Hosta: (Hosta x ‘Guacamole’) The apple green foliage in the center is bordered by dark green margins creating a dazzling effect. These large hostas grow two feet tall and over four feet across. It has a magnificent fragrance that comes from the large white flowers in late summer. Nebraska Extension Fact sheet for growing hostas: Growing hostas.