May 17, 2013
If I could create one perfect plant for the Pikes Peak region, what would it be like?
Of course, I’d want it to be attractive. It should adorn itself with cheerful spring flowers, good-looking foliage, and intense fall color. I’d add persistent fruit or berries to feed the birds and provide winter interest.
My perfect plant should be easy to grow; I’d want it to thrive in our native soils with little or no supplemental water. It must be hardy to at least 8,000 feet, and still handle summer heat waves.
I’d create a versatile plant that could be trained as either a medium-to-large shrub or small tree. Deer resistance would be a bonus. And I’d want it to be readily available from local garden centers (at a reasonable price).
Well, it seems that Somebody beat me to it. There is a perfect plant for this area—the common Chokecherry.
May 10, 2013
“Freckles” is an heirloom lettuce that performs well in the Pikes Peak region.
“Heirloom seeds are better, right?” It’s a question I hear a lot when I’m teaching classes on growing your own veggies. Just the term “heirloom” makes us think of precious family treasures, fine antiques. “Heirloom seeds” is a phrase that sells and many seed companies take full advantage of it.
Heirloom vegetables (or flowers) are varieties that have been in cultivation a long time—decades, if not centuries—and are still being grown today. They’re what your great grandmother would have sown in her garden. They’re the antiques of the gardening world.
May 3, 2013
Just when you don’t think you can stand another minute of bare branches or dead, brown-gray foliage, spring heralds its arrival in a burst of dazzling yellow. All over town, forsythias reassure us that the growing season has finally arrived.
Originally from eastern Asia, where they have been cultivated for centuries, forsythias were collected for western gardens in the early 1800s. Most current garden varieties are hybrids of two species, Forsythia suspensa and F. viridissima. The problem is that the resulting cultivars aren’t reliably hardy in much of Colorado.
Happily plant breeders have been hard at work. ‘Northern Gold’ and ‘Northern Sun’ are both the product of a cross that includes a very hardy (but not very showy) Korean species. The resulting bushes retain the spectacular floral display of their other parentage, and survive down to USDA zone 4, or even 3 with a thick mulch or good snow cover. That’s plenty of hardiness for the Front Range. ‘Meadowlark’ is another cultivar hardy to zone 4.
March 18, 2013
I’m sure it’s no surprise to any of you that we are in the midst of a severe drought (especially not if you’ve been reading this blog!). You may be surprised to find out that we are actually in a worse situation than we were before the 2002 growing season, the first time we had watering restrictions. But here is the scoop; we’ve had two consecutive years of severe drought and two consecutive years of low snowpack. This has left us with 1.5 years of “demand storage” in our reservoirs as of Feb 28 (and by “us,” I mean those who buy their water from Colorado Springs Utilities). The utility company likes to keep at least two years in storage, and they’re sure that if we have another summer similar to last year’s in precipitation levels and heat AND another winter with low snowpack, we will dip below one year’s storage if we don’t take action now. Hence they’re looking for all of us to use 30% less water outdoors than last year. So we will be operating under the stipulations of one of the drought stages outlined in the Water Shortage Ordinance, including water restrictions. (more…)
March 1, 2013
The 2013 Western Landscape Symposium happens on March 16 in Pueblo with a terrific line-up of sessions for this year. Registration is a bargain at $18 per ticket in advance. This year’s schedule promises sessions by David Salmans (of the recently sold High Country Gardens), Dan Johnson (Denver Botanic Gardens), Whitney Cranshaw (professor of entomology at CSU), and more. A full schedule and registration information can be found here:
Sadly, the local Peak to Prairie Landscape Symposium is not happening this year and is on indefinite hiatus.
February 22, 2013
Shoveling snow is a kind, courteous thing you can do for the pedestrians and joggers in your neighborhood (thank you!!), but this week, I realized that there is another great reason to make the effort to shovel snow. Getting the snow off of hard surfaces and onto turf areas, dormant vegetable beds, and perennial beds makes really good sense in our arid (DRY!) climate.
We had a pretty decent wet, heavy snow a few days ago, a snow like I don’t remember having in a very long time. As I was enjoying some quality time with the snow shovel after that storm, I suddenly had the thought “I’m winter watering!” (more…)
February 16, 2013
(This is the last article in our series on Integrated Pest Management [IPM].)
Last month we explained how amphibians, such as frogs and toads, and reptiles, such as snakes and lizards, are beneficial to our gardens. This time we’ll focus on birds and mammals. Inviting these wild animals into ours gardens is yet one more way that we can control the pests that dine on our flowers and veggies.
Putting out bird feeders may seem like a favor for the birds, but it’s really the other way around! While most birds attracted to feeders eat seeds, many of those same species switch to bugs, with their higher protein content, during the breeding season.