Siberianelm2

A few weeks ago, some of the earliest green could be seen appearing on trees in our neighborhood. It’s always exciting to see those first tree leaves coming along isn’t it?

Well….the fairly invasive Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila) – pretty much the best example of a “trash tree” in our area –  likes to play a little trick on us. The tiny bits of green we see covering them are actually their ripening seeds. (more…)

Grasses4


Ornamental grasses flattened by heavy snow

You know those fabulous ornamental grasses we all plant for great winter interest? Well, this is just a friendly reminder that it’s time to cut them down so they can get going with this season’s growth. They’ll grow anyway if you don’t cut them down, but they sure won’t look too nice (surely you’ve seen those poor parking lot ‘Karl Foerster’ feather reed grasses that never get any attention after planting – getting shaggier and more dismal each year with green shoots pressing up through many years of dead leaves? Maybe if we all travelled with loppers in our cars, and we each agreed to cut down just one, we could make a difference!).

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Action shot! Giant sacaton halfway through cutting process.

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It has been a few years since we’ve had two Landscape Symposiums (Symposia?) in our area in the spring. The Colorado Springs-based Peak to Prairie Landscape Symposium held its final program back in 2012 (sigh), but we’ve still had the terrific Western Landscape Symposium in Pueblo to attend. But this year,  we have a new one-day program on native plants in Colorado Springs this year! Yay!

First, we have the 2015 Water Smart Landscape ProSeries Native Plants Program (courtesy of Colorado Springs Utilities) on Friday, March 6. It will be held at Library 21C from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and is open and free to the public. Presenters include Judith Phillips, Loretta Mannix, and Eric Becker. More information on this event is here: www.csu.org/Pages/events-workshops.aspx

 WLSlogorectangle.JPGThe 2015 Western Landscape Symposium happens on Saturday, March 14, in Pueblo with yet another super line-up of sessions for this year.

Registration is a bargain at $18 per ticket in advance. **Tickets are ONLY being sold in advance, not at the door.** This event has sold out the last several years well in advance and is expected to do so again, so if you are thinking of going, do not put off buying your ticket.

This year’s schedule promises sessions by Karla Dakin, Whitney Cranshaw, Leo Chance, and more. A full schedule and registration information can be found here:http://pueblo.colostate.edu/hor/wls.shtml

Tomato

Many gardeners in the Pikes Peak area have been complaining of undersized tomato plants, underperforming basil, wimpy peppers, etc. As usual, weather challenges us when we garden here, and this year, we have a rather unusual combination – chilly temperatures and (at times) over-abundant moisture. The last few summers have been warmer than average, so we’ve been caught off guard by conditions that are pretty comfortable for the gardener, but not so much for the warm-season vegetables and herbs!

A fellow Colorado gardener that I know of who gardens (with wild success) above 8000 ft always says “A tomato never wants to go below fifty degrees in its life – maybe even sixty!” (She, of course, uses cold frames, hoop houses, green houses, etc for all her gardening. To learn more about her garden, visit her web site here: www.pennandcordsgarden.com.) I suspect that the minimum-temperature rule for peppers is even ten degrees warmer than for tomatoes.

So, what’s the big deal? We’ve been over sixty degrees since the middle of June, right? Well, we have been for day time highs. But you have to also consider night-time temperatures. Even at the lower altitudes, night-time temperatures in our region dipped below fifty degrees several times in the past few weeks. This has helped keep our houses cooler, but it has definitely affected those hot-weather loving plants like peppers, tomatoes, and basil.  

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White-lined Sphinx Moth_DBG-CO_LAH_6147Q: What are those huge moths siphoning nectar from the evening primroses, fluttering around the catmint, hovering in front of the Red Feathers (below), and flocking (what do you call groups of moths, anyway?) around the lilac blooms?

A: They remind one of hummingbirds as they sip nectar through their long proboscises, so it’s easy to see howthey got one common name—Hummingbird Moth. However, these aren’t birds, but insects—sphinx moths in the family Sphingidae.

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A week and a half ago (Apr 13 and 14), we had two nights of hard freezing temperatures in much of the Pikes Peak area. Temperatures got down into the teens, and it seemed likely that many early blooming fruit trees might lose their almost-ready-to-open blooms. (We’ve written about fruit trees and freezing temps before here.) Amazingly, given what we know about fruit tree blossoms and killing temperatures, it seems that many of those trees escaped losing all of the blooms and may have only suffered some frost/freeze damage.

Here are some photos of a crabapple that is blooming in my yard this week (about a week later than “normal” – it was just about to open before it was set back by the freeze). (more…)

Irrigation is a super important part of vegetable gardening, and in our arid area, we tend to pay even closer attention to it. A vegetable garden left to be watered by Mother Nature here is not much of an option (though efforts can be made to maximize the benefit of any rainfall). But the vegetable gardener is going to have to supply extra water, so let’s look at a few different irrigation possibilities for vegetable beds:
1) Handheld Hose-End Sprayer
2) Overhead Sprinkler
3) Soaker Hoses
4) Drip Irrigation (more…)