Question of the Week


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…)


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!).


Action shot! Giant sacaton halfway through cutting process.


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.


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…)


Xeriscape Demonstration Garden in winter

Every winter is different (thank goodness!), and this year, we’ve had a pretty good solid winter with somewhat consistently cold temperatures and periods of decent snow cover. Some of those cold snaps have kept many of us indoors, getting a little stir crazy. We gardeners gaze out our windows, looking for that “winter interest” we hear so much about. If we happen to be houseplant people, we can put our gardening attention there. If not, maybe we peruse the seed catalogs again and again…

It seems mid-February is when I notice many of my fellow gardeners starting to get a bit tired of being indoors and itchy to be doing something, anything, to jump start their green thumbs for the upcoming season. If you’re one of this group, may we suggest the following five things you can do to ride out the end of winter into early spring: (more…)

Ponytail Palm_LAH_9915Q: What houseplant can I grow that isn’t fussy about food, water, light, or much of anything else, is ignored by pests, and looks good year round?

A: Amazingly enough, the perfect (or nearly perfect) houseplant does exist. Meet the Ponytail Palm: not fussy, not buggy, and eternally good looking. Granted, I have yet to see flowers, but with all its good points, who cares about flowers?

While “Ponytail Palm” is the most widely used common name, you might also see these plants labeled as Elephant’s Foot, Monja, or Bottle Palm. This is a case where the botanical name (Beaucarnea recurvata) comes in very handy. At least that way we know which plant we’re talking about!


hail2013.jpgWelcome to our third annual hail post! Why bother writing about hail AGAIN? Well, interestingly, the way we try to work in our gardens after a major hail storm can vary depending on the timing of the storm – when, in the growing season, it occurs. Looking back, the 2011 hail post was written in early July; last year’s was in mid-June. And here we are, in late August 2013, just starting to toy with the idea that we might have escaped major hail this year. But no……

Parts of central Colorado Springs saw quite a bit of hail early last week (on Aug 12), leaving my garden with the tell-tale scent of shredded cilantro and mint, and then a very large, serious thunderstorm yesterday dropped hail as large as golfballs in neighborhoods to the north (my garden, luckily, was spared). And in between those two dates, many smaller storms dropped hail over several places in Colorado Springs. (more…)


Dead green ash trees (July 2013)

All through our (usually) dry winters, we’ve been beating the drum to get people to winter water their turf AND their trees. With our ongoing drought and irrigation restrictions, we find ourselves in the surprising position of having to remind people to “summer water” their trees.

Most of the trees in our area have been introduced and can have a tough time thriving even when we are not in drought. After several consecutive years of drought, super late hard freezes this year, and watering restrictions, our trees are having a tougher time than ever surviving. Many trees that have been on the edge of survival for the past few years have finally died this year and others are very close (like those trees in the downtown medians with about a quarter of their normal leaf cover). (more…)

sprinklertimer.jpgAutomatic sprinkler systems can make irrigating our landscapes (especially lawns) much easier, and they can also help us water more intelligently. In our area, we are usually encouraged to water lawns early in the morning or late at night. This is simple with a sprinkler system timer that can be set for any time of the day or night. Consistent watering is also important, especially during drought (a.k.a. now), and the timer easily takes of care of making sure your lawn is watered when you are away on vacation. In a previous post, I described rain sensors that can be added to your system so that it won’t run during or immediately after a storm. You can even find sprinkler controllers that incorporate weather sensors that turn the system off during high winds and incorporate local ET data to set sprinkler zone times. (more…)

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