HAILSTORM2.jpgYes, folks. It is that time again. Well it may even be a few days late, but it’s time for our Annual Hail Post.

Often we hear about “gardening with wildlife,” “gardening with children,” “gardening with pets,” etc, but here in the Pikes Peak Region, we also have to get used to “gardening with hail.” There has not been a summer that I’ve lived here (over twenty years now) that we haven’t had hail. And most summers, some parts of our region get super severe hail.

June 6 and 7 brought major hail and rain to the section of Colorado Springs near Citadel Mall and just to the north and east of there. News reports showed cars submerged to their windshields in water and hail. Absolutely amazing (and dangerous!). So of course, homeowners in that area lost entire landscapes. Not surprisingly, the post receiving the most hits at this blog this past week is one of our old favorites, “Hail Protection for the Veggie Garden.” (more…)

Q: I’m always looking for advice on dealing with deer in my garden. Any tips? Please?!?

A: Deer. So nice to see in nature, but who wants them in their garden? Those “cute” mammals can wreak havoc in our landscaped yards. It’s like a salad bar to them, all those tender, green plants we so carefully put in the ground, water, trim and tend to all year long. In a matter of minutes, deer can destroy what we’ve worked so hard at. It can be very frustrating.

Unfortunately, deer live in Colorado, and they may even live in your very own neighborhood. When numbers of deer increase, or their natural habitat decreases, deer may move into yards in search of food. It’s difficult to move them out of areas where they are not wanted. (more…)

lacewing.jpgQ: I see ladybugs and lacewings for sale at my garden center. Is this a good way to control unwanted bugs in my garden?

A: Some beneficial insects can be purchased and turned loose in your garden. The problem with this is that the insects you purchase are not aware that you have given them a special invitation to your particular “garden restaurant” and they may very well fly away. (more…)


Green lacewing on peony bloom

Q: I know there are “good” bugs and “bad” bugs for my garden. How do I know which is which?

A: Insects – a general term for “multi-legged creepy crawlies” have a certain “ick” factor for many people. In spite of their tiny size, we perceive them as scary and harmful to people. Surprisingly, most insects found in your yard or home do not feed on or harm plants – or people. (So try to think of it as MOST insects you encounter in your garden are the “good” bugs.”) Certainly, there are many pest insects such as aphids, scales, various caterpillars and beetles that cause problems for plants. But there are also many beneficial insects that feed on and destroy insect pests.

The following info is a summary of a longer fact sheet from Colorado State University Extension (see Work Cited below). (more…)

photo by Lisa Bird

Berlandiera lyrata

Appearance: This very aromatic plant has bright green, flat spreading leaves with shallowly lobed edges.  The flowers are daisy-like, with green center and light yellow petals.  The underside of the petals have maroon markings on them.

Habitat: This plant is very drought tolerant and blooms profusely throughout the season.  The flowers have a wonderful chocolate scent are are edible.  Chocolate Flower prefers full sun and needs very little water.  Found on the Western plains to northern Mexico, in dry rocky soils.  Hardy to Zone 4. (more…)

Last week we looked at overall tips for gardening dogs as well as specific suggestions for dealing with digging.

High Traffic Foot Paths
Some dogs are “patrollers” and will regularly patrol the edge of your fences. Other dogs just pick the most direct route from the back door to some area of interest to them. Either way, if your dogs are wearing paths through your turf or plantings, consider turning those paths into permanent ones with landscape fabric and mulch. Use a mulch that will be comfortable for them (and you) to walk on – gravel, pine needles, finely shredded bark. If you use something uncomfortable, they may just find new paths! If making their paths permanent isn’t possible, then you’ll need to place obstacles and rearrange some interactive dog toys around your yard. This will encourage them to take different paths through the yard and garden. (more…)

dog.jpgQ: I have a couple of large dogs and love to garden. Does anyone have tips for how to have gardens that my dogs won’t tear up?

A: At least the dogs causing trouble in your plantings are your own pets. Many people also have to deal with stray animals or loose pets that “visit” their yards and gardens. You mention your dogs tear up garden areas. I’m assuming they’re digging holes and scratching up your planting areas. Other common challenges of gardening with dogs (your own or others’) include traffic-worn paths through turf or groundcover, trampled plants, and gifts of dog “doo” left in the garden. A not-so-obvious challenge is the possible poisoning of dogs with poisonous plants or pesticides.

One big tip for those who are just at the point of considering getting a dog is to research the breeds carefully and to be sure you have the time to spend with this new member of your family. Lots of attention and good training can be the key to having a pet that does not destroy the landscape (or the house, for that matter). You might also consider choosing a breed that is less likely to cause problems in a garden. Perhaps a dog that prefers indoor living and needs minimal exercise could be a good choice. (more…)

Mariposa Lily

Calochortus gunnisonii

Appearance: Blooming from March to June, this is one of the most beautiful, simplistic wildflowers of Colorado.  A close relative to lilies, the cup-shaped flowers of Mariposa Lily have 3 translucent petals, usually white with a tinge of pink or blue.  Inside the cup of petals is a ring of bright yellow hair.  This native perennial grows up to 20” tall on a single slender stem.  Narrow, grass-like foliage usually withers at the base of the plant by bloom time. (more…)

Q: I’ve sometimes heard people mention that “gardening is great exercise.” Is there really anything to back this up? How good of a workout am I really getting if I’m gardening?

A: I have never thought of gardening as an exercise. To me, gardening is an enjoyable and calming activity. The fun of watching plants grow and harvesting fresh fruit, vegetables and flowers is reward enough. But gardening is also beneficial to my (and your) physical and mental health. It can provide a moderate level of aerobic exercise which utilizes all of your muscle groups. (more…)

seedpacketfront.jpgQ: I want to plant vegetables from seed this year to save money, but I find the information on seed packets confusing. What information do I need to know to be successful?

A: Growing a garden from seed can be confusing when you are just starting out, but there are benefits. Growing plants from seed is rewarding and cost effective. A packet of seeds can produce 20 or more plants for the cost of one potted plant. You have a wider variety to choose from, including unique and heirloom varieties, and the seed will be available when you are ready to plant.

Seed packets are the instruction manuals for the plant. From them you can learn information about when and how to sow the seeds, days to germination, growth habits, sun and soil requirements and a description of the plant. Prior to use, seed packets should be stored in a cool, dry spot away from direct sunlight. (more…)