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…)

iris.jpg“Bloom events” is a term used by biologists, phenologists, and other plant scientists when they discuss when plants bloom. And this year, they must be noticing several weird bloom events occurring in our area!

As most of you know, we’ve just gone through a very very dry winter. Yes, drier even than normal for here. As (seemingly) the rest of the country had record snow accumulations, we had one of our driest winters on record. Add to that the fairly warm winter temperatures along with plenty of spring wind and you’ve got gardeners scratching their heads as some of their hardiest plants have disappeared while wimpier (or so they thought) plants have come through unscathed. (more…)

Q: It’s winter. I can sit back, relax, and ignore my garden—right?

A: Not quite. The sky is bright blue, the sun is shining, the predicted high is well above freezing, and it’s been like that for months. Sounds like perfect weather—but not if you’re a plant. In fact, if you listen, you can hear their cry for water. Everything is so dry! Desiccating winds have drained the last vestiges of moisture from exposed leaves and branches, and even the so-called evergreens are shriveled. (more…)

Q: My gardens have gotten quite a bit of hail damage this past week. Help!

A: Sigh…one weather phenomenon that is nearly guaranteed in our area is hail. Though it seems to occur most often in late summer (usually when those tomatoes are just starting to ripen), it can show up any time between April and October, and we’ve had quite a bit of it over the past week. As with most weather events, hail storms can be quite localized. One area of town can get enough hail to require snowplows while other parts won’t see hail at all. And some years, certain parts of town seem to get pummeled more times than seems fair! Residents of western parts of the county and far eastern parts of the county both claim to receive more than their fair share of hail every year. Living downtown does seem to sometimes be an advantage when it comes to hail.

What can local gardeners do about hail? You must learn to love your hail. Ok, just kidding! We certainly cannot control whether hail happens or not, but we can make wise plant choices, provide protection for those plants we must have that aren’t hail resistant, and know how to deal with the damage that comes after a particularly destructive hail storm. (more…)

As I sit watching the snow fall, huge flakes piling on top of one another until the branches on the evergreens droop with the weight, I marvel at the snowy-day-009_644x968predictable unpredictability that is springtime in Colorado.  During the summer-like dryness and temperatures in February and March, gardeners were thinking dire thoughts of scorched landscapes and water restrictions.  Those of us who have lived in Colorado all or most of our lives said, “Wait for it…”  Weather along the Front Range always seems to be feast or famine.  When I consider the harsh reality of such a fickle climate, I become more and more appreciative of the native plants that have been at home here much longer than we have been. 


According to the U. S. Department of Agriculture, a native plant is one which existed on the North American continent before European colonization.  Colorado’s native plants then, are those that existed here before the settlers came from the east or the Spanish moved north from Mexico and South America.  These plants that have grown in our ultra-lean soils since long before we came along, are monuments to tenacity.  Unaided, they have endured through drought, flood, fire, wind, extreme temperature fluctuations, and intense sunlight.  They remain stalwart, lending character and beauty to the region we call home.


Q: I am receiving a lot of nursery catalogues and all of them end the plant description by giving a zone designation. What does this mean?

A: The “zone” designation in nursery catalogues refers to “USDA Plant Hardiness Zones.” The Web site is www.usna.usda.gov/Hardzone/ushzmap.html .

There are 10 planting zones in the United States and each zone indicates a 10 degree Fahrenheit difference in the average minimum yearly temperature. A quick look at the hardiness zone map shows that elevation and distance from the equator affect the temperatures in the U.S.

Warmer areas have higher numbers. Southern Florida is in zone 10, where tropical plants can be grown outdoors, year-round. (more…)