Water Droplets on Leaves

Colorado State Univ. Field Day

As I was learning to garden, I repeatedly heard the “experts” telling us not to water in the middle of the day. The prevailing wisdom was that any water droplets on the foliate would act as little magnifying glasses, burning tender leaves. (Think of using a magnifying glass to start a campfire, and you get the idea.)

Then, we all learned that this was a gardening myth. Water droplets are too close to the plant tissue for sunlight to focus on the leaf and cause any damage.

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Salvia in Red, White, & Blue

For today’s post, I’ve been considering perennials offer flowers in red, white, or blue. After all, we’re celebrating the Fourth of July this weekend. The various ornamental salvias not only come in these patriotic colors but they’re ideally adapted to Colorado’s challenging conditions. That’s why I’ve made room for at least one salvia in my Colorado Springs garden.

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Committing Tree-icide: Water & Mulch

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(Don’t miss last month’s post about proper tree planting!)

Once we have the new tree in the ground, we want to do our best to help it not only survive but thrive. Knowing how dry our climate is, it’s natural to focus on providing enough water for the tree to become established.

A newly planted tree needs to be watered where its roots are. Those roots will be close to the trunk, which is why the landscapers set up their drip emitters to irrigate that area.

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Pennies—Good for Thoughts, but Not Tomato Blight

Tomatoes - cherry Sunsweet @home LAH-001I recently ran across an article claiming that a penny can help your tomato plants fight off blight. Apparently, the reasoning goes like this:

  • Copper is known to kill molds, algae, fungi, and microbes.
  • Pennies are made out of copper.
  • Therefore, inserting a penny into a tomato stem (or burying it at the roots) will keep your plant from succumbing to diseases caused by molds, algae, fungi, or microbes.

Since I’ve lost tomato plants to Early Blight, a common problem in Colorado, I’d love for this idea to work. I have some pennies lying around; let’s put them to good use, right?

Well, not really.

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Not Exactly Xeric: Plants for Wet Spots

Colorado gardening is all about saving water. Classes offer advice on how to group plants in your landscape according to their need for supplemental irrigation. Garden centers highlight species that tolerate drought. This year, Colorado Springs has placed restrictions on how we water our yards, and how often we are allowed to do so. We’re forever being told how to use less water in our gardens.

But there’s one part of our backyard that defies all the prevailing wisdom. It’s wet. It’s soggy. In the spring and during wetter summers, an entire hillside of rainfall drains through this spot. And if there’s no rain and we have to water our lawn? No matter how careful we are to avoid runoff, this one area still stays wet. Continue reading “Not Exactly Xeric: Plants for Wet Spots”

Probiotics for your Lawn?

I recently received this ad in the mail:

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While I noticed the baby crawling on the grass, the dog,  and the blurbs—“Better for you, your loved ones & your pets” and “50% less synthetics”—all designed to convey safety (with even more health references on the back), it was the word “Probiotic” that really caught my attention.

Probiotics are a hot topic. Research is constantly discovering how important our gut biomes are. But a lawn is not a digestive system. It looks impressive on the advertising, but is there really any point to putting probiotics on your grass?

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Committing Tree-icide: Planting

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It’s spring. Perennials are emerging from underground. Spring bulbs are in bloom. The buds on are bare branches are bursting into leaves. Except for those that aren’t. A look around indicates that a lot of my neighborhood trees didn’t survive the winter.

Trees are not cheap. There is a significant cost when it comes to purchasing and planting a tree, especially one large enough to satisfy the HOA. It’s easy to blame their subsequent demise on Colorado’s notoriously capricious weather. Easy, but you’d be wrong. By far, the primary reason our new neighborhood’s trees don’t survive is improper planting.

It’s not the weather that’s killing the trees. It’s us.

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Gardening Mania

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The calendar may claim that spring arrives in March, but those of us with high altitude gardens know that it really only begins after Mother’s Day. Even now, there is still a danger of a late frost, but at this point, we truly don’t care. We want to garden, and we want to garden now!

This is the dangerous season. We have so much pent-up enthusiasm just waiting to burst free that when the weather appears to be warm and settled (hah!), we can no longer control ourselves. Just look at the loaded shopping carts lined up (six feet apart) at the garden center check-out. I’m admit it, I’m as guilty as the next gardener—which is why I’ve learned to hand my wallet to my husband before entering a nursery.

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A Public Garden to Visit Now

This is National Public Gardens Week. I was all primed to write about all the public gardens we can visit, but as you know, many (most?) are inaccessible. For example, there are currently ten thousand tulips are blooming at Denver’s Botanic Garden, and no one can go see them. It breaks my heart.

I was feeling a bit despondent—I desperately crave flowers by this time of year—when I considered that not all public gardens are surrounded by walls. I typically drive to Denver because spring comes earlier at  5,280 feet than it does here in Colorado Springs (with our 6,000 – 7,000+ foot elevation). But we have gardens right here in town that I can visit any time.

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Getting Into Shape

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When we think of combining flowers in a flowerbed or border, the first consideration that usually comes to mind is color. Do we choose warm  oranges and yellows, or cool lavenders and whites? Or do we combine the two, juxtaposing orange and yellow with deep violet, for example? Of course, color isn’t the only issue. Plants have other features that we should also take note of, such as height, foliage, and, in particular, bloom time. (There’s no point in combining flowers if they bloom at separate times of the growing season.) Then, we need to ask if they have the same cultural needs—shade vs. sun, or damp vs. xeric, for instance.

But how often do we consider flower shape when pairing blooms?

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