Committing Tree-icide: Water & Mulch

20200522_101626

(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.

Continue reading “Committing Tree-icide: Water & Mulch”

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”

Committing Tree-icide: Planting

20200522_101626

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.

Continue reading “Committing Tree-icide: Planting”

Gardening Mania

Nursery display_Snohomish-WA_LAH_10.06.35-1

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.

Continue reading “Gardening Mania”

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.

Continue reading “A Public Garden to Visit Now”

Getting Into Shape

Brilliant border_DBG_LAH_1398-001

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?

Continue reading “Getting Into Shape”

First Flowers

Crocus_DBG_LAH_7240

It’s barely past the spring equinox, but I already have flowers blooming in my yard—in spite of living at 7,100 feet in Colorado. Our average last frost date is months away, snow is predicted for tonight, and I have yet to see a bee (or other pollinator) this spring, but that doesn’t stop these stalwart beauties. Continue reading “First Flowers”

Bold Gardens

Brilliant! Dazzling! Bright, vivid, and sparkling! With so much gloom and doom in the news, what we gardeners need right now is color, and the more intense, the better. It’s still snowing outside (yes, today, on the first day of spring), but that won’t stop me from enjoying the flowers of summer inside.

Continue reading “Bold Gardens”

Brooms for Colorado

Cytisus scoparius_Scotch Broom_invasive_Tacoma-WA_LAH_0848I’m thinking of planting broom. Yes, one of those small, shrubs with the yellow pea-like flowers. Before you shudder and call me crazy, realize that invasive Scotch Broom (Cytisus scoparius, right) isn’t the only broom in cultivation, and the characteristics that led gardeners to import brooms in the first place are shared by many other species, some of which are hardy enough to survive drought, hot sun, and cold winters.

Continue reading “Brooms for Colorado”

Early Spring Gardening

Crocus_DBG_LAH_7230r-001

Springtime in the Rockies can challenge a gardener’s patience. One day, the snow is flying fast and furious, and the next the sun comes out and you can’t wait to get outside. Anyone who has lived here a year or more knows better than to plant this early; winter is slow to let go, sometimes lingering until mid-May. Yet, those gorgeous sunny days just beg for time spent in the garden. Go ahead—there are plenty of other chores that need our attention.

Continue reading “Early Spring Gardening”