Common Mullein

plants in snow_castlewoodcynsp-co_lah_7289

After the storm earlier this week, snow blankets the fields, hiding most signs that anything ever grew there. But interspersed with the even white blanket and occasional dried grass leaves are spikes, sticking up like posts in the empty landscape. We’re finally noticing the dead and dried flower/seed stalks of Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).

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Garden Advice: Don’t Waste Your Vinegar

Death to Weeds @TacomaWA 14oct07 LAH 037Every so often I come across an article that explains something so much better than I ever could. This is one of those times.

Tsu Dho Nimh writes a blog called Lazy Gardening SMACKDOWN. Back in 2013, he tackled the viral advice about making your own herbicide out of vinegar, detergent, and some other ingredients. I’ve been meaning to cover this topic, because this homemade “herbicide” doesn’t work. But then I saw Nimh’s article, and realized that he did a much more thorough job of explaining it all.

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Nasty Knapweeds

Centaurea stoebe_Spotted Knapweed_PikeNat'lForest-CO_LAH_1141rThe flowers could be considered somewhat pretty—a white or lavender tuft reminding me of cornflowers (aka bachelor’s buttons). The somewhat pretty flowers are probably the only positive aspect of these plants. A common noxious weed, knapweed is the bane of my garden.

The problem is that we live immediately adjacent to an open space, a few supposedly wild acres left by the developer (probably because it’s too steep to build on). There’s Gambel’s oak, six Ponderosa pines, a smattering of yucca, assorted wildflowers, and some rather nasty weeds.

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Garden Advice: Using Salt in the Garden

no saltOne of my perverse pleasures is perusing Pintrest to find bad garden advice. There’s certainly no lack of misinformation on the web, and Pintrest seems to collect it all. Most advice is simply a waste of time and money—sprinkling Epsom salts on your plants, spraying weeds with vinegar, pouring beer on your lawn. They don’t help, but they won’t kill your plants either. However, yesterday I came across a recommendation that will seriously damage your garden. I was so horrified that I immediately sat down to write this post.

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Delinquent Daisies

Oxeye_Daisy_TaylorCanyon_2008jul14_LAH_006-001They sound pretty good— perennial plants that:

  • Are hardy in Colorado, even in the mountains
  • Grow a compact one to two feet tall
  • Are covered with eye-catching white daisies in mid-summer
  • Grow in almost any soil
  • Bloom in full sun or partial shade

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Ditch this Dame

Worth growing for its delicious ­­­­­­fra­grance­ alone, dame’s rocket also offers showy, long-lasting flowers and is as trouble-free an herb as you could ask for. Its multitude of common names attests to centuries of cultivation in gardens and to the high regard in which it has been held. (Mother Earth Living)

Hesperis matronalis_Dame's Rocket_ColoSpgs-CO_LAH_7355How can you resist such a glowing recommendation? It’s true that dame’s rocket is all these things, but it is also an invasive outlaw, wanted dead, not alive. Like any most-wanted suspect, Hesperis matronalis hides under a plethora of aliases: damask violet, dame’s-violet, dames-wort, dame’s gilliflower, night-scented gilliflower, queen’s gilliflower, rogue’s gilliflower, summer lilac, sweet rocket, mother-of-the-evening, vesper flower and winter gilliflower, to name a few. But not matter what you call it, it’s against the law to grow this plant in Colorado.*

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Answers: Weed? Or Wonderful?

If you’ve ever pulled out the lettuce and left the chickweed, you’re in good company. Last week I admitted my failure to recognize ragweed, one of the most irritating plants in my yard (especially to my nose!). It takes practice to recognize plants in their infancy. After all, how much do you look like your newborn photos?

If you missed last week’s quiz, you can try your hand at some seedling ID by clicking here. If you’re ready for the answers, keep reading.

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