Probiotics for your Lawn?

I recently received this ad in the mail:

Lawn Doctor ad 09.47.51

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?

Continue reading “Probiotics for your Lawn?”

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”

Birding Is Better with Friends

MAMBOnians_FCRP-Sect7-EPC-CO_LAH_5587Birding is better with friends. For one, it’s more productive, as more eyes mean more birds spotted. I’m not an expert (by any means!) at birding by ear, but I know people who are. And sadly, a woman birding alone always has to take personal safety into consideration. Besides, birding with friends is definitely more fun!

Continue reading “Birding Is Better with Friends”

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”

“Safer at Home” Birds

American Avocet_ShorelinePark-MtnView-CA_LAH_8894r

While some states are beginning to open up, Colorado just instituted a new rule—we have to “recreate” within ten miles of our homes. No hiking in the mountains, unless we already live there. No driving out on the plains to look for raptors. No chasing rarities in other parts of the state. If the bird isn’t in my immediate area, I’m simply out of luck.  I can’t even walk the trails at our county’s nature centers, as they’re at the other end of town, far past my ten-mile radius.

Continue reading ““Safer at Home” Birds”

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”

Ducks Do It

Two weeks ago I explained how birds manage to have sex. But somehow, there are always those species that make things more complicated. Last week’s explanation applied to 97% of bird species. But a few kinds of birds don’t follow the flock.

Take Cassowaries, for example. Both the male and female have what appears to be a penis attached to their cloacas, although the female’s is somewhat smaller than the male’s. It’s used during copulation, but it doesn’t channel sperm. Instead, after penetrating the female, the male expels his semen directly from his cloaca.

Continue reading “Ducks Do It”

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”

Birding Your 5 Mile Radius

I love looking at birds. I love getting outside, going for a walk, spying that tiny ball of feathers nearly invisible in the bushes or hiding in the grasses. On a really good day, I even have the thrill of adding a new species to my life list. But now that I’ve been birding for 16 years, I find myself looking for an additional challenge.

Continue reading “Birding Your 5 Mile Radius”