Pretty Purslane?

Portulaca oleracea 'Toucan Fuchsia'_Purslane_DBG-CO_LAH_7226

What were those vibrant pink flowers? They were definitely show-stoppers, especially as they were spilling out of planters crammed full of flowers in other shades of pink plus various yellows—creamy white Cockscombs (Celosia cristata), pale pink, ruffled Cosmos and darker pink Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena), butterscotch-yellow Lantana, Petunias in either a lush purplish-pink or a pale cream with yellow throats, and finally, bright lemon Flowering Maple (Abutilon). Whoever had designed the display, situated along the walkway in front of the greenhouses at Denver Botanic Gardens, clearly had a good eye for shapes and colors. Continue reading “Pretty Purslane?”

Morning Glory Mix-up

Morning Glory_DBG-CO_LAH_9033

You’re growing morning glories? On purpose? Are you crazy? Those things will take over your garden! Our friends, who live in wet western Washington, were appalled. They couldn’t understand why I’d plant something so invasive.

Yet, I’ve grown morning glories for years, first in California’s benign climate, then here in Colorado. I’ve never found them to be at all invasive. True blue flowers are hard to find. I couldn’t understand why our friends, avid gardeners, wouldn’t want to grow something so lovely.

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Captivating Cosmos

Cosmos_DBG_LAH_7489Do you enjoy big flowers with bright, showy colors and carefree maintenance? It’s hard to beat annuals for season-long impact. Whenever I think of annuals, I immediately think of cosmos, one of the very best annuals for Colorado gardens.

There are currently thought to be 36 species in the genus Cosmos, but the two most often grown in our gardens are C. bipinnatus (left) and C. sulphureus. (There are two other Cosmos species in cultivation. One is a frost-tender, tuberous perennial known as Chocolate Cosmos, C. atrosanguineus. The other is Cosmos parviflorus, a wildflower of the western United States.)

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In Praise of Petunias

 

Petunias @SantaFeGreenhouses 2008jun28 LAH 186

Mention petunias among a group of passionate gardeners and you often get sneers. After all, they’re so… common! Even non-gardeners grow petunias. Those with greener thumbs usually aspire to more exotic flowers. But there’s a reason petunias are so popular among the casual gardening crowd. In fact, there are a number of reasons.

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Fabulous Container Gardens

Flowers on balcony @SantaFeNM 2008jun28LAH 116When you think of container gardens, what comes to mind? Red geraniums in a window box? A hanging pot filled with colorful petunias? How about pots of herbs on the window sill? How about a huge pot overflowing with varied textures, colors, and shapes? When it comes to container gardens, that geranium is only the beginning.

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Love Lies Bleeding

Amaranthus_DBG_LAH_7264Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and what could be more appropriate than a post on a romance-themed flower: Love Lies Bleeding (Amaranthus caudatus). You have to wonder about this name, though. I get this mental picture of a jilted lover and a heartless ex. Which one of them did the stabbing?

Thankfully, the flower we call Love Lies Bleeding isn’t quite so melodramatic. It’s a member of the amaranth family from the Andes of South America, where it is known as kiwicha, and is now grown around the world.

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Annual Sunflowers

helianthus-annuus-sunflower-csu-23jul04-lah-029Sunflowers may resemble a huge yellow sun towering overhead, but their name comes from their ability to keep their “face” turned toward the sun. Everyone recognizes a conventional sunflower with its huge dark disk surrounded by yellow petals, set atop a sturdy stalk that may reach over eight feet in height. A quick tour of a seed catalog shows that this is just the beginning. Breeders have developed shorter plants (as low as two feet) and an expanded palette of hues ranging from mahogany through orange to lemon yellow, white, and even soft rose to wine-red. Many types sport more than one color.

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Calibrachoa (gesundheit!)

calibrachoa-_colospgs-co_lah_5043Imagine a petite petunia with intensely-colored, trumpet-shaped blossoms in shades such as magenta, violet, or copper. Flowers smother the slightly fuzzy, gray-green leaves from late spring until the first hard frost. Prolific flowering means that new flowers quickly replace those damaged by hail, a major asset in our area. Mature plants reach about eighteen inches in width and are less than a foot high. A relative newcomer on the garden scene, Calibrachoa has already gained a place of honor among annual flowers.

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When Is the Last Frost?

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This last week of gorgeous spring weather has certainly brought out the crowds at the garden centers and home improvement stores. When I visited last weekend, carts full of geraniums, tomatoes, and other tender annuals were lined up at the checkout.

Today, the forecast is for snow. It was 30 degrees when I got up this morning. There was frost on the parked cars. As I type, big flakes are softly landing on the freshly turned soil out my window. I wondered how many of the people I’d seen at the store had gone home and planted their flowers, only to find them blackened after the sub-freezing night.

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Planting Done Right: Part 1

Shrubs, Perennials and Ornamental Grasses

plants-for-sale-lowes-cs_2008aug02_lah_5106-1It’s spring. I’ve been digging in the garden—at least between snow storms. My back muscles (and knees and shoulders) ache, there’s dirt under my broken fingernails, and a huge smile on my face. In fact, there’s dirt in my teeth—I’ve been pulling weeds and shaking the soil off their roots before piling them into the compost bucket, and I keep forgetting to close my lips.

One of the joys of spring is adding new plants to our garden. What gardener can resist the dazzling displays at the garden center? Forgetting about budgets and the size of our yards, we load up the cart. Then we get home and the work begins. It’s time to start digging holes.

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