Most landscapes look terrific in May and June. The leaves are fresh and new. From pink crabapples to purple lilacs, it seems as if everything is in bloom. The contrast with the lifeless browns and grays of winter is enough to send you cavorting across the glowing, emerald green lawn.
It’s tempting—irresistible, really—to rush to the local garden center and buy everything with flowers on it. I’ve been subjected to Facebook photos of flowers since March (I have a lot of friends in California), and finally it’s our turn!
Continue reading “Beyond Spring”
Imagine that it’s wintertime. Anything verdant and green has long turned to brown. Limbs lie leafless. A few berries may yet hang on the shrubs. We’re already eager for spring, but the growing season is still months away. Wouldn’t this be the perfect time to enjoy bright red tulips, or the sweet aroma of blooming narcissus? If you want to enjoy these and other mid-winter flowers, now is the time to start forcing bulbs.
Pretty much any spring bulb can be forced. All we have to do is fool them into thinking that spring has arrived—in the middle of January. To do that, we have to plan ahead—up to 15 weeks ahead.
Continue reading “Act Now for Mid-winter Flowers”
Thank heaven for spring bulbs! Just when I can’t bear another day of bleak winter landscape, leafless branches, dried and disintegrating foliage—along come neon-bright crocuses, dancing daffodils, and my favorite, luscious purple grape hyacinths. Not true hyacinths (which are borderline hardy in my 7,000 foot high garden), grape hyacinths are also sold under their genus Muscari. They’re native to southeastern Europe, and are widely cultivated for their early spring flowers in pink, purple, white, or a two-toned combination. Continue reading “Pretty in Purple”
Like many gardeners, I have a “thing” for blue flowers. Lobelia (below), Blue Mist Spiraea, cornflower (Bachelor’s Buttons), and Borage all find a spot in my garden. I’d love to include Himalayan Blue Poppies, hydrangeas, and morning glories but they don’t do as well in my soil and climate. (The poppies need constantly damp soil, hydrangeas need acidic soil to turn them blue plus they’re not hardy enough. The morning glories do well in my greenhouse, but outdoors they usually freeze before them get around to blooming.)
Continue reading “True Blue”
As the growing season winds down we begin to focus on turning autumn leaves, dried grasses, and striking seed heads, but for some flowering plants this is their time to shine. Sedum ‘Autumn Joy’ will star in your fall garden.
Plants grow from a single crown, becoming an upright clump 15 to 18 inches tall and 15 inches wide. The succulent, rounded leaves and stems have a gray-blue cast. Stems are topped with large flower heads that start out dusty-pink and become a rich bronze as they age—the ideal colors to complement fall’s russet and gold.
Continue reading “Autumn Joy”
My lettuce is blooming. Instead of sweet, tender Buttercrunch and crisp red Prizehead, I have leaves so bitter, even my hens are spurning them. Rats.
At this time of year, it’s common for leafy greens to bloom or, as it’s known in garden-speak, bolt. Long hours of sunlight, combined with torrid temperatures induce flowering. In most cases, there’s nothing to be done. It’s simply time to pull the plants that haven’t yet been harvested and add them to the compost pile.
For example, spinach blooms when days last more than 14 to 16 hours. (Interestingly, spinach will only bloom when days are long.) Warm temperatures will accelerate this process. Dorothy Hinshaw Patent and Diane E. Bilderback explain why this happens in The Book of Garden Secrets:
Continue reading “Help! My Lettuce is Blooming!”
Covering the ground with a solid mass of eye-searing fuchsia-purple flowers, Hardy Ice Plant (Delosperma cooperi) demands a second look. The succulent green leaves glimmer in the sun, giving the plant its common name, while the flowers have glistening thin petals surrounding a yellow center.
Waves of bloom carpet the foliage from late spring until late summer. The show even continues in winter, when plants turn a deep burgundy-red. Other species of Delosperma, with yellow or salmon-pink flowers, are also now available. Some have earned PlantSelect® honors.
Continue reading “Hardy Ice Plant”
Just when you don’t think you can stand another minute of bare branches or dead, brown-gray foliage, spring heralds its arrival in a burst of dazzling yellow. All over town, forsythias reassure us that the growing season really is at hand.
Originally from eastern Asia, where they have been cultivated for centuries, forsythias were collected for western gardens in the early 1800s. Most current garden varieties are hybrids of two species, Forsythia suspensa and F. viridissima. The problem is that the resulting cultivars aren’t reliably hardy in much of Colorado.
Continue reading “Plant Some Spring Sunshine”
Can you name a plant that has short stems and showy purple flowers at this time of year? Now add eye-catching seed heads, and the fact that it’s native to Colorado (and other cold-winter areas in both North America and Europe). This cultivated wildflower is Pasque Flower (or), named after its Easter time bloom.
Besides the lilac wildflowers, other purple shades are available in cultivated strains, from a deep purple-red to, rarely, white. Gray-green leaves appear after the flower buds, and may be more or less finely divided. They’re covered with silvery fuzz, giving a soft appearance that makes you want to pet them.
Continue reading “Another Easter Flower”
What plant thrives indoors, shrugs off low humidity, and blooms all winter in bold shades of white to pink to red? Surprise! It’s wax begonias!
Also called fibrous begonias, these bedding plants have large, round succulent leaves in either lime green or a beautiful burgundy- or bronze-red. Flowers have fleshy petals surrounding a bright yellow cluster of stamens. Plants grow to a height of about six to twelve inches, and tend to flop, creating a solid mass of color, and even trailing over walls and container edges.
Continue reading “Wax Begonias—Indoors!”