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”

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.

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Early Spring Birding

American Robin_FCNC-CO_LAH_2127Do you love Easter egg hunts? How about Pokemon Go? Or perhaps you’re into geocaching. If any of these sounds like fun, then you might look into birding. It’s all these rolled into one, with time outside in the fresh air and sunshine, the thrill of discovery, and a bit of nerdy science thrown in for good measure. You never know what you’re going to find.

This past weekend, a friend and I revisited our local county park and nature center. We’ve both been there dozens of times, and pretty much know what to expect. I’d enjoy the morning just for the chance to take a walk in the riparian corridor along Fountain Creek, but it’s the added hope of discovery that makes every visit interesting. And now that migration has started, my anticipation is higher than ever.

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PlantSelect® is for Colorado

Last week’s garden post was devoted to All America Selections, a nation-wide program that highlights new cultivars most likely to succeed in your garden, no matter which part of the country you live in. Surprisingly, it seems to work for Colorado. But there’s an even better “seal of approval” for Colorado gardeners to look for, at least when it comes to shrubs and perennials: PlantSelect®.

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Manitou Lake Revisited

Manitou Lake Sunrise

Some days just seem perfect. The sky was intense blue, without a single cloud in sight. Temperatures? The mid-70s. Crowds? For the first hour or two, we had the entire place to ourselves. A light breeze stirred a few leaves, birds chirped in the willows, and squirrels chattered from the pine branches overhead. I was so glad we’d chosen to spend the morning at Manitou Lake.

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pH for Gardeners

To a gardener choosing which plants to grow, pH is an important consideration. While the pH of most soils falls somewhere between 3 and 9, the majority of common landscape plants prefer a pH slightly on the acidic side, say 6.2 to 6.8. However, some plants, such as blueberries and rhododendrons, prefer an even more acidic soil (with a pH in the 5 to 6 range) and other plants, green ash trees and clematis, for example, do best under more alkaline conditions, with a pH above 7.

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Red, White, and Blue Berries

What kind of fruit comes in red, white, and blue? Berries, of course!

Blueberries are a huge treat. Our daughter in western Washington grows them by the bucketful, although our granddaughters have a habit of grazing on them in the backyard, so they don’t always make it into the kitchen.

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Leafy Spurge? Noooo!!!

Jean K. Tool SWA along I-76 to Brush LAH 015

What grows one to three feet high, has small blue-green leaves, clusters of pretty yellow flowers, and is a stubborn, nasty, and aggressive noxious weed that is supported by an extensive system of underground stems? Probably the only good news is that it isn’t typically a weed in most landscapes, but if you’ve been out hiking much lately, you’ve likely encountered Leafy Spurge.

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A Visit to Castlewood Canyon S.P.

CastlewoodCanyonSP-CO_LAH_3614_filtered

Not to stay home on a gorgeous Saturday morning, I joined our Audubon chapter field trip to Castlewood Canyon State Park, located on the Palmer Divide between Colorado Springs and Denver. At elevations between 6,200 and 6,600 feet, the park includes ponderosa forest, dry shrubland, high prairie, and riparian areas. This diversity allows for plenty of birds, a colorful array of wildflowers, plus some pretty impressive scenery. Our loop trail along the canyon rim, down to (and across) Cherry Creek and through the riparian willows, then back up to the parking lot clocked in at 3.2 miles, but you could easily add some side trips. Continue reading “A Visit to Castlewood Canyon S.P.”