Do Houseplants Reduce Stress?

Are you stressed? You should grow houseplants! Just ask all the experts. Try an online search and you’ll come up with almost two million sites claiming that growing plants reduces stress. Even the National Institute of Health has jumped on the bandwagon with a study “proving” that houseplants reduce both physical and psychological stress, at least in young men.

Unlike the articles that tout huge benefits in air quality from including plants (especially spider plants) in your home (NASA said it so it must be true—but see my post here), there may actually be some basis for the stress-reduction theories. Or not.

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Don’t Wait. Plant Now.

Plants for sale @Lowe's-CS_2008aug02_LAH_5093If the cooler weather and turning leaves haven’t alerted you, the calendar can’t lie. Tomorrow is the first day of autumn. Can our first frost be far behind? It’s tempting to let the change of seasons put a stop to gardening for the year, but there’s still much to do. (See my previous post on “Putting Your Garden to Bed” for ideas.) Of course we know that many spring-blooming bulbs go in the ground now. But how about perennials, shrubs, and even trees? Can we plant (or transplant) them now? Even for those of us who live in places with cold winters, fall is a terrific time to plant.

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It’s Not Just the Zone

ShiawasseeNWR-MI_LAH_4482

We just returned from an intense two-week road trip to the Great Lakes. We visited thirteen states and one province and saw at least a glimpse of all five Great Lakes. You can see our route at right. It was a great trip. We took lots of photos, plus our drive across the prairies of North Dakota means that I’ve finally checked off my bucket list goal of visiting all 50 states! Continue reading

Ten Gardening Myths: Busted!

  • mason-bee-house-this-old-houseShould you top a tree to keep it within bounds?
  • Will a mulch of Ponderosa pine needles acidify the soil?
  • Should you always add compost to a planting hole?
  • What about encouraging native bees with a bee house?

A lot of what gets passed from gardener to gardener sounds like good advice, but has no benefit—or can even be harmful. Which practices are supported by research? Which should we forget about?

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Blizzard Gardening

2016-03-23 14.33.18Today (as I write this) is officially the third day of spring, but you’d never know it here in Colorado. I can barely make out the house across the street through the snow hurtling by at up to 70 mph. Cottony clumps of white stuck to the window screen have totally blocked the view from my office (right). Those who can are staying home, businesses are closed, and schools would be too if the kids weren’t already off for spring break. The blizzard warning keeps changing. We can expect a mere 1 to 3 inches of snow. No, we’ll get 6 to 12 inches. And now they’re saying 8 to 16 inches with significantly higher drifts.

My first daffodil bloomed yesterday.

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Dealing with Compacted Soil

Rocks_Hwy50-BlueMesaReservoir-CO_LAH_8224-001My soil is rock hard! That’s a common complaint along Colorado’s Front Range. Our soils tend to extremes—we find that we’re either dealing with sand and decomposed gravel (the remains of glacial moraines), or clay. Then, to make things worse, soil becomes compacted over time. Roots can’t force their way through compacted soils, plus there’s no place for air or water. How do we turn compacted dirt into soil that nurtures life?

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Bird Photography: Practice makes perfect!

Belted Kingfisher_FCNC-CO_LAH_1319_filteredThere are lots of reasons to photograph birds. For one, it’s lots of fun (although all-too-often frustrating as well). Photos can provide a record of birds you’ve seen, especially if, like me, you start second-guessing your best sightings the minute the bird flies away. They provide proof to ebird and records committees that your rarity was indeed what you thought it was.

Perhaps you’re birding in an unfamiliar location. You may not immediately recognize all the birds you see, and photos might allow you to ID some species later, when you’re not in a hurry.

Photos can also be artistic. Everyone can be creative—it’s part of our DNA—and photography makes a wonderful creative outlet.

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