Sensational Silver

Artemisia 'Seafoam' - Seafoam Sage @CSUtilXeriscapeGarden 9Aug2006 LAH136Ask any 4-year-old what color leaves are, and they’ll confidently proclaim, “Green!” And green leaves are just fine, for the most part. We expect gardens to be basically green, from the verdant lawn to the tops of the trees (at least during the growing season). When it comes to plants, that glowing, chlorophyll-derived green implies life and health.

But one can have too much of a good thing. That’s why our landscaping includes plants with leaves that are a soft silver (that sounds much better than “gray”). No, I don’t want an entire yard full of them, but as accent plants, silvery leaves can make quite the impression.

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Camp Robbers

gray-jay-turquoiselake-2004sept13-lah-002We had been camping at Turquoise Lake, near Leadville, Colorado, high in the Rockies. As it was lunchtime, we spread out a tablecloth, set out a bowl of chicken salad (with chicken, grapes, celery, and pecans), and went to find the plates and forks. But as I returned to set the table, the salad seemed to be missing something… the pecans were gone! Seems we’d been victims of the camp robber!

“Camp Robber” is an apt nickname for the Gray Jay. Familiar residents of campgrounds throughout the coniferous forests across Canada and southward along the Rockies, these small jays aren’t the least bit shy. The birds have a tendency to not only accept handouts, but to brazenly help themselves to anything on your plate that looks edible.

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Oh no… Spider Mites!

2-spotted-spider-mite-whitney_cranshaw-colorado-state-university-bugwoodorgMy houseplants had been looking fine all summer, but now they were obviously ailing. No leaves were drooping, no obvious critters were chomping on the leaves. It was more of a general sense of decline—and a dappled, grayish pallor to the foliage.

Closer inspection revealed that many of  the V-shaped joints between leaf petiole and stem were filled with minute webbing. My skin crawled. My plants were infested with spiders! To be more accurate, my plants had spider mites. These tiny bugs are not insects. They are arachnids, just like spiders, scorpions, and ticks. Like spiders, they have two body parts and eight legs. Unlike spiders, all of whom are predators, spider mites are more like vampires. They suck plant juices.

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