In Praise of Poisonous Plants

Convallaria majalis_Lily of the Valley_HudsonGardens-CO_LAH_5740Maybe hemlock has the right idea.

I’ve always avoided incorporating poisonous plants in my garden. When our children were small, I was worried that they would eat a leaf or berry. Now we have small grandchildren who come to visit. Years ago, back in California, we tore out the oleanders and privets, replacing them with artichokes, strawberries, and other “edible landscaping.”

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Bulbs for a Colorado Spring

white-flower-farm-1

It’s easy to be taken in by the catalog photos. Acres of daffodils, blooming cheerily in the sunshine. Vibrant crocuses popping up through the melting snow. Tulips—so many kinds, so many colors! Surely, if I would just order these bulbs, my spring garden will look just like the pictures.

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Who Ate My Plants?

pocket-gopher-hole_colospgs-co_lah_2261Your carrots have finally reached harvestable size—you can tell from the broad shoulders slightly protruding from the soil that the crop is going to exceed expectations. Excitedly, you bend down and gently tug on the feathery green leaves. Pop! Up come the leaves and the top of a carrot—but wait! Where’s the rest? All you’re holding is a quarter inch of orange. The rest of the carrot is missing! Confused, you stick your shovel into the soil to bring up the next root, but it suddenly plunges downward, encountering no resistance. There’s a tunnel under your carrot bed. Grrrrr!

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Bad, Bad Bunny!

Yarrow_ColoSpgs-CO_LAH_5508On Saturday afternoon I planted lovely red yarrow in my butterfly garden.

On Monday morning I noticed that one of the yarrow flowers had been neatly cut, and was lying on the ground. Odd, I thought. Why would someone cut one of my flowers, and then why leave it behind after doing so?

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Growing, Growing, Gone!

Eastern Cottontail_ColoSpgs_PLH_4023Where did they go? Yesterday I had a nice row of lettuce seedlings down one side of my raised bed. This morning three were missing! Not a leaf remained, only the gnawed off stump of a stem, leveled to the dirt. Grrrr!

Since we live on a few acres, there are many possible culprits: insects (such as cut worms or grasshoppers), jays, crows, or other hungry birds, pocket gophers, or rabbits. Figuring out who done the deed was essential to knowing what defenses I needed to erect to protect the rest of my crop. It was time to pull out my Sherlock Holmes hat and bubble pipe and do some sleuthing.

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