A Better-Mannered Forget-me-Not

Brunnera macrophylla_Siberian Bugloss_DBG-CO_LAH_6652

On a recent trip to the botanic gardens, I was captivated by a constellation of tiny blue flowers, stars spread on tender green leaves in the shade of some mature pines. Five azure petals surrounded a hollow white center on blossoms under a quarter inch in diameter. They bloomed in profusion, an inverted sky beneath my feet.

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Signs of Spring

Rabbit @ Big Johnson Res. 2008apr17 LAH 016There’s still plenty of cold and snow to go around, but the faintest signs of spring are beginning to appear. Gazing out a friend’s  window this week, I was enjoying the view when I noticed that the uppermost branches of the nearby ash trees didn’t appear quite smooth. A few weeks ago they looked as if they were tightly hugging themselves. Now—could those be buds swelling?

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Anticipating Spring

Seed catalogs_LAH_2733Sometimes I think January is my favorite month of the gardening calendar. Temperatures plummet and the ground is frozen solid. Anything at all frost-tender succumbed to the cold months ago. My raised beds look suspiciously like burial vaults covered in mulch. Yet, in my mind’s eye, my 2018 veggie garden is flourishing.

You see, I’ve been reading seed catalogs.

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Bearded Irises

Iris hyb_DBG_LAH_0592

If you’re looking for an indestructible perennial to grow along Colorado’s Front Range, you can’t beat bearded irises. They’re tough, hardy to zone 3. They’re drought tolerant. They aren’t fussy about soil. Deer and rabbits leave them alone (for the most part). And they come in nearly every color in the rainbow—and then some. How can you lose?

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Snow-tolerant Veggies

Yes, it’s May. And yes, it’s still snowing. In fact, we had temperatures around 20 degrees, with snow, over the past few days. The prediction is for warmer weather, but in previous years we’ve had snow and lows below freezing well into June. Of course I’m anxious to get my garden growing—but what will survive our winter/spring weather? Surprisingly, quite a lot!

Kale
LAH_7318We were gone last fall, so I never got around to pulling out last summer’s freeze-killed veggies. It turns out that was a good thing. With no protection at all, my Starbor kale roots survived our Zone 4 winter, and new growth is appearing from a dead-looking stump. I expect the kale plants to bolt as soon as it warms up a bit more, but in the meantime, I’m harvesting kale now. I plan to include kale in my garden again this year, starting seeds inside and setting out plants in late June to mature in September and October, after frost sweetens the leaves. You can bet I’ll leave those plants in place next fall, maybe with a bit of mulch or a row cover, for yet another early harvest. Continue reading

Spring for a Day

LAH_5986The weather has been too nice. One might even think that Spring has come to stay. Usually, this time of year is marked by freezing cold and wet snowstorms. I’m sure the snow will return, but the past week or so has been so gorgeous, it would be easy to be deceived.

While I was thrilled to find some crocuses and a pair of early daffodils in our yard, they weren’t enough for this green-starved soul. Denver is almost 2,000 feet lower than my home in Colorado Springs—surely there would be flowers galore at the botanic gardens. With a storm in the forecast, I didn’t want to delay. I headed north.

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Uncovering New Growth

Crocus_XG-CO_LAH_6223The forecast for today is a high of 73, with sunshine and balmy breezes. Yesterday reached the 70s too. After weeks of cold and wind, the desire to be outside is overwhelming. So what can we do in the garden now?

In spite of the weather, it’s much too early to plant. The soil is cold; seeds will sit and sulk. Besides, we know that temperatures are sure to dip well below freezing in the coming weeks and months.

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