Pretty Purslane?

Portulaca oleracea 'Toucan Fuchsia'_Purslane_DBG-CO_LAH_7226

What were those vibrant pink flowers? They were definitely show-stoppers, especially as they were spilling out of planters crammed full of flowers in other shades of pink plus various yellows—creamy white Cockscombs (Celosia cristata), pale pink, ruffled Cosmos and darker pink Globe Amaranth (Gomphrena), butterscotch-yellow Lantana, Petunias in either a lush purplish-pink or a pale cream with yellow throats, and finally, bright lemon Flowering Maple (Abutilon). Whoever had designed the display, situated along the walkway in front of the greenhouses at Denver Botanic Gardens, clearly had a good eye for shapes and colors. Continue reading “Pretty Purslane?”

Just the Facts, Please

Purslane_Tyndale garden-ColoSpgs-CO_LAH_2881

A few weeks ago, I wrote that I intended to verify claims that purslane (Portulaca oleracea) has “amazing health benefits.” I had read an article about this supposedly nutritional plant that seemed a little too good to be true. Being ever the skeptic, I dug in—and learned some things. I’ll use this as a case study on how to verify health claims that you read online. Continue reading “Just the Facts, Please”

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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What’s a Weed?

Taraxacum officinale Dandilion @DBG LAH 001

A weed is…

I subscribe to a variety of online gardening groups, mostly on Facebook. Lately there has been a lot of ranting discussion about whether or not dandelions are weeds. On the one hand, various gardeners are asking for help controlling dandelions in their lawns and gardens, often to please a landlord. On the other hand, various opinionated persons climb onto their soapboxes and extol the virtues of dandelion leaves, wine, and bee-friendly flowers, chastising anyone who would dare to disagree. Continue reading “What’s a Weed?”

Common Mullein

plants in snow_castlewoodcynsp-co_lah_7289

After the storm earlier this week, snow blankets the fields, hiding most signs that anything ever grew there. But interspersed with the even white blanket and occasional dried grass leaves are spikes, sticking up like posts in the empty landscape. We’re finally noticing the dead and dried flower/seed stalks of Common Mullein (Verbascum thapsus).

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Morning Glory Mix-up

Morning Glory_DBG-CO_LAH_9033

You’re growing morning glories? On purpose? Are you crazy? Those things will take over your garden! Our friends, who live in wet western Washington, were appalled. They couldn’t understand why I’d plant something so invasive.

Yet, I’ve grown morning glories for years, first in California’s benign climate, then here in Colorado. I’ve never found them to be at all invasive. True blue flowers are hard to find. I couldn’t understand why our friends, avid gardeners, wouldn’t want to grow something so lovely.

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Nasty Knapweeds

Centaurea stoebe_Spotted Knapweed_PikeNat'lForest-CO_LAH_1141rThe flowers could be considered somewhat pretty—a white or lavender tuft reminding me of cornflowers (aka bachelor’s buttons). The somewhat pretty flowers are probably the only positive aspect of these plants. A common noxious weed, knapweed is the bane of my garden.

The problem is that we live immediately adjacent to an open space, a few supposedly wild acres left by the developer (probably because it’s too steep to build on). There’s Gambel’s oak, six Ponderosa pines, a smattering of yucca, assorted wildflowers, and some rather nasty weeds.

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Delinquent Daisies

Oxeye_Daisy_TaylorCanyon_2008jul14_LAH_006-001They sound pretty good— perennial plants that:

  • Are hardy in Colorado, even in the mountains
  • Grow a compact one to two feet tall
  • Are covered with eye-catching white daisies in mid-summer
  • Grow in almost any soil
  • Bloom in full sun or partial shade

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Ditch this Dame

Worth growing for its delicious ­­­­­­fra­grance­ alone, dame’s rocket also offers showy, long-lasting flowers and is as trouble-free an herb as you could ask for. Its multitude of common names attests to centuries of cultivation in gardens and to the high regard in which it has been held. (Mother Earth Living)

Hesperis matronalis_Dame's Rocket_ColoSpgs-CO_LAH_7355How can you resist such a glowing recommendation? It’s true that dame’s rocket is all these things, but it is also an invasive outlaw, wanted dead, not alive. Like any most-wanted suspect, Hesperis matronalis hides under a plethora of aliases: damask violet, dame’s-violet, dames-wort, dame’s gilliflower, night-scented gilliflower, queen’s gilliflower, rogue’s gilliflower, summer lilac, sweet rocket, mother-of-the-evening, vesper flower and winter gilliflower, to name a few. But not matter what you call it, it’s against the law to grow this plant in Colorado.*

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Answers: Weed? Or Wonderful?

If you’ve ever pulled out the lettuce and left the chickweed, you’re in good company. Last week I admitted my failure to recognize ragweed, one of the most irritating plants in my yard (especially to my nose!). It takes practice to recognize plants in their infancy. After all, how much do you look like your newborn photos?

If you missed last week’s quiz, you can try your hand at some seedling ID by clicking here. If you’re ready for the answers, keep reading.

Continue reading “Answers: Weed? Or Wonderful?”