Friday, May 7, 2021

Japanese Beetle Classes at Denver Botanic Gardens - Outdoors!

We're close to another Japanese beetle pest insect season. Adult beetles will be emerging from lawns and fields beginning sometime in June to early July and commence feeding and breeding.😞

Are you ready to battle Japanese beetles with the proven, science-based management options? I'll show you how to use simple, organic practices in your yard along with other ways to keep their numbers down in your backyard this summer and going forward.

I'll also cover the latest information on the biocontrol releases that have taken place the past few years to fight back adult Japanese beetles and their larvae (offspring that produce next year's generation of adults).

These three safe and effective biocontrols (two insects and a fungal spore) attack ONLY Japanese beetles as nature intended. These have been released by Dr. Whitney Cranshaw, Emeritus Professor Entomology at Colorado State University and Colorado Department of Agriculture.

2021 Japanese beetle classes (your choice of three dates) at Denver Botanic Gardens, York Street Location - OUTSIDE under a nice tent!  

Friday, May 28 9:30 am to 11:30 am.

Wednesday, June 16 9:30 to 11:30 am.

Saturday, June 26 from 9:00 to 11:00 am.

Click HERE to register. 

See you soon! 😊


Saturday, May 1, 2021

May Garden Humor

Does it seem like it's been a super long wait for the new outdoor gardening season to arrive? I'm not complaining per se. Time, which normally passes very quickly as you age seems to have stalled in April. Maybe it was the weather being so up and down. I'm not complaining, I'll take rain any day and any month.

During some of the down time this winter I not only cleaned my entire office, I filed, then filed more papers and articles (not on the computer, I'm old school). I came across a file that had several jokes.

I have to share this timely one. It's a David Letterman Top Ten List. Apologies if any of the references are too old for anyone born in the last twenty, better make that thirty years.

Signs you Hired the Wrong Kid to Mow Your Lawn

10.  He shows up with a pair of manicure scissors and a Ziploc.

9.    Turns a goat loose and says he'll be back in three weeks.

8.    His nickname: the Unamower.

7.    On the side of his mower, stenciled silhouettes of 13 cats. 

6.    Stops every 15 minutes to smoke some clippings.

5.    Using your riding mower, leads L.A.P.D. on a three-hour low-speed chase.

4.    He's always trying to impress you by stopping the mower blades with his


3.    He somehow mows the hood ornament off your Lexus.

2.    Every week he tries to match your lawn to Dennis Rodman's hair.

1.    No toes.  


Welcome to the 2021 outdoor gardening season. May is usually a bumpy ride weather wise. No worries, we're glad we're here.



Monday, April 19, 2021

Battle of the Birds

Who doesn't like birds? Most people and practically all avid gardeners I know love birds. Birds really know how to class up a garden. Many chirp pleasantly, they dine frequently at feeders, taking turns or politely waiting for an opening if the perch is crowded. Robins are frequent early spring arrivals, their touch downs on lawns give us quite a show as they skip and hop looking for their first morning grub. 

However, not all birds have manners. Some don't even try.

Up until a week ago, I thought I'd never say an unkind word about one particular group of birds. This group's disruptive conduct is not only unbecoming, they are bullies and quite frankly, they scare me. I'm talking about American crows and common Ravens that frequent Denver resident yards and probably your neighborhood too.   

My story -

We have close by renters who unknowingly have been the main attraction for crows and ravens. The word in the neighborhood is these renters have an open compost hole in their backyard. My hunch is that they are tossing food items that are very attractive to nuisance birds who dine on fat and bones, you know, food scraps that aren't recommended for home composting. The food pit is a favorite destination for these bird brutes as the pit thaws each spring. I have seen these birds in action, they nose dive directly into this backyard.

Of course these birds need a fresh drink of water after their meal. They emerge from the neighbor's food court, rest and digest on the alley utility lines, then they turn their attention to our backyard birdbath. Down they swoop displacing any and all finches, sparrows, even the bluejays step aside. What nerve they have! They leave bread chunks, bones and large poo in our small bird bath. This isn't nice.

My responses so far -

I "yeehaw" scream at the top of my lungs which sends the birds and all the neighborhood cats running. But only temporarily. Then the pot lids come out which work great. If the hose is attached I'll spray them away. All verbal and noise related hazing seems to work, just not permanently. Ferris is great at sending them flying, but only when he's out in the yard at any given moment. 

The battle is on -

One or two clicks online gave me all the answers I needed to know to win the bird war, I hope. Thank you internet, up to now I was most grateful for finding a special sauce recipe or driving directions to the dentist. 

More than one site said the absolutely best way to keep crows and ravens away is to purchase dead looking plastic birds that look like them. Hang or lay them in the yard where they can clearly be seen. Two are better than one and move them often. Evidently it totally freaks them out when seeing a deceased bird friend. They consider the area dangerous and won't hang around for long.

My online order arrived in three days, a pack of three fake feathered crows - the cheapest, realist looking ones I could find. They are not waterproof, I may end up ordering one of those soon. 

The sites also say to set up the dead birds when they are not in the area or disguise your face during placement. The birds remember faces of people who put out decoys and can show their displeasure in retaliation of some form. I don't want to find out what they do so I asked Glen to keep watch while I put out the fdb (fake dead birds).  

I hung one upside down on a wire strung between two tall green garden posts. It was close to the birdbath. The other one I just placed on the grass in plain view for all crows to see. I think the one on the lawn which has spread wings was the one that really sent them packing. 

While inside the safety of our house, I waited and watched, it only took five minutes for the "murder" discovery (a group of them are actually called a murder of crows). Wow did they freak out. They cawed and fussed for a good ten to fifteen minutes. One did several fly overs near the fdb on the lawn. They cawed on the roof, cawed on the alley wires and cawed in our trees. They finally left. They returned off and on later that day and the next day to find the fdb still in place. They never came close to the newly refreshed birdbath. All the little birds happily returned, even the woodpeckers and blue jays.

Snow was predicted so I took down the fdb and birdbath. Once we have spring again I'll set up the decoys in a different location. I'm also thinking about other diversions I've read about online. Many sites say to use more then one since these birds are smart and catch on quickly to human tricks and foolery. 

Online Resources that Helped Me -

How to Get Rid of Crows in your Yard or Garden 

Differences between Crows and Ravens

What to do about Crows


FDB (Fake Dead Bird)

Thursday, April 1, 2021

It's Time to Cut Back Ornamental Grasses

Back in the spring and early summer of 2015 I did a series of short garden videos for The Denver Post. They are still applicable today. Below is one I did on cutting back ornamental grasses. Early April is a great time to get this chore completed and off the early spring chore list.

I did not mention in the video that if you notice die back in the middle of the ornamental grass, it's time to divide the clump. The growth in the middle will not grow back. 

You can divide it a couple of ways. Remove by digging the entire clump from the ground, then make shovel cuts down and into the plant to make smaller clumps. Replant a clump in the same area if you like where it's growing. Also, you can plant the extra clumps in other areas of the garden or share them with with friends and family. Just let them know you have some freebies and they'll come right over!

An older, mature, large clump of grass can be difficult when digging out the entire clump. Moist soil (not too wet) can make the job somewhat easier or ask someone for help who may have a bit more muscle and back power to lend.

Another way to divide is to dig down and remove smaller clumps one at a time. This method doesn't require first digging out the entire clump of grass. Leaving one clump in place will suffice in replacing the died out clump - it will grow and fill the space in no time. Again, share extra clumps or re-plant.