Thursday, May 28, 2015

Ready for First Blooms Rose Display

As with many spring blooming plants, roses are playing catch up and ready to shine any minute. Established shrub roses like  'Harison's Yellow,' 'Austrian Copper,' and other old garden roses haven't missed a beat with all the recent rain and cold.  They don't mind any weather conditions, they're game to bloom and won't take no for answer, just like a kid wanting to go to Elitches when it's sixty degrees outside. 

Rosa 'Harison's Yellow' photo by Susan Tamulonis
So while you're waiting for your roses to bloom jot down the date and plan on attending the First Bloom Rose Display (formerly called the Old Garden Rose Show) at Denver Botanic Gardens Gates Hall on Sunday, June 7th, 2015.  This is a show, tell and smell the roses event hosted each spring by the Denver Rose Society.  All you need to do is cut your rose stem with blooms the morning of the 7th, place them in a jar with water and bring them to DBG between 7:30 am and 9:00 am. A friendly Denver Rose Society member will greet you and help get your rose or roses ready for the display.  And if you're more of a rose spectator then plan on dropping in between 9:00 and 4:00 pm to view and breathe it all in. 

Rosa  'Morden Sunrise' photo by Susan Tamulonis
The display is free with paid admission or membership to Denver Botanic Gardens or the Denver Rose Society.  You do not need to be a member of the Denver Rose Society to participate, all are welcome to display just as long as you arrive before 9:00 am.

So tell your roses to get blooming and ready for display by June 7th!

Monday, May 25, 2015


Today is Memorial Day, the day we honor those who died while serving in our country's armed forces.  It started out as Decoration Day around the time the Civil War ended when people often visited graves of soldiers. According to Wikipedia - On May 26, 1966, President Johnson signed a presidential proclamation naming Waterloo, New York, as the birthplace of Memorial Day. Earlier, the 89th Congress had adopted House Concurrent Resolution 587, which officially recognized that the patriotic tradition of observing Memorial Day began one hundred years prior in Waterloo, New York.

Below are some photos taken last fall while we visited the the Normandy American Cemetery located in Colleville-sur-Mer France. 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Are We There Yet?

'Hot Wings Maple' happy after the storms
Everyone knows the story about being on a long car trip as a kid and asking your mom or dad if we're there yet.  A few years ago I read a quip in Reader's Digest where the kid's parents said not to ask if we're there yet because we'd arrive after dark, so the kid asks a few minutes later... "is it dark yet?" Okay, we're not kids anymore going on vacation to visit relatives, but I feel like Denver area gardeners have been on a long trip of cloudiness, rain and cold. It's almost painful! BTW...there was always a silver lining to those trips, my dad could be counted on at the first gas stop to bring back an assortment of candy bars, or as he liked to call them - "bandy cars." And with three older siblings, I usually got the left over Bing candy bar instead of my favorite Salted Nut Roll.  
Internet Photo, Palmer's Candies

Back to the weather... it's's late May, so we can count on sun and warm returning in a few days, maybe five days, definitely no more than ten days. I'm not placing any bets on when the dreariness stops, but I am keeping my transplants out of direct rain and cold at night.  

As for planting, just say no and hold out until soils dry out and conditions improve.  If you're not convinced that it's not wise to plant do your own soil check. Use a trowel (wear gloves unless you enjoy wet, sticky mud on your hands, I sort of like it), grab a handful.  No doubt it's a muddy mass, not at all a hospitable place for new plant roots to establish and happily grow in your garden.  The poor plants will just sit there in a globby, gooey state of sulk and decide not to do much of anything, possibly even checking out for good just to punish you for your actions. 

Waiting for the right time
In the meantime, just mind your new plants and shop for more, why not? You'll be so ready to plant when the sun returns and soils dry out that you'll enjoy every minute being outside making up for lost time.  Also, get your portable containers cleaned out, spray empty vegetable containers with a disinfectant solution to kill possible disease.  I use a homemade spray of vinegar, water, a little borax and drops of lemon essential oil. You can also try a one to ten water/bleach or rubbing alcohol spray.  Be sure to rinse well.  Position them where you'll be planting, so all you have to do is add soil and plants when it's time. 
Disinfect Vegetable or Herb Containers

One more thought - promise yourself to enjoy the garden this summer despite the rough spring, plant challenges, even the losses and most of all the late start.  

"He who plants a garden plants happiness.
If you want to be happy for a lifetime, plant a garden."

Chinese Proverb



Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Between the Rain Garlic Check

Splayed 'Hot Wings' Maple, May 2015
All gardeners agree about one thing - moisture...we never seem to get enough along the Front Range.  Dare I say that enough is enough already after last week...or at least until the downspouts quit dripping?  I guess I won't drone on about the mushy lawn, the broken tree branches or the unhappy broccoli, so forget I even mentioned them.     
What's next?  My only advice is to enjoy this dynamic Colorado spring weather, what else can we do? Move to Arizona and complain about oven-dry heat or California where there's no rain in sight?  Nope, we're in this together and come what "May" we will get through this together.  And if hail, rain, cold nights, uninvited four-legged critters, disease, or giant snails invade your garden, someone, somewhere...a kind neighbor or friend will share their tomatoes come August!

Remove wet mulch around garlic
An easy chore you can do right now if you're growing fall-planted garlic is give them drier ground.  Yesterday I filled two large garbage cans with wet, heavy mulch around the garlic plants (excellent fodder for the compost pile).  The garlic bed was just too wet and as the plants put on their final growth the next six weeks, they don't want to be sitting in swampy conditions. Ted Jordan Meredith, the all-knowing garlic growing expert and author recommends removing wet mulch in the spring to prevent mold, slugs and snails.  After mulch removal give them a diluted foliar spray of liquid fertilizer. They'll appreciate the nutrient bump.  

So...what about New Mexico? Dry...but not too dry and they get rain...ah heck, there's no place like Denver, staying put.     

Monday, May 4, 2015

The Month of May

Photo by Joe Amon, The Denver Post
Gardeners look forward to the month of May in more ways than one. Spring has officially kicked in - green is the underlying color theme while buds and blooms are in one stage or another of their anticipated glory.  It's all good, despite some plant losses here and there (Count Your Losses, Prepare to Shop). May is THE shopping and planting month.  Sure, you can plant in June and all through the summer into early fall. But there's just something special about being outside in May breathing it all in...from planting the first tomato, to waking up forgotten muscles while hauling piles of mulch. And finally, the much needed hot, soapy late afternoon shower where the dirt and thick layer of sunscreen disappears down the drain.  Repeat soon, can't wait.   

So it's a given that you will shop your favorite nursery store this month, no doubt you've already been there several times to scope out the latest annuals and pick up some seed potatoes and pansies. But what about some of the more local plant know the mostly non-profit ones that benefit the community or promote a specific organization or plant society?  Below is a short list of plant sales you may wish to check out this month. Many offer one of a kind native plants, heirloom vegetables and finds you'll never see sold at a big box store. 

Click on each link for times and directions. Also check the Denver Post garden garden calendar each week in the Friday pull out section GROW (you'll also find my garden to do list - Punch List).  Now that was a shameless plug if I ever saw one.  But I mean it, thanks for reading my stuff.

Denver Botanic Gardens Plant Sale: the most well-known plant sale of the garden season. It happens every Friday and Saturday of Mother's Day weekend, this year, May 8 and 9

Heirloom Tomato Farms, May 9, Denver.

EarthLinks Mother's Day Plant and Garden Sale, May 9, Denver.

The Gardens on Spring Creek, May 9, 10, Ft. Collins: annuals, herbs, perennials and vegetable transplants...all grown by horticulturists and students from CSU and Front Range Community College.

Ekar Farm Communal Urban Farm, plant sale May 10, 17, Denver.

Denver Urban Gardens, May 8-9, Denver 

Growing Gardens Community Plant Sale, May 9, 10, 16, 17, Boulder.

2015 Spring Plant Sale at Pickens Technical College May 7, 8, 9 and week of May 11 in Aurora.

Old Garden Rose Sale Boy Scouts Troop 102 May 9, Denver.

Bloomapalooza Butterfly Pavilion Plant Sale May 16:  native plant sale, pre-order at 303 469-5441.

Loveland Youth Gardeners, May 14, Loveland

Colorado Native Plant Society plant sale, May 16 in Loveland.

Herb Society of America Rocky Mountain Unit and Front Range Organic Gardeners May 16 in Denver.

Fairmount Heritage Rose Sale May 16 in Denver.

Horticulture Arts Society of Colorado Springs plant sale, May 15, 16, 17 in Colorado Springs.

Plant-A-Palooza Denver CSU Extension, May 16, 17, Denver.

Memorial Day Weekend Plant Sale at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, May 23, 24, 25, Colorado Springs.