Friday, September 30, 2016

What Happened to my Links?

Dear Reader - you may or may not have noticed that all the links to my Denver Post Punch List articles, videos and favorite blogs are missing on the left side of my blog. For some reason the Google folks have deleted some of the formatted layout links in my blog and from other Google bloggers as I have just discovered from a quick on line search. I'm hoping they will be restored soon, but in case they aren't I'll have to re-create all the formatted links. We'll see if they (Google) come through and restore what was there, if not I'll add them back. I'll give them a few days.  

Since you're here, check out some of these timely garden articles -

Overseeding Bare Spots in Lawns

October Consulting Rosarian Tip of the Month

Why Leaves Change Colors

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Winding Down

When composing a new blog the challenge is coming up with the title. While doing so for this entry, I was going back and forth in my mind if the garden season is winding down, slowing down or am I slowing down? Yikes, the latter thought gives me a shudder, a chill...a shuddering me, I still feel like I'm 28! When I was 28 perms were the rage, as were very large padded shoulders on blouses and jackets. That's two trends I hope never boomerang. As much as I don't feel old, I get a bit melancholy about the end of the summer growing season and the last of ripe tomatoes and fresh snipped flowers for indoor joy.  

Today is the first day of autumn, so change is imminent, let's face it together. How's your winding down list coming? Have you shopped for close-out plant deals? Are they in the ground? Got bulbs...including garlic bulbs for planting? Is your bounty of produce or fruit put up for the winter? Is your lawn aeration scheduled, same for sprinkler turn off? Once these items are checked off, it's pretty much just a waiting game for leaves to fall for filling the compost pile or used for "bed time" mulch. Last on our seasonal list is moving the outdoor furniture into the garage. Ferris is the one who really misses the patio set, especially the cushioned foot stoolit's his favorite place to relax and keep an eye out for any movement in the yard...squirrel, bird, grasshopper. 
Nothing a person can do about the changing seasons, time marches on as the saying goes, though I would prefer a very slow cadence with many sunny days in the 60s. Snow can march in on December 1st, that seems about right. 


Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Garlic is Next

If you've read my blog for a season or two you know that I'm a fan of garlic and planting a pretty good size crop every year. Planting in the fall is recommended over spring planted garlic. Giving cloves nine months time to develop into large bulbs, so large that your friends will think you have garlic growing magic or some kind of a vampire fetish is the main reason to fall plant. Hard neck varieties grow very well in our cold, northern climate. BTW...hard neck garlic is the gold standard in gourmet taste and rarely found for sale in grocery stores (so you must plant your own)!

Since I've written about garlic planting how tos before just click the links below. 

Written in 2015
Plant Garlic Now

Written in 2014
Garlic Growing is Grand

Happy garlic planting!

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Dahlias, Love 'Em!

Years ago I spent a few days in Tacoma Washington in September for a niece's wedding. Prior to Jenny's joyous event, my parents, sister and I visited the gardens and sights at Point Defiance Park. It was one of those times in your life when you show up to a new place without one ounce of expectation and it turns out to be a two thumbs up (way up) experience. 

I thought of this visit as I was about to post a notice about the upcoming Colorado Dahlia Show happening this weekend at Paulino Gardens. It's amazing how one's garden oriented mind can wander and remember.

First, a short background on Point Defiance Park. With over 700 acres, the views surrounding the peninsula of Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains and Gig Harbor rival any of the well-known natural attractions. Early explorers saw this peninsula as a model fortress, a place that could "bid defiance to any attack" while American Indians embraced the forest and sandy beaches for hunting and living. In 1888, this never used military reservation was authorized by President Grover Cleveland to be a public park. It was officially signed over to the City of Tacoma in 1905 by President Theodore Roosevelt.

Internet Photo

Over the decades Tacoma park commissioners and planners replaced roaming buffalo with picnic, camping, boating and fishing areas. Sights came and went - horse trails, an amusement park, and an indoor swimming pool (natatorium) that used Puget Sound salt water heated to eighty degrees. Today there are formal gardens including a Japanese, Fuchsia, Rose, Rhododendron, Herb, Iris, Native and Dahlia garden. 

There's also Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, beaches, marina, hiking trails, and the must visit spectacular cliffs overlooking the Tacoma Narrows to view bald eagles feeding on salmon as they brave the swift tidal currents. 

The day we visited Point Defiance Park was picture perfect - sunny, no wind and comfortable short sleeve weather. I clearly remember three activities that day - the glorious waterfront views from the peninsula, the well-designed dahlia garden and a delicious, relaxing lunch with my parents and sister at a restaurant overlooking one of the harbors. The name of the eating establishment has escaped me, so I need to go back and find that place plus a visit to the rest of the park.

But....oh....those dahlias.

Here's what their website says about the Dahlia Garden -

"Dahlia Trial Garden One of the largest official trial gardens in the U.S. and Canada, the Dahlia Trial Garden is maintained in cooperation with the Washington Dahlia Society. The garden is comprised of plants grown from tubers sent by dahlia growers from throughout America, Canada, England, New Zealand and Australia. Each year, the dahlias are scored by official judges of the American Dahlia Society. Dahlias receiving between 85 and 100 points are included in the annual classification book. They are then named and become available to the general public. Blooms begin in July, but August is the best time to view the garden in full bloom, when plants reach heights higher than 6 feet."

I recall so many varieties, colors and sizes that I cannot even begin to describe them with the beautiful adjectives they deserve. They were healthy and happy growing in large blocks of raised beds. There were rows and rows of them - all very well labeled.  I know I took photos that day but they must be on an old hard drive in our storage area - retrieving them sounds like a great winter project. 

For Christmas that year I sent both my Mom and sister (plus a copy for me) a dahlia book so we could learn more information and grow our own tubers the following spring. And we sure did!

So that's why I'm writing this blog today. Go see for yourself the many dahlia types you can grow in your own back yard. This weekend, September 10th and 11th Paulino Gardens in Denver is hosting the Colorado Dahlia Society September Flower Show. Stop by this free event to admire the entries and winners, plus take notes of varieties you want to grow next summer. Experts from their group will be on hand to answer questions. 

Read more about growing dahlias on these links:

Articles on Growing Dahlias from the Colorado Dahlia Society

Planting Dahlia Tubers

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Plant and Divide for Next Year

It's early September, by no means the end of the garden season, but for many, it's the beginning of putting in new plants, moving some around and dividing overgrown clumps.  Read the how tos on my Denver Post Punch List below.  

Just a FYI...I'll write two Punch Lists for the Denver Post this month, my next one will be on September 17th, then I'll continue with a monthly Punch which will be in the first Saturday of the month in the Life & Culture section. It will run October through February.  

Fall is a great time to move plants
September 3, 2016 Denver Post Punch List

Labor Day may be the unofficial end to summer, but the garden says otherwise. Keep your harvest basket close and garden gloves on for late season planting. But really, where did the summer go?

Fall Planting
  • Want a head start on next year’s garden? Easy—go shopping or divide and replant overgrown plants early this month. 
  • Trees, shrubs and perennials generally establish well in the fall with warm days and cooler nights. Get them in the ground sooner rather than later for optimal root growth.
  • Inspect the landscape –look for bare ground planting opportunities. Replace plants that didn’t survive the season.   
  • There are great deals at local garden centers–shop wisely, read the plant tag to make certain it will work in your space, soil and light conditions. 
  • Just because the plant may look a bit weary from being in a pot all summer, it may be fine once it gets established with your good care.   
  • Also, it is common to find garden center plants with circling roots inside the container or growing out the bottom.  
  • Cut off outgrowing roots. Then remove the plant from the container, it is easier if the root ball is moist.  
  • Untangle or tease excessive or girdled roots before planting. In some cases you may need to use sharp scissors or a knife and make vertical cuts through the root ball. This method helps new root growth to establish in the surrounding soil. 
  • Dig your planting hole— wide and not too deep.  
  • Loosen up the soil and improve drainage. Mix in some well-composted soil (store bought bagged is fine) with the native soil, but not so much that the roots remain in the area with amended soil.

     Fall Dividing
    Cutting compacted roots will allow new roots to grow and establish much better
    • Fall is also a good time to divide, move or share and replant established spring to early summer blooming perennials like salvia, catmint, daylilies, daisies, coreopsis and bee balm—wait until spring to divide and replant late summer or fall bloomers.
    • Dividing plants is necessary when foliage seems sparse, the flowers are smaller than normal, or the center of the clump is dying out or hollow (especially noticeable on ornamental grasses, spring is best for dividing grasses).  
    • Water the plants a couple of days before dividing and cut the foliage down to six to eight inches for ease of move. 
    • Dig the new hole location first and amend the hole as described above.
    • Move mulch away from the plant.   
    • Use a straight edged shovel and dig straight down in a circle around the entire plant. If growing right next to other plants in the landscape you may have to dig closer to the plant.
    • Use a shovel to lift up and divide the entire root ball, or dig down into the plant and take out sections including roots.
    • Re-plant at the same height where they were growing. Fill in soil around the root ball, water well, additional soil may be needed after watering, then mulch. 
    • Some plants do not like to be divided because of their long tap root or woody shrub-like structure – butterfly weed, lupine, clematis, false indigo, lavender and baby’s breath. An excellent resource on dividing - Clemson University Dividing Perennials
    • While shopping for plant deals also pick up some mums, asters, pansies, and other late bloomers. 

    Tree/Shrub Fall Planting and Care   

    • Fall planted trees and shrubs take longer to establish than smaller rooted perennials. Plant no later than mid-October. 
    • Unlike planting a half-priced perennial, tree and shrub fall planting require careful selection, planning, soil preparation and care through the winter. Pass on buying pricier landscape plants if post planting care including watering can’t be maintained.
    • Planting evergreens in the spring is the recommended time of year. If fall planted and the roots aren’t established because of lack of water or quick temperature changes, the foliage or needles may burn, suffer injury or die entirely.
    • As we head into fall many trees appear stressed from lack of water, insects, disease or injury – some are losing their leaves early or turning colors already. Scorched leaves are evident on lindens, maples and others.
    • Check to see that trees are getting moisture in the root zone to a depth of one foot. Do not over water all at once to compensate for lack of summer watering. Maintain a regular watering schedule through the fall and winter.
    • Consult with a professional arborist, trusted garden center or Colorado Master Gardener for help diagnosing problems. 

    Vegetables and Containers
    • Regularly water and fertilize outdoor ornamental and vegetable containers. As long as they are growing, producing or blooming, they need regular care and maintenance.
    • Continue direct seeding quick maturing cool-season vegetables like lettuce, spinach, arugula, beets, kale and radishes in open areas of the garden. Keep the seed bed moist by watering at least twice a day on warm days.
    • Be ready for rapid weather and temperature swings this month. Nights in the forties can set back warm-season vegetable ripening. Light weight sheets and blankets are quick go-to covers. Invest in floating row covers for warmth and quick drying the next day. Avoid covering plastic directly over plant foliage—it transfers the cold to the plant.
    My sincere condolences to Colleen O'Connor's family, including her Denver Post family and friends. I did not know Colleen personally, but have read her many outstanding features and articles over the years.  

    "The bitterest tears shed over graves
    are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone."
    ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe ~