Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How to Get Red Fall Color in Your Mountain Garden -- By Irene Shonle

There is no denying the splendor of stands of aspen as they turn gold.  Hordes of leaf-peepers have been turning highway 119 into a parking lot as they take pictures of the brilliant yellow contrasting with the bluebird sky.
Many lament the lack of reds in the fall palette, but I would like to speak up for Colorado fall reds.  Okay, so they may not steal the show like the aspen do, but if you look carefully (and design them into your garden), they provide a lovely contrast.
Here are some of my favorites:
Golden currant, Ribes aureum

Cotoneaster lucidus

Wild geranium, Geranium caespitosum
Leafy cinquefoil, Drymocallis fissa
Native mountain-ash, Sorbus scopulina
Other worthy contenders: 
Red-twigged dogwood, Cornus sericea
Wild roses often turn a lovely red
Ninebark, Physocarpus opulifolius
Chokecherry, Prunus virginiana
Red-leafed rose, Rosa glauca
Pig-squeak, Bergenia
Waxflower, Jamesia americana
Sulfur flower, Eriogonum umbellatum

Plant these all with abandon in your mountain garden, and you will enjoy a wider range of fall colors (and they all are very garden worthy in other seasons as well!)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Noxious Weeds by Mary Beth Mainero

Last year I took the Native Plant Class with Patti O’Neal, Research Associate at the CSU Extension in Jefferson County. I was eager to learn all about the beautiful wildflowers on my property. Lo and behold they turn out to be Noxious Weeds! Not all, but many.
Did you know that Colorado has a Noxious Weed Law (CRS 35-5.5 et al) that requires all homeowners to control and eradicate noxious weeds on their property? This is a civic obligation, besides voting and jury duty!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A Bluebird Diary by Gina Kokinda

“How the waiting countryside thrills with joy when Bluebird brings us the first word of returning spring. Reflecting heaven from his back and the ground from his breast, he floats between sky and earth like the winged voice of hope.”
(Quote by WL Dawson)
March 15. Mr. Bluebird off our deck surveying the site.
Zippity-do-da, Zippity-A…My oh my it’s a wonderful day! The magical beautiful bluebird, symbol of happiness and peace, has inspired poets, writers, musicians, naturalists, and everyday people alike:

“Be like the bluebird who never is blue, For he knows from his upbringing what singing can do.” -Cole Porter

“And when he sings to you, Though you're deep in blue, You will see a ray of light creep through,
And so remember this, life is no abyss, Somewhere there's a bluebird of happiness.
Life is sweet, tender and complete, when you find the bluebird of happiness.” -Edward Heyman & Harry Parr Davies

“Somewhere over the rainbow, bluebirds fly. If happy little bluebirds fly beyond the rainbow why, oh why, can't I.” -Lyman Frank Baum

It’s easy to understand why the bluebird is so beloved. I have always admired them, but had no idea just how enjoyable and sweet they could be until this season, when I was blessed with the pleasure of watching a pair raise two broods on our property. My office window faces a couple of nesting/roosting boxes that we installed in hopes of their taking up residence with us. They did, and the lovely family are still hanging around our garden today. In fact I am watching a few of them hunt and frolick this very minute as I write!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Spotting of Hummingbird Moth by Tina Ligon

This morning I saw a Hummingbird Moth in the yard. I ran and got the camera and of course it had left. So I was patient and kept the camera close by and yes it came back.

See Irene's post from July 10 for more information on this lovely insect.

Adult white-lined Sphinx Moth (Hyles Lieata) Photo taken by Tina Ligon

Monday, September 3, 2012

My Favorite Container Plants for the Mountains -- by Irene Shonle

We have an outdoor eating area that we carve off from our driveway in the summer months. In order not to feel as though we are sitting in the driveway, I encircle the area with large pots of container plants.  After much trial and error, I have come to three conclusions about container plants for the mountains:  they have to be critter resistant (anyone else found petunias to be chipmunk candy?), they have to attract hummingbirds (okay, that's my personal bias), and they have to not require too much heat to bloom (Annual salvias don't usually do well for me).   

So, what are the plants I rely on?

Geraniums  -- I keep them in pots, and bring them outdoors in the summer.  Their colors dazzle, and the critters just don't like them.
Nasturtium "Empress of India" and Cerinthe -- look for the hummer just below the Cerinthe on the left

Nasturtiums -- gorgeous bright blooms, easy to grow from seed, a big-time hummer attractor, and they even provide edible flowers!  I like to grow them in the same pot as Cerinthe, or honeybells.  These dusky purple flowers are more deeply colored with our cool nights, and are also great for hummingbirds.

Sweet pea "Matucana" provides fragrance at my front door

Sweet peas -- I start these inside at least two months before the last frost, and twine them up my porch posts.  I love the delicate fragrance as I come in and out of the door.

Anagallis monellii or blue pimpernel

Anagallis -- this is a new favorite for me; I had never grown it before, but I love the bright blue flowers, and it has done very well through both drought and lots of rain, always covered in flowers. Never needs deadheading, either. This year, I also tried a pentas and verbena (adventures in watering these posted earlier).

Pansies have often done well for me in the past, but it all depends on the critters tastes in any one year -- this year, probably because of the drought, they decided to eat all of them, so I have none.  I love Osteospermum (and they do well in our cool nights)  but so do the Golden mantled ground squirrels.  Lobelia is a great plant for hanging baskets.

If you want to grow plants from seed (it's cheaper that way), start them at least two months before frost, so they will have time to fill out).  If you buy plants in containers, you may need to buy them early (when they are available at garden centers down below), and move them in at nights until conditions warm up.  Don't put frost-tender plants such as geraniums and nasturtiums out too early, or they will freeze to death.  Container plants do require more water, so if you don't have water rights, you will want to limit or eliminate container plants from your repetoire.