Thursday, January 28, 2016

The herbs of winter: rosemary By Irene Shonle

One way to beat the winter blues is to have plants growing in a sunny window.

I particularly love to have rosemary in the winter.  When I need a pick me up, I brush the leaves with my hands and inhale the lovely aroma.  I also love the blue flowers that appear in the winter, and the fact that I can snip off some of the leaves to add zest to my cooking.  I am partial to combining the fresh leaves chopped with tomatoes in scrambled eggs.   If you want to surprise your sweetie for Valentine’s day, make them these lemon-rosemary scones for breakfast in bed:  Or maybe a fig-olive-rosemary tapenade as an elegant appetizer?

Rosemary is an evergreen plant (Rosmarinus officinalis) belonging to the mint family.  It blooms clusters of small, light blue flowers. Fun fact – the name rosemary comes from the Latin word rosmarinus, meaning “dew of the sea,” suggesting its native origin around the Mediterranean Sea.
Although there are some Rosemary cultivars that are supposedly hard to zone 6 (‘Arp’), none will survive our harsh mountain winters, so the best thing to do is grow it a pot, put it outside in a sunny spot in the summer, and bring it in for the winter.

It can be a little tricky keeping rosemary going during the winter, but it’s very worth it! First step is to find a very sunny window.  Ideally, west or south facing, with 6 or more hours of sun a day and in a location where it is 50-60 degrees at night. Use fluorescent lights if none of your windows receive bright sun; for rosemary, light is much more important than temperature. 

Use a fast-draining soil mix and an unglazed clay pot. Place pots on a saucer or tray, and water thoroughly until the water drains through.  Do not leave the plant standing in water for more than an hour.  You will have to experiment a bit with how often to water – it will depend on temperature, size of the plant, and the amount of sun.  Mine seems to prefer a nice soaking once a week during the winter (and much more frequently in the summer).  Overwatering is one of the leading causes of death in the winter due to root rot– but don’t under water, either (all the leaves will dessicate and fall off).  Stick your finger into the soil – if it still feels wet an inch or so down, wait a few days before watering.

If you’ve got the light and watering down, the next biggest problem is powdery mildew. If the window where you have your plant does not get good circulation, you can aim a small electric fan at the plant.  Do not mist plants and avoid wetting the leaves when watering. At the first sign of infection, isolate the plant. Remove and dispose of all infected plant parts. Severely infected plants may need to be discarded. You can try spraying with a solution of 1 tablespoon baking soda dissolved in 1 quart of water (or perhaps even 2Tbs  full fat milk and 1 cup water), but don’t use any products that aren’t labeled as safe for consumption if you plan on using your rosemary in food!


Thursday, January 14, 2016

Landscaping with Colorado Native Plants – the first conference of its kind in Colorado! by Irene Shonle

  • Saturday, March 12, 2016, 8am – 5pm
  • Location: The Ranch Events Center / Larimer County Fairgrounds, Thomas M. McKee 4-H, Youth & Community Building
  • Cost: $90*, student cost: $45 with valid student ID

Keynote Speaker

  • Susan Tweit of Salida, CO
  • The Ditch and the Meadow: How Native Plants and Gardeners Revived a Neighborhood and Changed the Culture of a Town

Breakout Sessions

You will be able to attend three of the following sessions:

Virtual Garden Tours (everyone will be able to attend all of them)

The following people will showcase their native gardens:
  • Carol English and Dave Elin: rock garden, Morrison
  • Mimi amd Larry Elmore: Wild By Design, Lyons
  • Jan & Charlie Turner: residential garden, Golden
  • Rick Brune: prairie garden, Lakewood
  • Kenton Seth: Paintbrush Gardens, rain-powered landscape, Grand Junction
Lunch, drinks and snacks are provided with your registration fee. We will have vendor booths available during registration, lunch and breaks.
Please go here for more information and to register:


Premier Sponsor:
Loveland Water & Power 

Event Sponsor:
Audubon Rockies
Ft. Collins Nursery
Wildland Restoration Volunteers
Interested in being a sponsor or vendor? Contact us and include company contact information.