Thursday, February 25, 2016

My Favorite Native Rock Garden Plant: Eriogonum umbellatum , Sulfur-flower buckwheat By Lorrie Redman

It is February and I am watching the elk cruise through my back yard looking for native grasses to munch on.  As I sit here on this beautiful sunny day, I am imagining and planning my new rock garden.    

Why a Rock Garden? 
·        I live at 7500 feet and I have sandy and gravely soil that isn’t nutrient dense. 
·        I can plant native plants that feed the wildlife in my area, are low water and low maintenance,
·        I don’t have to truck in loads of soil just to get started.
·        I have free rocks on my property and they are harmonious with my house and neighborhood. 
·        It offers great protection for all the small mammals, birds, and pollinators that live in the area.
·        Those same rocks help create miniature warm environments to help me grow plants that may not thrive without a rock to warm them up.
·        I love the juxtaposition of living and non-living things working together to make my yard beautiful!

Since I choose a garden that the animals can roam in, I also want to choose plants that they can use.  Native plants definitely fit my criteria including the Sulfur-flower buckwheat plant.

Why Eriogonum umbellatum, Sulfur-flower buckwheat

·        According to the USDA Plant Fact Sheet on Eriogonum umbellatum  “its seeds are important food source for many species of birds and small mammals. Quail, sage grouse, deer and mountain sheep eat the leaves, and insects found on the plants are an important food source for sage grouse chicks.”
·        Also according to the USDA Plant Fact Sheet: “Sulfur-flower buckwheat attracts a wide variety of bees and other native pollinators.
·        It performs best in dry open and rocky sites and likes sandy gravely soils with low fertility.
·        It is relatively free of pest and disease.
·        Its beautiful umbel flower head has four-season color (changing from bright yellow in spring to orange-red in the fall) and it is long blooming from June through October.
·        It can withstand sun, heat, drought, and wind.
·        You can start it from seed or find it in a nursery depending on your patience level.  E. u. aureum, Kannah Creek sulphur buckwheat is a seed grown selection from Colorado.  
·        Lastly, It is a native plant and you don’t have to worry about it being invasive!

If you are interested in more information on rock garden natives or Eriogonum umbellatum please check out the following sites:  USDA Plant Fact Sheet  Eriogonum umbellatum More references on Colorado native plants

Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Rose Trials by Linda Campbell

Red Leaf rose
            I have always loved to grow things.  Growing up my Dad was in charge of the outside garden, I grew house plants.   When my husband and I purchased a home in the mountains (7500’ elevation), I was excited to have a garden outside and I wanted to grow hybrid tea roses.
            I grew up in Kansas where you just dig a hole, plant and everything grew wonderfully.  I realized that my garden soil was not the loam of Kansas, but plants do grow here, so I figured plants would adapt. I purchased rose bushes and planted them. They did not do well and did not survive the winter.   I really was not smart about gardening, but I am capable of learning, so I went to the library and got a book about growing roses.   Note, it is probably a good idea to do that first.
            My sad tale of dead rose plants started my journey to learn all I could about soils, plants and growing conditions.   I've read many books and taken classes to increase my knowledge about plants and gardening.   But, it was when I started the Master Gardener classes that it all came together to make sense to me.    I have learned so much.  The really special thing to me, is the resources available through CSU that I can continue my education in gardening.   It doesn't matter what you do or do not know about gardening, if you have a desire to grow anything, you can get assistance from your County Extension Agent.   There are also resources available online at your County's CSU Extension 
website.   Note, if I had known about this, this would have been a good idea also.
          I do have several roses flourishing in my garden now.   I do not grow hybrid tea roses, I learned that they do not like the growing conditions in the mountains, but I have lovely old fashioned roses that do well here, including a Red Leaf rose and a yellow Harison Rose. Others that work in my garden are the Fairmont Cemetery old rose, Banshee; a Canadian group rose, David Austin; a floribunda rose, Linda Campbell.
Harison rose
          I continue to expand my knowledge about horticulture and gardening; it seems you never know it all.   Every year we have a little different weather conditions, our gardens react differently, so we are always evaluating and learning how to help our plants thrive.   It is this continued journey that keeps gardening always fresh and new.  
            If you like gardening and want to know more, please consider becoming a part of the CSU Master Gardeners.   Your local CSU county agent has information and applications available about upcoming programs.