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Frost Free at Last!

 

We all know how unpredictable weather in Colorado can be, but we have passed the last average annual frost date and that means one thing…. annuals!

Mother’s Day is generally looked upon as the safe date to start annual plantings.  There are many types that can handle and prefer cooler weather, but the more tender and tropical plants need warmer night time temperatures.  It is always a good idea to harden the plants off, meaning set them out in a protected location for a few nights before you actually plant them.

Annuals can be used in many ways.  The most popular are in pots, hanging baskets or in a small bed that is strategically located.  Every home has that strange spot where nothing will grow or the previous owners made an unusual choice regarding placement of sidewalks, driveways etc. This is the perfect place to fill with annuals for an unexpected splash of color.  Annuals give a finished look to patios, decks, pergolas, walkways and pool decks.

In Colorado we grow many tropical plants that can not survive the winter as annuals like cannas, elephant ear, lantana and caladiums.  Some old time favorites such as petunias, geraniums, lobelia, alyssum, marigolds, begonias and impatiens provide bright colors for the entire summer.

Annuals allow you to get creative making pots for the summer.  Color combinations, textural plants and amazing foliage can all contribute to beautiful pots or beds to enhance your outdoor spaces.

 

Color Color Everywhere

 

Last week the topic was texture adding to the interest in garden, this week it is color.  Who does not want a colorful garden?  Obviously the flowers provide the most dramatic and bold colors in a garden bed, but the foliage colors are just as, if not more important.  Flowers only bloom for a certain period of time but the foliage of a plant is out for a majority of the growing season.

The most common colors of leaves are green and blueish, but an array of colors can be found:  deep reds, oranges, yellows, purples, greys and many types of variegated foliage.  Variegated means more than one color on a leaf, usually the margins are white or yellow paired with green.  As you can see below there are many combinations of colors on the leaves only.

When planning a garden it is important to keep foliage colors in mind to enhance the overall look of the space.

 

Texture Texture Everywhere

Every gardener wishes for a beautiful garden from early spring into autumn.  Using a succession of plants that bloom at various times throughout the season is the best way to ensure continued interest.   Another component is texture.  When you plan a garden it is so important to account for the time the plant is not in bloom.  Using a variety of textures and leaf colors keeps the plant interesting even when it is not in flower.

A mix of textures like these really give another dimension to the garden.  Rosette, palm-like, feathery, lobed, bumpy, sword-like, evergreen and spikey are just a few types of foliage you can find.  In addition to trees, shrubs and grasses you will have a well rounded garden all year!

Ahhhh, Yardwork Time!

The time has come!  For some of us it is a joy to get out in the yard and get working, while others are dreading all the work to do.  Either way, lets get started….

If you are planning to plant vegetables now is the perfect time to get many of them in the ground: Peas, Potatoes, Carrots, Beets, any leafy greens, Cabbage and Onions are all happy with warm days and cool nights.  Plant in stages so you don’t have all of your produce mature at the same time.

Annuals that like the cooler temperatures can also be planted in beds or containers now.  If you use lightweight containers you can move them into a garage or covered patio if the weather takes a turn for the worse.  Snapdragons, Pansies, Dusty Miller, Dianthus, Ornamental Kale and Alyssum are all options for this time of year.

You can also get some perennials in the ground as well.  A general rule of thumb- if it is coming out in nature, it should be able to handle the weather.  Just give the plants a few days outside but protected before you plant them.  Columbine, Heuchera, Iceland Poppy, Creeping Phlox and Primrose are some examples.

If last fall you left flowers and seed heads for winter interest, it is time to cut them down.  Ornamental grasses should be sheared to 6-10″ high.  Give the garden beds a good rake to get rid of any old leaves and accumulation from the winter.  Also check trees and shrubs for damage.

With a little work now, your yard will be in good shape for the upcoming summer season!

Minor bulbs provide major impact

Many of us associate the word bulb with a couple types of flowers:  Tulips, Daffodils, and Hyacinths.  There are numerous other kinds of bulbs that we can plant to enhance our early spring gardens.  Most of them are smaller in size and bloom earlier in the season than the major bulbs.  These bulbs are known as minor bulbs and include: Snow drops, Snow Crocus, Windflowers, Squill, Grape Hyacinth, and Scilla.

Snow drops are among the first leaves to emerge and they bring a small dainty white flower with green markings.  They are best planted in groups and do well in a woodland area.

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Snow Crocus also bloom very early, and do not mind getting snowed on.  There are yellow, purple, white, and 2 toned varieties.  These bulbs multiply over time and look best planted in larger groups.

Anemone Blanda, also known as windflowers have interesting foliage and fun, bright flowers.  They come a bit later in the spring and also multiply over the years.

windflowerGrape Hyacinth is one of the most common minor bulbs.  It is the best multiplier, and some people even consider it a nuisance.  Although not related to a traditional hyacinth, it has the same structure and very grass like leaves.

grape hyacinthThe other bulbs mentioned are Squill and Scilla, and both arrive in early spring.  There are many varieties of both coming in colors of blue, white and purple. These are also excellent naturalizers and at home in a woodland setting.

When you are planting your spring garden, don’t forget to add the minor bulbs.  They provide early color and texture in a garden.  They also compliment the major bulbs once they bloom.  Additionally, they are a food source for pollinator when not much else is available.  Plant these smaller bulbs in larger groups to make sure they are not lost in the garden.

Planting for Pollinators

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The plight of some of our big name pollinators has been in the news lately.  Monarch butterflies and bees have gotten the spotlight onto a rising problem in the United States and throughout the world.  It seems daunting to help solve an issue like this, but you can!  Anywhere that pollinator plants are located is another source of food and shelter for these vital animals.

Pollinators come in many shapes and sizes, and a few are surprising.  Bees, butterflies, moths, birds, beetles, bats and flies are all pollinators.  Each animal has different roles in pollination.  Some pollinate white flowers while some pollinate red flowers.  Some are active in the spring while others work to pollinate in the fall. There are even pollinators the do their work at night.  It is vital that each one has food, shelter and water.  Different types of plants provide food and shelter.

Planning a new garden or adding to an existing one is an easy way to help the survival of the pollinators.  A variety of colors and flower shapes will ensure that various species will stop by.  It is important to vary the bloom times so you have flowers in bloom from early spring to late autumn.  It is also helpful to use plants that are native to your specific area.

There are many plants native to Colorado that are excellent for pollinators.  If you are interested in helping plant a pollinator garden please contact us!

Happy Fall

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Another season is in the books, and by the looks outside fall is coming quickly!  Today is officially the first day of autumn, and the autumnal equinox.  The days will begin to get shorter and the nights cooler.

If you brought houseplants out to enjoy the summer, the time has come to bring them in at night or put them in a protected spot.

It is also time to think about bulbs…. yes, I know, spring bulbs!  The best time to plant them is the end of October.

Enjoy the last warm days of summer, because we all know what happens soon!

Colorado Wildflowers

Anyone who has been to the Colorado high country in the summer remembers the vast expanses of beautiful wildflowers.  Every color of the rainbow, size and shape seem to be represented.  Each year the flowers mingle in new ways, with some thriving due to extra moisture or an especially warm year.

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It is tempting to try to recreate this effect at our homes.  In the Denver metro area we can grow some but not all of the wildflowers native to the mountains.   It is possible to plant a wildflower meadow, usually from seed either late in fall or early spring.  There are numerous mixes of seeds that can mimic the look of the high mountain meadows, minus the high mountains!

If you have an area you would like to plant as a native wildflower meadow give us a call!

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Summertime flowering perennials

As we shift into the warmer summer days, some gardens tend to loose their flair.  In springtime we have bulbs and lots of yellows and purple tones.  Lilies, poppies and peonies begin to fade way and there may be a blank spot in your garden. Summertime bloomers are warm colored to go with the warm days.  Think of using red, bright oranges and yellows to stand out for this short time.  Red hot poker, Black-Eyed Susan, Coneflower, Evening primrose, Bee balm and Hollyhock are all summer-flowering.  Choose 1 or 2 to add to a perennial bed for some summertime brightness!

hollyhock redhot poker evening primrose monarda

Pollinator Week

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We are in the middle of pollinator week and want to share the importance of pollinators with you!

Birds, Bees, Butterflies, Moths and Bats, even Beetles and Flies are all examples of pollinators.  They do the important job of carrying pollen from one plant to another so they can be fertilized. This is how plants form fruits and seeds, vital to our food sources and continued life cycle of the plant.

As you have probably heard many pollinator species are in decline due to habitat loss among other reasons.

You can directly affect the loss of habitat by planting certain species of plants.  These plants can provide food and habitat for the pollinators.

Here in Colorado some of the best species to plant include:  Black-eyed Susan, Rocky Mountain Penstemon, Beebalm, Silvery Lupine, Blue Flax, Gaillardia, Yarrow, Rocky Mountain Columbine, Butterfly Weed and Hyssop.  There are many more, but these are relatively easy to find and keep alive.  Next time you choose a plant for you yard consider one of these!

 

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