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Showing posts from April, 2012

Agastache rupestris Apache Sunset and Sunset Hyssop

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I saw Agastache Apache Sunset in bloom at a Colorado Springs Xeriscape demonstration garden. And, while it is a little more dusty-colored than the one in this promotional photo, it is eye-stoppingly beautiful when it blooms.

Native to the US. Attracts bees and butterflies, deters deer because the entire plant smells like licorice. Silver leaves; no need to describe the fall-blooming flowers!

Like all mints, the stems are square.

Cold hardy as a perennial in zones 5 to 9 and drought tolerant even in full sun and mountain climates.

Seeds available from Swallowtail Gardens
Germination takes 2 or 3 weeks so start the seeds now, transplant them in another month, flowers will come late summer and until first hard frost.

Space seedlings 18-inches apart. If your winter temperatures go lower than 20 below zero, be sure to mulch the plants' roots after the first freeze.

Makes great cut flowers for inside the house, too.

Organic gardening in arid, mountainous regions

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The elevation of your growing zone impacts not only the length of your growing season but the amount of rainfall and oxygen your garden has to work with.

A recent trip to an Arkansas garden proved the point. We are the same horticultural zone but they are 1300 ft elevation and we are 300 feet. They are in the hills and we are in the foothills. Their season begins later, their soil is different and their rainfall is greater.

Colorado (and other) gardeners can be in one of a few cold hardiness zones and also have unique microclimates from each other due to creeks, mountains, soil type, etc. One thing all arid area gardeners have in common is lack of or very little rainfall.

The publisher and editor of Colorado Gardener magazine, Jane Shellenberger, has a new book out to help Colorado gardeners succeed. Shellenberger points out that "permaculture, working with nature and using its patterns as models to design functional ecosystems, offers a solution for turning this situation (the…

Lendonwood Gardens - Spectacular plants for zone 7

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Lendonwood Gardens - Scenes and Garden Rooms

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Garden Sage - Salvia officinalis 'Tricolor'

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Now in its 4th year! The tricolor sage pulled through another winter in zone 7.
Tried and true. Low maintenance. Great butterfly attracting plant when in flower.
Avoid wet soil.
Use as a decorative and great scented garden plant and harvest for the kitchen.

Tricolor is a beautiful addition to the herb bed, along the rock walkway.
Betsy Clebsch, author of  "New Book of Salvias", said it is one of the early medicinals discovered in 1753 by Carl Linnaeus. Give it good drainage and full sun. The leaves vary widely from white cream, grey cream to rose.
She also said, "I find this plant indispensable."
More info - Monrovia plants Plants available from Mountain Valley Growers
Start from seed if you like. When your plants are large enough you can propagate Salvia officinalis by taking cuttings and by layering.

Edible Garden Cookbook from Sunset

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As much about growing, harvesting and preserving, the new "Sunset Edible Garden Cookbook: Fresh, healthy cooking from the garden", is a lovely addition to an almost empty category of books.
I have an old fresh produce book from Burpee and a couple of newer veggie books from Renees Garden Seeds, but not many books like this one have been published for U.S. gardeners.

Let's review what's in the book for one vegetable as an example of what they've included.

Peppers is a 10-page chapter. Opposite the full page color photo is Why Grow Them, When to Harvest, How to Keep, Basic Ways to Cook, Preserving the Harvest, Some of our favorite varieties.

After that page, you are on to recipes and more tips and photos. For peppers the recipes include Roasted green chile and tomatillo salsa, Fennel pepper slaw, Creen chili grits, two full page photos, Grilled chicken kebabs with romesco sauce and "Good for You" on the nutritional value of peppers.

Each chapter in this …

Lendonwood Gardens - How to Grow Rhododendrons

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Some of the Rhododendrons at Lendonwood Gardens in Grove have already bloomed but
many are still in flower as are a hundred other shrubs, trees and perennials.
 Last week, Lendonwood’s founder Len Miller led a tour during which he pointed out many of the best plants and a few that are difficult to grow here.
The plants Miller highlighted on the tour included:
Japanese Birch (hard to grow),
Japanese Maple (fast growing and makes lots of seedlings),
Dawn Redwood (fast growing),
Variegated elm (full sun, beautiful leaves),
Bloodgood Maple (red seed pods),
Styrax Japonica (white flowers),
Weeping Katsura Magnifica
(heart-shaped leaves on weeping branches),
Japanese Variegated Dogwood (tough to grow),
Rising Sun Redbud (will be available from Greenleaf Nursery this fall),
Cherokee Sunset Dogwood (variegated leaves and pink flowers), and
Cornus Kousa Wolf Eyes (The best dogwood with white rimmed leaves and white flowers).

A walk through Lendonwood Gardens includes touring many garden rooms: Display Gar…

April gardening tips

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Skip West, Master Gardener for Cohlmias in Tulsa gave his monthly presentation of gardening tips.

Azaleas - prune 3 weeks after bloom, in mid-April. Never fertilize after Aug 1.


Try carpet and drift rose varieties as low-care ground cover.




When you buy annuals, do not fertilize for a month after planting. They come loaded with fertilizer already.

Cottonseed hulls are the best all around mulch. Pecan shells are the best for Azaleas.

Prune honeysuckle, forsythia and everything else that has already bloomed.

Divide perennials now if they are 5 years old. Remove the dead wood from crape myrtles. Plant periwinkles in mid-May - they are the best performer in full sun. Also in mid-May plant caladiums, lantanas, zinnias, okra and squash

Read plant labels but remember that full sun in Michigan is not full sun in Oklahoma.



Tent caterpillars, web worms and bag worms will become active soon. Pull them off the trees.





In May, prune climbing roses 2 weeks after bloom is complete, divide daylilies, pru…

Perennial Veronica incana or Spiked Woolly Speedwell

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Cold hardy in zones 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, Veronica Woolly Silver Speedwell is blooming around the edges of part shade spots in our garden. I planted them from seed in the winter of 2010, put out the tiny plants in 2011 and then the drought hit with record heat. The plants that survived to bloom this year are the ones that were in part shade ever since they were planted.

While I would love to have had 30 plants survive, I'm glad I tucked them all around the beds to see where they would thrive. Now these plants have been through it all and should spread nicely into their predicted 24-inch width. Gorgeous blue blossoms.
Veronicas come with white, pink, blue, lavender and purple flowers. Some are ground huggers and others are 3-feet tall. Look for Veronica austriaca, Veronica gentianoides, Veronica incana, Veronica longifolia and Veronica spicata. They all bloom with racemes of densely packed blue-shaded flowers except for those few white and pink
ones in the mix.







Veronicas are…

Rain Barrels - Selection, Installation, Size

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Water is essential for life and with summertime heat and drought are on our minds, you may be thinking of ways to preserve your garden without huge water bills.
An old-fashioned method of harvesting water has come back into style with commercially available rain barrels. Years ago, families put a recycled barrel at one corner of the house where the rain ran off the roof and was collected. Rainwater that is collected and used to raise seedlings and water gardens benefits the ground as well as plants since rainwater is naturally soft and free of chemicals.

A rainwater collection method can be a recycled barrel that costs a few dollars or a well-engineered system that costs a thousand. Home improvement stores, catalogs and online vendors offer them in metal and plastic, or, any large container can be recycled into one. The simplest method is the old fashioned one of putting a barrel under your rain gutter downspouts. Other easy methods are to use a rain-chain to divert the water or to conne…

Plant hardiness zones - US, Canada, Europe, Australia, India, China, Russia, Japan

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I'm in plant hardiness zone 7 - where are you?
Worldwide cold hardiness zones Canada 
Russia Australia China India Japan More countries at the Pacific Bulb Society website
- follow this link

Sages, Salvias and their many variations

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California Sunset Salvia is one of the pink flowering sages for sunny, dry spots. And, it's one I don't have yet though it is on the wish list for sure. unlike many sages, this one maxes out at 2 feet tall. It's cold hardy in zones 7 to 11, which means a mild winter here since we are just zone 7. 

To play it safe I usually take cuttings of all my zone 7 hardy sages in the fall so the next spring when I'm plant shopping I don't have to replace those and can add to my collection.

Mountain Valley Growers has 32 sage varieties - whose photo this is - It is a company I've had good luck with in the past. They sell this one $4.95 for a 3-inch pot, plus shipping of course.

Plant Delights offers the same salvia for $12.00 though I looked throughout their webpage and can't get any information on the size of the pot or plant they are offering. My assumption is that it must be larger than Mountain Valley's.

Their catalog says, "We picked up this Salvia greggii …

Iris germanica is Bearded Iris

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In our garden, several bearded iris colors are showing off their springtime beauty.
This cold-hardy perennial takes little maintenance, usually multiplies over the years, and, if you mix the varieties, you'll have a month of flowers.
The flower itself has three upright petals or standards and three hanging petals or falls. The beard is the fuzzy line in the middle of the fall. There are sizes for all parts of the garden: Miniature dwarfs are 8 inches tall or smaller, standard dwarf is 8 to 15 inches tall, intermediate is16 to 27 inches, miniature tall 16 to 25 inches with small flowers, border is 16 to 27 inches, and tall ones are 28 to 38 inches.
The best time to plant or divide and renew is after they are finished blooming, July through September, though I've been guilty of moving them when I have time rather than waiting. For example, this spring, while I can see the colors displayed and how I want to re-mix them, I wait until the flowers fade, and move them.

By the way, they…

Spring Planting in U.S. Zone 7 - It's Here!

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Spring weather this year is perfect for getting an early start on a gorgeous summer garden. Seeds and seedlings can be planted now. Many seedlings are available at garden centers and produce stands and with the farmer’s markets opening, we can purchase even more varieties.

Seeds can be safely started outside. I prefer to start them in containers to prevent them from washing away but many gardeners just plant directly into prepared beds.



Seed packets provide the basic information you need about seed planting depth and thinning distances. Temperature requirements of seeds to germinate: Alyssum 70, Asclepias 75, Aster 70, Basil 60-70, Broccoli 70, Catnip 60, Celosia 70, Cleome 70, Coleus 65, Cosmos 70, Cucumber 85, Dianthus 70, Eggplant 70, Geranium 70, Larkspur 55, Lettuce 70, Marigold 70, Melon 85, Pansy 65, Phlox 65, Poppy 55, Squash 85, Thyme 55, Tithonia 70, Tomato 80, Verbena 75, Watermelon 85 and Zinnia 70.








It is too late to plant Larkspur, Pansy, Phlox and Coleus from seed unless y…

Year-Round Vegetable Gardener - Grow food 365 days a year by Niki Jabbour

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Niki Jabbour's blog "The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener" is a reflection of her new book of the same title. She also writes for the plant marketing company, Proven Winners and has a Canadian gardening radio show. Judging by her blog entries, Jabbour is an avid gardener and speaker.

If you live in a cold climate, this is a book you will want to pick up. Don't worry about its ease of use. Although she lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Jabbour provides temperatures and measurements in both English and U.S. units.

If you would like to grow vegetables in every season, Jabbour provides quite a lot of practical help.
Chapter 1 describes the three growing seasons in detail: cool, warm and cold. Then day length, length of growing seasons, and the use of grow lights. Comparisons of different weight row cover fabric, home made cloches, raised bed planters, etc.
Chapter 2 is about intensive planting, continuous crops, soil amendments (natural minerals), succession planting and interplan…

American Native Trumpet Creeper is Campsis radicans, Bignonia radicans, Tecoma radicans

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Campsisradicans can be invasive but it is a gorgeously flowering vine.

Native to most of the U.S. and parts of Canada, Trumpet Creeper can be a friend or foe depending on where it is planted.


If you need a vine to cover an ugly building or fence, this is a reliable grower that is far less invasive and problematic than Wisteria.

In a humorous column about Trumpet Creeper, retired horticulturist Gerald Klingaman says he has been afraid of vines since childhood.


"I’m afraid of vines. I like the idea of vines in the garden, the beauty of vines and the utility of vines, but they scare me. Whenever I hear a gardener ask how to care for wisteria, I shutter in apprehension of things to come, when the rampant vine will crawl through the window and strangle the hapless homeowners as they sleep."

Trumpet Creeper vines grow to 35-feet long and its roots go as deep as 20-feet. They colonize an area so be sure you put it someplace where its assertive habit of climbing over everything will be w…