AND WILD BEES: For several years Iíve tried to protect wild bees in my
garden by growing sunflowers. Scientists believe populations of wild bees to be in
decline. Widespread single-crop farming has contributed to wiping out their habitat. And
while many gardeners, including me, have worried about the plight of honeybees,
wild bees suffer in silence. Their disappearance barely is noticed by anyone
other than a handful of entomologists. Now there's new research indicating
how important native bees may be.
My friend Lawrie once designed rose gardens, heirloom flower gardens and
romantic getaway gardens. But now that she has retired, her gardening skills and
expertise are lavished on a small fruit orchard that surrounds her bungalow. In
the middle of the orchard stands a honeybee hive for bees that pollinate her plums,
apples, cherries and raspberries. She expected a steady hum of busy honeybees.
What she didnít expect was the small throng of neighborhood kids who watched
her from afar, ventured in and now help her with the task of harvesting honeyócomplete
with their own beekeeperís uniforms.
& LEGUMES: Like the rose family of apples and pears, strawberries and
cherries, legumes and mints also define much of the worldís cuisine. Legumes
provide beans and peas, the staples of a human diet around the world. Mints
provide the flavorings. They include the aromatic herbs of thyme, lavender,
basil, rosemary, oregano and peppermint. These gifts alone make them esteemed
plant families. But they offer more.
CROPS: WINTER PROTECTION--Cover crops are the last detail, the finishing touch to the end of an autumn
season. Nothing will protect a vegetable garden as well throughout a frosty
winter with strong winds. Turning over a cover crop in the spring adds humus and
nitrogen. Itís the easiest way to enrich your garden and the best insurance
that healthy soil awaits when you plant seeds. Most garden centers provide a
variety of cover crop seeds, which you can buy by the pound. Above: peas fix
nitrogen in the soil for next year's crops.
most home gardeners, I was first introduced to heirloom vegetables through
tomatoes. The Amish Brandywine couldnít be beat, I
was told, and my pulse quickened at the thought of plump, misshapen beauties all
summer long. Iíve grown a number of heirloom tomatoes and found
them fickle. But I've found heirloom tomatoes that thrive in
my garden given the soil, summer temperatures and dates to maturity. Starting
with tomatoes opened the world of heirloom vegetables for me and
introduced the history that comes with them.
NEW GARDEN: WHEN VEGGIES MIX WITH FLOWERS--Vegetable beds traditionally come in rows for a practical
reason. This timeless design is intended to weed and harvest as efficiently as
possible. But as suburban plots shrink so do wide open spaces for vegetable
gardens. Thatís when it makes sense to look at vegetables in a different
lightóas ornamental plants as well as practical food producers. We plan
flowerbeds to buffer a sidewalk, surround a building or line a path. Those
places may be the sunniest or best drained. Why not locate vegetables where
they will be happy, even if itís among the bearded iris or roses.
FRUGAL GARDEN -Now that weíve entered a new historical era of tighter bank regulations,
stringent loan requirements and credit card crunches, gardening comes to the
rescue. What many of us once considered a harmless hobby takes on an urgency:
abandoned urban lots converted to vegetable gardens, rooftop food gardens and
community gardens. "We once grew organic food for flavor and health,"
one longtime gardener said, "now weíll be growing to feed others."
If you need to feed your family or your neighborhood, itís time to find ways
to garden on a tight budget. In lush times or lean times, gardening doesnít
have to break the bank.
FREE -We are advised to stop to smell the roses occasionally. But along with the perfume comes a whiff of
pesticide. Most of us want to get away from pesticides and herbicides. Is
it possible? Where do we start? It begins with a change of heart. The reluctance to bring out the pest-killing sprays
takes hold when a gardener
embraces the philosophy of a naturalist. And with that comes the abolition of poisons.
SALAD GARDEN --After the summer heat abates and a cooling rain sets
in, itís time to consider an autumn garden. Although a summer garden is
what we all prize, an autumn garden is one of the sweetest times of the
year to sow a few seeds. Chard, radishes, spinach, parsley, lettucesóthe
crops that defined a green spring may be easier to grow in autumn. Seeds
germinate quickly in cooling temperatures and the weather is generally
more settled. Even if youíre exhausted from pulling up tomato vines and
prickly squash plants, an autumn garden is quick and easy.
HERB GARDEN --While diehard gardeners fiddle with finicky tomatoes and delicate eggplants,
thereís another garden to be considered by those looking for sturdier, less
demanding edibles. Itís one that cuts grocery bills substantially, provides
perennials as well as annuals and grows vigorously with minimal time and
effort from the gardener. This is the herb garden. Here, basil
and parsley, cilantro and dill flourish in the vegetable garden while thyme,
lavender, mint and sage fit into a perennial garden. Garlic, as a bulb, is well
worth growing but best set aside in a bed of its own.
ENCOUNTERS --Throughout July and August some of natureís most colorful creatures bob and
float in the garden. A Western tiger swallowtail hovers over zinnias. The tiny
white cabbage butterfly zigzags toward daisies. When they were caterpillars in
the garden during the months of May and June, we hated them. By August, weíve
forgotten about the destruction; weíre ready to enjoy their company. Above: a
Western tiger swallowtail
SECRET LIFE OF BEANS --Beans are among the easiest of crops to grow,
especially in the arid West. No bean likes to sit in watery soil. And all
like warmth. Many derived from North America and we can claim them as our
own. Itís hard to imagine a more widely grown crop that has sustained
humans. Perhaps most importantly, beans are among the easiest crops to
save seeds and pass them along to friends, family and the next generation.
FIRST GARDEN --To curtail global warming, here are the usual tips: ride a bike, use
low-energy light bulbs, hang the wash outside, plant a garden. Not just any
garden, but a garden that will feed you. A garden that is pesticide and chemical
fertilizer-free not only will feed your body, it will feed your soul. And it may
take the pressure off global farmers who now must feed their own people rather
than ship produce to the United States and Europe.
Scarlet Runner Bean, an old-fashioned favorite
A GREENS GARDEN FOR SPRING --February is the quiet month of the year for gardeners. Weíve perused the
catalogues that arrived January and wait for March to plant early crops. This is
the month when we revise our original plans, look over last yearís notes and
exchange seeds with fellow gardeners. February is the month when we decide what
the first garden will be.
PRAISE OF PENSTEMONS Penstemons, a
spectacular collection of Western wildflowers, have jumped fences from wild
to mild, settling into drought-tolerant landscapes. Gardeners love their
brilliant colors, tough natures and unkempt appearances. But these wildflowers do have exacting needs. Some, like glaber, thrive
on disturbed soil of a recent burn. Others will take to regular garden soil a
little more easily. Penstemons occasionally are hybrids. But most often they are
species plants, exactly as Mother
Nature designed. The key to including them into a garden is to match soil, site
Penstemon secundiflorus, or the one-sided penstemon, also called the
CLEANUP BEFORE WINTER ARRIVES --Autumn commands our attention as attentively as spring, but without the
feverish anticipation of whatís to come. Instead, we size up the past, review
our triumphs and mistakes, assess changes for next year and plant fall crops.
More urgently, itís time to consider how to prevent erosion and add nutrients
to a well-used plot.
COLORADO GARDEN OF NATIVE PLANTS--Logic would have us believe that a garden of native plants would be the
simplest approach to horticulture. After all, plants that Mother Nature intended
for Colorado should flourish in our front yards, buoyed by our attention and
love. (Left, pasque-flower, anemone patens).
SUMMER COLORS:--Spring may herald the pastels of traditional English gardens but summer is
all-American: neon yellow daisies, sherbet orange lilies, satiny magenta
hollyhocks, and robust sunflowers. Summer is a time of bold and hot colors.
PROMISE OF A ROSE GARDEN --In a garden of a hundred roses, or more, lies a botanical marvel.
Ruth Roberts has filled her flower beds with miniature, shrub, floribunda, hybrid tea,
climbers and old garden roses from rose cuttings. "See this climber,"
Ruth says about a vigorous six-foot rose studded with tiny pink buds,
"itís only three or four years old." September is the optimum time
to begin rose cuttings in your garden.
IN THE GARDEN: When it comes to drought-busting plants, tough native specimens and imported
new ornamentals from faraway arid climates occupy front rows at garden centers.
But thereís another group of plants that should rise to the top of our lists
when it comes to sturdy growth, longevity and sheer persistence. Heirlooms,
flowers and vegetables that our grandmothers grew, have a few standouts that
have survived wet years and dry years. Theyíll stand by us today during
difficult seasons and serve us as well as they served those who brought them to
Colorado one hundred years ago.
PERENNIALS FROM SEED: If you crave a sea of columbine, a raft of
penstemon or a meadow of coneflowers, youíll get buckets of plants for the
cost of pennies. If you long for a rare plant that isnít offered in any garden
center but sprouts on a seed jacket, youíll have to consider taking it home.
In a few cases, some perennials may be easy to divide, like purple coneflower,
but youíll have to wait a few years for a clump to grow large enough to take
advantage of division. Thatís another reason to consider seeds.
GARDENING THROUGH THE WINTER IN A COLD FRAME: Eliot
Coleman, a market greens grower in Maine, has made a name for himself by
raising exquisite greens under cold frames. Although his climate is wetter
than can be found in Colorado, Maine's zone is 5, the same as ours. Could
this New England approach to winter gardening transfer to our soil and
weather conditions? Some gardeners believe it can.
DIRT ON COMPOSTING: "If you get involved in composting, you can enjoy the fruits of your
labor instead of laboring over your fruits," says Judy Elliot, an educator with
Denver Urban Gardeners. "Composting makes gardening easier. Itís a
no-fail endeavor." Composting turns trash to treasure. Itís as simple as
CRABAPPLE TREES USHER IN SPRING: As any gardener knows, Coloradoís spring weather is uneven. Snow showers
may follow a summery day in April and temperatures fluctuate wildly. For a brief
period of time, crabapple trees bloom with their showy white or pink blossoms
and we are lulled into believing that warm weather is here to stay.
COLORADO WINTER GARDEN: Winter allows Colorado gardeners to restómuch like their gardens. But
this approaching winter, coming after a summer drought, has forced gardeners to
reconsider time-honored approaches. Horticultural experts are suggesting that we
leave perennial beds alone, allowing the top growth to bend over and protect
roots throughout the dry months. Applying mulches around trees, perennials and
shrubs is urgent. Winter watering may be necessary, along with drip irrigation
and compost bins. This winter, more than
ever, requires planning for spring.
GARDEN OF REPOSE: Searching for a place to soothe
your soul, restore your spirit or calm your nerves? Vail's Betty Ford
Alpine Garden is a summer destination for the worn and weary. No parades
of people, no jostling, no ticket taking. The garden is free, rarely
packed, beautifully planted and inviting. You are beckoned to find a seat
and stay awhile. Meditation is encouraged.
GARDENING: John Brocklehurst has never taken his garden for granted. In a windswept
valley at nearly 8700 feet in elevation, with a temperature range of minus 20
below in winter to 90 degrees on a hot summer day, John has tended a garden for
14 years, learning with each year what grows best at high altitude in Colorado.
A RETURN OF THE NATIVE: Vincent Van Goghís painted sunflowers may mark the signature of
European Impressionism in the 19th century, but the cheerful yellow
flowers are native to North America. Sunflowers, like corn, Concord grapes,
blueberries and cranberries, originated on this continent and were ferried
across the Atlantic hundreds of years ago.
A LATE SUMMER COTTAGE
garden tours take place in late June. The stellar perennials hold court.
Roses are at their finest. Poppies wave cheerfully and delphiniums stand
tall and commanding. So it's a little surprising that one gardener threw
all aside to concentrate on a late blooming garden. But Lawrie
Diack Wilson did just that.
COLORADO KITCHEN GARDEN: The American kitchen garden may have reached
its zenith with the victory gardens of World War II, but it's on the
upswing again. This time taste and unique cultivars, rather than survival,
rally the troops. Recently
the French potager has renewed enthusiasm: marigolds nestle alongside
tomatoes and Genovese basil. In Colorado, we have classic
combinations of our own.
ROSES: Roses may be the most beloved and one of the sturdiest flowers throughout
history. Itís not uncommon to see lilacs, bearded iris and tough roses growing
alongside dilapidated farmhouses on 19th century Colorado homesteads.
The blossoms of old-fashioned species roses like the bright-red Austrian copper
or Harisonís yellow spill over many a rickety turn-of-the-century farm fence.
BEGINNINGS: Along the eastern foothills and plains of Colorado, a
vegetable garden doesnít come easily. Every year would-be gardeners put out
their spindly tomato plants too early and suffer a cold snap. Or they watch
their spinach bolt on a blistery hot day. Itís either too cold, or too hot -- or both
-- all in the same day. Then, of course, there are the winds. Not to
mention the hard-packed clay soil.
Growing vegetables isnít for the fainthearted, but
neither should it be impossible. With the right soil amendments itís possible
to grow a garden you can crow over. It just takes some planning. Several experts
explain their methods.