Happy Earth Day 2016!
For the last 17 years I’ve worked to create an eco-friendly naturescape in my suburban backyard. I’ve planted native flowers, added low-maintenance perennial plants, reduced water use, and completely eliminated synthetic chemicals.
My certified wildlife habitat includes food, water, shelter and places for all kinds of insects, birds and fuzzy critters to raise their young. But this year, I’m going to concentrate my wildlife-loving efforts to attract more hummingbirds, all season long.
These flighty birds typically show up at the end of summer to enjoy nectar from the Agastache plants. But if I start in April with a few sugar water feeders and then plant nectar-rich flowers, like bleeding hearts, they might start to show up sooner.
Spring-blooming honeysuckle flowers can also turn a hummingbird’s head. The long, tubular blossoms are the perfect shape for their needle-like bills. An arbor supports vines and provides a handy perch so birds can take a break between feedings.
The best fairy garden fairies — the ones who make a gardener’s wishes come true — are those made from the garden’s own flowers, like hollyhocks.
It takes just a few minutes to transform an ordinary hollyhock blossom and bud into a fairy flower all dressed up in a ballgown and ready to dance around the garden.
Fairies made from hollyhocks are a bit elusive because of the plant’s biennial nature; they have a two-year growth cycle. The first year they develop deep roots and a rosette of leaves and the next year they send up a flower stalk. That’s the perfect time to get your hands on one of these flower fairies.
We’re celebrating National Pollinator Week and need gardeners across the country to join in.
You don’t have to have a large garden; any size garden is an important part of the gardening network to help take care of pollinators like bees, butterflies, birds and even bats.
Every seed or plant that helps feed our pollinators counts.
In fact, your garden can count even more toward the One Million Pollinator Garden Challenge.
By 2016 we hope there will be at least 1,000,000 pollinator gardens registered at the Pollinator Partnership website.
The One Million Pollinator Garden Challenge is the goal of the brand new National Pollinator Garden Network. The network is a collaboration between more than 20 different conservation organizations, gardening groups and seed companies.
One of the National Pollinator Garden Network organizations is one I’m very familiar with — the National Wildlife Federation. For more than a dozen years my landscape has maintained its status with the organization as a certified backyard habitat.
That means the birdie show is in full view from the comfort of the living room. We’ve watched as the couple slowly built the nest, one thin stick at a time, and then feathered it with fluff.
As soon as the female took up permanent residence tucked inside the nest, we knew she was keeping tiny eggs warm. A lot of feeding action in the last two weeks meant the eggs had hatched and there were some hungry baby birds in there.
On Sunday I watched as the parents both stood on the edge of the nest looking down inside, just like two proud human parents looking into a baby’s bassinet.
And yesterday we saw the first two tiny heads peek up over the edge of the nest!
It turns out, June is National Rose Month everywhere else, too.
If you want to go all in to celebrate roses this month there are two things you need to do:
1. Plant more roses.
2. Visit the grounds of Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery.
I know it might not sound like the place to hold a celebration, but the cemetery is the second oldest cemetery in Denver and home to at least 300 old garden roses of almost 60 different varieties. The fact that the majority of these old roses are over 100 years old is a testament to their hardiness.
In addition to their long and rich history, old roses have many benefits over some of the modern hybrid roses found in gardens today. Like the settlers that brought them here, these roses are hardy and used to difficult growing conditions.
“The first season they sleep, the second season they creep and the third season they leap.”
That saying sure proves true with the xeriscape garden I’ve planted in my backyard. This is the third year for most of the plants and they certainly have taken the leap. Of course, having rain nearly every day in May certainly helped.
I’ve been adding plants each season over the last few years — some ordered through mail order catalogs, some purchased as “gardener-grown” at plant sales, some free plants to test and many others that are volunteers that sprung up from seeds on their own.
One of the best choices I made for the garden was to plant in unamended slightly sandy soil and to use rock mulch. Xeric plants prefer a well-draining soil to keep roots on the dry side.
Once again, I’ve taken on the challenge of writing 30 different gardening blog posts for the annual writer’s challenge.
Starting today, I’ve committed to posting something new on my WesternGardeners.com blog every day specifically to help all kinds of gardeners.
I’ve created a blogging calendar and have a lot of ground I’d like to cover.
In addition to some of my favorite hardy plants (like the gorgeous John Cabot climbing rose pictured here), I plan on blogging about…