A happy couple of Red-shafted Northern Flickers took just a week to create this impressive nest.
John brought me up-to-date on what was happening at the homestead and before ending the call he said, “I have something to show you in the backyard when you get home.”
My imagination was set in motion, but I wasn’t prepared for what was about to unfold.
A pair of Red-shafted Northern Flickers was preparing a nest in our neighbor’s old cottonwood tree.
It was our incredible good fortune this happy couple decided to build the nest within direct eyesight of our office window.
Over the course of a week, we watched the pair share the construction duty. Each took turns pecking at the tree with long, curved bills and discarding the wood chips on the ground below.
Attention, Gardeners! Science needs you to join the army of citizens advancing the body of scientific knowledge.
Citizen scientists are the extra eyes researchers need to help look for nine-spotted ladybugs, note the first tulips in spring or keep watch for endangered arboreal toads. They partner with scientists to provide valuable data that helps answer real-world questions.
Volunteers can join any number of organized efforts to use their backyard living laboratories to observe plants, insects, birds or other animals and report their findings. Researchers say citizen scientist initiatives help identify signs of climate change, track migrating species and monitor the health of animals and the environment.
Whether you prefer to watch birds or bees, monitor blooming plants or count the spots on ladybugs, there’s a science project waiting for you.
For example, citizen scientists in Boulder are helping real scientists at the University of Colorado gather data on bees for a program called “The Bees’ Needs.”
New gardening books are published every year, but this crop is especially fruitful.
If you need inspiration to help you add more vegetables to your family’s menu, look no farther than this new cookbook from the folks at the Baker Creek Seed Company. The cookbook, written by Jere and Emilee Gettle with Adeena Sussman, is a natural follow up to the Gettle’s first book called “The Heirloom Life Gardener.” If you didn’t grow up enjoying Grandma Nellie’s Garden Soup, don’t fret. Her recipe for homemade vegetable soup is included in the new collection of more than 125 recipes in “The Baker Creek Vegan Cookbook” (2012, Hyperion).
“Vertical Vegetable Gardening” is a Living Free Guide (2012, Alpha Books) that adds to the body of creative ideas for using every square inch of gardening space. Chris McLaughlin has gleaned ideas from gardeners across the country for the best ways to grow vegetables vertically.This user-friendly how-to guide is organized into four parts that make it easy to find information. While beginning gardeners may want to delve into The Basics: Soil and Seed, experienced gardeners might turn right to Vegetables and Fruit that Enjoy Growing Up.
What if we had a drought and the lawn didn’t notice?
Because of the continuing drought, gardeners in the Denver metro area will have twice-a-week lawn watering restrictions starting April 1–no fooling.
Along with these restrictions will be higher water bills for using more water on other parts of the landscape, too.
I remember the summer of 2002 and how difficult it was to keep the garden going with limited irrigation. It was fortunate I had already removed a good deal of lawn the summer before, replacing with low-water perennial flowers, shrubs and bulbs.
I’ve dusted off some of the water conservation tactics I used the last time we had Stage 2 drought restrictions and plan to rely on them again this summer. Here are some of my top tips for gardening in a drought:
Happy Fourth Anniversary to WesternGardeners.com!
I wrote a short post about the predicted drought conditions in the West, with the headline: Warmer, Drier Forecast is Daunting!
It seems like I could have written that headline yesterday, too.
Over the last four years I’ve written a lot about conserving water in our landscapes from planting water-wise flowers, trees and shrubs, to ways to use water more efficiently in the garden.
Those tips are even more relevant today.
Of the 449 posts I’ve written, I’ve been surprised by the one that’s been most popular: my simple recipe for Pickled Jalapeno Peppers. That one post continues to draw hundreds of gardeners looking for ways to use their home-grown jalapenos.
The beautifully-designed Bodega Birdhouses, manufactured by Roost, are made of recycled materials.
The bird lover in your life will certainly appreciate receiving a Bodega Birdhouse for the holidays.
These birdhouses are made of matte-glazed, speckled stoneware and are carefully constructed using recycled or repurposed materials for the teak roofs. Each birdhouse provides a safe and secure homestead for your fine feathered friends.
Offered by online retailer, aHa! Modern Living, the birdhouses were a featured item in the spring issue of Leaf Magazine.
The three styles of birdhouses include Bungalow (shown above), Tower, and Chalet. Just choose the one that matches the garden style and backyard habitat of your favorite gardener.
Or, if your gardener is like me, these birdhouses can be displayed inside to add a touch of nature to any room in the house. Each birdhouse has stainless steel hardware fastened to a sisal rope that can be adjusted to fit a corner in the sun room, hang near the kitchen sink or add to the guest bedroom.
This beautiful xeric garden was recently honored by the Plant Select program as a demonstration garden partner with the coveted Golden Shovel Award. The garden was recognized for the exceptional educational opportunities it offers visitors.
At 5600 windy feet in elevation, the garden has the San Juan Mountains as its backdrop.
More than one acre (on the almost four acre site) is planted and it features a native plant island and a promenade lined with perennials.
A dedicated group of volunteers called “The Weed Warriors” meets every Wednesday to maintain the garden.
In August the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge will make a scheduled stop at the Montrose Botanic Gardens during the first leg of the race.
Another way to celebrate National Pollinator Week on Saturday, June 23, is to join the Ute Trail Community Garden for its annual Outreach Festival.
This community event is an opportunity to see the beautiful gardens, learn from some local garden gurus, and have some fun in the sun.
The garden is located at 13130 W. Jewell Avenue, Lakewood, Colo. (80228) with the entrance just west of the Jewell and Yale intersection.
Festivities begin at 9:00 a.m. and will end around 3:00 p.m.
Some of the free activities include organic gardening classes taught by Denver Urban Gardens Master Gardeners, electronics recycling, vegetable and herb seed giveaway, and garden tours.
Special guests will include award-winning children’s author, Susie Shride, Councilmen Dave Wiechman and Adam Paul, the West Metro Fire Department, and a variety of local groups promoting environmental sustainability.
When you’re in the garden this week, be sure to thank a bee. That’s what Pollinator Week is all about.
The third week in June is designated as National Pollinator Week and there are celebrations planned from coast to coast to raise awareness of the valuable contribution provided by bees, birds, butterflies, bats, and beetles.
Pollinators are responsible for one out of every three bites of food that we eat.
In the U.S. bees alone undertake the astounding task of pollinating over $15 billion in added crop value, particularly for specialty crops such as almonds and other nuts, berries, fruits, and vegetables.
In northern Colorado, the Colorado State Beekeepers Association, Northern Colorado Beekeepers Association, Boulder County Beekeepers Association and BBB Seed Company are partnering with 16 nurseries, garden centers, and stores for a special event on Saturday, June 23, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
It’s time to take the safe lawns pledge.
That lush green lawn that looks so natural is kept that way unnaturally because of a diet of synthetic chemical fertilizers and toxic herbicides.
This year, instead of taking care of the lawn in the conventional way, gardeners should challenge themselves to use fewer chemicals in their landscapes and take an organic approach to lawn care. Instead of feeding the grass, ask “What can I do to feed the soil?”
Building healthy soil is the goal of an organic lawn. Synthetic chemical fertilizers may make the lawn look green and healthy, but chemicals don’t help the soil or feed the beneficial organisms that live there.
Here are six ways to get started on an organic lawn care program:
1. Loosen the soil. Core aerate your lawn at least once a year. Aeration is the mechanical process of pulling small cores of soil out of the ground. Opening up the soil surface allows water and important nutrients to move into the root zone. Core aerate with equipment that pulls plugs three or four inches deep on four-inch centers.