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.
I really appreciate how All-America Selections has changed its process for announcing its winners. Instead of releasing all the new plants at once, the organization makes its plant announcement as soon as the selections are made.
Gardeners can then look forward to seeing these new plants in upcoming catalogs, mail order companies and websites…and watch for them at lawn and garden retail stores next spring.
‘Cheyenne Spirit’ is the perfect echinacea for gardens in our area. It’s a gorgeous, first-year flowering echinacea that captures the spirit of the North American plains.
According to the folks at AAS, this offering produces a mix of flower colors from rich purple, pink, red and orange tones to lighter yellows, creams and white. ‘Cheyenne Spirit’ doesn’t require a lot of water and offers a wide-range of uses. AAS recommends planting in a perennial border, in a mass landscape planting, in a butterfly garden or as a cut flower.
I know some plants take years to bloom, so waiting just a few seasons for this old-fashioned hollyhock to show its colors seems like a short time in comparison. But it’s a big deal in my cottage garden.
I bought an envelope marked “hollyhock seeds” for 50 cents at the Xeriscape Conference in Albuquerque in early 2010. These seeds were packaged in a business-size envelope by a gardener in New Mexico and were on a table at the conference’s book sale.
I should have sowed those seeds in spring to give the leaves a head start on the heat of summer. But I got busy and the seeds had to wait until fall.
I’ve always thought hollyhocks make a cottage garden complete, so I planted the seeds along the white picket fence that separates my cottage garden from the butterfly garden.
My “Best Of” gardening selection at the 2012 ProGreen industry tradeshow is a new portable drip irrigation system called Watering Rocks.
Each Watering Rock is a self-contained drip irrigation system. Just place the rock in a part of the garden that’s difficult to water and fill the container with water.
Water will slowly seep from the rock into drip lines and adjustable drippers to water plants deeply. Watering Rocks are available in one-gallon, two-gallon and five-gallon sizes.
Gardeners fill the Watering Rocks by placing a hose in the holes at the top of the rock or they can connect an existing drip irrigation system for automatic filling. The amount of water can be adjusted to match plant needs.
Another handy feature is that liquid or soluble plant food can be added to the water for automatic fertilizing, too.
One of the toughest roses I’ve found that does consistently well in my Zone 5 backyard has turned into something we affectionately call The Rose Monster.
She didn’t plant flowers. We didn’t have a vegetable garden. There were no colorful containers overflowing with petunias. As long as the lawn got watered and mowed on a fairly regular basis, she was happy with her gardening efforts.
So it’s no surprise I was captivated by the one flowering plant in our yard—a beautiful climbing red rose. Every year that rose grew on its own. It wasn’t lovingly pruned and it certainly wasn’t babied with any special soils or rose fertilizers. It wasn’t protected from freezing temperatures with thick layers of mulch and there was no winter watering.
The Silver Fountain Butterfly Bush is now loaded with purple blooms and I’m not the only one to notice.
I wrote about my Harison’s yellow rose a few days ago…and since then it’s come into full bloom.
One of the toughest plants in my landscape is a vine that has a ghostly past.
This spring, the hardy perennial vine reminded me why I was attracted to it in the first place. Without any care from me over the winter, it sprung to life late last month.
It’s now one of the loveliest, most reliable plants in my garden.
Scott Skogerboe, a plant propagator with Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery, discovered the vine while driving around the city one day. He liked the looks of this honeysuckle, especially its round, silver-dollar size bracts with small yellow flowers. The bracts resemble eucalyptus and turn from green to silver-white and remain on the plant throughout the summer.
The silver fountain butterfly bush in the perennial garden is turning into a nice-sized specimen plant.
It wasn’t clear to me until a few weeks ago what would leaf out and what would be chalked up to winter kill.
I was especially heartened to see my silver fountain butterfly bush (Buddleja alternifolia ‘Argentea’) was going to be blooming again this year.
Even though the shrub had quite a few dead branches that needed to be pruned away, there are still plenty to display the nice lavender flowers that call out to butterflies.
Plant Select recommended this butterfly bush in 1998 because it’s the only one that’s reliably shrubby in most of the U.S. and is good to Zone 4. The Denver Botanic Gardens has one of these shrubs in its xeric garden that’s grown to its full 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide. The purple blooms cascade down the branches for a fabulous display.
Potentilla fruticosa, also known as bush cinquefoil, is a reliable no-maintenance shrub that is one of the 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants mentioned in a new book by Ruth Rogers Clausen.
This shrub looked dead just a few short weeks ago and now it’s covered in fine-textured grayish-green leaves and hundreds of little blossoms ready to pop like corn.
Seemingly overnight, it turned from brown to green and now has my admiration for making it through one of the driest Denver winters on record.
This native shrub will soon explode with little yellow flowers that will last most of the summer. It usually blooms again in fall. It has a nice bushy habit that retains a somewhat rounded shape without any pruning. In fact I didn’t even touch it this spring because I didn’t think it was going to make it.