Archive for March 2008

Learn All About It

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My last post regarding my new garden coaching services brought an interesting comment from fellow garden blogger, Aiyana, at Water When Dry; she mentions a certificate program in her area for garden coaches. That got me thinking about the large number of educational programs available here in the Denver area for all kinds of gardening (although not garden coaching, yet!). Many of them are geared towards those who don’t hold a professional degree in horticulture or landscape architecture but are actively working in the green industry. Other programs are aimed at serious hobbyists who have a passion for gardening, or are for those who really just want to get a clue about how to take care of their home landscapes.

For those in the latter categories it can create a wonderful sense of achievement and confidence to complete the Master Gardener program (available through the local Cooperative Extension offices of most land grant universities in the US) or Denver Botanic Gardens’ Rocky Mountain Gardening Certificate Program. Many garden centers and nurseries also offer great one-time, one-topic classes for a quick hit of information.

Programs for professionals are also abundant. Front Range Community College offers an associate degree in Urban Horticulture. The Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado has the Certified Landscape Contractor (CLT) program that has some real teeth. It combines rigorous testing in both classroom and field in areas of construction, irrigation and maintenance. (In fact, the program is so good that they sell their training manuals to other landscape groups across the country.) The Garden Centers of Colorado and the Colorado Nursery & Greenhouse Association also have a certificate program geared for plant growers and retail sales professionals.

What is your favorite way to learn about gardening? Classes? Magazines? The web?

What are some of the educational resources in your community? I'd love to share them here.

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March 23

Fun in the garden today! We planted peas, romaine, and mesclun from the Feb 21 planting at UBC. they were huge! We managed to erect two 3'x6' trellises for the peas and planted the greens behind one of the benches and by the compost. A couple little helpers from the condos came to lend a hand planting lettuce - such enthusiasm! To see the garden plan, visit

Next week we plan on planting seeds and seedlings with the children from the City Hall Daycare - more peas and greens, carrots, radishes, and anything else we happen to have. Soon we will be setting up the square foot gardens, an exciting experiment!

Regular meeting time on Sunday mornings, 10ish. All are welcome!

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New! Garden Coaching

Spring has sprung! I always think of spring as a time for new beginnings, so today seems like the ideal opportunity to announce my new garden coaching service.

Coaching is the new buzz word in the gardening world that is defined and interpreted in different ways by different people. For my purposes, garden coaching is simply a great umbrella term that encompasses the new hands-on educational services that I am now offering to my clients along with my consultations and landscape designs. Whereas during a design consultation I will look, listen, and advise, a garden coaching session will be more activity oriented.

Here are examples of the learning activities that could be explored in a garden coaching session:

Personal Shopping Guide – retail suppliers only
· Plants
· Decorative boulders
· Hardscape materials
· Pots
· Trellises, arbors, fountains, etc
· Mulch; organic or rock
· Soil amendments

Plan Realization:
· Planting bed layout
· Plant siting (placement)

Planting Instruction:
· Specific techniques for specific plants

Maintenance Techniques:
· Perennial flower care; deadheading and dividing
· Spring and fall clean-up
· Pruning for shrubs
· Fall tree wrapping

My hope is that garden coaching will be the “show and tell” experience that will give my clients the confidence to move forward and implement their own landscape and garden improvements.

After all, happy gardeners make for happy gardens!

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Still Sowing

Things have been busy with our Food Safety and Security Committee. We met last week and went over what needs to be done. Our biggest priorities are preparing for City Square Garden and the SPEC rooftop garden. We are also in the midst of developing workshops related to companion planting and vertical gardening.

Meeting at City Square Garden (6 March 2008)

Food Safety and Security Meeting (10 March 2008)

We started some more seeds on 12 March including:
Spinach (cv. Olympia - 45 days)
Italian Parsley
Marigold (cv. Bolero)
Marigold (cv. Crackerjack)
Eggplant (Asian trio - 60 - 70 days)(
Tomatillo (
Tomatoes (a whole bunch of varieties including brandy wine, sweetie, purple tomato, orange blossom, Italian pompeii, lollipop, early season, pears, double rich, morgage lifters, garden candy and salt spring nigeria)

Don't forget to turn your compost or else mildew can build up (see container on left)

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March Madness

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We have been busy starting seeds and thinking about what to grow for this upcoming season. Most of our seeds that we have sown so far have come from West Coast Seeds ( We are meeting every week to do some successional planting so that we have a continuous harvest.

So far this is what we have planted:
Feb 21 2008
Spinach (cv. Olympia - 45 days)
Peas (cv. Snow Green - 100 days)
Looseleaf lettuce (cv. Aminsh Deer Tongue *Heirloom variety - 31 days)

March 5 2008
Lettuce (cv. Baby Green - 70 days)
Lettuce blend (Super Gourmet Salad - 60 - 80 days)
Kale (seeds from Salt Spring Island)
Kale (cv. Red Russian - 50 days)
Kale (rainbow Tuscan - 65 days)
Arugula (30 - 40 days)
Swiss Chard (cv. Fordhook Giant - 60 days)
Swiss Chard (cv. Rhubarb Chard - 60 days)
Swiss Chard (cv. Silverado - 50 days),
Oriental Greens Blend
Shelling peas (Oregon Trail 115 days)
Snap peas (Snow Green - 100 days)

Vicky, Carole, Tara and Betsy brainstorming on what to sow.

Vicky gazing at the seeds we sowed on February 21. Misting beds are amazing.

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Come Visit Me!

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You’ll have to be quick! Today through Sunday I’ll be at Echter’s garden center in Arvada, CO for their annual Echxpo. What’s an Echxpo? It’s a mini trade show with booths featuring garden product vendors and service businesses (like me). Plant societies, clubs and educational groups are also represented. Everyone is there to visit, share and learn about plants, gardening, design, etc. It’s great fun and a perfect way to start a successful gardening season---and it’s free!

Visit Echter’s website for more details.

See you there…

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Oh Happy Day!

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Today was the culmination of 18 months of work; I sent my book manuscript and photographs off to the publisher. Look for Plant Smart! Six Steps to Choosing Perfect Plants later this year. It takes about 6-10 months for the editing, design and printing. I’m hoping that my draft is so perfect (yeah, right!) that all I will have left to do is review the production proof and say, “Yes, that’s lovely, print away!” For now I will just enjoy a sense of accomplishment--- and relief...

Lake and pergola design by Ken Ball, ASLA

Lake construction and photo by Jim Chilvers

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Ready, Set...Go!

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Spring doesn’t officially arrive until later this month, but in my mind it’s always today, March 1st , when spring begins. Now we can really get busy with activities in the garden!

Your top priority, if you haven’t done so already, is to prune your flowering shrubs. This is your last chance to do any major renewal or rejuvenation pruning; both require cutting branches back all the way to the ground. Go here for more information on this type of pruning, and here for additional related topics (scroll down to the pruning heading).

Cut back your ornamental grasses. If you wait too long to cut them back you run the danger of cutting off the tops off the new growth too, and they will remain misshapen for the entire season.

Cut back your perennials. If you are a lazy fall gardener or just enjoy the winter texture of your dried perennials (like me), now is the time to cut back and remove all of that dead foliage. However, it’s still too early to rake off the beds. Leave some mulch and/or leaf debris around the base of the plants to keep them insulated from the snow that is sure to come over the next several weeks.

Hardscape construction can be accomplished now too. Anything from installing new edging to building decks, patios, retaining walls, fences, etc are best done now before planting season arrives.

It feels good to be active outdoors now and to know that this spring clean-up is just the prelude to the wonderful gardening season to come.

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