Archive for September 2009

An Evening Visitor

Last evening we had a welcome visitor to the garden! We rarely see praying mantises here, maybe once every few years, so it was a real treat to spy this carnivorous insect on the window pane. It was a great opportunity to see the critter live, up close, and in person.

view from inside my office window

Follow this link for more information about these fascinating insects.

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Kinda Weird

Yesterday afternoon I headed outside to do some weeding and, guess what?, there were no weeds! Well, maybe a handful, but that was it! So I mowed the lawn; an easy 15 minute jaunt around the yard, and that was it! So I grabbed my pruners thinking there would be some deadheading to do. I made a few snips here and there, but that was it!

I feel like I'm in a gardening twilight zone: lots of beautiful flowers blooming, lush foliage starting to turn colors, dense green grass, and NO WORK!

Weird, indeed.

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A Ghost?

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This first day of fall is a bit early for Halloween shenanigans, but it just may bring our first snow! Under that light weight "row cover" is this:
Yep, my artichoke plant is still going strong and has about 13 buds on it now! I'm hoping we'll avoid a hard freeze for a few more weeks and give this beauty a bit more growing time.

The koi will stay frisky for a while yet, despite the cool air temperatures, but we've already cut back on their daily food allotment....

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Chamisa, as it's called in New Mexico, is more commonly called rabbitbrush here. Either way, Chrysothamnus nauseosus is one of my favorite fall blooming shrubs. Not only does it signal the changing seasons, but it also reminds me of the many wonderful fall vacations I've had traveling throughout New Mexico.
Rabbitbrush in Crown Hill park, Wheat Ridge, Colorado

Chamisa is so symbolic of the southwest that it is often featured in both historic and contemporary southwestern art, such as in these paintings by one of my favorite artists, Robert Daughters.
This plant is native or naturalized to many areas of the west, most commonly seen in disturbed areas, along roadsides etc. that are sunny and dry. These shrubs have a coarse, rangy, texture and are typically 4-6 feet tall, although there is a dwarf form that matures to about 2 feet.
Dwarf Rabbitbrush in bloom now in my garden.

I recommend that you stick with the dwarf form in smaller, urban settings, or use the standard (4' size) as a back drop for other xeric plantings and give them a hard cutting-back in early spring. They are ideal in large, naturalized areas where they can grow to their quirky best.

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The rooftop is getting greener...

It has been three weeks since we planted the kale, lettuce, peas and radishes on the rooftop and we have seen some good progress so far and some interesting things as well.

All of the crops have sprouted to some degree.

Our lettuce (C.V darkness) was the slowest to germinate. Around the two week mark there were tiny red leaflets showing and since then progress has been minimal. A few of the pots are definitely growing but many of the lettuces are still very small seedlings.

The radish (C.V altaglobe) has certainly flourished. The bright green stalks are a few inches high already and most of the seeds in each pot seem to have germinated (around 5-12 per pot).
Both the kale (C.V red russian) and the peas (C.V little marvel) are growing well. However, something has been eating most of our peas! We think it could be the crows that often hang around the roof top. The peas on the south end of the roof received the most damage; there are still a number of healthy looking peas that escaped being eaten... so far!

We thinned the plants on Sunday to densities more suitable to the size of the pot. We thinned the radishes to three per pot, the kale and the pea to two per pot each, and for now we left the lettuce as is.

Now we wait!
Each week we will document our observations of growth to check for observable treatment effects

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!Yes I can!

Caitlin and I gave our first Yes I Can! workshop yesterday at False Creek Community Center. I think it turned out well. Definitely a learning process for everyone. We used plums from Osoyoos, BC (399 km distance) to make Plum Jam.

Betsy and I biked around town picking up the supplies.
The stroller serves as a great 'workshop on wheels'.

There were 8 participants all with different levels of experience.
Some definitely more eperienced than me.


We used No-Sugar Pectin for our Jam. We did three separate batches using low (1/2 cup), medium (1 cup) and high (2 cups) levels of sugar. After some taste tests, most people preferred the medium-sugar jam over the high-sugar jam.

Looking for the 'rolling boil'.
I learned a great trick from reading Diane's blog (
Wrap warm jars in newspaper after they are done. That way they are easy to trasport.

That's all for now!

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I'm in Love

With this plant! Another facet of the CSU Trial Gardens is the display garden of Plant Select perennials (located near the white gazebo). One of my favorites is this 2008 introduction called Mongolian Bells, Clematis integrifolia 'Mongolian Bells', with blue, pink, and white flowers---all on the same plant. It blooms May through September, and has the added bonus of silvery, feathery seed heads.

I think this plant would be best suited to a raised planter or rock garden, something a bit closer to eye level, anyway, so the nodding flowers could be seen more easily.

I can't wait to try it in my garden, have you planted one yet?

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