Archive for October 2010

Friday Afternoon Garden Club 10.29.2010

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Bergenia cordifolia ...  in bloom!
It’s FAC time in The Art Garden!  Grab your favorite beverage and pull up a chair.  You didn’t really want to work this afternoon anyway, did you?  Leave a comment to join the garden party.
Today’s topic:
A horticultural anomaly! The warm, dry fall that we've experienced here in the Denver area has many plants hanging onto their foliage longer, or coloring up a bit later - or even differently - than the norm. This photo of bergenia in full bloom was taken just a a few days ago.  Typically, bergenia is an early spring bloomer. I wrote about it here back in April. Have you noticed anything weird or different in your garden lately (other than the seasonal ghouls and goblins, of course)?

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Fall into the Garden!

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 Now that we are well into the second month of fall, it’s time to get serious about preparing the garden for winter.  Here is a check list of chores that I try to get done between late October and late November before the distractions of the holidays and the onset of really cold weather. Have fun!
  • Blow out automatic sprinkler system and insulate tap. Our first hard freezes are predicted for mid-week, so get crackin'!
  • Remove hoses from faucets; drain.  Store hoses and sprinklers in a handy location for winter watering.
  • Winterize water features.  Drain, clean and store or cover fountains and pots.  Remove plant debris from ponds and set up a bubbler (a submersible pump with a short piece of pipe attached to the outlet) to keep some surface area free of ice.  Disconnect pumps to recirculating waterfalls---especially if the water volume is fairly low.  Ice buildup can divert water and cause problems.  Moving water will also make your pond colder, which may be an issue if you have fish.
  • Empty all containers of annual flowers or veggies (add healthy vegetation to the compost pile, dispose of the rest).  Remove soil – or the top 8-10” from large pots - (again, off to the compost pile!), and put containers into storage.  My “storage” is the back corner of my covered patio.  A shed or garage would also do the trick. 
  • Remove leaves from lawn areas.  I rake my leaves directly into my garden beds for a loose, temporary mulch.  I’ll remove them in the spring for composting.  You can also run your lawn mower over them and leave them, or rake them up for mulch or to compost.
  • Winterize lawn mower.  After the last mowing, run it until the gas tank is empty.  Clean mower and sharpen blade.
  • Add organic soil amendments  to planting beds.
  • Plant bulbs. I'm planning to wait another week or two for this project; once the soil temperature cools down a bit more we'll be good to go.  Here's an amusing take from landscape designer Deb Roberts on how you can tell when the time is right for bulb planting.
  •  Wrap young trees.  I don’t need to do this anymore, but here are the directions for “how-to”.
  • Clean up/cut back perennials.  I do most of this in the spring, because I like the structure and texture that many plants offer during dormancy.

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Friday Afternoon Garden Club 10.22.2010

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It’s FAC time in The Art Garden!  Grab your favorite beverage and pull up a chair.  You didn’t really want to work this afternoon anyway, did you?  Leave a comment to join the garden party.
Today’s topic:
Breaking news! The hawthorn pictured above is not just a pretty face.  In an article in today's Denver Post the National Center for Atmospheric Research lists hawthorn among the best deciduous trees for combating air pollution.  Ash, apple, birch, hackberry, maple, pear and peach also made the cut.  I'm happy to report that most of the other trees on the list (save the water hungry birch) are well represented in my neighborhood.  The on-line article is pretty limited in scope, but encouraging news, nonetheless. 
Do you have any of these trees in your landscape? In your neighborhood? Would their pollution fighting qualities influence your decision to plant them?

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Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day

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On the 15th of each month, garden bloggers around the world post about what's blooming in their gardens.  Although I don't always participate in this event, this month I was especially curious to see (and share) what would still be in flower here in mid-October.  October is really the last viable month for dependable blooms, and from year to year - depending on the weather, of course - it can vary greatly.

I took a stroll through the garden yesterday afternoon (it was bright and breezy, so please forgive the poor quality of the photos!) and was pleasantly surprised at the amount of flower color still to be found. Here is a baker's dozen of blooming plants:
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides

Sedum 'Frosty Morn'

Aster x frikartii 'Monch'

Gaura lindheimeri

Sedum 'Autumn Joy'

Phlox paniculata 'David'

Aster 'Lady in Black'

Aster 'Alma Potschke'
Verbascum bombiciferum

Helianthus maximiliani

Berlandiera lyrata

Zauchneria and  Rudbekia
A few additional plants had a flower or two: Hypericum frondosum (a woody shrub), Geranium sanguineum, Callirhoe involucrata, Centranthus, and Origanum laevigatum.  What's blooming in your garden today?

Please visit May Dreams Gardens, the instigator of this monthly flower orgy, to find links to other gardeners participating in October's Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day.  Have fun!

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Fall Foliage Roundup 10/10/10

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My garden is slowly moving into autumn. The weather has been unseasonably warm and dry for nearly two months, and it seems that many plants don't want to give up on summer just yet...

This western hackberry is the smart one; late to come out in the spring and early to go dormant in the fall. No snow damage for this one! I love how incredibly pale yellow the leaves will go before they finally let loose and fall. The dark berries are a stark contrast.
Celtis occidentalis
Sumac are always dependable for fall color, and I have two dwarf varieties: Grow-Low fragrant sumac and dwarf cutleaf sumac. Their foliage textures are different, as are their colors. The Grow-Low will feature intense red to deep burgundy leaves, while the cutleaf tends to lighter yellows, oranges and bright reds.
Rhus aromatica 'Grow-Low'
Rhus glabra 'Laciniata'
I have masses of groundcover plumbago that are still in bloom and also starting to sport their orange-red foliage.
Ceratostigma plumbaginoides
The color show provided by the autumn purple ash is always a treat. Yellow, bronze, and yes, deep purple, are more sophisticated and subtle than the showy hues of some plants, but warm and welcome nonetheless.
Fraxinus americana 'Autumn Purple'
This particular serviceberry lives in the back corner of the dry, prairie garden. It's full of gorgeous red leaves now, while it's pal that's in a wetter location is still wearing bright green.
Amelanchier canadensis
Last, but not least, who can resist the colorful garb of engleman ivy?  Looking at a wall of this ivy is like looking at an impressionist painting; always one more dab of color to discover!
Parthenocissus quinquefolia engelmanii
Parthenocissus quinquefolia engelmanii
Parthenocissus quinquefolia engelmanii
I'll keep you posted as more plants submit to the lure of dormancy and put on their autumn colors. I hope you're enjoying fall in your garden!

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Friday Afternoon Garden Club10.08.2010

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signs of the season---mums and asters
It’s FAC time in The Art Garden!  Grab your favorite beverage and pull up a chair.  You didn’t really want to work this afternoon anyway, did you?  Leave a comment to join the garden party.
Today’s topic:
It's brainstorming time! Please let me know what you would like to chat about during our Friday Afternoon Garden Club sessions.  What are your favorite topics---plants, design, gardening how-to, seasonal observations, or ???  Also, are there landscape design or gardening topics that you are interested in that I could address in  a lengthier blog post?  Thanks for your input!

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Planting Garlic & Quote About Eating

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Happy Thanksgiving weekend.

Take a look at this article on garlic (It's time to plant!)

And here's a nice quote, fitting for the weekend ahead:

“Eating is the taking into our beings the offerings of those who have worked to bring it to us and the offering of the Divine, whose creation it and we are. Eating is not an act to be taken lightly. All that is involved demands respect and attention – mindfulness. Grace before meals is appropriate, no matter what our religious convictions, as a centering process. Eating is a rite, especially eating together. A lot has happened to make this eating possible. “A lot has been sacrificed,” as the pig said to the chicken after the bacon and egg breakfast. At least let us revere this with our attention and conscious enjoyment. People will eat less and enjoy more if they always sit down to eat, take a moment to say grace or focus on what they are doing, smell, look, appreciate, eat slowly with small bites and much chewing.”

Sylvia Mangalam,
Founding member of the Food Action Committee, Ecology Action Centre

- marnie

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Public Art: The Red Forest

The Red Forest, by Australian artist Konstantin Dimopoulos, is a public art piece very recently installed at the base of the Millennium Bridge at16th Street and Little Raven in Denver. I like it very much, and can't wait to observe it on a windy day (plenty of those around here!). The vibrant color adds energy to a bustling pedestrian plaza, and the large scale, grass-like forms are right at home here.

The artist's statement:
The Red Forest is a dynamic sculpture that uses color, vertical forms, the natural environment, repetition of form and the imagination of the viewer to transform a site and echo an organic, primordial past.

The Red Forest is also a changing work, from upright, orderly serenity to gently pulsing abstraction when moved by the wind. The reeds move together to form transitory patterns then separate and open up to reveal new aspects of the sculpture. People can move freely around the sculpture to enjoy the reflective and mesmeric nature of the work.

 Unfortunately, I think the site selection  is an incredibly poor match for this piece. The artwork is linear - to the extreme - and it is lost in the busy (and linear)architecture surrounding it: brickwork, riser-less stairs, window frames, etc.  It's also crammed between walls and  a stairway, denying the artist's intent that the sculpture be interactive.

I'm a big fan of public art, so it's especially disappointing to see such a near miss...  

The Red Forest was fully funded by the Riverfront Park Community Foundation.

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Friday Afternoon Garden Club10.01.2010

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lichens growing on a walnut tree in northeastern Nebraska

It’s FAC time in The Art Garden!  Grab your favorite beverage and pull up a chair.  You didn’t really want to work this afternoon anyway, did you?  Leave a comment to join the garden party.
Today’s topic:
Do you like lichen? Lichens are organisms that tend to be overlooked, but they can add beautiful color and texture to the landscape.  This site offers a great introduction to the world of lichens. In my garden I have a few boulders with small amounts of flat, silvery-gray lichen, but nothing as showy as the growths above.  Do you have lichens in your garden? What surfaces are they growing on? What do they look like?

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