Archive for May 2012

YWCA Garden Update

We use a bunch of season extension techniques at the YWCA Rooftop Food Garden to help us get started earlier, produce later, and keep things extra warm for tomatoes, peppers, or melons.

The carrots we planted in early march are getting big -- row cover gave them just enough protection for the seeds to germinate.   The radishes are out and in their place we transplanted 'Golden Nugget' tomatoes, which are staying toasty in the high tunnel under row cover.

Thanks to Suzanne Fairley for the photos.

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May 27 Cambie Garden Update

What a fabulous morning for working in the garden - warm with a gentle breeze ....

have spotted Italian honeybees buzzing the Giant Red mustard blossoms - will try to capture in a photo next time .........

the hoop house had semi-collapsed and has now been repaired - soon our eggplant, tomatoes and tomatillos will be enjoying its protected warmth ...

and, in preparation for gardening with the nearby daycare children, two of our beds have been readied for planting

the Russian Blue potatoes have started to flower and the strawberries have started to set fruit - as have the blueberries and raspberries - now if the birds will just leave a few for us!!

May - what a wonderful time of year in the garden


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May 20 Update - Cambie Garden

Better late than never - a quick update re our garden activities last Sunday, May 20th ...  Nasturtium's are popping out the the earth - we'll soon be munching on fresh strawberries and the potatoes are really putting on some good growth ........... the Red Giant mustard has finally decided to flower - and will hopefully attract benefical insects to deal with the aphids due any time now on our broadbeans ....... more updates tomorrow

and speaking of beneficial insects - here are a few worth noting ......

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Garden Designers' Roundtable: Garden Love

Hello, my name is Jocelyn, and I'm a gardener. 
I'll admit that I have a problem, but if loving you (dear garden) is wrong, I don't want to be right!

Here are the top five things I love about my garden:

#5 It’s a labor of love
When my husband, Jim, and I purchased our house in 1985, the landscaping consisted primarily of wall-to-wall bluegrass. The backyard was ringed with worn out honeysuckle and dogwood hedges and the front yard was graced with the ubiquitous punctuation-point juniper placements of the 1950s “design” era. We’ve come a long way, baby. 
Blah has been banished!
Plenty of blood, sweat, and (only rarely) tears have gone into the making of our garden, and I’m not sure we’ll ever be done because we truly enjoy the process.  I distinctly remember a Mother’s Day some 15 or 20 years ago when I was prepping and planting a new bed in front of our house. A neighbor stopped by and said, “You shouldn’t be working out here – it’s Mother’s Day!” As fellow gardeners will know, my day-long, uninterrupted gardening marathon was a much appreciated gift!
Pfitzers, be gone!

#4  It’s my professional laboratory
Just how dry can we go?
Over the past 27 years we’ve planted trees, shrubs and perennials in ever expanding beds. We’ve created a water garden habitat for our pet koi, and a wild, grassy meadow. We’ve grown veggies and herbs and lovely containers packed with colorful annuals. 
The super-xeric side yard - who wants bluegrass here?!
However, despite my professional training in horticulture, my gardening know-how has been won mostly by experience. For every success there have been failures, too.  I have killed viburnums, cotoneasters, spruce, crabapples and more. Countless perennials have met their deaths at my hands. The lessons learned here have been invaluable, as I channel my experiences directly into my professional design and consulting work.

#3  It’s a wildlife oasis
Honeybee and Geranium
Sadly, many post World War II neighborhoods like mine are still boring wastelands of bluegrass lawns and overly manicured foundation shrubs. My lush and diverse landscape, on the other hand, provides food, water and habitat for a myriad of small critters. Birds? year-round. Dragonflies? a favorite. Butterflies, moths, and bees? delightful. Foxes? love.  Squirrels and mice? ummm…entertaining (in small doses!).
Blue grasshopper and little bluestem grass
 As my garden continues to evolve, I’ll focus on introducing more native plants to provide for an even greater diversity of wildlife – and enhance my viewing pleasure!

#2  It makes our house a home
Friends begin to gather for our annual Thanksgiving Day turkey fry
More than the interior spaces and décor, the garden makes our house a home. It’s informed by who we are both personally and professionally. It expresses our interests in the outdoor environment, an active lifestyle, fine art, and good food (not necessarily in that order!). Our garden is where we gather with friends and family to celebrate, commiserate, and live our lives “in the moment”.
Chef Jim and  Dave, a happy "customer"

The #1 reason why I love my garden: It nourishes my spirit
Spending time in my garden – whether I’m planting seeds, deadheading a perennial, turning the compost, or yes, even mowing the lawn – engages me with the seasons and the natural rhythms of life. In our hurry-up, man-made, and manufactured world, it’s gardening that marks the passage of time and gives it meaning.
Beauty can be found in the small things all around us.

What do you love about your garden?

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Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day 5.15.2012

Paeonia hybrid, tree peony
 We didn't have many April showers, but May flowers are still in abundance - hurray! The hands-down star of the show is this tree peony.

Although classified as a woody shrub, it typically suffers severe die-back every winter (in my garden) then bounces back to form a 3'x3' shrub with these beautiful, 6-7" diameter blossoms. This is one plant in my garden that I'm willing to provide with a bit of extra water. Every garden needs one or two exotic specimens, right? A gift from a gardening friend many years ago, I'm sorry that I can't recall the specific variety.

Update:  After doing some research, I believe that this is Paeonia suffruticosa 'Kinkaku' or 'Souvenir de Maxime Cornu'

May is also prime time for Iris germanica, bearded iris. There are two fantastic iris farms in the region where you can see scores of varieties in bloom and place your orders directly with the grower for post flowering delivery. Iris 4 U is in the Englewood area, and Long's Gardens is in central Boulder. Always a fun outing and it's nice to support our local farmers, too.  But don't delay, the gardens are only open for a few weeks during the peak blooming season.

White iris & white flowering Cerastium tomentosum make an elegant and xeric combination.
Love the hidden "zebra" stripes here!
Another of my springtime favorites is Centranthus ruber, red valerian or Jupiter's beard.  The rich intensity of color adds vibrancy to both sunny or shaded settings:

A great, water-wise butterfly plant. Deadhead for repeat blooms all summer.

An underused perennial that is also quite drought tolerant is this sweet Verbascum hybrid. It stands about 20-24" tall and blooms for several weeks.
Brightly colored flower spikes above a basal rosette of coarsely textured leaves.

Our native spiderwort, Tradescantia occidentalis, adds a col hit of blue and is happy to reseed itself in the driest garden areas.
This linear, horizontal foliage is a favorite of mine.
Thanks for visiting The Art Garden today, I hope you'll head over to Carol's May Dreams Garden for links to additional garden sites from around the world.

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Check out our new compost sifter!  These can be simply built out of some old bike rims (remove the spokes first) and wire mesh. A wooden frame fits over the wheelbarrow with casters to guide the rims back and forth, separating the finished compost from the larger particles that need to 'cook' a bit longer.

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May 6 - Year of the Potato?

Potatoes continue to do well at the Cambie Garden too ........ Yukon Gold, fingerlings, and Russian Blue .......... they are growing faster than we can keep them hilled!!

The strawberries, sorrel and potato onions are starting to flower ........... quite a rare occurence for potato onions ........... maybe we'll get some seed
And the broadbeans are now starting to take off - May - what a wonderful time of the year

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Surprise Potatoes

Potatoes are popping up everywhere at the YWCA Rooftop Food Garden.  We've found them hiding among the peas, flourishing in the compost bins, and trying to disguise themselves as strawberries. Our potato bed is already planted with Russian Banana Fingerlings and Yukon Gold, so we've started transplanting volunteers into large pots, wooden planters, and even burlap sacks!  Planting potatoes in containers comes with the added bonus that you can start with just a bit of soil (about 1/3), and then add more throughout the season instead of 'hilling up.'  Harvest is as easy as turning the whole thing upside-down!

Notice how these happy transplants are planted into the bottom 1/3 of the planter.

Burlap sacks are often available for free - just ask your local coffee roaster!

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