Archive for September 2012

I Love a Good Mystery

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As I drove up to the curb of my new client's home, I noticed this large plant that I didn't immediately recognize. I assumed it was a "shrub" of tree suckers — maybe an old American elm or linden that had been cut down at one time or had broken off in a storm. When I got closer I saw that there was no central trunk or leader; this plant was a very large shrub.

The leaves were fuzzy on both top and bottom, and had double-serrate edges (margins), which is very cool! There was something about the zig-zag character of the branches that was nagging my memory, but I couldn't put my finger on it.

The home owners pointed out something that looked like an old acorn and guessed that it was some kind of oak?

We went on to look at the rest of the property and talk about the owners' dreams for new gardens, patios, and play areas.  Later that evening, I finally remembered what the mystery shrub reminded me of:  Harry Lauder's walkingstick (or contorted filbert) Corylus avellana 'Contorta'.  When I returned to the property a few days later I found two more clues:

An immature fruit with it's ruffled bracts,

and a late flower catkin.

A quick Google search confirmed that the mystery plant is an American hazel Corylus americana.

It's always fun to "discover" something new, but would I recommend this plant for Front Range gardens?  No. It's native range is in areas that have richer soil and a lot more precipitation than Colorado does. Also, an epic battle with the birds squirrels, raccoons, etc. would have to be fought for the few available nuts — it would not make it a very fun or productive edible for the landscape.

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Cambie Garden - Sept. 16

Unbelievable weather for mid September - temperatures have been reaching mid 20s with sunny skies - and the tomatoes are loving it - Green Zebra Cherry is finally starting to ripen and we even harvested fall raspberries - yum!!

Time to move the finished compost to garden bed 1 - lots of worm cocoons ......

After adding compost we broadcast spicy and mild mesclun mix, microgreens, Tah Tsai and Toy Choi in bed 1 - the sprinkler system is now operating, so hopefully we will get good germination and lots of fall cut and come again greens.  We also planted a row of Samish spinach in the hoop house, harvested a handful of late-planted purple climbing beans and one lovely Diva cucumber.
Medovya Kaplya - such a productive and tasty cherry tomato - time to save some seed!!

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Cambie Garden - Sept. 9

Late summer and the weather of late has more than made up for the slow start this spring ...

Lots of tomatoes are now ripening - Sungold, Galina, Medovaya Kaplya, not Gurnsey Blush and Kimberley.  Arugula, Red Russia Kale, nasturtium flowers, basil, sprouting brocolli and Poona Keera cucumbers are also providing a colourful harvest ......

Green Zebra Cherry tomatoes are the last of the cherries to ripen and the first to show signs of powdery mildew ...... and the last of our dahlias - removed from garden due to powdery mildew

 the first of our Calabrese sprouting broccoli is looking good
We planted a new bed of fall veggies - three rows of radishes - including Watermelon radish and two rows of corn salad -

Fingers crossed these Brussels Sprouts will be ready for Thanksgiving dinner ........

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5 Shrubs for Fabulous Fall Color

September is planting time, and what better way to celebrate the season than to plant with fall color in mind — instant gratification!  Here are 5 shrubs that provide reliable warm hues to warm up those crisp fall days:

Dwarf fragrant sumac, Rhus aromaica 'Grow-Low'. Full or afternoon sun; very drought tolerant; adapts to a wide range of soils; 3' tall x 6'-8' wide.  Inconspicuous flowers followed by small, fuzzy red berries.  Glossy green leaves turn red to deep burgundy in color.

Cut leaf staghorn sumac, Rhus typhina 'Laciniata'.  Full sun; very drought tolerant; adapts to a wide range of soils; 6-8' tall and wide. Inconspicuous flowers followed by large clusters of fussy red berries that are persistent through winter.  Deeply cut, bright green leaves add an attractive texture to the summer garden and brilliant orange and red hues to the autumn landscape. This plant will sucker and colonize, so give it plenty of room to spread!

Vanhoutte spirea (also known as bridal veil spirea), Spiraea x Vanhouttei.  Full sun to filtered shade; moderate moisture; adapts to a wide range of soils; 6' tall and wide. A round-topped, vase shape form with arching branches that are covered in clusters of small white flowers in spring.  Use as a single specimen or mass for an informal hedge.  Showy foliage color most years.  Note:  many of the smaller spireas have attractive fall color, too.

Dwarf burning bush, Euonymus alatus 'Compacta'. Full or afternon sun; moderate moisture; prefers rich garden soil, but is somewhat adaptable — I have a happy camper growing in my sandy-loam soil; 6' tall and wide (the standard burning bush is larger at about 8-10' tall and wide).  Inconspicuous flowers, but interesting "winged" branches provide winter interest on the standard shrub. Both offer vibrant, long lasting red foliage in the fall.

Regent serviceberry, Amelanchier alnifolia 'Regent'.  Full or afternoon sun; low moisture; 6' tall and wide.  Upright growth with white flowers in early spring before the leaves emerge.  Tasty fruits in summer and yellow-orange-red fall color.  Truly, a multi-season beauty. (Yes, every once in a while Denver gets a little ice storm!)

Now that I've gotten you excited about planting for fall color, do you want to see my suggestions for shrubs with winter color?  Check out my article here.

Happy planting!!

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