Friday, October 26, 2007

This Is More Like It!

The Perovskia - Russian Sage - have begun to adorn themselves in stylish Winter White...

... making a lovely backdrop for the Sedum Autumn Joy, Ava Agastache, Desert Sunrise Agastache, Salvia Rose Queen and the remains of Lamb's Ear. I love to look out my bedroom window in the early morning and see the sun backlighting the filmy white branches.

The Hardy Pampas Grass rises above the Pyrocantha, which is loaded with berries this year.

One of the interesting things about gardening in Colorado is that each year brings something different to every season. Depending on weather, moisture, etc. some fall seasons have more color than others. This year the snow we had last week was too much moisture for the Sedum Autumn Joy and a lot of foliage broke or fell over. This will be the second year in a row that I most likely will not able to enjoy their beautiful winter texture. And, they are one of my favorite! And a lot of trees that had not yet begun to change color will now just be a dull brown instead.

This was the Honey Locust last fall. (Not so this year.) It was stunning, at least until the heavy snows came and stayed all winter. As a matter of fact, it was one year ago today (October 26) that the area experienced a blizzard which left anywhere between 1-2 feet of snow. We got a foot where we live. So.... I consider myself very fortunate this year. Monday had a high of 49 and a low of 21 (VERY COLD!) but the rest of the week was in the 70's and absolutely beautiful. I was able to do some more fall cleanup. Probably not so this weekend though. I've learned to take every opportunity I can to work outside.

This is More Like It

Sunday, October 21, 2007

What a Differance a Day Makes

Yesterday was 79, a beautiful (but windy) day. I appreciated every moment because I knew what would be coming during the night. I'm glad the "Termination Project List" is nearing the end and this moisture is wonderful, even though the high today will be 38. That's Colorado for you!

Now just a recent memory

A brave rose still hanging in there

And the zennias are nice and warm with their little winter caps

Beginning to look a lot like Christmas

The new sedum garden today...

and yesterday.

Petunias putting on their last show yesterday...

... but not today! Japanese Anemone tried to withstand the wind.
So it's a good day to get out the winter clothes, put on a pot of soup, and let the gardens enjoy some much-needed moisture. The next few days it will be back in the high 70's again. Knowing that it makes the cold bitter wind easier to endure. Especially since it's Sunday and I don't have to be out in it. Here's to the first snow of the season!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Termination Dust

According to legend, the Native Americans called this first sprinkling of snow "Termination Dust." Time to terminate projects and chores before the winter comes. I love this concept. So, every year this time I make a list of termination chores.

This year I made a mix to top-dress the gardens: EKO Organic or Cotton Boll Compost, Earthgrow Garden Soil (for the sand in it), horticultural corn meal, Yum Yum Winterizer (from High Country Gardens), and a few alfalfa pellets (I get these from the farm store for $7.50 for 50 lb.). The corn meal is a new addition this year to hopefully help combat root rot from compacted snow.

Prospect Lake
The garden art is mostly put away. Beds are composted and new plants mulched. More mulch will be applied later. Containers are being emptied. Garden bench and potting area in the process of being cleaned up and reorganized. Perennials will soon be cut back when more frost occurs. Outdoor furniture, fountains need to be cleaned. Hook up electric warmer for bird bath. Get suet feeders ready. Prepare some containers for indoor use. Clean veggie beds. Cover air conditioner and put away summer fans. Take liquid garden supplies inside. Drain sprinkler system and disconnect hoses. And lastly, clean tools.

These photos were taken at a memorial site honoring the various military services. There are many beautiful and thoughtful monuments. It was a beautiful morning to get out and see how the trees are coming along. Not much color yet.

These striking monuments remind us to take a quite moment from our busy day to appreciate and remember the many servicemen who have given (and continue to give) their lives for freedom.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

October Blooms

The last rose of the year - Yellow Dream

And here is Voodoo's last blooms. I've never seen her get this tall! I think it was the new organic fertilizer that I used - "Peace of Mind."

I can't say that I have any "new" blooms for October, but there is still plenty of color to enjoy on a stroll through the gardens. Rudbeckia 'Cherokee' was a new plant this year and it is blooming like crazy right now. When the Autumn Joy Sedum was in it's pinkish stage I was sorry that I had planted them together. But now they go nicely as neighbors.

As I wander along the strips I see that my little 'Ava' Agastache (middle) is really trying hard to be as colorful and strong as it can. Last year is was huge, but at least it (barely) survived a difficult winter. I notice that most of the color is now gone from the Perovskias, Russian Sage. When the sun catches them in the early morning they have a filmy white edge. Seems like they look lovely in every stage.

I was quite surprised to see Salvia Rose Queen sprouting some healthy new blooms. I was thinking of leaving the dried stalks as winter interest, so I'm glad I had not gone ahead and cut them back. This was a nice treat.

Several little clumps of Feverfew have emerged this month. I truly love this flower. It adds such a delicate touch to the more commanding plants around it.

Here is a closer view of my 'Ava' Agastache - very late to the party, but at least she showed up. I originally planted four and now have only two.

The entry garden still looks colorful. I can always rely on Salvia 'Victoria Blue' to add a dramatic touch to this time of year.

A side view of one of the strips clearly shows that it is fall.

And lastly, it is this time of year that the annual Salvias (various reds) finally come into their own. They always hold out all year until just before it is time to snow. I love a touch of purple with them. I know... old ladies and stuff... but I have always loved this combination in just the right amounts. I'm a purple person for sure.

There are really quite a few blooms still hanging in or reblooming but these are the highlights. We've had one frost and today has been about 50, so tonight should offer another one. This has been a wonderful gardening year but I can't say I'm sorry that it is ending. Rather, I'm ready for some rest and to start dreaming for another season ahead.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

The Great Pumpkin Weigh-Off

It was a beautiful weekend. My new plants were all in the ground, watered and mulched. So it's time for some fun. I've seen photos of those large pumpkins but had never been to a weigh-off. It sounded like a great idea for a lovely day. I've never had room to grow pumpkins but love driving by fields of them in the fall. Sets the scene for the season. This event was held in Old Colorado City, a delightful historic shopping area west of town. There are many quaint shops to stroll through, outdoor restaurants, ice cream and chocolate to tempt you.

I think these are some kind of gourds.

Beautiful shape (don't know the significance of the rat)

Waiting their turn.


The largest were saved for last. We left before the end so don't know who the winner is.

Getting weighed

Careful travelling

Pumpkin carving drew lots of attention.

Old Colorado City. Friendly and fun.

The festivities included a scarecrow contest.

Here's DH and a scarecrow. Guess which one.

And if your feet get tired you can always hitch a ride.
Well, that was a nice reprieve from end-of-summer chores. Now back to work. I'm trying to add compost to all the plants on the strips but it is a difficult chore, what with the mulch in the way and the size of the plants. Hopefully I got enough down. I always spread some more around in spring when I clean up the beds. This year I used a mixture of compost (either mushroom or cotton burr), Yum Yum Winterizer and corn meal. I'm hoping the corn meal that I purchased at High Country Gardens will help prevent root rot from compacted snow. Yuk, I don't want to think about that yet!

Monday, October 8, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving Canadians!

Cotoneaster - Peking (cotoneaster acutifolia)*

Many of the blogs I enjoy reading at Garden Voices are from some wonderful Canadian gardeners. Until I got interested in garden blogging I didn't know much about our Canadian neighbors and especially their love and knowledge of gardening. I have learned much from all of them. It's amazing how many plants we have in common. Now I feel much closer to our gardeners from the "North." Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!Many of the blogs I enjoy reading at Garden Voices are from some wonderful Canadian gardeners. Until I got interested in garden blogging I didn't know much about our Canadian neighbors and especially their love and knowledge of gardening. I have learned much from all of them. It's amazing how many plants we have in common. Now I feel much closer to our gardeners from the "North." Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Tammy Weisberger of Allrecipies writes about the history of Canada's Thanksgiving.


* About the Cotoneaster - Peking : (From Nature Hills Nursery)
The Cotoneaster Peking, 'Cotoneaster acutifolia', is an erect shrub with slender spreading branches. The Peking Cotoneaster is best used as a hedge, or in groupings. This shrub displays yellow to red fall foliage and performs best in moist, well-drained soils. This shrub does well in partial shade to full sun light. Cotoneaster may be appreciated more for its dark green foliage than its blossoms. The small flowers are white to pinkish. Three-eighths inch black berries ripen in September and persist through mid-winter and are appreciated by some song birds such as the Robin and Catbird. Use this plant in the landscape for hedges, screens, and groupings.

I have three of these shrubs. I think the birds fly off with the berries because we find them in unusual places throughout the yard and never know when and where another will emerge. They are very easy to grow and have lovely autumn foliage. Their only downside is that they can get pretty floppy and an early winter snow will take them to their knees.

More Information on Salvia Pitcher's Blue Sage

This is interesting! In one of my recent posts I showed this photo of Salvia Pitcher's Blue Sage (flopping on ground) and could not identify the yellow plant. I had an idea it was some kind of a false sunflower. This weekend I received an email newsletter from High Country Gardens, and would you believe it? Both of these plants were featured. It was great to get some information on them, as I was unable to find anyone at the nursery who could fill me in. Here are the photos and information as they appeared in their newsletter:

Salvia pitcheri 'Grandiflora'

Salvia pitcheri 'Grandiflora' (Pitcher's Blue Sage) is a blue-flowered prairie native, tall, lanky and a very showy fall flower. It likes well-drained soil with not too much clay. Sometimes it gets a little iron deficient in alkaline soil, so work in some soil sulfur at planting time. Pinch the tops a few times during June and early July to improve the plants shape and increase the number of flowers. This plant calls for a little extra work, but well worth the effort. Zones 4-9.

Helianthus maximiliana 'Santa Fe' is one of the last perennials to bloom in the fall and certainly one of the showiest. The large golden-yellow flowers are tightly stacked on the top 3-4 feet of the stem and the large deep green symmetrically arranged leaves make an attractive hedge many months before the plant blooms. It likes any soil. Rabbits and deer don't like it, butterflies do. Zones 4-9.
It looks to me that the Pitcher's Blue Sage would be possible to grow here if I could plant it with other plants that could help hold it up. It's bright blue color would certainly add a bright spot, especially when combined with the yellow. I think I would prefer more of a gold than a bright yellow. Maybe I will consider this plant now that I know more about it. Sounds like a challenge, for sure.

Friday, October 5, 2007

High Country Gardens Visit - Part 3

Here is the entry to the Country Garden. Very impressive!

I'm not a fan of vinca. Our front and back yards were full of it when we bought our house ten years ago. I've taken out a lot but it keeps on going. I really dislike trying to rake through it and cut it back in the spring. There is, however, some varigated vinca along the back fence that does look nice and grows where nothing else will. Now, this display I really liked! Probably because the whole area was dedicated to it and it's beautiful under this tree. Very striking.

I didn't write this down but believe it is Hummingbird Mint Orange. I have Orange Carpet and it is not as upright. Think I like this upright version more than the ground cover I have.

There were still many stunning plants in bloom. Lots of salvias and penstemons. Sorry that I didn't write them all down but I was getting pretty tired out by now. I noticed that they did stake them here. The other thing I noticed is how many of the varieties were repeated in the Xeriscape Garden. It shows how the plants can work in many different themes.

Here is my first purchase. I thought it would be fun to place it on the ground and put sand and water in it for the butterflies. It would be great out front where all the butterflies are, but after I got home I realized that it would probably get stolen there. I don't have many butterflies in the backyard, so will think of what to do with it there. Anyway... I thought it was so pretty! Too bad it wasn't on sale like a lot of their pottery was.

Okay... here it is. My cart! It doesn't look like much here, but this is what I got:

1 - Verbena Homestead Purple
1 - unmarked Heuchera
2 - Agastache Cana 'Purple Pygmy' - gorgeous color
2 - Agastache 'Ava'
3 - Hyssopos officinallis (deep blue/pink)
1 - Agastache rugosum Korean hyssop (foiliage is looking purple - beautiful)
3 - Stachys coccinea, Scarlet Hedgnettle
2 - Knautia macedonica 'Mars Midget' (have tried to grow these before)
4 - Sedum spectabile 'Neon'
6 - Mahonia repens Colorado creeping holly (very small plants on on sale!)
1 - Gallardia aristata 'Amber Wheels' blanket flower (my husband's choice)
1 - Pulsatilla vulgaris 'Rote Crocke' (Red Bells Pasque Flower)
1 - Achillea soroica 'Serbian yarrow' (ground cover with white flowers)

While I was there I also picked up another bag of Yum Yum Mix and Yum Yum Winterizer, as well as some horticultural corn meal.

These containers had just been planted for fall. Lots of good ideas. The deep blue one is $300!!

Here is my collection back home and ready to be planted, along with a few other plants I already had. Thank goodness for the warm weather we have had so far this fall. Many days still in the 80's and no frost (yet). That may change this weekend, so I worked hard to get everything planted. Whew! The planting was so hard. It was difficult trying to dig into ground that has been through a hot summer and needed a jackhammer. A few times I asked myself, "What were you thinking?? It's so much easier to dig in the spring!" What was nice, though, was being able to see where I actually had room to plant, since everything is as big as it will get. In the spring it looks like I have all sorts of room and I end up getting things too close. Now.... if they will just make it through the winter. So far everything is doing well and the plants love the cool nights. I also added Yum Yum Winterizer to each of the plantings. I'll take some photos next year when they are (hopefully) more mature.

I enjoyed my trip very much, especially seeing plants that I've only seen in catalogs.