One of the prettiest shrubs you see in the autumn forest across Routt County is the Mountain Ash (Sorbus scopulina) with its scarlet foliage and brilliant orange-red berries. It’s a favorite of many local gardeners.
Horseradish is a herb from the mustard family and thrives in high altitude climates such as ours. Horseradish has nothing to do with horses nor with radishes.
So you had a great year in the garden and have more fruits and vegetables than you possibly can eat. What can you do with the excess?
One of my favorite end-of-summer wildflowers is the beautiful pink plumes of fireweed, also known as rosebay willowherb and part of the evening primrose family, found throughout the mountains around Steamboat Springs.
In answer to almost every question about plants asked of Master Gardeners, one part of our reply often deals with improving the soil.
With water restrictions in place throughout Routt County because of the drought this year, many gardeners are wondering how their trees will fare without much rainfall.
Just outside my kitchen is an herb garden I’ve been cultivating for several years now. It’s heaven to be able to step out and snip some fresh basil leaves for a salad or a few stalks of chives for a pasta sauce.
Many of us Master Gardeners, as well as the Routt County Extension Office staff, have been getting a lot of questions lately from local homeowners asking what they should do about their parched lawns during this hot, dry and windy summer.
Have you ever noticed that if you don’t watch it, some of the perennials in your garden bloom and die before you really get a chance to enjoy them?
With the growing season starting out so warm and dry, we might be in for a year that is tough on our plants. This will be true especially if the lack of rain continues and we adhere to requested water restrictions by limiting the added moisture we give to our garden.
When choosing plants for your garden here in Routt County, you’ll have the best luck if you choose plants that already are comfortable with our soil, climate and short growing season.
More work is being done this spring and summer to improve the Community Roots Garden site. A garden cleanup project is from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday and volunteers are being sought to help out for a couple of hours.
Two years ago, some gardeners reported that they had bugs in their cherry harvest. So master gardeners looked into the problem last year to spread the word about how you can help prevent the cherry fruit fly from infecting your tree.
Recent restrictions on agricultural burns in the Yampa Valley have a lot of us thinking about the potentially hazardous season ahead of us because lack of moisture from this winter’s low amount of snowfall.
Many of us gardeners start out with flowers and shrubs in our gardens and then think that maybe some vegetables would be a nice addition.
You can make a real difference in helping to keep some of our rarest plants in the Yampa Valley from becoming endangered or extinct.
One of the hardest parts of trying to help someone with a gardening problem is identifying the plant with the issues.
Feng shui is a popular and very old Chinese concept of being in harmony with your environment.Indoor plants in your environment can add to this positive energy flow in a number of ways.
You’d think that with our very dry environment here in the Steamboat area that desert cactus would thrive in our homes, where it is protected from the brutal cold of winter.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently updated its map of the country’s planting zones — the first update since 1990.
Scientists: High temperatures, low precipitation cause of decline
Quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides) is likely the tree most coveted by homeowners in Routt County and the one most enjoyed by visitors and residents who love to hike the aspen-covered mountains surrounding our beautiful valley. Sadly, there have been stands of these trees that have been dying off in certain parts of the mountains, mostly at lower elevations.
OK, the holidays are over, but you still have a pretty poinsettia plant hanging on to dear life. It seems a shame to discard the plant just because the leaves start to drop.
If you’re looking for a houseplant that is easy to grow, looks good and requires minimal care, consider the jade plant (Crassula ovata, formerly C. argentea). With its thick, glossy dark-green leaves, this plant is a beauty that can grow as tall as 4 feet and as wide as 4 feet.
Don’t you love the beautiful colors, shapes and aromas of plants that seem to be available just during the holidays? The fast-growing, spectacular amaryllis plants that grow about an inch per day and the beautiful white, reds, pinks and now plum-colored poinsettias are so decorative.
One of the most striking plants that we see during the holidays is the Christmas cactus (Schlumbergera Buckleyi).
When the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock on the day after Christmas in 1620, one of the plants that pilgrims certainly were happy to see was American holly (Ilex opaca), which no doubt reminded them of the popular holiday plant from home.
It seems every winter that half of Steamboat Springs seems to come down with what a lot of locals call “the crud.” I would describe it as a rattling, persistent cough that just hangs on forever.
A couple of weeks ago, the beautiful composition called “L’horloge de flore” (A Musical Flower Clock) by French composer Jean Françaix was on my car radio. It made me curious about flower clocks and Carl Linnaeus and Françaix.
When it turns cold at the end of the gardening season, many of us who want to continue working with plants dream of having a greenhouse in which to work in warmth.
Looking like strange, not-of-this-world beings, Tillandsia air plants can be quite spectacular and a focal point of a houseplant array.
If your indoor plants have been neglected while tending to the outdoor garden, fall recreation and other autumn activities, you might have missed the growth spurts that have taken place inside. If your indoor plants have used up all the nutrients in their soil or have outgrown the pot and become root bound, it’s time to move them into a new pot.
Plants that are native to our region typically survive our winters because they evolved in response to the climate and weather patterns of our mountains.
Aspens are fast-growing but relatively short-lived (20 years) trees attaining heights of up to 50 feet. Cold hardy but with poor drought resistance, aspens grow best in sunny locations at elevations of 7,000 feet or higher. They prefer moist, well-drained soil and good air circulation.
Nearly every year hiking in the forests around Steamboat Springs, my attention is captured by a plant that is unusual for its strange coloring and composition. It is shaped like a stalk of asparagus but looks like a weird form of mushroom.
Spaghetti sauce, Caesar salad, shrimp scampi and many other favorite foods have a common ingredient that can be easily grown here in the mountains: garlic. To obtain the largest bulbs next summer, plant your garlic cloves now.
Demonstration garden at Yampa River Botanic Park
Each year, a few plants are chosen as the best of the best for gardens in the high mountains of Colorado through a cooperative program of the Denver Botanic Park and Colorado State University in conjunction with greenhouses and nurseries throughout the Rocky Mountain region and beyond.
As with all the berries you see in the wild, unless you’re absolutely sure what they are and that they are safe to consume, don’t ingest them.
Vegetable and fruit gardeners have learned how to preserve their garden bounty beyond the short harvest season through canning, freezing and other methods. Flower gardeners can do the same thing, too, for their colorful flowers, grasses, seed heads and foliage.
Whether or not it’s doctored up with a little additional flavor or aroma like the lavender honey I enjoy, all honey will take on the aroma and flavor of the plant on which the bees feed.
Now that some shrubs and perennials are done blooming, many plants will soon be producing gorgeous berries in hues of white, orange, red, purple, blue and black. The beautiful berries on the shrubs we see on hiking trails and in gardens and parks around the Steamboat area are some of the most delicious you’ll ever taste, but beware: some are also the most deadly.
We all tend to have an area in the yard or garden where nothing seems to grow. It’s too steep, has poor soil, doesn’t get rainfall or is baked by the relentless sun or windblown dry. For me, it is a south-facing slope that only seems to attract weeds and sparse grasses — until I planted sedums.
Mixture can help keep aroma of summer last all year
Because our gardening season is so short in the Steamboat area, consider using scents from your garden in the form of potpourri to make the aroma of summer last all year.
When I lived in Michigan, my garden along the front walkway was filled with lavender plants that reached chest-high and provided wonderful aroma every time I walked by … especially when I ran my fingers through the branches and released some of the oils in the flower and foliage. But here in the mountains of Colorado, my lavender plants seem to just eke through the season, never getting any bigger or taller than perhaps 12 inches high.
You might not need as much fertilizer as you think
Should we fertilize our garden plants, and if so, when and how? If your soil has been well-tended by the addition of compost and mulches, there may be no need for supplemental fertilizer. A soil test is the best way to determine the fertility of your garden soil.
A member of the lily family, edible asparagus takes two to three years to become established, but then can be harvested for as many as 15 years. It’s a relatively pest-free plant and is easy to maintain in our mountain community.
There are an abundance of local varieties that grow well in Steamboat
With an abundance of water this spring, and cool weather making the growing season a little later than usual, we can expect a profusion of wildflowers all coming out at the same time this year.
Annual plants last for only one growing season. During this time, they grow, flower and produce seed, which completes their life cycle. Many local gardeners find that annuals add a wonderful splash of constant color, while the perennials come and go throughout summer.
Late in summer 2010, just as local home gardeners were bringing in cherry harvests, we discovered a problem with some cherry produce in Routt County. In certain areas, ripe cherries were found to be infested with white, maggot-like larvae from the western cherry fruit fly. This has been particularly noticeable in cherries from home gardens in Old Town Steamboat Springs but could spread to a wider area. Once a cherry has been infected, the fruit is no good.
June 11 is the magic date to begin preparing plots for spring
The magic date is June 11. That’s when this area experiences the average date of the last killing frost. Of course, this is a 30-year average and will vary from year to year. Also, you might have protected areas near your home that allow for early planting.
In order to break up the seemingly extra-long winter this year, I took a break last week and visited St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Most of the island is a national park, which allowed us to get our hiking legs back exploring the interior mountains and vegetation along the shoreline. One of the plants that I saw in abundance, and one we can successfully maintain in our homes in Routt County, is an air plant, also known as tillandsia.