A garden affects all of our senses, even though we often are not aware of it. Most of us enjoy the beauty of the colors, shapes, the play of light and shade, and the graceful movement of grasses, leaves and foliage as plants sway in the wind.
Unlike those of us who can reach for a fleece or an extra pair of socks when we’re chilly, our houseplants have to suck it up and shiver in the cold and drafty areas in our homes. Some plants simply do not handle cool temperatures well, even when protected inside our home from the outdoor weather.
If you’re itching to work with plants but the ground outdoors is as frozen as the Fish Creek waterfall, consider planting a bottle garden. Tropical plants, ferns and other plants requiring high humidity are perfect for a miniature garden located inside a bottle.
It’s hard to believe that the romantic characteristics we attribute to mistletoe are given to a parasitic plant, but it’s true. Mistletoe (phoradendron flavenscens) is an American native plant found growing on all kinds of trees, including pine, spruce, apple and oak. The European mistletoe (viscum album) is another variety of this holiday decoration.
Don’t you love the beautiful colors, shapes and aromas of plants that seem to be available just at holiday time? The fast-growing, spectacular amaryllis plants that grow about an inch a day and the beautiful white, red, pink and now plum-colored poinsettias are so decorative.
It just doesn’t seem like Christmas unless you have a lighted, decorated Christmas tree to admire through the holiday. Families in the Steamboat area tend to purchase already-cut trees or make a family excursion into national forest areas to find a perfect specimen.
At the annual meeting of the Yampa River Botanic Park, Karen Vail was the featured speaker and discussed the various microclimates we can create in our gardens to accommodate various plants, expanding the range of things you can grow here.
One indoor plant Steamboat Springs gardeners can count on is the geranium. No matter how much abuse we heap on this plant, it seems to thrive and flower all year round. That’s partly because it’s so sunny here in Steamboat. Geraniums love sunlight.
Flowers can provide winter color and fragrance
Many of the local garden centers are promoting bulbs this month to plant for color next spring. As you consider whether to pick up some bulbs for the garden, consider purchasing a few to bring fragrance and color inside your home during the drab winter.
Before the weather turns wintry, take steps to protect your trees from sunscald and other common problems that occur during our fierce winters.
Ordinarily, a shrub shouldn't need pruning if you've selected the right-size plant for a particular site. But sometimes it's necessary to prune for the health of the plant, to control its size, promote new growth with better flowers, or correct damage caused by weather, disease, animals and other harmful agents.
Quite often by the time the kids go begging for treats in downtown Steamboat Springs on Halloween, we've experienced some snowfall and certainly much cooler weather. So before winter kicks in and you lose the opportunity to give your lawn a head start on next spring's growth, take time to care for your lawn this fall.
Now is a good time to propagate many of the perennials in your garden if they've become overgrown, if you just want to have more of a particular plant or if they seem to have lost some of their heartiness.
Some Steamboat area residents are complaining about mushrooms popping up in their lawns this fall. As Bill Sauter said to me the other day, "It's not that I don't like them, but they're slippery when I go to mow the lawn and step on one."
Potatoes have roots going back 7,000 years to the mountains of the Andes in South America. Farmers back then admired the ruggedness, nutritional value, and storage attributes of this tuber.
The hardiness of our garden plants depends on nature and nurture. Part of its hardiness is genetically controlled and part of it is a "learned" response to our much harsher environment.
The intense mountain sun seems to fade the color in our gardens as summer moves toward fall. With just a little planning, however, local gardeners can enjoy vibrant late summer/autumn color right up through the first frost.
Hiking along the North Fork of the Elk River each fall, I can't help but sample the ripe raspberries lining the river side of the trail. Yum.
For a chocolate fix without the calories, consider a garden filled with plants that give off a chocolate fragrance.
All bugs have a purpose here on Earth. It's just that some bugs tend to - well, bug us more than others.
Yes, we can successfully grow raspberries in our mountain environment. In fact, one of my favorite hikes along the Elk River off Seedhouse Road is a particular treat for me in the late summer when the wild raspberry bushes along the river are loaded with this delicious fruit.
Some of the most beautiful and imaginative gardens in Steamboat Springs are created with flowering annuals. These undemanding plants become fully grown in just one season, giving gardeners an opportunity to experiment with color, texture, shape and design.
Most of us know that our plants need water, sun, soil nutrients and warmth. But many gardeners give little thought to how the plant uses those elements to create foliage, blooms, seeds or root growth.
In an effort to grow beautiful flowers, fruit and vegetables, we gardeners tend to coddle our plants. The second the soil is dry, wet water. If it looks like an insect is chewing on it, we apply insecticides. To control weeds, we use herbicides. And we apply fertilizers, and protective covers on cool nights, and all manner of protection to achieve a perfect, county-fair worthy specimen.
Several local gardeners have reported small grasshoppers already crawling through their yards this spring.
Fooled again, huh? It happens every year. The weather turns warm in May, the garden centers entice us with newly arrived plants, which we immediately place in the garden. Then, the nights turn cold, and we experience a frost.
With such nice weather lately, it's tempting to get outside and start planting vegetables in your garden right away.
Have you ever wondered where the name of our valley and our river comes from? It's from the Yampa plant, or perideridia gairdneri subsp borealis.
About 100 people attended the Master Gardener program in February and March to learn which vegetables can be successfully grown in the Yampa Valley.
Gardeners have always known a certain joy when getting their hands and feet in the soil. But now scientists have made it official that getting dirty is good for your soul.
One way to make gardening easier on your body and on the plants is to build a raised bed.
Instead of holiday shopping catalogues stuffing our mailboxes, gardeners now are receiving catalogues of the new offerings from garden centers and mail-order nurseries for 2009. Eye candy. And, wow, it's so easy to satisfy your garden sweet tooth.
At one time, it's my understanding, the Yampa Valley was a big producer of salad greens and supplied wholesalers throughout the Front Range with sweet, tasty salad fixings.
The seed packets we purchase generally tell us when to sow our seeds, how many days to germination and how many days to maturity. However, in our Steamboat Springs climate, sometimes, it makes sense to hedge our bets on spring-planted seeds by sowing at least part of them indoors a couple months before taking the seedlings outdoors. With the excellent possibility of a spring frost as late as mid-June, the growing season here is quite short - just 59 days.
Not everyone has a large outdoor space for gardening, especially those living in condominiums, apartments and densely populated neighborhoods. But that doesn't mean you can't have an outdoor garden.
For dry, indoor environments we find in Steamboat Springs area homes, bromeliads particularly are suitable houseplants. Although most bromeliads are epiphytic (they grow on tree trunks or rocks in nature), they adapt well to living in containers as long as you give them proper light, water and soil. This plant also is widely considered a wonderful air filter for homes and offices. It removes toxins from the air and replaces them with fresh oxygen.
All of a sudden, your lush, beautiful houseplant is looking like the shriveled, cobwebbed cake from Miss Haversham's wedding dinner. Is its decrepit appearance caused by lack of grooming, a forgotten sustenance or something more sinister?
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.
Houseplant insects are so tiny that we often don't notice them when caring for our plants. It's only when they begin annoying us while reading and relaxing that we really begin to pay attention to them.
Furniture, artwork, wall treatments, rugs, and more are used to create areas of interest, focal points, screens and sun filters in the rooms of our homes. Houseplants are another interior decorating tool that serves the same functions while also adding aroma and freshness.
Probably the biggest mistake we make with houseplants is over-watering them. Although different plants have different watering requirements, most plants do best when the soil dries out between waterings.
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.
When the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock in 1620, the day after Christmas, one of the plants the pilgrims certainly were happy to see was American holly, Ilex opaca, which no doubt reminded them of the popular holiday plant from home.
Don't you love the beautiful colors, shapes and aromas of plants that seem to be available only at holiday time? The spectacular amaryllis plants that grow about an inch a day and the beautiful white-, red-, pink- and plum-colored poinsettias are so decorative.
If you have a gardener on your holiday gift list, here are a few ideas to show that person you care. For some gardeners, tools are the ideal gift. "Probably my most favorite tool is the spading fork. The handle is the right length for leverage, but more importantly, the tines help break up each lift of the heavy clay," said Carol Booth Fox, a local master gardener. "The tines cultivate as they dig and slip between the stones in the soil. Indispensable!"
Caring for equipment can keep it working for many years
Late autumn seems to be the time of year that kayaks and inner tubes get put away; it's when skis are taken in for wax and a tune-up.
If you haven't yet gotten out in the garden to clean up after our last good frost, now might be a good time to do so to avoid a huge, messy clean-up project next spring.
It's been a really, really short gardening season this year for those of us without greenhouses.
I like to relax by reading before going to bed, but some nights, I spend more time chasing down and swatting moths attracted to my reading lights. Is this happening in your home, too?
With all the development occurring in the Steamboat area, current homeowners may be wondering how to preserve their privacy.