Monday, December 29, 2008


First of all, I have to say that I love the DDA. They were the ones who alerted us to the fact that the electricity was going to be turned off today between 5 and 6pm because of work being done at a substation. Yikes! Panic in the streets! Panic in the streets! The plants! The butterflies! The outdoor fountain!

It all worked out ok. Whew.

I Hope

I hope that some day the WCBG can have something like this before it is too late.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The De Young Museum

I know what you're thinking. "What does an art museum have to do with a botanic garden?" You're not are you. You're really thinking "Yikes! Tomorrow is Christmas eve and I don't have Uncle Ed's present yet." To take your mind off of that trifling matter, let me explain what an art museum has to do with a botanic garden.

The landscaping at the De Young Museum was amazing. I took this picture because I loved the fact that here was this cute little garden, almost a huge terrarium because it was behind glass in this space that would have otherwise gone to waste. Not only did I like the placement of the garden but I loved that the entire thing consisted of only two types of plants and some rock. Way cool.


Well today was the big day. I was so excited to go to the California Academy of Sciences. We tried to go yesterday and it was sold out so we went today. All I can say is I was really underwhelmed. Yeah, they have a facility that they spent a gazillion dollars on. Yeah, the best and brightest worked on bringing it into existence. But it seems our little greenhouses have a bigger diversity of plants. They may have blue morphos, but I think we actually have more butterflies per square foot. And more nectar sources per butterfly.

The facility is interesting and all. I did like that you walk up a ramp through the butterfly house so you start out in the "swamp" and then move up through the different layers of a rainforest, up through the trees and end up in an area at the top where the nectar sources are. That is smart because that is where a lot of the butterflies are. Butterflies are inherently going to fly up toward the sun.

It did bother me that the whole space seemed geared on getting you through and out. There was no where to sit, no where to even stand and look. But I think it works for them because it was packed. There were a ton of people there. They were filled to capacity and not letting anymore in. At 25 bucks a pop they were raking in some serious cash. I know it takes a lot to keep a facility like that going plus I'm sure some of that goes to the their research projects. And when you look at it like that it is a pretty effective thing. The whole place houses an aquarium, butterfly house, planetarium and rooftop garden. It has an education center, cafe and gift store. It was like a scientific Whitman's Sampler. Just a little taste of all kinds of things so you can see what you like.

I'd say if you are going to visit. Go on Wednesday. It is free day.

Anyway here are my pictures from the butterfly house for what they're worth.

Time Travel

No, I actually did not time travel, as you can tell by my friend Michael in the foreground there. But it sure looks like I got shot right back to the Mesozoic era or something. Plants are so amazing. Some of them haven't changed in thousands of years. And here are some.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

So Exotic!

Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
But in Oakland its quite delightful,
Since I'm there and you're in Co-lo-rad-o,
Let it snow! Let it snow! Let it snow!

I'm in Oakland for a short vacation before the holidays . I get to have fall one more time this year. The maples here are still firey red and the temperatures are a bit warmer. I'm enjoying seeing different types of plants as I'm walking around. Some of them we have in our greenhouses. A few months ago that would have irritated me. I thought that just because it is something common to a part of the United States, or common at all, it shouldn't be in our greenhouses or our Botanical Garden. But Shirley, wise woman that she is, pointed out to me that not everyone is going to go to California or Florida or any of these places where these plants grow. She's got a point. A very good point. And it got me thinking. What is exoctic? I'm saying it is something unusual, something you don't see everyday. I looked up the term "exotic" at and out of 6 of their definitions, 5 of them referred to plants. And all referred to the fact that something is from another place.

I've been referring to some of the plants that will be going into the new native plant japanesque garden as exotic. Eventhough the plants are native to the Western Slope of Colorado, some of them are from "another place". They are not from our carefully tended gardens, the meticulously planned landscaping or even our local nurseries. And in that way it makes them exotic.

So I've lightened up on my view of what plants we should have in the greenhouses. And the rest of our gardens. Something common in California can most certainly be exotic in Colorado. And something common in the wilds of Western Colorado can be exotic in a garden in town.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Ghostly Frost

Yesterday the humidity and cold temperatures turned the Gardens ghostly.

It is such a contrast when you go into the greenhouses.

We get the best of both worlds down here at the Gardens.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Let It Snow!

It is about time some of that white stuff descended from the heavens! I was getting ready to do one more round of watering on the new trees when down came the snow. The temperatures also came down which causes me some consternation regarding the outdoor pond and the greenhouses but so far everything is A-OK. Plus, it is sooooo nice to be in the greenhouses when it is so cold outside. Between the butterflies and the flowers you hardly know you are in Western Colorado.

Monday, December 15, 2008


My internet has been playing hard to get. Which is rather annoying. You know what else is annoying? Landscape cloth. Hip hip hoorah for the volunteers from the Career Center! They have been yanking out landscape cloth out for the last two weeks. I regret I don't have photos of plants growing through the landscape cloth. Or maybe I just feel like I've been singing the same song about landscape cloth you don't need to hear it again, even if it is in the key of D flat major.

So I'm super thrilled that our trees got staked and Elsie wrapped our trees. Remember they are trees and not presents. I know we all have Christmas on our minds but wrapping trees is a little different than wrapping presents. Since I didn't rant about landscape cloth indulge me for a moment about tree wrap. First of all, you must remember to take it off in the spring. Remember you are wrapping a tree, not splinting a broken arm. Since tree wrap is to protect the tree from sun scald I prefer to not wrap the entire tree and wrap just the side that will be bearing the brunt of the sun. That way less moisture should build up between the wrap and the tree and less damage should occur from moisture and pests. Plus, you use a whole lot less tree wrap. So when you see our trees looking like they are wearing some sort of fancy tree corset remember, I am only trying to protect my tree from sun scald until the tree can take care of it on its own. That is what bark is for after all. You will note that only the pampered nursery trees get the fancy wrap. Our perfectly acclimatized trees from the city are good to go.

I couldn't resist taking a photo of the asclepias, aka butterfly milkweed, going to seed. And now I am a little asleepias my ownself. I'll check in with you all later. Zzzzzzzzzzzz....

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Fish Named Kitty

Once again we have saved a fish from being battered and deep fried for fish and chips. We are happy to announce the arrival of Kitty our albino catfish. Kitty came to us from Orchard Mesa Vetinary. She outgrew her tank and we are pleased to have her in the pond in the butterfly house where she has plenty of room to swim around and no one wants to eat her. Darn it Tyler! Put down that net!

My, How the Butter Flies When You're Having Fun!

The butterflies seem pretty happy these days. I think it probably has something to do with the fact that they have a huge smorgasborg of nectar to eat. These two lovely specimens Calliandra and Stachytarpheta, aka Powder Puff and Snakeweed, are finally getting enough sun to produce nectar. For the first time in the year and a half since I've been here I saw a couple of cute julias (battas julia) sipping nectar from them. I tried to get a photo but those butterflies are rather flighty.

Oh wait! Here they are!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Hello Biscus

Or Hi biscus, if you prefer. I'm so proud of this little hibiscus. It is the first time in a year and a half that I've seen it bloom. I imagine that part of the problem was that the vent that is right in front of this little beauty was malfunctioning for a long time. We, well Lloyd and Richard with some sound advice from Terry the amazing greenhouse guy, fixed it and a week later it started to bloom. It started with one. Here there are two. And if you stop in and look closely at it you'll see that it has lots of buds just begging to be blooms.

Wish List

Sunday was fantastic. The Gardens looked beautiful with all the lights up. The special tea that Shirley made was super. There were more cookies than one elf could eat. And of course, Santa. I gave him my wish list but all he said was "Ho! Ho!Ho!"

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Another Big Day

I kept the camera in my pocket today. Not that there wasn't plenty to take photos of. There just wasn't time. We've been going full tilt on the new garden. Some things have been going smooth as silk, some haven't. I'm learning lots though. So that makes it exciting. You know what else is exciting? The humidity levels are holding steady in the greenhouses. I know I've been preoccupied with the new garden but there has been plenty going on in the greenhouses too. The new nectar sources are looking great. There'll be new pupa hanging in the puparium. The orchids look stunning. Santa is coming. Oh. Wait. That is in the Pomerenke Library. Yeah. If you hadn't heard, the jolly ole elf himself is going to be at the Gardens this Sunday. I plan on being first in line to sit on his lap. I've got a pretty long list starting with compost bins and ending with dumptrucks.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

The Colorado Garden

I posted an earlier version of why we are putting in a "Japanese" garden but after Kenton and I went to the DBG I kinda freaked out and took it down because what we are doing really isn't a Japanese Garden. It is a Colorado Garden based on Japanese gardening philosophy. Mainly, look to nature when you are making your garden. So here it is again. My attempt to explain how a Colorado Garden is really a Japanese Garden in disguise. As always, I'm interested in what you think.

Japanese Garden Overview

It could be argued that a Japanese garden is inappropriate for the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens. Western Colorado doesn’t support a large Buddhist community nor does Japanese culture feature in the every day life of people living on the Western Slope. Many of the plants that are featured in Japanese Gardens do not grow well in the conditions found in Western Colorado and the structures and the hardscape used in Japanese gardens are not common in Western Colorado. Western Coloradoans do not observe the same rituals of Japanese culture that take place in the garden nor do the symbolic elements of a Japanese garden have immediate meaning.

So does the WCBG need a Japanese garden? Absolutely.

In the same way that Japanese gardening was influenced by Chinese gardens, Western gardening can be influenced by Japanese gardens. The WCBG “Japanese” garden is to be a space of tranquility based on nature using Japanese gardening ideas in a Western Colorado context.

One principal of Japanese gardening is that of the harmony of “man” and nature, an idea very appropriate in a valley that is surrounded by dramatic reminders of nature. In fact one of the goals of the WCBG is to highlight the nature found in the Colorado Plateau. Incorporating a more “wild” or “naturalistic” gardening style is fitting.

One type of Japanese garden is the “stroll garden”. The stroll garden was developed in Japan during the 17th through the 19th centuries when travel was limited by the central government. As a result the elite created areas on their estates that were reminiscent of famous natural areas in Japan, such as Mount Fuji. In the garden the visitor would stroll on paths designed to reveal views of a natural wonder. The WCBG is a perfect spot for a stroll garden.

While the site designated for the Japanese garden is small in terms of a stroll garden it is a wonderful spot. Three well-known natural wonders, the Grand Mesa, the western edge of the Uncompaghre Plateau and the Bookcliffs surround the Grand Valley. We don’t need acres of garden, we live right in the middle of one of the most amazing gardens on earth. The charm of the Japanese garden will be in the views revealed by the placement and type of the plants.

The site of the Japanese garden within WCBG provides continuity with the rest of the gardens. The Native Garden and the Cactus Garden are to the east and the Heritage Garden is to the west. These gardens all have elements that echo what is planned to be in the Japanese Garden so it will fit in rather than stand out.

The idea of “hide and reveal” is strong in Japanese gardens and especially in stroll gardens. The concept is to not show everything as soon as the garden is entered but to lead the visitor through the garden on a path where elements of the garden are seen only from a certain spot or as a corner is turned. This idea is a major difference between Eastern and Western gardening styles.

Symbolism is very important in Japanese gardens. Plants, rocks, trees and other garden elements, such as benches and sculpture, have a meaning to someone who is familiar with the culture. Instead of utilizing symbols from Japanese culture, the garden will have elements that have meaning to the culture of Western Colorado.

It is the ideas or concepts of the Japanese garden that will inform the way the garden will look, not the adherence to the elements that make up a Japanese garden. For example, waterfalls are a symbolic element in Japanese gardens. They look a specific way in relation to how nature looks in Japan and are placed in a specific way to elicit a spiritual enlightenment. There will be a waterfall in the WCBG’s Japanese garden but it will look like a waterfall that would be encountered while hiking on the Grand Mesa. As in a Japanese garden or nature itself, any spiritual enlightenment that the waterfall is to evoke will depend on the visitor.

Japan is an island with a wet environment and the plants found in that climate are not suited for Western Colorado. The plants in the WCBG’s Japanese garden will be native to Colorado but the Japanese ideas of placement and type such as looking to nature for inspiration will be followed.

Water is very important in Western Colorado. In a Japanese garden water is the center of the garden much in the same way a river drains into a pond, lake or ocean. Water will also be the center of our garden but we are going to incorporate water in other ways. The pathways will be based on the shapes water takes along river pathways. The placement of some of the plants will be based on the way plants follow water as it travels downhill forming tributaries.

Not all the plants in the garden will be planted at the same time. The trees will go in first followed by shrubs and perennials. During the first year there may be annuals planted or prolific perennials with the thought that they would be replaced as other plants are added. Also, not all the trees will be planted at the same time. Some will be planted two or even three years later so that the there will be variance in the height of the trees. In fact, some of the plant material may be in the process of dying or already dead.

Plant replacement or repositioning is part of any garden. As the garden is maintained over the years and as the garden matures, plants will be removed or added according to the needs of the garden in respect to the vision of the garden.

The structural elements of the garden, benches and sculpture, will be reflective of nature found in Western Colorado as well. Benches will be strategically placed throughout the garden to encourage visitors to reflect on the beauty outside of the garden, to view other gardens in the WCBG and to look to the Uncompahgre Plateau, the Grand Mesa and the Bookcliffs. The benches will be made of wood harvested from a conservation project on Watson Island, a natural river feature directly south of the Japanese Garden. The style of the benches will be rough and reminiscent of fallen trees that one would encounter in nature.

Cairns, small stacked rock monoliths, are common on hiking trails. Cairns will be placed in the garden to serve as trail markers. As works of art they call to mind the work of two western artists Andrew Goldsworthy and more specifically to Western Colorado and Eastern Utah, Robert Smithson.

Also, there will be at least one fallen log that will not only serve as a sculptural element but as a garden detail, in effect a mini-garden. Likewise, in one area of the garden will be a monoculture of trees that will have one or two trees not of that monoculture included.

The tea ceremony and tea house is an important part of a traditional Japanese garden. Unfortunately, this beautiful ceremony may not have much of an impact in Western Colorado where cultural values are much different. However, there is a parallel that can be drawn between the tea houses that Samurai came upon in the forest and the warming huts that alpine skiers come upon in the forest.

The name of the garden has not yet been determined. One thought is to name it after water itself because of the prominence of water in the design of the garden. Water is an important issue in Western Colorado. One of the things that makes this garden interesting is the way water functions in it. The focus of the garden is water, yet the plants are mainly xeric. This relationship exemplifies the ideas of balance which can lead to reflection of balance in our own lives, balance between nature and man and even a spiritual balance.

Regardless of what this garden eventually is called, its purpose is to provide a tranquil space for reflection in and through nature.

And We're Off!

Just look at that. That is a picture of 50 yards of decomposed wood chips, gratis the city of Grand Junction. I'd like to say we are special but anyone can go pick them up.

I didn't quite have all the grasses out of the way in time for the dirt work to begin in our new garden so Chad said he'd lend a hand.

Machines are great but somehow you always end up behind the shovel.

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Tomorrow is the day. I can't believe it. It is finally here. It started out months ago when David asked me "Do you think you can put in a Japanese Garden?" Oh the hubris I had. I said, "Yes." Tomorrow it begins. After months of planning. Consulting with everyone we could think of. Refining our ideas. Dreaming. Tomorrow the final details get nailed down and off we go. I'm so excited! I'm terrified.

Friday, November 28, 2008


We all had yesterday off to enjoy Thanksgiving. I found myself thinking about all I had to be thankful for. This is something I don't always take the time to do and there I was with a whole day to do it. I started off with the obvious, a roof over my head, food to eat, friends and family who love me and who I love in return. An incredible job.

That last one lead me to reflect on just how much has happened in the almost year and a half that I've been at the Gardens. I started making a thank you list, a list of everyone who has helped out at the Gardens in order to post it here. I tried to think back to that hot July day when I first walked through the Gardens. I tried thinking about what was happening last year at this time. I though about last week. What continually amazes and delights me is how willing people are to help. The list of folks I want to thank is immense and I know I've probably forgotten someone . I also know there are people out there who are doing things to help that I don't even know about. So as far as posting a thank you list, I can't. But what I can do is say "Thank you". Thank you to everyone who has helped out at the Gardens in whatever way you have. It doesn't matter if what you did was pick up a piece of trash or donate thousands of dollars. You have shown your faith in the Gardens and what we are doing here. And I appreciate it.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Juggling Cats

I'd like to give a shout out to the Tamarisk Coalition. They have been doing incredible work out on Watson Island. Just look! You can actually see the Gardens from the Watson Island pathway. Astonishing.

Not only have they been working on the tamarisk, they've been cutting down the Russian olive trees and the Siberian Elms aka Chinese Elms. Saturday was the last volunteer day until spring so I went down and hauled off some Russian olives after they got cut. The olives weren't the only thing that got cut. I did too. The thorns on those trees are viscious. At the end of the day, or in my case end of the half day, you go home with a collection of cuts that are proof of your hard work. Or if you are modest you just tell folks you've been juggling cats.

Alien Life Form

Invasion of the green tentacled gut suckers! Run for your lives! The rational among you will probably identify the greenery as Bromus tectorum, cheatgrass, something just as scary as the green tentacled gut sucker. I found this monster hiding in a part of the Gardens that had no additional water. It was living in the mulch and its superhuman roots had grown through the brand new landscape cloth. Is there no stopping it? Yes. But we must be diligent. Pull it when you can. Spray it in the fall and most of all. Do not give up. It is either us or them. And I prefer it to be us.

Turkish Delight

Sandra gave us a lovely tree. And all week I've been telling everyone that it is a Turkish Delight because I couldn't remember what it really was. It is a Corylus colurna. A Turkish Filbert. Ok. I got it now. It is a cool little tree. It has this rough bark that is similar to that of bur oak but it flakes off and there is this really stunning cinnamon colored bark underneath. No, you may not go out and start stripping the bark. It is a tree not a Christmas present. Well, maybe a Christmas present for the Gardens but not one you unwrap.

These are the tools that Sandra and I used to transplant the tree. Notice the breaker bar and the pickaxe. The ground was a little compacted and full of clay. We amended the soil with some clay soil amendment and compost so that our new tree has a fighting chance. It would have been a little unfair to just plunk it in the ground after it has spent all its life in a nursery. Not like the trees from the city. Those are definitely, to borrow a term from the computer world, drag and drop.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

It Is A Puzzle

I've been focusing a lot of my attention to the greenhouses these days and I'm pleased to announce that as of 3:37pm yesterday the mister system was up and running AND I didn't get a temperature alarm in the wee hours of the morning. Yee Haw! Now.... on to the sunshades and the vents. I'm a little nervous about the vents because the braces are held together by a contraption called a jigsawpuzzle. I'm hoping it is a misnomer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Procrastinators Rejoice!

Mother Nature has been very good to us this fall. I know, I know, we sure could have used a couple of really good snow storms or even some rain but these warm temperatures have been a gardener's delight. Normally by now the Gardens would be snug and ready for winter. Instead the warm days and relatively warm nights has meant that you could still be putting plants in the ground and getting a jump on your winter watering. In fact I'd recommend taking the hose out this afternoon or even tomorrow and giving your trees a good drink and getting some water on your perennial beds. They will thank you for it next spring. To all you procrastinators out there get moving! This grace of good weather is not going to last. Get those bulbs in the ground! I will be transplanting grasses and moving around a few plants and trees to get things going for next year. Have fun! I will be.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Ah, Yes, It is Monday

I generally stay away from the bemoaning of Mondays as being a bad day because you are back at work because I like my job. Every day is a good day even Mondays. I almost forgot that this morning when the first thing I did was walk into the greenhouse and turn on the water and the faucet broke in my hand. Cuss, cuss, cuss. However, I have amazing volunteers. They are used to changing jobs at a moment's notice. I think it keeps things exciting for them. Anyway, it all got resolved and the day turned out just great. We got the last of the trees planted in the amphitheater, thanks to Willie and Tom our friendly urban forresters and Felila and Tyler. The new nectar sources got planted in the greenhouse thanks to Ginny and Dolores. If you haven't seen the amphitheater lately you should see it now that it is full of trees. And you should stop by and see our cute little nectar sources.

Don't Be Stupid

This post goes out to all you wanna be gangstas: If you are going to tag something make, it a good tag. I'm one of those people who actually thinks graffiti has a place in art and art history. I was active in the art scene during the time Jean Michel Basquiat was making graffiti and bringing it to the mainstream as well as making a ton of money. So yes, graffiti can be profound, beautiful and even a way of making a good living. However, the pathetic scribbles that showed up on the shed down at the Gardens was definitely not any of that. It was just stupid.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sooooo Much To Do

There is sooo much to do. More trees being planted. Well, rearranged. Yeah, for most people rearranging usually involves some cut flowers and a vase. For me it involves cottonwood trees and an amphitheater.

The folks from the Career Center planted our cute little sequoia today. It was a pretty big job. The ground was really hard. When I saw them last they were taking turns with the pick axe. By the time I left, the sequoia was in the ground looking pretty happy.

Of course there are greenhouse woes but more importantly are greenhouse plants! Yes 21 plus 1 bonus plant came today for the butterfly house. We have lots of nectar sources now to keep the butterflies fat and happy. I can hardly wait to see how a fat butterfly flies.

We are getting closer and closer to breaking ground on the new garden. It is very exciting! And speaking of exciting I can't believe I haven't exclaimed over the beautiful tree that is flowering in the greenhouse right now. What? You want to know the name of it? Uh, er, it ummm escapes me right now but I know it as the-tree-we've-been-thinking-about-cutting-down-for-the-last-year-because-it-has-been-looking-so-sickly. It has these crazy pink blooms that kind of look like spider lilies. Ok. I'll look it up tomorrow and give you its "real" name.

We also got to do a little top secret spy stuff that I obviously can't tell you about or else I'd have to kill you.

Most thrilling of all for me, is that Gary, Eddie and Karen came out and went on an afternoon hunt for the 220 electrical line which so far has been eluding us. In the process they have taken a lot of mystery out of the amphitheater for me. Which is ok. I don't need any mystery in the amphitheater.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Watch The Sparks Fly!

It is true confession time. I confess. One of my favorite tv shows is Dirty Jobs on the Discovery Channel. I am so jealous of Mike Rowe. For those of you who aren't familiar, the whole premise of the show is to have this guy go all over the United States doing all sorts of jobs most of us wouldn't want to have like sewer repair or roughnecking or shearing sheep or cutting down palm trees or shrimping. The thing I get so jealous over is that he gets to do all these different things. I think that is why I like my job so much. I get to learn about all kinds of things like xeric plants and tropical plants and koi and butterflies and boiler systems and pond systems and conservation and tree spades and WELDING! That's right ladies and gents, the east gate came off of its hinges and our fantastic neighbors over at Elam's sent over one of their welders to help out. And just look! Here he is in action.

Those welders, they really know how to make the sparks fly! But seriously, it was cool seeing the gate get put back together with just a little electricity and metal. It kinda made this week seem sort of ho-hum. I mean we've been planting trees and releasing the butterflies and getting the greenhouses fixed and well, I think it has been a week to make Mike Rowe jealous and it is only Tuesday.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Great Greenhouse Batman! It's Clean!

Ginny, Sharon and Kevin did a fabulous job cleaning out the potting shed. Why we might be able to actually use it as a potting shed!

And while I still may be having problems with the mister system, it is working and creating lovely, romantic, mysterious effects.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Popular Demand

It seems the public is clamoring for news on the Gardens. I'm here to oblige.

It has been really busy the last week or so. WD Yards came out and blew out our irrigation lines. THANK YOU! They also explained a couple of mysteries in the irrigation system. Any of you off season irrigation guys who are looking for a challenge, stop by they Gardens. I've got one for you.

I'd just like to say. No, they aren't dead. The city has been giving us some lovely trees and for some reason people are wondering why I'm putting dead trees in. Ummm. There are some trees, called deciduous, that have their leaves fall off in the autumn. They are supposed to have no leaves. Sheesh. We have plenty of evergreens too. And thanks to the new trees and the Career Center kids the amphitheater has never looked better.

The Japanese Garden is coming right along and we should start work on it in a couple of weeks. It is very exciting. Stop by the office and have a look at our plan. I'm always open to comment.

We'll be getting some nectar sources into the butterfly house on Tuesday so things will start to fill in there soon.

I'm trying an experiment on keeping the pond going over the winter. Today is a nice cold day to test the moving water doesn't freeze theory.

I'm off to the Gardens for another big day. I'll keep you posted. :)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

What Fun!

I'm sure "What fun!" is what Tyler is saying about digging up the irrigation lines on Friday. He and Richard and Lloyd did a fantastic job of fixing my mistake. I have the best volunteers in the world.

Here's a little TNT, Tom and Tony, City Arborists who are currently removing a stump from behind the amphitheater.

The results of a little TNT in the International Garden. They'll be grinding down the stump later in the winter. You know. On a slow day.

And speaking of winter, here is a lovely winter fat. Something we'll all be seeing way too much of after Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners for sure.

And on the newsy side, the misters are indeed working in the greenhouses for all of you who were worried about that. And yes, the "Japanese Garden" is coming along just great. Thank you for asking. I should have a plant list ready to post soon.

There were the greatest kids from Delta visiting the WCBG the last two days. I'm sorry I didn't get a sound clip of them doing their wolf cry. It was fantastic.

The Watson Island cleanup is going really well. Take a stroll on the island and see for yourself.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Technical Difficulties

I know, I know, it has been almost a week. But I've been beleaguered by technology. First the camera, next the internet connection. Hopefully it will all be resolved soon. In the meantime, there have been all kinds of excitement happening at the Gardens. Monday was a typical catch-up day, I actually got a ton of paperwork done and some good research on nectar sources for our butterflies. Tuesday was meeting day. But in the greenhouse we saw nature in action. Those of you who are a little more sensitive may want to skip this part and head on down to the next picture. There we were in the greenhouses admiring the butterflies when "Hey! Look at this! A spider is eating one of the butterflies!" And sure enough it was. I wish they'd just stick to a steady diet of ghost ants and do us all a favor but spiders have a mind of their own. Well, maybe a nerve or two or their own. The phone camera just doesn't do it justice. Poor little julia.

So, on to today. Today was a great day! Why? Because the first bunch of trees from the City came today. I love the City. They are donating a lot of trees to us. Not these little things either. Nice big evergreens. Shade trees. A few ornamentals. Fabulous trees. Well Tom and Willy started planting them today. I even got to dig a hole for one. Yeah, that is me with my perfect tree hole.

So what I'm not showing is the irrigation line I cut through. Ooops. Tomorrow I get to find out how to repair an irrigation line. See you then.

Thursday, October 16, 2008


Donna and Kathleen did some fabulous work on the cacti today just look.

Sometimes it pays to be the runt. Take a gander at this banana yucca. Mama and one pup were unceremoniously removed but the one left behind looks just great.

So, I hear that the Chinle Cactus and Succulent Club is the only group that espaliers their cacti. I'm so glad they do. Isn't this cholla beautiful?

OK. It just cracked me up that we have cholla, crabapple and that awful fragmites all within 10 feet of each other. I didn't intend for the telephone pole to be the focus but I find it poetic with its upright manner and symetrical crossbar, let alone the fact that it isn't underground yet: we still have our utilities sprouting up on poles.

On the non-pictorial side I learned an awful lot about the greenhouse today from Scott. I won't bore you with the details but you'll notice the happy butterflies and blooming plants in the greenhouse.

The other exciting thing is Niki's plan for our holiday decorations. I know you may be thinking it is a little early but she has been working on them since September. It promises to be a really nice display. You'll see, in December, but you'll see. ;)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Take Action!

Only after reading my favorite blog, Garden Rant, did I realize that today is "Blog Action Day". I'd write something really elegant and moving but I think Michele's post says it all.


It has been cold the past few nights bringing death and destruction to the gardens. The poor dahlias bit the dust. And they were so gorgeous just a few days ago, now, they are black and dead looking.

The hyacinth bean and the Denver daisy also crumpled in the cold. The chrysanthemums on the other hand are happy as can be. Fall is here!

It has been really nice in the greenhouse the last couple of days. Really warm and the butterflies are flying around. The bananas are ripening. The fish are swimming. Very nice.

Exploding Brain

It is Wednesday morning and I still haven't got my brain squished back into my skull. Saturday was just as amazing and informative as Sunday. We went to the Orchid Show. There weren't a lot of orchids, it wasn't a big show, but the plants that were there were spectacular. I'll get some photos up as soon as I can get them from Kenton. Who is a little under the weather, by the way. There is something going around. So all of you make sure to drink your orange juice and get plenty of rest and all that jazz. Take care of yourselves. And now back to our regularly scheduled blog.

Here is the picture of the nice C-Dot guy who stopped to help us in Glenwood Canyon. I hear the smiley face keeps the bears at bay.

And here is Kenton tightening the lug nuts. Yes, I know. It is almost too much excitement for one day.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Out of the Office

"Where have I been?" you are asking. Well, Kenton and I took off for Denver yesterday. With the new garden there is plenty afoot. The trip started out well enough. Then was the flat tire in Glenwood Canyon. A C-DOT truck showed up in about 5 minutes. It seems like there are cameras all along the interstate there in the canyon. Kinda creepy but I was sure happy to see him show up. I got a great picture of the back of his head and one of Kenton changing the tire. Of course I forgot the cable so you'll just have to wait.

We met with Dan Johnson and Ebi Kondo, native plant guy and Japanese Garden guy respectively. They spent all morning with us.

As if that weren't enough, we spent the afternoon with Kelly Grummonds from Timberline Nursery. He spent all afternoon with us.

I am amazed and delighted at how many people, really important and smart people, there are in the world who want to help our little garden.

I need to let everything settle a little bit before I tell you about all the amazing things we learned today. I think my brain is about to explode so if you see me walking around with duct tape encircling my head you'll know what happened.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Mystery is Revealed!

Wednesday is a pretty good day for revealing much anticipated news. Today is the day you find out about the mystery garden. If you've been keeping up on this blog you'll know that there are a lot of really great changes happening at the gardens. One of these really great changes is the development of a new garden, a Japanese Garden. Now, wipe that expression off of your face. Everyone looks at me like that when I mention Japanese Garden. It isn't what you think. I know Western Colorado isn't the ideal place for a Japanese Garden. And I know WCBG isn't exactly the dream spot for it either, especially since the focus of the Gardens is being refined, (more on that later).

I did have the "Japanese Garden Manifesto" posted on-line here a couple of days ago. I can't leave it up because after today (Friday) and our meeting with Dan Johnson and Ebi Kondo it is most definitely going to be refined. For those of you who read it, it is the starting point. For those of you who didn't, the new garden will still be a big mystery for a while longer. Isn't it great to have a little suspense in your life?

Monday, October 6, 2008

Tech Troubles

The sad news is that my camera bit the dust. So I've been making do with the camera on my phone. And it just isn't the same. However, one must make do with what one has. Keep a stiff upper lip and all that rubbish.

OK. These first photos of are the Release of Tammy the Turtle. A turtle happened to come into the possession of the Gardens last week and after doing some research we decided it would be best to release her into the outdoor pond.

Picture 1: Tammy going into the pond.

Picture 2: A very wary Tammy.

Picture 3: Hey Mikey! She likes it! Off goes Tammy to explore her new home.

Picture 4: Nothing to do with The Release of Tammy. This is a cool spider Tyler found on the side of the shed. The phone doesn't zoom in so I kinda looks like a wad of gum but take my word for it, it is a really cool spider.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008


I finally got the pump working in the amphitheater. After trying one thing and the other I finally put in a new foot valve. Nothing. The pump still wasn't pulling water. Did you know a pump won't work if it has a vacuum lock? It doesn't. But, if you break the lock it works like a dream. Now if I could only get the control valves working......

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Three Pictures

The delosperma is still blooming up a storm. I particularly like the delosperma blooms because I think they look like fake eyelashes that some mod hep cat, like Twiggy, would wear.

And here we have on of our Career Center volunteers hard at work. No he isn't flipping you off. Yes, he is smiling.

And here we have discovered a very rare species of beetle in the greenhouse which on closer inspection turns out to be the extremely rare Plasticus chinensis.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The Best of 57

So I've carefully studies all the photos that Kenton took when he went to Denver last week and out of all 57 this one is the absolute best.

Thursday, September 25, 2008


Today and yesterday were just two more lovely days in the gardens. The cottonwoods down by the river are starting to turn but the plants in the Gardens are still thriving and looking great. I noticed that the Chocolate Mimosa has these really great seed pods and I'm going to try to start one from seed. The rest of the pods I'm going to offer to Shirley. I'm pretty sure she can use them in one of her classes. If you are crafty, and Shirley told me today that everyone is crafty, call 245-3288 for information on some really cool classes coming up in November and December.

The Colorado Conservation Corps has been down on Watson Island spraying for Russian knapweed. Yay! In some spots that is all that is down there. Give our native plants a fighting chance and I'm confident they will overpower the weeds. Home field advantage.

The irrigation in the amphitheater continues to give me grief. I'm going to replace the foot valve on the pump and see if that doesn't do something good.

You should really stop in the butterfly house and see what Richard did last Monday. I'm not spoiling the surprise. You may not even notice except to feel even more happy when you are in there.

Progress on the I'm-not-telling garden are coming along great. Kenton and I are planning a trip to the other side of the hill to talk with someone at the Denver Botanic Gardens about it all. So far everyone we have been working with on this project have been really helpful. Thanks go out to Anne Gibson, Don Campbell, Chad Driggers, Carol Anne Popp and Dr. Curtis Swift. Their input and enthusiasm has been just what I needed.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Ok. The number of photos Kenton took was 57. I'm so glad it wasn't 57,836. As soon as my head quits reeling I'll sort them out. The photos are fantastic!

Monday, September 22, 2008

When You Are Rich

And I mean rich like crazy rich. Like won the lottery rich. Like inheriting scads of money from Great Aunt Hester. That kind of rich. When you are rich and you are ready to build your butterfly house you will contact Kallima Consulting and chat with Mike and Rich. Just make sure you talk with them before you hire the architect. It'll save you a lot of trouble. They came out to our humble butterfly house Saturday and gave it the once over. They had a lot of great suggestions that we will be incorporating into the days and months to come.

So... I lied to you all. I didn't mean to. I think Kenton made it back today. He just doesn't work until tomorrow and I'm having a very difficult time waiting to hear about how it all went. Very difficult. So to distract myself I went out to the CSU extension and did 15 salt tests for the soil in the new-as-yet-to-be-disclosed garden. That is right, 15. And what I found out was that our salt levels are really not that awful. They aren't good but there are only two spots that are really outrageous. Then I meant to go into the arboretum but it took longer than I thought to do the samples so I ran out of time. I'll be heading back there Friday because it looked great from the parking lot and if it looked great from the parking lot you know it is going to look great up close.

The river clean-up that the Tamarisk Coalition is spearheading started last week. The Colorado Conservation Corps started on the south island and cut and applied herbicide to the russian olive trees. The Workenders came in and did the clean up work. They cut all the trees into three foot sections and drug them to the banks. It seems like our stretch of the Colorado River needs a little extra organic matter and the dead russian olive will help with that so the endangered fish will have some insects to eat. Ecosystems are really complex.

The Workenders went above and beyond on the russian olive. I don't know if any of you have gotten up close and personal with a russian olive but they have these nasty thorns that don't even think twice about stabbing you and drawing blood. Thank you Workenders!!!!!! Not only did they get the russian olive taken care of but when they were done with that they moseyed on over to the Gardens and cleared out just about all the kochia on the east side of the garden. The herb ladies are ecstatic.

Saturday, September 20, 2008


The fountain in the water garden has been a little sporadic in its fountaining. Most likely there is something in the filter. So I cleaned out the filter on the pump and headed for the outside filters. Yep. There's some crud in here. I can see how the filters might be-YIKES! THERE'S A FROG IN THE FILTER!!!! Uh, I mean. How cute. A little froggy woggy hiding in the mud. So the filters seem to be doing OK and my heart rate has returned to normal. I don't know about the frog. He took off for the far side of the pond. I don't know why. It wasn't like I was going to kiss him or anything.
Kenton took off to the Denver Botanic Garden's annual bulb show. That is a bulb sale, not an annual sale. Got it? Maybe I was the only one confused by that. Anyway. He is going to be doing some reserach for our special new garden and I gave him my camera to take with so he could get some pictures. He's also stopping by the Betty Ford Alpine Garden and should be bringing us some great pix from there too. Stay tuned. Mondays post should be chock full of photos from Kentons weekend adventures.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Aliens Have Landed In The Gardens!

Run for your lives! Aliens have landed in the Gardens and they've left a pod just bursting with baby aliens ready to kill us all!!!!!!

Umm. Uh, it really is just the fruit from our magnolia tree, magnolia grandiflora for those of you who speak Latin. However in a few days it may just be bursting with babies, well magnolia seeds that would turn into baby trees if we had the right conditions. Dr. Curtis was at the Gardens giving me some advice on the super secret garden I've been working on and we were admiring the magnolia when he says "How do you think that flower was polinated?" Easy answer, right? Bees! We had 500,726 of them buzzing around the gardens and those were just the ones I counted. There could have been more. WRONG. Wrong? Oh yeah, how about wind? WRONG. I give up. It seems that beetles polinate magnolia flowers. Magnolia trees are really old plants. According to the US Forest Service they showed up around 200 million years ago in the Mesesoic era which is before bees arrived on the scene. The magnolia flower is perfect. No, that doesn't mean white, fragrant and lovely, it means that both male and female parts of the flower are in one flower. So all a pollinator has to do is move a little pollen around and taa daa! Pollination has occurred. So what insect was around 200 million years ago? Beetles. It seems like magnolias found a good thing 200 million years ago and stuck with it. Here is what the Vanderbilt University website has to say about beetles and their role in pollinating magnolias, "Relatively unintelligent insects like beetles can potentially act as pollinators of this group." So you know what I'm thinking. "If beetles are unintellegent what are slugs?" A question for another day.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

You Learn Something New

You learn something new everyday and around the Gardens I usually learn a bunch of stuff that I better write down or I'll forget it. Some things though I know I'll remember. Like I found out today that Charles Darwin discovered that plants, not all plants, but most plants, grow in spurts at night. Well, that explains it. Many times I've walked around the gardens in the morning I could have sworn that a certain plant grew over night. So, I'm not crazy. No comments from the peanut gallery please. :)

Today was yet another day of planning and again I am so lucky to be able to be working out all the details in the area that the garden is going to be. Our new garden is going to be really fantastic and I don't want to say anything more until I have a few more details worked out. Patience, butterfly, patience.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

More Planning

Today was a day of planning. There are very exciting things a foot here at the Gardens. Our outdoor plants are beautiful right now but look what I saw inside today. If I were a gamblin' gal I would wager this is a ginger. I walked into the greenhouse on my way to water our little tree farm when these blooms just jumped out at me. I hadn't even noticed the buds.