Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I noticed the barrel cactus were starting to bloom then I stepped back and saw that Ernie's Cactus Garden is looking really good so I took a picture of the whole thing.

The river looks sort of pastoral, doesn't it?

Well, it is still rising.

Some of our chives are already blooming. Some of the others still look like overgrown grass.

This is the big excitement in the greenhouse today. The banana plant in the greenhouse has flowers and tiny green bananas. you can't really see them but they are kind of like zucchini where the fruit is on the back end of the flower. They are really great.

I didn't get anywhere on the pump today. Clayton was good enough to bring in a pipe wrench for me but between 6 tours (thank you Ingrid for not making it 8), fertilizing the lawn, and fiddling with the irrigation in the Children's Garden the day flew by. I'll try again tomorrow but I think it is going to be just as hectic. I'll let you know.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Four Day Catch Up

For those of you perched on the edge of your seats waiting to find out what kind of spider we found in the hollyhock bed....Richard identified it but of course I forgot the description. I'll get it posted tomorrow. Honest.

I also forgot the camera Friday and then I didn't think anyone would want to see a picture of my friend Paul digging a hole. However, here is a photo of Don doing his all in the war on weeds.

What I should have gotten a picture of was Don, Steve, Richard, Tyler and me moving the last and largest of the bridal veil spirea down to the amphitheater. No, it was nothing at all like the keystone cops, except of course the part where I was trying to back up the golf cart with the trailer attached and I kept jack-knifing it. Don eventually had to unhook it and push it into place while I backed up the golf cart into position. Oh the embarrassment.

Why does it always seem like the amazing flower that lasts for one day likes to bloom on Mondays when the Gardens are closed?

Look at this little bush just loaded with really cute tiny blossoms.

Here are two really great chalk drawings that are in the Children's Garden.

Geneva, Paula and Bob came out today and got the irrigation in order in the rose garden. I heard some shrieks as some of the drip heads turned into fountains. Remember, water is wet and sometimes cold but it won't hurt you.

I spent some time today trying to figure out why the pump by the amphitheater isn't working. With the help of Kevin, I got the pump working Saturday. Sunday when I went in to program the controller I couldn't get pressure. Today I checked the foot valve and the filter to make sure they weren't plugged. I took the gasket down to Munro Pump (we love Munro pump, they have been very good to the Gardens) Dan, who works in service and repair, said it looked OK. He greased up the gasket for me and told me how to check to see if the foot valve isn't working. That is one thing I really like about Dan. He is a good mechanic and he teaches you how to trouble shoot and how to get to know your machine. In case you are wondering, you prime the pump and get the pump working, then you turn off the pump and if the hose that goes from the river to the pump goes flat then you know the foot valve is malfunctioning. I needed a pipe wrench to get the spigot off to prime the pump and of course I didn't have one, so I'll test it tomorrow. Tune it tomorrow for the exciting conclusion to the thrilling drama "Does the Foot Valve Work?"

Keith from Lunsford was out today checking the backflow preventers. One of them was malfunctioning. The dump valve wouldn't turn off. He is another good service guy because he explained to me what the problem was and even brought in the broken pieces so that I could see for myself. It was that old problem of being between a rock and a gasket. ;) A rock got stuck in the gasket and there went the seal. I'm glad it was such a simple problem. The Herb Society folks will be happy to hear that the backflow preventer is fixed. That means they have water.

And the river keeps rising.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Roses and Bugs

The Rose Society was out at the Gardens Tuesday night and just look what they did to the roses! Any of you out there who know about roses know they did the right thing. It is spring and time to butcher your roses. I'm glad that any of you who have waited until now resisted the temptation to prune them during the spell of lovely weather we had a few weeks ago. It is hard to wait until the last frost but your roses will love you for it. What looks like a few scraggly twigs will be full of beautiful blooms soon. You just wait and see.

Calling all entomologists. What is this insect? It was about this size. One of our volunteers Tracey and I found it in the hollyhock bed where she was weeding and planting more hollyhocks. Let me know if you can identify it. Thanks

Wednesday, April 23, 2008


Look! The first iris of the season coyly hiding in the front bed.

I'm not 100% sure what to do with this little tree. All I know is that it needs help.

I need to dig down a little deeper. This can't possibly be two trees planted too close together, could it?

Today was a little of everything. A little greenhouse, a little outside, a little irrigation, a little volunteer coordination, a little volunteer supervision, a little beaver removal, a little email, a little gift store, a little trash removal.

So Rick came back today to check the trap he set for the beaver yesterday and he caught it. Unfortunately the beaver died in the trap. He says the beaver was older and maybe that contributed to it. He also said that it was a pretty rare thing, 1 or 2 in every hundred traps he sets. The beaver was pretty amazing even in death. Looking at its teeth I could imagine how it would feel if it bit me. I know, I know. The logical part of my mind knows that there was no way I was going to get bit but I still was a little leery of it all the same. What can I say. Every now and then I have a girly moment.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008


The lobster claw is blooming. Isn't it cool?

The duranta, aka dew drop, is blooming and smelling just great.

We finally got the stones back in the pond!

I'm not sure what this plant is but isn't that flower great?!


This is an amazing conglomeration of tulips. Or perhaps a choir.


We've got beavers in the North Channel. They impede river flow and some consider them a pest but I like 'em. However... in two days they blocked the water enough that I couldn't get the irrigation going. Sunday I walked the channel fighting tamarisk every step of the way to find the dams and of course I forgot my camera. And then yesterday (Monday, April 21) when Dan Moreno from the USDA came out to assess the situation, do you think I had the camera then? Oh, no. But today I remembered. Here are the pictures. It doesn't look as drastic as it did Sunday because the river has risen so much in just 12 hours. We might actually be in for some good flooding.

This is the western most dam. This one we're keeping. With any luck once the high water is over, the beaver will be back and rebuild this dam. I understand that once a beaver finds a place it likes, it comes back come hell or high water. The reason this makes me happy is that the pond this beaver will create is right where the irrigation intake is for the Gardens. If there is a pond then maybe there will be a little more water in August when the channel typically runs dry. OK. Let's pretend that mosquitoes don't exist.

If you stop halfway over the bridge to Watson Island and then look to the east you will see this beaver dam. This one is also a keeper for several reasons. It is easily accessible. It is a great example of how beaver dams filter the crud out of the water. And my favorite, it will form a pond for the irrigation system that goes to the amphitheater.

There is one crafty beaver that has built three dams and this is the one furthest down stream. It doesn't look like much because the water has risen so much. Yesterday those branches you see formed something that looked like a bridge that you could walk safely across the river.

This is the second dam. One thing that beavers do when they build a dam is to use any existing structures, like the rocks that are causing the white water in the center of the picture. It looks like the current may be a little too strong for a dam because even before the water rose this dam didn't reach all the way across the river. Oh yeah. That guy is Rick Gonzales. He is the guy that comes out to your house in the middle of the night when the skunk finds it's way through the dog door and then eats the dog food which then ticks off the dog who then tears it into a zillion little pieces. Be nice to him. If he comes out to your house at least have some cookies for him.

This is the "big" dam. It is the one that is diverting a lot of the water. Even with the water as high as it is now it still looks like a pretty good passage across the river. One thing about beavers that just amazes me is how particular they are. Not only do they cut down trees (in this case tamarisk, go beavers, go!) they lay them out in this neat and tidy way with the branches at one end and the trunk at the other. I'm sure this is an engineering marvel but, holy moley, talk about creating calm out of chaos.

Has It Really Been Over A Week?

Yes, it has. Sorry about that. As soon as I got back I've been working on all kinds of things. So, I'll try to catch you up. Also, it has just been so beautiful out. Why would I want to sit behind a computer when I can be out playing in the dirt?

And to get us started, here is a picture from today.

This is one of the gingers in the butterfly house. I like how it is spiraling out and the flower opens up. We had two school groups tour the greenhouses. Neither of the docents showed up so I did the tours. The preschoolers were fun because they just looked around and explored. The older kids were great too. They had so many questions. It was cool.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Oh, Wow.

For those of you who happen to find yourselves in Santa Fe should most definitely make the pilgrimage to High Country Gardens. They did donate some really great plants for our Amphitheater Garden and "Four Seasons Garden" but you should go just because it is a really great nursery on par with Bookcliff, Meadowlark, Valley Grown, or Mount Garfield. I refrained from taking pictures until we came to one of the special "employees only" greenhouse. It was gorgeous. The colors and varieties of plants was incredible. And it was only one of the "holding" greenhouses. My picture (below) did not do it justice. It really took my breath away. I was excited by the Albuquerque gardens yesterday but today's visit to High Country Gardens only added more fuel to the fire. I'll be back tomorrow with a load of plants and a couple of itchy green thumbs!

Every plant you would ever want.

Tricia and David selecting plants.

Sunday, April 13, 2008


Hi Everybody! You may have noticed that I haven't been in the Gardens the last couple of days. Look south, I'm in Santa Fe. David Salman at High Country Gardens/Santa Fe Greenhouse has been generous enough to offer some plants to the Gardens. And me being the Operations Manager needed to come down and pick them up. The sacrifices I make for the Gardens! ;) Today I was at the Botanical Garden in Albuquerque, the Rio Grande Botanic Garden. It was lovely. Here are the pictures to prove it.

Here is a beautiful redbud and the wisteria archway.

I like their memorial rose garden and spring displays.

This flowering cottonwood looks like it belongs in the Japanese Garden.

The plants and the views in the Japanese Garden were terrific as was the rest of the gardens. It was so inspiring that I can hardly wait to get back to the Gardens and get working!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Coffee Flowers

These wonderful, white flowers are from the coffee tree that is in the Rainforest Greenhouse. They smell as good as they look. The buds that you see on the branch are going to open up into flowers. Once the flowering is done the beans will form. I'm not sure how long the process takes. I'll report on the progress as it happens.

Here is Tyler. He is standing in front of one of the cycads in the Rainforest Greenhouse and is one of the Garden's most versatile volunteers. Today he was in as a docent for a group of preschool children and their parents from the Career Center. The older kids from the Career Center were in this morning digging holes for our transplants. It almost was a little too cold to work but we got a lot done.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Don't Fret

Rain today. Just a couple of days early. I still have a lot of transplanting I'd have liked to get done today and tomorrow. I keep hearing from my Master Gardener friends not to fret that we are having a late spring and there is still time. Anyway, there is always stuff to do in the greenhouses. I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of all the Julias (butterlfies) emerging from their chrysalids in the puparium. However, I did get a picture of Scott who is giving the Gardens fish emulsion. :)

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Pix of People and Plants

Where to start? With the pictures of course!

This is John Martens and his crew from Waterscapes. They fixed the holes in the ponds. Yay! Thank you! Call him if you need a pond fixed.

Next picture. Nicole. She is a Mesa Student helping out a couple of times a week. Here she is spreading fish meal.

Here is our flowering almond flowering! It is going to look gorgeous in the next couple of days. I suggest you come on down and have a look.

And here is Elva looking good in the gift store.

And here is the bird of paradise that is blooming in the rain forest greenhouse right now. It is a really big plant. You should really check it out.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Call Me Fishmeal

I forgot to mention on Friday that yesterday, the first Sunday of the month was free Sunday. Free Sunday meaning the admission is free. It doesn't mean that you are free to dig up plants out of the gardens, got it? Good.

Today was really rainy. It was wonderful. I'd wished I'd been able to transplant a few more plants but the ground will be easy to dig tomorrow and I'll pick up the first batch of fish meal tomorrow as well. I'm constantly amazed at how things are coming together. I've been worried because the quality of soil at the gardens is awful and I wasn't sure where I was going to get the organic matter to amend the soil. I have a source for horse manure but it requires coordination of a trailer and some folks to help unload it once it is here. The fish meal I can pick up in a bucket which is much easier. Anyway, Richard and Tyler were able to get some good work done in the greenhouses and Lloyd hung the security mirror in the gift store and lugged the rock out of the ponds so I can hopefully fix them tomorrow.

Jo-An was in today working on the mural for the gift store. It isn't quite done but here is what it looks like so far.

The End of a Good Week

We got so much accomplished this week it is amazing. Bit by bit the amphitheater garden is being transformed. Today Elsie and Tyler put in the rest of the daylilies.

Lloyd and Richard rocked the greenhouse. They replaced the broken aspirator and we found out that the mechanism that closes the south vent in the greenhouse was broken. I can’t believe the luck that all it took to fix it was a 12 cent bolt. I’m a little bothered that I still don’t know how to fix the leak in the pond and a little irritated that I found a new leak in the other. If it isn’t one thing it is another. Until next week!

Pinus Nigra

Another big day at the Gardens. Thursday is the day the students from the Career Center come to help out and I am really lucky to have them helping. There was an Austrian Pine that was planted a little too close to the sidewalk and it needed to be moved. It took us all day but we did it! Before undertaking this endeavor I asked around to find out how it is done. “Do you have a tree spade?” was the question everyone asked. Uh, no. I don’t even have good shovels and hoes. The second thing I found out was very helpful. And that was to “root prune” the tree about a month before transplanting to facilitate fibrous root growth. So I did, well, Larry the volunteer who comes in on Wednesdays did. First he raked out the worst of the debris, then he took a spade and made a circle around the tree. When the kids dug out the pine tree today it had lots of fibrous root growth, whether it was there before or not I couldn’t tell but I was glad to see it. We planted it down by the amphitheater and amazingly enough the soil didn’t look too bad. We found a lot of rusted pieces of metal, plastic and an old shirt. I hope that little tree will be happier with a little more space and in the company of other evergreens. I’ll be watching its progress with interest and keep you posted.

P.S. The big bird of paradise that you see as you walk into the Rainforest Greenhouse is in bloom! As soon as I can get pictures on this blog I’ll post one of the bloom. It is all white and beautiful.


Well, the problem last night was not in the butterfly house as I suspected. It was actually in the big greenhouse. After poking around and checking this and that, waking up Wayne from Lunsford (sorry Wayne) and reading the manual I’m pretty sure the problem is that the aspirators are not working properly. I wasn’t about to get up on a ladder in the dark (we have got to get some lighting in the greenhouses) so I left it for today. The nights aren’t getting too cold and I readjusted the temperatures so the plants and butterflies were OK for the night. And of course I slept with my cellphone on my pillow just in case the temperature alarm went off. It didn’t. Actually, I’m hoping I can wait until Friday to check the aspirators because that is when Richard is in. Not only is Richard good on a ladder, but he also has a very analytical mind.

So what did I do today instead of working in the greenhouse? Transplanting! I’m still working on the amphitheater garden with Clayton, the Gardens’ head grounds keeper, and Bayley. Plus, Zachariah Walker brought a couple of his students down and we started ripping out a small patch of grass that is soon to be a lovely meadow-like flower bed. And of course there were a million other little things. Mary got the new contact paper on the boards we hang the pupa on and it looks great. Yvonne from the Herb Society stopped by and I ran into Karen from the Mesa County Division of Pest Managemen on the river front trail. Betty was here to be a docent for a school group. All in all it was a good day.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Low Temp

Today one of the Gardens’ volunteers Nicole and I started transplanting plants down to the amphitheater. We did the yarrow, day lilies, iberis and soapwort. And whew. That was enough. There are plenty more plants to go. It is going to look so good when we are done though.

Tom Ziola from the city Forestry Division dropped off some beautiful woodchips today. Thank you guys.

And as luck would have it, I just got the call that there is a low temperature alarm in the greenhouses. Very unusual for this time of year but the butterfly house has been unusually cold for the last couple of days. I thought I had it fixed but it looks like I was wrong. Tune it tomorrow to see how it all works out.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Day Two

It never rains but it pours, thank goodness. Yesterday Tricia and I went down into the amphitheater garden and flagged where the transplants were to go.

With last night’s rain I was primed to start moving plants this morning and I did get one moved. But then the skies opened up and chased me into the greenhouses to finish up a project I started with Richard and Lloyd yesterday after the greenhouses closed. The koi ponds were overgrown with algae and we suspected that there may be a leak or two. In one instance it was merely a case of the pond liner sliding down. In the other it was a combo of a sliding pond liner and a liner seam that had failed. After a few hours of scrubbing rocks and scooping out slime we called it quits. I have four days to research how to fix a pond liner. Wish me luck.