Thursday, May 29, 2008

Water Lilies and Still More Annuals and a Cute Little Snake

I'm still planting annuals. The gardens are looking good though. City Market called today with a donation of still more annuals. There are plenty of places to fill in and I could always do annuals in containers. Good thing Kim and Hazel came down yesterday to help out. I don't know how I would have gotten everything done without them. And Richard, helping with the weeds. And Clayton mowing the grass and doing about 50 other things. Here he is in action.

This yucca is just stunning. I've been so busy running around getting ready for the Garden Tour that I would have missed it if Kathleen hadn't pointed it out to me. Like, how could you miss it?

I know that the water in the pond is low but the lilies don't seem to mind and water is really clear. I'll get the water level up after the weekend. If I do it now the lilies will be underwater and no one will be able to enjoy them. Except me. I took about 20 pictures of them yesterday. But I won't bore you with them all, just three.

Clayton and I got the pump reattached down at the amphitheater and there finally is water down there. YAYYY!!!! Of course I did have to slog around on the river bank a little and get my little tootsies wet but I'm just thrilled I didn't get stuck. Anyway, on my way back from making everything was OK down there at the end of the day I spied this little guy. Ain't he cute?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

High Water, Saving Baby Skunks, Planting Annuals and A Moth

A lot has been going on the last four days, mainly getting everything ready for the Gardent Tour this weekend. The volunteers and I went to Lois's for breakfast Friday morning. I had the chicken fried steak. Yum. Then while Don and Lloyd were transplanting the hibiscus and stachys I went out to Orchard Mesa Greenhouse and picked up 28 flats of annuals. Instant garden, just add annuals. They are gorgeous. I wanted to take a photo of them because they look so good but you'll just have to come down for the Garden Tour and see them in person. I left at 1pm, the time I'm supposed to leave and I missed all the fun. Wayne from Lunsford came out and got the swamp cooler going. The guys from the city came out to survey the levy so we know exactly where it is. I did manage to get some photos of the river, I think Friday was when it peaked. It didn't flood area where the pump is or the amphitheater so the weddings over the weekend should go as planned, unless someone gets cold feet. ;)

You can't even tell that there is a beaver damn under there any more.

The water came within 5 feet of the bridge but no flooding except along the north channel trail, which is to be expected because it is in the flood plain.

Friday the roses started blooming. Aren't they stunning?

Saturday Elva, Diana, Marty and I met to talk about the tours and the docent situation. I was planning on coming down and doing some work anyway but it was good we met. It was also good because Marty noticed there were six forlorn, baby skunks without their mama. Rick got rid of the ground squirrel but it seems like a mama skunk and her babies moved into the burrow. He got the mama skunk last week and didn't realize that there were babies left behind. Marty was the one who noticed this morning so he came down on a Saturday, in the rain to rescue six baby skunks who all promptly sprayed him. He's our hero. All I saw of the baby skunks were their tails but they sure were cute. I should have gotten a picture but Rick told me to stay away or I'd get sprayed so I did. Stay away that is.

And here are Saturday's flood pictures.

Sunday was half a day of pulling weeds from the Native Garden. I should have done a before and after picture because the difference is so dramatic.

Monday was annual planting. Kenton came out and planted a bed. I did the garden bed in the children's garden and the other two beds out front by where Kenton was working. Paul watered everything and weeded. Joy and Ruth were there working on the sensory garden. Our volunteers are amazing coming out on a holiday.

Tuesday is more annual planting. I'm sure glad Nicole, Richard and Frances showed up today or I never would get it done. As it is there are still maybe 10 flats to go. Hopefully I can get them in this morning. I still need to work on the pond, get the pumps going and coordinate the dirt delivery for the dahlia bed. Celebration Plaza is looking good. The plants are in. The trees went in yesterday and it seems they had a little irrigation irritation of their own. I feel their pain.

Here is a moth I found Tuesday morning. At first glance Richard thinks it is a sphinx moth.

I think that gets you all caught up. I'm off for another day at the Gardens!

Friday, May 23, 2008

No Camera

I can't believe I forgot my camera yesterday. All kinds of camera worthy things were happening. The plants are going into Celebration Plaza and things are really shaping up over there. The water level is super high. It is amazing. It wasn't quite up to where the pump was but it was close. It is close to the bridge that goes onto Watson Island and of course there is a little flooding on the north channel trail. I can hardly wait to see what it looks like today.

So, I did a lot of paperwork catch up today. I got almost all the way through with the butterfly permit. It will be good to get that finished. I made an appointment with the butterfly folks in Westminster next month. I'll be going down for Plant Select and so I figured that I'd stay a little longer and check in with the butterfly folks. We have almost all the volunteers we need for the Garden Tour. And I'm ready to go get some annuals. I only need 25-30 flats. Not the 200 I thought. Gee. If I'd only thought for a moment I'd have realized that I was thinking six-pack and saying flat. As Clayton would say, "Duh!"

And the last thing I'm sorry I forgot the camera for: This cute little philodendrum that is growning in front of the puparium finally bloomed! And it looks like more are on the way. I noticed that yesterday when I was spraying for mealy bugs and scale in the greenhouses.

I'm putting the camera in my bag right now so I don't forget it. ;)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Water Water Everywhere And Not A Drop To Irrigate With

That doesn't look too awful, does it?

Oh but it is. The river is rising very quickly now. It looks like it has risen at least a foot since yesterday. I have a spot down by the pump where I can make a guesstimate as to how high the river is getting.

Here is my usual shot, looking east off of the bridge that connects the amphitheater to Watson Island. I am mesmerized by the current of the water and I'm wondering if it is going to flood the Gardens. I think it will spill over into the amphitheater. I had to do an emergency pump evacuation yesterday. The river was up so high it was starting to erode the bank under the concrete base where the pump that irrigates the amphitheater rests. Isn't that just how it goes? I got the irrigation working and now I have to move the pump. Well, as I keep saying, I am going to do a little flood irrigation down in the amphitheater. ;) We are all wondering if it will go over the dyke or not. I'm really curious to see how high the water is going to get.

The irises are really hitting their prime. They look just wonderful. I was out at Willow Bend Iris Farm last night. Their irises are looking great and should look perfect for the Garden Tour. That is coming up a week from Saturday, May 31 and June 1. Do you have your tickets yet?

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Still More Irrigation Irritations

Well, there is nothing wrong with the controller. It may be that there is a problem with the solenoid but I can't get the friggin' thing off. Grr.... It is time for me to do a few pushups and get a little more upper body strength or just go find a really big hammer. ;) Anyway the other control valve had problems, a broken solenoid and an internal part was also broken. Hopefully I can get both of those things fixed today.

The good news is the board approved a little money to buy some annuals. YAY! Plant shopping is so much fun.

You all have a good day.

Monday, May 19, 2008


Well, "rebooting" the controller did not work. So I took it down to GJ Pipe and hopefully they will be able to clear it and get it so I can get it to working and then all my irrigation problems in the amphitheater will be solved. Right.

So, of course, the problem with the other controllers wasn't the electricity at all. Someone had closed the valve so there was no water in the system. Great. So then I start running through the watering programs for the beds that really need water RIGHT NOW and I can't get the zone for the middle of the front lawn to turn off. Yes, I tried the controller. First thing. I even unplugged it. Nothing. So then of course the next thing to check is the control valve. Great. Yes, I know I figured out how to change the diaphragm in a scrubber valve thanks to the Rain Bird website but I still am not real thrilled to open one up and start poking around. So, I'll do it in the morning. ;)

Monte did show me all the steps to getting the irrigation pond pump going and we both concluded while the pump was working it was not sucking water. Maybe the intake is plugged? One way to find out. I'll be going for a dip in the irrigation pond tomorrow. Yee haw. Good thing I work in a place filled with gorgeous flowers.

Aren't these great? I'd like to say I planted them but I didn't. I just got the irises thinned and uncovered the pretty purple plant (that I still don't know the name of) by moving the geranium.

And down in the amphitheater the volunteer blue flax is perfect against the veronica.

Here is Clayton looking handsome as always. He is pointing to the sign that talks about the clean-up of the area. It used to be a junkyard. He did a lot of work on the clean-up. Before that the Gardens were storage for mill tailings. Before that a peony farm. It has kind of gone full circle. There will be peonies in the garden by the office and they came from a place out on the Redlands and they just may be from the peonies that were originally from the garden where the Gardens are today. Cool.

And of course, I can't forget today's pictures of the ever rising river.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

More Irrigation Irritation

No pictures today. I spent the better part of the day troubleshooting the irrigation in the amphitheater. Dan from Munro pumps came down and looked at the impeller, the last thing to check before ruling out the pump as the problem. The pump is no problem. However, someone turned off the electricity to the controller and that was a problem. Also, the programs were kind of screwy and then the all the zones came on at once and also zone two wouldn't ever turn off while the rest of the zones were running. Grrr. I was cussing out the so and so who changed my programming and all kinds of things. When I got home I looked up on rain bird's site to see if they had any help. It seems like maybe I just need to "reboot" the controller. Unplug it, take out the battery and the fuse and let it sit for a minute or so and then start all over. I'll try that in the morning. I sure hope it works.

Paul and I transplanted a witch hazel a couple of weeks ago and it has been looking droopy so I thought I'd do a little research on it. It looks like it is probably in transplant shock and will perk up soon. However I found this little tidbit on the Floridata website:

If you bring flowering witchhazel branches indoors, be careful to remove the seed capsules from the previous year. Otherwise, the warm indoor air will cause them to split open with alarming popping noises and spew seeds out across the room.

Doesn't that sound great? I so want to try it!

Metal in the Gardens

I was getting things ready for the concert Saturday night and I thought I'd check the graffiti that David painted over on Friday. It looks great but look what I saw in Ernie's Cactus Garden.

It seems he is a friend of Don Cambell, from the Cactus and Succulent Club.

Saturday was a big day down at the Gardens. There was a wedding in the rose garden and then the concert that night. Heavy metal music. Not quite our usual folks but they were a good crowd.

Here is our board president, Bob, selling wine, water and sodas.

And the beer guys.

The pizza vendors.

And our faithful box office folks, Wilma, Chris and Jim. I missed getting the crowd from Cumulus, they sponsored the show and were a big help.

The river is really running.

Pretty Flowers

I noticed a lot of beautiful flowers in the Gardens on Friday. Probably because I was running around all over the place. Friday was pretty busy. The lights had to get put up for the concert on Friday night. Weeds, always weeds and Elsie did some cleaning up in the amphitheater garden. There was graffiti to be removed. There was lots of activity in Celebration Plaza not to mention about 150 kids touring the greenhouses and gardens. Plus, we thought one of our fish was sick. And paperwork and irrigation irritations. Drop in visitors. Somehow, just about everything got done. All in all a busy day that I was glad to have over. But just look at the great flowers below.

I don't know what this is but it is flowering in the herb garden.

Look at these gorgeous irises in the international garden.
Don knew what the yellow roses were: Persian Yellow. They go along with the Austrian Copper so well because they have the same spore, so sometimes you get an Austrian Copper that also is a Persian Yellow, like you see here. Isn't it beautiful?

Pretty pinks in Ernie's Cactus Garden.

And of course, Friday's river pictures.

It is flowing faster and faster.

And here is our poor "sick" fish. It is the little white one hiding under the philodendrum leaf. Richard noticed a red spot on it and since we didn't know what it was we freaked thinking it was a bacteria or fungus or something. I got on the phone and started calling around. Marine Tech came to our rescue. They looked at our poor little fishie and determined that it was a scrape due to courtship. Our orange goldfish has been pursuing our white goldfish and it seems that she got a little scrape but nothing serious. We didn't need to quarantine her or treat the water or anything. They also said that the water looked good and so did she. They released her back to me the same day saying that the best place for her to recover was in her own pond. They also said there is a possibility that there may be baby goldfish one of these days. I'll definitely let you know if that happens.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thursday, a day late because of Technical Difficulties

Today is the last day that the students from the Career Center to come out to help. They come out once a week for an hour to volunteer. I know that doesn't sound like a lot of time but you get a group of people working for an hour and an awful lot can get done. I am really going to miss them. They have been a huge help. Plus they are a bunch of really cool kids. Thank You!

This is first period, my muscle men. They did a great job with the heavy work, digging holes, clearing weeds, that kind of stuff.

Not everyone from second period made it today but they did a really good job at the more detailed work, like getting the beds ready for winter and spring and helping with transplants.

And here we have third period. They can do anything that needs to be done. As the last group in every week they often have to do the "clean-up" so that we can finish whatever project we've started.

I want to say a special thank you to Horticulture Instructor Carol Ann Popp. She has done a tremendous job in getting the kids to the Gardens every week and keeping them focused and motivated. She has also been a huge help to me not only because of her vast knowledge of gardening and horticulture but also of organic and sustainable practices, two things that I am trying to incorporate into the way we maintain the Gardens. Thank you Carol Ann for all your help.

And speaking of thank yous, these folks deserve a huge Thanks. The guy in the light blue shirt? That is our new Executive Director, David Brown. I've been wanting to post a picture of him on the blog but I didn't want it to look like a posed studio shot. So here he is in the wild. He was talking with a group of folks from High Noon Solar. Why is that exciting? Because we are getting solar panels. YAY! It is kind of a long story but the condensed version is that a class at West Junior High (my alma mater) figured out this amazing solar design and won a contest sponsored by High Noon Solar for a solar set-up. Unfortunately, they were unable to utilize the system. High Noon came up with a list of Grand Junction non-profits that they could donate the system to and it was decided that the Gardens should get the system. The installation will begin in a couple of weeks and there are some neat things planned for the West Junior High Students as well. I'll keep you posted as things develop.

Who are these two handsome men? On the right is John from GJ Pipe (I love GJ Pipe) and Sean with Painted Desert Landscaping. They are helping not only with the installation of the new Celebration Plaza but also with my general irrigation irritations. Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou.

Oh and here isn't a picture of Beverly weeding. She comes on Thursday to weed the gardens. Thanks to Beverly for keeping the weeds from completely taking over our beds!

There is one more thing for today that I am super excited about. The Community Gardening Group met. I was a little discouraged because only two people besides me showed up, then one had to leave. However, what transpired has truly gotten me excited about our little Community Garden. I'm not going to say anything more than that until I get our plan down on paper, but it is going to be really cool.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


Yesterday was kind of a cold and rainy day so once again I stayed in and worked on paperwork. I did get a little break to show some school kids around the greenhouses. I noticed that the fishtail palm (caryota mitis) not only is flowering but it has fruit ripening so I took a picture so you could see both.

Everyone keeps asking if the fruit is edible and I didn't know so I finally looked it up. It seems the fruit is toxic. Some sources say that not only is the fruit poisonous but just handling the fruit is harmful because of the oxalic acid. Some sites leave that part out altogether. Sometimes finding accurate information on the internet is a challenge. I found more sites that listed it as poisonous than not so I'm erring on the side of caution and saying that "No, you cannot safely eat the fruit from the fishtail palm."

And speaking of danger, here are today's river photos.

I've been focusing a lot of attention in the last couple of months on the gardens in the amphitheater. There have been a lot of plants transplanted down to the amphitheater gardens. There have been a lot of donated plants put in as well. I know this picture doesn't do it justice but if any of you remember what it looked like last year you'll notice that there are a lot more plants in the garden than before.

Yes, I know this looks like a big weed patch but there are actually some nice yucca, grasses and spireas in there too.
You can see them better here. There is still a lot to do in terms of weeding and cleaning and primping but the bulk of the planting is finished. It took a lot of work and the effort of a lot of volunteers to make it happen. Which is why it makes me so mad that some jerk had to drive over a part of the garden and kill some of the plants. I know it is one of the hazards of gardening in a public space but it ticks me off just the same.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


The most important thing that happened today and I didn't get a picture! Our new director David Brown started today. Here is the link to the article in the Daily Sentinel if you didn't get a chance to read it. We are all really happy that David is here, even the plants. Look, the cactus are just ready to burst into bloom with joy. ;)

I was walking down by the North Channel with Dan from WD Yards and we were discussing irrigation when I saw this bush full of blossoms. I have no idea what it is except those flowers sure are cute. Anybody out there recognize it?

The austrian copper roses are just starting too bloom. I really love the color and shape of those blooms.
And here is its compatriot. The name of this rose escapes me for the moment. I'll update it when I remember. It is really similar to the austrian copper and they make a great duo.