Monday, June 30, 2008

Volunteer Love Day

So the cat is out of the bag. Anyone who read yesterday's Sentinel knows that the big secret was that the Tamarisk Coalition got a chunk of change to clean up Watson Island. That is great news. Tamarisk isn't a huge problem in the Gardens, we have some around our ponds and some frustratingly enough in a part of the Gardens where there is NO WATER. Tim and Clarke do a fantastic job and I'm really looking forward to working with them on this project.

The other big thing that happened today was the volunteer luncheon. It was nice. Not near as many people showed up we have volunteering but it was a great party. Shirley did a fantastic job of putting it all together. It was nice having lunch and chatting with everybody. Plus, somebody brought in a flat of snow in summer for the Gardens. What is cool about it is that it is the pink variety.

So, I was over at a friend's house last night and it seems like those adorable pink berries I was trying to identify are service berries. I haven't keyed them out or anything so don't go chowing down on them just yet. No, that isn't some clever ploy so that I get all the ripe ones. ;)

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Opinions, please

I've been thinking a lot about the problems we've been having with the beavers and squirrels. It didn't seem to be as much of a problem last year. Maybe because there weren't as many plants. Maybe because there wasn't as much attention paid. Maybe because there wasn't anyone to complain to. Whatever the reason how to deal with these critters is going to be an on-going challenge. I intended to start a proposal for how to deal with the vertebrate "pests" but what came out was this. Let me know what you think.

The Western Colorado Botanical Gardens is located near the banks of the Colorado River. Both the Gardens and the riverbanks are in transition, the attitude changing from ignored and industrial to concerned and conserved. As the Gardens prosper the changes will invariably attract notice.

That is its intent, of course. To seduce the public with burgeoning buds and blowsy blooms. To tempt with the eye with collusions of color and startling symmetry. To entrance with the scent of honeysuckle and sweet daphne.

If you plant it they will come. The public, our community, friends, children, even the indigent who subsist alongside the tamarisk between the thorns of the Russian olives. Alongside the rabbits and squirrels.

Alongside the deer, skunks and raccoons, who also notice the changes and investigate, nibbling on succulent plants. The aroma of potting soil is too tantalizing to ignore. The flourishing worms tickle the toes of birds. Even the leaf cutter bees can’t resist the broad, flat, leaves of Kintzley’s Ghost and neatly clip circular green blankets to nestle between each egg.

How do you disinvite someone to the party? We’ve planted this but not for you. We adore you from afar but please don’t eat the cilantro. You are really very cute until you move into the cactus gardens. How dare you taste the Ruby Moon Hyacynth Bean? And damn it, stay out of the pansy bed!

I imagine the answer isn’t simple and will be quite involved with hearts being broken and toes being trod upon. Secretly, I think there is no answer only a continuing dance with changing partners and a tireless band.

Pink Berries

Here are adorable pink berries that caught my eye this morning as I was watering. No, I don't know what they are. Let me know if you do.

Pictures from Friday

Richard, Tyler and Lloyd (welcome back) planted the creeper garden today. Creeper because it has officially snuck to the other side of the fence. It has butterfly bushes, chocolate flower, the last of the gazanias and the korean feather grass. It feels good to have some plants in that barren area.

Elsie and Anna finished the weeding in the amphitheater and it is looking really good. Now if I could just get the heads fixed on the irrigation we'd be in business. Elsie finished did some deadheading and watering which was much needed and appreciated.

The solitary bees are out in force leaving their mark on the honeysuckle Richard planted last week, lonicera, Kintzley's Ghost.

The purple leaved mimosa, albizia julibrissin, Summer Chocolate, is budding and soon will have those crazy, wispy flowers. It is even starting to provide a tiny bit of shade. In a couple of years it will very nicely shade a section of the sidewalk. I'm thrilled it made it through the cold winter we had this year. It isn't supposed to, it is only supposed to grow in zone 6. I won't tell it if you won't.

Receding River

I realized I haven't taken any pictures of the river lately. I still check it often though now the river is receding it is like a bully who has proved to be all bluff and bluster. We survived the flood season with no harm. The water levels are lowering and the current slows as we usher in the dog days of summer.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Blooming Magnolia

Anna did a great job of finishing up the gazanias. And out of the blue a volunteer called to say she was available for this afternoon only for a few hours. Perfect! She got the watering done and I got my paperwork done. Monte was a huge help today too. He got the fountains going in the Japanese pond. Plus he showed me the pump for the little pond in the Children's Secret Garden. There is going to be a little change to that fountain but I'm not going to tell you 'til it is done. It is a secret. ;) Plus one irrigation pain in the neck may not be as bad as I think. Yay! I'm excited to be extending an existing garden so that it will be on both sides of the fence. Yes. I'll be using the Plant Select plants. Speaking of I have to get pictures of them. The scutellaria suffrutescens, aka cherry skullcap, is already blooming cute little red blooms. And the rudebekia, aka Denver Daisy, not only is blooming but bounced right back after it got accidentally stepped on. Yes, we are the perfect test site. Not only do we have tough growing conditions, being a public space we face those challenges as well. Yeah, the delosperma, aka ice plant, got trampled by a kid today too. Grrrr.

Apparently, I have been really busy and really focused the last couple of days because I didn't even notice the magnolia blooming until today. I checked that bud every day for the last month and yesterday it decided to bloom. At least I got a photo of it today.

Beautiful, huh?

What? No Pictures

I can't believe I haven't taken any pictures the last couple of days. I guess I've been busy. There have been cool things to see too. Like yesterday in the garden that has all the roses, living oaks and now some new delosperma, I noticed these perfectly round holes, like someone had been poking something in the ground. I poured a little water in them and out came a wasp. So now I have one more pest issue to think about. Environmentally, I'd like to keep them, they are polinators and while they do kill butterflies they kill other things too. Aesthetically the holes make the garden look like it has been vandalized. The holes are right next to the sidewalk. Is that going to be a problem for visitors? I'll think about it and let you know what I decide.

Monday was a thrill because the mealybug pesticide got applied. Now it is just waiting and seeing how effective it is. Can you tell yet? Can you tell yet? How about now? Now? ;)

Tyler excavated the sprinkler heads off of the lawn. Yay Tyler! Oh. That means I have to replace the broken heads. Hey! All you bikers that bike down the levy and onto the grass in the amphitheater. Quit biking over the sprinkler heads and breaking them. It is a pain in the neck to replace them, the lawn doesn't appreciate it and as a struggling non-profit we need to use our money for other things.

Yesterday Nicole got about a flat of gazanias planted. There is one more left to go. The corner by the east entrance is where they are being planted and it is going to look good once the gazillion gazanias get planted.

Pansy report. The marauding pest stayed out of the bed Monday, I think, but I found about 7 upended pansies yesterday. Not bad, but still worrisome. While we are on the subject of vertebrate nuisances, the women who take care of the International Garden noted that something has been nibbling away at the parsley and marigolds. Isn't it just irritating that as soon as you get some plants in the ground anything that is hungry takes note? They guys living on Watson Island have also noticed that tomatoes and cilantro have been planted. They say they are planning on making salsa. They don't understand that taking food out of a garden that isn't yours is stealing.

Tim with the Tamarisk Coalition called with really good news but I'm not telling what it is. There is a press conference set for Monday so watch the news Monday night.

That is it for now. See you in the Gardens.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

6-22-08, Sunday

Work Enders Rule! I had them out a couple of weeks ago and they did a tremendous job. If you go out into the area by where the sensory garden is and turn around they weeded all of that. Today I got not just one but two work crews and they got some serious weeding done. They worked all around the Japanese Pond and into the rest of the open space in the gardens (as you can see below) plus they tackled that mess of weeds by the crabapple trees by the River Front Trail parking lot. It looks really good, a little bare, but really good.

6-20-08, Saturday

Summer is definitely here. Not only have we had temperatures in the 90's but the desert willow is in full bloom. Gorgeous, isn't it?

Lawrence did a great job watering today. It looks like he will be our Saturday savior, coming in and watering the plants on the weekend.

6-19-08, Friday

So many weeds, so little time. But Anna and Niki really cleaned up the amphitheater bed. It looks great. Take a peek the next time you go jogging, biking, walking, roller blading, or simply strolling along the River Front Trail.

Richard and Tyler got things ready for Monday's mealy bug massacre. A volunteer is coming out to apply a systemic pesticide to our mealy bugs. This will be only one part of a multi-facted attack, I mean, Integrated Pest Management Plan, to control the mealy bugs and scale in the greenhouses. We will also be applying horticultural oils and compost tea, yes compost tea, it just isn't for fertilizer anymore. We will also be thinning out problem plants and adding new specimens. I know it is summer and the attention is on the outside gardens but exciting things are happening in the greenhouses. We will be getting 6 new koi and I've found a new butterfly supplier who can get us some types of butterflies we haven't seen in the butterfly house for a while. I'll keep you posted. In the meantime here is a lovely shot of the cana lily Richard moved. It is very happy in its new location and looks just great with the varigated bamboo and the crazy camo plant against the back wall.

Pansy bed update. They were left in peace Thursday but today (Friday) the pests were at it again. Elsie repaired the damage and gave the darlings a much needed drink. When I told Niki about it she got quite pugnacious "This is war!" She did a lot of work getting the soil ready and planting the pansies so she isn't about to let anything ruin her good work.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Thursday is Plant Day!

I wanted to get photos of the Plant Select plants that got planted because that is what Max and I were busy doing yesterday. The front bed is filling in nicely. Maybe I'll get a chance this morning but I somehow doubt it because of all the weeding and watering to do. Tune it tomorrow and find out.

Here is a picture from the Sensory Garden. I just love the purple and the green.

And Kenton is marveling at the "biggest lavender I have ever seen". It is pretty impressive. You should come on down and check it out.

A friend of mine is visiting from California and we took a little drive south to Montrose. I'd forgotten what a cute little botanic garden Montrose has. If you are bored and looking for a nice afternoon excursion I highly recommend a drive down to Montrose. The botanic garden is off of Niagra Road right next to the Pavillion and it is always open. Plus you can stop for a Chicago Dog if you get hungry. :)

Those Darn Squirrels

It seems as though the squirrels have decided to move into the cactus garden. Who could blame them? Plenty of food, plenty of protection, perfect! Well, pack your bags you darling little rodents because you are moving out. Rick has built some squirrel only cages and has cooked up a concoction to deter the varmints. So hopefully that should take care of the problem. There also has been something rooting up the pansies and Rick put down a spray of some sort and I'm pleased to say that it looks like it is working. Yesterday anyway. I'll let you know how it goes today. In the meantime is here a picture form Ernie's cactus garden. I tried to get a photo of the bees that were busily collecting nectar and pollen but they wouldn't stay still. Too much to do. I can relate. ;)

The Worst Is Over

This was taken 2 weeks ago on the 6th. The river never got high enough to flood us this year or ruin the pump. We were lucky. It has been great for the wild flowers. Make sure you take time to head for the hills for a little hike and enjoy all the amazing flowers that you'll see this year.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Butterfly Pavillion

I drove up to Denver the day before the Plant Select meeting to meet with the curator of the Butterfly Pavilion in Westminster. I found out too late that the meeting was canceled because she was doing a segment for the news. Then the scheduling didn't work out for Thursday but I went anyway just to look around. And yes, I took a zillion photos, mostly of Operations Manager stuff like mister systems, the puparium and signage. But here is one I took just because I liked the plants.

I made it home safely and so did the plants. Here is what a truckload of plants looks like. Except for the flat and a half of pansies. It is really about 8 flats and I have a little truck. ;)

Here is the flat and a half of pansies. Just enough to fill in the bare spot in the pansy garden outside of the office. Perfect, just perfect.

So Much Has Happened

I don't know where to start. Can I even remember a week ago Friday? Ummm. No. Monday was a big day though. I finally got the pump going in the irrigation pond. Which makes me extremely happy. Extremely happy. So with my confidence up I attempted to get the fountains going in the Japanese pond. I was pretty close and then pfffft. The pump just wouldn't turn on. Cuss, cuss, cuss. I helped Paul Sparks shovel dirt for his dahlia bed and numerous odds and ends to get wrapped up because I was headed out of town to go to the Plant Select meeting at the Denver Botanic Garden. It was fantastic. The speakers were inspiring, the gardens too, of course. I took a zillion pictures but mostly of things of interest to an Operations Manager, like thermometers and exit signs and paving materials. I came back with a truckload of plants, yes a truckload of plants. So, that is what I'm working on this week. Getting those suckers in the ground. And keeping what is already in the ground to stay alive in the 90 plus heat we have. Here are a few pictures that are just purty and not work photos.

This is from a city park in downtown Denver by the art museum. These little guys just cracked me up. I liked how they were all lined up just so and they were so upright they reminded me of soldiers on parade.

Some day when I figure out how to get a handle on the mealy bugs, the brugmansia at the Gardens will look this good.

What a fabulous mix of purple, yellow and green. From the Denver Botanic Gardens.

So today Richard spied a new frog in the greenhouse. We surmised that perhaps it hitched a ride in on one of our new bromelieads. My camera does a poor job of zooming in so you can't really see it to well. If any of you know of a decent digital camera that has a good zoom on it let me know.

Can you see the frog?

This is a little better view. But not much.

Tomorrow I'll report on the Plant Select planting project. Today Richard and Tyler planted 2 flats of iceplants and the three honeysuckle, Kintzley's Ghost. Once they grow out a little they are going to look fantastic.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

What? It is Wednesday Already?

So, I should start with Tuesday. Tuesday, Tuesday. What happened on Tuesday? Watering. Getting introduced to the new irrigation controller. Plenty of chatting with interested folks about the community garden. More on that tomorrow. Submitted the butterfly permit. Monday the guys from Painted Desert Landscaping discovered that the folks putting up the tent for the wedding this weekend impaled one of the irrigation lines. I'm sure glad Don from WD Yards came out to fix it. I probably could have fixed it but it would have take me all day because I haven't fixed that many pvc pipes. And it turns out the pcv saw is taking a little vacation and wasn't around yesterday. Or today. So I can put off dealing with the foot valve in the irrigation pond one more day. Shucky darn. ;)

They did a good job of going right through the pipe, huh.

The river's arisin'. Do I pull the pump or not? Not on Tuesday but I did today. This picture is from this morning and while the level did drop a little by this afternoon the storm clouds made me nervous. Plus I got to buy some swell pipe wrenches. They are 18 inches and red. Plus they make short work of the universal couplings on the pump. Nice.

The inlet didn't get this full last week when the river peaked. The bit of cement you see on the left is the outlet for when the water on the other side of the levy needs to drain. I haven't seen this little inlet so full. I'm curious as to how it will look in the morning.

And here are my regular shots from off of the bridge to Watson Island. These photos just do not do them justice. The channel is really turbulent.

However, the honeysuckle is starting to bloom along with the day lilies. The honeysuckle smells fantastic.
One of the really exciting things that happened today was that I finally got the dirt for the dahlia bed today. Yay! I forgot to take a picture of it. It no longer looks like an open mass grave. Now it looks like the beginnings of a flower bed.

The other exciting thing is that almost all of the pansies are planted out in front of the office. Cheryl, Kim and Hazel finished all but 2 flats. It looks great. What I envisioned but couldn't figure out how it was going to get done. The Gardens has such great volunteers.

The other really exciting thing that happened today was that the solar panels are now in place. They just need to get hooked to the grid which will happen Monday. It is so cool. We are so lucky to have them. I'll try to get pictures tomorrow. Or you could just visit your favorite Botanical Garden and see for yourself. ;)

Monday, June 2, 2008

Two Handsome Guys, Orchids and Boy Am I Happy The Garden Tour Is Over

OK. Lets start with the Garden Tour. It was a smashing success. I don't have an official count yet from Meredith but it is in the neighborhood of 600. More than last year. Yay! I still have a job for a few more weeks. ;) The gardens I saw were amazing and I hear that people noticed the 50 billion annuals that got planted last week. There are still a few left to go in the ground. Hopefully I can get to that this week although I am back to being consumed by the irrigation system this week.

Deb brought some gorgeous orchids down for the Garden Tour. They look much better than my pictures.

Last Friday Randy (on the left) and Tom (on the right) came down to cut down two of the few trees we have. We are getting solar panels installed this week and they had to go. They were very healthy aspen trees and it was sad to see them go and so fast. Randy and Tom had them down and chipped in about 10 minutes.

The greenhouses need a little attention after being neglected for the last couple of weeks. I'm lucky to have Richard. Also, Lloyd stopped by to check on the pump and make sure it wasn't under water yet. I haven't gotten any river pictures for the last few days but it has been rising. The warm, ok, hot, weather has been melting the snow. I didn't pull the pump because I hear this peak isn't going to be as high as the last one. I sure hope not. We'll see tomorrow.