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.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Blue Skies Smiling At Me

What a beautiful day, nary a cloud in the sky. The air was warmed with the last breath of summer. A lovely, lovely day. Just perfect for sitting inside and working on a budget. Arrgh! Oh, don't worry the plants haven't been forgotten. They got their requisite watering from both Ginny and Tyler, special thanks to Tyler for taking down the lights from the concert series. We had a new volunteer start today and she said the magic words "I love decorating for Christmas!" Don't worry, I got my piece of the action too. There were some butterflies that needed releasing. There were some frenetic but pretty orange barr sulphur butterflies, that are really yellow, and some julias, that are orange. And when I had my fill of budgeting I saddled up and kilt me sum weeds. Always a pleasant task.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Budgets and Meetings

Hi everybody,

No purdy pictures today. Yesterday I spent almost all day in front of the computer working on a budget for the garden I'm not telling you about yet. Today was spent all day in a tree conference. It was fantastic actually. I know the basics about trees. Don't bury the root flare, no girdling roots, remember to water in the winter. I still have no opinion on the whole how big do you make your planting hole and do you amend the hole debate. When I tranplanted the arbor day trees we just dug a hole splashed in some root stimulator and some vitamins and called it good. The honey locusts didn't make it but the blue spruce, atlas pine, burr oak, catalpa and redbud did. And the privet hedge seems happier back there too. The conference was good because it showed me examples of trees and reinforced what I've been trying to do at the Gardens. PRIM, which is Mike Vendegna's cute acryonym for Plan, Research, Install and Maintain. The tree tour through downtown was fun too. I wonder if we could do one in the spring or summer next year through the Gardens. Would any of you go?

Thursday, September 11, 2008


Well, the brugmansia bloomed. Isn't it fantastic? It looked really great yesterday with the overcast sky making all the light colors glow. This little trumpet flower is one of our successes. It was grown from a twig off of the mama plant. She had a horrible fungus and we had to cut her down which worked out ok because that corner of the greenhouse was really crowded. The fact that we grew something from a twig and didn't kill is a thing to be proud of. Next we managed to save it from the great mealy bug infestation of spring '08. And now it is flourishing and saying "Thanks!" by blooming. You can see one of our polydamas swallowtails haning out there. Another good sign.

Here it is from another view.

Remember, just because the weather outside is crummy doesn't mean you shouldn't come down to WCBG. The greenhousess usually have lots of flowers. And while the butterflies seem to be inactive on cloudy days, yesterday they were flying up a storm. Plus the jasmine was blooming and the scent was heavenly. I think the one of the best times to visit the greenhouses is during lousy weather, especially in the winter time.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

It Is Tuesday Already?!

Friday we were all very excited at the new trees that were donated to the Gardens. The one on the left is a Twisty Baby Locust and the one on the right is a Siberian Pea.

Here is a paparazzi shot of our turtle. I want to name it "Greta" because every time someone comes around it gets a case of the Garbos.

And here is one very handsome toad.

I'm lucky to have such good volunteers because they are keeping everything going so I can work on the mysterious new garden. I'm not sure how it can still be much of a secret because there are so many people involved in it. Patience, soon all will be revealed.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

The Good News

So I got another temperature alarm this morning. The good news is that it was at 4:44am. The good news is that there was something not right about the motor that runs the pump that circulates the water from the boiler and not some pain in the neck thing I'd never ever figure out. The good news is that it is still warm out and I could go back home and even got a 15 minute nap before starting my day for real. The good news is that Max got the watering done. The good news is that Ginny got half of the roses deadheaded. The good news is that the Career Center kids came out and did a fabulous job on the gardens. The good news is that Keith from Lunsford came out and showed me how to fix the motor plus a whole bunch of other things (I should be getting my degree from the University of Lunsford in about a year). The good news is we had a really great visit from Kristin Robbins from the El Pomar Foundation about that hush hush garden I was telling you all about earlier. The good news is I get to go to the Urban Tree Conference next Friday. The good news is I can print from my computer again. The good news is we got two new koi donated. That's old news but it is still good news. That is Big Shiny on the right and Big Jake in the middle.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

All's Well

So it turned out the one thing I was missing last night was to reset the circuit for the pump. Which I did when I got in this morning. Problem solved. :)

I ran across a couple of pictures from the Riverfront Parkway opening. Here is me and Tyler.

And Richard and Lloyd.

Today was doing a little admin catch up but most exciting is the planning of a new garden. It is a little hush hush right now but I'll be posting pictures of the progression as things unfold.

The Watson Island cleanup is looking like it is going to be starting this month. The first step looks to be to remove some of the russian olive along the north channel. Again, I'll let you know more when I have more information. The planning session, or charrette, was held at the Gardens a week ago Monday. A lot of folks turned up but more were consulted in the weeks previously. There are a lot of folks that are going to be involved and the plan looks to be fairly comprehensive. It is really exciting to be a part of such a big project. For more info on the Tamarisk Coalition click here.

Temperature Alarm

Good morning everybody. It is 2am and I just got home from a nearly futile hour of troubleshooting in the greenhouses. That's right the low temperature alarm went off this morning and I got the call at 12:45. I had a feeling that was going to happen but I figured everything was ok since the last few nights everything had been copacetic. First thing I noticed is that the swamp cooler was still running. The Gift Store was really cold. So I shut that off. Then I went up the ladder to the boiler room to see what's what. The controller was calling for heat but the furnace wasn't turning on, the pump wasn't going. Nothing. It finally dawned on me to check the fuse boxes and low and behold the breakers were off for the pumps, thermostats and furnace. So I flipped them and they roared to life. What a sweet sound. So I stuck around and everything seemed fine so down the ladder I went into the greenhouses. I heard the fan going in the east greenhouse and thought "great!" So I went back into the butterfly house and waited for the hot water to make it to the radiotor in there. And I waited. Waited. And waited some more. Up the ladder I went and discovered silence. Everything had shut itself off. The furnace was still warm although the water temp was less than 80 degrees. The outdoor sensor light was on Good. But the furnace had turned off. Not so good. I fiddled with the manual pump but that didn't do anything. Hmm. The controller was still calling for heat. I had reset the night temperature and I'm not sure if that had anything to do with everything shutting off. The breakers hadn't flipped but I was about to. I'd done everything I could for now. The outside temperature wasn't going to go below 50 tonight both the butterflies and the plants would live through the night. According to the controller the temperature in both greenhouses had only dropped by three tenths of a a degree in the last hour. The temperature in the puparium was at 68 so the chrysalids would be fine too. I decided to call it a night and try again in the morning when I can talk to someone who call help me figure this whole mess out. I'll let you know how it all works out.