Saturday, December 12, 2009

Double Daggers of Death!

Coming to work is dangerous and exciting these days. Just look at that killer icicle!

The greenhouse and the butterfly house are THE places to be on these cold winter days. It is so wonderful walking into the butterfly house and smell the blooming ginger and see the flowers and butterflies. The bananas are way cool too. The orchids in the rainforest are so beautiful. They remind you there are more colors than white. I'm especially partial to the all the greenery we have. It is fantastic to see such lush life amidst the cold of winter.
Outside you take your life in your hands what with the double daggers of death and black ice and snow blindness and all but that is the thrill of winter. Right?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

White Out!

This is what the Gardens looked like yesterday.

It is nice that the sun came out today. It is utterly amazing that we have so much snow on the ground. The plants are pretty happy with all the moisture. Me too.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Let It Snow!

I've been looking forward to today. It is the perfect day for making hot chocolate, baking cookies, snuggling up on your couch with a good gardening book and for enjoying the winter blooms. Winter blooms? That's right. You heard me, winter blooms. They are tiny and white and are on a plant called Erica or Heather. I'm not sure of the difference, just don't call it Carla. You can find it under the Turkish Cypress just east of the greenhouse entrance in the Color and Harmony Garden.

Look. Isn't it great? Well, if it were in focus it'd be great. These are teensy tinsy flowers we're trying to look at here. Yes. You are going to have to drink up the cocoa, get up off of the couch and mosey on down here to see for yourself. Some day I'm going to have a camera with a MACRO lense. The Erica/Heather but not Carla isn't the only thing looking good.

Check out the bamboo. That's right. I said bamboo.

Look at that red leaf. No wonder red and green are the official colors of Christmas.

Friday, December 4, 2009


Well, here we are in our first cold snap. I know the best thing to do when that happens. You guessed it. Visit the Gardens. The greenhouses are warm and tropical. The butterflies are flirty and friendly. And the bananas are banana-ing. See?

I see those teeth chattering. I see those blue lips. You really owe it to yourself to come on down. And as an added enticement as if butterflies, bananas and tropical temps were not enough, this Sunday is the first Sunday of the month and you know what that means. Admission is FREE!
See you at the Gardens.

The Problem With The Internet

The internet is great. You can see pictures of things thousands away from where you are. You can keep up with people you care about no matter where they are. Heck, you can even buy a waterproof MP3 player at three in the morning. Not only that but you can listen to music from local community radio around the corner or snooty jazz music from Paris. You can watch movies. You can learn how to prune properly. You can do all kinds of things but when you sniff your computer all you smell is plastic. And that is a great disappointment. To get over this disappointment I head to the greenhouses. In the butterfly house the ginger is blooming. Mmmmm. It smells so good! Unless you are Mercer. Yeah, he thinks it stinks. But what does a three year old know anyway? Hmmphf.

So here is the ginger. Looking lovely and smelling great. But don't stop just in the butterfly house. We have some orchids in the rainforest that are awesomely odoriferous.

These are the ones. They are called "Dancing Dolls" but they should really be called "Chocolate Delight".

So I recommend you quit sniffing your computer and come down to the Gardens and enjoy a truely wonderful olfactory experience.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Wow, was I sick. There are some nasty germs running around out there. So becareful, drink lots of orange juice, eat right and most of all don't pick your nose. You really, really don't want to get sick and spend a week and a half in bed. Specially since when you get back to work you have all this work you have to catch up on before you get to do the fun jobs you really like, like blogging.

Here is something cool that happened while I was sick: the lighting.

Cool photo, huh? That's one of Shirley's. This next one is too. That is why Shirley's photos are in the calendar and not mine.

"Calendar? What calendar?" you might be asking. The WCBG calendar of course! It has 12 super cool photos of the Gardens. As I mentioned, a lot of Shirley's photos are in it but so are Denice's and one by Bob. They are ten bucks and all proceeds go to the Gardens. Get yours today because they are going fast. Who knows if any will be left tomorrow.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Baby its cold outside.

Anyway, the frost is making our fence look like a city skyline. I hope these are the only skyscrapers that we ever have in Grand Junction.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

It's Beginning

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, especially in the gift store. Shirley has been tremendously busy getting things ready. Come on and see what she has been working on.


We have lobsters in the butterfly house. Well..... lobster claws.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Yes, We Have No Bananas Today!

Yes, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today! Spike Jones does a much better version of that song than I do. Listen here. I know you are wondering what inspired all that?

We have bananas at the Gardens. We have lovely little green bananas in the rainforest and the butterfly house. Here are the ones in the rainforest.

It was a thrill to walk in this morning and see this bunch starting in the butterfly house.

The first batch of bananas should be ready for eating in a couple of months. Yum!

It Is November

Yes, it really is November. It is getting cold and wintery.

There is snow on the ground and everything.

Looks like the snapdragons missed the memo.

The alyssum missed it too.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Fall Is Here!

Well, we finally got frost at the Gardens. No, me forgetting to turn off the irrigation and creating an icicle wonderland doesn't count. Some of the more tender plants have already bitten the dust with the cooler temperatures we've been having. Now some of the more hardy things are starting to die back. It was a good summer and fall seems to be coming along nicely. I've been enjoying the butterfly house lately on these chilly mornings.
Remember that CSU Extension is hosting a tree sale this weekend. All proceeds benefit the Master Gardener Scholarship Fund. Plus, fall is the best time for planting. Be there or have an ugly garden come spring. ;)

Friday, October 2, 2009

Last Friday

Last Friday I was waking up at the lake outside of Chama. Getting in the truck and driving back to GJ. Oh the week went way too fast. We took the long way back going over Wolk Creek and Slumgullion pass. It was so beautiful. We got to the gardens around 6 that night and had just enough day light to unload a truckload of plants (yes! another one!) and get them all a little drink. We also went down into the Uplands Conservation area and put markers out for the Tamarisk Coalition volunteers to plant the things we brought back from Los Lunas.
So what were we up to last Wednesday and Thursday? Plant aquisition! We stopped by Plants of the Southwest. What a cool place. Gail grows mostly New Mexico native plants but we had no problem finding a flat or two of things for the Gardens. There is a demonstration garden that shows how to utilize "grey" water. There is also this fantabulous restaurant where for $9 you get soup, salad, main dish and a lovely cup of tea. The deserts were only $2.50 so we had to indulge. The food was fantastic and of course all organic and locally grown. Yum. I insist you stop by the next time you are in Santa Fe.
Our next stop was the Agua Fria nursery. They also sell native plants. We kind of lost our heads and filled up what little space was left in the truck. The advice that was given to us about Agua Fria when we left GJ was "If you want it, buy it. Don't wait." The owners go seed collecting every year so there is a very good possibility that what you want won't be there the next time you go back.
Thursday was our day to play. Yeah. Like the rest of the trip has been nothing but duty, duty, duty, just awful. ;) We heard from a couple of folks that it was a good time of the year to go to 4th of July canyon to see the native maples turning color. So off we went with nothing but a recommendation. We found it though. It is on the east side of the Sandias and tucked off the beaten track. I love having to stop and ask for directions. You meet some really cool folks.
The maples on the hill hadn't turned yet but the ones in the canyon were gorgeous. The red leaves were so vivid they didn't look real. Nature is just phenomenal. It was kind of late by the time we were done hiking so we hotfooted it north and made it almost to Chama.
Because it was already dark when we set up the tent we had no idea what the countryside looked like. We ended up right next to a lake. It was a beautiful surprize in the morning.

And that ladies and gentlemen is the end of our big, southwestern, whirlwind tour. I can hardly wait 'til next year's!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

One Week Ago

One week ago at this time I was at the NRCS office in Los Lunas looking at the most amazing grass. Dude, not like that!
One of the things the NRCS does is grow seed for conservation in out National Parks and Forests. We visited at the exact perfect time. The grasses were at peak harvest so there were fields and fields of grasses with their lovely seed heads dancing in the wind. Plus, we were there in the morning so the lighting was dramatic and beautiful. You haven't lived until you've seen a couple of acres of alkalai muhly grass in bloom.
We picked up some plants for the Uplands Garden too. We stopped at half a truckload knowing that we were going to be heading to Santa Fe and visiting nurseries there.
And after a lovely lunch at Frank's Sandwiches, Santa Fe was exactly where we were headed. We both had the Sombrero. It was more or less a burrito with fantastic green chili. Like that is hard to find in New Mexico, right? Mmmmm.
We spent the rest of the afternoon at Santa Fe Greenhouses aka High Country Gardens. They are wonderful. David has been such a great supporter of the Gardens for the last couple of years. Plus their plants are just fabulous. We could have spent all night there looking and talking about plants.
But we didn't. We had bigger fish to fry. Well, a campsite to find and set up. We camped just outside of town in a great little campground. You drive around downtown until you come to the big pink building. Turn right onto Bishop's Lodge, then right again on Artist's Way (!) and drive until you get to the first campground you see and there you are.
It was a big day.

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Girls are Here!

Any of you who heard me on "What's Sprouting" radio edition on KAFM a couple of weeks ago heard me talking about "Bring Your Chicken to Work Day". It took me a couple of weeks to get everything arranged but here they are! The black one is Emily and the red one is Dora. Watch out for Dora, she'll take a piece out of you.

I'm hoping they will do a number on our weeds and so far it looks like my plan is working. I think I can actually fit four fine hens into the chicken carrier so we will have even more pecking power.

As you can see, the girls are thrilled to be here!

Day Three

You know? Gardeners and technology just do not mix. Like getting the formatting in this blog to work right. I'd just rather go in the gardens and pull weeds instead of mess with it. Anyway, Kenton forgot the camera and I either let the battery on the laptop run down or I couldn't find a wireless internet connection. Drat. It was a great trip so you'll get a blow by blow account, just a week late.
Let's see.... Last Monday I was waking up in a bagel shop parking lot in Durango. And dang was it cold. Around 37. I guess it was cold in Junction, too. Waking up in a parking lot. I know what you are thinking and it wasn't like that.
You see Kelley from Timberline Nursery in Arvada and Kenton's pal and plant guru Allen both loaded us up with so many plants we had to detour back to the Gardens to drop them off. So that got us a little bit of a late start. We left the Gardens around 6pm or so and by the time we made it to Durango it was late and dark so we found the first likely parking lot and pulled in. We were traveling on a shoestring, a frayed and old shoestring.
Breakfast was great. Hot coffee. Fresh and yummy donuts and a chorizo breakfast burrito. Then it was time to hit the road. We had important meetings with Jon and Dale at the Albuquerque Botanic Gardens. Things to do. People to see and all that.
Jon and Dale were amazing. Jon is the Operations Manager and he shed some light on irrigation issues. I could have spent all day with him but I only got an hour and a half. Dale runs their butterfly house. It is a seasonal butterfly house and will be closing for the season in October but he still had a lot of good information that will help us keep improving our own cute, little butterfly house. We spent a lot of time in their Japanese Garden. It is huge and not quite done. They've been opening it up bit by bit. I was there two years ago when they opened the first section. They've since added about 1/3 more and it looked like they still had more to go.
It was interesting talking to Jon and Dale. The Albuquerque Botanic Gardens are run by the city. Jon had previously worked at a non-profit before being lured away by the Albuquerque Botanic Gardens. So we asked him what is the difference working for the city and working for a non-profit. He said that at the non-profit there wasn't ever any money. He paused then said that working for the city there wasn't ever any money. We got a good laugh out of that.
I recommend you check out the Albuquerque Botanic Gardens. Especially their children's garden. When I was first there all that was there was the hardscape. There were no plants and I thought it was just awful. However, in the past two years they added the plants and it looks fantastic. The theme is "gigantic". They have these huge pots with huge plants in them. They have roots growing down so you can see them underground. They have gigantic insects. And an enormous rotted tree trunk you can run around it. The kid in me went nuts. We were there after hours but I can imagine that kids would have a riot in that garden.
It took a little pressure off of me. Our children's garden was never fully realized. The plan wasn't followed and what was done was never documented. It has been a sore spot for me since I've been at the Gardens. I made me realize once again that gardens can't be rushed. You have to have a plan and you have to have funding. More importantly you have to have people who believe in your garden and want to work on it and in it. I'll be focusing on our children's garden for the next couple of years. Let me know if you are interested. I can use all the help I can get.
We ended up at a friend of Kenton's for the night. Whew. I don't know if I could have taken another night in the front seat of the truck. Kenton's friend had a great garden, of course. He had taken out his front lawn and was landscaping it with veronica, thyme, lavender, hyssop and a bunch of other xeric plants. The thing I liked the best was how "flirty" it is. He designed it so that the visitor had to brush up against these beautiful, sweet-smelling plants. It was also really formal and geometric. I can hardly wait to see what it looks like next year.
So that was last Monday. Have a good Monday this Monday!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Day One

Good Morning Everyone!

It is officially day two but I'll give you a quick rundown of yesterday. Betty Ford Alpine Gardens. We met with Michelle and we found out we have a lot in common with them. They also lease their garden from the city, well the Town of Vail. They have a small staff and everyone is doing more than one job. Funding is an issue but they are in a different tax bracket so while I'd be thrilled with what they have for operating funds, they have a whole different budget. They are twice as old as the WCBG so it gives me an idea of where we can be in another ten years. Way cool. Nice folks. Fantastic plants. the next time you are heading to (or from) Denver, stop off and visit. It is more or less the halfway point and a great place to stretch your legs and have a snack. It is the second Vail exit either way your are driving. Handy, huh?

We were supposed to have a 2 hour meeting and a tour at the DBG with Panayoti Keladais and Matthew Cole but it turned out to be 5 hours. Mattew gave us a private after hours tour for another hour or so (have I mentioned lately that I love my job?).

There are great things in the future for the WCBG and the DBG and a whole lotta other gardens in Colorado. Yes. This is the big tease. You won't see the fruition of these talks for another year or two but trust me, it is going to be cool.

At the moment I am blogging to you live from DBG. They have free wi-fi (we have it at WCBG too!) and I'm taking advantage of it.

The DBG's fall bulb and plant sale was this morning. I restrained myself and ended up with only seven plants. But they are fabulous. Sadly none of them will be at the Gardens. They are mine, all mine. Bwahahahaha. (That is supposed to be an evil laugh.)

That is it for now. We are off to deliver the six headed yucca recurvifolia and most likely a couple more plant purchases. Kenton has been taking tons of photos and hopefully by tonight we will be able to figure out how to download them so we can share them with you.

Have a good day. Catch you later.

PS I wonder how Calabash is going. If you don't have anything going on you should head down to the Gardens and check it out. It sounds like fun.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Out of the Office

Why do I have to go on vacation in order to update the blog regularly?

Is is because I was being interviewed for the evening news? Or because there are huge things afoot in the gift store? New pupa in the greenhouse? Calabash? Robb River Rally? Baby bananas in the greenhouse? Is it the fact that we are planning the greatest holiday extravaganza ever? Ordering more plants for Shozan-en? Or that I was on the radio? Planning a new garden that will begin installation in just a few short weeks? Pulling weeds? Hangin' with the volunteers? The annual appeal? (Come on now, I beseech thee to look deep into your heart and then deep into your wallet to support your most favorite botanic garden). I'm eating too many tomatoes from the Community Garden? Fiddling with the irrigation controller? Those crazy orange gazanias? Board meetings? Staff meetings? Just plain old meetings, meetings, meetings, galore? I'm admiring the sunflower patch a little too much? Could it be the fence is moving or we're getting lighting in the greenhouses? What ever the reason, you'll be getting daily updates from your Horticultural Correspondents for the next week or so. (Provided we can get an internet signal).

Kenton and I are off on a botanical adventure. We're starting in Denver (big things happening there for sure) then continuing south to visit friends at botanic gardens, the NRCS and garden centers from here to Bernallio. Hold on to your hat Hannah, its going to be a thrilling ride.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Mea Culpa!

Is it the 9th already? 09-09-09. I'm not going to be able to write that one for a while.

Look at this good lookin' bunch.

Chinle Gardeners at the September 9 Garden Party at the WCBG from left: Dave Kennedy, Maryann Benoit, Al Severson, & Tom Burrows. Don Campbell is hiding behind the camera.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Happy Tuesday!

How do you like the updates the WCBG website? I love them. It means you can get to the blog via the WCBG home page. Hmmm. I think that means I need to update more than I have been. ;) The updates to the website will take some time too so be patient. It will all be done soon.

So many things happen in the gardens every day it is hard to concentrate on one thing. Plus there has been a whole lotta' planning going on (yes, you should hear Jerry Lee Lewis singing at that last bit). As exciting as planning is to those of us who have a beaurocratic bent it isn't really all that thrilling. I mean who really gets all excited over a 3 inch mainline? Really. Really? Send 'em over!

The flowers are looking beautiful in that end of summer way. I see that the cottonwoods are already displaying flashes of gold. Fall is on its way. Me, too.

See ya!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Look Out Hollywood!

If this whole gardening thing doens't work out it seems like I may have a future in the movies. Seth came out to the Gardens today to work on a tv spot for the Walk for Life. My job? Drive the golf cart nice and steady so the camera doens't wobble and the actors stay in frame. It turned out really nice.
FYI: The Walk for Life is Saturday, October 3rd, so mark your calendar now.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

They're Back!

You take a couple of days off to go camping and when you come back the water in the north channel has dropped. Of course that can only mean one thing. Beavers.

The little darlings have built a dam just east of the bridge that goes onto Watson Island. It is pretty cool and in the perfect spot too. The pond that is forming is right where my irrigation intake is for the amphitheater. They haven't dammed anything else just yet although it looks like they are in construction mode. I came across a felled Russian olive and Siberian elm. Looks like our little bucktooth buddies are doing their part for conservation.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Plant Theft

I've been keeping quiet about our plant thefts lately. Not because they haven't been happening because they have. I just don't need to be having apoplectic fits every other day. OK. We haven't been having plants being stolen every day. Maybe every few days.

Like today....some SOB stole the Siberian Elm that was growing in the levee and causing me all kinds of trouble. The nerve. Helping me out like that. What is this world coming to?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


Remember when the puparium looked like this?

Me, too. And some day it will look like this again. Someday hopefully being today. Waiting for pupa is almost as hard as waiting for Christmas.

Friday, August 7, 2009

I Luv Natives!

I luv natives and you all know I love the Tararisk Coaltion. You know they are helping us install an Uplands Conservation Garden as a part of their huge clean up along the Colorado River. Well, to help raise money for the plants they are selling bumper stickers. The bumper sticker is $20 and 100% of the proceeds will go towards the purchase of revegatation material. Umm, that means plants to you and me. We have some in Botanica Gift Shop. For every sticker we sell at Botanica the WCBG gets $20 worth of plants to go into the Uplands Conservation Garden. So come on down and buy a sticker. Buy two. Buy three. They make excellent gifts. And they go well with everything in your closet.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Joseph, Bob and Bill

We got some new goldfish! Their names are Joseph, Bob and Bill. They are swimming around in the pond in the butterfly house. Come on down and check them out. They are the smallest ones in the tank. They went from being the biggest fish in their old tank to being the smallest ones in ours.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009


Those of you who missed last Saturday's butterfly release missed a good one. Chris Tomlinson took a great photo for the Sentinel and KKCO did a great 15 second story on the news Saturday night. My 15 seconds of fame.
It was coool. We had a variety of butterflies, some swallowtails, white peacocks and painted ladies. Talk about feisty. They were an amazingly active bunch. It took me a while to get them ready because they did not want to cooperate. It was worth it though. The way they flew out of the release box was terrific. Don't fret if you missed it. We'll do another one August 22. 1pm. Be there or be square.

Prince Charming

Isn't he handsome? I think he really must be Prince Charming. Granted I didn't kiss him. He wouldn't sit still. Donna and I rescued him last Wednesday from the parking lot. He made a really funny noise as he hopped across the asphalt. Phthwap, phthwap, phthwap or something like that.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

I Love Our Volunteers

You all missed a great party yesterday. Our volunteer appreciation party was yesterday. It was a laid back summer afternoon kind of affair. Everyone ate and drank and enjoyed spending time with each other. We don't always take the time to do that. Our volunteers are really hard workers so it was good to see them just relaxing for a change.
Cristina really outdid herself out getting everything lined up. We had all kinds of food donated. Some really fun door prizes donated. And a DJ. I am continually amazed and delighted with just how generous Grand Junction is.
Thank you Grand Junction!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Speaking of Workenders....

The Weekend Workender Weed crew was here yesterday. And ohhh does the Gardens look good because of it. They cleaned up the kochia out from the Heritage Garden area and it looks so clean and tidy.

I promised them I'd have a different job for them next month. Maybe I'll finally get the Shozan-en pathway crowned and compacted.


These guys are biking across country to raise money for Parkinson's Disease and Traumatic Brain Injury. What is with it with this new generation? Forming non-profits and raising money and awareness. It is wonderful to see the younger generation thinking about things other than themselves.

They were hanging out at the Gardens yesterday morning. I just happened to be here because the Workenders were here and I took the opportunity of some uninterrupted time to set the impact heads in the amphitheater. Being the friendly sort of fellows that they are we got to chatting. Raising money for Parkinson's and Brain Injuries was only the tip of the iceberg. They were interested in a variety of social issues. It was cool. You never know who you are going to bump into at the Gardens.

If you know someone affected by Parkinson's Disease or Traumatic Brain Injury, which I think is all of us, you might want to donate a couple of bucks to their cause.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

The Rest of the Day Friday

Yee Haw! Hoo Rah! and Sis Boom Bah!

Friday was was a the nexus of the finalizaiton of four projects. I'd have been happy if any one of the following tasks got done but all four did so I'm way up there in the stratosphere of happiness.

1. Richard finished the duck float and put it in place. I haven't seen any ducks dancing the rhumba out there on the duck float yet but it is just a matter of time I'm sure. That and maybe they'd like a disco ball.

2. There were a couple of repairs and some pruning in the butterfly house I wanted to get done. It looks so wonderful in there.

3. The siberian elm forest that threatened to take over Celebration Plaza has been removed.

4. Most thrilling of all because I've been working on this one for around two years, there is a hose bib in the amphitheater and all the zones are working the way they should. This is truly a time to break out a bottle of the bubbly.

Friday, July 17, 2009


Is it Friday already? Again? Really?
What a big week we had down here. Monday I was on "What's Sprouting" our monthly radio program at KAFM. Mark your calendars and tune your radios to 88.1 every second Monday at noon. You'll hear me babbling like an idiot, which, I understand, can be entertaining.
Tuesday the Green Guides folks were here. What a great bunch of folks. We went traipsing through the Gardens after hours looking at the native plants and relating them to home gardening. I had a blast. I always like showing off our gardens and will do it at the drop of a hat.
For example, the guy from the USDA stopped by to check in on Wednesday so, of course, I had to drag him through the Gardens pointing out this and that. And there is a lot of this and that right now, as you all most likely know.
I also got to meet again with the Tamarisk Coalition folks and somebody from Public Works with the City o' GJ. The conservation project going on on Watson Island is truely amazing. Next time you are at the Gardens allot a little extra time and take a stroll on the island. You can actually see the river. And the Gardens.
John came out and hopefully my irrigation irritations in the amphitheater are over. Yee Haw!
Today will be another big day. The Science Sleuths were here yesterday and they'll be here today again today. This is a cool collaboration between the City, the Math and Science Center, the Audubon Society and us. With all of us working together this program has been tremendously successful and the best thing is that no one had to do a ton of work. We all just contributed our on parts. I'm glad my part wasn't having to keep track of 14 rambunctious boys.
And how could I forget???? My favorite fellas from the City's Forestry Department were down removing and chipping trees. Oh don't be shocked, they weren't our fancy shmancy trees. They were wacking down those obnoxious Siberian Elms (aka Chinese Elms). I think we'll be replacing them with cottonwoods. I really love those trees. They provide such nice shade and I love the way they grow. And yes, I even like it when the cotton starts flying around. I got such a kick out of that as a kid and as some you may know, that kid is still around.
What a week, huh? Well, it is time to get moving. Today is another big day. See you in the Gardens!

Friday, July 10, 2009

New Project!

As you may already know we are helping the Tamarisk Coalition in their massive restoration project going on on the Colorado River just south of the Gardens. If you haven't taken a stroll down on Watson Island lately you should. Most of the tamarisk and russian olive have been removed and you can actually see the river and the north channel. One of the components of the restoration is to do an "uplands" demonstration garden. It is to show how what happens upstream affects the river. Normally uplands areas are miles away from the riparian area so it is pretty cool that you will be able to see the relationship between the two.
So what it means for me is planning. Yay! Planning gardens is fun. Almost as fun as working in them.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

There has been so much going on I just don't know where to start. Dr. Curtis came out from the CSU extension and installed our ET transmitter. No, we are not trying to lure a cute little alien to the Gardens, an ET transmitter regulates the amount of water that is applied based on an average of how much water the plants are using. The transmitter gets weather information from local weather stations and then calculates accordingly. It has been going almost a week and I can't really tell how it is doing. I know it is a great relief not having to remember to water. I'll keep you posted on how it goes.

So Dr. Curtis comes in at 8:30 last Friday and says "You are going to be on the air in 30 minutes." Yikes! Any of you tuning in to KKCO last Friday around 9:15 will have heard me talking about the butterflies. There are pupae hanging in the puparium and butterflies fluttering around in the butterfly house. The greenhouses are a nice place to be when it is so unbelievably hot. All of a sudden 80 degrees seems kind of nice.

Dr. Curtis also brought his intern Claire out and I set her to work. She pruned the wisteria. You should come down and have a look. It is blooming again and looks just great. She took Jeff's kyak out to the middle of the pond and did a little investigating on the whole foot valve situation. She helped out with the watering and most importantly of all chose an excellent pizza for lunch.

It is toad season. Those little buggers are everywhere. They sure are cut though.

That is it for today. Time to get out in the Gardens while it is still nice and cool.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Hooray for Hans!

Hans and his crew from Anode Systems have been working really hard in the community garden. They are in the community garden almost every day tending to their plants and it has really paid off. Today is their first harvest. I'm not sure if it is Catholic Outreach or Salvation Army that will be getting today's veggies. I'll let you know tomorrow for sure. It is amazing what just a few people can do to make a difference.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Happy Monday!

I always love it when the Weekenders have been here. I feel like I've gotten so much accomplished when I walk in on Monday. They had to cancel on Saturday but the crew that came in Sunday rocked and rolled. All they did all day was move gravel. A couple of the guys helped me get the fountain in the children's garden going. They did all the dirty work. Moving the rock, putting in the liner, replacing the rock. It looks great. All I need is a couple of goldfish and a hose clamp and we'll be in business. So that's where I'm headed. The goldfish hose clamp store. See ya!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Strangling Frogs Right and Left

Hasn't the rain been great? Especially since as soon as I start bragging to you all about how the irrigation system is working it decides to spite me and start acting up. I don't know what I'd do without John at GJ Pipe.
We found a couple of things. One of them actually was a drip. It indicated a valve not working effeciently. It is funny how it can be the little things that trip you up.
A secondary problem may be a really happy patch of algae growing up around the foot valve and the netafim intake. When John said all it would take was a piece of plywood I was ecstatic. When he suggested putting some astroturf on it and turning it into a duck float I was ecstatically ecstatic. A duck float. How cool. I think the ducks are a little mad at me since I got the pump working and the pond is full. There are too many cattails and they can't get to the shore any more. I bet those ducks are sitting around complaining about me. "Dang that girl." I can just hear them.

Dang me, dang me, they oughtta' take a rope and hang me, high from the highest tree.... Don't mind me. I do get possessed by the spirit of Roger Miller every now and again.

Have a good weekend!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


What is that sulphourous stench? The smell of success! I've been able to consistently irrigate with the water out of our settling pond. And water out of a pond smells, well, like pond water. Now if I can only get my ET transmitter.....

Monday, June 22, 2009

Magnificent Magnolia

I'm so proud of our little magnolia. It just keeps on going. We spotted the first flower bud today. We've added some cute little bunny grasses that look really cute when they bloom near the magnolia. Also the lobelia is crazy blue right now and will blind you if you look at it too long. Kinda like staring at the sun. The chilopsis (desert willow) has bright-pinky-purple-orchid-looking flowers and fits right in even though it is a low water plant. And just wait until the Disco Belle blooms. The alyssum is doing well and on a whole that entire bed is really, really happy. We aren't leaving it alone though. We are adding a new Carol Mackie that we got from Plant Select.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Good Morning!

I haven't forgotten about you all. I've just been out of the office. No. Not on vacation. I don't think any gardener in her right mind would plan a vacation during Spring/Summer. I was at the Denver Botanic Garden. Yeah. I have a rough job. I had to spend all day with plant people hearing about plants, talking about plants, looking at plants and getting plants. It was the annual meeting for Plant Select. I'm pretty sure I've talked about Plant Select before and I encourage you to visit their website. I love their plants. Their plants make me look soooooo gooood. They do a lot of research and testing to find plants that work well in our challenging Colorado soils. Their plants are pretty fool-proof. They make the blackest thumb turn to a darker shade of green.

Anyway, I came back with a truckload of plants. Yes. An entire truckload. I just love those Plant Select people. I give them my list of what I want and then they give me bonus plants. Yay! I love bonus plants. We are once again a test garden for plants that are not yet available for sale. Isn't that cool? I hope I don't kill them all this time. Just kidding! I only killed a few of them last time around. Most of them survived. And I didn't kill any of the tried and true plants. Ok. Maybe a couple of the delosperma bit the dust. But they were just little tykes and I probably shouldn't have put them in the ground so soon. But everyone else is looking good.

More exciting news is that we have plant labels! Plant Select gave us labels this year in addition to plants. So now when you visit the Gardens you can see which plants are Plant Select. Then you can march down to your favorite local nursery and get them for your very own garden. How great is that? Very.

Monday, June 15, 2009

She Really Is Cute

Here are a couple of pictures of our new tree frog. She is out and roaming in the greenhouse. Let me know if you spy her.


A very discerning group of jazz lovers congregated at the Elizabeth B. Harris Amphitheater last Saturday night to enjoy the smooth sounds of Influx. We did have a special VIP in the crowd. Our resident blue heron hung out on the river's edge during the entire show. Heron's are jazz lovers don't ya know.

What started off as a blustery afternoon calmed down into quite a lovely evening. It was wonderful.

For you bluegrass lovers we'll be having Sweet Sunny South on July 11. Mark your calendar. The gate is open at 6:30, the show starts at 7:30. Tickets are $10 for members and $14 general admission.

The First Butterfly Release

For those of you who were busy last May and couldn't come down to see the first butterfly release here are the highlights:

Here I am with a box 'o butterflies. You can feel them crawling around in the box. They were so anxious to get out into the butterfly house.

The lid comes off! You can see the little painted ladies flying out of the box. They were really friendly butterflies. They'd land on your shoulder or your shoe.

Or on a big rock.

D took these photos. Aren't they great? She had a bunch of other good ones but I forgot to get photo releases. I got them from the butterflies though. It was tricky finding a pen small enough. And then tracking down their agent and working out the percentages. What a bunch of prima donas.

If you missed any of the releases we had in May don't despair! We will be releasing butterflies this Saturday. 1pm. Don't miss it!

Friday, June 12, 2009

She's So Cute!

This kid comes in with the cutest green frog a couple of days ago. I immediately call our frog expert, Richard. He puts the siren on and races to the Gardens. Frog Emergency! Out of the way!
Richard looks at the cute little frog and gives it the once over. "I think it's a tree frog," he surmises. He whisks it off to the Frog Emergency Clinic for further observation.
He comes back a day later, frog and identification in hand. "Pacific Tree Frog," he pronounces. "Female." It likes the habitat of our green house so we let it loose. Keep your eyes peeled for a tiny bright green frog with a snazzy black stripe on either side the next time you are in the greenhouse. We call her Emily.

Holy Blooming Brugmansia Bat Man!

The Angel's Trumpet, aka brugmansia, is budding and blooming in the butterfly house. There are three blooms and five more buds that I could see. The plant is really beautiful with blushing pink flowers. Don't take my word for it, you should come in and see for yourself.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009


Todd from the Betty Ford (gardeners always think Alpine Garden, everyone else thinks clinic) came by yesterday to help us figure out our composting needs and design. The man knows his compost. It is exciting to start to capture some of our green waste and use it in the gardens. I'll be talking more about composting as the program develops. We'll be addressing large scale composting as well as just how easy it is to compost at home. If you are raring to get going with composting there is a glut of information out there. If you are a little overwhelmed by it all call the Master Gardeners out at the Extension. Those folks, they is smart.

Puparium Picture

Doesn't the new pupa display look great? Isn't going to look great with actual pupa on it?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Garden Tour and More

Thanks to everyone who helped out on the Garden Tour, especially those brave souls who opened up their gardens to public scrutiny. The weather cooperated for the most part and everyone I saw had smiles on their faces. Gardens have a tendency to do that to you.

We had a few folks out on First Friday despite the turbulent weather.

A huge thanks goes out to thr Realtor's Association, especially Lori. They had a great event in the amphitheater Saturday.

Yesterday was back to business as usual, watering, weeding, mulching with a little hedge trimming thrown in mix it up a bit.

I've got to run. Todd is coming down from Betty Ford, the Alpine Garden, not the clinic, to help us get our compost going. I'll let you in on all the thrilling details tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


Water, weed, mulch, repeat.

Monday, June 1, 2009

So much has happened!

The trip to DBG was fantastic! Sada's talk was inspiring. It was also confirmation that we are on the right track with Shozan-en. It was quite an honor and humbling to meet him. It was good to see Ebi as well. He gave us two ponderosa pines for Shozan-en. They are naturally bonsaied and are quite amazing trees. One is 150 years old. It was nice to meet Matt their Director of Education. He showed off their new flat screen technology with the thought that we could do inter-gardening conferencing. They could have events we could participate in here and vice-versa. Technology is amazing.
The aggravating thing was when we got back we discovered more plants have been stolen from our front beds. Plus, Marilyn found a record six empty vodka bottles in the amphitheater and found a couple of empty cases over by the irrigation pond. Nice Officer Steel came out today and checked things out. No, he didn't wait four days until he came out. It took me that long to call it in. Friday was extremely busy. There was a lot of day-to-day stuff that had to happen plus there was a lot of confabbing with our friends with the Tamarisk Coalition. There is some cool stuff in the offing.
The butterfly release Saturday was a lot of fun. We'll continue doing them once a month. I'll let you know the schedule as soon as I can get it worked out with the butterfly suppliers.
Christine our new volunteer coordinator started today. Already my load is about 150 pounds lighter. It was fantastic. She just jumped in and got to work. If you are one of our volunteers, stick your head in the office and introduce yourself.
Today was weeding and mulching and benching. Richard moved the benches on loan from the Heritage Garden (Thank you Mrs. Harris!!!) and Jon brought over the ones that he made especially for Shozan-en. They are beautiful.
What excitement is in store for tomorrow? Stay tuned!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

DBG Here We Come

Kenton and I are heading to the DBG to see Sadafumi Uchiyama speak at the DBG. We are specially invited guests so that makes us feel all important and whatnot. It should be fun. I'll tell you all about it when I get back.


Yesterday was an admin day but it was still an exciting day because Steve Kentz and his wife-life-partner and their chocolate lab stopped by with an amazing sculpture which now graces the west end of Shozan-en. "Shozan-en?" you ask. Or maybe you just say "Bless you." Shozan-en is the name of our new Colorado Native Plant Garden. It was a long time coming but we finally asked the right person. Shozan-en means "Mountain becomes visable by sunlight -garden". Isn't that beautiful? And it really fits the garden.

But back to the sculpture. It is a beautiful stone and metal piece of Colorado native irises. Steve said he saw a field of the irises down by Roaring Fork one year and that was the inspiration for the piece. He also mentioned how he was working with wood carving at the time at you can really see that influence in the stone. It is cool. Don't take my word for it. Come on down stroll through Shozan-en and see for yourself. Steve will be at the opening for Shozan-en Friday, June 5th between 5 and 7 if you want to talk to him about the work in person.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009


As discouraged as I may be about all the vandalism that has been happening at the Gardens, the one thing that really encourages me is our volunteers. They show up every week and keep working to keep the Gardens look good. Yesterday was no exception. More plants got planted, it was a perfect day for it as cool and wet as it was. The Children's Garden has some color in it. The poor ravaged front bed has some nice additions to it and the new native plant garden has a lot less weeds than it did.
Speaking of the new garden we finally have a name for it! Drum roll please.
Shozan-en is the name. It is Japanese, obviously, since that is the origination of the entire garden, and it means "Mountain becomes visable by sunlight -garden". Kind of awkward in English but very beautiful and fitting for the garden in Japanese.
Remember to mark your calendar for Friday June 5th 5 to 7 for the Grand Opening Celebration. There will be artists, music, people talking about native plants and one cool garden to hang out in. Start your First Friday off at the Gardens and then continue downtown to the galleries and on to the Art Center for the opening of the Abstract show.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Butterfly House

Rich and Jeff did a fantastic job of finishing up the butterfly netting on Saturday. As much as a pain in the neck that project turned out to be the end result is great. You hardly notice it is even there.

The butterfly release was cool even though it was cloudy and the butterflies were not really interested in flying. We'll be doing one more release this Saturday. If you've missed the other releases you should come down this Saturday. It is a really neat thing to see the butterflies in action.

Beyond Cussing

We had the most beautiful iris display. Yes, note the past tense, had. I came in at 7am Saturday morning to get Rich going on the butterfly netting project and I notice something is missing. Someone came in and cut almost every single iris bloom that we had in our front garden. Whoever did it knew what they were doing. The blooms were not randomly torn off. The edges of the cuts weren't jagged as though they were cut by a knife. Someone came in with their pruners and took almost every blooming iris that was growing in the front bed. It pains me to think a fellow gardener would do something so heinous. We work so hard to make the Gardens look good that when something like this happens it is such a shock.
At least the police are finally taking all my reports seriously. We've had a terrible time with vandalism at the Gardens over the last couple of years, especially this year. Now we are a special project. The police are increasing patrols and will be coming down to do an evaluation and will be donating some resources. I'm fairly certain that whoever has been vandalizing the Gardens isn't going to be caught but hopefully steps can be taken so it doesn't happen again in the future.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Church Ladies

Do you know why I love church ladies? They come from a generation that knows how to cook. Peggy's church ladies had their meeting here in the library yesterday which included a pot luck lunch and invited Shirley, Diana and me to join them. Yum. They fed us well. Real baked beans, green bean salad, two kinds of apple salad, two kinds of deviled eggs, mashed potato salad, fried chicken, chocolate cake. I'm sure there were other things I'm forgetting because my poor little paper plate was groaning under the weight of my lunch. It was wonderful. Afterward I had to go down to the pump house for a little nap, I mean to check the netafim filter and make sure everything was running ok.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

New Comer's All Comers

The New Comer's stopped by the Gardens for a visit. I hadn't given a tour in a while. I had a blast. It has been a while since I've wandered through the gardens and enjoyed all the really cool plants that we have. Lately it has just been crisis, crisis, crisis. I think I'm not quite done with crisis, crisis, crisis, although it might just be crisis, crisis now.
I'm pleased the pump is still pumping and the pond is still filling. There is water in the amphitheater and even though the elusive zone 7 has been located, isn't functioning. Electrical issues. I swear one of these days I will get the chance to enroll at Mesa for an intro to electricity class. What I need to know just isn't that sophisticated. You'd think I'd have picked it up by now.
We have three new employees starting in the next couple of weeks. No, one isn't the Executive Director so all of you who have your hearts set on that job don't despair, send in your resumes. We'll have a new employee in the Gift Store, a new Volunteer Coordinator (YAY!) and an person who will be taking care of all our facility rentals. It is exciting to see how far the organization has grown in just one year.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cuss. Cuss. Cuss. Cuss. Cuss!

Those of you who know me know that on occaision a curse word may slip through my lips. The fact that some (expletive deleted) stole $150 worth of our beautiful, amazing and unusual plants from the Color and Harmony Garden Sunday night makes me want to tear off cussing a blue streak that would make the most raunchy roughneck blush a delicte pink to the tips of his ears.
First of all, no real gardener would steal. Gardeners are the most generous people I know. They are always inviting you into their gardens, wanting you to taste lovely things they've grown, and giving you starts of cool and interesting things for your own garden. Second of all we are a non-profit. Stealing is never cool but stealing from a non-profit is especially heinous. We don't have a lot of resources to begin with so the loss hits us hard. Thirdly a lot of people have put in a lot of time in our gardens and it is incredibly disrespectful to all the hard work and care that they have invested.
So, no more Miss Nice Gal. If I find out who you are I'm going to kick your (expletive deleted).

Monday, May 18, 2009


I love my grubby knuckles. Don't look at me like that. The grubby knuckles are the Friday volunteers and they hold the Gardens together on days I can't. Like Friday. I left a huge list of things to do and they got it all done. Everything looks great. And I didn't even have to use the persuader. Darn. Now, where is the fun in that?

Butterfly Netting

Richard is a rock star. He got here early and stayed late. I am glad to see his dedication to the butterfly netting is as great as mine is. Lajuana helped this morning and Jeff came in this afternoon. Rich from Kallima Consulting drove over the mountain and we got to work. By the end of the day tomorrow we will have new butterfly netting. The butterfly house is looking better and better.

Palisade High and Carl and Andy and Dede and Dolores

First thing this morning I stopped off and picked up a whole bunch of annuals and one kangaroo paw. The kangaroo paw is huge and it is going into the butterfly house just as soon as the netting gets put up. More on that later.
There was a fantastic group of Palisade High School kids out here planting the annuals and moving mulch around. They did a great job. The area around the butterfly looks really good. Andy and Carl and Dede and Dolores helped too. They did a great job, as always.


We have water!!!!!! In the retention pond!!!!! From the river!!!!!!! YeeHaw!!!!! It took a lot of people working a lot of hours to make this possible. I'd like to thank Thomas and his crew at ACS. John Steubel at GJ Pipe. Shaun and Chad at Painted Desert Landscaping. Dan at Munro. Jeff, Mike and Jason from EC Electric. And of course, my agent.

My biggest accomplishment today was finding where the pipe from the river empties into the retention pond. As builts? We don't need no stinkin' as builts.

Zone 7

Zone 7 is missing. If you have found zone 7 please call 2415-3288.

Thank you.

Thursday, May 14, 2009


So the John Deere is back and ready to go. The Career Center fixed it up all nice for us. Now, I have to learn how to use it since Clayton has decided not to do the mowing this year. Any of you lawn mowin' fools out there who just can't get enough lawn mowin' come on down. I could use you.
While I couldn't fix the scrubber valve in the amphitheater I could fix the one in the front lawn so that dry patch will now get water and be all nice and green just like the rest of the grass.
The iris in the front bed have BLOOOOMED! They look great. Smell good. The lilac is about ready to bloom too. There are all kinds of bees busily buzzing around. The amsonia we got as a test plant from Plant Select look supercool too.
Knock. Knock. There's Jane. Gotta go. Check in with you all tomorrow.

Metal In The Gardens

I can't believe I didn't tell you all about the Heavy Metal Dude! Day before yesterday I was down in the amhphitheater trying to get the irrigation going there. I don't enjoy doing the irrigation work and particularly don't enjoy working on the irrigation system in the amphitheater because it is such an unprotected area people are always messing with the heads and unplugging the controller. Which is where it all started.
There is this guy sitting there playing heavy metal and my controller is unplugged and his amp is plugged in. Grrrr. I'm already irritated just by the fact I have to be in the amphitheater working on the irrigation and to see the controller unplugged and the amp plugged in sent me over the edge. So I said to him, "I'd really appreciate it if you didn't unplug the controller." And I unplugged his amp. What a rude thing to do! Can you believe sweet ole me was capable of such a dispicable act?
"Hey!" he says. And I say, "Sorry, (and I was, I was ticked but I do know rude it is to just unplug somebody's amp without turning it off first). It looks like I did to you what you did to me." And I plug his amp into a different outlet.
Then I go stomping off because I have to reprogram the controller, go all the way back out to Struthers and turn on the power there becaus it got turned off and still the pump won't fire. Grrrrr. The music stops and I hear this voice say, "Is there anything I can do to help?" Awwww. Now I'm a total jerk.
So we get to chatting Heavy Metal Dude and me and it turns out that he is a big fan of the greenhouse in the winter which makes him an instant friend. He asks again if there is anything he can do to help and I reply, "Keep on playing." Heavy metal music is the perfect accompianment for working on the irrigation system.
As a side note, Metal In The Gardens will return again this summer so all you heavy metal fans keep your eyes peeled for more info. I think the concert isn't scheduled until the end of the summer. I'll keep you posted.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009


There is nothing more beautiful than Kenton driving up with an entire pickup truck full of plants. Unless, of course, it is the resulting garden that those plants go into. Once I again I have to say how much I love Kelly over at Timberline Gardens in Arvada. He donated that entire pickup truck full of plants to the Gardens. The next time you are in Arvada you should really stop in. Spend some money. It won't be hard. His plants are phenominal. Just check out Kenton's update of the Color and Harmony Garden.
Well, the gate is in the manhole. Yay! Shaun will be replumbing it Thursday and we should be back to river water by Friday. Cross your fingers.
Bill and I, well mostly Bill, did the second round of interviews for the Volunteer Coordinator. It is so tough to make a decision. I think we will be able to make up our minds by Friday. I'll let you know by Monday at the lates so stay tuned.
Round midnight last night the temperature alarm went off. Cuss, cuss, cuss. There is something going on with the vents not closing properly. It might just be a setting but I haven't had the time to spend with them to figure it out. The outdoor irrigation has been taking all of my attention. The other worrisome thing is that the heat isn't turning on in the butterfly house. It is fine in the tropical greenhouse but not in the butterfly house. Cuss, cuss, cuss.
We've gotten a few more plants for the Colorado Native Plant Garden. And I've got just a week or two more before we make that the official name. I don't really like it but none of us has been able to come up with a better name. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Down In A Hole

Gillian Welch has this song on one of her albums and the refrain goes "I'm down in a hole, I'm down in a hole, I'm down in a deep dark hole." Oddly enough this refrain has been going around in my head for the last couple of days. Could it have anything to do with the manhole and the pump issues? Yes, it does. As I mentioned a couple days ago (or was it just yesterday?), the pump is A-OK. But then there is the gate issue right? Well, Sean from Painted Desert Landscaping and John from GJ Pipe will be here today to settle that issue. I like that I'm spending so much time down by the river. It is so full and beautiful.

Monday, May 11, 2009


Bill, Denice and I spent all week interviewing folks to be our Volunteer Coordinator. We liked them all. There are so many good candidates. And the candidates were really fun people too. How are we ever going to choose? I know. I know. It is a good problem to have. We are going to do a second round of interviews this week. Stay tuned for the thrilling conclusion to "Will the Volunteers Coordinate?"

Please Release Me

The butterfly release on Saturday was great. We had a lot of adults this time. There weren't as many kids as last time but that was good too. The folks there asked a lot of questions. The butterflies were a little sluggish. But once they got going they were a lot of fun. We'll be doing three more butterfly releases so come on down and check it out.
Speaking of butterflies, with the the help of Terry and his crew, Flutter By, the huge butterfly sculpture that was at the corner of 7th and Main, paraded its way down 7th to the Gardens. The installation was amazing. It took those guys maybe 15 minutes to put it in place and they didn't even squish any of the iris. Shirley's got some pictures. I'll see if I can get a couple so you all can see. It was cool. The antennae aren't in place yet. Terry needed to do some work on them. It looks dramatic anyway. You don't even need to come to the Gardens to see it. Just go over the 5th Street bridge or the Riverside Parkway. Thanks goes to GJ Pipe for donating the concrete for the base. We couldn't have done it without them.

Water Gate

So, I heard from Dan over at Munro and it seems that corroded piece of junk we pulled out of the manhole is actually a functioning pump. Those guys are amazing. It seems they have a pressure washer that'll take paint off of metal so getting the rust off a pump is not a big deal. Now all I have to do is find someone who can put in a gate in the manhole to keep the water from coming in.

Standing O

Bloomin' Deals was amazing! Sandra and the rest of the ROOTS gals did a tremendous job organizing, getting vendors and getting the work out. I don't know what kind of money came in but it was satisfying just to see the amount of people in the Gardens. So all of you reading this should stand up and give a big round of applause for ROOTS, they definitely deserve a standing ovation.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dirty Jobs

Yesterday was a real Mike Rowe day. Thomas and his crew from ACS drove their big vacum truck down to the manhole to suck out all the river sludge. I thought it was funny that of all the companies that I called to do the work ACS were the only ones who didn't have any problem going down into the manhole. See there was an issue. Whoever put in our manhole didn't put in a gate so you'd have to put this thing called a pig into the pipe somehow. Your choices are swimming into the river (brrrr!), digging up a section of pipe or going down in the manhole. If your job is sewer and irrigation you just know by the end of the day you are going to end up wet or stinky or most likely both. If you don't want to get wet and/or stinky working on my pump I don't want to work with you.
Anyway... It was supercool seeing the water level go down and our pump emerge out of the muck like the creature from the black lagoon. And it was the creature from the black lagoon, just ask Dan over at Munro's. Or Jason from EC Electric. He wasn't afraid to go down in the manhole either. I couldn't resist a trip down there myself. The city donated some vaults (that is what you call the thing that covers the manhole) to Tope Elementary for the playground where I went to grade school. So I had a little blast to the past. Plus, I wanted to see first hand where the pipe went in and how the pump was set up and all that jazz before it got pulled.
For those of you wondering how the poor mister motor is doing, it is just fine. After emergency surgery where the starter switch, bearings and the capacitor were replaced it is now resting comfortably and is expected to return to work sometime today.
That's it for now. Gotta go. The big butterfly is coming today. We are continuing interviews for the Volunteer Coordinator and Bloomin' Deals is tomorrow.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Big Changes

Hi All (If any of you are still out there),

I lost my internet connection for a while there. But I'm back. It was a bad month to not post because there has been soooooo much happening down here at the Gardens. The new garden got put in with the Career Center kids and our grubby knuckled volunteers planting over a thousand plants ranging from trees to grasses. The irrigation system in the new garden gave me fits for about a week but I'm pretty sure I can now take apart a Hunter PGH head and put it back together with my eyes closed.

Kenton and the volunteers dedicated to the Harmony Garden have been really dedicated. They pulled up the landscape fabric, amended the soil with llama and horse manure, transplanted trees, and started planting. It looks great. I know it isn't done but it is just amazing nonetheless.

Yours truly has been juggling triple duty being Interim Director and Volunteer Coordinator in addition to the job I'm supposed to be doing, Operations Manager.

Some chucklehead has been stealing the solenoids off of the scrubber valves in the amphitheater. Not cool. So it looks kinda dead down there. If I catch the jerk I've got about 10 acres of weeds that can be pulled.

The mister motor finally gave up the ghost. The starter switch was either sticking open and ruined the bearings or the bearings died and the started switch got stressed either way, that is what caused the capacitor to smoke. It was very exciting. What is even more exciting is that I finally have the answer to the nearly 3 year old question "Why is the thermal override tripping so much?"

The main pump in the manhole down by the river hasn't been maintained in at least 3 years so it was filled with sludge. Hopefully it will get suctioned out today. I'm all excited because I got to buy a manhole lifer upper. Granted I'm not strong enough to lift the manhole cover but I'm happy to have the lifter upper anyway.

The new 5hp pump and netafim system are working great. As soon as I get the main pump going we'll be back in business.

We are doing live butterfly releases for the month of May. Every Saturday at 1pm we'll be releasing 75 butterflies. The first one was last week and it was really cool. I'm hoping we can continue them after May.

There is all kinds of other great things happening, like cool sculptures being donated and stuff like that but I'll save that for tomorrow.

Remember that Bloomin' Deals is this Saturday starting at 9am. Be there! From what I've seen so far there are going to be a lot of great plants!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fooled You!

Yeah, here it is two days in a row I've posted. April's Fool prank or new work ethic? Time will tell.

I was the fool for thinking that the pathway would be done today. It is all ready to go. It just needs some squishin' down. The StaLok is turning out to be a really easy material to work with. Plus, it looks just great. Very naturalistic. So more or less the infrastructure is in place in our new garden. The plants are coming on April 13 so grab a shovel and head on down! I'm gonna' need all the help I can get to get those guys in the ground.

On an even more exciting note Richard said he saw one of our turtles Monday in the pond. Yay! It is spring regardless of the snow flying around.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lucky You

You get a bonus post today just because my last post didn't post properly.

How about that snow? So far the consensus is "I'm tired of the cold." Is that true? Are you tired of the cold? Inquiring minds don't really care but I do. Let me know how you feel about this cold burst of weather we are having. It doesn't seem to be bothering the bulbs any and the pansies are thrilled.

I was hoping our pathway for the new garden would be put in today but it looks like maybe tomorrow. That's why I'm sick of the cold weather. I'm ready for our garden to spring into action. Yes. The pun was intended. I'm my father's daughter after all.

Here is the link to the nice article the Sentinel ran about the Gardens.

That about does it for today. Oh yeah. One more thing. Look here parents, I'm sure it is tough raising kids today. I think raising kids is the hardest thing you are ever going to do but you have got to teach them to respect things that are not theirs. We had some vandals down at the Gardens over the weekend. I don't appreciate having the Gardens torn up. It isn't the dollar amount that bothers me. It is the pain in the neck it is to clean everything up. Plus, the blatant disregard for all the hard work we put in down here. Not that the darling little vandals care one way or the other. They don't even think about all the hard work we put in down here. So parents I'm pleading with you to take a little more time with your kids. Find out what they are up to. Let them know that you care.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Write It While You Got It

My internet connection has been a bit sketchy lately so I'm giving you the update while I've got one.

Snow? Snow! It was good to have a little moisture. It wasn't nearly enough in my opinion and I don't know what it did to the apricots and plums but it was nice anyway.

The new garden nearly has the all the hardscape in place. That is very exciting. The irrigation is done. The rocks are put in and they look fabulous. The path is laid and the road base is being put in. The StaLok will be smushed into place on Monday. Then we test the pump and the Netafim filter. The plants should be coming April 13th after 400 screaming children tear through the Gardens looking for Easter Eggs.

Yes, that means the annual Easter Egg Hunt is Saturday April 11th. It starts at noon though so if you show up at 10am you're gonna have a long wait.

Four new volunteers started today. They are all rip-roaring and ready to go. Kenton has plenty of help with his updating of the Color and Harmony Garden. The Children's Garden also looks like it will be well-tended this year. Likewise the Amphitheater. It looks like we may have enough folks on hand to take care of the rest of it but feel free to come down and lend a hand if you feel so inclined

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

I'm a Big Liar

As if you all didn't know, I'm a big liar. "I'll see you tomorrow" and here it is weeks later. Please forgive me. Here is a quick run down on what's been keeping me away from you my faithful reader, uh, I mean readers.

Our Executive Director has resigned to become a stay-at-home-dad. What an adventure! It will make managing the Gardens seem like a piece of cake. We wish him well.

We are doing a lot of really great improvements in the butterfly house. Unfortunately that means that we don't have any butterflies at the moment. It looks like it will be a couple more weeks before we'll be done. The Butterfly Wranglers are practicing their roping techniques in the meantime.

We are working on the structural elements for our new native plant garden. There is a lot of heavy equipment in the gardens. Have I already mentioned that I got to ride in a dumptruck? It was fabulous! We placed rocks yesterday and the day before. It it amazing how a backhoe operator can just pluck up a boulder and set it down right where you want it. The plants will be showing up in about 3 weeks. Yay! Yikes!

The NRCS came out today and did an incredible workshop on revegetation planting. I got to use this bright yellow 8 pound drill to plant willows with. I loved that the safety tip for it was "Now this drill will keep spinning if you hit rock so take your thumb off of the power or it will spin you around." Sounds like a carnival ride. I know the guys all know this and probably a lot of you gals out there too but power tools are fun. However, it was nothing compared to the huge augur that NRCS Keith operated to dig the planting holes for the cottonwoods. I was a little nervous because you have to put the tree in as the augur comes out of the hole or the hole fills up before you can plant the tree. Like 99.9% of worry, it was for nothing. It went in slick as a whistle. You have to be careful though or the augur will hit you in the head. Revegetation is dangerous. Who knew?

The Gardens almost burned down Sunday night but thanks to the firefighters, policemen and BLM crews they contained the fire that started down on the river and put it out before it did too much damage. Sounds like not a big deal but you should have seen the flames and the wind. It was awful and headed right for the Gardens. I was there watching the flames get closer when the police evacuated the area. There wasn't anything I could do so I was trying to be logical about it. The damage wouldn't be too bad really. It is early spring. A good fire would probably clean everything out. And hey the Arizona Cypress would germinate seeing as how they need a fire to do that. I freaked out anyway. But they got it under control, I don't know how they did it but they did. Boy am I happy. We still have a garden. They did a great job.

Well boys and girls I think that is enough excitement for one day. Catch ya next time.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

OK Already.

I'm back. I took a short hiatus there. It has just been so busy at the Gardens the last month or so. Plus, I never know if any of you are actually out there reading. But tonight I got a call letting me know for sure there is at least one of you so due to popular demand you'll be once again immersed in the thrilling day to day activities at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens. Now if I could just find my computer cord I could download the photos I've been taking of the Gardens the last few days. Spring is definitely doing some stretches and limbering up and getting ready for the next few months.

See you tomorrow!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Monday was such a great, gray day. I just couldn't resist the mourning doves in the tree against the cloudy sky. So beautiful.

Internet Troubles

I have been having troubles with internet connectivity. But I'm back. For today anyway. I think spring is definitely on its way. Our tremendous ice sculpture is pretty much gone. Boo. Hoo.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Max Says

Max says that he likes working in the greenhouses because every time you go in there is something different to see.


Tyler, would you please call your mother? She's worried and so am I and so is Richard, Lloyd, Elsie and Clayton.


Yee Haw!

We're fixin' to round us up some little doggies, I mean butterflies. Today was the first meeting of the Butterfly Wranglers. There are about 10 or so kind souls who are willing to take an hour or so out of their day to help with the care of our butterflies, they are such primadonas. The butterflies, not the Wranglers.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009


You know those dracena you can get a walmart for like two bucks? Well, we have one in the greenhouse that is about ten feet tall and today I noticed it blooming. Amazing.

I'm a Winner!

Yes, I won! Well, I had the highest bid on a lovely Mountain Frost Pear in the Silent Auction. Not sure where I'm going to put it. I have a few weeks to figure it out.

The rest of Landscapes West was great. I always learn so much. And the Silent Auction is always a lot of fun. I can hardly wait for next year.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Day One

Today was the first day of Landscapes West, the regional gardening conference and gardening show. Here is Liz and David in front of our booth.

I gave a talk today on the new Colorado Native Plant Garden. It was the longest 45 minutes I can remember having in a while. I was pretty nervous but thanks to my cheering section. I had one on both sides of the room. The speakers today were great. I really liked the one on parasitic plants. Did you know we have our own parasitic plant specialist right here in at Mesa State? Yeah. She's way cool. Anyway. I'll report more tomorrow.

Thursday, February 5, 2009


For some reason the forsythia looked really compelling today.

What's That Smell?

What's that smell? Mmmmm. The dew drop.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Don't Do It!

I know it was a gorgeous day today but Don't Do It! It is way to early. I know the sun is shining. The earth is starting to smell like spring. It got up to 51 degrees today. But remember it is February. February! Keep in mind this happens every year. We get a nice warm up in February and all of a sudden your thoughts turn to getting out into the gardens. You must resist. Please.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Funky Connection

Hi you all. I have a rather temperamental internet connection. Maybe if I ponied up and quit scooping free internet access from the neighbors I'd be able to post more often. Not that there has been a lot of interesting things to blog about lately. Winter time is computer time. I've been spending more and more time in my office and the YeeHaw! moments I love to share with you have more to do with plans than plants. Any bureaucrats out there should feel free to email me for the stunning highlights. And I do mean stunning.

Today Tim and Meredith from the Tamarisk Coalition broke up the tedium of my winter office humdrum. They brought some folks to check out Watson Island for good planting sites. There will be a big push this spring to revegetate Watson Island. There was a heck of a lot of russian olive removed this past fall. There is more being removed along with the tamarisk over the winter. If you haven't been to Watson Island lately it is worth the trip. It is transformed. Anyway, it got me out of the office. And here is the picture to prove it.

It was good to get out even if it was cold. If you squint and look REAL hard at that black dot at the center island you'll see a gorgeous blue heron. Seriously, I've got to get a real camera.

Monday, January 19, 2009

A Week?

Has it really been a week since I posted last? Really? I don't know. I think I'm caught in some sort of time wrinkle.

It has been suggested to me that "things slow down in the winter". Yeah, I fell for it last year. But not this year. This year I was going to be on top of things. And then more things came along. "What things?" you may be wondering. Nothing photogenic, that's for sure. A lot of paperwork. But it is good paperwork. Plotting and planning new gardens. Always a fun chore. We did get a great bunch of butterflies in last week. Here are the chrysalids just hanging around. They've just about all emerged so the butterfly house is filled with happy butterflies.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Muscle Man Mike

I don't think I've mentioned how much I love Elam Construction lately. Here it is only 9 days into the new year and I'm over there asking for a favor. There's one New Year's resolution blown. The gate in the Children's Garden went cattywampus and needed fixing. Look. Here is Mike with his welding gear, which he didn't need and his crane, which he did. The problem was fixed in about 20 minutes.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Thanks for the heat!

So whoever it was who heard my plea for turning up the heat. Thanks. Although I think I should have my head examined if I think that temperatures going up into the 30's is hot. But apparently I'm not the only one. Just look at those footprints in the amphitheater. (Yes. That is "real" lense flare.)

Greenhouse Beauties

I'm certain that you will be wondering just exactly what you are supposed to be admiring in the photo below. The lovely green foliage? The tips of the fan palm perhaps? Maybe the fact that the sunshade is partway open. This photo is a reminder to me, and you, that the clarendendrom (aka glory bower) is about to explode into flower. And I do mean explode. While the flowers of this particular clerendendrom do not have a discernible scent, the flowers are really cool. They look like fireworks. I saw the buds today which means the flowers will be opening next week. As I remember from last year they stay open for a few weeks but don't wait until the last minute. Visit these beauties soon.

Another plant miracle. This cute pinky flower is from our coral vine (antigonon leptopsis, doesn't that sound like the name of a stuffy, British butterfly expert?) It died last year and I thought that was the end of it. We never got around to pulling up the "dead" root. And here it is. Not only growing but blooming. And yes, a little out of focus. But if you come in and see it in person you can adjust the focus anyway you like.