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!