Hellebores are early bloomers in Colorado gardens. My dark red ones start in February and continue for months, while the foliage is nearly evergreen. I started with one plant from a rock garden sale years ago and it has spread around a partly shaded garden without taking over. I hardly ever water them though some, especially the fancier hybrids, like moist soil. Hellebore blossoms are often downturned so an elevated planting spot makes them easier to enjoy. Deer don't like the taste because they’re poisonous, like other members of the buttercup family, including delphinium, clematis, and monkshood.
In the Issue
There’s an explosion of formal and informal seed learning opportunities in Colorado, especially thanks to the Rocky Mt Seed Alliance. Pam Sherman fills you in on many of them on page 6. High mountain gardener and educator Penn Parmenter tells you about the Open Source Seed Initiative and four of her seed heroes and heroines, while encouraging you to “Go forth and sow boldly.”
To the surprise of some, voters passed a Denver Green Roofs Initiative last fall. Jennifer Bousselot, a Special Asst. Professor at CSU, has been researching and teaching about green roofs for over 15 years. She writes here about their many benefits for urban areas and also why they’re so scarce in the U.S. compared to Europe. Jodi Torpey writes about a three-year Community Action for Prevention Study (CAPS) funded by a large grant from the American Cancer Society. Now at the beginning of year two, a team of researchers has teamed up with Denver Urban Gardens to measure and determine whether and how gardening promotes healthy behaviors that prevent cancer.
I have occasionally unearthed a dazed dormant toad while digging in my garden in early spring so I was interested to learn from natural science writer Gary Raham that many amphibians, (including our official state Tiger Salamander), and a few other creatures not only hibernate but “estivate” to wait out drought or cold. Check out “Wandering Tigers and Zombie Frogs in the Garden.”
Paula Ogilvie demystifies some plant oddities that you may have seen for sale in garden shops or perhaps were given as a holiday gift in “Up in the Air.”
Mikl Brawner has been researching soil for decades while growing and selling plants at his Boulder Nursery. After attending a “Soil Revolution Conference” this past December he reiterates why the best approach to growing is to “Feed the Soil, Not the Plants.”
Kelly Grummons, now chief horticulturist at Paulino Gardens, answers questions about practical vegetable gardening and very small greenhouses. And since there are so many newcomers to gardening in Colorado I’ve included some Gardening 101 Tips as well. Our Calendar lists many of the classes, workshops, and other events available to gardeners before the growing season is in full swing.
I was called out by a couple of prominent women in the Colorado gardening community for my comments in the Harvest issue about the visible lack of women at the top in horticulture. One heatedly disagreed with my observations. The other told me I did a huge disservice to the many women in CSU Extension Service offices who “work behind the scenes and ‘in the trenches’ every day, who staff booths at trade shows and give talks as part of their jobs, sharing their research and knowledge.” Where I believe I erred and offended was with my comment about there being so many women gardeners, but so few who become experts. To clarify, there are plenty of accomplished, knowledgeable women in horticulture. Understandably, not everyone cares to be a “headliner” at conferences or in the public eye. And of course what we do doesn’t need to be big and loud to be important.
If I may generalize, plant people as a whole are not the showiest bunch, (even though our gardens may be), and women have become expert at “getting the job done” without fanfare or important-sounding titles. Still, it doesn’t hurt to turn up the volume and make some noise about equal recognition - and pay - so more of us are in a position to educate, have a say in plant-related issues, and indulge in exciting plant adventures. A reader who teaches at a local university shared that her horticulture graduate students told her she was their first female professor.
No doubt there are pioneering plantswomen (and men) out there that I don't know about. I’d like to though – please get in touch!
Our next three issues come out at the beginning of April, May & June. Our April Issue deadline is March 2 for ads, March 11 for the calendar.