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  • Jane Shellenberger

April 2024 Newsletter

I am loving this so-far cool, wet spring.

The bees are visiting all the cheerful blue chionodoxia flowers that have spread around in my beds. I’m also partial to early Jetfire daffodils that bloom at the same time. These are one of the most commonly available, inexpensive, smaller narcissus. They’re also sturdy. Mine were already blooming during the recent snowstorm  and they bounced right back. If only I’d planted the two together! 

Birds are also incredibly active right now since April is mating and nesting season. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you’re probably aware that lots of bird species are in trouble.  Climate change is affecting migratory patterns and artificial outdoor lighting messes with their navigation - big time.   Minimizing outdoor lights or putting them on motion sensors is one easy thing we can do.  Here’s a link to a story from our Spring 2023 print issue, “The Dark Garden”, telling you more. 

And then there are cats. First let me say that I have two and they do go outside during the day – but with clown collars! There are an estimated 43 million households in the US with at least one cat as a pet and I know that even well fed cats will catch birds given the chance. Add to this all the feral cats and you get the picture. Birds Be Safe (, makes brightly colored collars that will make your cats look like silly clowns, but also allow birds to see and escape them. They're easy to put on and cats don't mind them at all.

Scientific studies from 5 countries show an average reduction of 60-87% of birds caught by cats wearing these collars. That’s huge! Don’t be fooled into thinking your adorable feline isn’t a killer.

Plant sale season is coming right up! One of the earliest, biggest, and best is the joint sale of the Colorado Cactus & Succulent Society (CCSS) and Rocky Mt Unit of the North American Rock Garden Society (RMCNARGS) at the Jeffco Fairgrounds April 27 & 28. You will find perennials and rock garden plants from local and regional growers that aren’t always available elsewhere, as well as wildly popular cactus and succulents for indoor hobbyists, and hardy, opuntia hybrids with astonishingly beautiful flowers.

Perennial field at Desert Canyon Farms in Cañon City

Last spring I made the trek to Desert Canyon Farms in Canyon City. They are only open to the public from mid April to mid June each year but the variety of plants they grow and sell (over 2300!) is amazing. Here’s a link to a story about owners Tammi & Chris Hartung.

Keith Funk is handling our Q & A this year. You may have visited one of Keith’s Denver area gardens on a tour or know him from his years at Echter’s and now at Nick’s Garden Center. For 30 years he’s been heard every Saturday morning from 7-9 with fellow Wise Guy, Jim Borland, on the Garden Wise Radio Show on Legends 810AM.

Our feature this month focuses on growing with cold frames. Idelle Fisher, our web designer and an avid gardener - of vegetables and natives in particular, wrote it. She also writes a blog called Good Environmental News. As she points out in the piece, growing your own produce year ‘round is not only possible, but it reduces plastic consumption. (On that note, here’s a plug for, a company that picks up your non-recyclable plastic and partners carefully with reputable companies like Trex, Byfusion and Hydroplox to turn it into usable building materials, keeping it out of landfills.)

Happy Spring!

~ Jane Shellenberger



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