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  • Jane Shellenberger

Editor's Letter: Harvest 2017

It’s time to reap the harvest in the veggie garden. Even my scaled back garden is cranking out way more food than we can eat. My sister always sends delicious homemade jams and jellies in the fall, labeled in her scratchy handwriting: Jalapeno Mint, Strawberry, Raspberry, Blackberry, Wild Grape.

Fall is for pumpkin festivals - and weigh-offs if growing the biggest is your thing. In this issue Penn Parmenter describes all the benefits of the generous, versatile pumpkin plant in “Pumpkins Are King.”

Mikl Brawner’s topic is the Tomato - the “Love Apple”, a member of the nightshade family originally from Peru & Ecuador, which Europeans and North Americans (except in Mexico) were afraid to eat for hundreds of years. Now there are thousands of varieties and it is declared the most popular vegetable – even though it’s a fruit.

In “Go Nuts” Paula Ogilvie tells you about the complex classification of these dry fruits, or seeds, or drupes, commonly known as acorns, chestnuts, almonds, filberts, peanuts, coconuts, cashews (did you know it’s a member of the poison ivy family?), etc. I had the pleasure of visiting Denise Davis in her delightful Denver garden this spring and summer. Words often pale compared to actual experience, but I’ve tried to convey some of the magic I felt in “Hummingbird Haven.”

Succulents are used to wonderful effect today for everything from bridal bouquets to living walls. Deb Whittaker writes about them here, specifically how to repurpose them in your garden. Kenton Seth from Grand Junction is a young rock star. He’s been designing and installing crevice gardens, including the awe-inspiring Apex garden in Arvada, as well as native and low water gardens all over the state. He tells you about the possibilities for gardening without any irrigation.

I was thrilled when John Hershey sent “Salad Days” for this issue. He certainly hasn’t lost his articulate sense of humor. Gary Raham’s piece on the important contributions of naturalists to science includes the story of Beatrix Potter, known mainly for The Tale of Peter Rabbit and other illustrated tales. Entomologist Eric R. Eaton describes insects’ many strategies for surviving winter. And finally, Kelly Grummons answers questions about gogi berries, asparagus, and planting now for a fall harvest.

Our Education issue comes out in early February 2018. Every year I attend worthwhile landscape and gardening workshops and conferences. But I can’t help noticing that, with some exceptions, the speakers are almost all male while the audience is overwhelmingly female. There are so many women gardeners and plant lovers, yet so few take it to higher levels and become experts. It’s men - many of them wonderful human beings - who are usually paid to go on exciting plant collecting trips around the world, who hold top positions at Botanic Gardens (Sarada Krishnan at DBG is a notable exception), who usually headline at conferences (Lauren Springer Ogden, always a champion of professionalism and decent pay, is a notable exception). Ladies, if you love plants by all means enjoy your garden, but I also encourage you to take it further and consider a satisfying career that you get paid for. Opportunity awaits.

I consider Colorado Gardener a refuge and a resource and I prefer real dirt to the dirty business of politics. But even though this is the season of abundance and celebration, it’s difficult to gloss over what’s happening today in our country and globally. Here are some facts that are hard for me to ignore: species are going extinct, the climate is changing, long term environmental consequences and effects are dismissed in the name of short term profit and greed, fear mongering pits us against one another, hate groups are increasing, and a push to destroy Planned Parenthood that would deny women access to birth control continues.

Environmental rules protecting all of us are being scrapped. Consider one small issue: the ban on lead in hunting ammunition and fishing tackle in national Fish & Wildlife Service regulated areas, including wildlife refuges. Banning lead was meant to protect wild animals from being poisoned, especially bald eagles and waterfowl. But on his first day the new Secretary of the Interior deemed it too expensive for sportsmen and overturned the ban.

Politics is also an arena where women are highly under-represented. That photo of the all-male Senate health care group comes to mind. It took a lot of guts for Republicans Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski to vote against the latest healthcare bill, which shows what a couple of strong women can do. This is no time for silence or complacency so let’s keep talking to each other to dispel fear and hate, while always working to protect our food, our water, and the natural world.

Jane Shellenberger



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