• Jane Shellenberger

Editor’s Letter: Harvest 2022

If you’ve been wanting to tear out your lawn and replace it with water-wise landscaping, the time has come. You already know about our semi-arid climate, regional mega-drought, ever increasing population growth, and bad habit of using water like there’s no tomorrow, but there’s more. On June 8th Governor Polis signed into law the Turf Replacement Program (HB 1151) to “incentivize water-wise landscapes” by “financing voluntary replacement of irrigated turf.”

It also appears very likely that the Aurora City Council will be the first to pass a stricter measure banning all new grass that exists just for aesthetic value (known in some circles as ecosystem deserts). If it isn’t functional—for athletic fields and picnic areas, for example—it’s a no-go. New golf courses, decorative water features, and grass in medians would all be banned, and turf for all new housing would be limited to 500 sq feet or 45% of a backyard, whichever is less.


Fortunately, major players in Colorado horticulture have been way ahead of the curve. The PlantSelect Program, which promotes durable, climate-appropriate shrubs, trees, and perennials that are also beautiful, celebrated its 25th anniversary this year. Superb presentations at its annual meeting in June on crevice gardens and controlled anarchy in naturalistic gardens (my take-away at least) showed how far we’ve come. In this issue, water-wise pioneer Mikl Brawner gives you a history of PlantSelect as well as a list of its most resilient, drought-tolerant selections, based on his own experience growing them in Boulder.


Any discussion of trail-blazing, ecologically-centered horticulture would certainly include David Salman and High Country Gardens, the online mail-order nursery he founded. Sadly, David passed away in June. Lauren Springer’s tribute in Notables gives you a glimpse into the man he was: generous, reserved, kind, fierce in his integrity.


Panayoti Kelaidis contributes a piece on Crevice Gardening, birthed in Czechoslavakia but fast becoming an iconic Western US style/method, to coincide with the release of a new book by Kenton Seth and Paul Spriggs that tells you how to do it.


I wasn’t familiar with honeyberries when Bryan Prud’Homme sent me an article on his 7-year experiment (or should I say love affair?) with growing this extremely cold-hardy shrub that produces fruit with lots of vitamin C and higher antioxidant levels than blueberries and mulberries. It convinced me to grow them and share his discoveries with you.


Humor writer John Hershey describes his new, more relaxed life after installing drip irrigation (you’ll get there after a scatalogical intro). This reminds me that a reader who enjoyed his piece from a few years ago, “Pee in Your Garden”, wrote asking me to warn mountain and foothill dwellers who co-exist with bears not to pee in your garden.


Ever wondered about those funny looking growths on the branch tips of spruce trees or the fuzzy red ones on roses? These “galls” come in many shapes and sizes on many different plants, and are actually the birth chambers of various insect larva. Natural history writer Gary Raham describes one especially interesting example where a fungus also gets into the act.


Sara Stewart Martinelli hosts a Botanica Fest each June at her Three Leaf Farm in Lafayette. This urban farm is also a designated Botanical Sanctuary and educational center offering workshops “that explore the relationship between plants and people through herbal medicine, food, art, mythology and culture.” The Botanica Fest fits the bill as I discovered this summer, drawing wise herbalist plantswomen (and a few men) teachers from around the country and Colorado. Sara writes here about some especially magical and healing “Traditional Witch’s Herbs” that grow in Colorado.


Speaking of gatherings and traditions, Penn Parmenter is hoping to revive her Harvest Party this year, where gardener friends gather, cook, eat, compare notes, tell stories, and eat some more. She shares favorite dishes and cooking methods, and encourages you to have some post lockdown, community-building outdoor fun too.


We’ll publish a Spring print issue next April. You'll find a piece on the Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins and its stunning new(ish) gardens created by some of Colorado's most talented plant people: Lauren Springer, Bryan Fischer, and Jacob Mares. But no need to wait, you can visit now! Visit coloradogardener.com for updates, plenty of back issue content, and a current calendar. Until then, harvest some seeds for next year, keep cool, keep calm, and keep cooking.


Jane Shellenberger