Editor's Letter: Harvest 2016
I’ve enjoyed and benefitted from being a member of plant societies and gardening groups over the years and I recommend it to others. Most plant enthusiasts are knowledgeable, unassuming, and generous in my experience. Though I’m not among the most active members I try to get to some talks, annual conferences, and garden tours each year.
I had a great time at the national conference of the North American Rock Garden Society in Steamboat Springs this year. The Colorado chapter is one the biggest; our state is a rock gardening mecca. All the people who put the conference together really knocked themselves out, especially Mike Kintgen from Denver Botanic Gardens. We hiked all around the area during peak wildflower season, saw and heard inspired presentations by top plant people from Patagonia and Sweden, among other places. We visited the beautiful Yampa Valley Botanic Gardens in Steamboat, the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail, and Mike Kintgen’s private garden near Steamboat. I missed the add-on field trip to Wyoming but heard it was awesome. It only costs $15/year to join this organization.
Visiting Jim (& Dorothy) Borland’s Denver garden full of natives and unusual plants (ever hear of squirting cucumber vine?) was a special treat this year, part of the Colorado Native Plant Society Tour. I hadn’t been to their garden for quite a while, though they are gracious enough to be included in a number of tours. If you have an opportunity to see this garden, don’t pass it up! Joining CONPS is a great way to learn about Rocky Mountain plants and this year is their 40th, to be celebrated at their annual conference in September in Boulder, so now is a perfect time to become a member.
There are several Urban Homestead Tours each year for all you vegetable-growing food-producers out there. I was curious to visit the Dirkse sisters’ Loveland homestead since Jacki Hein wrote a story about them for this issue. They were on the NOCO Urban Homestead Tour and their garden – and the tour – didn’t disappoint. It was remarkable to see all they have planted, constructed, accomplished in two short years. Nearly self-sufficient, they pack in a tremendous number of vegetable plants by growing vertically on trellises.
Other features in this issue include Paula Ogilvie on the botany of fruit and natural science writer Gary Raham on phytobiomes. The definition is too long to include here but it represents a shift to a more holistic approach to botany.
Marcia Tatroe writes about ornamental alliums and a few edible ones. All are bee magnets and easy bulbs to plant in the fall or, unlike other bulbs, at other times of the year.
This has been a hard couple of years for trees along the Front Range. Our local municipality is giving away mulch and woodchips for free indefinitely since homeowners have dropped off so many dead and damaged tree limbs. Mikl Brawner tells you how to best support trees in Colorado. Only three – cottonwood, willow, and box elder – are native to the plains and they grow along streams and creeks. Our urban canopies have all been planted and many struggle in our semi-arid climate.
James Wieser follows up on previous articles in CG, telling you about the fall and winter mushroom season in this issue. And entomologist Eric R. Eaton discusses the insects that try to find a cozy home inside for the winter like the rest of us. Almost all are an annoying nuisance at worst so no need to get too worked up about them. Fall is seed-saving season in the garden or, as Penn Parmenter puts it, Free Seed Store! She offers lots of practical tips for collecting, cleaning, and drying your bounty.
Don’t overlook Kelly Grummons’ always helpful Q & A on p. 14, next to our Marketplace section.
Special thanks to our Art Director, Lise Neer, who managed to layout this issue during campground stops on a cross-country bicycle ride, “Sea to Sea.” The trip is a high-visibility project intended to advocate for brain injury and stroke awareness. She and the other undaunted participants arrive in Boston in early September. To learn more: spokesfightingstrokes.org
We’ll publish again in early February 2017, which marks our 20th Anniversary. Enjoy the fall and do a rain dance; it’s crispy out there.