• Jane Shellenberger

Editor's Letter: Late Spring 2021

Our Late Spring issue covers a particularly wide range of topics, from a simple individual science project sparked at a community garden to a summation of the history of gardening in Europe and North America by Panayoti Kelaidis. For our cover I chose the former because the image of this young gardener epitomizes so much about the present moment.

Gardening has never been more popular and there’s a lot going on in our state. You can read in this issue about an extensive school to farm project in Montezuma County and a community project in Colorado Springs that is making it possible for new gardeners with small yards or just balconies to grow some of their own food in felt bags.


Drawing from the Colorado Fruit & Vegetable Growers Association Conference, Jodi Torpey writes about the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Two of the diverse research projects it funded this year include the Guidestone Colorado Farm to School Program in Salida and an industry viability study by The Colorado Cider Guild.


Zooming in on plants we have a shrub profile of New Mexico privet by Mikl Brawner and a look at Annuals for Shade by Marcia Tatroe. If you’ve ever wondered about the process of researching, trialing, and getting good garden plants into nurseries and garden centers Emily Goldman explains what’s involved in “What it Takes to Bring a Plant to Market”. You’ll also find Kelly Grummons’ answers to plant and gardening questions as always.


Penn Parmenter sent me a packet of Miss Penn’s winter squash seeds to grow last spring. I was somewhat perplexed when the plants that grew from the same seed packet bore visibly different fruit. That’s because they were from Joseph Lofthouse, a “Grex” breeder who encourages his squash to cross-pollinate over a period of years, selecting for the best tasting, the earliest, and the most climate resilient. Penn explains the somewhat complicated genetics of Grex.


Being outside in the garden involves sharing the space with insects and birds (if we’re so fortunate). Since our human understanding of critters that we consider pests is usually pretty limited we often just do battle with them and that means we miss a lot. Gary Raham invites you into the world of starling behavior while Eric R Eaton illuminates a most misunderstood insect, the wasp.


In his usual inimitable fashion, John Hershey looks back on his decades of gardening and ruminates on becoming an elder.


Most plant sales and garden tours were cancelled last year, but many are happening this spring and summer, even if modified from years past. Check our calendar for the latest. The CO Cactus & Succulent Society sale usually held in March, but cancelled at the last minute last year, is on for July 10 at the Jeffco Fairgrounds in Golden. You still have a great opportunity to find and order plants online, including natives from both High Plains Environmental Center in Loveland and the CO Native Plant Society. (You pick up.) More garden centers are carrying some natives now too, even though greenhouse propagation can be challenging. I find David Salman’s instructional planting videos for low water and native plants on the High Country Gardens website to be especially helpful.


I encourage you to visit and support Colorado’s public gardens this season. Denver Botanic Gardens today is one of the most innovative and impressive in the country, including from an ecological standpoint, and there are many other gardens of all sizes to inspire you as well.


It’s not too late to plant a food garden; the rewards are well worth it. As garden writer Jodi Torpey once wrote in these pages, “Seeds want to sprout, plants want to grow!” If you haven’t yet visited our new website, we’ve posted lots of articles from back issues to help you get growing.


Be sure to delight in this beautiful month of May!


~ Jane Shellenberger

Read our articles from our Colorado Gardening Issues here!

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