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  • Jane Shellenberger

Editor's Letter: May 2019

Ah, Spring. So far it’s a cool, moist, forgiving season. Even better, I now have a schedule that lets me spend time in the garden when it counts most.

This is our second issue of three. As usual, the hard part was deciding what to leave out.

On our cover is a beautiful tree peony that blooms in late May. Less common than smaller, herbaceous peonies, these plants with woody stems are more like deciduous shrubs. Native to China, tree peonies can live as long as 100 years. Their flowers are huge – 6 -10 inches. Once established, they are quite drought tolerant and often killed by overwatering. They are also difficult to transplant. Nevertheless, when my mother died over 20 years ago I dug up her white tree peony (at the hot end of June, no less), wrapped it well, and shipped it via Fed-Ex to Colorado where it was lost for a full week before surfacing. It survived and blooms every year.

And here’s what’s inside the issue.

If you’ve ever wanted to know what a Master Gardener training is like you’ll want to read Sandra Knauf’s take on it in “Mistress Gardeners.” Excerpted from a chapter in her new book, Please Don’t Piss on the Petunias: Stories about raising kids, crops & critters in the city, it’s full of wry observations and joyful insights.

I wouldn’t exactly call it a theme for the issue, but synchronicity happens. John Hershey offers opposing advice in “Here’s a Tip: Pee in Your Garden.” This could be a reflection of gender bias. Have you ever known a male who needed encouragement to pee outside?

Nature-loving biologist Gary Rahm was drawn into a battle with field bindweed, that bane of gardeners. Vowing revenge, he found a would-be predator, explored the plant’s history, and decided, “showing that plant that humans are the more pernicious weed” may be the best strategy.

Marcia Tatroe writes about poppies. Not the commonly available Icelandics (that do so well in the mountains) and Orientals (better for the plains), but uncommon ones, including a couple native to Colorado. But Bloodroot? I had no idea it was in the Papaveraceae family. “The Other Poppies” will expand your notion of poppy.

Herbalist, professional tea blender, and owner of Three Leaf Farm in Lafayette, Sara Stewart Martinelli describes her list of “Seven Essential Herbs for a Garden Pharmacy” and includes recipes. Her farm is the setting for Botanica, “a festival for plant lovers and the botanically curious!” July 21- 23.

No plant gets more press for its healing properties these days than Hemp (CBD). Due to its outlaw status history in the U.S. there isn’t much research-based evidence to back up claims. But, Loveland-based Hemp My Pet recently announced completion of a CSU Clinical Trials Study assessing the impact of their full spectrum CBD oil on dogs with painful osteoarthritis. The results are extremely positive. Read “Healing with Hemp.”

2018 was one of the worst years ever for Fireblight infection in Front Range trees. Mikl Brawner interviews several arborists who’ve managed it successfully for many years. Their strategies and conclusions may surprise you as they defy some commonly accepted wisdom.

Penn Parmenter writes about gardening in the Rockies for newcomers and Denver realtor Christine Tomovich tells you about creating a Certified Wildlife Habitat, which, it turns out, also adds significant value to a home today.

There are several reasons for growing plants vertically, especially vegetables. Emily Weakland focuses on small space urban gardens, while Thea Tenebaum describes the bamboo architectural wonders that her Italian husband creates to support tomatoes, cucumbers, and beans. Eric R Eaton tells you about “good bugs” in your compost. In my search for an illustration I found an extraordinary image by Dr. David Evans Walter, an entomologist at the U. of Queensland in Australia. In our email exchange Walter explained: Yes, it’s a collage. “Each image is composed of 4-18 separate SEM images melded together in Photoshop, masked, and then coloured as close to life as I could. There is probably a few hundred hours of work that I put into the images for that collage. It’s great for teaching.” In the small world department, he added, “I first learned scanning electron microscopy at Colorado State University from Bob Lee, an excellent teacher.”

Notables contains a wrap-up of the wonderful Tree Diversity Conference in March and, as always, if you’re looking for classes, events, plant sales, or garden tours see our Calendar and Marketplace pages.

See you again in late August!

Jane Shellenberger



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