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  • Jane Shellenberger

Editor's Letter: May 2020

With this quarantine a lot of us suddenly have time on our hands and no place to go. That’s a really big shift. Welcome to plant consciousness! We have to shelter in place and find ways to have resources delivered to us. And though some have tried, we can’t fight or flee. As the meditators say, “Don’t just do something, sit there.”

Our last issue was printed as the shutdown was kicking in so you may have had a hard time finding it - if you were even going out. Check our website soon for a list of many new dropoff locations in the metro area. We also post every issue online at where you can subscribe to have the print edition mailed. (I, for one, hope to God the U.S. Postal Service doesn’t shut down or become privatized, adding insult to injury. One of very few government agencies explicitly authorized by the Constitution, the USPS has an interesting history. Look it up.)

Most of the classes and events listed in our calendar last time have been cancelled, postponed, or transformed into virtual reality via Zoom. The local Cactus & Succulent Society and the Rock Garden Society both had to cancel/postpone mega plant sales that they rely on for a good chunk of their income. A few are carrying on in some fashion, but many sales, festivals, and garden tours are either kaput this year or in flux.

Since it’s almost impossible to pin anything down we may as well get used to living in the moment - and I don’t say that cavalierly. Life is especially tough right now if you’re unemployed or if, like my daughter, you’re a hospital nurse. But it’s Spring and there’s never been a better moment to garden. We’ve got time on our hands so let’s get to the issue.

Natural science writer Gary Raham looks at the viral life of plants including tulip “breaks” and reminds us that humans are “an inextricable blend of mammal and virus.”

Penn Parmenter lets you know that it’s not too late to plant directly from seed in the vegetable garden, whether you live in the mountains or “down below”.

Deb Whittaker takes you on a tour of two very different rooftop gardens, one at a residence in Boulder, the other on top of a parking garage in downtown Denver.

Our profile features Kelly Grummons, Gardening Q & A columnist for many years and former owner of Timberline Nursery in Arvada, among other things. I’m incredibly fortunate to be able include advice from such a generous giant in horticulture in every issue.

Mike Kintgen from Denver Botanic Gardens discusses native eriogonums (buckwheats), a genus with a few well-known plants, like Plant Select’s Khannah Creek Sulphur Flower, plus a number of choice plants that deserve more recognition.

If you had trouble finding food at the height of the shutdown it may have occurred to you that becoming more resourceful and self-sufficient is a really good idea. Author Sandra Knauf tells you what she encountered in Colorado Springs in “Finding Food When the Stores Run Out.”

Pam Sherman describes how gardeners can adopt principles of regenerative agriculture on a garden scale. It all boils down to healthy soil. She’s also written about the arrival of CropMobster in Colorado. Modeled on Craigslist and started in California, it’s a platform for the local food system that makes it easy for farmers and growers to connect directly with consumers, food banks, and everyone else.

Adding to the Regenerative Gardening discussion, Mikl Brawner tells you how to build healthy soil using a long-range approach that supports soil life. (If you’re a beginner gardener don’t worry, just begin!)

Amy Yarger, Horticulture Director at the Butterfly Pavilion, tells you about an innovative Urban Prairies Project. Teams of trained volunteers work to improve the ecological health of open spaces and engage the communities of Westminster and Arvada in habitat restoration.

Who couldn’t use a little “white” magic? If you want to attract more protection, courage, love, and prosperity into your life, herbalist Sara Stewart Martinelli, founder of the Botanica Festival in Lafayette, suggests you tune into the spirit aspect of plants that have been used in this way for centuries. Last but never least, in his Q & A, Kelly Grummons sheds light on growing Dahlias and the sudden browning of dwarf and other evergreens that so many of us are seeing.

We have an abbreviated calendar in this issue. Be sure to check websites, including ours (, for updates and further details.

The future isn’t fixed; we have a say in it. Let’s focus on outcomes that we’d like to see instead of on our fears. Plant something, get your hands in the dirt, and be well.

Jane Shellenberger



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