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  • Jane Shellenberger

Editor's Letter: Summer 2017

There will be no more offhand pronouncements from me about the weather. After my comments last month – “Spring came early this year… dry conditions have prevented weeds from taking off… it’s looking as though we may be in the clear” (re frost) – we had a major hailstorm that decimated a lot of Front Range gardens; a couple of frosts; several inches of snow (on the plains!) on May 18-19; more rain than we’ve had all year; and nighttime temperatures that are still below 40°F. Summer should be right around the corner, but don’t hold me to it.

Here’s a glimpse into our Summer issue. Natural science writer and illustrator Gary Raham tells you about Plant Internets. They beat our human technological wonder by at least 390 million years.

Eric Johnson discusses the rich diversity that once existed in Colorado orchards and recent efforts to restore some of it by rescuing and propagating old apple cultivars through grafting.

Some of the major players include: plant explorers Addie and Jude Schuenemeyer of the Montezuma Orchard Restoration Project (MORP) and Curtis Utley from the JeffCo Extension Office, who have been teaching grafting skills for years; and Walt Rosenberg of Masonville Orchards who sells “living sticks” (scions) of over 200 types of apples and other fruit.

Ever wonder how the pain intensity from various stinging insects measures up? Entomologist Eric Eaton introduces you to the Schmidt Sting Pain Index. Like a wine-tasting connoisseur, Dr. Schmidt describes and rates the subtle nuances of stings from various wasps, bees, ants, and even a Colorado caterpillar. The results may surprise you.

Penn Parmenter has been dealing with an influx of destructive critters – “ground animals” (i.e., rodents) - in her high altitude food gardens. They gained the advantage after several warm winters, but a varmint in the bread drawer caused her to draw the line. In the process she’s learned to highly value predators, wild and domestic.

When the soil finally warms up it will be time to plant squash, both summer and winter types. I’ve included an excerpt on the topic, adapted from my book, Organic Gardener’s Companion, Growing Vegetables in the West.

Summer means more time spent outside. Bill Melvin, owner of Ecoscape Environmental Design, writes about the importance of outdoor living spaces for greater well-being and shows you several examples. From simple to complex, private backyard rooms can draw us out of the house and offer a retreat, a place to unwind, de-stress, and restore connection.

Harlequins Gardens Nursery co-owner Mikl Brawner selected three of his favorite floriferous xeric plants to profile: Russian Hawthorn, Filigree Daisy, and Bridges Penstemon (Penstemon rostriflorus). All three are in the Plant Select program. (Be sure to check out the brand new Plant Select book, Pretty Tough Plants.)

Amy Yarger, Horticulture Director at the Butterfly Pavilion, tells you about some of the community pollinator gardens that BP staff and volunteers have installed around the Metro area, including the Senior Habitat Gardening Program. Every year BP receives dozens of applications for this program. They select three or more centers and plant pollinator gardens there every year.

Two years ago, Panayoti Kelaidis of Denver Botanic Gardens traveled to Turkey and Greece to explore the endemic flora (and some fauna) of the two great Mount Olympus’, thanks to a scholarship from Chanticleer Gardens in Wayne, PA. In our April 2016 issue he wrote about his padventures in Turkey. Here he continues, chronicling hikes up the Greek Olympus. Sit back and enjoy a plant-focused journey up the ancient Mountain of the Gods seen through the eyes of this renowned Greek-American plantsman.

Kelly Grummons answers gardeners’ questions about snow damaged trees, rejuvenating iris beds, plants that are both ornamental and edible, and Boxelder bugs.

We include an excerpt from a new book by Adam Brock, co-founder and co-director of the GroHaus in Denver. Change Here Now: Permaculture Solutions for Personal and Community Transformation is more about social permaculture than gardening, but as he says, “many of the ecological metaphors we use in the garden apply equally well to community.”

You can also read a short summary about a recent legal victory for bees, “EPA wrongfully approved use of bee-killing pesticides,” judge rules, on page 21.

Garden Tours are coming right up. Check our Calendar and Marketplace Page for more information. You may be interested in a guided tour of the site of the Hayman WildFire, the largest recorded fire in Colorado history, 15 years later. On June 24, “See firsthand the surprising state of recovery and consequences on native plants, watershed conditions, and ecology.” Check our calendar for details.

Jane Shellenberger



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