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  • Colorado Gardener

Seasons Greetings, Colorado Gardener readers and friends!

Longing for color the other day, I went to my local garden center, The Flower Bin in Longmont. I was expecting to see Christmas cacti in more robust bloom than mine but they were a couple of weeks past their prime. Instead I saw pointsettias in all sizes and shades of pink, red, magenta, white, bright lemon yellow, plus bright and dusky blues and dark purples, spray-dyed and glittered. Those made me chuckle but were definitely attracting customers. As with bougainvilla, it’s the colorful leaf bracts that steal the show; the flowers are tiny.

Along with my reliably blooming streptocarpus plants and one large Christmas cactus I have several varieties of orchid cacti (Epiphyllum) that are trickier – at least for me. They like to be misted regularly but not over-watered, much cooler this time of year than the rest of the house, and allowed to go semi-dormant (quite dry) for a month or so in winter.

My friend Gwynne, who used to own Gwynne’s Greenhouse in Lyons before moving to Wyoming a few years ago, just posted photos of her yellow epi, blooming away in a cool room. She counted 45 buds. So jealous!

Meanwhile, the muted winter landscape has its own appeal. Here’s yesterday’s photo of native rabbitbrush in Hygiene.

In 2021 Colorado passed HB 21-1229 which prevents HOAs from banning xeriscaping and requiring turf grass. More and more homeowners around the country are choosing plantings for biodiversity and pollinators. When they come up against HOA rules and neatnik neighbors who prefer lawns, they are winning. Awareness and action are growing and spreading. Water use wasn’t even the principal issue in Maryland where a disagreement like this turned into a lawsuit that resulted in a new state law, the Low-Impact Landscaping Bill. Discussion centered on ecosystem services and the new law allows residents to install native and pollinator plants, and rain gardens, opting out of high-maintenance turf lawns, no matter what the nearly 6500 HOAs in that state say. It may seem slow but this is definitely progress toward reclaiming some of the estimated 79,535 square miles of irrigated lawn in the USA.

Propagation of native plants is different than for traditional garden perennials and annuals, plus they don't look as glamorous and appealing in pots. But some Colorado nurseries are stepping up to meet the popularity surge and demand for more natives. We’re planning to include a piece on propagation of natives in one of our two print issues this year.

Those of you living in or near Colorado Springs can get a head start at a free-to-the-public Native Seed Planting Event hosted by CoNPS and Wild Ones on January 17 at the Colorado Springs Horticulture Complex, 1003 Glen Ave. Bring containers so you can take your planted seeds home! Milk jugs are best. Soil and seeds (donated at the 2022 Pikes Peak Region Seed Share) will be provided. This method of winter sowing also works well for cool season veggies like chard, spinach, onions, kale, cabbage, etc.

Register at:


We lost another giant in horticulture a few weeks ago. Allan Taylor introduced numerous plants for garden cultivation, propagated many rare woody plants, and discovered a species of tree, which he named Pinus contorta, var. latifolia; commonly, "Taylor Sunburst pine." The CU Boulder campus hosts a grove of Sunburst pines with a plaque recognizing his discovery near the Baseline/Broadway campus intersection. It was also Allan Taylor who brought the hardy Arizona Cypress trees growing on Cookes Peak, NM to the attention of Colorado Horticulture.

Taylor was a brilliant, generous man with many interests and was fluent in many languages.

Happy Solstice and New Year!

Jane Shellenberger



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