What’s the first flower you think of when you think of autumn? If you’re like most people, the first one that comes to mind are mums. Have you ever experimented with other autumnal plants? While rounding the last block on our walk this morning, I came across something quite magical. An autumn crocus…Colchicum cilicicum.
Colchicum is free-flowering with up to 25 bright purplish pink flowers that deepen in color at the tips. When I looked it up, everything pointed to it being vigorous and easy to grow. Yay!! Colchicums prefer well-drained soil that doesn’t dry out in summer and they need shade where summers are hot.
Look at that color!! Isn’t it beautiful? I think I may try planting some of these guys for next year. Whatever you plant this weekend, we hope it’s grand.
Despite having posted scads of flowers earlier in the week from the outing to the Denver Botanical Gardens, I still wanted to participate in this week’s edition of Flower Friday hosted by Rosy and the boys. I just can’t get enough photos of colorful blooms. In all the years I’ve gardened, there has been one plant in particular that I have never had any success with and it really cheesed me off. Rudbeckia, otherwise known as Black-Eyed Susan, has eluded any gardening success. Imagine how delighted I was when I saw this bloom this morning. I nearly squealed out loud.
Here’s hoping your Friday has this much success and the weekend is filled with loads of beauty and sunshine.
Last Saturday the annual Lavender Festival was held at the Denver Botanical Garden’s Chatfield Farms location. Having had a terrific time last year (click here for a flashback), I wanted to check it out again this year. It was hot but heavenly and I wasn’t disappointed.
Last year’s festival featured around 800 lavender plants. This year the festival featured nearly 2000. From white to pale pink, to blue and purple, there’s something for everyone to love. I’m all about the dark purples and the darker the better, but every single plant was a stunner. And that divine fragrance…swoon. As I walked through the rows, I was struck by the mesmerizing effect this incredible plant has on people. In an age where everyone seems to be constantly jockeying to get ahead of everyone else, people were kinder, gentler and just more consider to one another. It was a pleasure being there, even amongst a huge crowd. Knowing it would be a warm day, I had arrived 30 minutes after the festival opened thinking I could avoid the crowds. But the crowd was already so large, a sheriff’s deputy ‘kindly’ blocked me just as it was my turn to turn onto the access road leading toward the entrance. Harumph…dude, should I bring you back a big bunch of lavender to lighten up your cantankerousness, I grumbled to myself, in between HBO words.
Us plebeians were directed to the backside of Chatfield and I began to wonder if I’d need 4-wheel drive to cross through that back-forty pasture. Up, down, swerving back and forth to avoid small car swallowing ruts, I traversed the access road to find myself in the middle of a fallow pasture that had been turned into a temporary parking lot. At least I had sense enough to wear close-toed shoes unlike many who were clad in low-heeled sandals whose feet were going to be dirty in a matter of seconds as we hiked through the dusty pasture toward the pick up area where ‘farm limos’ waited to whisk us closer to the entrance. Look out Uber, you’ve got some serious competition out there.
Near the ticket booth, I was greeted to a picture perfect, blue-sky day guaranteed to lower the aggravation quotient.
Having pre-purchased my ticket the day before, I didn’t have to stand in the 50+ deep ticket line and made my way toward nirvana. Despite being early in the day, I was surprised there was already a sizable queue at the wine and spiked cider tents. I like wine with the best of ’em, but if you are in need of an alcoholic beverage at 9:30 in the morning, you definitely could benefit from wandering through rows of lavender in which to mellow out.
Lavender does surprisingly well in arid Colorado and English lavender in particular, is quite cold-hardy and generally thought to have strongest fragrance over its French and Spanish cousins. Lavender’s overall health benefits and healing properties were discovered more than 2,500 years ago. A powerful antioxidant with antimicrobial and sedative properties, the Greeks were the first to experiment with this natural remedy and soon the Romans and Egyptians were on board. Many monarchs in Europe made lavender widely popular. Lavender’s underlying chemistry allows for the diversity in its many medical to culinary uses, with a range of biochemicals, terpenes, and acetates accounting for the healing properties of lavender. Okay, enough with science and history of this awesome plant, let’s check out the festival.
Hope you enjoyed the festival as much as I did. Have a great weekend!
It’s been hotter than bloody-blue blazes this week and while there’s still 64 days until the official beginning of autumn, this week’s entry, Zinnias, seems to enjoy the hot weather.
One of the easiest of all garden plants to grow from seed and one that is exceedingly cheerful and colorful in the garden, deer resistant zinnias bloom until the first frost. Zinnias provide a burst of color and attract butterflies. An annual that must be planted every year, they have bright, daisy-like flower heads on single, erect stems that can grow up to three feet tall. When deadheaded, you’ll have a show of flowers all season long to enjoy. They make a great addition to the cutting garden.
We hope you have loads of cheer today and throughout the weekend. I’m hoping to notevaporate this weekend at the annual lavender festival held at Denver’s Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms location (you can read about last year’s festival here). What are your plans for this weekend?
It’s hotter than bloody blue blazes in the Mile High (triple digits yesterday). And the perfect time to feature a plant that accurately describes those temps. Known as Kniphofia or sometimes called tritoma, they are commonly referred to as Poker Plant or Torch Lilies. These guys are part of the Liliaceae family and thrive in USDA zones 5-9. Classified as an upright evergreen perennial, native to Africa with a clumping habit, there are more than 70 known species. Producing copious amounts of nectar when blooming, poker plants are attractive to bees and hummingbirds. The swallowtail butterflies have been recently seen swooning around them.
These babies need room to spread (note to self, be sure to divide these guys this autumn-notice the one coming up in the Canadian shrub who has also become insane fairly large-yikes). Preferring full sun they are not fussy about our crummy soil. They do require good drainage and don’t like ‘wet feet’ so no planting in bogs, ‘kay?
Poker plants are hardy and moderately drought resistant although some regular water is required in order for them to reach their full potential. Make sure they received adequate water during hot, dry spells and providing a 2-3 inch layer of mulch will help. Deadheading will encourage more blooms. These guys can be divided in the autumn and their crowns should not be planted deeper than 3 inches. Water throughly upon division and liberally mulch and you should have a new plant next season. Just make sure you provide enough space (something I clearly misjudged when they were planted in a few years ago).
Now it’s time for me to enjoy an extra-large glass of well-iced lemonade and work from inside the house in air-conditioned bliss. I realize many of you have had very hot temps already with the high humidity so I’ll stop whining now. Ummm, after second thought, nope, no I won’t. I’ll just finish by saying, it’s too damn hot!
It’s Friday so that means it’s time to feature lovely flowers. Today we’re going to take a little different tack by showcasing one of the most gorgeous flowering trees in the Denver area…the show-stopping Linden tree.A reliably large shade tree (they can reach 50-130 feet at maturity), they adapt well to Colorado’s wide-ranging climate and alkaline soils. Linden’s have a very flexible wood making them ideal as wind breaks. In late spring/early summer, they burst with tiny yellow, fragrant flowers and right now they are at their peak. The heart-shaped, green leaves will turn yellow this autumn.
Linden trees are not particularly bothered by most common tree pests and are somewhat slow-growing with slender, upturned branches creating a dense, uniform crown with a conical shape. They are easy to grow, hardy to -40°F with maximum elevation at 7,000 ft. The trees can discharge a fair amount of nectar which attracts bees so you won’t want to park under them for long since the nectar can damage the finish if left on too long. But the scent is heavenly and a highlight of our morning walks. Sometimes I just stop and inhale that sweet fragrance for several moments. It’s a wonderful zen moment in the early morning quiet.
In addition to today being Flower Friday, it’s also “Take Your Dog to Work Day” so Sam and Elsa will be hanging out with me in the studio today. Will you be able to take your pup to work with you? Have a great Friday and an even better weekend!
It’s Friday and that means it’s time to check out the flowers. Most of our flowers have finished blooming and the various planted wildflowers are still kind of thinking about blooming. For a minute I thought I’d have to share some recent watercolors I’ve been working on. Boy, are you guys lucky that I walked around to the side yard and found this. Perhaps this Canadian scrub rose is ‘rioting’ at the recent decision of the US applying tariffs on Canadian imports?
Here’s a closeup. Isn’t that pink exquisite?
Here’s wishing you a super-duper pink Friday and an even better weekend. Happy Father’s Day to Dad’s everywhere.
While we’re waiting for the weekend, let’s take a stroll around the garden for this week’s edition of Flower Friday, shall we?
Our version of “Blue Bonnets” (aka Lupines) are in bloom now and a real favorite. These guys have ‘naturalized’ over the past several years coming up everywhere after plantingjust two single plants. I think they’re happy…what do you think?