Gardening season grows on you

Plant lovers welcome May as Western weather warms


Many readers have flats of plants started or seeds planted in your yards by now, but others may still be in planning mode. Since I’ve joined the ranks of apartment dwellers, I’m limited to a bunch of big pots on my balcony (finally, it’s May and one can plant!). But, throughout the year, I am so interested in gardens at my children’s homes and those of former neighbors — and in what’s available and suggested for our Western gardens — will try to pass on a few thoughts ...

First good idea is from the latest Sunset magazine, in a story about a DIY raised bed, which has directions and a picture of a watering hole for bees that I really loved. They suggest a glazed rectangular plant saucer (or one could use a brownie baking pan) filled with a layer of marbles, river rock or glass pebbles and water plus a sprinkle of mineral or sea salt, which will serve as an attractant. Rinse and replace water every few days to avoid mosquito larvae. In our arid country, bees will really appreciate a drink and if this is in your garden, they’ll tend to those pollination jobs at the same time!

A visit to Hudson Gardens this week meant a happy hour or so among flowering shrubs and lots of big trees, filled with birds of all sorts. (It’s open daily and admission is free at 6115 Santa Fe Drive in Littleton.)

I picked up a free copy of Colorado Gardener, which had suggestions from Fort Collins nurseryman Scott Skogerboe on trees to plant in the Front Range, including the hardy Arizona cypress, the Caddo maple from Oklahoma and the hardy chokecherry, “Sucker Punch,” which doesn’t sucker and supports wildlife, he said. He is also enthusiastic about a Gambel oak from New Mexico called “Gila Monster,” as well as the hackberry and a number of others.

Aim to attract pollinators of all sorts with flowering plants chosen to bloom through the summer as well as vegetables, herbs and small fruits. Long-term planning will include trees as well.

Yes, some caterpillars may appear here, but they attract birds to your garden too. Baby birds eat an astonishing number of caterpillars brought to the nest by parents and the parents eat even more of them!

A natural garden, designed with native plants plus some decorative flowering plants from the local nursery, will attract an assortment of pollinators, including many you may not have noticed before if gardening is a new adventure. In addition to the expected honeybees and butterflies, there are tiny little native bees that live underground and a variety of moths as well as the beautiful painted lady butterflies a bit later in the season.

Just standing or sitting in one spot for a stretch to see how many different visitors a newly opened rose will attract is entertaining to some of us!

And/or, a morning walk, coffee in hand, among garden plants to see what’s sprouted, which new flowers may have opened (or faded and need pinching off) will mean a happy start for the day.

Depend on your local nursery to supply healthy plants, even though they may cost a bit more than at the grocery store. Get acquainted with Plant Select varieties, if you can locate them. They are developed in Colorado at CSU Fort Collins and Denver Botanic Gardens, are especially hardy in our high, dry climate and are really worth seeking out. See

Enjoy the summer ...


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