Monday, January 25, 2016

 Photo Credit: Dennis Kaan, Area Director of Golden Plains Extension
This Linden tree had almost half of the trunk's bark removed from a someone who visited the city park in Akron, Colorado four years ago.  The tree was "skinned" from the first branch to the base of the trunk.  This is almost an area of between 3-4 feet in length.  
Each season this tree has slowly begun to grow over the open wound.  Last summer there were no dead branches nor any signs of dieback.  This tree demonstrates the capacity of trees to overcome adversity.  The tree was given supplemental watering during the drought years and every season the lawn is fertilized which adds some fertilization for the tree especially in the way of nitrogen.  Nitrogen moves quickly through the soil because it is very soluble.  But the Potassium and phosphorus are not readily soluble in that lawn fertilizer.  Potassium has a high positive charge and bonds strongly with negatively charged elements in the soil.  Phosphorus has a negative charge and reacts strongly with other soil elements such as iron, aluminum and calcium with positive charges and moves only a few inches through the soil.
With the small amounts of nutrients from the lawn fertilizer, these will still be absorbed by the tree and be of some benefit.  It is amazing what one tree or plant will do to survive over another. 

Tri-State Horticulture Symposium

Tri State Horticulture Symposium

Monday, April 4 & Tuesday April 5, 2016

Yuma County Fairgrounds

At the Concession Building

410 West Hoag Road

Yuma, Colorado

Thompson Park, Julesburg, CO. Photo Credit: CSU Extension, Linda Langelo, Horticulture Program Associate

 Whether it is the year of the begonia or the year of the delphinium, the next gardening season is around the corner to challenge even the most experienced gardeners.  Come and be educated on some of the latest gardening issues.

Topics and Speakers on April 4, 2016:

Bugs, Bugs and More Bugs

By Whitney Cranshaw, CSU Entomology Specialist



Topics and Speakers on April 5, 2016

Invasive Weeds

By Brian Talamantes, CSU Weeds Science & Agronomy,



Habitats for Pollinators

By Dori Seamans, NCRS/Beekeeper, Burlington, CO. &

Shannon Bowling, Farm Bill Wildlife Biologist


LUNCH & Meet the vendors



Continue Meeting the Vendors – 1:00-1:30

A native grass exhibit will be on display. 

Best Practices for Caring for our Trees

By Boyd Lebeda, CSU Forest Service


Contact: Sedgwick County Extension at (970)474-3479 for further details and to register by Monday, March 28, 2016


Cost $30 includes lunch for one day either April 4 or 5, late registration or at the door $40. Registration for both days is $45 while late registration for both days or at the door is $50.  Sponsored by Colorado State University

Friday, January 22, 2016

Common Tree Planting Errors

These pictures demonstrate what not to do.  A picture is worth a thousand words. 

  • The first picture is the end result of ponderosa pines about 40 years old that succumbed to girdling roots left around the base of the tree. This tree was buried slightly deeper than it should have been.  A strong wind of 50 miles an hour pushed this tree over.
  • In the second picture it shows the root ball in the planting hole with burlap and twine still enclosed in the wire basket.  Both the burlap and wire basket need to have the top third removed to allow the roots to spread.  Roots generally go out and slightly up toward ground level.  In some cases, Maples and Colorado Blue Spruce are shallow rooted trees. 

  • What causes burlap not to decompose quickly?  Burlap does not decompose quickly here in many locations on the eastern plains of Colorado because of improper water levels in the soil, too high or too low pH, lack of proper oxygen, lack of available nitrogen, higher levels of aluminum or manganese.  In turn the microbes, particularly bacteria are responsible for decomposition is lessened due to the stress placed on them by the poor environment of our soils. 
  • There are other living organisms in our soils besides bacteria in the following descending order:        
  1. another group of bacteria called actinomycetes providing valuable antibiotics,
  2. fungi provide soil stability with their threadlike filament structures,
  3. algae and cyanobacteria are photosynthetic microbes which can add small amounts of carbon to soil and
  4. protozoa which make nutrients available by mineralizing them for plants and animals.
  • Other than those mentioned above, there are more soil animals such as nematodes, microarthropods such as mites and springtails and larger animals such as earthworms and burrowing insects like dung beetles.



Food Waste: Compost or Redistribute?

Photo Credit: Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate


In times of great human need we rescue each other and at other times we may be called to rescue our animals or livestock.  So why not rescue food that is going to be wasted?  According to the Environmental Protection Agency we waste up to 40% of the food we produce.  This translates into an even bigger number of $165 billion dollar loss with 805 million people going hungry according to the Colorado Springs Food Rescue.

Nonprofits have popped up all over the country because of the Federal Law the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996.  The Federal Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects the donor and the recipient agency against liability, excepting only gross negligence and/or intentional misconduct.  Since 1996, many states have passed their own Good Samaritan Laws. 

Established nonprofits can collect food from any distributor to any recipients.  This leaves the field wide open to supplementing food shortages.  This means that restaurants don't have to add left over food to their trash which lowers their waste collection costs.  This is a win-win for all involved.  A homeless family or a family that has a low-income gets the benefit of a variety of food which was previously unattainable.  Think about what your nonprofit can do?  Go to the link: and read about how Colorado Springs Food Rescue operates. 

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Proper Tree Planting

Photo Credit:  Linda Langelo
I wonder which came first? Was it the fence? Or was it the tree?  Or maybe it is the neighbor's fence?  We may never know.  This is a situation you should avoid.  This is not proper placement for this tree. The tree seems to be leaning.  I would want to know why. The limbs of this tree are over on the neighbor's property.  The trunk of the tree is sitting on the edge of a flower bed with stones and a garden edge up to the trunk or covering the support roots.  The bark should be allowed to breathe.  If the bark is covered by fabric this allows water to keep the bark moist.  This can cause rotting.  If the feeder roots are buried under stone/gravel and then fabric, this mitigates oxygen to the roots.  Roots need both water and oxygen.
When you go to purchase a property, keep these things in mind.  Some time in the future, the tree may fall on the fence.  Or the tree's roots if they are shallow-rooted will grow into the neighbor's turf.  All these issues are easily avoided by either moving the tree to a new location or removing the tree.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Dreaming of Wisteria

What a nice addition to the garden.  Wisteria can provide lots of shade with these beautiful flowers growing in drooping clusters, or racemes.  Depending on the type of wisteria those drooping racemes can either be six inches long to 3 feet.

But, oh the fragrance of these takes your memory back to the fragrance of sweet pea flowering vine.  Even the flowers seem to match in their structure.  That is because they are related both being in the Legume Family.  If you were to take a blindfold test, would you know if you were sitting next to a sweet pea or a wisteria vine? picture
It may also surprise you to know that there is a wisteria native to the U.S. called American wisteria, Wisteria frutescens.  This native is less aggressive than both the Chinese and Japanese types.  The racemes on this native are 9 inches and very fragrant.  The flowers are lilac to blue colored.  The vine will reach a height of 20 to 50 feet with the longest life span of all wisteria.  Unfortunately, this native only grows best in the southeast from Texas to Florida. 

If you are interested in the non-native types, Silky wisteria, Wisteria venusta repels deer, but attracts butterflies.  It has a short 6 inch white racemes blooming in May and June which grows to about 32 feet.

The wisteria with a number of cultivated varieties in a number of colored options such as white, lavender, blue and deep purple is the Japanese wisteria, Wisteria floribunda.  Anyone living in zones 5 through 9 can enjoy this type with the longest of all the flower racemes reaching up to 3 feet and blooming in May and June.  As much as we sell color blends of tulips, annuals, perennials why not blend two or even all three different colors into the appropriate landscape theme.

Last but not least, there is the Chinese wisteria, Wisteria sinensis, with mauve or lilac colored racemes reaching 9 to 12 inches with the exception of one variety, Cooke's Special of 20 inch length racemes.  This type will bloom in May and June.

All of these types need full-sun with well-drained soil to grow and an acid to neutral soil pH.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Flowers for Your Winter Landscape

For flower lovers in zones 3b and 4, there are some choices for winter flowers for the landscape.  Bulbs are the answer. 

  • Winter Aconite, Eranthus hyemalis - the more common of the aconites which originated from Europe with lemon-yellow flowers and are great planted as borders or under shrubs or trees.  Definitely best used in large numbers.  By late January or early February, these will be blooming. 

  • Winter Aconite, Eranthus cilicica - is not as common as E. hyemalis.   These bulbs are originally from Turkey with yellow flowers with smaller yellow-bronze leaves. 

Aconites are easy to grow.  As long as aconites have even moisture, they will survive in full-sun and/or partial shade.  For Colorado with our alkaline soils, these bulbs do well in alkaline soil.  They thrive in zones 4 through 7. 

The second type of winter flower bulb is as follows:

  • Snowdrops, Galanthus nivalis 'Flora Pleno'  - a bulb with double white flowering petals originating from northern Europe.  

  • Snowdrops, Galanthus elwesii - is a bulb with giant honey scented snowdrops.

Snowdrops need to be planted in the fall.  They require full-sun with moist soil.  They will do well in zones 2 through 4.  The best feature is they bloom after Christmas.  These bulbs need to be planted in large numbers as they are used to naturalize an area, or a border.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


Photo Credit: Wikipedia

We think of oaks as stately, slow growing and large trees.  With a new introduction 'JFS-WK3' Urban Pinnacle Oak, it is a narrow, pyramidal form growing 55 feet tall and 25 feet wide.  This oak will fit in most urban front or backyard landscapes.   One of its best features is its resistance to powdery mildew and anthracnose. 

As with other oaks, it is still a slow growing tree.  Urban Pinnacle has a strong central leader.  Another great characteristic is its tolerance for heat and drought.  Here on the eastern plains of Colorado, trees benefit greatly by having those characteristics.  So if you are looking for a narrow tree which will live a long time for your landscape, you might want to try Urban Pinnacle.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Bidens as Groundcover

Photo by Linda Langelo


The plant pictured above called Bidens ferulifolia is a short-lived perennial often times grown as an annual.  It is usually gone after the first frosts.  Those frosts have come and gone. Surprisingly at 11 degrees Fahrenheit and with some snow on the ground it is still blooming.  It does have a southern exposure which would help a bit with the overnight temperatures.  This plant does not want to quit. It almost seems like spring with these in bloom.

This plant is from the Asteraceae Family.  There are 51 species of Bidens.  There are other species such as Bidens pilosa which is an annual flowering all summer into fall. 

Bidens has many common names such as beggarticks, black jack, burr marigolds, cobbler's pegs, Spanish needles, stickseeds and tickseeds.  WOW!  No wonder it is confused.  Comparing Bidens to Ratibida columnifera or Prairie Coneflower which is a hardy perennial in eastern Colorado, the Ratibida has stopped blooming.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Eastern Plains Cemetery Landscapes

Vona Cemetery photo by Linda Langelo

Cemetery head stones need protection from the high winds on the plains.  As cemeteries go the Vona Cemetery is kept neat and clean with a few smaller trees along the rows of head stones.  Along the outside are cedars slowing the onslaught of high winds and snow. 
As the cedars are aging, cemetery board is looking to replace the cedars.  Here are a couple of selections they are interested in as follows:

  • Woodward columnar juniper

    Juniperus scopulorum 'Woodward'—4 feet wide by 20 feet tall- very columnar and very well adapted to our environment.

  • Pinyon pine - Pinus edulis -- 20 feet wide by 30 feet tall; needing very little regular water; very drought tolerant.

  • Hot Wings Tatarian Maple-- Acer tataricum 'GarAnn' PP 15,023 – is deciduous and grows to 18 feet tall and 18 wide.  It is not pH sensitive like most maples and deals well with drought once established.   Take a look at the photos below.
Photo by Plant Select

Photo by Plant Select
 Hot Wings has leaves that do turn red in the fall.  The samara which are the seeds in the picture above can stay on the tree through September during some seasons. 

Beyond these selections there are many other possibilities to our cemeteries looking nice.  Listed below are a couple of other selections for the eastern plains of Colorado:
  1. Little Leaf Mahogany or Cerocarpus intricatus would make a nice addition to any windbreak.  It has flowers that turn into attractive feathery seed pods.  This is a smaller shrub growing to 5 feet by 4 feet wide.
  2. Russian Hawthorn or Crataegus ambigua would have very showy white flowers in spring.  It is a hardy plant and tolerates the extreme weather conditions of the plains.  It grows to 16 feet wide and 20 feet tall.
  3. Seven-Son Flower or Heptacodium miconioides would have many attractive features including an exfoliating bark.  This is a late season flowering shrub with white flowers.  The sepals which cover the flower petals are also an attractive red color before the petals open.   
  4. Smith's Buckthorn or Rhamnus smithii is a shrub which can be placed to line the windbreak with a sold green deciduous plant material.  After it flowers there will be black berries.  The flowers are insignificant.  It is very drought tolerant and can withstand the extreme weather conditions on the plains.
If you wish to take a look at any of these plants go to the following link: