Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Seed and Plant Catalogues are here!

Time to start planning for the garden. There is a catalogue for every taste. The picture in this blog is Echinacea 'Orange Marmalade' read more about it later in the article.

Willing to try heirloom varieties? Willing to go organic? Are you even willing to try grafted tomatoes? Get two or more varieties on one vine.

Here are some of the new items out there. Try an Italian heirloom eggplant called Prosperosa Eggplant. It even sounds Italian. It is still purple with a pleated top and cream color under the stem. How about an organic lettuce called Mottistone. It is a French Crisp/Batavia type, totally unique with a claim to be a "strong and healthy, disease-resistant variety," according to Territorial Seeds.

If you want a zippy annual, there is a new zinnia called Zahara Raspberry Lemonade Mix with three colors coral, yellow and starlight rose. It seems to me that more and more, the gardening world is expanding in their choices of offering plants with mixed colors or at the very least, mixes of plants like bulbs in color combinations. Just for the ease of gardening. But if you are into just white, there is a new introduction in a sunflower called White Ice which gets to be about 4 to 5 feet tall.

In the last 5 to 7 years there has been an explosion of new introductions in the perennial plant world. There are several new Echinacea introductions for 2011.

According to AB - Breeding for Better Gardens 'Southern Belle' is a hybrid with many characteristics of Echinacea tennesseensis which is an endagered species only a few are found in southern part of Tennessee. It flowers as one of the first Echinaceas, already in late June and continues to flourish in October as the latest cultivars begin to lose their color. 'Southern Belle' is very hardy. The double flowers are very attractive with a beautiful, deep pink color.

Echinacea 'Guava Ice' is a salmon-pink double flowering very disease resistant with a first flowers late June and ending in September.

Echinacea 'Marmalade' is double flowering with yellowish orange ray petals and on top in its tufted bonnet the petals are more golden yellow. It blooms for 8 to 12 weeks starting in early to mid-June.

Echinacea purpurea 'White Double Delight' is exactly like 'Pink Double Delight' because they are twins.

If you need something that will do well in a shady area of your landscape the new series of Tiarella introductions are called Diva-rellas series of clumping Tiarella cordifolia. The blossoms range from a deep purple-red to eggplant with a mix of variations in leaf shape and coloration with again green and purple. If you are interested in reading more about these plants and where they originated link onto You will also find more information about many new perennial plant introductions on this link.

If you are interested in knowing about the perennial plant of the year go to the Perennial Plant Association and see the perennial awarded for 2011.

If you are interested in new introductions for almost any plant there is an association or plant society that you can search on-line.

If you want to know about Plant Select 2011 introductions, go to

If you want to know about Proven Winners, go to and you will see a wide range of plants from annuals to shrubs.

Enjoy picking new plants for your garden in 2011. If you are an avid gardener like me, there is going to be less lawn and more plants.

Happy New Year and Happy Gardening in 2011!

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

There is hope for the bee with Penstemon species

According to research at the Missouri Botanic Gardens by Richard R. Clinebell and Peter Bernhardt, penstemon are a good native plant which benefit several pollinators. The five Penstemon species used in their study were P. tubaeflorus, P. cobaea, cobaea variety purpureus, digitalis, grandiflorus and pallidus. The study took place in nine sites in tall grass prairie in Illinois, Kansas and Missouri.

Penstemon tubaeflorus was noted having the native bee, Bombus spp. or more commonly known as the bumble bee as a pollinator.

Penstemon cobaea and Penstemon digitalis are visited by a rare Penstemon wasp, Pseudomasaris occidentalis.

Both Penstemon digitalis and pallidus which have a reduced bell-shaped corolla attract a bumble, Bombus nevadensis subsp. auricomus that fits perfectly to the flower.

Leaf cutting bees, Megachile brevis, carry dorsal depositions of penstemon pollen when they come in contact with the anthers and stima while busy foraging for nectar on only four of the Penstemon species listed, not including P. tubaeflorus.

Other pollinator are three distinct subfamilies of the anthophorids such as carpenter bees, digger bees and cuckoo bees attracted to the same four Penstemon species, again not including P. tubaeflorus. The anthophorids are very diverse in the western United States as are some 22 species of penstemon.

I encourage you to grow penstemon in your garden. The best to grow here in northeastern Colorado among this group is Penstemon digitalis or Foxglove Penstemon. The famous Penstemon digitalis cultivar is the award winning 'Husker Red' and readily available. There are many other cultivars available. You will enjoy a bloom time from April through August. They grow in woodland, meadow or field setting.

Native bees also help pollinate a number of other crops such as almonds, apples, blackberries, blueberries, cranberries, pears, plums, squash, tomatoes, watermelons, canola, sunflower, alfalfa and clover.

There are 20,000 native bee species worldwide with 4,000 of those species residing in the United States. However, the European Honey Bee, Apis mellifera is the most important crop pollinator in the U.S. Due to their decline since 1950 because of disease, the native bees are equally as important.

Various studies in the literature give information about the increasing demand of pollinaton services, decline in managed bee colonies, increase in rental prices of managed bee colonies for pollination which all play a factor in the future role of the wild pollinators or the native bees. One additional factor is the future trend of food production, not including crops grown for livestock or oil production, will also play a key role in determining how important native bees could become.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010


Below is a direct link to voting for our Golden Plains Area Extension Project:

The Golden Plains Area Extension is in the running for $50,000 for two projects: Ag Fest and Community Gardens.

Support Extension by VOTING DAILY through December 31st.