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:  http://plantselect.org





Thursday, October 22, 2015

Visiting Monarchs


Photos by Bev Hollingsworth, CSU Support Staff

Photos by Bev Hollingsworth, CSU Support Staff

These photos are one of those moments in life when you are left in awe of these creatures.  They stopped by for a visit before journeying onto Mexico.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The forgotten back alleys

Picture by Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate

We always think to carefully landscape the front of our house where people get their first impression.  But what about a first impression from the alley?  Landscaping the alley can complete the design of your yard.  Without a well tended alley which ties into the rest of your landscape, it detracts from feel of the overall design. 

When you decide to redecorate a room with new features and then put only half of the new room together this is comparable to an unfinished landscape such as not landscaping the back alley.

Remember not everyone might first view your home from the front yard.  You can make the same statement in the alley as you do in the front and throughout the yard.  People will feel welcomed from the alley and in the front. 

Most back alleys are filled with trash and weeds.  Whatever you chose to do visually makes a statement about who you are. Improving your back alley improves the neighborhood.  Maybe it will inspire others to do the same. 

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Aspens on the Plains

Pictures by Linda Langelo, CSU Extension Horticulture Program Associate

Populus tremuloides, Aspen have their own beauty.  The only tree close to this striking white bark is Paper Birch, Betula papyrifera.  Paper birch does not tolerate drought.  Aspen trees live in altitudes well above the normal range on the plains which is 3,500 to 4,500 feet.  But once Aspens are well established on the plains of eastern Colorado as those in the above pictures, they tend to do well.  The trees pictured above were placed by a swimming pool for many years.  The pool is now gone and they are still doing well.  They survived the last three years of extreme drought.   These are not trees recommended for eastern Colorado, but people fall in love with their beauty.  The danger is planting trees outside their normal range whereby they succumb to diseases and insects and keeping them in good health is challenging because the environment they need is not available to them.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Water, Water, Water

Picture by Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate

As summer comes to a close and fall begins, remember to water the grass during extended dry periods in both fall and winter.  This will help to prevent root damage.  Healthy roots makes for a healthy turf. 

Speaking of roots, now is a great time to fertilize your turf.  Fertilizing your turf now can help your turf in the following ways:  better color through the winter and earlier spring green-up.  The turf will have an increase of carbohydrate reserves along with improved fall, winter, and spring root growth. Lastly, the turf will have increased shoot density.  Two of the possible side effects of doing fall fertilization is the increased chance of snow mold injury and decreased cold tolerance of your turf.  It can happen.  I prefer better root development over spring fertilization causing an increase in top growth with a root system that might not be able to support the top growth.

During the growing season the best time to irrigate your turf would be between 10 pm and 6 am.   The next best time is from 9 am to 11 am.  If you are forced to irrigate between 9 am and 4 pm just remember that the sun and wind can cause additional water loss. 

The following cool season grasses need regular applications of water:

  • Bluegrass
  • Fescue
  • Perennial Ryegrass
  • Bentgrass
Kentucky bluegrass will need 2.5 or more inches of water per weekly application of water during the hot summer months.

Help the Monarch Migrate

Picture by Linda Langelo. CSU Horticulture Program Associate

Here in Sedgwick County, Colorado in our community garden the monarch has stopped along the way to refuel on an okra flower before continuing the migration south to Mexico. 

Monarchs are disappearing because of the destruction of Milkweed.  Milkweed is the critical plant where the adults which fly north in February and March lay their eggs on milkweed.  The young caterpillars feed only on the milkweed.  This is what we call host specific.  The host is milkweed food for the monarch caterpillars.  There is no second choice or other preference.  They depend on each other.

The monarchs which fly south to Mexico for the winter are not the same as those that return.  Those that return are the fourth generation.  All the other generations are first through third which live only 2-6 weeks.  The fourth generation lives 180 to 240 days which is about six to 8 months.  They can also hibernate in California as well as Mexico. 

Fill Your Landscape with Natives


Pictures by Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate
The first and second picture from the top is Ratibida pinnata, Prairie Coneflower.  The bottom picture is Monarda fistulosa, Wild Bergamot. These plants need very little to no care and both are perennial.  They do not need fertilization.  They do not need deadheading to keep producing. 
Ratibida starts blooming in June and lasts through October.  Monarda starts blooming in July through October.  These plants are great additions for fall color in your landscapes. 

Eight Spotted Forester

Picture by Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate

What is eating my grape vines??  This is the eight spotted forester, Alypia octomaculata which turns into to a striking adult black moth with yellow and black spots.  It is not a serious pest.  They also feed on Virginia creeper and grape vines east of the Rockies.   They chew the leaves from early June through August.  They have two generations a season.  One generation occurs in May and one occurs in August.  They winter in the pupa stage in a cocoon in the soil.  These insects are as colorful in the caterpillar stage as an adult.  The caterpillar is a pale blue, well patterned with rows of black spotting, orange banding along the side, and a rounded hump on the hind end. 

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Trees that succumb to freeze damage

Ornamental Pear picture by Ken Gierhart

Sometimes trees show very visible signs of freeze damage and sometimes we do not get to see any visible damage.  Two tips which can help avoid some of this damage:
  1. Do not do any late summer pruning
  2. Do not do any late summer fertilization
Both of these activities list above stimulate tender new growth which may not have enough time to harden off properly before a freeze.  We have to watch for early freezes in the fall and even late freezes in the spring.  Anytime the weather warms up enough to stimulate new growth, it can be damaged.

None other than Cat-faced Spider

                                  Picture by William Ciesla of Forest Health Management International

This is a photo of a cat-faced spider.  Their webs are a concentric design which they relocate regularly.  The web is located on vegetation a few feet above ground level.  The web is used to capture their prey.  The web is consumed and reconstructed often.  This fall the female cat-faced spiders will be laying eggs their which overwinter within a silk-covered sac.  The full-grown females are most often seen.  The males are half as large as the females.  Their sizes vary from 5-7 mm long and 4.5-5.5 mm wide.  Coloration varies widely from straw-colored to dark grayish brown. 

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Photo by Linda Langelo, CSU Program Horticulture Associate
We did it again!  The Burlington Garden Club chose the Burlington Community Garden as garden of the month.  Recently we put fabric down for our paths around the raised beds and then pea gravel to cover the fabric.  It is easy for folks to garden in a 4 x 4 foot square.  Some folks have more than one square while others have one square they manage.   We are getting ready to place new covering on the greenhouse. 

Cultivated plants turned aggressive

Photos by Elizabeth Thomason
Plants like Bouncingbet, Saponaria officinalis, where once used in our gardens.  A seemingly wonderful plant with its great attribute of exceptionally hardy and drought-tolerance has become a nightmare to control.  Still sold commercially as seed and still making its way into landscapes.  This European plant once used as a soap substitute is now aggressive and disruptive to our natural habitats in many states other than Colorado. 
To think that this plant along with many others was sought by gardeners to have as a prized specimen in their landscapes.  Another prized specimen is Lythrum salicaria, Purple Loosestrife.  The seeds of these pink flowering plants can wash easily into waterways.  The root system of Purple Loosestrife will resprout from any remaining root fragments.  This makes it even more difficult to control. 
For Colorado you can go to the following link and look to see if you have any of these plants in your landscape:

Monday, July 27, 2015

Is this happening to your trees?

Photos by Linda Langelo, CSU Horticulture Program Associate
The condition in the above pictures is an iron deficiency.  Along with the iron a leaf scorch is sure to follow.  There are many reasons for an iron deficiency among which is compacted soil, soil that is too wet or too dry.  If  the pH of the soil where the tree is planted ranges above 7.0 into 7.2 and 7.5, then this condition begins.  Take a soil test before you decide which type of tree you can plant in your landscape.  Along with crabapples, maple trees are also very susceptible to iron deficiency.  Without adequate iron, the tree cannot complete the photosynthesis cycle.  So the tree ends up not getting a good supply of sugars and starches.  Applying chelated iron is helpful. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015


Pictures by Linda Langelo

Aspens that are planted on the eastern plains of Colorado do not usually live very long.  They do not do well with the drought and the extreme weather on the plains.  But this aspen has been around for almost 50 years.  It is in good health.  Not far from where this tree exists a small grove of younger trees.  It is amazing to see what some trees can live through over the years.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Judge or Be Judged

Picture by Linda Langelo
Sometime around January when you are in your recliner looking through all those new seed catalogues you start planning what you want to grow.  You see all those wonderful new plants, but you don't have enough room in your yard to plant them.  No one is thinking about fair or what to grow to exhibit.  But the really experienced exhibitors do along with the professional exhibitors who might professionally exhibit roses, dahlias, iris or some other flower.  It is not a bad idea while still rustling through those catalogues to decide what you might want to exhibit for fair. While you are ordering add extra to your list of what you are going to grow to exhibit for fair.  You order extra because what if one plant gets a disease or something else happens to it.  Once you have made your plant list, you might want to stop and plan the appropriate locations for everything in your landscape thinking about sun, water, soil, exposure and fertilizer requirements.

A good grower or gardener will have a great deal of good material to exhibit because of course you plan for hail, drought, wind and flooding, right?  So its fair time.  Once you have a fair book do the following to make fair seamless: 
  1. Read the rules carefully.
  2. Decide what you want to exhibit   (Remember you have already done this in your recliner in January.) 
  3. Follow the rules.  If your entry calls for 3 miniature marigolds, do not enter six.  This will get you disqualified. Naturally pick extras in case something happens along the way to fair.
  4. If possible, prepare the entries the night before or the day of your exhibiting. 
  5. Pack and carry all the entries you wish to exhibit that preserves the freshness of your flowers. 
  6. Be on time and have fun.
  7. If you are permitted, be present when your entries are being judged.  You can learn alot.  Sometimes, the most successful exhibitors are those who have the most experience. 

Here are some tips for selecting the best flowers to show:

1) your flower should be free of insects.
2) your flower should be free of disease.
3) your flower should not be malformed.
4) your flower should be free of mechanical damage and soil. 

The idea is to bring in foliage and flowers in their prime condition.  Do not polish any of your specimens.  In order to understand what is meant by prime condition you need to familiarize yourself with the flower(s) you wish to exhibit.  Know what is typical of the flowers form, maturity and color.  Many exhibitors pick coneflowers which are past their prime with slightly faded flower petals that are pointing downward to the ground.  When wanting to bring three flowers of a particular specimen, they must be at the same maturity, as close as possible to the same true color of the flower for that specimen and all three the same size or very close. 

It is always best to grow a lot of one specimen so that when fair time comes you have a lot to chose to fit the requirements.  Here is yet another list to keep in mind about how your flower(s) will be judged as you are picking your flower(s):

1) Form: Uniformity, Maturity and Shape.
2) Stem and Foliage: Strength and Straightness
3) Color: Intensity and Clarity
4) Size: Typical to Variety
5) Condition: Free from Blemishes. 

You might think this is a lot to remember, but I am confident you can do it.  If you have any questions, you can always call your local Horticultural Extension Agent.  If you are really interested in exhibiting further, there are plant societies for almost every flower on the market.  Many are professionally judged such as roses, daylilies and irises. These plant societies have guidelines on how those specific specimens are judged.  

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Creative Front Yard Landscaping

When you have no use for your bike, here is a creative way to use it.  This way it is not taking up space in the garage and looks a whole lot better decorated in the front yard.  See what you can do this year to spruce up your front yard.  Another way to recycle.

Picture by Linda Langelo


Knock Out Roses

As with many other perennials, shrubs and trees this year, of the five Knock Out roses that we placed in the 4-H Clover garden in Julesburg, Colorado were just that, three were knocked out.  The November cold snap created significant dieback on Knock Out roses.  Normally they are late to leaf out because they like warmer temperatures and spring has been cold.  We have had temperatures here anywhere from the upper thirties to the low fifties with rain and more rain.  The picture posted below shows what a Knock Out rose should look like if it survives the winter. 
Normally Colorado is a great state for growing roses because of the vivid colors produced.  Roses in Colorado do well if they get full-sun and good air circulation.  On windy sites, they need to be protected from the prevailing wind.   Better luck next year!
Picture by Linda Langelo

Picture by Linda Langelo

Monday, January 12, 2015

Damaged White Pines

Photo: Courtesy of Carrie Shimada CSU Horticulture Associate
These white pines are located in Weld County, Colorado.  This white coloration on the pines is a result of the November cold snap.  The temperatures went from being in the 70's to below freezing in a matter of hours. Then in the next couple of days afterward came the minus wind chill, these plants had to endure.

Photo: Courtesy of Carrie Shimada, CSU Horticulture Associate