Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Plant Select 2016 Top Performers

According to Director of Plant Select Pat Hayward, fifty three public gardens in Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho and Montana participated in the Plant Select Demonstration Garden Partner performance surveys in 2016.  These gardens display Plant Select winning plants, providing communities with educational opportunities to discover the plants that grow best in their local environments.  To qualify as a partner, each garden must do the following:

  • Display good garden design with regular garden maintenance
  • Have a well-planned educational program
  • Provide clear and legible signage with proper plant names
  • Be open to the public year round
  • Be at least one year old before applying
Plants were evaluated on winter hardiness, bloom and foliage quality, and overall appearance and performance on a scale of 1-9.  The results are as follows:

Grand Winner: Top Performer Overall
This  year's overall winner is Blonde Ambition blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' PP22,048).  Introduced in 2011, this ornamental selection of native blue grama grass was developed by David Salman, founder of High Country Gardens, and owner of Waterwise Gardening, LLC.  It received an overall score of 8.3 and was evaluated in 82% of the gardens reporting.  This is the second year in a row for Blonde Ambition as grand winner. 

Photo Credit: Plant Select

The following are the top performers in each of three elevation ranges.  Scores are based on reports from a minimum of half the gardens in each range.  Score and number of gardens reporting follow the winning plant name. 
Top performers in the 3000-5500' elevation range
  1. Blonde Ambition blue grama grass: 8.8/25
  2. Hot Wings Tatarian maple (Acer tataricum 'Gar ann' PP15,023): 8.1/21
  3. Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora): 8.1/19
  4. Turkish veronica (Veronica liwanensis): 8.1/19
  5. Orange Carpet hummingbird trumpet (Zauschneria garrettii ' PWWG01S): 8.1/18
Top performers in 5501-7000' elevation range
  1. Hot Wings Tatarian maple (Acer tataricum 'Gar ann' PP15,023):8.4/11
  2. Turkish veronica (Veronica liwanensis): 8.3/12
  3. Little Trudy catmint (Nepeta 'Psfike' PP18,904): 8.2/12
  4. Blonde Ambition blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis ' Blonde Ambition' PP22,048):8.1/15
  5. Apache plume (Fallugia paradoxa): 8.1/13
Top performers over 7000' elevation
  1. Fernbush (Chamaebatiaria millefolium ): 9.0/2
  2. Cheyenne mock orange (Philadelphus lewisii 'PWYO1S'): 8.7/3
  3. Winecups ( Callihoe involucrate ) : 8.5/2
  4. Kannah Creek buckwheat ( Eriogonum umbellatum v. aureum 'Psdowns'): 8.5/2
  5. Denver Gold columbine ( Aquilegia chrysantha ): 8.3/3
For more information about the Demonstration Garden Partner program:
High resolution images of the top winners can be found here:
Credit for this article goes to Plant Select.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Click Beetles

Adult Click Beetles, Photo Credit CSU Forest Service

What do wireworms and click beetles have in common?  Wireworms are the larval stage of click beetles.  So where can you find wireworms? 
  • They inhabit the soil
  • They feed on the roots of plants
  • They are found in decayed wood
What is the lifecycle of a click beetle?

  • First the adults can be found in abundance in mid to late spring.  The adults lay their eggs in shallow soil.
  • Then the larvae become active and tunnel into seeds, roots and other underground structures.
  • Next, the pupation occurs in small cells constructed in soil.
Click beetles host on root crops.  They also host on a wide variety of plant roots and seeds.  These beetles are very memorable once you have seen them.  They are among a large group of insects titled root, tuber and bulb feeders.  They are in good company with billbugs and weevils to name a few.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Tower Garden Results

Hydroponic System Photo Credit Alaina Akey, FFA student
Aeroponic System- Tower Garden Photo Credit Alaina Akey, FFA student
The soilless growing systems comprised of a tower garden and a hydroponic system in Wray, Colorado had the following results:
Hydroponic System:
The most efficient system was the hydroponic system because it used less water.
The system was easy to set-up. 
The pump did not circulate water that well and caused more algae build-up.
The system used .5 to 1 gallon of water.
When the system was moved outside it averaged 2-3 gallons per week.  The systems were moved outside because of the end of the school.  The systems were moved to the FFA student's home.
The Tower Garden:
The set-up was easy except for the net pots that were supposed to snap in and that did not always happen.
Easy to follow instructions.
The system used 3 to 5 gallons per week.
When the system was moved outside the water increased to 3-5 gallons every other day.
 With the Tower Garden and the hydroponic system tomatoes ended up with blossom end rot which is a physiological condition.  Researchers have discovered this to be a problem in tomatoes and peppers grown in aeroponic and hydroponic systems.  In our hydroponic system it was evident only in those grown without soil.  We broke the rules and left half the pots in a soilless medium and the others in water with clay balls for a medium.  The tomatoes growing in only water with clay balls still ended up with blossom end rot.  A medium consisting of a soilless medium can clog up a hydroponic system.  In ours it did not occur.  But that is what is meant by we broke the rules.

Photo Credit by Linda Langelo, CSU Extension, Golden Plains Area

See any of this on your Austrian Pines?  If you do then your pines might be attacked by Pine Zimmerman Moth.  These moths which you may or may not see are about mid-sized moths with gray wings.  Blended with red-brown and marked with zig zag lines.

This moth has a one year cycle.  It overwinters underneath the bark in a cocoon.  These caterpillars once active in mid-late April and May tunnel into any pre-existing wounds.  As they start tunneling, you may notice sawdust and or pitch over the entry site.   As they continue to feed into July and August, they create more pitch. 

The adult moths are active in July and August and the female lays eggs near the previous masses of pitch.  The best time to manage these moths are when the larvae are active and exposed on the bark.  Trunk sprays are best in mid-April and again in August.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Container Competition

For our small town of Julesburg, Colorado, the garden club here collaborates with the local chamber to enhance the festivities of main street.  The garden club asked businesses to decorate the containers in the theme of Old Fashion Christmas.  So some of the garden club members set example trees out in the containers ahead of the competition.

Photo Credit Linda Langelo