Friday, February 12, 2016

St. Valentine and the Gift of Fresh Flowers by Carol King
Legends and lore abound on why we celebrate Valentine’s day by giving flowers to our loved ones.  Here’s one of my favorites. This one involves the lore of forbidden love and has been favored over other stories by hopeless romantics.

Emperor Claudius II issued an edict forbidding marriage because he felt that married men did not make good, loyal soldiers to fight in his army. They were weak because of the attachment to their wives and family. St. Valentine was a priest who defied Claudius and married couples secretly because he believed so deeply in love. Valentine was found out, put in prison, and later executed.

The law of irony then came into play, as St. Valentine fell in love with the daughter of the Emperor. Prior to his beheading, St. Valentine handed the lady a written note and a single red rose - the very first valentine and the very first fresh flower.  From this, the gifting of flowers for Valentine's day began.

If you receive a gift of fresh flowers from your valentine, here are some tips to make the sentiment last longer.

Cut flowers
Cut the stems of boxed flowers, such as roses or carnations, under water.  Remove leaves and foliage that would be under water. Place the flowers in warm water with a floral preservative added.  Keep flowers in a cool spot away from the sun. Add water every day and every fourth day, change the water completely.
Spring bulbs
Colorful containers of tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and crocus are popular Valentine's Day gifts.  Keep them as cool as practical to prolong bloom. Water when soil dries out.

Red, pink and white flowers make azaleas a natural Valentine's Day gift. Under diffused sunlight and with frequent waterings, the showy blooms can remain in good condition for several weeks if they are kept at 55 to 60 degrees. Never let your gift azalea totally dry out. Because they are woody
plants, azaleas can be kept growing from year to year, but getting them to bloom again can be tricky.

Calceolarias and cinerarias
These are popular gift plants because of their vibrant colors. The former also is known as pocketbook plant, because it has pouch-like blooms resembling a purse. Blooms will last longer if you keep the plants at 50 to 60 degrees and if you water frequently.  Water when the soil surface just begins to feel dry.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Valentine Lore Article Source:

Monday, February 8, 2016

How Honeybees Survive Winter by Audrey Stokes

Photo courtesy
When winter rolls around, bears hibernate and birds fly south, but what about the bees? Like every other creature on earth, bees have their own unique ways of coping with cold temperatures during the winter season. One way bees prepare for the winter is by gathering a winter reserve of honey.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Celebrate the Super Bowl! by Donna Duffy

Look no further than the world of plants to boost your 
Super Bowl fever!

Victory Rose
Photo courtesy direct

Friday, February 5, 2016

February Word(s) of the Month: Winter Quiescence by Donna Duffy

Photo by Donna Duffy

Have you ever wondered what's going on with your tree roots underneath all that winter snow? Michael Snyder, Chittenden (Vermont) County Forester, explains the concept of winter quiescence - a state in which tree roots are resting, but ready.

Tree roots are inscrutable. While their importance to the aboveground parts of trees and forests is well appreciated by forest scientists, tree roots have always been notoriously difficult to study, obscured as they are by duff, soil, rocks, and darkness. And that’s just in summer; the problem is only exacerbated by winter’s snow and frozen soil. However, by all accounts, tree roots in our region are thought to spend the winter in a condition of dormancy. This means they are not dead but rather they overwinter in a resting phase with essential life processes continuing at a minimal rate. Full-on root growth resumes in spring, shortly after soils become free of frost, usually sometime before bud break. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Solving Low Humidity Problems in Houseplants by Carol King

Prayer Plant (Maranta leucoreura) photo by Carol King

This time of year, we Colorado gardeners turn to indoor plants to soothe our gardening souls.  However the indoor environment in our homes can be very harsh for many plants. Many of our house plants are native to humid, tropical rain forests and require special consideration when they reside in our Colorado homes. While lighting and temperatures need to be monitored for successful indoor gardening, humidity is the big issue during colder months.  Heating systems common in Colorado circulate dry, warm air throughout the house. Our indoor environment often has less than 10 percent humidity. This is a drastic reduction from the 70 to 90 percent relative humidity levels found in the native climates of most tropical plants.

Monday, February 1, 2016

JeffCo Colorado Master Gardener Speakers Bureau: Master Gardeners in Service by Sally Berriman

Master Gardener show proper planting techniques
Need a great speaker for your next meeting?  Colorado State University Extension in Jefferson County may have just the person that you are looking for.  The Speakers Bureau is a group of CSU Extension certified Colorado Master Gardener volunteers who have received additional training to talk to groups on various horticultural/gardening topics.  Master Gardeners are available to give talks to garden clubs, neighborhood associations, fraternal organizations, schools, businesses or church groups. 

All of our speakers provide scientific, fact-based information on the best horticultural practices for Front Range gardeners.  There are various speaker styles available; we give lectures with or without slide presentations, demonstrations, hands-on classes as well as panel discussions.  We speak in classrooms, living rooms or backyards.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Landscaping With Colorado Native Plants Conference

Pulsatilla patens, photo courtesy Donna Duffy
Come to Loveland on Saturday March 12th for the first conference of its kind in Colorado! It's the perfect antidote to a gardener's winter blues.  Here are the details:
8:00am - 5:00pm
The Ranch Event Complex
Larimer County Fairgrounds, Loveland

Breakout Sessions include information on:
  • Designing with Natives
  • Construction of Native Landscapes
  • Micro-Climates
  • Edible and Medicinal Native Plants
  • Native Plants for Every Situation
  • Habitat Gardening
The Keynote Speaker, Susan Tweit, will present "The Ditch and the Meadow: How Native Plants and Gardeners Revived a Neighborhood and Changed the Culture of a Town."
Click here for more information and to register. See you there!

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Master Gardeners in Service: A New Blog Series

Engaging a new generation of gardeners!
In 2016, the Jefferson County CSU Extension Colorado Master Gardeners are proud to be celebrating our 40th anniversary of service to Jefferson County residents.  Jefferson County has one of the largest cadres of Master Gardeners in the state – over 100 currently. These volunteers utilize research-based information to foster successful gardeners, develop partnerships and build strong communities. 

To celebrate our 40th anniversary, we are publishing a series of blogs titled Master Gardeners in Service. We will highlight the many ways that Master Gardeners interact with Jefferson County residents and offer opportunities for you to engage with us individually or at a community event.

We invite you to click on our Master Gardeners in Service series link often! We will be adding articles every month during 2016. Join us in celebrating our 40th anniversary!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Pruning the Trees in Your Landscape by Peter Drake

Photo courtesy
Accustomed, as we are, to regard trees as an integral part of our home landscape, we would do well to remember that the trees we commonly enjoy usually need our help to continue their life here. 
Beyond the willows and cottonwoods that have found homes along the rivers, streams and irrigation ditches, our Colorado Front Range foothills region is not generally hospitable to the varieties of shade and ornamental trees we’ve come to enjoy so much.  This broader climate zone still wants to be what it was before Euro-American colonization and settlement: a high plains desert, covered with durable grasses and low shrubs, and intensely vulnerable to climatic extremes which can split bark and easily kill top-growth, both new and old—as was graphically demonstrated in the November, 2014 and Mother’s Day, 2015 hard freezes.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Cleaning Your Garden Tools by Donna Duffy

Photo courtesy country
Gardeners tend to get the mid-winter blues this time of year. Summer seems so far away! We nourish our gardening souls by looking through seed catalogues, feeding the birds, reading our garden journals from last year. But there are some gardening tasks that can be done now so you'll be ready when the ground thaws and the first shoots of spring appear.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Flowers Succesfully grown on the International Space Station By Joyce D’Agostino

Astronaut Scott Kelly's Twitter Post
This week some exciting news came from the International Space Station. An experiment to grow zinnia flowers was successful and resulted in the plants sprouting, growing and then producing bright flowets.  
Here on earth, Zinnias are know as one of the easiest and hardiest flowers to grow. But according to the following article, there were some challenges including  too much and too little humidity and of course trying to get plants to sprout and keep stable in the absence of earthly gravity.
Unlike some of the vegetables they have successfully grown such as Romaine Lettuce, the flowers needed more attention to get them to grow as a healthy plant without disease or other problems. The flowers also took more time to grow and develop compared to lettuces. An additional interest with this flower is that it is edible.
The “Veggie Lab” is planned to be an ongoing experiment onboard the Space Station with goals to be able to produce fresh food for the astronauts.
This is the second flower to be tested and grown on the ISS, the first was a small sunflower. The variety of the Zinnia grown on the ISS is Zinnia hybrida “Profusion”. The seeds are readily available from a number of seed companies.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Successful Seed Storage by Rebecca Anderson

Photo courtesy Rebecca Anderson
I confess, I'm a seed saver. Not necessarily seeds that have been harvested from plants I've grown, but I save leftover seed packets from year to year. Most years I don't need 30 zucchini plants, but it seems like such a waste to toss a nearly full packet after only using four or five seeds. I learned recently that this may be a heritable trait. My mother has cut back on her vegetable gardening over the past few years, and during a recent visit she bequeathed me with her stash of seed packets. Some of them date back to the twentieth century!