Monday, June 29, 2009


One downside to a long, rainy spring is fireblight. Fireblight is a bacterial disease that is much more prevalent in warm, wet weather. It is thought to be spread by birds and bees, and most often affects members of the large rosaceae family of plants. Apples (including flowering crabs) are particularly susceptible, but other woody ornamentals, such as mountain ash, hawthorn, serviceberry, and quince, can become infected as well. The disease moves rapidly through the plant, and there is no known cure.

We noticed our quince (Chaenomeles speciosa ‘Cameo’) hedge was infected---almost a dozen branches with crisp, dried leaves---and took action yesterday to help prevent more damage. The best method is to prune out the diseased wood, 8-12” below the infected area, and dispose of the clippings in the garbage (not compost). It’s also important to clean your tools with a bleach solution (1 part bleach: 9 parts water) between each and every cut.
Ready for action

Sterilizing the loppers between cuts

Cutting the branch all the way back to the ground

Ready for the dumpster
Luckily, we identified the problem fairly quickly and the pruning didn’t deform the planting at all. We’ll keep a close eye on it the rest of the summer and keep the bleach handy, just in case.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Smashed to Smithereens

It just wouldn’t be June without a good hailstorm to whine about! Last weekend we had a doozie. Not bad enough to damage the roof or autos, thank goodness, but it sure did a number on the garden.

Of course the plants with large foliage got it the worst, like this poor Crambe cordifolia and the water lilies. Some plants were just flattened, and are slowly coming back to normal, while others had their leaves stripped right of their stems. It’s ugly, folks.

So glad I can share this photo of what the garden looked like just last week! Here’s wishing you a hail-free summer!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Garden Tour Favorites, Part II

Containers in the garden. More texture! More color!

Love the patina on this vintage retaining wall finial.

Lamium maculatum 'White Nancy' and a variegated Hosta sp. Echo and contrast.

Now this is outdoor living!

Fountain stone of Colorado marble created by the homeowner, a sculptor.

Garden Tour Favorites

Japanese mapale, Acer palmatum, in a protected side yard. Note the shadow and reflection of the leaves! Cool.

Beautiful color combo in this container.

Colombine, Aquilegia, tete-a-tete.

Making the most of a utilitarian area.

Superior craftsmanship---by the homeowner, a former professional carpenter. Yes, that's a live squirrell you see in the lower right!

Friday, June 05, 2009

'Tis the Season

For iris, that is! Don’t miss an opportunity to visit this fun iris farm, Iris4u Iris Garden, right in the heart of Denver. My DH and I visited just last Sunday and were so impressed by the beautiful grounds, the huge array of iris offerings, and their well organized business. (Note: this is NOT a paid endorsement, I just love to pass on any fun and new garden info that I come across!) All of the plants are labeled, and with their excellent catalog in hand you can learn the basics about each variety. Visit the Iris4u website to get the scoop on location, viewing hours (thru June 21 only) and sales policies. Of course, I was so shutter happy that I took photos without getting any variety names. Guess you’ll just have to discover them yourselves!

Another fun garden activity this weekend (Saturday, 9-4) is the annual Enchanted Gardens tour of northwest Denver. The historical neighborhoods here have some wonderful and eclectic gardens, most of which are designed and tended by the homeowners. The tour is a benefit for the Conflict Center; go here for more info.

Enjoy beautiful June in your garden, too!

Iris germanica photos taken at Iris4u Iris Garden

Monday, June 01, 2009

Pretty Peonies

The tree peony (Paeonia suffruticosa variety?) flower you see above is about seven inches in diameter (7”!), undoubtedly the largest flower in my garden. The plant was a gift many years ago from a gardening friend, and this is the first year that it has lived up to its potential. I’ve recently learned that tree peonies take five to eight years to mature, so I guess it’s right on track! My plant dies back almost to the ground each winter; now I know to cover it with compost and leaves in the fall to give it a jump start on new spring growth. I often cut the flowers and bring them indoors to enjoy because they are so heavy that they droop pitifully on the shrub and can barley be seen at all.

The other photos are of herbaceous single peonies (Paeonia lactiflora), variety unknown, that are a joyous and exuberant celebration of June! I spied these while out and about in a lovely Littleton garden. Check out the “inhospitable” growing conditions!