Paradise Memorial Garden, Pueblo West

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April Showers Pretty Please......

This winter has been bone dry and colder than most years.  There were a few days where we could turn on the sprinkler system to give the lawn and trees a much needed drink, only to have to turn it off again before the nightfall's freezing temperatures arrived.  It's quite apparent that my lawn will need a good dose of fertilizer, and looking around the yard I will need a good kick in the pants to get moving!

We were out of town last fall hunting for quite a few weekends, so I didn't get the dead-heading completed like I should have.  That's my excuse- I'm sticking with it.  And now, I am paying for it.  I have four more gardens to go and I should be able to breathe a bit and work on the lawn before Mother's Day planting arrives.  

I never used to buy into that whole "don't plant before Mother's Day" thing and let the rebel in me take over and start planting May 1st.  One year, we had a good, wet, freeeeeezing snowfall on Mother's Day!  I surveyed my poor plants, all staring back up at me, pathetically saying "why? oh why?" and decided the farmer's adage was a pretty darn good one, and have been a believer ever since.    And since Mother Nature won't gift us with rain, I guess I better get out and water.
~Peggy 4/15/2018

End of summer is upon us, although I do not go quietly into that good night -more like kicking and screaming and desperately hanging onto my pool floatie.  Ahhh, but it was bound to happen, I suppose.  September is truly a great time in the garden - the flowers and plants are nice and big and have pretty much choked any but the hardiest of weeds.  The vegetable gardens bring me delicious rewards, and the butterflies and migrating humming birds all keep the backyard a place of buzzing activity.  

I put a new pathway in the raspberry patch and as I was leaving the raspberry garden I turned to my trusty stalks and said "go forth and multiply".  They took me seriously and I have been blessed with oodles and oodles of big, juicy raspberries for my breakfast.

We had a visitor in the night, and further inspection via our security cameras revealed the bandit - a raccoon!  Standing up proud as could be, eating my luscious raspberries!  Of course, she was also eating dog food, so there's no accounting for taste.  

Here's hoping you are enjoying the fruits of your labor as much as I am.
~Peggy 9/13/2017

Spring Snowfall......
I just LOVE a spring snowstorm, with the heavy, wet snow bringing much needed moisture to our lawn and trees.  Of course, with it comes the tumbleweeds (definitely do not love those) and the danger of broken branches from the heavy snow.  We had to smack what seemed like a thousand pounds of wet spring snow off the netting around the garden cages so the posts wouldn't break.  

As it was, the violent wind storm we had knocked down the chain link fence.  Turns out that beautiful 7 year growth of lacy vine on the fences are very heavy and a natural sail.  Ahhhhhh, I'm very sad to see the lacy vine go, but go it must.  I'll have to think of something else to plant in front of the chain link fence to disguise the metal and provide a little seclusion. Climbing roses, maybe or perhaps clematis.....  Morning Glories are out - they just can't be tamed and want to spread their wings all over the yard in the most unwelcome places.

There will be plenty of time to decide as I get the vegetable beds ready for seeding.
~Peggy 4/12/2017

Almost Spring....
Spring is around the corner, trying it's best to ride in on those March winds.  Soon we'll be able to get our hands in the dirt.  I'm going to take one last look around to get all the boring, less-fun jobs done before the crocus' peek their noses at me and send me into a springtime panic.  

I raked leaves last fall like a mad man, yet here they are again - stuck up under the bushes and against the buildings.  They have to go.  We have a large cluster of trees which I fondly call "the forest garden" which needs a little help.  The bottom branches can be trimmed off for a neater look, prune the scraggly shoots off the new volunteers.  This is the only area I allow volunteers to run willy-nilly, but even still they do need to stand sharp!  While I'm attempting to tame the larger bushes and trees, I will keep my eyes open for areas that need a little paint or stain that were hidden by trailing flowers this past summer.  Still cold at night, but our sunny Colorado days allow me to paint with no worries.

The greenhouse is bursting with seedlings and oxygenated bliss.  I was about two weeks late starting this year, for reasons unknown to me, so I hope spring doesn't surprise us too early.

If you're not quite sure what can be done in this winter/spring "limbo" season - pour yourself a cup of coffee, and meander through your yard.  Take a sip, and let inspiration hit you.
~Peggy  3/9/2017

Autumn in the Gardens
August and September are my favorite months in the garden because most of the heavy duty work is done; the weeds are under control because the zinnias, dahlias and cosmos are so nice and big that the weeds have no room to settle in, and it feels that finally I can sit down in the evening and enjoy the fruits of my labor.  Now comes October, with its cooler nights and warm days and soon decisions will have to be made.  To clear or not to clear?  To dead-head or run au natural?  Such quandaries!

I personally like the way the gardens look under snow, with their different shapes, heights and character.  This still gives me some complexity to enjoy during the winter months.  Some plants hit my "gotta go" list, though.   You know which ones these are; they stay a beautiful green right through the first freeze, seemingly intact until the next sunny day warms their frozen limbs and they just melt across the sidewalk.  The next on my see ya later list is anything that is so tall (cosmos, echinacea, four o'clocks, sunflowers) that the weight of the snow will push them to the ground. So I pull and cut just enough to enjoy another garden view in a new season.  Another bonus of my discretion is that some annuals will re-seed themselves, or plants that aren't supposed to come back defy Master Gardener direction and do just that.  I discover these bonuses in spring when I start again and often find several treasures that surely would have been lost had I been tidier in the fall.

Relax, enjoy your new seasonal view, and be creative!  Happy dead-heading..........or not!
~Peggy   9/27/2016

Winter is so hard on the drip lines, isn't it?  Knocked over by the heavy snow, run over by the dogs or baked hard in the sun - the result is a lot of spring repair.  I tend to leave the repairs until the annual flowers are all planted, so I know right where the bubblers and sprayers have to go for the best results.  Of course, in the perennial areas, no better time for repair than the present. The black drip line rolls that you buy come in either a soft material or the fairly hard-perpetually-rolled -in- a- circle type.  The soft stuff is harder to find, naturally, because that's the kind I prefer.  I struggled with the hard lines, because they are so darned difficult to push onto the adapters.  Then I push too hard, break off the plastic thingie and have to start over. Last year I discovered the grill lighter.  Carry one with you, and just before you push the end onto the little plastic thingie, light the flame under the plastic line for just a second.  It softens right up making it easy as pie to push on.  It cools off in a second, and back to it's hard original texture.  Easy peasy.
~ Peggy  4/28/16

LILACS (Syringa)
Then the Lilac bush.  I started pruning as my young worker was finishing checking the lines. I started by removing all the dead blossoms that I could reach.  I also reached in and removed all the dead branches that I could see.  The bush was 10 feet tall, so when Daniel was finished , I had him reach up with a pruning shears and cut off all the dead flowers.  Then with the big lobber, I had him cut out a few branches that I had my eye on when I was pruning.  Not having done this before, his  questions kept being "here, here?"  He didn't want to make a wrong cut.

The adjacent Ash Tree had a large branch touching the top of the Lilac Bush and even though I felt the Lilac bush could be pruned more, I decided that the branch had to go.  Part of the branch was cut off so it wouldn't tear into the crown when cut and then the lobber cut at an angle by the crown and the tree branch was removed.  We stepped back (just like you should do when painting a picture) and took a look at he bush.  The top still needed to be cut back about eight inches, a few branches removed by the sidewalk and now it looks great.  

A few things to remember about pruning a Lilac bush.  Don't prune more than about one third of the bush each year.  Prune very soon after the blooming before new growth tries to form on dead wood.  Reach in and cut away a few unnecesary old branches from the very bottom. Cut away the suckers.  If you have a lilac bush, get started.  Start pruning and it will bloom so much better next spring.

(I just wish I had taken a picture of a before and after but I always forget about the picture thing.)  Shirley E.

PEONIES (Peaeonia lactiflora)
The buds are opening and the bushes of large pink and fuchsia blooms await us.  It is enough to take your breath away.  Our Peonies take very little care.  We have a drip line to them to give them a little water, but that is all.  We do cut them back in the fall to about six inches from the ground.  The blooms are bigger and more of them this year thanks to the cold and extra snow we received.  
I must tell you about the Peony in the Alice Bunch memorial.  When she passed away, my daughter and I went to her house and dug up some of her plants that were growing on highway property because we were afraid they would be destroyed.and planted them in our personal gardens.  When the Paradise garden was formed and Alice's memorial was the first one, we dug up the plants and brought them back and planted them in her memorial spot. The plants which she grew many years ago are now at rest in the proper place.

The next few days will keep me busy pulling weeds.  I thought I did that already!  Here is a thought from Ted O'Neal in the little book titled, "Garden Therapy". "In the garden, we learn to take the good with the bad.  But sometimes we have to face the fact that it's time to pull up some weeds.  Take pleasure in the improvement you make."  Shirley E.  

The Privit hedge is blooming!  The ends of every branch has tiny clusters of white four-petal miniature daisies.  I opened up a few of my perfume bottles and could not find any as sweet as these little blossoms. The bush exhales a pleasant fragrance and certainly one to enjoy. Shirley E.

Today was great!  The weather was perfect and I had three helpers.  Two paid and one volunteer.  In past years we had to do so much construction in creating the garden and this year we are trying to fine tooth it and make it more beautiful.  This year means making some hard decisions and actually pulling out Salvias and Catnip to make room for other perennials.  
One bed on the south bank had Penstemens which had just finished blooming.  We added two Coreopsis which will keep blooming through the summer if we properly tend to the dead heading.  The north bank had blank spaces so off to the bed of plenty which was full of Obedience plants.  Also, another bed had a surplus of Ribbon Grass and together, they will bring white to the golden color of the blooms of the Goldenrod in late summer and fall.  That's the fun of orchestrating a garden when you can move things around and make a symphony of color.  A quote for the day from Robert Brault:  "Why try to explain miracles to your kids when you can just have them plant a garden.". Shirley E.