Monthly Archives: December 2012

Garden Talk classes through GJ Parks & Rec

The Grand Junction Parks & Recreation department will be sponsoring Garden Talk classes at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens this Spring.  All classes will be held at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens and cost $5.00.  See the schedule below for all of the details.  

I hope to see you at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens on Wednesday, April 17th from noon to 1pm to talk about landscaping with lavender and general garden design ideas.

Happy New Years!

Winter in the Garden

With all of the hustle and bustle of the holidays around us, now might be a good time to go outside and take in the peace and serenity of our winter gardens.  With our recent snowfall, everything looks beautiful.

Upright sedum with snow caps!

Garden art in the winter.

It’s easy to have winter interest in your landscape with a little planning.  Now is a good time to visit gardens around town and note what you like and what looks great this time of year.  It could be an assortment of vibrant evergreens, seed heads from grasses and perennials, colorful rose hips or interesting garden art that stands out more this time of year.

Some standout examples of colorful fruits are crabapple and hawthorn trees with their bright red fruits, fiery orange berries of the firethorn bushes and multi-colored hips on our roses.  
Crabapple fruits dusted with snow.
 There are other things you should be thinking about while you walk around your garden.  Be sure the leaves are removed from around your shrubs.  Insects and diseases overwinter here and will reek havoc next spring and summer.  Turn and water your compost pile.  Even though its really cold outside, there is still thermal activity in your existing compost.  Winter watering of your landscape is essential in our climate.  We don’t usually get enough water to keep the roots of the plants hydrated and healthy over the winter.  The result will be scorch on leaves of trees and shrubs next June and July.  
Winter is a peaceful and beautiful time in the garden.  Be sure to get out and enjoy it and be thankful this holiday season for all of the joy it brings you all year long.  
I sincerely hope you have a wonderful holiday season and hope it is spent with family and friends.  
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Poinsettia’s Poisonous Reputation Persists, Despite Proof to the Contrary — Ohio State University Extension

Poinsettia’s Poisonous Reputation Persists, Despite Proof to the Contrary

Poinsettia's Poisonous Reputation Persists, Despite Proof to the Contrary

Myth busted: Poinsettias aren’t poisonous, say Ohio State scientists.
WOOSTER, Ohio — Perhaps it has happened to you: You present a friend with a beautiful poinsettia for the holidays, and she shrinks in horror. How could you possibly give her something that could be deadly to Fifi or Fluff or little Freddy?
The good news is that it’s not, though you may have a hard time convincing her.
“Every year, people ask me if poinsettias are poisonous to people and pets,” said Robert McMahon, associate professor and coordinator of the greenhouse program at Ohio State University’s Agricultural Technical Institute in Wooster. Students in the program grow and sell approximately 1,200 poinsettias each year. “I try my best each year to spread the word that they are not.”
Disproven years ago by Ohio State research, the myth persists. In 1971, researchers tested the toxicity of poinsettias by blending a solution from parts of poinsettia plants and feeding it to rats. Reporting their findings in the journal Toxicon, the researchers concluded that rats, “when given extraordinarily high doses of various portions of the poinsettias, show no mortality, no symptoms of toxicity, nor any changes in dietary intake or general behavior pattern.”
In other words, not only did it not kill the rats, it didn’t even dent their appetites.
The myth may have arisen from an unsubstantiated report in 1919 of a small child who died after chewing on a poinsettia leaf. Or perhaps it is due to the fact that many members of the poinsettia’s botanical family, Euphorbia, have highly toxic latex sap. Poinsettia sap is innocuous enough that only people with a latex allergy are likely to have a reaction if they get it on their skin.
Most veterinary medicine websites state that poinsettias can be mildly toxic to dogs and cats and can cause vomiting, drooling and, rarely, diarrhea. Symptoms are self-limiting and generally don’t require medical treatment, according to the Pet Poison Helpline. The site goes on to note that there are far more worrisome holiday plants, such as bouquets containing lilies, holly or mistletoe, which can cause kidney failure or other potentially fatal reactions.
So while you may want to make sure your poinsettia is out of your pets’ snacking range for the sake of your carpet, you shouldn’t worry too much about little Freddy. To reach the equivalent of what those rats consumed in the 1971 study, a 50-pound child would have to eat upward of 500 leaves — an unlikely scenario, according to McMahon.
“Any adventurous souls who actually take a bite out of a poinsettia leaf will not want to repeat the experience,” he said. “Poinsettia vegetation tastes lousy! Eat a carrot instead.”
Ohio State ATI is an associate-degree-granting unit within Ohio State’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences.
Ohio State University Extension, which is part of the college as well, offers a free fact sheet called “Poinsettia Care in the Home” at