The tale of the floppy catmint

This is a picture of my nepeta x faassenii ‘Walker’s Low’ in the middle of pruning it back on June 11th.  The center of the plant completely flopped open and the stems were only blooming at the ends.  So I did what had to be done.  I cut the stems off to about 5 inches from the crown.  This is a 10 year old catmint so the crown is very dense.  
Catmint getting a haircut.
So here is that same catmint today, July 7th.  Full of fresh, shorter stems with lots of new flowers.  I do this every year around the beginning of June to rejuvenate this plant.  They can get so tired looking and I would hate to have it look this way throughout the rest of the season. 

Fresh and pretty catmint
I plan on doing the same thing to my Salvia ‘Mainacht’ or ‘May Night’.  They will also rebloom after a bit of pruning back.  This clump of salvia started with three small plants.  There are probably 20 plants there now after 5 years or so.  If you want a few of these plants, email me.  I’d love to share! 
Large blob of  May Night salvias

Let’s Get Dirty garden blog at The Daily Sentinel

Do you ever get tired of reading garden blogs or websites?  I don’t. Especially if they are local and talk about things I can relate to.  Penny Stine, a writer for the Daily Sentinel in Grand Junction and a master gardener with the CSU Extension has a great blog about all things gardening in our area.  Its called Let’s Get Dirty.  Stop by her blog and share her garden experiences.  She loves to grow veggies and is not afraid of trying new things like Malabar spinach.  Never heard of it but I’m sure its a good thing.

malabar-sprouts-finally – Blogs –”

Pockets of Greatness

I’m going to let you in on a secret of mine.  I have always wanted to have my yard showcased on a local garden tour.  Having loads of people come through and appreciate the endless hours of weeding, planting, pruning, deadheading in addition to my creative selection and placement of plants would be so gratifying and enjoyable.  I would be basking in the glory of this great accomplishment for years afterwards.  Ahhhhh….

Now, for a taste of reality.  As I walk through my garden, I tend to focus on the negative points like weeds, dead shrubs and perennials that I need to replace, weeds, tired looking mulch, cracked cement patio, and more weeds.  I think you get the picture.  However, I need to start appreciating what I call my “Pockets of Greatness”.  There are times of the year in a certain light, and at a certain angle that my yard looks great.  If you visit my Garden Scentsations facebook page, you’ll notice I use photos of these Pockets for my cover photos.   I usually change them to reflect my garden through the seasons.  Right now, my cover photo is Mojave sage in full bloom with a groundcover of the beautiful Prairie Zinnia shining its little heart out.  These are two of my favorite perennials because of their long bloom time and brilliant colors.

What you don’t see is the bindweed working its way through the zinnias.  Or the pine scale on the nearby ‘Arnold’s Sentinel’ scotch pine.
Other notable Pockets are this lovely shot in late May.  The California poppies put on quite a show with the ‘Knock Out’ rose, peonies and Jupiters Beard.  This was taken a few years ago.  Today’s reality is the rose is 75% dead, the entire planting bed is filled with bermuda grass and the peonies are ravaged by black vine weevils.  I am currently in the process of removing everything in this bed except the honeylocust and Russian hawthorn trees so I can effectively get rid of the darn bermuda grass.  
I am learning to love my POG’s because in the end, my yard is for my enjoyment and satisfaction only.  My world won’t end if no one else sees it or appreciates it.  My husband sees the POG’s and appreciates them and never mentions the weeds.  My rambunctious dog loves the soft green grass and shade of the ever-growing trees.  I have plenty of projects to do around my yard that will keep me busy for years to come and that is the best mental therapy I can think of.  
By the way, the Western Colorado Botanic Garden’s garden tour has moved to August 24-25th instead of the usual first Saturday in June.  I am looking forward to seeing other people’s lovely gardens and get ideas to inspire more POG’s for my garden.    

It’s Lavender Festival Time!

This year’s festival promises to be filled with high quality lavender products, music, food, educational workshops, guided bus tours, workshops, cooking demonstrations and so much more.   Look forward to seeing you there.  

CO-Horts: Roundup is Roundup…Right?

Here is another great article from the CO-Horts at CSU Extension.  Dr. Tony Koski is the grass guru in Colorado and has some food for thought on Round Up.

CO-Horts: Roundup is Roundup…Right?: Tony Koski, Extension Turf Specialist Which one do I use? They both say  Roundup! If you are reading this in hopes that the turf s…

CO-Horts: The Weeds are Winning – Again…

I just found this fabulous garden blog by CSU Extension agents from across Colorado including our very own Susan Rose of the Tri-River Area office.  I will pass along their wisdom and be sure to check it out when you get a chance.

CO-Horts: The Weeds are Winning – Again…: Posted by: Susan Rose, Tri River Area Extension Grand Junction – It seems to happen every year about this time.  The Master Gardeners an…

Progress on my garden despite late freezes

This spring in Grand Junction has been one of the coldest in history.  Certainly the coldest spring since we moved to town in 1998.  Along with those cold temperatures came much needed precipitation in the form of snow and rain.

5″ of snow on April 17th in my backyard

During this week, the temperatures dropped to the low and mid 20’s.  Devastating to the local fruit growers and not especially kind to the early flowering trees and shrubs.   The cover picture on my facebook page shows my mature Eastern Redbud tree in it normal mid April glory.  A sight to behold for sure.  Here is what that same tree looks like today.

Eastern Redbud tree with little to no blossoms

Hardly any blossoms and large numbers of seedheads still present.  Not sure why I have so many more seedheads but the lack of blossoms is disappointing.  Its no consolation that every other redbud tree in town looks the same.  I think the late freezes are to blame.

Other areas of the garden are looking good and greening up nicely.

Ft. McNair red horsechestnut starting to leaf out.

Zauschneria greening up under Miss Kim lilac.

Hostas coming alive under the deck.

I’m looking forward to warmer temperatures sticking around for awhile.  It would be nice to have a good long Spring before the sizzling Summer comes to town!

Landscape ROI

I have always said that adding and maintaining an appealing landscape will add value to your home and can help sell your home faster.  Today, the Associated Landscape Contractors of Colorado (ALCC) posted this information in their weekly tips:

Landscape Return on Investment – 

SculptureGdn_DesignscapesWith drought, water restrictions and conservation on everyone’s mind this season, it’s tempting to ask “Why should I bother?  Is the landscape really worth it?”

Here are a few things to think about that might help answer those questions:

Landscapes give curb appeal you can cash in.
Did you know that landscaping can add as much as 15% to the resale value of a building and speed up the sale as much as 6 weeks?  On the other side of the equation, homes with poor landscapes sell 8-10% below equivalent homes with good landscape curb appeal.

With spring officially here and the home selling and buying season gearing up, now is a good time to evaluate your landscape and curb appeal.  Please read my previous blog from March 31, 2012 to see all of the ways you can increase your curb appeal and increase the value of your home.  

Happy Spring!

GardenSmarts in the Beacon Senior newspaper

I have been very lucky in recent years to channel my love for gardening and Master Gardener experience into my own garden design business.   I truly enjoy what I do and hope I can continue to empower homeowners to become better gardeners and create their own beautiful landscapes.  I have also enjoyed giving talks and presentations to people all over the Valley on landscaping with lavender and general garden advice.  So far this year, I have scheduled talks at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens in April and the Mesa County Public library in Grand Junction and Palisade in June.  

Now, I have another outlet to share my love of gardening and teach people how to create beautiful water-wise and sustainable gardens in Western Colorado.  Starting in April, I will be hosting the new garden column in the Beacon Senior newspaper called GardenSmarts.  

I will answer questions submitted by readers each month, give a checklist of things to do in the garden and feature plants that thrive in our Western Colorado high desert climate.  

If you would like to submit a garden question, please send it to or you can submit questions in writing to The Beacon Senior Newspaper – PO Box 3895, Grand Junction, CO  81502. 

First crocus of the Spring!  

I look forward to hearing from you and answering those tough garden questions.  Would you care to guess what my April featured plant is?  Here are a few clues.  It blooms in April and May, its not a spring bulb but is a great companion plant for daffodils and tulips.  Good luck.

Happy Spring!

The Master Gardener Journey

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of interviewing several people who are interested in joining our local master gardener ranks.  The interview process is pretty quick and simple.  Review their application, ask a few questions about why they want to be master gardeners and how they heard of the program.  Do they understand the time commitment for the program etc.  What is really interesting is the enthusiasm, the excitement they show about starting this journey.

It reminds me of the start of my MG journey back in 2000.  I attended the local Landscapes West home and garden show in February.  I was relatively new to the Western Slope area and having very little luck with my personal garden.  I went there seeking knowledge and ideas.  I sat next to Sue Roberts during the lunch break.  She was very friendly and we started chatting about the speakers and topics.  She told me she was a master gardener and how much it helped her over the years with her garden and landscape.  She said the program was a great place to learn more about our challenging climate and how to garden successfully in it. But, more important, it was a great place to meet people who had the same goals as I did and wanted to share these ideas with the community.

I was so excited to hear about this group but quickly found out the winter classes had already started and I had to wait until next January.  🙁  So, I waited and waited and waited.  Finally the announcement came out in late Fall that CSU Extension would be accepting applications for the next master gardener classes.  I filled out my application, sent my check along with personal referrals to the Extension office and waited to hear from someone.  Susan Rose, the Master Gardener coordinator, called and set up a time for my interview.  Two lovely ladies talked to me about the program and my goals.  Did I understand the commitment, etc?  I nervously answered their questions and took the test (which sent me into a panic!).  I brought the ginormous MG handbook home to start my studies and eagerly awaited the first class.

When I arrived at the Masonic Center that cold, dreary morning in January I couldn’t believe my eyes.  So many people were taking these classes, so many people were just as excited as I was about learning and sharing all of the wonderful garden research, techniques and ideas.  I felt right at home from the first day.  To make the experience even better, I sat at a table with a woman who would become my MG mentor and very dear friend.  Thirteen years later, Meredith Pratt and I still go out to lunch and talk about our gardens, the MG program and all of the people we have known through the years.

I am looking forward to attending the MG classes this year and feel the excitement and enthusiasm of the apprentices and seeing lots of my old friends who have gone through the program in previous years.   Our Master Gardener program is so much more than gardening.  Its a journey of education, community involvement and friendship.