Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Goodbye Blogger - Hello WordPress

I have decided to switch the platform for my blog - Lavender... and so much more.

Please note all new posts will be created from www.gardenscentsations.com  The name of my blog will remain the same  Lavender... and so much more.

Thank you for your support and interest in my blog.  I hope you stop by and see the new and improved blog about all things gardening in Western Colorado and lavender in particular.

Kathy Kimbrough, owner
Garden Scentsations

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Garden Tour Highlights

 The 22nd annual Western Colorado Botanical Garden garden tour was this weekend and by my count, the wettest on record.  I have volunteered as a master gardener for the last 10+ years for the tour and have seen really hot days, really cold days, really windy days but never quite so wet.  The amazing thing was no one, not the homeowners, the volunteers or the brave souls who came out to see the gardens complained about the rain.  Everyone agreed that no matter what, we need the rain.  It didn't affect the beauty of the gardens either in my opinion.

For the first time in 22 years, the tour was offered in August instead of the first weekend in June.  I love the idea of seeing our late summer gardens for a change.  So many shrubs and  perennials are just getting started in June we never see their full glory on the tour. But  according to Jon Schler, who is on the garden tour committee, the tour will resume its  rightful place during the first weekend in June next year.  

Jon said because of the operational changes that occurred with the WCBG and Strive this year, planning for the garden tour was later than usual.  The hard working committee and volunteers struggled to find a date and homeowners willing to showcase their gardens with little notice and a unconventional time period.  When it is all said and done, I think the garden tour did a good job of presenting interesting gardens and continuing the tradition of one of the largest fund raisers for the WCBG.  Jon Schler was also quick to point out that the tour wouldn't have been as successful without the help and direction of Susan Rose and the Master Gardener volunteers with CSU Extension.   

So let's start the tour!

WCBG Western Heritage Garden
I brought along two neighbors to see the tour.  One is a garden junkie like myself, the other moved here recently from Michigan and wanted to see how we garden in the high desert of the Rockies.  We started at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens and jumped right into the Plant Select gardens.  What a great program CSU Extension and The Denver Botanic Gardens put together to showcase all kinds of plants that thrive in our challenging climate.  The butterflies were flying in the Butterfly House and the outside gardens were awash in seasonal colors and textures.

Next up was the Arboretum at CSU Extension at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.  Because the BMX group was hosting a large event, we were not able to see most of the gardens that line the parking lot.  We did see the world renowned cactus garden and raised garden beds that surround the Extension building.
Loretta in the cactus garden
Gardens at the CSU Extension

The rain started coming into the Valley at this point in the morning but we were determined to see as many beautiful gardens as we could.  Upon arriving at the Loshbaugh residence, we were thrilled to see such an exuberant display in this suburban garden.  This garden was on the garden tour 10 years ago but it has matured into a rich tapestry of color, texture and interest that made it worth a repeat visit.
The front gardens at the Loshbaugh residence

Wandering through the gardens revealed a perfect pond complete with koi fish swimming in it and statues of herons looking in it.
Loshbaugh pond with herons

The variety of plants and the way they were combined really caught my designer's eye.  I loved the look of the ribbon grass and nasturtiums.  The bright colors of the zinnias and dahlias also made me smile.

Ribbon grass and nasturtiums

Zinnias, dahlias and butterfly bush

Next we moved onto a serene, quiet reflective garden.  Lenore Donovan has turned her childhood home into a peaceful park in honor of her parents.  While caring for her aging parents, she turned to garden therapy to help ease her stress and satisfy her soul.  The result is an oasis in the middle of the desert.
Primrose Park - an oasis in the desert

Being peaceful and serene doesn't mean you can't have a little whimsy in your garden.  Lenore installed this beautiful fountain complete with blue water a few years ago.  She then added a heron statue with a fish in his mouth!  Looks like he just caught it out of the fountain.
A little whimsy at Lenore's

In addition to being a park, you could also call it a cat sanctuary.  Lenore is known as the Cat Lady because she has a generous heart and takes in cats that need a home.  Some live inside, some outside, some temporary and some permanent.  I will always be thankful for the time she helped me with a lost cat in my neighborhood.  The ecosystem is in perfect balance as well.  Mosquitos that have an eye on her pond are promptly eaten by Mr. Jack the giant catfish in the pond  or the many varieties of birds that live in the surrounding trees. Toads by the gazillion hatch every summer and take care of any other insect that gets too much to handle.

When you think of an urban garden, what comes to mind?  A small patch of grass, a tree or two between the sidewalk and street?  The small backyard might have a patio with a few pots and more grass?   A visit to Judy Hilty's garden will change your mind forever.

Judy's Hell strip - a piece of shade heaven
With mature trees and seldom seen in this part of the world plants, this front yard and hell strip is colorful, lush and full of interest.  Jacobs ladder, hellebores and hostas thrive in the rich soil along side coral bells, begonias and angelonias.

Judy Hilty and her bathtub garden

One of the surprises in her backyard was the claw foot bathtub painted bright red.  Filled with tropical plants atop a raised bed, its a sight to see.

Her containers are filled to the brim with flowers of every color, size and shape.

 I love the fact that Judy has adapted her garden over the years to accommodate the ever growing shade from her trees and she uses containers and trellises to fill narrow spaces in her gardens.  We were also grateful those large shade trees offered some protection from the steady rain as well.

We missed the three gardens in the Redlands because the rain was coming down too hard to enjoy ourselves.  I hope I get to see the Golden and Murdock gardens someday because my tour booklet says they were designed and installed by Bill Richardson of Dragonfly Gardens.  I've known Bill for many years and have worked with him on several of my own garden designs.  He has a good eye for designing with plants and does creative work with rocks, fountains and other hardscapes.  I also want to stop by the fire station on Broadway to see more of their gardens designed by Ann Barrett.  Even whizzing by everyday at 45 mph, the front gardens always look good.

Now that the garden tour is over, the garden tour committee will be working hard to line up next June's gardens.  If you are interested in working on the committee or you would like to have your garden showcased on the garden tour, please contact the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens at  (970) 245-9030.  You can also visit their website for more information about the tour and events taking place at the lovely gardens throughout the year.  www.wcbotanic.org

Monday, August 19, 2013

My Crepe Myrtle Miracle

Back in the day, I lived in the super-large, super-humid, super-congested city of Houston, Texas.  I'm am so glad I live in Colorado now but I don't regret living in Houston as I met my wonderful husband of nearly 30 years in Houston and married him there.  We moved to Denver from Houston and then to Dallas before we moved back to Denver and then finally to Grand Junction.  I know its confusing but corporate transfers have a way of taking you places you wouldn't have thought about on your own.  And on a timetable that usually isn't of your choice.  We made the best of it and had beautiful homes everywhere we lived. Since I have always enjoyed gardening, I learned to garden in vastly different environments.  You can't get any more different than Houston and Grand Junction!
Kathy canoeing by crepe myrtles in front of our Houston house after Hurricane Alicia in 1983.

While living in Houston I fell in love again.  This time with the crepe myrtle or Lagerstroemia. Everywhere you went, there they were.  Lining the streets, adorning front yards, commercial spaces, everywhere.  The hot pink, bright red, soft pink and white blossoms stood proud and tall no matter how stinking hot and humid it was.  They bloomed when every other plant had call it quits for the season.  The exfoliating bark and seed pods just added more interest year round.

So, a few years back, much to my astonishment, I saw a crepe myrtle for sale at Meadowlark Gardens on the Redlands.  How could that be I wondered?  They would never survive our cold winters or would they? Turns out, a plant breeder created a crepe myrtle that would grow well in areas with winters as cold as -10 below zero degrees.  They have American Indian names like Zuni, Hopi, and Miami and come in a wide variety of colors.  Naturally, I bought the hot pink one - Zuni.
Crepe Myrtle 'Zuni' in July 2008
Growing against our house facing the scorching southwest sun, it bloomed its little head off for several years.  That is until that brutal winter of 2010-2011.  I can't begin to list how many established shrubs and perennials I lost that winter.  My beloved Zuni was one of them.  I tried to hold out hope for some sign of life in the following spring but nothing.  Then, in late summer, just a sprig or two came up.  I felt like it was never going to come back so I dug it out.  I dug about 2' deep and got out what I thought was all of the roots.  

A summer came and went with no signs of life from Zuni.  Then something amazing happened.  This spring, more than just a sprout came up.  Many sprouts with bright green leaves.  Could my Zuni have come back from the dead?  I had to know what was left of my beloved crepe myrtle so I watered a little extra, fertilized a little extra and talked to it every time I reached for the hose on the back of the house.  Sure enough, this tough plant came back.  I was very content to have the bright green leaves add some color and texture to the back of my herb garden.  But then, it developed flower buds!  OMG is all I could think!  
My crepe myrtle returned from the dead in August 2013
Look at those hot pink blossoms!

Bright green leaves and hot pink blossoms next to Bergartten sage
How on earth did this shrub survive after all of this time?  I have no idea.  But I have stopped doubting the power of plants. They perform miracles all the time.  I am just blessed it happened in my yard this summer.  Keep looking for miracles.  They are all around us.

Friday, August 9, 2013

May Night Salvia Reborn

This time of year many perennials start to look tired and shabby and overgrown.  But a few, like May Night Salvia, respond well to a severe pruning right about now.

May Night salvia on July 7th
This is a large clump of salvias has finished blooming and was looking awful.  So I cut them back to the basal rosette about 2" above the ground level.  Here is what they look like today.

May Night salvia on August 7th

They are refreshed and will likely bloom in a few weeks.  This is also a good time to transplant some of the salvia seedlings to other areas in my garden. While I'm at it, I will also divide and transplant my iris.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

LAWC will host Essentials of Distilling Conference in Grand Junction

Through a specialty crop grant from the Colorado Department of Agriculture and generous support from Colorado State University Extension, the Lavender Association of Western Colorado (LAWC) is presenting an intense two day conference on all types of distilling methods for essential oils and hydrosols.  

Featured speakers include:
Ann Harmon - Morning Myst Botanicals
Northport, Washington
Dr. Cindy Jones, Sagescript Institute
Longmont, Colorado
Dr. Curtis Swift, Swift Horticultural Enterprises
Grand Junction, Colorado
Bob Lane, Dayspring Farm
Olathe, Colorado

Dr. Janet Scavarda, certified aromatherapist
Grand Junction, Colorado

Topics will include:
  • Workshops on creating products with essential oils and hydrosols
  • Live distillations using several types and sizes of distillers
  • Learn how to distill for commercial as well as medicinal products
  • Learn how to distill for hydrosols as the product, not the by-product of essential oil distillation
We will also talk about our latest research and testing results of our high altitude lavender essential oils. 

Registration is open.  Please visit our website at www.coloradolavender.org/fall-lavender-conference.html for more information.  

There will be substantial ticket discounts for members of LAWC and USLGA.  Lunch for both days is included in the ticket price.  

Look forward to seeing you at the conference.  

Monday, July 8, 2013

Colorado Lavender Festival is next week!

3rd Colorado Lavender Festival is a feast for the senses
July 12 – 14, 2013, Palisade Colorado
Immerse yourself in lavender at the 3rd annual Colorado Lavender Festival in western Colorado. Highlights of the 3-day event are:
·   Friday - All Day Guided Motorcoach Tour to blooming lavender farms.
·   Saturday – Festival in the Park in Palisade with vendors, seminars, food & wine.
·   Sunday – Self-guided Agri-tours & Events – 12 locations, each unique.

FRIDAY July 12: All-day Guided Motorcoach Tour, 8am - 5pm
A great start to a lavender-filled weekend! From Palisade to Paonia, experience lavender farms, learn about the latest lavender research, shop for high quality lavender related items, pick a fresh lavender bouquet, meet the growers, and see a lavender distillation. Relax along the Gunnison River with a lavender inspired picnic lunch. Finish the day with wine & nibbles – including Lavender wine - at Grande River Vineyards.

SAT. July 13: Colorado Lavender Festival, Palisade Memorial Park, 9am – 4pm. With an interesting variety of high quality lavender and artisan vendors, cooking demonstrations (including one with Chef Marcelo Marino of Wine Country Inn) spiked with lavender and entertainment - the scent, sight and tastes of lavender are everywhere. Admission to the Festival is free.
A signature element of the Festival is info-rich seminars. For those interested in growing lavender as a garden or farm crop, the morning consists of three seminars. First John Steuble of Grand Junction Pipe & Supply will discuss economic and effective methods of irrigation. Next, Dr. Curtis Swift and Kathy Kimbrough, founder of LAWC, present research findings on lavender growth and distillation. Then, CSU extension agent Rodney Sharp and lavender grower Paola Legarre focuses on the economics and considerations of starting a lavender farm.  
The afternoon session covers uses of lavender. Barbarba Lucks, RA, presents the benefits and cautions of essential oils and hydrosols used in the home. Then Rick Spelenka, certified Therapeutic Garden designer, B.S., B.S.N., explores the history of healing gardens and aroma therapy. Tickets for workshops and can be purchased in advance at http://coloradolavenderfestival.com. Morning session is $45; afternoon session is $30. Find complete speaker biographies online as well.
Fresh Lavender Wreath Making Workshops: Take home a fragrant souvenir when you make your own lavender wreath. Cost for materials & instruction $15. Morning and afternoon sessions limited to 20 participants. Fun for adults and kids (age 12 and over).
Spike it with Lavender – Recipes for Living cookbook author Lida Lafferty will present two cooking demonstrations showcasing recipes and easy tips for using culinary lavender in your home. Special guest, organic and local food afficianado, Chef Marcelo Marino of the Wine Country Inn in Palisade, will talk about hot infusions during the afternoon session.
New! “Celebrate Lavender” Art show at The Blue Pig Gallery in downtown Palisade. Follow the blue pig footprints from the Festival at Palisade Memorial Park to the gallery to vote for a favorite work of art. “Celebrate Lavender” runs June 18th - July 13th. Winner announced on July 14th.
SUNDAY July 14: Step into a Lavender World with Self-Guided Agri-tours. Twelve lavender locations from Palisade to Paonia are open and each is unique. Walk through blooming lavender fields, talk to growers, watch as lavender is distilled into hydrosol and essential oil; taste lavender cookies, lemonade, wine, cheese, chicken salad or pizza; try crafts, U-Pick; or choose from a variety of talks… the possibilities are endless. Set your own pace and enjoy lavender locations – some are open year ‘round and some open only once a year for this Festival. Maps available at the Saturday Festival.

SAVE THE DATE for these Upcoming Colorado Lavender Events
Essentials of Distilling: Oils, Hydrosols and Value Added Products
October 26 and 27, 2013; 9 am - 5 pm
Mesa County Fairgrounds, Community Building, Grand Junction, Colorado

Conference features experts in the field and these topics:
• Workshops on creating products with essential oils and hydrosols
• Live distillations using several types and sizes of distillers
• Learn how to distill for commercial as well as medicinal products
• Learn how to distill for hydrosols as the product, not the by-product of essential oil
• Hear the latest updates on the LAWC Specialty Crop Grant progress
Registration : www.coloradolavender.org

Lavender Christmas Craft Fair
Saturday, December 7, 2013
Two Rivers Convention Center, Downtown Grand Junction
Rich array of vendors and high quality, small batch, hand crafted items. All the more fun as the wonderful Parade of Lights follows at dusk.

Professional high resolution photography available.

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Sunday, July 7, 2013

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