Herbs: Super plants with superpowers

Sage

Wise gardeners grow sage: it’s easy and can be put to many uses | Photo by: Colleen Smith

As a seasoned garden writer, people with self-proclaimed black-thumbs often ask me which plants are easiest to grow. I always answer, “Herbs!” Most herbs grow easy without mollycoddling. What’s more, you can harvest herbs and put them to use in your kitchen–and even your bathroom. Culinary herbs add flavor to food and can cut down on salt intake. Many herbs stand in as medicine or can be made into personal care products such as bath scrubs or balms.

You can grow herbs even if you don’t have a large garden. Many herbs fare well in containers on a patio or lanai.

My article published in The Denver Post features tips from the longtime tender of the herb garden at Denver Botanic Gardens. You may read the article here.

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Orange flowers juice up any garden

Orange Flowers

Dahlias, petunias, hibiscus and many other plants produce juicy orange blossoms. 

When your garden needs a fresh pop of color, consider adding orange flowers.
Orange and green are complimentary colors on the color wheel, meaning that they contrast with one another perfectly. Since most gardens include green foliage, orange flowers stand out beautifully.
You have your pick of plenty of orange flowering possibilities, from annuals and perennials to vines and vegetables. And orange ranges from a pure pumpkin orange to an almost fluorescent orange to a more muted terra cotta, so depending on your garden, there’s a hue for everyone. Think orange trumpet vines, orange pansies and petunias or orange poppies.
My article published in The Denver Post includes tips for using orange flowers in your garden or containers. Whatever the season, orange flowers will juice up your outdoor spaces. You may read the article here.

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Keyhole gardens: why and how to build a hybrid raised bed with compost

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Keyhole gardens originated in Africa, but work well anywhere.
Photo courtesy of Send A Cow. 

Keyhole gardens are the best idea I’ve unearthed in more than two decades of garden writing. The gardens originated more than 20 years ago in Africa, where AIDS and drought took a toll on people and gardens. Keyhole gardens combine the best of raised beds and composting, can be irrigated with gray water, and make the most of garden space.

I first learned of the gardens during a drought in Denver, and gathered materials to build one, but never got around to it because I feared the garden might appear junky in my small back yard. However, landscape architects embracing the keyhole garden concept are building these raised, typically round gardens from handsome stone that makes them an attractive highlight in any garden.

My article published by The Denver Post includes step-by-step tips for building a keyhole garden, properly siting the keyhole, and what to plant in these ingenious gardens. You may read my article at this link.

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Pergolas add form and function

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Photo from Denver Post: Pergola with fireplace and seating area designed by Wendy Booth of Ivy Street Design Landscape Architecture.

Pergolas date to ancient times as some of the first structures in gardens. Pergolas add both form and function. A pergola defines an outdoor space, provides a support for vines and decorative lights, and with modification can provide shade and shelter.

My article in The Denver Post provides plenty of professional landscape designer tips for pergolas. Read the article here.

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Pansies, Violas and Panolas:

pansies
Pansies are one of the best plants to grow whether a seasoned gardener or new to the garden. Beautiful, easy-to-grow and even edible, pansies thrive both in early spring, in autumn and in many areas into winter. I reported on pansies for The Denver Post and also learned about a new mix between pansies and their smaller cousins: known as panolas, these plants will substitute for impatiens–formerly preferred for shade, but currently under siege by a plant disease.

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Cottage foods industry: adult “lemonade stands”

Cottage foods are a steadily growing trend. Are you an avid gardener with a surplus yield? Would you like to make a little profit from your homegrown produce? Or are you a baker who’d be sweet on selling your breads and cookies and other sugarplums — kind of the way you did at your childhood lemonade stands?
If you live in Denver, join the growing cottage foods industry. I reported on this win-win ordinance for The Denver Post. Here’s the link.
If you don’t live in Denver, check to see whether your town allows you to set up a stand to sell your garden produce, baked goods and other products. The cottage food trend is growing because people recognize this old-fashioned mercantile as a sensible wave for our future.

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Easy steps for long lasting, weather worthy Spring container gardens

flowers     If your green thumb itches for a spring gardening project, try your hand at these stunning spring container gardens. With a bit of planning and this expert advice, you can easily create the most stunning displays of spring favorites: tulips and daffodills, pansies and hyacinths. What’s even better is that with simple care these container will last, looking lovely week after week. These plants will withstand the last of Old Man Winter if that’s as issue for you, as it is here in Denver, where we can get blizzards in March. 

I reported this article for The Denver Post with the help of Laurie Jekel, owner of The Last Detail landscape design service in Denver for more than 30 years. Laurie designs the container gardens at Cherry Hills Country Club.

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