Cheyenne Garden Gossip

Gardening on the high plains of southeastern Wyoming


Garden gifts: books, magazines, classes

2016-12-garden-mags-barb-gorgesPublished Dec. 4, 2016, in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, “Holiday gifts for the gardener on your list.”

By Barb Gorges

I asked members of the Laramie County Master Gardeners for their top picks for gardening magazines and books to give you ideas for gifts for the gardeners you know.

Gardening conditions in Cheyenne are somewhat unique so advice from these publications must be taken with a bit of local knowledge:

1) We have alkaline soils so ignore advice to add lime and wood ash;

2) We are officially in USDA plant hardiness zone 5 but microclimates can be harsher or milder;

3) Our average annual precipitation is 15 inches. Even if you run your well dry, you can’t reproduce a wetter, more humid location, which some plants require, like somewhere else in Zone 5—say southern Iowa.

MAGAZINES

Most of the magazines recommended are available at local bookstores. Discounted multi-year subscriptions and back issues are available online.

We are lucky that Colorado’s gardening climate is close to Cheyenne’s, making our local choice The Colorado Gardener (www.ColoradoGardener.com, free at outlets, including the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, and online, or $18/5 issues/year delivered). It is a full-color, tabloid-style, 16-page newsmagazine. In addition to articles and a calendar of Front Range garden-related events, even the advertising is informative.

Another option is Rocky Mountain Gardening (www.RockyMountainGardening.com, $24/4 issues/year). Previously known as “Zone 4,” it covers Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and Utah. It was recommended by Catherine Wissner, horticulturist at the Laramie County Cooperative Extension office, and several other respondents. Topics in a recent issue included hellstrip gardening (the hot, dry strip along the curb) and frost blankets (written by a Smoot, Wyoming, gardener). Wyoming is well-represented in the news section.

Judy Kowrach was one of two people who endorsed Garden Gate (www.GardenGateMagazine.com, $20/6 issues/year). With no ads, it is full of tips, plant profiles and design ideas. Despite its Iowa origins, much of the information is applicable to Cheyenne. Even without a subscription, you can sign up online for its free eNotes.

Kim Parker and several others listed Fine Gardening (www.FineGardening.com, $29.95/6 issues/year). It does a splendid job of inciting people to commit acts of gardening. I like their warnings on which featured plants are officially classified as invasive in which state and their scientific plant name pronunciation guide. And their deep website full of free garden and plant information.

2016-12-garden-design            I couldn’t come up with an issue of Garden Design (www.GardenDesign.com, $45/4 issues/year), but looking at a preview copy online, it also is sumptuously photographed. Its price reflects the 148 ad-free pages per issue. And its website is also full of free information, even for non-subscribers.

Finally, Rodale’s Organic Life (www.RodalesOrganicLife.com, $15/6 issues/year) is the latest incarnation of Rodale’s Organic Gardening and Farming. In 1978, that publication printed my interview of a man who built a better bluebird house. These days, think of it as the organic version of Better Homes and Gardens—mostly lifestyle, little gardening.

BOOKS

2016-12-garden-primer-rodales-ultimate-encyclopedia            My primary garden book, recommended to me several years ago by Shane Smith, director of the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, is The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch (2008, Workman Publishing, 820 pages). Written by a gardener from the cold climate of Maine, it covers every aspect of organic home gardening in well-organized chapters, but with an index for quick consultation.

Another option is Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening (2009, www.rodaleinc.com, 720 pages). Earlier editions have been on my shelf for years. It’s a tad more technical, but both this and The Garden Primer are good how-to guides and problem solvers.

2016-12-peterson-kaufman-insect-guides            Tava Collins recommended National Audubon Society Field Guide to Insects and Spiders (1980, Alfred A. Knopf, $20) for help identifying garden friends and foes. Similar guides are available in the Kaufman and Peterson field guide series.

Collins also recommended three books written by Colorado gardeners: Rocky Mountain Gardener’s Handbook, John Cretti (2012, Cool Springs Press); Rocky Mountain Getting Started Garden Guide, John Cretti (2015, Cool Springs Press); and Cutting Edge Gardening in the Intermountain West, Marcia Tatroe (2007, Big Earth Publishing).

For special gardening techniques that will work in our area, these next two were recommended.

Marie Madison cited The Bountiful Container: Create Container Gardens of Vegetables, Herbs, Fruits and Edible Flowers by Maggie Stuckey and Rose Marie Nicholas McGee (2002, Workman Publishing).

Susan Carlson, who I interviewed a few months ago about straw bale gardening, apprised me of a new edition of her favorite book: Straw Bale Gardens Complete: All-New Information on Urban & Small Spaces, Organics, Saving Water – Make Your Own Bales With or Without Straw by Joel Karsten (2015, Cool Springs Press, $24.99).

If your giftee’s interest is in growing native plants that attract pollinators or in identifying plants on the prairie, try these. Keep in mind the definition of “weeds” depends on the situation.

2016-12-weeds-of-the-west-rangeland-plants            Carlson listed Rangeland Plants: Wyoming Tough by Smith et. al. (2015, publication B-1265) It is a free download at www.wyoextension.org/publications or $8 at the Laramie County Extension office, 307-633-4383.

Richard Steele found Weeds of the West (Western Society of Weed Science, 2012, $34 at www.wsweedscience.org) to be particularly useful while manning the “Ask a Master Gardener” table at the farmers market this fall.

Collins mentioned the classic Meet the Natives: A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Wildflowers, Trees and Shrubs: Bridging the Gap between Trail and Garden by M. Walter Pesman. It was revised by Denver Botanic Gardens staff in 2012 and republished by Big Earth Publishing.

2016-12-undaunted-garden            The author of one of my favorites, The Undaunted Garden: Planting for Weather-Resilient Beauty (2010, Fulcrum Publishing), Lauren Springer Ogden, is a firm believer in “the right plant in the right place” and is the originator of “hellstrip” gardening. Her photography is inspiring. She speaks often at garden events on the Front Range.

Her book would be a good accompaniment to the next two books, helping you to pick appropriate local plants to interpret their lessons. These books are about planet-friendly landscape gardening.

Planting in a Post-Wild World: Designing Plant Communities for Resilient Landscapes by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West (2015, Timber Press). This may be intended to introduce landscape designers to more natural, sustainable plantings. But you can apply the advice to your own yard, such as using groundcover plants instead of shredded bark mulch everywhere.

2016-12-garden-revolution-planting-in-a-post-wild            The other is Garden Revolution: How Our Landscapes Can Be a Source of Environmental Change by Larry Weaner and Thomas Christopher (2016, Timber Press). Proponents of the “right plant in the right place” too, the authors have designed this book to help you understand their premise: that with knowledge of your eco region and local habitat, you can plant a garden that will evolve over time with a minimal amount of assistance, i.e. chemicals and labor.

LECTURES AND CLASSES

One option: Give your favorite gardener tuition for the 10-week Master Gardener class beginning in January. For more information, call 307-633-4383.

Or give them tickets to the spring gardening lecture series Laramie County Master Gardeners is offering in conjunction with the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens. Call 307-637-6458.

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Garden Class Roundup

Poster

Laramie County Master Gardeners and the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens put on the “Gardening with Altitude” lecture series.

Published Jan. 5, 2014, in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle, “Grow your gardening skills this winter. There are many classes in the region to get you ready for the growing season ahead.”

By Barb Gorges

Gardeners are crazy for information and inspiration. Summer may be the time for garden tours, but winter is the time for garden lectures and classes.

Laramie County Master Gardeners and the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens are bringing back their popular series of acclaimed garden speakers—and you would be wise not to wait to buy tickets.

On the other hand, you can sign up for the Master Gardeners training program right up until the first day of class, which is Jan. 13.

Laramie County Community College has been offering a wealth of gardening classes the last three years, but they are hidden in the non-credit “Outreach and Workforce Development” schedules mailed to all addresses in Laramie County.

If you want to head south for a little winter break, check out classes at Fort Collins Nursery in Colorado.

In any case, well before it’s time to start digging in the dirt, you can fortify your mind with new garden ideas and strategies.

Gardening with Altitude 2014

Sponsored by Laramie County Master Gardeners and the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, tickets are $15 each or $50 for all four dates. They may be purchased (cash or check) at the Gardens’ greenhouse in Lions Park.

Call Darcee Snider at 637-6458 or visit www.BrownPaperTickets.com (keyword: “Gardening with Altitude”).

The lectures are held Saturdays, 1- 2:30 p.m., in the Cottonwood Room of the Laramie County Library, 2200 Pioneer Ave. Tickets may be available at the door.

— “Edible Gardening in Tough Climates: Using Season Extension Tools, Microclimates and Strategic Variety Choices,” Willi Galloway, Jan. 25. Galloway, an award-winning radio commentator and writer, and native of Wyoming, is the author of “Grow, Cook, Eat.” She currently gardens in Portland, Ore. She’ll explain how to warm up the soil earlier in spring, how to extend the harvest season in fall and what are the best tasting and most productive vegetable varieties for the Cheyenne region.

— “Unique and Functional Landscapes: Creating and Maintaining a Flourishing Outdoor Space,” with Loretta Mannix, Feb. 15. Mannix, of Loveland, Colo., with degrees in fine art and landscape horticulture, and years of experience in many areas of horticulture and landscape design, will show new ways of making your landscape unique, including plants that are underused but can be successful here.

— “Tuning Up the Wyoming Garden: What’s New in Plants and Growing Techniques,” Tom Heald, Mar. 15. Heald and his wife own the Wyoming Plant Company in Casper, with the goal of providing the kinds of plants he found Wyoming gardeners needed when he was a university extension agent. He will talk about how to reflect the high elevation prairie and sagebrush steppe and their extraordinary color and durability, and will also present new ideas in growing plants horizontally and vertically in our challenging climate.

— “Seed, Soil, Sun, Water: All You Need to Grow Food in the West,” with Penn and Cord Parmenter, Apr. 26. The Parmenters have been gardening above 8,000 feet in south-central Colorado since 1992 using sustainable, bio-intensive methods that “rock out food 365 days a year.” Learn to garden like our grandparents, focusing on what already works, how to work with what you have, and be inspired by nature’s ability to feed us.

Laramie County Master Gardener Training

Anyone can become a Master Gardener—no prior experience required. Sign up for the 10-week course that begins Jan. 13. Classes are Monday and Wednesday evenings, 6-9 p.m. Completion of the course and 40 hours of volunteer internship by next fall is required for Master Gardener certification.

The course, held in Cheyenne, is taught by Catherine Wissner, University of Wyoming Cooperative Extension Service horticulturist, along with other local experts.

The $100 fee includes the 500-page manual, “Sustainable Horticulture for Wyoming.” Sign up at the extension office in the old Laramie County Courthouse, 310 W. 19th St., Suite 100. For more information call 633-4383 or visit www.lcmg.org.

LCCC Gardening Classes

Instructor Jeff Dyer said, “You can garden here despite the challenging environment.”

Laramie County Community College’s Life Enrichment classes in gardening are held on campus. Almost all classes are one session and most are offered twice.

For complete class descriptions, visit http://lccc.wy.edu/workforce/lifeEnrichment. For specifics, call Dyer at 421-1176 or email him at greenspeak@ymail.com.

To register, call 778-1236 or 778-1134. Register no later than two days before the class is scheduled, and four days before the Botanical Arrangement class.

Fort Collins Nursery Classes, Ft. Collins, Colo.

This garden center, at 2121 E. Mulberry St., brings in a variety of well-known Front Range gardeners. And for the most part, what they teach is applicable to Cheyenne’s environment.

All classes are held on Saturdays. See complete class descriptions, and more classes, at www.fortcollinsnursery.com. Register online or call 970-482-1984 or 866-384-7516.

–“50 Shades of Green: Gardening for Sensuality” with Lauren Springer Ogden and Scott Ogden. Jan. 18, 10 a.m.-noon or 1-3 p.m., $22. What makes a garden sensual? Play of light and darkness, sound, motion, serenity, fragrance, creation of mystery. The Colorado couple are authors of several garden books.

–“My Favorite Pollinators and How to Attract Them,” with Beth Conrey. Jan. 25, 10 a.m.-noon, $18. Without pollinating insects, most plants won’t produce fruit and seeds. Discover the full spectrum of pollinators. Conrey is president of the Colorado State Beekeepers Association.

–“Even More Secrets from My Grandmother’s Garden,” with Don Eversoll. Jan. 25, 1-3 p.m., $18. How to make super soil, new tricks for growing “killer” tomatoes with heirlooms and other secrets from Coloradoan Eversoll’s new book, “Secrets from My Grandma’s Garden.”

–“Organic Gardener’s Companion: Cool & Warm Season Vegetables,” with Jane Shellenberger. Feb. 1,10 a.m.

-noon, $18. Shellenberger is publisher and editor of the Colorado Gardener seasonal newspaper and author of “Organic Gardener’s Companion: Growing Vegetables in the West.”

— “Raised Bed Gardening 101,” with Bryant Mason. Feb. 1, 1-3 p.m., $18.  The founder of The Urban Farm Company of Colorado covers the basics. “Raised Bed 201” will be held Feb. 15 at 10 a.m.

–“Design Tips for Western-inspired Gardens with Plant Select®,” with Pat Hayward. Feb. 8, 10 a.m.-noon, $18. Plant Select® is a plant introduction program from Denver Botanic Gardens and Colorado State University focusing on unique, adaptable and resilient plants for western gardens.

— “Incorporating Native Plants into Your Landscape,” with Joanie Schneider. Feb. 15, 1-3 p.m., $18. Contrary to their reputation as dusty prickly plants, the native flora around the Rocky Mountain Front Range is truly exquisite, with a great diversity of colors and textures.