A Glowing Review for Fungus!
Fungi sometimes get a bad rap.  They are suspicious, insidious, and villainous—growing unseen and erupting without warning from just about anything.  Not everyone is down on fungus though (Wales celebrated National Fungus Day on October 14), and for good reason.  Fungi are important decomposers of plant matter (without them we’d all be neck-deep or worse in leaves and old wood) and are essential partners for plants for nutrient and water...
With the summer heat finally having subsided (after setting new records for the number of +90-degree days), Denver’s water use has started to wane. Landscapes that had relied on irrigation through the relatively dry summer can now largely count on Mother Nature and wait for the imminent frost. Outdoor water use accounts for about 55% of the average Denver Water residential customer’s consumption throughout the course of the year – with...
As imperceptibly as Grief the Summer lapsed away
As imperceptibly as Grief The Summer lapsed away -- Too imperceptible at last To seem like Perfidy -- A Quietness distilled As Twilight long begun, Or Nature spending with herself Sequestered Afternoon -- The Dusk drew earlier in -- The Morning foreign shone -- A courteous, yet harrowing Grace, As Guest, that would be gone -- And thus, without a Wing Or service of a Keel Our Summer made her light escape Into the Beautiful. -Emily Dickinson The killing frost of 2012 approaches—many plants will perish this...
We Study Fungi at the Gardens?
Why yes we do, and we have for several decades. The last weekend in August, over fifteen citizen scientists and several mycologists braved the wee hours of the morning and one of the driest summers in Colorado to spend the weekend hunting, cataloging, photographing and identifying macro-fungi for the Rocky Mountain National Park bioblitz. Macro-fungi are those fungi that produce large, showy fruiting bodies, which are more commonly known as mushrooms,...
World Wide Views on Biodiversity – Participate in the global discussion on Saturday September 15
The Aster Yellows Blues
August and September bring the heyday of many plants of the aster family (Asteraceae). Asters, chrysanthemums, black- and brown-eyed susans, sunflowers, and others grace the landscape with late summer color. Along with them, though, comes a pernicious illness with a mysterious cause:  Aster Yellows. Plants infected with aster yellows can show a variety of symptoms, from yellowing and reddening of foliage (hence the name), greening of flowers, dwarfing, extremely bushy appearance,...
Wanted Dead, Not Alive: The Green Menace
It’s been an interesting summer.  Lots of heat and not so much rain, for starters.  The combination of heat, drought, and subsequently stressed-out plants has made for banner years for many pests.  Some that are usually not even common enough to be a nuisance here at the Botanic Gardens have eliminated certain plants from gardens this year.  One pest in particular has been on my mind a lot in recent weeks:...
Pollinator Power
Last week a colleague and I attended a conference and workshop about protecting native pollinators, hosted by the Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.  While most of us might think of the European Honeybee, Apis mellifera, as the primary pollinator of crops, native bees are important pollinators of both wildflowers and commercial crops. Native pollinators, and particularly native bees, are important. Some are highly specialized, like the squash bee. Squash bees rely...
More Backyard Nature: Milkweeds!
In a previous post I described some interactions between plants and insects that can make for interesting observation.  This week I’ll add another plant group that makes for some fun—the milkweeds (genus Asclepias). Many species of Asclepias can be found in North America and can make good garden plants provided you can provide the space that they’re roving growth form requires.  Milkweeds have highly specialized floral structures, and they also bear...
July is Smart Irrigation Month
July – the month we celebrate America’s independence… and efficient irrigation? While the second occasion may not get as much attention as the first, there are plenty of ways to mark Smart Irrigation Month this July. The Irrigation Association (IA), which represents manufacturers of irrigation products, first declared July to be “Smart Irrigation Month” in 2005 to draw attention to the need to use earth’s most precious resource wisely. July typically sees...

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