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It's SPRINGTIME!! Yippeeeee!

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It's SPRINGTIME!! Yippeeeee!

Bulbs are one of the last great bargains: you pay fifty cents for a bulb and it blooms beautifully the next spring. In two years time it is twice as big, and some will even self sow and multiply. Talk about investment! Bulbs beat Wall Street hands down! Where else can you produce carpets of color that cheer the heart in springtime (when you need it after a long winter)...

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The Aster Yellows Blues

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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,...

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Wanted Dead, Not Alive: The Green Menace

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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:...

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Pollinator Power

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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...

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More Backyard Nature: Milkweeds!

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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...

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Suburban Serengeti

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Suburban Serengeti

Safaris are expensive.  So why not trade the very large for the very small?  Stay away from tourist traps and take a trip into your back yard for action worthy of television special—you won’t even need to pack a lunch. Even if at first glance the average home’s yard and garden might seem virtually free of animal life, a closer look shows how wrong first glances can be.  Arthropods—members of the...

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So Your Garden is Rusting

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So Your Garden is Rusting

As we swing into high summer and garden plants kick into overdrive, the fungi, bacteria, and viruses that rely on them start making appearances too.  These plant pathogens manifest themselves in many ways, from the elegant to the grotesque. Rust fungi are one common pathogen that show up with warmer temperatures.  These fungi—along with a related group known as "smuts"—are some of the most destructive plant pathogens. Rusts and smuts...

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It's Euxoa Time

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It's Euxoa Time

  Plants aren’t the only thing becoming more active this time of year.  Warmer weather triggers a lot of invertebrate activity, and you may be noticing that your home is suddenly (apparently) some sort of transcontinental superhighway for arthropods. Which is just one of the reasons that I love springtime.

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Timing is Everything

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Timing is Everything

Few things signify spring like trees covered in blossoms.  Spring so far has been on the early side, thanks to our warmer than usual temperatures through March.  Many species that would oftentimes only be beginning to bloom at this time of year are already finished flowering—they seem to think it’s already May in Colorado.  Still other species haven’t broken bud, and look as though we’ve had a month of today’s...

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