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Rocky Mountain Gardening: Fall Bloomers!?

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Forum: Rocky Mountain GardeningReplies: 9, Views: 76
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Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

August 29, 2010
1:28 PM

Post #8068936

I live at about 5700 feet in Glenwood Springs. I have salvia, agastache, daylillies, gaillardia & weeds, (LOL) blooming right now. What is going on in your garden bloom wise?

I am looking for plants to fill in the bloom cycle for the year. A Fall crescendo maybe? I am looking at planting "Tricolor daiseys", to pick up the slack. http://davesgarden.com/guides/pf/go/1895/

Sonny
TrishaG
Englewood, CO
(Zone 5b)

August 30, 2010
8:17 AM

Post #8070429

Hi Sonny, I have some classic fall blooming plants, like asters, tall sedums (eg. Autumn Joy, Matrona), mums, solidago, and rudbeckias. But I also have some more unusual plants, like agastaches, Mojave sage, a subshrub with resinous leaves and gorgeous purple flowers, ornamental winter savory, a low growing plant with glossy green leaves and small purple flowers, various penstemons, usually red, orange or purple blooms, Zauschneria (I think they've changed the name recently) with orangy-red flowers, Salvia greggii 'Furman's Red', the Russian sage will continue blooming for a while, and of course ornamental grasses.

I took a look at the daisies you're considering, and they may not be winter-hardy for you. If you want a hardy fall-blooming daisy I think you should consider Rudbeckias -- there are many wonderful varieties with a wide range of colors. Check out rudbeckias at http://www.bluestoneperennials.com and fall in love!

I also noticed your blooms tend toward the yellow/orange/red spectrum -- I think you need some blue or purple! I'm very fond of the tall sedums, some of which have purple foliage (Purple Emperor) or stems (Matrona). If your garden is not super-xeric you should also consider asters, sometimes called Michaelmas daisies, which are generally purple or blue (Bluestone Perennials is a good source). If a shrub is a possibility, blue mist spirea (Caryopteris) has beautiful blue flowers in fall, and if you leave the dried flower heads untrimmed they provide winter interest. Then there's the plant I recently saw at DBG that wowed me -- Eryngium 'Blaukappe', aka sea holly -- OMG the whole plant is bright blue!

You didn't mention ornamental grasses, which are fantastic in fall. If you don't have any you should definitely consider adding them for fall and winter interest. I really like the blue colored grasses -- Festuca varieties tend to be small , very nice with smaller plants, while blue Avena grass (Helictotrichon sempervirens) is larger and a great companion for more robust plants like rudbeckias. And of course there are loads of other beautiful grasses -- I have Stipa tenuissima (aka Nassella tenuissima), a smaller grass I just love, which looks and feels like a clump of blond hair in fall and is light green in spring, and the ubiquitous Karl Foerster grass (Calamagrostis) which has a cousin usually called Korean Feather Reed Grass (Calamagrostis brachytricha) that I want to get. DBG has a wonderful stand of Little Bluestem grass at the entrance -- makes me want some.

There are some fabulous books with fall plant suggestions appropriate to our region. Anything by Lauren Ogden Springer will have breath-taking photos and great plant suggestions -- "Plant-Driven Design" and "The Undaunted Garden" and "Passionate Gardening" are all great. Marcia Tatroe gardens in the Denver metro area, and she put out a beautiful book "Cutting Edge Gardening in the Intermountain West". Another great book is "Xeriscape Colorado" by Connie Lockhart Ellefson and David Winger -- the cover shows a spring garden, and the first page shows a fantastic fall garden. You should be able to get at least some of these books at a library, and they're all available on Amazon if you want your very own copy ;-)

Have fun planning for next year!
Trish

Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

August 30, 2010
4:27 PM

Post #8071248

Trish! I love ya!

Thank you so much for your lengthy and detailed response. The area I have is kinda small, but I am creating more through exhaustive manual labor. Sifting rocks & clay, mixing with sand, compost & peat all held in by a 24' long X 3' high retaining wall. I am quite a bit farther along than this picture, but it is one of the few that I have downloaded to my computer.

I know about some of your suggestions, but there are a lot of things in your reply to chase down. Did I mention that I have Cannas too!

We got our first dusting of snow up on Capital Peak, (Snowmass Village area) this morning.

Thank You so much again for the great response.

Sonny

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TrishaG
Englewood, CO
(Zone 5b)

September 6, 2010
9:20 AM

Post #8083348

Wow Sonny, that looks like really hard work. I hope you're seeing the results of your labor by now.
I completely forgot to mention the prosaic sunflower! It is an annual, but ridiculously easy to grow and mine has been reseeding like crazy. Just this morning I've been enjoying the view out my kitchen window -- out by the fence is a stand of sunflowers with ripening seeds, and the goldfinches and other birds are having a party! Sunflowers have been hybridized extensively and there are many wonderful varieties available, but if they reseed they'll most likely revert to the old original. In my garden they're growing in unamended crappy clay soil, without any supplemental watering, so they look a bit scruffy with dried up leaves at the bottoms, but the birds don't mind. They grow up to 7' tall, have multiple blooming stems, and the flowers are up to 6" across. Sunflowers are allelopathic, ie. they prevent other plants from growing near them, so you'd want to give them their own patch. I love having sunflowers in the garden, bc they represent the harvest aspect of fall. A couple of pumpkins or other winter squashes and your harvest display is complete ;-)
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

September 6, 2010
5:03 PM

Post #8084131

Trish,

Sunflowers sound like a great idea! I have a perfect place for them too seeing as they are anti-social, er I mean alellopathic! LOL!

I have almost finished with my work in the new bed. I am literally within inches of topping out the bed with soil mix and of course the old rototiller my boss loaned me broke. :(

You are right, it has been very had work but it will be another gorgeous garden area with excellent soil that didn't exist last year.

Sonny

warriorswisdomkathy

warriorswisdomkathy
Kiowa, CO
(Zone 5b)

January 31, 2011
10:53 PM

Post #8342053

If your still looking for ideas on fall bloomers gots lots for you. I'm living in elbert county, southeast of Denver, at approx 6800'. Gosh there are bunches of fall goodies. I'm creating a 1 acre garden, (cottage style). It's always a challenge to cover all 3 seasons, though a fun one. 1. mums, all colors and heights. 2. rudbeckias, annuals which reseed and perennials. 3. helianthus. 4. helianthemum. 5. coreopsis. 6. centaureas, phygria (purple, yellow); montana,(white, blue); annual bachelor buttons. 7. knautia. 8. dianthus, grationopolitanus (sp),x.hybrid loveliness (yummmmm). 9. armeria. 10. alcea. 11. yarrow. 12. boltonia, (love this, is aster relative, pink or white, gets 4.5ft.) 13. veronica. 14. delphiniums, if cut back after spring bloom. 15. monarda lambada. 16. hibiscus mochatas. 17. cosmos (reseeds). 18. daisies. 19. anthemis. 20. aquilegea, some times they bloom all season if deadheaded. 21. geum. 22. dracocephalum, annual (perennial blooms mid summer). 23. nicotianna, sensation mix (very fragrant, reseeds),sylvestris ( very fragrant), both of these are evening fragrant. 24. latherus (sweet peas, if deadheaded). 25. datura metaloides (annual, but reseeds and is evening fragrant). 26. scabiosa ( have blue,white and yellow). 27. pennstemon. 28. gentian. 29. zinnias. 30. salvia, (clary sage, biennial; nemerosa, perennial, white, pink and blue; farinacea, blue bedder). 31. physostegea, ( have pink and white). 32. phlox paniculata. 33. catanche, (have white and blue). 34. malva, many varieties. 35. aconitum. 35. chives. 36. verbascum, keep deadheaded, several varieties from 18-36". 37. osteospurmum, annual and perennial ( my annuals reseed). 38. jasione, blue flowers. 39. limonium latifolium (purple). 40. larkspur. 41. campanula, glomerata,latifolia. 42. geranium ( some varieties in perennials). 43. gypsophilla, repens pink. 44. potentilla, Mrs. Bradshaw. 45. flax, perenne (blue, if cut back). 46. echinacea. 47. digitalis, some varieties bloom all summer, have a shorter pink one. 48. lonicera, vine have several varieties, (halls is fragrant). 49. snapdragons, if kept deadheaded, from 6-36". 50. allysum, annual and they reseed, fragrance is yummmm. 51. veronicastrum, blue or pink, 48", ( related to veronica ). 52. thymus. 53. calaroe. So hopes this opens your eyes to all the possiblities for fall bloom, some of these start in spring and if deadheaded ( spent blooms removed, will continue the whole season). I'm sure theres a few I've forgotten, also many annuals will bloom all season too. Most of these I've started from seed and have seed to share if inerested, most need to be started indoors under lights this winter, I use a 4ft shop light. Then come late winter I pot most on individually, and begin planting in may out in the garden. One thing some perennials might not bloom til next season though. Good luck and happy gardening. Kathy. P.S. please forgive mispellings,(oops).
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 1, 2011
5:19 AM

Post #8342247

Kathy,

All I can say is THANKS!

This will give me lots of choices for the front garden beds.

I am putting together a "greenhouse" for starting seeds in the garage. Do you use the GE plant & aquariam lights? How high above the seedlings do you put your lights?

Sonny

warriorswisdomkathy

warriorswisdomkathy
Kiowa, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 1, 2011
12:17 PM

Post #8343221

I use regular shop light bought at home depot, got a new one last week for under $10. Then put in 1 warm and 1 cool light bulbs, again you can get buls for around $10 or less. Just to let you know, on the websight for "Fine Gardening" they have plans for building a plant stand. The cost is around $200, I built mine for less than that, instead of using 2x2's for all of it, I used 1x2's for the shelf componets, (usually half the price of the 2x2's). I built my stand years ago and mine is 4ft. wide x 5ft long lots of room to grow goodies, can usually get 7- 11x22" trays per shelf, 5 shelves high, that a whopping 35 trays. Depending on what size of insert that is used, 6packs= 72 plants per tray x 35 trays = 2520 plants. Personally I use 2x2 pots, can get 32 in a tray, some time I start anywhere from 1-100 seeds per pot, the only problem with that is they all have to be potted on later into individual pots, (yuchhhhhh, only kidding, really is fun and very rewarding). Place the lights (hung from chain, can be raised and lowered that way to adjust to growing height of plants) a few inches above trays with lids (approx. $3 each, keeps humidity and warmth in which usually speeds up germination). (Sorry can't figure out how to make paragraph, duh, lol), I make my own potting mix from peat moss, (canadian spagnum), and peralite. After mixing I fill pots, sprinkle seed and cover with 1/8" of vermiculite. I make sure my potting mix is barely damp to start with, after covering I spray with water from spray bottle to moisten the top of the pots, ( if potting mix below is too damp can rot the whole pot, it will get wetter as days go on because I spray several times a days to keep moist so seeds sprout fast). Just started some seeds 12/29, began sprouting 12/30, ammazing babies. Seeds packets give an approximate days to germinate and I find mine usually sprout in half the time, some don"t. After they all get sprouted or most they come out and go into another tray with a lid, this batch is then allowed to slowly adjust to air when lid is ajar for a few hours and then increasing time as a few days pass the lid is off completely. As plant come out of the master tray I may start another variety in a new pot. Just to let you know I cover my stand top and and sides with painters plastic ($1-2, 9x12ish), helps keep humidity and warmth where its needed. I mist sprouted plants several times a day and begin watering the pots gently as needed. Personally I turn my lights on in the morning when I get up and off when I go to bed.. If I begin running out of room (haha) I have an area outside that use to be a horse stall, sort of a lean to on the back side of the garage, which I plastic in with 4mil plastic, I begin to move out perennials and cover them with a sheet of frost blanket ($12-14) til they get a bit adjusted to the cool air, though the plastic enclosed area keeps it warm enough to allow growth. I drag out 2 gallon watering cans for watering, as is too hard to use hose for watering in March, can't figure out why though (haha). Then come late april into mid may I bring out all the babies to the drive where they stay til planted. I usually have plenty to share with neighbors, garden club and friend. The plant stand could be adjusted to a smaller size if needed, maybe not as tall then takes up less money, time and room. On my larger unit I hang two sets of light per shelf. Ok, I've rambled on enough for now hope this helps. Any more questions be glad to help if I can, been doing this for about15 years now, not necessarily and expert but very experienced,)haha). Kathy

warriorswisdomkathy

warriorswisdomkathy
Kiowa, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 1, 2011
12:21 PM

Post #8343233

Oh almost forgot, I use a sheet of plywood or particle board on each shelf (cut to shelf length and width. Have fun and good luck. Kathy
Pewjumper
Glenwood Springs, CO
(Zone 5b)

February 1, 2011
5:08 PM

Post #8343886

Kathy,

Thank you very much!

Sounds like you have quite the operation there at your place.

I have a two stage soil strainer made up of 4X4's and steel grate which is 3'X8' that I can adapt to use as a mini greenhouse down in the garage. I figure I have more than enough space for starts that I can share with neighbors. I did think of using the cold/warm fluorescent combination as they are much cheaper than grow lights. I think I have all the rest of the materials for the greenhouse in the shop, except for the lights & fixtures.

I will start things off in trays, but I have a bunch of good size plastic pots which I can move them to that way I avoid transplanting to much and I can pick the biggest & best.

Sonny

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