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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Help Parker Celebrate the Bees!

     I'm a beekeeper, so around my house, whenever I mention "the girls," people know I'm talking about the honey bees.  So consider this your formal invitation to come by O'Brien Park in downtown Parker for the annual "Honey Festival."  We'll celebrate "the girls."  I'll have drawings to give away beautiful bee-friendly perennials from Tagawa's.  And you just might learn something you didn't know about these remarkable insects.

For example.....?

     Okay.  For example:  honey bees are funny!  They make me laugh.  I have a large flat plastic saucer with a couple of bricks in it on my deck where the girls can come for water.  (Water is important for them all year long, but especially during hot weather.)

     If they miss the brick and plop down into the water, it's fun to lift them up with the tip of my finger.  Their fuzzy little bodies are soaked, and they all but shake like a wet dog.  I set them down to dry and we both go our separate ways.  Done carefully, no stings.  No fear.  No drowned bee.

"The Girls" need our help

     The honey bees are in trouble, and planting bee-friendly plants is one way we can help.  Come by the Tagawa table at the Parker Honey Festival on Sunday (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and enter to win a plant that will give The Girls a nice place to visit.  You, too, may discover what wonderful, and funny, little creatures they are!

All the details are at the Honey Fest website:

Sunday, July 21, 2013

"Deadheading" means what??

     Okay, so I'm a little slow with my planting.  Actually, it's not so much that I'm slow.   I just keep buying more beautiful pots of this and that every time I walk through Tagawa's.  But it's a good obsession, right?

     Still, the "to-be-planted" assortment of perennials on my deck is no excuse to neglect my mid-summer chores.   Specifically:  deadheading.

Deadheading defined

    It's not as brutal as it sounds.  Deadheading simply means that as the flowers on annuals or perennials begin to fade (and well before they've actually crashed!), we need to snip off those spent blossoms.  Mother Nature has programed the plants to  make seed.  By cutting off the flowers before the seed production begins, you can "trick" the plant into thinking that it hasn't actually accomplished its mission.  The plant's only choice?  To make more flowers!

     The exception, of course, is if the seeds are what you want.  For example, the main point of growing dill (other than attracting butterflies) is to harvest the seed.  But with most plants,  it's the flowers that we work so hard for.

A bonus!

     Deadheading can also help keep plants healthy.  Certain petunias can get leggy in mid-summer.  Consider removing not only the fading flowers, but cutting back a few inches of stem as well.  It will help petunias and other plants look full and vigorous rather than tired and strung out. 

     Flowers like geraniums that bloom at the end of a separate stem are one of the easiest annuals to deadhead.  Just carefully reach down to the bottom of that leafless stem and snap it off.  Cutting just below the geranium blossom and leaving the flower stem will give you a plant with a lot of little sticks pointing out, but no new flowers at the ends of those dried stems.  It doesn't actually hurt the plant, but its not going to help its appearance, either.

Maybe a "haircut" is called for.

      Annuals and perennials that grow so tall they don't stand upright anymore may need more than deadheading.  They may be trying to tell you that they need a good haircut, so listen to them!  Get out some sharp scissors or pruning shears and cut them back to give them another chance to grow and show-off what they can do. 

     If you don't know how a particular plant should be deadheaded or cut back, bring in a sample in a sealed plastic bag.  The fine folks at Tagawa's will be happy to identify the plant, and offer some great advice on how to revive it for another round of flowers.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

"Plant Select" Salute to Tagawa's

     Here at Tagawa's, we're not exactly "drum roll" kind of people.  But I did want to let you know that Tagawa's has received a big gold star from the folks at Plant Select.  We've been recognized as the "Plant Select Organization of the Year."    (Listen closely and you can hear me discretely tooting our horn in the distance....)

"Sonoran Sunset" hyssop
     Plant Select is a terrific program run jointly by Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens and members of the "green industry," i.e., independent greenhouses and growers like Tagawa's,  The very demanding experts with Plant Select test dozens of plants to determine which ones are especially suited to our climate's tough demands.  Only the best of the best actually makes it as a Plant Select winner. 

     Tagawa's has a first-rate Plant Select section in our perennials and nursery departments.    We're die-hard fans of the programs and the plants it promotes.  I grow many of the plants in my own garden, and happily label myself a Plant Select cheerleader. Go team!

    Ginger, Tagawa's Perennials Supervisor, sits on the Plant Select Marketing committee and routinely voices her own enthusiasm for the program every chance she gets.  Hats off to her and everyone in her department!

     If you have any doubts about a drought-tolerant garden being big, bold and beautiful, jump over to their website:   www.plantselect.org   You'll find pictures of more than one-hundred plants that have made it to their winner's list.  And be sure to check out their section on garden designs, too.  Great plant combinations and ideas from a great program!
"Snow Angel" coral bells

"Narbonne" blue flax