FORT COLLINS, Colo. — So you said yes to being on the Junior League of Fort Collins garden tour, got your husband to agree, and even recruited neighbors to do it. After all, it’s a fundraiser for a cause you believe in. You’ve been on the tour before (12 years ago) and it seemed fine, so why not again. Especially this year when the tour had to be cancelled in 2020 because of COVID. It seemed like a good plan in November. Ah, but you forgot what it takes to prepare and how Colorado weather doesn’t always cooperate.
Now it’s late winter and trees and non-spring flowering shrubs need to be pruned. Some are too tall to do with pole pruners and loppers but you decide it will have to do. You decide to remove an oak that isn’t thriving, but a second one, only slightly healthier, gets to stay. A 15-year-old arborvitae that was impacted in the 2020 freeze event got a breather in the hopes that it would re-vitalize (sadly, it’s not looking promising). Then two feet of snow came, and with it, broken branches, but you told yourself that the moisture is good.
Spring brought life back to the garden with bulbs, early perennials, and shrubs, putting on a beautiful show and you wondered why the tour couldn’t be during their blooms. The copious spring rain resulted in oh-so-many weeds and ‘tree babies’. If you are ever considering a golden raintree—don’t! As pretty as they are, they are also prolific seeders. Then you battle your lawn encroaching your landscape beds, and groundcovers encroaching your lawn. You pull more weeds. Rabbits decide to take up residence in the middle of the lawn. Then you focus on deadheading early perennials and bulb foliage as it fades.
The heat wave hits and now time is devoted to watering the lawn and garden beds, focusing on new and replacement plantings. The garden bursts into bloom with peonies and spirea, and evergreens put out their new growth. If you can look past the chaos, the garden is lovely and it seems birds are enjoying it too. Now we just hope the hail stays away and mother nature does not deal another blow. While the ‘tasks’ vary with the seasons, the focus is on keeping plants healthy and creating a landscape that you can enjoy all year.
Now it’s the week of the tour and weeding, watering, and deadheading continue with record heat, and then…hooray!…rain and cooler temperatures in the forecast. Excitement for the moisture, tempered by fear of hail, the steady rain was so beneficial and freshened things. A mix of sun and clouds was a perfect way to start the day of the tour and around 8:40 a.m., tour-goers were on site enjoying the garden and asking questions. The catalpa, bear’s breeches, and alliums seemed to draw the most attention. Luckily, Master Gardeners and Fort Collins Nursery personnel were on hand to help with gardening questions, and the Junior League team helped with logistics. This allowed us to visit with friends and colleagues that stopped by to support this great cause. Yes, in sum total, we would do it again!
— Khursheed Mama, CSU Extension Master Gardener in Larimer County
For more news from Colorado, click here.