gardening

Keeping up with the botanical nomenclature can be a bit daunting for those of us who are a little rusty on our Latin. Thankfully, gardeners have a host of common names by which they can refer to their favorite foliage.

On today's Growing on the High Plains, I'll share a few of my favorite house plants—both their scientific name and the whimsical nicknames that often accompany them.

As these long, dull winter days drag on, some of us High Plains gardeners get the itch for an early spring. They say patience is a virtue, but for those antsy to glance even the faintest stroke of color, I recommend the red twig dogwood. There's nothing as striking as the shrub's vertical chutes of warm crimson against the chilly monochrome of this season. Right now is when the bush's red twigs blaze brightest, a toasty tone of decorative bark.

Today's Growing on the High Plains will continue the series about the purple coneflower. Tune in to hear more about this medically magnificent plant that's also very easy on the eyes. This concludes the three-part series on this hearty, practical plant that has a lot to offer! 

Today's Growing on the High Plains will continue the series about the purple coneflower. Tune in to hear about the many medicinal uses from times past, as well as remedies still used today. This continues the three-part series on this hearty, practical plant that has a lot to offer! 

Today's Growing on the High Plains will put a familiar, purple beauty in the spotlight: the purple coneflower. We've all seen them adding a splash of color to the region, ususally in rocky soil, lining our rural highways with a strong resolve and stiff stem. Take a closer look, and you'll find that this hearty wildflower is more than just a pretty face. In fact, these lovely perennials are a possible cash crop for High Plains gardeners due to their herbal and medicinal properties.

It's a  new year, so what better time to start planning a vegetable garden? Today's episode of Growing on the High Plains will dig deep into best practices for gardeners in our region. While our seasons can be unique, there's one guiding gardening rule that always rings true: ROTATION! ROTATION! ROTATION!

Today’s edition of Growing on the High Plains whisks us off to the Italian countryside for a visit near the medieval and Renaissance hill town of Montepulciano. Nestled in the Italian province of Siena in southern Tuscany, one can find a wondrous garden at farm estate of Villa La Foce. The villa was built in the late 15th century as a hospice for traveling pilgrims and merchants.

Established by the writer Dame Iris Origo and her husband Antonio Origo, the villa was consistently used to shelter refugee children and assisted many escaped Allied prisoners of war and partisans during World War II, in defiance of Italy's fascist regime and Nazi occupation forces.

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It's no secret that I like to support my local zoo in Garden City, KS.  For years I've served as an advocate and fundraiser, but my assistance also extends directly to the animals themselves.

"God gave us memory so that we might have roses in December."

—James M. Barrie, Scottish novelist & playwright

While we think of the impending change of the season, it's certainly time to consider our gardens and how we might ready them for a frost. Today's Growing on the High Plains will provide some advice for winterizing your rose bushes.

"Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work." —Booker T. Washington 

Many folks take to gardening as a way to relax, focus on nature, and unwind. However, it doesn't take long to realize this hobby can be VERY hard work.

Today's Growing on the High Plains peels back the petals and puts them right on you plate. That's right, we'll chew on the murky history of eating floral fodder, from its medieval and herbal medicinal roots to its modern application in haute cuisine.

"Walk me out in the mornin' dew, my honey." —Grateful Dead

As you know, healthy gardens love to grow (and grow and grow), so it takes a loving hand to keep nature's chaos under control. Today's Growing on the High Plains offers a snippet of wisdom about "deadheading," the process of eliminating dead or spent flowers from living plants. Not only does it refresh and fortify the foliage, it keeps the color poppin' and gives the bushy beauty a blowout.

When it comes to High Plains weather, the only constant is change...and maybe unpredictability. So for those of us tending gardens in this region, the trifecta of odd weather, fickle heat, and apprehensive precipitation are forever a safe bet.

On today's Growing on the High Plains, we'll share a burst of color for your post-Fourth of July blues. I'll spend some time on an elegant flower I've enjoyed for years in my own garden, and it's also a big hit with the pollenators.

I'm talking about bee balm, which is indeed medicinal! Native Americans dried the tender leaves to brew herbal tea, and that practice also influenced early settlers who were dependent on black tea from England—and they found  it to be quite revolutionary (literally)!

How might have Native Americans and early settlers washed up after a day in the Dust Bowl, in an age before shower gels and laundry detergent pods? The answer probably won’t surprise you, as the aptly-named native tree is the subject of today’s Growing on the High Plains.

From grapefruit to Cadillacs, everything looks prettier in pink! And flower gardens are no exception. So what’s the preferred puce-petaled posy for High Plains planters?

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, we’re delving into the “pinks,” the quintessential cottage flower also known as Dianthus. From their humble origins in English gardens to the palette of 300+ species that exist today, the prolific Pinks have been providing a playful pop to garden perimeters for centuries.

Last week we set the roots of our two-part tale of the mighty onion, peeling back the odorous history, health benefits, and cultural significance across the globe. On today’s installment of Growing on the High Plains, let’s bring it back home—to our own back yards! We’ll discuss the many layers of growing and harvesting from your onion patch.

There's nothing quite as distinctive as the familiar spice and tang of a cut onion. Whether you've pulled them wild from the yard or someone's slicing a shallot, leek or chive for an aromatic meal. 

Today on Growing on the High Plains, we'll take a bite out of the many layers of biology and history that make up the common onion. You'll laugh. You'll cry. And you'll do it all again next week in part two! 

 

What vegetable is versatile enough to bring a zesty, big crunch to burgers at a backyard barbecue, but delicate enough to add a refreshing refinement to finger sandwiches at a garden party?

That’s right! Today’s Growing on the High Plains is all about the cucumber. Whether relishing them on hot dogs, thick-sliced on a salad, or elevating a normal glass of water to something spa-worthy, cool hands have been on cukes for more than 3,000 years.

There’s a particular square-stemmed annual with fragrant leaves and tubular purple blooms that often polarizes High Plains gardeners. Some say it’s a nuisance. Some consider it a colorful harbinger of spring after a long, drab winter.

On today’s Growing on the High Plains, we’re talking about the divisive henbit, a member of the mint family that establishes itself in the fall, matures to thick foliage, and then blossoms in the spring but generally disappears with the first hot spell of summer.

Yes, we have no apricots (again)! In theory, apricot trees should thrive in our High Plains climate. They are hardy enough to survive the cold winters, and our dry summers actually aid in the maturation of their soft, sweet summer bounty. So why do our region’s apricot trees only yield fruit every 5 to 10 years?

We all know that nothing compares to sun-ripened strawberries, home-grown in your own backyard. Well, spring has sprung, so it’s ripe time to begin planning your future crop.

We’ve finally reached that hopeful time of year. It’s the time when winter loosens its icy hold on the High Plains and the first signs of spring burgeon up from the frozen ground, dotting the naked foliage with the budding promise of warmer times to come.

The gift of live plants can be a welcome addition to any garden, but briars beware: it’s important to perform the proper due diligence of your recently acquired flora before you begin laying roots.

Today on Growing on the High Plains, I share a cautionary tale about my own personal experience integrating misidentified gifted plants into my garden, and the resulting siege that they aggressively waged against my existing vegetation. So gardeners take heed and head off any invasive maneuvers by properly identifying acquisitions before you plant!  

Perhaps Billie Holiday said it best: "Oh, what a little moonlight can do!" While she was surely evoking the charms of low-lit romance, the same rings true for an evening landscape.

Today's Growing on the High Plains shines a silver spotlight on moon gardens. You'll learn how to plant the perfect bed of luminous blooms and fragrant foliage to best enjoy your garden around the clock and throughout the entire growing season.

We might be weathering some chilly temperatures now, but High Plains gardeners know that it's not too soon to think about spring planting. Today's Growing on the High Plains gives a shout-out to one of my favorite "firsts" among springtime flower beds: the pansy.

These bright blooms look anything but shy, and they're available in a variety of shades and fragrances. I'll offer some hot tips for these cool-weather friends, as well their love-laced legend. 

Every High Plains gardener knows that moisture maintenance can be a trying task in the unpredictable weather patterns of our region--and that's as true for our wild winters as it is for the sweltering heat of summer.

Today's installment of Growing on the High Plains explores the longest-running, continuously-published periodical on our continent. While I remember the petite, butter-yellow booklet regularly crossing the counter at my father's pharmacy, I wanted to share some of the fascinating history of this annual reference volume and what it has meant to those who have historically made a living off the land.

The holidays are coming, and some of us are scrambling to make our seasonal gift lists. If you happen to have a gardening enthusiast in your life, there's a great book available that you might consider: The Earth Knows My Name by Patricia Klindienst.

To compile the stories in this book, the author traveled across the US, digging deep into different cultures to unearth how they engage with the food they grow. From Native Americans to immigrants from Asia and Europe, you'll learn fascinating tales of bountiful gardens in both rural and urban regions. 

Would a pepper by any other name taste just as sweet? Or spicy? Or seasoned? On today's Growing on the High Plains, let's tip our caps to the Capsicum, blow a horn for the peppercorn, and find out "what's the dilly" with the chili. Though different as they may be, these three cousins often answer to the same name: pepper.

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