Hospice as Gift on Mother’s Day

On the eve of mother’s day 2016, my siblings and I admitted our mother to an inpatient hospice. What an odd thing to have to do. Hospice does not seem to be the best gift to give to your mother on mother’s day. And yet, in the situation she is in, it is the best kind of gift. Or is it? I am a mixed bag of emotions. I run the risk of sharing this post with you today, but I trust in the grace of anyone who reads this.

Growing Garlic In Colorado

I am a big fan of growing garlic in Colorado. There are several reasons why. But first, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.

growing garlic in colorado

Besides the love of sitting together with others as we prepare the garlic for storage, I also love curly garlic scapes.

bowl of garlic scapes in Colorado

A bowl full of garlic scapes I harvested to use in our cooking. Photo: ColoradoBackyardGardener.Com

I also love growing garlic in Colorado because

Growing Now

Rooted in Hope and Growing in Love: Colorado Gardening Is THE BEST!

I am honored that Beth Billstrom at More Than Oregano invited me to be a part of her Growing Now 2015 Garden Tour. I am also thrilled because those of you who regularly read my Facebook page, Instagram feed, twitter feed and blog are going to see some other amazing gardens. But before you hop over there, keep reading. I can’t wait to show you what we’ve done this year.

Grow Now Logo med

Beth and I became acquainted on Twitter where gardeners love to meet up on Mondays during #gardenchat. I have learned so much from the gardeners who participate. Beth is an avid gardener, doing so like me, on a small urban/suburban lot.  The Growing Now tour over on her blog is very informative. I am struck by how creative these gardeners are with the space that they are given.

Gardeners do need to be creative. I’ve gardened on small patios and lofty decks. This requires creativity. But this year, my garden has required more work and more creativity than what is typically normal.

When we first purchased our home, the backyard was a bit of a mess. On a limited budget, we have slowly (over 17 years) turned our backyard into a nice place to be.

But, there was one area that we had yet to transform, a place that had a lot of sun. But was it ugly! A squared off area of rock, weeds and hard clay soil that is typical for Colorado. Yuck. But it had lots of sun and because of that I’ve had my eye on this spot for YEARS! I’d love to show you what we have done.

In January 2015 we drew up the plans and built the first garden box to see if I’d like its height. Knowing I’d age in this garden, we settled on higher beds so I could work in them more easily. We also decided to use a sustainable wood product for the beds.


20150307_141957On the warmer days in February, we began to add more boxes. We layered the bottom of each box with tree limbs we had just removed from our property. We borrowed this idea from a method of raised bed gardening called huglekultur. On top of the wood we placed in the leaves we had raked from the past fall.


End of April

By the end of April we had finished the boxes. We decided to finish filling them with a mixture of 1/3 compost, 1/3 vermiculite, 1/3 peat or coir. I highly recommend this mixture. The pictures below will tell you why. Here you can see we are adding the  white irrigation lines. That was creative and hard work! With all the rain this year, we’ve hardly had to use irrigation.


By June 6, the decking was finished and it was all planted out. My husband did all the structural work, I did the seed starting and transplanting. This area is an outdoor lab and I can’t wait to write more posts on my blog to tell you what I’m learning about gardening here in Colorado. We make a good team.

raised garden beds Colorado

June 6

And just two weeks later on June 15 it looked like this.  We couldn’t believe the rapid rate of growth. The vegetable garden I have on the other side of the yard has never grown like this. Sun and good soil make a BIG difference. I highly recommend raised beds for Colorado gardeners.

raised garden beds colorado

June 15

And then, by the middle of July, we had a jungle. I planted and spaced this garden similarly to how I plant and space the vegetable garden on the other side of my yard where the dirt is not as rich and the sun doesn’t stay as long. Clearly, sun and soil make a difference! I’ll have to rethink how I space plants in these boxes next year!

Here is my husband checking to see if any tomatoes have turned red. He is eager to use them in his cooking.

Raised garden beds Colorado

Middle of July

I love this space. I love my whole back yard. Every inch is a place where rooted hope grows. I love using my garden to teach others about gardening. I’ve learned a lot about hope in the whole of my life as I grow (and lose) plants.  I’m glad you came by my blog today.  And thanks to Beth for adding me to her tour.  I’ll leave you with some more captioned pictures so that you can take a peek at what else is going on here in this place I love.

Entering into my yard from the top deck. The new garden is on the other side of the yard.

Entering into my yard from the top deck. The new garden is on the other side of the yard.

This is the garden I added when we first moved here in 1988.

This is the garden I added when we first moved here in 1988.


The patty pan and piracicaba broccoli won't quit!

The patty pan and piracicaba broccoli won’t quit!

Echinacea makes a garden in July pop!

Echinacea makes a garden in July pop!

Arugula flowers are beautiful and tasty!

Arugula flowers are beautiful and tasty!

I can almost taste the butternut squash soup. Be sure to find the recipe on my blog.

I can almost taste the butternut squash soup. Be sure to find the recipe on my blog.

I'm a huge fan of calendula. I have it growing all over my garden to ward of pests. It works! And it makes one beautiful bouquet!

I’m a huge fan of calendula. I have it growing all over my garden to ward of pests. It works! And it makes one beautiful bouquet!

I've never had success at growing cauliflower until this year.

I’ve never had success at growing cauliflower until this year.

What is it about the color red?

What is it about the color red?

The color green and purple go well together.

The color green and purple go well together.

Oh the color blue.


Growing a garden helps me live in a way that I do not have to grow weary or lose heart. Thanks for stopping by.

Here is the link to More Than Oregano where you can find the Growing Now Garden Tour 2015. You MUST go see!

It’s All So Lovely

The possibility of anger creating that which is beautiful.

I walked by round bales of hay yesterday at the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield. And of course I thought of you.


Round bales of hay at Denver Botanic Gardens — Chatfield on July 1, 2015.

I recalled the phone calls you would make each fall. You LOVED when the hay was cut and baled on the rolling hills of your Tennessee property.
“I just think it is all so lovely,” you exclaimed.

I didn’t take notice of this kind of beauty back then.

Now I do.

Your absence has taught me to

Monthly Colorado Gardening Chores

UPDATED and REPUBLISHED on May 30, 2015

Garden tools in wheelbarrow

I have a love/hate relationship with monthly Colorado gardening chores. There are days when I’m out there sweating and grunting and thinking, “Why do I do this?” Then other days I love the hard work. I always love planting seeds and pruning and harvesting. But I don’t always love hauling dirt, mowing or turning over hard clay soil. But, ya gotta do what ya gotta do.

This is a new page for Colorado Backyard Gardener. Over the next year I will add to it, making suggestions and adding the ones you give me to this month-to-month chore guide. It will be particular to Colorado, what chores us Front Range gardeners typically do in any given month.

As I add to this page, I will work to keep it arranged and organized in a manner that is accessible to my readers. For now, scroll down to the month you need.

Nasturtiums And Colorado

Nasturtiums and Colorado go great together. I see them all over our state. They do well up in higher elevations and well on the Front Range. Here in Colorado (and elsewhere), Nasturtiums are a gardener’s dream. They are virtually carefree once established.  I was introduced to this beauty by my friend Nancy. The summer of 2007, while a summer of grief over the loss of my sister Leslie, was also a summer to discover my love for this cheerful plant. If you are in grief, there will be new joys that come along. The garden reminds me of this truth and helps remind me of my rooted hope.

The funniest thing about the nasturtium is that it likes old soil. It does not do well in soil that has been amended with nutrients and fertilizers. Best thing to do is to use soil that you have had in another pot for years. Use that old dirt and stick some seeds in that pot. Yes, please use seeds. I would not recommend transplanting nasturtiums. Instead, I recommend getting your pots filled with other annual flowers and your beds all planted. Then go around and stick nasturtium seeds in empty spots. Also take an empty pot or two and just fill it with seeds. And then watch then sprout. Be patient as they can take upwards of two weeks to germinate. Do all this once the threat of frost is past. Nasturtiums and Colorado only go great together once it has warmed up a bit.

I like to

Growing Peppers In Colorado

If you are like me, growing peppers in Colorado has challenged you. About five years ago I gave up all together. I don’t give up easily on things. Obviously, I wasn’t having much success! But in the past couple years, I’ve returned to the challenge of growing peppers. I’ve zeroed in and tried to learn some tricks. Since then I have had better success! I even had enough peppers to roast and freeze. I still want to get better at this. But I do have a few tips to share with you.

Growing Peppers in Colorado

What are these tips? I have published another Colorado Backyard Gardener Handy Dandy Gardening Guide. You’ll find the link at the very end of

Growing Tomatoes in Colorado

It is possible to have great success at growing tomatoes in Colorado. As you know, I am not a professional gardener. I am a normal average Colorado backyard gardener just like many of you who read here. In most years, I have grown my vegetables and flowers on a budget, some years more lean than others. Because of my budget, I have had to learn how to grow a great tomato without breaking the bank.

Growing tomatoes in Colorado is similar to growing tomatoes in other states, but there are five unique concerns that I think should be addressed. That is why I have published another Handy Dandy Gardening Guide: Growing A Great Tomato for Colorado gardeners.

For a limited time, you can download the pdf for free by clicking here: Growing A Great Tomato. Be sure to share this with your Colorado gardening friends. They’ll be glad you did.

Gardening Failure

I don’t want to have any gardening failure this year. I don’t. But I will. Darn it. I will. Some plants will croak and die. But can I diminish my failures? Yes, by learning to learn from each and every snafu.

Gardening failure

As I work to create my 2015 garden plan, I face three BIG questions: what, where and when.

gardening failure


What plants?

Where to place each plant?

When to plant the seeds for each plant?

I call the what, where and when questions BIG because answering each requires me to be courageous. Why?