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Agave from Cold Hardy Cactus

Fort Collins Nursery has a wonderful collection of agave from Cold Hardy Cactus.  The collection was compiled by renowned Colorado nurseryman and propagator Kelly Grummons, and contains the most garden worthy species and varieties of agave from across North America. 

Agave is a wonderful genus of succulent plants, mainly from the American Southwest and Mexico. They feature succulent leaves that end in sharp points and blue-green or grey-green foliage.  Most agave varieties eventually flower but take at least seven years to do so. The plant typically dies once they have bloomed but at that point will have produced many pup plants which grow in their place.

There are many practical uses for agave in landscapes and gardens. A large agave makes a nice sculptural focal point and smaller varieties can be featured in patio containers or rock garden settings. They make a nice border grouping and their hard edges provide texture and contrast with softer plants and grasses.

Here are several great varieties to consider:

Parry’s Agave (Agave parryi v. parryi)

  • Height: 20-24”
  • Width: 2-4’
  • Traits: Dense, symmetrical rosettes of wide blue-gray leaves are abundant and develop into large clumps. The rosette from which the flower spike emerges dies after flowering, though the plant is perpetuated by “pups” or offshoots. Parry’s Agave provides a bright accent to the water-wise landscape.
  • Water: Low
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-9
  • Bloom: Rare 1-15 yrs.

Ivory Spined Agave (Agave utahensis v. eborispinus)

  • Height: 12”
  • Width: 12”
  • Traits: This unique agave has long, white terminal spines at the end of blue-grey leaves and is right at home in a rock garden setting.
  • Water: Low
  • Hardiness Zone: 5
  • Bloom Time: N/A
  • Bloom Color: Yellow

Guadalupe Mountains Agave (Agave gracilipes)

    • Height: 14”
    • Width: 30”
    • Traits: Guadalupe Mountains Agave is a particularly hard-to-find species originating from the Guadalupe Mountains of Southern New Mexico. It is considered a recently evolved species thought to be a combination of Agave parryi. v neomexicana and Agave lechuguilla.
    • Water: Low
    • Hardiness Zones: 5
    • Bloom Time: N/A

 

  • Bloom Color: N/A

 

New Mexican Agave (Agave parryi v. neomexicana)

  • Height: 1.5’
  • Width: 2’
  • Traits: One of the smaller Parryi varieties, this agave has blue-grey leaves that are a little more slender than a typical Parryi. Native to a higher elevation means this plant likes a little afternoon shade.
  • Water: Little to no water when established
  • Hardiness Zones: 5-9
  • Bloom Color: Yellow

Originally published on July 3, 2018.

Semaspore

Grasshoppers wreak havoc on your beautiful garden and tear your plants to shreds. They are indiscriminate with their eating habits and can destroy everything you’ve worked so hard to grow. Sounds scary, but fear not, there is a solution!

Semaspore Bait by Planet Natural is a biological grasshopper control that is an extremely effective solution for your grasshopper problem.  After eating Semaspore, grasshoppers become sick, eat less and begin to die. The disease spore spreads to healthy grasshoppers through cannibalism. In 2-4 weeks, 50% of the grasshopper population die, and most survivors are infected to continue spreading the disease. Infected survivors eat 75% less than healthy grasshoppers and lay fewer eggs. On top of all that, the disease spore only affects grasshoppers, leaving your beneficial insects unaffected.

For those of you who have used Nolo Bait as a grasshopper control in the past, you may be aware that its manufacturer suffered a devastating fire at their production facility this year and are not able to supply Nolo Bait for the remainder of 2018. Semaspore is a great alternative and features the same active ingredient, Nosema locustae. Semaspore is OMRI Listed for use in organic production and does NOT harm people, pets or the environment. Semaspore has an 8 week shelf life but keeps 5 months if refrigerated.

Originally published on July 3, 2018.

The Importance of Tree Diversity

By Jesse Eastman

It is a pretty basic human trait to see something a fellow human has, and if we like it, we want it too. Usually this sense of “keeping up with the Joneses” is just a funny social quirk, a sort of communal benchmarking. Sometimes, though, it can have devastating consequences. One of those potential consequences can be seen in the outcomes of our collective choices of which trees to plant.

Throughout modern history, certain trees have grown in popularity to the point where they are found absolutely everywhere. In certain notable cases, that fad comes to an abrupt and brutal end as specialized pests gain a foothold and, presented with a nearly endless supply of food and no natural predators, sweep through the region, leaving a path of dead and damaged trees in their wake.

The first such incident that comes to mind is the Dutch Elm Disease epidemic that struck North America full force in the mid-20th century. This disease is native to Asia (in spite of its name) and is spread by various species of Elm Bark beetles. When it arrived in North America in the early 1900s, it spread quickly, encountering nearly no natural resistance in the North American elm population. Soon, nearly all American Elms were gone, leaving only the significantly less-desirable Siberian Elm. While American Elms are slowly making a comeback, they are still few and far between.

Black Walnut failed to leaf out this year, will be removed

Similarly, Black Walnut trees have recently come under assault from a problem known as Thousand Cankers disease. Once widely planted as a resilient hardwood ornamental tree with various uses for timber and nuts, healthy black walnut trees are now a rare sight. Both of my parents’ houses were once home to beautiful black walnuts. Today, one is gone and the other will likely need to be removed this year.

This leads to the most pressing issue we see affecting Colorado. Emerald Ash Borer (EAB) has finally made the jump across the Great Plains and has taken up residence in the Rocky Mountain State. Although it has only been positively identified in Boulder County, the spread of EAB to all urban areas of the state is considered by experts to be inevitable. An infestation is a guaranteed death sentence if untreated. Treatments must be done on an ongoing basis for the life of the tree, and get more and more expensive as the tree ages.

The biggest problem here is that ash trees are absolutely everywhere. It was recently estimated that roughly 1 out of every 10 urban trees was an ash. 10% is a pretty large market share, but losing 1 out of every 10 trees is not in itself a complete loss for our urban forest. The real problem lies in the size of ash trees. They are large trees, providing a tremendous amount of shade, animal habitat, water runoff capture, air cleaning, the list goes on. While ash only compose 10% of the trees in our urban forests, they account for around 30% of the total urban canopy. Now we are talking about major impact on our cities and towns.

These three examples demonstrate what can happen if we get too focused on a small selection of trees. The more food source for the pest, the faster it can reproduce and spread. If the pest is not native, it is likely to spread rapidly. If we are highly dependent on the particular tree in question, the results will be felt deeply. By choosing a diverse palate of trees, we minimize the risk of one particular pest being able to run roughshod over our neighborhoods.

Beyond the practical reasons for selecting a diverse range of trees, there is also aesthetics. Personally, the idea of an entire street lined with nothing but one type of tree, no matter how beautiful, is mildly disturbing. I find nothing appealing about the image of extreme uniformity represented in the song made famous by Pete Seeger: “…And they’re all made out of ticky tacky, and they all look just the same.” When I’m walking my dogs or driving to work, I enjoy the variety of a myriad of different trees and plants. Sometimes the differences are subtle – varying shades of green, different branch angles, different bark colors – and sometimes the differences are stark, but they make the visual landscape a thing of beauty, keeping me engaged and interested, and they don’t all look just the same.  

Northern Catalpa is a great large shade tree with beautiful white spring blooms

The Colorado Tree Coalition is a great place to start doing research from home if you’re considering planting a tree. They list trees by all kinds of different characteristics, including soil condition tolerances, overall size, foliage and bloom color, growth rate, and more. Visit coloradotrees.org to see their complete list. Our expert staff is also here to help, and believe me, we love helping people find their way out of the tunnel vision that can lead to the monoculture approach to urban forestry that has historically resulted in devastating losses. Don’t settle for keeping up with the Joneses. See their ash and raise them a Turkish Filbert, or a Hackberry, or a Linden, or a Norway Maple, or a Honeylocust, or a Buckeye, or a Catalpa, or a Cottonwood, or a Kentucky Coffee Tree, or…. You see where I’m going here? Khalil Gibran wrote “Trees are poems that the earth writes upon the sky.” So get out there and start painting, just be sure to use a wide variety of colors.

For more information on Emerald Ash Borer, including tips for identifying the pest as well as prevention and management strategies, visit https://csfs.colostate.edu/forest-management/emerald-ash-borer/

Originally published June 5, 2018

 

Easy Elegance® Roses

Fort Collins Nursery has dozens of varieties of beautiful roses to choose from. For those of you who prefer an easy to care for variety, look no further than the Easy Elegance® series from Bailey Nurseries. These tough, disease-resistant roses are a cross between modern shrub roses and hybrid tea varieties that were selected for their elegant flowers and reliable bloom. Easy Elegance® roses have superior heat tolerance, extreme cold hardiness and require minimal care without the fuss of complicated pruning or chemical applications to keep them blooming. They come in a variety of sizes and stunning colors to fit any space.  Here are a couple of varieties for you to consider:

Sunrise Sunset

As the name implies, Sunrise Sunset is a stunning blend, with bright fuchsia-pink petals blending to apricot near the centers. The blue-green foliage is disease resistant on this ever blooming shrub rose. Its dense, spreading habit makes it an ideal ground cover and is also well suited to mass plantings.

  • Height:2-3 ft.
  • Width:4 ft.
  • Water: Moderate
  • Bloom:Pink Blend/ Everblooming
  • Zones:3/Hardy

Sweet Fragrance

This fragrant hybrid tea shaped bloom is known for its strong fragrance. As blooms mature they turn a salmon pink color, adding extra interest to your garden through their vibrant color pallet. Clusters of buds and blooms are held on sturdy canes making them perfect flowers for cutting. Sweet Fragrance is a vigorous, upright grower with excellent disease-resistance. 

  • Height:2-4 ft.
  • Width:3-5 ft.
  • Water: Moderate
  • Bloom:Peach/ Everblooming
  • Zones:5

Screaming Neon Red™

Intense color and superior performance. Screaming Neon Red™ is sure to be a standout for any garden. With vibrant flower power and repeat blooms throughout the season, this compact rose is the perfect choice as an accent or mass planting. Remarkably rich, disease resistant, dark green foliage provides the perfect backdrop for neon-red blooms. The foliage turns a lovely burgundy-red in fall.

  • Height:3-4 ft.
  • Width:2-3 ft.
  • Water: Moderate
  • Bloom:Medium Red/ Recurrent
  • Zones:4-9

 

Originally published on June 1, 2018.

Fruit Trees

Fruit trees are a great addition to any home landscape. They provide privacy and shade, look beautiful, and can produce large quantities of delicious, edible fruit. Did you know a single mature apple tree can yield up to 15-20 bushels of fruit per year? Fruit trees are some of the best options for long-term, sustainable, and low maintenance growing and can continue to produce fruit for decades. Fort Collins Nursery has one of the largest selections of fruit trees in the region with over 80 varieties of fruit trees including apple, cherry, plum, peach, pear, crabapple and mulberry. Our trees are picked for their ability to grow and thrive in our Northern Colorado environment. With so many fruit trees to choose from, here are a few ideas to get you started:

Contender Peach
The large, round freestone fruits of the Contender Peach have bright yellow flesh with red-blushed skin. This is a wonderful tasting variety that matches the Reliance Peach in cold hardiness and tolerance of spring frosts. The sweet, extra-juicy fruits ripen in mid-to-late August and are an absolute delight for fresh eating, canning, baking, and freezing. Contender peaches and are self-pollinating and don’t require a companion.

Height: 12-15 ft.
Width: 15-18 ft.
Water: Moderate
Bloom: Pink/ Spring
Zones: 4-7

Kindercrisp Apple
Like its parent, the Honeycrisp, this early ripening apple features exceptional flavor and crisp, fine texture, but with much smaller fruit. These apples are a perfect size for snacking or for kids’ lunches, with a good balance of sweet flavors and a crisp, juicy bite. Kindercrisp Apples are an outstanding variety for homeowners, flowering early in the season and ripening in late August. The fruit is best fresh from the tree, after hanging on for an extended period. Apples are not self-pollinating so you’ll need another apple or crabapple variety nearby in order for it to produce fruit.

Height: 12-15 ft.
Width: 12-15 ft.
Water: Moderate
Bloom: White/ Early Spring
Zones: 4-7

Haralson Apple
The Haralson apple is known for its cold hardiness, productivity and fruit quality. Its growth is moderately vigorous, and the tree can set large corps of red striped to bright red apples. They often bear fruit in their first year. This is a multi-use apple, with a unique sweet tart flavor that is good for canning and eating fresh. The fruits keep well and can be stored until March. Apples are not self-pollinating so you’ll need another apple or crabapple variety nearby in order for it to produce fruit.

Height: 15-18 ft.
Width: 15-18 ft.
Water: Moderate
Bloom: White/ Mid-Spring
Zones: 3-6

Originally published on June 1, 2018.

Lilacs

There are many reasons that lilac shrubs are a favorite of home gardeners across the region.  Many of us grew up with lilacs in the garden and just thinking about them recalls nostalgic memories of spending time in the yard. Their intoxicating fragrance announces that spring has arrived and is officially here to stay.  The flowers are great for cutting and attract beautiful butterflies to your garden.  Lilacs are hardy, easy to grow, and low maintenance. Lilacs thrive in even marginal soils and love our intense sun. Unlike many other shrubs, lilacs should be pruned in the summer shortly after they finish blooming. Dormant pruning, while not harmful, impacts blooming the following season.

The common perception of a lilac is a large shrub with purple flowers that bloom for a couple of weeks each year. In actuality, there are many different varieties of lilac that work well for different needs.  Lilacs can be found in many different flower colors including purple, lavender, pink, white, and creamy yellow. Just as the flower color may vary, so can the size.  Depending on the variety, lilacs bushes can grow anywhere from 5 to 15 feet tall.  There are early season and late season blooming varieties as well as the reblooming Bloomerang® collection from Proven Winners that blooms in spring, take a rest, and then bloom again from mid-summer to fall.  Try pairing early, mid, and late season varieties for up to 6 weeks of bloom time!

Fort Collins Nursery has dozens of great lilac varieties to choose from. We have the reblooming Bloomerang®  collection available in purple, dark purple, and pink flower options.  Sensation is an outstanding lilac noted for its large trusses of purple-red florets edged in white. Scent & Sensibility is a compact dwarf lilac that provides a lot of color and fragrance and is perfect for smaller landscapes.  Miss Kim Korean Lilac is an upright, compact, and late blooming lilac that extends your bloom season and is great for a border accent or mass planting. Check out all our great varieties and find one that works best for your space.

Itoh Peonies

Itoh peonies are a hybrid between traditional herbaceous garden peonies and the long-lived, woody shrub tree peonies.  Itoh peonies feature the colorful and exotic flowers of the tree peonies as well as their vigorous growth habit and dark green foliage. They take after the perennial growing cycle of the herbaceous garden peonies but have a longer bloom cycle of 3-4 weeks.  While they typically start flowering at the same time, Itoh peonies typically reach their peak bloom right about the same time the herbaceous perennials are finishing up.  Their extended bloom period is attributed to their ability to produce primary and secondary buds and they can yield as many as 50 blooms in a single season.  

When the Itoh peony was first introduced made available to the public, there were so few available that the price ran over $1,000 for one plant.  Now there are dozens of varieties available here at Fort Collins Nursery for a much more manageable price!  We have a great assortment already in stock with more on the way in the coming weeks so be sure to call or stop by to check our selection.  Here are a couple of varieties for you to consider:

Bartzella Itoh Peony

Bartzella Itoh peony have very large, bright yellow double blossoms with a slight red center stain stand above the lush, dark green, deeply dissected foliage. The flowers have a pleasant, slightly spicy scent. This is an especially vigorous plant with sturdy flower stems that do not require staking.

  • Height: 2.5-3 ft.
  • Width: 2.5-3 ft.
  • Water: Regularly
  • Bloom: Late Spring/ Yellow
  • Zones: 4-9

 

Morning Lilac Itoh Peony

Morning Lilac Itoh peony have large, fragrant, single to semi-double, fuchsia-pink blooms with vivid gold stamens and white highlights.  The flowers are held on strong stems just above sturdy, compact plants with lush, dark green foliage. The bloom color intensifies to a dark purple towards the center. This is a very showy, prolific and early blooming peony.

  • Height: 2.5-3 ft.
  • Width: 2.5-3 ft.
  • Water: Regularly
  • Bloom: Late Spring/ Purplish-pink
  • Zones: 4-9

Mother’s Day Gifts

Looking for the perfect Mother’s Day gift for Mom?  Fort Collins Nursery has oodles of lovely items to show her how much you care. We have roses, hydrangeas and perennials that will produce beautiful flowers for years to come.  We have hanging annual baskets, patio pots and gorgeous annual flowers to decorate her garden or patio this season.  Our garden shop is also loaded with many fun decorative items including garden spinners, flags, and bird feeders.

If you have troubles choosing from all these wonderful items, Fort Collins Nursery Gift Cards can be purchased for any amount between $25 – $1,000. You’ll enjoy giving your Mom the opportunity to choose the perfect plants, gifts and décor for her home.  Our Gift Cards also make great gifts for birthdays, weddings, holidays, Father’s Day, house warmings, memorials, and thank yous.

Purchase Gift Card

Manzanita

Manzanita are a species of evergreen shrubs or small trees that are mostly native to the western part of North America. They have thick, smooth-edged leaves that persist through the cold winter months and provide much needed beauty to the winter landscape. Additionally they supply wildlife with a great source of food and shelter. In late winter and early spring they form clusters of small, urn-shaped flowers that are pink or white. These flower clusters hang from the branches for nearly 6 weeks until temperatures begin to warm up.  Mature plants will produce tiny, dark red berries in the summer.

Fort Collins Nursery has several varieties of Manzanita in stock including Panchito manzanita, Chieftan manzanita, and Mock Bearberry manzanita.  Each of these awesome Plant Select® selections are native to Colorado and are adapted to our dry climate, soils, and fluctuating temperatures.

Panchito Manzanita

Panchito is an outstanding selection of manzanita that comes from the Uncompahgre Plateau near Grand Junction. This exceptional variety is a Plant Select® selection that was first introduced in 2006. Panchito manzanita is a broadleaf evergreen with beautiful cinnamon-red to purple exfoliating bark. The leaves are a deep green and can turn a deep red or purple color in the fall.  Panchito manzanita is a versatile shrub that can be grown as a single specimen or planted in groups as a groundcover. It grows best in well-drained soil with moderate water for the first two years and is drought tolerant once fully established.

  • Height: 2-3’
  • Width: 3-5’
  • Water: Low
  • Bloom: White/Spring
  • Zone: 4

Chieftain Manzanita

Chieftain Manzanita is another Uncompahgre Plateau selection that is taller and much more vigorous than our other manzanita varieties. It is a more recent Plant Select® selection that was introduced in 2013. It has smooth cinnamon-red to purple exfoliating bark and bright oval shaped evergreen leaves. The leaves darken to a bold green and persist through the winter. Pretty white flowers tinged with pink appear in spring followed by delightful red berries in fall. Chieftain manzanita does best in well-draining soils.

  • Height: 3-4’
  • Width: 8-10’
  • Water: Low once established
  • Bloom: Spring/ Pink
  • Zone: 4

Mock Bearberry Manzanita

Mock Bearberry manzanita was a 2005 Plant Select® selection, chosen for its hardiness and adaptability. This low growing shrub provides texture year round with its green leaves and deep-red bark. The spring bloom of small urn-shaped, pink flowers brings early season color and is followed by attractive red berries. This moderate to slow grower prefers well-draining sandy soils and is very drought tolerant once established.

  • Height: 1-2’
  • Width: 3-5’
  • Water: Moderate – Low
  • Bloom: Spring/ Pink
  • Zone: 4

Hummingbird Trumpet Mint

One of the many joys of gardening is to find interesting ways to fill the gaps and spaces between your plants and landscape features with color and texture.  Our staff at Fort Collins Nursery has many fun recommendations for you including the moderate perennial spreader, Monaredella macrantha ‘Marian Sampson,’ otherwise known as Hummingbird Trumpet Mint.

Hummingbird Trumpet Mint is an intensely aromatic perennial herb that forms clusters of stunning scarlet-orange trumpet flowers. These brilliant, tubular flowers offer non-stop color from late spring clear through to frost.  As its common name suggests, hummingbird trumpet mint is an excellent attractor for hummingbirds that feed on its sweet nectar throughout the summer.

A native to the higher mountainous regions of California, it has excellent adaptability at different elevations and does well in our local environment. So well in fact, it was chosen by Plant Select® in 2014 as a featured selection for our area. It is drought tolerant but does best in locations with some protection from the heat of the summer sun. It may require winter protection in some areas as well.

Hummingbird trumpet mint is a moderate spreader and can be used as a ground cover. Where it really shows off best though is hanging and cascading down rocks and ledges.  Plant some behind a rock or along the rim of a container and let it spill over the edges in stunning fashion!

  • Height: 4-6”
  • Width: 8-12”
  • Water: Moderate to low
  • Bloom: Scarlet-Orange/ Late Spring – Summer
  • Zones: 5b-9