Cheyenne Botanic Gardens : Past Gardening Tips From our News Page


Tarragon is one of the easiest perennial herbs you can grow. Be sure to start with a plant labeled “French tarragon” and avoid the much lower quality, “Russian tarragon.” Russian tarragon doesn’t have near the wonderful flavors that the French tarragon has.

Grow French tarragon in a mostly sunny spot. It prefers well-​​drained soil and likes to grow on the dry side but not extremely dry. French tarragon never goes to seed and is only propagated by divisions of a large plant in early spring or by cuttings. One plant usually provides enough herb for a season. Tarragon doesn’t dry well like other herbs so be sure and enjoy it freshly picked. It can also be frozen in small amounts for later use.

Tarragon has a flavor suggestive of anise or licorice and is very sweet. It is used in poultry, fish and meat dishes and in vinegars and omelets. It is also quite tasty when you add a small amount of fresh tarragon to a salad.

Creeping Jenny for pots or groundcover

Lysimachia nummularia, commonly known as “golden creeping Jenny,” has bright yellow-​​gold foliage and makes a great low-​​growing, groundcover.

Notice the yellow creeping Jenny spilling over the side of the pot

It is very hardy on the High Plains, can survive limited foot traffic and does best in rich well-​​drained soil. It can take partial shade, but produces the best leaf color in sun.

If you have a large patch it is easy to divide for easy multiplication of plants for free. Try it as an annual to trail over the edges of pots and tubs. The golden foliage is so bright, it rivals the brightest yellow flower.

Save money, plant flower seed instead of plants

Bedding plants can be expensive. Instead, try sowing the seed directly into your garden bed or flower pot. They take just a little longer to come into flower, but it is well worth the effort.

These annual flower seeds can sown between May 10th and June 1st: bachelor’s button, calendula, cosmos, marigolds, larkspur, morning glory, nasturtium, poppies, sweet alyssum and zinnias. Always sow seeds twice as deep as they are wide and keep the area moist until they germinate. Be sure and provide a trellis for most morning glories as they grow as a vine. Mark the location where you plant seeds with plant tags to help you discern weeds from the new flowering plants. Unlike perennial flowers these annual flowers, once they start blooming, they will continue to bloom until frost.

Great Shrub for High Plains

In 1962, an accomplished gardener from New Jersey, Carol Mackie, noticed a shrub with one unique mutated branch having dark green leaves with an unusual white border. She sent cuttings of it to a local nursery who propagated it and made it available to the garden center trade. It is now prized for its pale rose, fragrant blooms and striking leaf color. This Daphne was been named after Carol Mackie who discovered it and it is a perfect hardy, small shrub for the irrigated High Plains. Check out the “Carol Mackie Daphne.”

Alfalfa as fertilizer

A great organic based fertilizer can be found at your local feed store. Both alfalfa pellets or meal make a great fertilizer. Alfalfa is high in nitrogen as well as other needed nutrients. (more…)

Scheduling the garden based on nature

“Phenology,” is a word describing a connection between climate triggered biological phenomena. It can be used to help you time plantings in the garden. Although it is not perfect, you can use around here with generally good results.
Here are some examples: (more…)

Never add lime to soil

Garden writers often instruct people to “add lime” to soil in order to attain a neutral soil pH (acid/​alkaline balance). Unfortunately, this advice comes from writers who live east of the Mississippi where their soil is acidic. They assume everyone has the same soil as they do. This is not good advice in much of the West. (more…)

Break out the tools for spring

As we venture out into the garden, it is time to also grab the old tools. If you need to purchase some tools or replace some old ones what should you look for?

Price, quality, feel, and guarantee are all important. The fiberglass handles  are heavier but last well. Look for cushioned hand tools with softer larger handles. Avoid buying cheap tools as they are more apt to break in just a year or two. If you are using old tools consider a lubricating the handles with vegetable oil or linseed oil. Also be sure you start the season with a good pair of gloves.

Garage sales can also be a great source for quality garden tools at a low price.

Time to start seedlings

Now is the perfect time of year to turn your sunny window into a seedling factory. Start with either new small pots or recycled pots that have been cleaned with soap and hot water. Also use brand new potting soil for seeds to prevent disease.

Botanic Garden volunteers transplanting and sowing spring seedlings

Plant seeds twice as deep as the seeds are wide and maintain moisture until you see germination. Allow for one plant per 1 – 2 square inches. You may need to move them to a larger pot if seedlings start to shade each other.

If your seedlings are stretching or leaning towards the light, then you should be increasing the light by moving the plants to a sunnier spot or placing the plants within a couple of inches of a regular cool white fluorescent light (no need for a grow light for seedlings).

By growing your own seedlings you can save a lot of money over purchasing plants later in spring. Also, you can select to grow seeds from a larger diversity of choices (i.e. early tomatoes, unusual varieties or heirlooms).

Say goodbye to grey concrete

Nothing can be more boring than grey concrete.
Are you planning for a new landscape walk, patio or any other new concrete? Try colorizing it.

Concrete can be dyed a variety of tones from terracotta to brown, black and even blue. Dying is best done during the mixing of the concrete. It can be ordered dyed or you can mix dyed concrete in small batches using Quickcrete® in a wheelbarrow. Concrete dyes are available at many hardware stores.

Commercial concrete companies also offer many dyes and specialized finishes that makes the concrete resemble slate, flagstone or even brick. These are best applied by a professional concrete finisher.

Existing concrete can also be dyed to create different effects.

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