Today first speaker was Ginger Kaiser of Willows Floral in Arvada, Colorado. Ginger took her time today to speak to us about starting a garden which to many of us can seem like a daunting task. Starting a garden can also be rewarding and fun!

Our climate here in Colorado is mostly semi-arid along the Front Range, where a good portion of the population resides and gardens. The summer growing season is mostly dry and hot, averaging 140 growing days, with fewer at the higher elevations and in the mountains.

Hardiness zones and frost dates are two terms often used when discussing climate and gardening. The hardiness zones are based on the minimum possible winter temperature. Plants are rated according to the zones in which they can grow successfully. The last frost date in the spring combined with the first frost date in the fall is how the length of growing season is predicted and gives us an idea of when we can begin planting.

Microclimates are small areas that are generally warmer or colder than the surrounding area. Buildings, fences, trees and other large structures can provide extra shelter in the winter but may trap heat in the summer, thus creating a warmer microclimate. The bottoms of hills are generally colder than the tops but may not be as windy. Take this information into consideration when choosing where to plant your garden and when choosing your plants. Knowing which parts of your garden space receive the most and least amounts of sunlight will also help you choose the proper plants.

Once you have picked your plants, look at your soil as this is the foundation of a good garden. Plants use the soil, not only to stabilize the plant structure, the plants also rely on the many resources it contains: air, water, nutrients, organic matter and a host of microbes. The soil particle size influences the amount of air, water and nutrients that the soil can hold. Common soils found around the Front Range are sand and clay. Sand soil having the largest particles has a lot of air space and allows water and nutrients to drain very quickly. Clay soil having the smallest particles is very high in nutrients but has very little air space, therefore water is very slow to penetrate it and then slow to drain from it. Maintaining the pH in the soil in your garden is very important. The acidity or alkalinity of the soil influences the amount and type of nutrients available to your plants. Soil testing kits are available at most garden centers or soil samples can be sent to testing facilities for a more thorough analysis. This will give you an idea of which plants will do well in your soil and what amendments your soil might need. Compost is one of the best and most important amendments you can add to your garden. A compost material improves the soil by adding organic matter and nutrients to the soil, it also introduces soil microbes and increases water retention and drainage. You can purchase compost or make it yourself in your own backyard.

It is very important to purchase healthy plants that are free of pests and disease. Such plants will establish quickly in your garden and will not introduce problems that may spread to other plants. You should have a good idea of what the plant is supposed to look like, its habit and the color and shape of its leaves and then inspect it for signs of disease or insect damage before buying it. The majority of plants you purchase at a nursery or gardening center are grown in containers or nursery pots. This is an efficient way for nurseries and greenhouses to grow plants, but when plants grow in a restricted place for too long they can become pot bound with the roots densely encircling inside the pot. Avoid purchasing plants in this condition; they are often stressed and can take longer to establish. If possible, try to temporarily remove the pot to look at the condition of the roots. This inspection can save you from buying a plant that has rotten roots, soil born insects or is root bound. If you buy a plant that has roots that are densely wrapped around the inside of the pot you must light prune or tease apart the roots prior to planting.

Ginger then spoke to us about several tips that apply to all plant before planting your garden:

Prepare The Garden Before Planting – Remove any weeds, make any amendments needed (compost), and till the soil to break it up and disperse the compost throughout the bed.

Settle The Soil With Water – Good contact between the roots and the soil is important, however if you press down to firmly as often happens when you step on the soil you can cause compaction. This reduces the movement of water through the soil and leaves very few air spaces. Instead pour water in as you fill the hole with soil, this allows the soil to settle evenly without allowing it to compact. In the spring wait until the soil is crumbly before planting.

Unwrap The Roots – It is always best to remove the container to give the roots a chance to spread out naturally when planting. If the rootball is firm enough and will remain solid without support, this container can be removed prior to putting the plant into the planting hole. If the rootball is not solid the container should only be removed after the plant is in the planting hole so it can be supported by the surrounding soil. Otherwise the soil will fall away and expose the tender feeder roots. You then should remove plastic containers, fiber pots and wire and burlap (when planting trees or shrubs). The reason for this is with plastic pots – they will not decompose and will not allow the roots to spread for growth, with fiber pots – fiber pot decompose very slowly and will actually pull water away from the roots. The synthetic burlap and wire often used on trees and shrubs will not decompose and eventually the wire will strangle the roots as the plant matures.

Accommodate The Rootball – General rule of thumb when planting is make your rootball at least two times the width of the root ball, but no deeper than the height. If your rootball is planted to deeply the plant will have a difficult time growing and may even die. The top surface of the rootball should be level with or a fraction of an inch below the surrounding soil – no deeper. Tender roses are the only exemption to this rule.

Know The Mature Size Of Your Plants – You should space your plants based on their mature size rather than how big they are when you plant them.

Identify Your Plants – Keep track of what’s in your garden by putting a tag next to each plant to help you keep track of what you have.

Water Deeply – It is better to water deeply when necessary than to water lightly more often. Deep and thorough watering forces the roots to grow as they search for water and will help them survive dry spells when water bans may restrict your watering regime. Container gardening are the watering exceptions as they can quickly dry out and may even need daily watering.

If you are looking for a florist who knows not just how to design a fabulous vase or wedding, but also can help you become the master of your garden and indoor plants give Ginger Kaiser at Willows Floral a call!!!

Ginger Kaiser * Willows Floral * 303.989.6446 *


Our second speaker was Dr. Dorothy Parrott from Behavioral Vision Care in Lakewood, Colorado. Dr. Parrott’s talk today was about the history of behavioral vision and our vision. At the turn of the 20th century there was a scientist in Spain who was working with cadavers and tracing the electrical impulses in the brain. Working with other scientists and researchers he found that he could see that if there was a flaw of any kind in the vision it would be unfixable through any measure and this belief held until 1872. When fortunately a scientist and psychologist came along that was working with animals, this was Dr. Arnold Gausel. He is known throughout the behavioral vision community for being the pioneer. In his forties he went back to medical school to become a pediatrician, so he could work with children and be the number one pediatrician and prove that the past training and research was wrong and vision could be corrected with visual training. He was working the Yale physicians to work with children that had vision problems and used his visual training method to correct a wide variety of issues. His start in this field is still being studied and worked with a Yale to develop new and more innovative ways to train not only children but adults as well to change the communication between the brain and the eyes. The thing that we have learned about prescription glasses over the years is that many optometrists give prescriptions that are too strong. Dr. Parrott then passed around a few of the lens that they use to train their visual patients, the lens are used to work with patients that have a lazy eye, cross eyed, and she even had some that they work with people that have balance issues. If you need an optometrist that with really try to work with you and all of your vision issues give Dr. Dorothy Parrott a call!

Dr. Dorothy Parrott * Behavioral Vision Care * 303.986.9554 *