What a year 2009 was for gardening. The too-dry spring was merely an overture to a season of wild weather that had us ducking hailstones, celebrating rain, and growing great greens. Before launching into another season of planting, here’s a quick look at some of the top stories in gardening for 2009:
5. Denver Botanic Gardens upgrade. Staying open throughout season one of a multi-year construction project wasn’t easy for the Botanic Gardens, which added a much-needed three-level parking garage at their York Street location in Denver. During building, parking was squeezed into a tiny dirt lot on the north end of the grounds; if your car couldn’t steer with the agility of a ballerina, you stayed away.
Anticipation grows as work on the new 15,000 square-foot greenhouse and three-acre Mordecai Children’s Garden gets under way. Plans for these expanded areas include classes and interactive experiences to delight the public.
4. Rain barrel water collection signed into law. In April, Governor Ritter signed SB80, which allows rainwater to be collected from roofs of 3,000 square feet or smaller beginning July 1. But not everyone can reap the rain harvest; only those whose residences aren’t connected to a municipal water system or a water supplier are allowed to capture it; you must have a well permit.
Though this doesn’t benefit gardens now (in addition to having a home with a well, the permit for using the water must be for domestic purposes), gardeners are watching this easing of water law closely, waiting for the day we’ll be able to capture rain for our plants. Read more of the new law at the Colorado Division of Water Resources.
3. Nasty weather had many of us believing it was gardening Armageddon, with June hail wreaking havoc, July tornados tossing trees, and October pumpkins freezing in the fields. The only thing lacking was a plague of grasshoppers, but that was probably because Mother Nature felt sorry for us. On the plus side…
2. Rain and cooler weather made 2009 a delightful year. Gardens had an easier season for growing, cool season greens thrived, and lawn stress from a hot, dry summer failed to show. Savvy green thumbs reduced their irrigation during this wet summer, saving water and reducing water bills.
For a vegetable gardener like me, the number one story of the year:
1. Growing your own food got hip. Turning years of retail sales upside down, food gardens finally gained the spotlight with a bit of help from First Lady Michelle Obama planting a White House vegetable garden. Harvesting over 1,000 pounds of produce in its first season, the White House proves that with a little compost and a will to till, any backyard can be turned into a bounty for the kitchen.
These were stories that made my top list; you might have stories of your own – add them here!
This story first appeared in the Longmont Ledger.