Tag Archives: Rosedale Community Garden

Garden Envy

Garden Envy

In my travels, I visit gardens of all shapes and sizes and take tons of photos.  Always excited to visit my friends’ gardens, attend garden tours and visit local botanical gardens,  I just love to pick up new ideas and think about how I might apply new designs or planting combinations in my own gardens.   I am often as envious as I am inspired.  Here is a collection of some of the gardening ideas I admire:


Teri’s tomatoes were protected from early season hail under the hoops. They are so tall and healthy.



Dale’s potted tomatoes and trellised vegetables. Its a marvel what he accomplishes in a side yard.


My neighbors at Rosedale in 2014, Diane and Johanna Montague, had such a perfectly orderly spring garden. Beautiful!


Christine’s garden was already chock full of produce in late May – garlic, kale, berries, onions, greens, herbs. I loved how she used every square inch and had seedlings growing in egg cartons ready for hot season crops. Easthampton, MA



At Nate and Ashley’s 2013 wedding in New Richmond, WI, the reception was held at a local farm. The little garden next to the house was surrounded by flowers and very organic in it design.


My friend Mary’s squashes were trellised on these cool wooden structures. Hartland, WI. July 2017


Centennial Gardens, University of Wisconsin, Madison. I love the order of this planter although I am realistic enough to know that my plants won’t conform to such order.



I love the idea of a garden right outside the front door. The log Adirondack chairs, prayer flags and hollyhocks in the background all create a lovely vignette. Steamboat Springs Garden Tour, 2013.


Spring Garden with lots of space to grow up. Spinach in the foreground with tomatoes in wall of water. Ute Trails Garden, May 2017



The Quest for the Perfect Tomato: The Maglia Rose

The Quest for the Perfect Tomato:  The Maglia Rose


Many passionate gardeners, including myself, propagate a variety of seedlings in early spring and after weeks or months of careful pampering and re-potting,  we often find ourselves with extra to share.  It was my good fortune that my garden pal Suzanne had extra tomato plants and offered me some  — four coffee cups containing three or more leggy 3 ft tall tomato plants which she called “Ana’s Tomatoes”.   When I asked her why, she said that they had come from a tomato I had given her last fall.   Of course, I remembered the exchange but also had forgotten the name of the tomato.

IMG_9750I recalled the box of sweet golf ball sized red and green streaked cherry tomatoes Katherine had brought to the seed exchange last fall.   I messaged her and Katherine reminded me that the tomatoes were called “Maglia Rose” after the mottled pink jersey worn by the lead racer in the Tour d’Italia.   Her husband had read about this variety in a newspaper article discussing research and rankings of heirloom tomatoes.   Ranked number one on the list, the Maglia Rose were considered easy to grow, prolific and resistant to disease.   Phil ordered seeds and has successfully grown the Magia Rose for several years.

“The Quest for the Perfect Tomato”, Washington Post, 9/15/17.


Katherine and Phil’s crop of Maglia Rose tomatoes are very tall and hardy by late July.


I transplanted the gifted tomato plants into earth boxes in my home garden and directly into the soil at my Rosedale Community Garden.   They were a little gangly so I propped them up with some red sumac branches from my winter pots.  So far, the plants are  thriving and full of little green tomatoes.   I see a large  harvest of Maglia Rose tomatoes in my future.

Description of the Maglia Rose:

  • Short, semi-determinate vines are good for pots and containers
  • Ready about 55 days after transplanting
  • The vines can be left to sprawl and do not need to be stakes.
  • Fruits prolifically
  • Pick tomatoes while they are light pink, which is the stage when peak flavor occurs


The Creation of Mario’s Garden At Harvard Gulch Golf Course

The Creation of Mario’s Garden At Harvard Gulch Golf Course

As a leader at Rosedale Community Garden, I often booked the golf clubhouse across the street at the Harvard Gulch Recreation Center for classes, meetings and big events.   Along the way, I got to know the manager of the golf course, Jessie Moisson and we often talked about gardening.   Jessie had been thinking about starting a garden near the clubhouse and last Spring, when I mentioned the possibility again, he was ready.   Jessie quickly scheduled a meeting with me and the chief horticulturalist of the Denver golf courses, John Swain and Mario’s Garden was born.  The garden was named in memory a beloved little squirrel who visited often and was befriended by the golf staff.

IMG_4573John, Jessie and I met in mid-May and discussed how to transform the spot once occupied by a fish pond, the surrounding beds as well as an adjacent rose garden into a vegetable garden to feed the hungry.   I helped map out some plans and with a generous budget and access to a greenhouse, Jessie and John sprang to action shopping for seeds and plants.   Within two weeks, they’d built raised beds with recycled railroad ties, filled them with fresh garden compost and laid out a new irrigation system.   It was so exciting to be a part of such a project; one that literally went from zero to mach five drive in less than a month.

By mid June, tomatoes, beans, peppers, a patch of three sisters (corn, squash, beans), lettuces, carrots, melons, zucchinis, kale and more was planted and sprouting.  The excitement of Jessie and John was palpable every time I came by with a jug of bokashi from Rosedale.   Bokashi is a fertilizer created from “cooking” organic waste anaerobically in large covered buckets.    Mixed with water, it provides a wonderful fertilizer albeit very stinky.   We all reveled in the fecundity of the plot and marveled at the huge harvest.

As the harvest started to come in by early July, Jessie was in search of a benefactor.   After exploring several options, he opted to deliver produce to Cafe 180, a local restaurant that cooks healthy organic meals and customers pay what they can afford.   Later in the season, he donated a huge cache of produce to the Rosedale Garden Harvest Sale.   In my estimation, Mario’s Garden was a beautiful bountiful success.   For the two main caretakers, it was a huge labor intensive project.    As the beginning of a new garden season approaches, I plan to pop in to talk to Jessie and cheer him on in hopes that the garden will continue for a second season.

I took a lot of photos of the garden during the summer and here they are:

In the beginning.   Early May 2016:

Construction underway.   Early June 2016.

Plants and seeds in.   Late June 2016.

The Dogs Days of Summer — August — Garden Growing Like Crazy!

Golf clubs used to stake tomatoes!17424663_10210847950908235_1798747453826736108_n

Bountiful Harvest and Friends in the Garden — September 2016

Life in the Garden, “Exclusively Yours”, July 2016

Life in the Garden, “Exclusively Yours”, July 2016


Its been a busy garden season and with the big harvest this year, I’ve been too busy to write.   But today, I received a copy of an article that features my garden exploits and want to share it.   Several months ago, my sister’s friend Tyler, asked if she could interview me about my experience as a master gardener for an article she was writing.   I answered a few quick questions late at night so she could meet her midnight deadline — and forgot all about it.

Fast forward three months and I receive an email from a Wisconsin woman wondering if she could hire me to help plan her son’s garden in Denver.   Of course, that’s the kind of thing I do — plan gardens — but I wondered how she’d gotten my contact information.   In her email, she mentioned an article in “Exclusively Yours”, a local magazine I grew up reading in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.   In an effort to locate the article, I googled and called the magazine, called my mom and sister who live in Wisconsin.   Nothing.  Finally, my new fan emailed a copy and it all came back to me.

Its fun to share my passion for gardening with everyone I know.   In the article, I mention the master gardening program at Denver Urban gardens, my donation garden at St. Philip Lutheran Church, the new donation garden I helped plan at Harvard Gulch Golf Course and more.   Check it out.  Please contact me if you want to talk gardening or need help getting yours started.  anaincolorado@gmail.com.



DUG Talk: Starting a Produce Donation Garden

DUG Talk:  Starting a Produce Donation Garden


Today, Teri Connelly and I had the honor of presenting at the 2016 Denver Urban Garden Leader Symposium.   We discussed the initiatives in our communities to grow extra produce for donation to local charities including Project Angel Heart, Jovial Gardens, the Edgewater Elementary School and the Secret Community Donation Garden for Arvada Food Bank.   You can read more about my work starting the St. Philip Community Donation last year in an article I wrote last summer.   Attached is the Power Point Presentation from our talk today.

Donation Talk to DUG Leadership 2 27 2016

It was especially exciting to have the opportunity to connect with other garden leaders about their projects and discuss how we might work together.   As always, it was wonderful to see our friends at Denver Urban Gardens and enjoy the news about their new logo, the addition of more gardens, more programming and plans for the future.   I feel incredibly fortunate to be a member of one of the oldest community gardens in Denver (Rosedale) and to have benefited from the wonderful opportunities offered by Denver Urban Gardens — most notably, the Master Community Gardener Program.

After nearly 20 years as a community gardener, I have learned much about gardening in our arid state of Colorado and can finally count on an ample harvest each summer.  I am committed to growing healthy organic food for my family and to sharing this wealth with others less fortunate.   I hope that you will consider sharing the extra produce in your garden with local food pantries and others who need access to good food.



Extending the Season with Hoop Houses

The cold frame Dave made me.

The cold frame Dave made me.

Jack be littles are climbing over the green striped Romas.

Jack be littles are climbing over the green striped Romas.














For several years, I’ve been thinking about how to extend the season for growing cold crops in my garden.   To this end, my husband built me a cold frame which in theory was a great idea and a good design.   But, when the time came to plant cold crops and tend to them, the snow piled between my warm kitchen door and the box discouraged me from hiking out to water the plants tucked beneath the protective 6 pane windows.   Alas, no cold crops.  Fortunately, I later discovered that with the windows removed, the cold frame made a great raised bed for my spring/summer/fall plants.


4 ft. X 4 ft. hoop house. Hoops attached to outside.

Recently, I heard about the concept of a hoop house from a garden leader I met from Michigan.   She told me that her garden community had purchased a hoop bender tool from Johnny’s Seeds and with it, one could easily bend 1/2 electrical conduit to form hoops for 4 X 4 ft. beds (and other sizes).   When I researched further, I found the hoop bender was on sale for less than $50 and all of a sudden, I could imagine a whole host of uses for these hoops.    Why not make hoop houses to protect my plants from the rabbit and pest invasion — and the elements?!  I also found out that in the cooler season, 4 mil plastic sheeting is best for keeping the heat in while allowing light to penetrate.   In the warmer season, row cover is preferred and also available from Johnny’s Seeds (www.johnnyseeds.com)

My garden partner and I placed our order and once the hoop bender arrived, we picked up 20 1/2 inch X 10 ft. electrical conduit pipes at Home Depot (less than $50) and set to work.   Our first goal was to make some for our community garden’s annual summer sale.   If we could use them, we surmised that other gardeners could too.   As expected, we sold out of our first 20 and started on another batch with more orders to fill.   At the sale, we also sold three 4 X 4 raised beds with two hoops each.   A big hit.

The hoop house with 4 mil plastic sheeting affixed with binder clips.

The hoop house with 4 mil plastic sheeting affixed with binder clips.

We are planning to make and share these with gardeners we know.   And will soon install many in community garden plots to get a head start on cold crops and to protect from the many pests — rabbits, bean beetles, Japanese beetles — hail and hot sun threatening to decimate our harvest.  I will report back how our garden crops fare in the late fall and early spring although I’m still not sure how I feel about trudging out into the yard to water plants when its cold and snowy.

Crafting with Birdhouse Gourds


Last year’s dried gourd next to the newly harvested one.

Inspired by our garden neighbor Marilynn who grows birdhouse gourds for Earthlinks, my garden partners and I started growing them several years ago.   We found that these gourds are easy to grow with prolific vines that produce close to a dozen study green fruits every September.   After harvesting the crop each autumn, we divide the haul and suspend them with twine to dry from a kitchen pot rack or the ends of curtain rods.   This drying process takes at least six months, sometimes more.   Fast forward several years and we’ve amassed quite a collection of hollow brown gourds.   So this year, we finally got a date on the calendar to turn these garden treasures into art.   We were especially fortunate that our newest partner on the garden team, Suzanne Buntrock, took the time to do some research about paint, design and construction before our long anticipated get together.

Susan, Suzanne and her daughter Clare and I gathered at the kitchen table with the pile of dried gourds and various paints, tempera and acrylic.   After my husband Dave graciously agreed to drill out the holes – a 1 inch round one in the side and a small one for drainage on the bottom, we proceeded to remove the seeds and dried membrane from the gourds and saved most of the seeds.    We wondered if these seeds would produce the same gourd next season or had they cross pollinated with another species — something to research this winter.

After laying down newspaper, setting up paints and brushes and checking design ideas on Pinterest, we embarked on our artistic adventure.   Suzanne and my son Dylan tried various tempera paints but found after it dried a bit that the paint starting flaking off.   Susan and I worked with acrylic paints and found that the paint seemed to stay on better.   We had read that the final step should be a layer of polyurethane to protect the gourd from the elements.   Unfortunately, even the addition of this layer did not prevent the tempera paint from flaking off.   In the end, we got the project rolling and although some of us still need to add detail to the solid first coat on our gourds, we made some pretty cool birdhouses.   Here are some highlights of our creative afternoon.

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Images of the 2015 Annual Rosedale Community Garden Sale

Images of the 2015 Annual Rosedale Community Garden Sale
Susan MacNicholas is the Sale Coordinator

Susan MacNicholas is the Sale Coordinator

Each summer, Rosedale Community Garden hosts a big harvest and yard sale in late August which is often followed by another harvest sale in late September.   This summer, the two sales were consolidated into one big event on September 19.   The event brings together Rosedale’s large community of gardeners and showcases what we do best — organic vegetables, fresh cut flowers, heirloom garlic, children’s activities, yard sale treasures, bakery, jams and booths featuring jewelry, Earthlinks and local crafts.   Kudos go to this year’s organizer, Susan MacNicholas, for successfully bringing together many diverse elements and people.    What a great day!   The photos I share capture the essence of this beloved community event.

Friday Night Tagging Party

This event enables gardeners to drop off their yard sale items the afternoon/evening before the sale and brings together a team to sort and tag in preparation for the next day.  Having the opportunity to sort through the merchandise, enjoy good company and pizza and beer on a pleasant night in the garden is incentive for many to turn up to help.

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Sale Day

On this brisk sunny autumn morning, the crews started to assemble at 7 and by 9 am, the tables, tents, merchandise and volunteers were all set up and ready for business.   The day was perfect with sunshine and steadily warming temps and a steady stream of neighborhood customers.   By 2 pm, the ARC truck arrived to pick up the spare yard sale items and the the break down crew was busy putting everything away.

Dave Conant, Emeritus leader of Rosedale Garden and founder of our Project Angel Heart donation program.

Dave Conant, Emeritus leader of Rosedale Garden and founder of our Project Angel Heart donation program.

Dave posing next to a hoop house for sale.


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Presentation: Building a Community Donation Garden

Presentation:  Building a Community Donation Garden

20150808_160930Tomorrow, I am doing talk on Building a Community Donation Garden at the American Community Gardening Association Annual Conference and this is my Power Point presentation.    I put it here mostly for test purposes.

Resources for more information:


Fresh Salad Vinaigrette Made with Homegrown French Shallots

Fresh Salad Vinaigrette Made with Homegrown French Shallots

10984497_10206154600377405_5606755223133504857_nWhen I have fresh greens out of the garden, I like to make my own salad dressing.   And recently, I had the opportunity to make a salad with the help of two sisters, Ana and Eden, who were visiting Colorado from Maryland.   The youngest, Eden, was especially eager to help harvest the lettuce and prepare the salad.   With the help of both Ana and Eden, we created a lovely salad for our lunch.    The dressing is especially delicious and made with fresh French shallots I grew in my garden.  The recipe was first prepared for me by our French exchange student, Zoe, who made it during her visit in July 2013.   Here it is:

2 tbsps minced shallot

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup balsalmic vinegar

salt and pepper to taste

Mix all the ingredients together in a jar, put the lid on and shake.   Store in refrigerator of a week.