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Spring came early this year. And even though the last average spring frost date is in early to mid May for most of the Front Range, it’s looking as though we may be in the clear. That would mean a very good year for fruit trees, even though they bloomed early, as long as the bees are around to pollinate.

It’s been a great spring for flowering bulbs at my place and dry conditions have prevented weeds from taking off. The asparagus bed is suddenly in full swing – also earlier than usual, with spears shooting up every day. I’ll put out Nolo bait soon to keep the grasshoppers in check in case the lack of rain continues. It may be a hot summer on the plains, so don’t forget the mulch.

Last summer I went to the North American Rock Garden Society’s Annual Meeting in Steamboat for three days along with many others from all over Colorado, from around the U.S., and from several other countries: Canada, Sweden, Argentina, and the Netherlands come to mind. With a lot of help from a number of volunteers, it was a tremendous feat of organization that included housing and feeding everyone, transporting many small groups of us to different day hikes and a garden tour in the Steamboat area over several days, plus several speakers each evening.

As a volunteer I became a little better acquainted with Mike Kintgen, who is the Curator of Alpine Collections at Denver Botanic Gardens, and who was the major organizing force behind the conference. His garden at his family’s house outside Steamboat was on the tour.

Not only was I “wowed” by Mike’s garden (as well as his Denver garden that I’d seen previously) and impressed by the breadth and depth of his plant knowledge, (he held trainings and put together detailed print-outs for hike volunteers noting all the plants and wildflowers we might see on each hike), but also by how unflappable he remained in the face of potentially stressful scenarios that inevitably arise in the course of hosting such a complex event. Wanting to know more about this unflappable young plantsman with the big cowboy hat, I interviewed him for this issue.

You’ll also find articles on: the Benefits of Native Plants (Pt 2) by Inene Shonle; a young Japanese man with a techno fix he thinks might help failing pollinators, by Gary Raham; landscaping tips for increasing the bird species in your yard by wildlife biologist and birder, Christy Payne; and the many diverse critters that dwell in the sunflower ecosystem, by entomologist Eric R Eaton.

Last month David Salman of High Country Gardens wrote about wildflower Columbines; here he discusses the brilliant, nectar-rich Salvias, many of which are natives. Marcia Tatroe tells you what night bloomers to plant for moths in a moon garden; and Mikl Brawner tells the story of a tough, beautiful, but difficult to propagate Cotoneaster shrub from the Cheyenne Station, rescued from probable obscurity by Scott Skogerboe. It became a Plant Select Introduction this year.

In the edibles realm, Penn Parmenter, an expert on sowing and growing greens, covers all you need to know about creating, growing, and harvesting mesclun mixes. Herb gourmet, Deb Whittaker, looks at some aromatic herbs in the umbelliferae family that are Good for You, Good for the Garden.

Kelly Grummons answers questions about tried and true old-fashioned flowers that are low water and hardy, plus how to keep hanging baskets of flowers alive and looking good in our climate.

There are lots of plant sales this month, plus upcoming garden tours so check out the Calendar and Marketplace pages for details. The Colorado Native Plant Society Tour featuring gardens with native plants is especially ambitious this year. There’s one in Denver on June 10 and another July 1st in Boulder. And remember that Native Plant Appreciation Week is June 10-16.

Jane Shellenberger