We know it’s not necessarily easy to access the ‘Holiday Spirit’ this early in the season, especially in the midst of local wildfires and a pandemic. These emergencies have separated us from each other, but in meaningful ways, they have also brought us together. Here at Harlequin’s Gardens and beyond, we have seen a real increase in mindfulness and caring for others. Our customers are taking seriously the necessity for social distancing and patience, and they are choosing thoughtful gifts for their families, friends and neighbors, gifts that will nourish their minds, bodies and spirits.
We know that in winter, gardeners are voracious readers! Both new gardeners and old hands are always eager to learn, and love to spend the winter planning. And since gardening in Colorado is really different from gardening in Tennessee or California or Michigan or Florida, we specialize in books from local experts that will help you to garden successfully HERE. Books like Lauren Springer’s revised ‘Undaunted Garden’, and ‘Waterwise Plants for Sustainable Gardens’ are loaded with information and wisdom about creating and maintaining beautiful and Colorado-appropriate gardens and landscapes. Springer is an eminent horticulturist, plant explorer, garden designer, lecturer and author, and she also has plenty of dirt under her fingernails, having created four home gardens of her own, many of the great gardens at Denver Botanic Gardens and their Chatfield site, and the Gardens at Spring Creek in Fort Collins. She really knows her stuff!
The Plant Select Program is a joint endeavor of the Denver Botanic Garden (DBG), CSU Horticulture department and our region’s ‘Green Industry’ (nurseries, landscapers, plant breeders, municipal water departments, etc.). Their mission is to find, introduce and promote the best, most successful plants for gardens in our region. Many of these are Colorado and regional natives that had not previously been in cultivation, and thus were unavailable at nurseries (except Harlequin’s!), and now have become staples of our water-wise gardens: Wine Cups, Dwarf Blue Rabbitbrush, Apache Plume, Fernbush, and dozens more. Plant Select has also been exploring the other steppe regions of the world, trialing new plants in test gardens around the region, and introducing those plants from the South African highlands, the mountains and high deserts of Central Asia and Patagonia, and North America’s Great Basin.
Out of these efforts have come some ‘must have’ books, like ‘Pretty Tough Plants’ and DBG’s ‘Steppes’, both of which are highly recommended for understanding the environments in which we garden here, and the most successful plants for our gardens. ‘Pretty Tough Plants’ gives in-depth portraits of 135 great plants for water-wise gardens, while ‘Steppes’ gives you a real understanding of the conditions in which plants appropriate to our region evolved.
For the past 23 years, Jane Shellenberger has published and edited the award-winning Colorado Gardener, an independently owned gardening magazine. Articles are written by prominent local authorities, like our own Mikl Brawner. Packed with practical information, resources and engaging features on local flora and fauna, gardens and gardeners, it provides readers with the ideas, information, encouragement, and resources they need to garden in our fast changing, unpredictable climate. Jane’s invaluable guide to vegetable gardening in Colorado, ‘The Organic Gardener’s Companion’ is our top choice for Colorado-appropriate guidance for vegetable gardening.
The Stella Natura Wall Calendar is an easy-to-use, informative and beautiful planting and gardening calendar that shows the best times to take advantage of the cosmic influences of the moon, sun and planets. This is a research-based system that is used by Biodynamic farmers and gardeners. We have been using this calendar for over 25 years and believe it has helped with germination of seeds, root development of cuttings, and healthy plant development. More than just a calendar – it’s packed with valuable information and insights for successful growing, from seed to harvest!
We also offer terrific gardening books by Eliot Coleman, Lee Hill, Lee Reich, Edward C. Smith, Gary Paul Nabham, and many more.
Much of our bed-time reading these days is about medicinal and culinary herbs, two subjects that overlap substantially. Some of our favorites include:
Herbal Antibiotics and Herbal Antivirals, two books by the famed herbalist Steven Buhner, especially known as a pioneer in treating such confounding ailments as Lyme’s Disease.
The Natural First Aid Handbook by Boulder’s own master herbalist Brigitte Mars, an important resource to keep handy in your home, backpack and glove compartment.
The Wild Wisdom of Weeds, by Katrina Blair, another Coloradan pioneering the use of our much-maligned but invaluable ‘weeds’, opens up a world of benefits we can and should derive from the weeds around us!
Homegrown Herbs by renowned herbalist Tammi Hartung (of Desert Canyon Farms, the Colorado supplier of many of our certified organic herb plants) discusses not only the uses of the herbs, but tells you how to grow them as well.
Edible & Medicinal Plants of the Southern Rocky Mountains Don’t be fooled by the title; a lot of the area covered is in Colorado, including Denver, Boulder and Ft. Collins. An excellent plant ID book by Mary O’Brien and Karen Vail with really interesting descriptions. In addition, it’s an excellent herbal, giving both medicinal and edible uses, as well as important cautions. It is presented in a respectful way, honoring nature as did the Ute Indians who pioneered the use of these plants. For example, did you know that Gambel Oak “…is a good back country first aid plant to know, using the leaves as a poultice or wash for insect bites and wounds, or chewing a piece of the bark for toothaches….” Good photos. These local gals really know their stuff and we highly recommend their book!
THE NATURAL WORLD
Our book section also features some of the most useful and engaging books on wildflowers and other aspects of the natural world. At the top of the list are:
Wildflowers of the Rocky Mountain Region, the most complete, up-to-date handbook for identifying a huge number of our wildflowers. All of the plants are described, located, and photographed, and arranged in an easy-to-use format.
Meet the Natives Author Dan Johnson, curator of Native Plant Gardens at DBG, invites you to meet the native plants of Colorado. He has updated Pesman’s classic field guide to make the guide more useful than ever before. Herbaceous flowering plants are organized by color for faster identification, and color photos assist with accurate identification. Horticultural information is included to help you bring these durable and beautiful native plants into your own garden.
Dragonflies of the Colorado Front Range by Ann Cooper of the Boulder County Nature Association
Dainty but deadly, these shimmering beauties dart over ponds, streams and clearings on the hunt for prey. Showcasing 45 dragonflies and 28 damselflies, the guide covers the most common species found in the region. Accompanying over 90 brilliant photographs are descriptions of habitat, appearance, length, behavior, similar species, flight time and interesting facts for each species. Also included are tips on watching, identifying and photographing these tiny jewels. An excellent field guide for beginners and seasoned naturalists that belongs in every hiker’s backpack or back pocket!
We also have several excellent books on wild bees, honey bees, and bee-keeping.
Plants are, of course, the main thing every gardener wants in their garden. But to garden, one also needs some tools, and the quality of those tools makes a BIG difference in the comfort, ease and speed of getting those garden chores done. Durability, reliability, precision and ergonomic design don’t generally come cheap. A quality hand-saw or pole-saw, a pair of pruning shears, loppers or hedge-trimmers will, with a little maintenance, last a lifetime. Did someone you love just plant a home orchard? A berry patch? A new landscape? They’re going to need some good tools, and we’ve got them!