We have plants!!

It was major excitement the day the plants arrived.  The people who ordered plants had them scheduled to arrive in two shipments over two days so we were prepared to go and unload and plant one shipment and the next day plant the next shipment.  Well, of course nothing ever goes exactly as planned.  We had a big storm move through the night before so we went to Plan B.

Prior to the planting day the design ladies were busy labeling the garden so everyone would know what goes where.  They started out making flags for every plant that was to go in the garden.  Oh boy, they soon realized that would take forever.  They were all like, yeah, let’s do this.  It will take a couple of hours at the most.  They soon decided they should just make one flag and write the quantity of plants in that area which greatly cut down the time.  Even doing that it took them six hours to make all the flags and put them throughout the garden so all the planters would know what goes where.  Easy peasy right?

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Delivery day arrives.  The first truck is unloaded and since it’s so wet this is sorting day.  More flags were made to put in each plant variety with the quantity of how many there should be.  The Garden In A Box plants were sorted, flagged and staged by the different gardens.  The rest of the plants were sorted by plant type.  Easy, right?  Well, it would be if we all knew the scientific names of all the plants.  Plants were ordered by scientific name so had to be flagged by scientific name, and the hunt was on.  OK, what is this plants common name so I can find it or have some idea of what I’m looking for.  It was quite the education trying to look at a flag, find the plant by the scientific name, and sort them out.  It took a lot longer to have to go pull the little plastic label from the pot to read what it was so we could get the right flag in it.  We decided since some flats had to be divided into more than one place in the gardens and we didn’t have all the plants for some areas of the garden as they weren’t arriving until the next day that it was a good thing to stage all the plants by garden area and then the second delivery day we would have all the plants before trying to place them where they belong.  So, all in all the rain was a good thing.

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Oh boy!!  We actually get to plant the second day.  Again, with the scientific names.  Some fun with everyone outside asking what is this and where does it go, is this the right amount, which direction do they go around the rock, where exactly in this area?  No, those are sorted, don’t touch them yet.  A big THANKS to all the design team members for being at the planting.  They worked so long on the design they could almost tell us where each plant was supposed to be.  Without them being there, even with the great flag system, it would have been chaos.  The first day we worked about 4 hours unloading and sorting out plants.  Day 2 was a huge day.  All those plants had to get in the ground.  It took about 15 of us (dwindled down to maybe 10 at the end of the day) seven hours to plant all the plants.  It was interesting to see all the different plantings styles, sitting with bent knee, sitting with straight lets, just bend over, kneeling, and even laying down!  A long day but the task accomplished.  After planting we turned on the new irrigation to give them a soak and all worked great.  And then we all decided we all needed to go home for a long soak as well.

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A couple short discussions of what and where?  It was really no small task.




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We have irrigation

First of all, thanks to the Timm family for donating their time, energy and parts to our garden.

It was an interesting adventure finding out what water lines were there and which were in use or which were old.

There was a lot of digging and searching going on.  They found one line that went nowhere and determined it wasn’t being used and there were other places where they knew there had to be heads but couldn’t find them.  They found some of them buried about six inches down.  Eventually they found the lines and heads that were working. One huge pipe was busted and should have been working so that was repaired and new rotor heads were installed.

It was decided to not use drip line because there are lots of squirrels that would chew them so all of our lines are buried.  Water efficient heads were installed but the water savings really come with the type of plants we use.  For the first couple of years the plants will need a little more water to get established and then after that won’t need as much watering.

Water usage will be monitored for the next two years to see how much water is needed and will be adjusted accordingly.

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For some different types of irrigation and uses and water saving tips check out these links:

Irrigation Tips for Homes

Drip Irrigation for Gardens




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We have a design!!

The design team has been busy for weeks designing the gardens, selecting the right plants for the right place, and finding and ordering the 785 individual plants chosen for the design.

After the design was complete they compiled a list of all the plants names and quantities.  Next, a member of the team did a cost analysis using the cost from various nurseries on size (gallons, or flats if needed, etc.)  The design team got back together and went through the list plant by plant and compared prices at each nursery.  Based on size/availability they determined where they would buy the plants.  Part of the process was to find the plants locally so there won’t be frustration or disappointment when someone sees a really cool plant they want and then find out they can’t get it anywhere locally.  So, in the end if you see it in our garden you should be able to buy it from a local nursery.  The plants have been ordered from Ft Collins Nursery, Little Valley Nursery (Brighton), Eaton Grove, and Flowers for 3 Greenhouse (Milliken).

The team took the design and presented it to the Island Grove Park board of directors and they enthusiastically approved the design.

Let’s start with the easy side first.  These are the gardens that will be on the northeast side of the entrance to the building where we pulled out some old bushes and left the lilacs and the trees.  They have chosen to use this space for the Garden In A Box program.  This is a great program if you don’t want the hassle of designing a garden and looking up all the plants that would be right for the garden space you want to plant.  It comes with the design and all the plants you need. If you live in certain perimeters in Colorado counties you will get a discount on the gardens you select.  Click here to check out the Garden In A Box 

Here are the gardens that have been selected from Garden in a Box.   (Hint:  If you click on the pictures they will enlarge and you can read the plant names – or you can click the link to Garden In A Box and review the plans and plants for the selected gardens).

The other side of the garden was all designed and plants selected by the design team.  Here is the design plan and the plants they selected.  Hopefully you can read the plant names on the board.  The design has a key at the bottom showing there will 42 different plants used and the total of plants used will be 785.  Some of the plants used:  Turkish Veronica; Sunset Sonoran Hyssop; Denver Gold Columbine; Cheyenne Spirit Coneflower; Regal Torchlily; Hummingbird Trumpet Mint; Nearly Red Pineleaf Beardtounge; Colorado Gold Ganzania; Corsican Violet; Red Creeping Thyme; Mongolian Bells Clematis; Prairie Lode Sundrops; Snowmass Phlox; Giant Sea Kale; Windwalker Royal Red Salvia; Carol Macke Daphne; Alan’s Apricot Ice Plant; Narbonne Blue Flax; Dwarf Beachead Iris; Snow Angel Coralbells; Goblin Blanket Flower; Bijou Blanket Flower; Engelmann’s Daisy; Red Yucca, Moroccan Pincushion Flower; Tall Bearded Iris; Northern Lights Pansy; Turquoise Tails Blue Sedum; Starburst Ice Plant; Golden-flowered Prairie Zinnia; Fire Spinner Ice Plant;  Remembrance Columbine; Blue Velvet Pansy; and Trumpet Daffodil Mix.

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Now, we should have shade and sun plants; and plants that will be blooming and overlapping all the seasons.  Plants that are Xeric and water-wise.  Plants that match a color scheme in each section and blend in with the next section.  Plants that will live in our planting zone.  Plants that you can find locally if you like them.  Whew.  Thanks design team!  What a HUGE job and excellently executed.

The plants should be installed in May and be looking great for the ribbon cutting during the Weld County Fair.

We’re excited and can’t wait to see what it’s going to look like.  We can’t wait for you to see it too!



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More action in the garden

The garden is almost prepped and ready to be planted.  We are getting so excited.

The Master Gardeners have had two work days to till amendments into the soil.  Based on our soil tests and what our garden needs we chose an organic plant compost. **  We got our compost from Eaton Grove nursery (Hwy 74 & CR 31).  We made it a goal to support and purchase from our local nurseries.

March 22nd was the second work day.  We dug holes to transplant the grasses from the front to the back southwest side of the building.  We cut and cleaned up the area where there are grasses now  We used some weed killer to get some grass that is being persistent and was popping up in one area.  We spread and tilled the compost into the area along the sidewalk where the trees and shrubs are.  Gary brought an electric tiller that was much smaller than the previous used tiller.  He was able to get around the tree roots and get the compost tilled in rather than using a fork and having to hand turn it all.  Thanks Gary!

Mary, Linda, Gary and Patty all pitched in to dig the holes, spread the amendments and get them tilled in.

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We also had our boulders delivered.  We had a stroke of good luck.  A child was playing around and removed the tags from the boulders we had tagged for our garden.  On delivery day they couldn’t find the ones we had tagged and brought others.  We think they are a little bigger than what we had selected so good for us!  Hmmm, the design had rocks in a lime green color.  That would have been cool.  Oh well, these are nice big boulders so we’ll just go with the flow.  Thanks to the county workers that came and helped position the boulders.  They couldn’t get a skid up into the garden so they just plopped them down best as they could.  Of course, they weren’t in the right place so county workers came and put straps around them and pulled them around.  “Just a little more to the left please.”  “Wow, you sound like my wife”.  I think the county guys feel just a little more attached to our garden now.  One of the guys declared “this is my rock.”  Thanks again guys!!


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The irrigation installation should be set in place as soon as the weather cooperates.

Oh boy, I think we are almost ready to plant.  Stay tuned for the next blog to see what the design has cooked up.  They’ve been busy designing, presenting the plan and getting plants ordered.  Fun times ahead!!

**Soil Amendments – what should I use?


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March 3, 2018 CSU Extension – Weld County received a grant from the Colorado Garden Foundation.  This is our main funding for the new demo garden.  The award was presented at the Colorado Home and Garden Show in downtown Denver.  Many thanks to the CGF for this wonderful grant.  The grant money must be used during this year and the Master Gardener teams are working fast and diligently to get the garden ready in time for the Weld County Fair where we will have our garden opening ceremony.

Amy Lentz, Horticulture/Agriculture Agent for Weld County Extension and Mary, one of our Demo Garden Managers, drove down to Denver to accept our grant check from the foundation.

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Funding is one of our biggest hurdles and we would like to also thank our other main sponsor.  City of Greeley Water Conservation.  We will receive funds and will work in partnership with them on water conservation and plant water-wise Xeriscape low-water plants that will grow in our soil and climate conditions.  These funds may be used over the next four years.

We also couldn’t do it without some hard work and sweat.   Thanks to In-Kind donations from these organizations and families.

In-kind Donations:

Weld County Colorado Master Gardeners    – garden development, design, maintenance, and provider of educational classes

Weld County Master Gardeners-CSU Extension   – educational literature donations

City of Greeley Forestry   – stump removal, disposal of brush

City of Greeley Water and Sewer   – consultation on water-wise plantings and garden design

Timm Family –irrigation consultation and labor for updating the irrigation system









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What should we put in our garden?

The design team has been busy.  A garden’s success depends on choosing the Right Plant for the Right Place.  The team will select plants that will live in our hardiness zone (5b), will be either sun or shade plants, and work with our water and soil conditions.  Choosing the right plant for the right place is critical for success as a gardener.  This has to be taken into consideration for every single plant that goes into our garden.  Put that together with all the plants available in all the different colors and it’s a huge task to choose the right plants.  It’s easy to get distracted by color and height and looks and then figure out the plant won’t grow here.  There are a lot of pieces to the puzzle that need to fit together.  If you have ever put a begonia in the hot sun or geraniums in the shade you know what this is about.  It’s so disappointing to have plants die from heat or not bloom in the shade after all the hard work in planting them.  Not to mention what it cost to make these mistakes.

Earlier there was a work day to measure the garden so a blueprint could be drawn up.  They made an outline of the garden and then filled in all the measurements.

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At the first design team meeting they took the blueprint with measurements and traced some blank outlines of the blueprint so they could all brainstorm and give ideas on how to divide the area.

There will be five sections to the main area of the left side of the main entrance to the building.  They’ve decided that they need one new shrub and perennials (plants that come back every year).  The garden faces east so will get lots of hot sun but there is a shady area created by the trees.  In conjunction with Greeley Conservation the garden will have low water Xeric plants and we will use mostly plant select plants.  This will allow all the plants to need the same amount of water.  Plant Selects are plants that are selected for our area and have been on trial to see how they grow in our hardiness zone (Greeley is 5b)**, and soil conditions.  Once our garden is established we can apply to be a trial garden for Plant Select and every year will get new plants and document how they grow in our conditions.

Everyone brought their perennial books and got busy discussing what plants will work best in each of the five areas, what color scheme they want, and how the designs for each area will flow into each other.

It has already been decided that from the side of the building along the south edge for sun and shade gardens they will use plans for Garden In A Box***  Garden in a box is a program through Resource Central to buy pre-planned gardens.  Everything comes in the box for you to design and plant a certain area space.  They have several different low water kits available in color schemes, shade gardens, butterfly gardens, pollinator gardens, etc.  These kits sell out really fast so if you are interested please visit these sites to get information and order a garden.   If you live in certain areas of Weld County you will receive a discount.  After ordering your garden you will be given a date and location to pick up your garden.

Next they discussed the focal point of the garden.  All other areas will flow into the area with the focal point.  They discussed the lines of the garden and where there would be foot paths (to work in the garden for weeding purposes, etc).  They discussed adding a small shrub to balance out the two other trees that were left in the garden.

Color schemes thrown around were red, orange, purple, blue and yellow.  There will be several rocks placed in the garden that will be green.    Sort of a sunset theme going on.  They will choose ground cover that will compliment the plants and will make selections so there will always be something blooming Spring, Summer and Fall.

There was lots of other exciting discussion about what plants and where to put them.  A good start to the design.  Wow, this was just for two areas.  Lots more planning to go.

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*Right Plant, Right Place info (lots of information on how to pick plants for your area)


**   Zone Map to find your zone (Greeley is 5b, further north in Weld County it could be 5a or even 4b).  Look at the low temperature guide on the right hand side of the page and depending on how cold it gets where you live that would be your zone.  When you buy plants there is a tag to show you its hardiness zone.  If it’s above your zone chances aren’t it won’t survive the winter.  The lower the number the more cold it will withstand.


*** Garden in a Box info



Once the design is complete it will be presented to the Island Grove Board for approval.  We all can’t wait to see this start to take form.

Watch our garden grow!!

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Soil Testing our gardens


One of our first tasks was to have a soil test performed.  We tested the two areas seen in the pictures above.  Soil testing is important to tell you what type of soil you have for drainage and water, and what nutrients you will need for the crops you are planting.  We are doing flowers and some shrubs/trees so we will concentrate on what we need to grow those plants.

We had our test performed and the results are back.  Our garden had been planted with trees and shrubs so most likely it had been amended at some point in the past but not recently.  Now it is a couple of trees and lots of weeds.


The soil is sandy loamy which means it will drain medium to fast so will dry out more quickly (better than hard lumpy clay).  We are planning on using low water plants so this will be ok.  The drainage will help us determine what type of irrigation is needed.  Most likely for low water plants we will use a drip system with some spray heads.

The PH is slightly high which shouldn’t be a problem for the plants we will put here.

Lime is very high which is typical for Colorado.  Our soil is very alkaline.  The plants we are planting will still grow well though so that’s ok.  This information will help us determine what plants will grow best here.

Organic matter is low but that is expected since this area hasn’t been amended in years.  Some nice compost will help out for this.  This could be animal or plant matter.  If you home compost it would work great.  We’ll talk more about this when we amend our garden.  For more info on compost see the link below**

Nitrates are low.  We’ll need to add some nitrogen.  Nitrogen is what helps plants grow.  We have lots of phosphorus in the soil which helps them bloom so we won’t need to any more phosphorus.  As we go along we will determine if there are some plants that might need some fertilizer.

There are lots of elements tested but these are the ones we will have to give more care.  Everything else tested out to be normal levels or we didn’t need to add any more of the element.

Anyone can have their soil tested at the CSU labs.  It’s amazing the difference there can be in samples within a small yard.  When testing you will gather samples from different areas of your space.

Soil sample jars and information forms are available at Colorado State University Extension county offices, fertilizer and agrichemical dealers, garden centers, nurseries, commercial soil testing laboratories, or from the Colorado State University Soil, Water and Plant Testing Laboratory, Room A319, Natural and Environmental Sciences Building, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado 80523-1120; (970)491-5061. Samples can be mailed directly to the laboratory for analysis.

The soil sample jars and information give you all the information you need to know about how to collect the samples.  You can mail them in or drop them off at the university.

If you would like to do some research on soil here are some links you can check out:


The link to compost:

** http://extension.colostate.edu/topic-areas/yard-garden/choosing-a-soil-amendment/

Watch our garden grow!!












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