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CSU Co-op plant sale to benefit gardening programs

 Master Gardener and Growing Gardens plant sale fundraiser benefiting these two great programs. There will be many wonderful plants to choose from, including my one, true weakness — a wide variety of heirloom tomatoes. Avid tomato fans can choose from standards such as the Brandywines, novelties such as Black Krim and garden standards such as cherry or paste tomatoes.

Last year Ramona Clark, director of Growing Gardens, convinced me to try Thessaloniki, a lovely heirloom of medium size whose flavor is touted as that which “takes you back to the sun drenched hillsides of the Mediterranean.” There are plenty of times during the year I wish I were in the Mediterranean, and on those days last summer I picked and sliced a few tomatoes, added basil and balsamic vinegar, donned my bikini and sat in the yard basking in my fantasy.

Create some privacy

Now that the neighbors are asking us — well, begging is a better word — to screen off that part of our yard, my mind turns to some of the newer plants being offered at this year’s sale. Ornamental vines can solve difficult problems of backyard privacy with a beautiful, fast growing screen or quickly add shade to hot spots. This year vines are popular products for gardeners going vertical.

Honeysuckle is a vine many people remember with fondness from their youth, and the new honeysuckles are well worth bringing home. This year we are excited to offer both Dropmore Scarlet (red flowers) and Graham Thomas (creamy yellow flowers), both varieties are outstanding fragrant bloomers. They are large plants, however, and a suitable support is needed to hold up all the brightly colored blooms.

Vines can be show stoppers

There’s no reason the show needs to stop at the end of summer, and sweet autumn clematis (Clematis terniflora) provides a fantastic cascade of deeply fragrant white blooms well into the fall. Daydreaming gardeners lounging near this plant can close their eyes and let its sweet perfume wash over them.

The must-have vine of the season is a heat loving viticella clematis. This tough plant grows in full sun and can take reflected heat — they are a show-stopper on the south facing cement walls at the Denver Zoo. The viticellas have a smaller flower than standard clematis, and become loaded with blooms in either singles or doubles all over the plant.

Adding shade with vines takes a little thought before planting. Often vines that carry fruit, such as grapes, can pose a sticky problem when the fruit drops off onto chairs or lounges. Nothing cuts into the enjoyment of a Mediterranean fantasy like squished grapes underneath you. Seed pods can be a whole different problem, and gardeners are encouraged to look at all aspects of the vine before committing it to providing shade for resting spots.

An often overlooked garden spot in Colorado landscapes are the dry shade places, and many gardeners complain about the difficulty in finding plants that do well in those areas. Gardeners will find help in filling their shady areas with blooms such as winecups, primroses and pasque flowers. There is plenty to offer many gardeners with unique interests, such as herbs, rock garden plants, plants to attract hummingbirds and annuals for dramatic containers.

Garden sale coming up

Join us at the Growing Gardens and Colorado Master Gardener plant sale from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, May 20 and 21, in the parking lot of Boulder County Public Health on the corner of Iris and Broadway in Boulder. These and many other garden gems will be available, and Master Gardeners will be on hand to chat about plant selection, plant care and how to create eye-popping combinations that will give you gardening enjoyment this season.

Carol O’Meara is with the Colorado State University Cooperative Extension office at the Boulder County Fairgrounds in Longmont. Colorado State University Cooperative Extension, together with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, provides unbiased, research-based information, about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information contact Cooperative Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds, 9595 Nelson Road, Box B, Longmont, 303-678-6238, or visit

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