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Gardening Carol O'Meara


Honor fathers by planting a garden

 Children shouldnít be the only ones who enjoy a little make believe in the garden. Many people have memories of when they were young and the dreams they had growing up. Take dads, for example. Before they grew up to become responsible, they had dreams of being superheros, baseball stars, firemen or astronauts. These familiar goals can give you the inspiration for planting a salute to dad and help him relive his youth.

Anyone who believes a garden salute to dads on Fatherís Day involves a lengthy discussion of lawn care is missing the point. A great salute can be about their dreams or accomplishments. Did your dad secretly wish to be a cowboy when he grew up? Plant an entire container of Helianthus Sundance Kid sunflower, a 2-foot tall, well-branched plant that keeps a half dozen blooms going all season long, as a gift for him.

Did dad want to be an astronaut? There are a wealth of flowers and vegetables that celebrate the stars. Snapdragon Rocket Hybrids ó Antirrhinum majus Rocket ó are tall, showy blooms with plenty of color to choose from, and look great in borders and beds. The heirloom watermelon Moon and Stars says it all by celebrating the dreams and age of dad, and provide him with a tasty treat in the middle of the summer. In this case, heirloom is, of course, no suggestion of dadís old age.

If your dad likes sports you could plant the usual flowers celebrating his favorite teamís colors or go with giant-sized football mums. But for real sports fans you need action in the garden. Thatís where hummingbird plants come in. Attract a few hummers to the garden and you have a hockey match on wings, full contact feeding and a few bench clearing brawls thrown in for entertainment. These birds are scrappy and enjoy flowers with bold red and orange colors, particularly agastache (hyssops), trumpet vines, salvias and honeysuckles (lonicera sp.) For the die-hard hockey fans, there is a petunia series called avalanche that comes in many colors, including those of our home-town team.

My dad was in the Navy, and I like to plant at least one flower each year to remind me of him. I especially enjoy the blue morning glory, ipomoea ensign, for its deep blue flowers and vining habit. Paired with a colorful counterpart, such as scarlet runner beans, itís a show stopper in the vegetable garden. There are many plants that would work for the navy theme, including a mix of blues of the Aladdin Nautical petunia hybrids, although Pop may feel that a petunia isnít quite manly enough for a navy man. He should be happy I donít plant Old Spice sweet peas for him. That would teach the old sailor not to mess with a gardener.

The other services have their share of plants to celebrate the dads who served in them. The container plant Heliotrope arborescens Mini Marine likes it moist and would best be grown as a container plant in our dry region. This compact plant delivers a surprise wallop when it blooms. Itís a small, 8-inch plant with blooms that easily grow to 12 inches across and smell of vanilla. Salvia patens Blue Angel, and gladiolus Blue Sky would please our Air Force dads. For the soldiers of the army, try the marigold Tagetes patula Golden Guardian, the creeping phlox Fort Hill or, if you have a moister spot, the centurion series of delphiniums. Celebrate dad this year with a special plant for him.

Garden classes June 22 to 24

Donít forget gardening classes and tours for beginning and experienced gardeners will be June 22 to 24 at Colorado State University in Fort Collins. Composing Colorado Landscapes: Creating a Sense of Place in the Home Garden, is sponsored by Colorado State Cooperative
Extension and features Jeffry de Jong, horticulturist with the Calgary Zoo and Botanic Gardens, as keynote speaker. For information and to register, visit

Carol OíMeara 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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