We started things off with an interesting – if really disturbing — presentation by Chatfield Director Larry Vickerman titled, Sustainable Soils. Larry outlined the problems inherent in the overuse of inorganic, nitrogen-rich fertilizers and described how the Denver Botanic Gardens is working to create and support healthy soils with organic fertilization, minimal tilling, and use of ground cover.
With much to think about, we headed out to prepare the Janice Ford Memorial Garden for planting in May. Proving yet again that many hands make light work, we trimmed, thinned, weeded, raked, trenched, mounded, spread compost and mulch, caught up on all the news, and pulled up an obsolete irrigation system. It was great to see familiar faces and welcome new ones!
Some of us took a trip to the Chatfield greenhouse to check on the progress of our seedlings. Marigolds, hollyhocks, cosmos, coreopsis, cota – all very tiny – but we trust they’ll be ready for planting on May 25. Fingers crossed! We’re looking forward to another good, fun, and — inevitably — surprising growing season. Our new volunteers can anticipate the truly miraculous process of nurturing plants and then producing dyes from them; while our veterans (never immune to miracles!) look forward to sharing our knowledge and experience with them and botanic garden visitors. We even have a research project to look forward to, as our garden is one of several around the country participating in John Marshall’s Japanese indigo study — more on that in future blog posts!
One last thing: founding members Donna Brown and Jánet Bare have co-authored “Growing a Dye Garden,” an article in the Spring 2017 issue of Shuttle Spindle & Dyepot. If you’re a member of the Handweavers Guild of America, check it out! If you’re not, your local public library may have a copy, or be able to get you one via interlibrary loan.