PO Box 2458, Tijeras NM 87059

Mountain Gardens--finding success with plants for the high desert and East Mountains of New Mexico

Monday, August 29, 2011

Basket Gourd Winner

Judy Smith & Alyson
Judy Smith won the raffle drawing for the basket gourd. We're delighted that she came by in time to pick up her prize! We still have several doorprizes that haven't been claimed. Folks can reach us at the usual number which rings through to the greenhouses. We'll be happy to make arrangements for them to pick up their prize.

We finished moving all the plants back to the greenhouses this morning. Whew, what a chore! But now we can work at our own pace getting the plants ready for their long winter dormancy. Like most small nurseries in cooler climes, we'll spend our winter hiatus planting seeds, making cuttings, growing out liners ordered from other growers

Friday, August 26, 2011

The Winners Are...

We had our drawing yesterday, and Susana came in to help pull the winning raffle tickets. We're waiting for everyone to claim their prizes (and get permission) before we identify the lucky winners. We raised over $100 to help Susana replace her art materials (or whatever else, of course) destroyed in the fire (see previous posts).

We also judged and awarded gift certificates for some container plantings. At the beginning of the season, we planted 14 pots for the merchants in Turquoise Trail Plaza. After discussing things with our landlord's executive assistant, we decided to invite the merchants to 'adopt a pot.' They would each be responsible for the planter outside their shops, and at the end of (our) season, the best looking pot would earn the winner a gift certificate to Mountain Gardens. And the winners arrrrrre....

1st Place--Judy Breedlove at Cedar Crest Fitness.
Judy actually had three pots to keep up with which tipped the balance in her favor. But the pot right next door looked so good that we decided to award a second certificate to.....

 2nd Place--Ambrose Rivera at Village Guitarist
                     Congratulations on a job well done.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

ArtFest Over & We're Almost to the End of the Season

ArtFest 2011 went off without a hitch last weekend. We had some wonderful artists, and sold a lot of plants at our end of season sale. By popular acclaim, Our Best of Show winners were Tillery & Regina Dingler of Spirit Ware. They received a $100 cash prize. (Tillery pictured below with presenter, Belinda East)

Tillery Dingler & Belinda East

Richard Elvis
Richard Elvis was awarded 2nd for his mirror and glass art, receiving a $50 cash prize.

Some of our favorite pictures--these flowers were part of Santa Fe artist Gilbert Candelaria's colorful and wildly creative transformation of "mundane objects into art."

Vivian Hartman & Jessica deGruyder taking a break from painting henna designs, and displaying unique jewelry pieces featuring delicate bits of insects encased in resin and plastic.

A chance discovery led Tom Hubbert to explore an unusual media in his painting--asphalt.

Joyce McKenstry was back this year with her fine jewelry.

Marge Larson's oils were both accomplished and interesting--a wide range of subjects too.

 Vicki Hudson of Nature's Way Jewelry made the most amazing pieces working with shells, fossils, wood and other natural materials--and each set beautifully boxed.

We had several demonstrations--Laurie Lange has been studying our native bees and their habitats. (pictured)
Susana Andrews spent time weaving, and Phoenix Simpson painted in water color. 
Fest goers were entertained by the expert fingering of Banjo Bob on Saturday, and by Joyce and Lew Sherrod of "Mis' Behavin' on Sunday. These musicians were really great--I kept overhearing listeners remarking at how much they enjoyed them, especially Joyce's vocals.

And last but not least--a big thank you to Pinkie's Catering for making sure we had food and drink. Pinkies Country Cafe is a great place to run in for coffee and scones, or a quick sandwich and more.

Mountain Gardens last day will be on August 28th. We'll be selling raffle tickets until then--prizes include a Chakra Cleansing with Robert Standing Eagle Marshall, a handpainted basket gourd, a fused glass necklace donated by artist Theresa Dunfree, a reading by Jennifer Lee, and a gift certificate from Pinkie's. The raffle benefits one of our artists from last year who lost her home, studio and art materials in a fire.

We'll continue our sale until the 28th. All trees and shrubs 25% off. Buy one herbaceous perennial and get the second (and others of same cultivar) at half off. Remaining 4 inch annuals, herbs, and veggies--50 cents each.

 We hope everyone has a great fall, winter and spring. We'll see you in April, the third and fourth weekend. Till then, we'll keep posting to the blog whenever something interesting comes up.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

ArtFest 2011 Spaces All Filled

We're very happy that all our booth spaces are filled--and we've had to turn away applicants. But we're keeping everyone on file for next year!  Hard to believe the summer has gone by so fast. The grandkids have already started school.

We're having a drawing this year to benefit one of our artists from last year. Tragically, her home burned down this summer, taking her studio, looms, art and art supplies. The prize is a large, handpainted basket gourd titled Paraiso Manzanos.

We're almost ready. Remembered the trash cans this time! Friday evening we'll get the lot marked off, and Saturday morning the show is on...

Friday, August 12, 2011

Tent Caterpillar ?

If you see an ugly mess like this in your shrubs or trees, you can be sure you have caterpillars. The silky webbing is characteristic of tent caterpillars, webworms, and others--most of them moth larvae. The granular matter in the web is frass--caterpillar poop. Following a frass trail is a good way to spot culprits that are better hidden than these characters. Hornworms, the big, bright green caterpillars with the hook on their tail that are chomping your tomatoes to the ground blend perfectly--but they leave big plops here and there.

This is some kind of tent caterpillar (please correct me I'm wrong--I couldn't make a positive id). He (or she, maybe it?) and sibs have been wreaking havoc in the mahonias (Oregon grape holly) outside the gate at Mountain Gardens. Tomorrow I'll dust them with some Bt, (Bacillus thuringiensis) a bacterium that preys only on caterpillars. After eating some, any caterpillar will stop feeding within an hour or two, and die within a day or two. ANY caterpillar--that includes our beautiful butterflies, the champion pollinator hawkmoth and others, so I only resort to Bt after other methods of control have failed--washing off with strong blasts of water, hand picking, etc. We also use them only if the plant under attack  is likely to be completely defoliated (a little munching here and there is part of the cycle). Bt comes in a variety of forms. We use Dipel, a dust, or Thuricide which can be mixed with water and sprayed on your plants. There is a special Bt to use in water to control mosquito larvae. Bt is organic and safe to use--there have been thousands of studies--and it doesn't harm any of the beneficial critters in your garden, or your pets or kids. It's a naturally occurring soil bacterium.

Countdown to ArtFest on August 20/21--only a week to go!? Where has the season gone?

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Many thanks to The Independent for the article in this last issue about our talk Landscaping for Fire Safety! I was surprised to find that none of the attendees had been to one of forestry's firewise seminars. I hope more residents will avail themselves of this excellent resource--especially since it sometimes seemed the whole state was going up in flames this year. We went to one several years ago, and were impressed by the experience. While I was brushing up for the talk, I was amazed to find so much more online. California, Oregon, and Washington states have whole programs on firewise landscaping including plant material which was very helpful.

On a sad note, my heart goes out to the families who lost homes this year, but especially to the Mullanes who own Dixon's Apple Orchard. If you look for Honeycrisp apples every fall, they're usually Dixon apples. The Mullanes lost their home, outbuildings, and equipment but managed to save most of their trees--which they may now lose to the tons of ash carried down from the Las Conchas fires on monsoon rains. There will be a benefit on August 27th. The info is on their FaceBook page (www.facebook.com/pages/Dixons-Apple-Orchard).

There are a lot of things we can plan for--but a lot of things we can't. When it seems like too much effort to design a firesafe landscape, to consider choices carefully, to limb up trees, reposition plants, use good mulches, we should think how little effort that would seem with smoke bearing down on us.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

August 2011

The summer is slipping away so fast! We're gearing up for ArtFest--less than two weeks away--most of our booth spaces are filled with artists of every ilk. Photography, painting, jewelry, recycled art, woodwork, pottery. Pinkie's Country Cafe will be there too, with food and drink. We're expecting it to be a great show.

At Mountain Gardens, we're freshening up our pots, and prepping for our big end of season perennial sale--BOGO  (buy one get one) 50% off all gallons of the same variety. Trees and shrubs will be 25% off.

The last talk of the season will be "Success With Perennials," at 2 pm on Saturday. New Mexico natives have confided they've never seen such a season as this has been; the harshest winter with temps ranging below -20 for weeks--we had -30, and some of our customers saw -40!!! Then a balmy April softens our plants up for a second killing spree when May shocks us with one hard freeze after another. All this time the battering winds have never let up sucking moisture out of the hardy survivors which now have to get through the worst drought we've had in a long time. And then we watched rabbits and other varmints steal the last bits of green--because there has been NOTHING out there for them.Wow!

No wonder East Mountain gardeners are confused and depressed.  It's been an education! The rains have finally come--and the toughest of the tough plants are shooting up, taking advantage of the moisture at end of the summer, the falling off of the wind. It's been an eye-opener--to see plants we thought were marginal succeed, and some we had perfect confidence in fail. And it also reveals the importance of microclimate, soil prep, hardening off, good choice of plant material for our zones--and other factors we've been talking about all summer.

We'll touch on all of these in our last talk. Hopefully we won't see another season like this in a very long time--but we want our clients to be well prepared. As always, all talks are free and open to the public--lawn chairs suggested.

We've given two more classes since the pond class, on rainwater harvesting, and landscaping for fire safety (should have scheduled that one earlier given our fire season!). We'd like to hear from everyone on suggested topics for next season. We're game to tackle anything, and love learning new things--but if there's interest in butterfly gardening or more classes on composting--we up for that too. The subject matter (well, must be garden related of course) is nearly infinite--challenge us!

During our winter break when our schedules allow, we're always happy to give talks at garden clubs, etc. You may "sweeten" a fee...really, anything chocolate is good--otherwise, no charge.