Western Mountains and High Plains
Favorite or New Plant
Among the earliest harbingers of spring to come, the Lenten rose will surprise you with not only its evergreen foliage, but also with white, greenish, or purple-hued blossoms which appear in late winter to early spring. While tulips are still awaiting to emerge, Lenten rose is a rugged survivor.
Plant in well-drained soils, dappled shade, and a sheltered location. Plants that are out in the open and subjected to the elements should be mulched in late fall to ensure survival. Helleborus orientalis is one of my favorites for its purple to whitish-green flowers in mid to late February.
Clever Gardening Technique
A Homemade Abode for Toads
Toads are welcome guests in the home garden. They are known to dispose of more harmful insect pests than most beneficial predatory insects. Provide area toads with a hideaway so they can safely stay in your garden. I use clay pots that are turned upside down and slightly embedded into the ground; dig small entry ways into the soil at the edge of the clay pots. Toads will retreat to their toad abode in the day. They often cover themselves with soil and stay cool and protected from predators. At night they will return to the garden to feast on pests.