Western Mountains and High Plains

December, 2013
Regional Report

Clever Gardening Technique

Test Soil Before Spreading Fireplace Ashes
Disaster can be the outcome when too many wood ashes are sprinkled onto Rocky Mountain garden soils. The majority of soils throughout the region, with the exception of some mountain soils, are alkaline. Wood ashes have the same effect as lime, sweetening the soil, or increasing the alkalinity. This will aggravate mineral and nutrient availability to plants. Test your soil first to make sure you won't be overdoing it by adding ashes.

Favorite or New Plant

Glory of the Snow
The sky blue blossoms of glory of the snow (Chionodoxa luciliae) are a cheerful sight in the early spring, and as befits their name, the flowers typicallyy get caught by a spring snow. The star-shaped flowers are about 1 inch wide, with 10 or more per spray or stem. Each flower has a starry white center and faces skyward, which distinguishes this plant from the Siberian squill that nods its head and has deeper blue flowers.

Put bulbs in the ground in September and October. Once established, glory of the snow will naturalize nicely. It multiplies by both seeds and offsets to form a carpet of blue. These are effective near the front entry, along walkways, or in spots where it can be viewed from the windows. They can be planted with early tulips and daffodils or planted en masse and allowed to naturalize in meadow gardens or in front of shrubs or perennial beds.

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