Rick’s 2023 Winter Reading List
By Katherine Placzek
Winter is the perfect time to curl up with a book. Our staff has accumulated our favorite plant reads so you can get a stack of books from the library or your favorite local bookstore. All you need is a blanket and to start the tea kettle!
Plan a Colorful Garden for our Rugged Terrain:
Pretty Tough Plants:135 Resilient, Water-Smart Choices for a Beautiful Garden
by the Experts at Plant Select
Plant Select, the country’s leading brand of plants designed to thrive in high plains and intermountain regions, wrote the book on hardy high desert gardens- literally! This book will help you make a list of plants to seek out when it warms up. With amazing photos, each plant is described with specifics that are important for garden design, such as growing zones and light requirements. The selected plants include perennials and annuals, groundcovers, grasses, shrubs, and trees. Drool over each page, and complete your winter garden dreaming with this essential book!
Relish Edible Garden Designs:
Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden
by Niki Jabbour
Based on actual gardens designed by celebrated gardeners and renowned landscapers, each of these 73 gardens offers unique solutions for your own garden. The garden layouts are illustrated, and list the edible plants included. You will find a pepper garden with over 24 pepper varieties, a garden that is in harmony with a chicken coop as its central feature, a cocktail garden, a balcony garden, and so many more niche ideas. Regardless of your space or experience, you will find something that will be new and exciting to you! Explore new species of eggplants, climbing tomatoes, edible flowers, and a plethora of ways to showcase the bounty in your vegetable garden.
Live an Insect’s Perspective:
by Laline Paull
Throughout this novel, you will fall in love with the main character, Flora-717, a female bee in a honeybee colony. While scientific in many ways, it is a suspenseful and fantastical story in its own right. Experience predatory insects, pesticides, birds, weather, seasonal changes, human interactions, and the hive mentality from the perspective of a worker bee. The Bees will change how you view the life of a honeybee!
Drool Over Houseplants:
Plantopedia: The Definitive Guide to Houseplants
by Lauren Camilleri & Sophia Kaplan
This is a wonderful introductory guide for the houseplant enthusiast! 130 plants including foliage plants, succulents, and cacti are profiled. While as educational as a textbook, this book also doubles as a coffee table book due to its incredible images! You will be able to keep your houseplants happy and vibrant after reading this informative book. Plantopedia is a great gift for any houseplant lover!
For the Fledgling Plantswoman:
The Earth in Her Hands: 75 Extraordinary Women Working in the World of Plants
by Jennifer Jewell
If you are inspired by seeing other individuals who are molding the future of the plant world, check out this beautiful book. 75 women are interviewed on their backstory of how they debuted in the plant world. Each individual is given a multi-page spread, and vivid pictures are included. You will meet nursery owners, photographers, vegetable farmers, flower farmers, activists, researchers, florists, plant breeders, seed collectors, and a myriad of other professionals.
A Mystery that Involves a Plant Poisoning:
A Botanist’s Guide to Parties and Poisons
by Kate Khavari
This lighthearted mystery introduces you to the world of Saffron Everleigh, who has just become a research assistant at the University College of London during the early 1920s. Plant lovers will enjoy the scenes located in various gardens, arboretums, and greenhouses. After a poisoning occurs, our fearless heroine is caught in the middle since her mentor is the main suspect. She undertakes the task of clearing her mentor’s name with her dashing sidekick, Alexander Ashton. This is the first book of a series, so feel free to get emotionally attached to the characters.
Calling All Beginning Vegetable Gardeners:
The Kitchen Garden: A Month by Month Guide to Growing Your Own Fruits and Vegetables
by Alan Buckingham
This book is a great foundation for beginner and intermediate vegetable gardeners. The author provides you with detailed crop planners, indicating when to sow and how to care for more than 60 veggies, herbs, and fruits. Every month is broken into tasks. Discussion on growing zones occurs, so you can acclimate to the monthly tasks based on your region. Basic composting, Hugelkultur, and crop rotation processes are also covered. The author shares tips on maximizing your garden plot if sloped or uneven terrain is a concern, which is common in this area. Buckingham especially trains you in gardener’s foresight strategies. Get your feet wet and your hands dirty with this book!
A Gardener’s Contemplation:
Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education
by Michael Pollan
This was one of Michael Pollan’s first published books. If you know him as a food writer or culture shifter, reacquaint yourself with him as a gardener. His amusing stories have a retro feel due to their publishing year but are still relevant to how societal norms influence our lawns, yards, and gardens. He talks about the dichotomy between the wilderness and a garden. The book makes you consider the role that your yard plays in this conversation.
How to Start a Flower Farm:
Floret Farm’s Cut Flower Garden: Grow, Harvest and Arrange Stunning Seasonal Blooms
by Erin Benzakein with Julie Chai
In Erin Benzakein’s debut book, you will be absorbed by the gorgeous photographs of colorful flowers, and her thoughtful design. Benzakein’s generous spirit shines through, as she guides you from a beginner’s understanding into the intricacies of large-scale cut flower farming. While reading the book you will learn about helpful tools of the trade, planting/care staples, the harvesting processes, and the art of flower arrangements. Soon enough, you will be dreaming of dahlias, zinnias, poppies, daffodils, anemones, ranunculus, and more!
by Rachel Carson
Initially released in 1962, this book helped the public understand the impact of pesticides. Rachel Carson, an American biologist, writer, and conservationist, researched the impacts of post-World War II pesticides, including DDT on songbird populations. Through the publication of this book, her audience was able to push for a nationwide ban on DDT. If you are able to pick up a physical copy, the illustrations are exquisite! The images were drawn by Lois and Louis Darling. Naturalist Sir David Attenborough expressed Silent Spring as a book that has changed the scientific world- a classic read for any gardener!
A Reason to Plant Natives:
Nature’s Best Hope: A New Approach to Conservation that Starts in Your Yard
by Douglas W. Tallamy
Written by Dr. Douglas Tallamy, a professor in the Department of Entomology and Wildlife Ecology at the University of Delaware, this book will convince you to plant native plants in your yard. Tallamy explains why various insect larvae are keystone species, especially for bird populations. The book details how the landscape is changed when invasive or non-native plants are incorporated, and how natural food sources for wildlife are erased. This can be changed easily by planting native plants that provide dense nutrition as well as protective habitat corridors within the urban setting. Native plant guides and resources are provided throughout the book. Overall, a convincing and empowering read.
Learn to Garden on a Shoestring:
The Dirt Cheap Green Thumb: 400 Thrifty Tips for Saving Money, Time, and Resources as You Garden
by Rhonda Massingham Hart
This little book is chock full of clever ways to garden! The author is frank on how to save money while building a beautiful and productive garden. Enjoy humor and advice on the best ways to stretch your dollar, from starting seeds to preserving produce. The author explores all gardening, including edible and ornamental. Even seasoned gardeners will find resourceful tips in this helpful guidebook.
Rick’s Deep Freeze Guide
In preparation for our first deep freeze coming this Sunday, Rick’s Garden Center would like to remind our fabulous customers to take some steps beforehand to help your plant friends and tools out.
- Water in outdoor trees, shrubs and perennials and cover root balls with mulch. Do not mulch up to the trunk. Moist soil conducts earth heat better than dry soil. The mulch will help keep in the heat and protect the sensitive root ball.
- Rose bushes, mulch up to the graft union at the base of the rose trunk. You can use a rose collar or just pile up mulch up to and above the graft union. The graft union will look like a bulging area on the main trunk just above the soil line.
- Bring in any tropical plants, cacti or succulents that are not at least a zone 5 inside.
- Check and move any plants that are blown on by heat vents. This will dry out the foliage in no time!
- Outdoor trees, shrubs and perennials planted in pots should be insulated with burlap bags or mulch and placed against a south or west wall of your home. Avoid watering these before the freeze.
- Water in newly established lawns and grass.
- Go ahead and plant those mums you bought in the ground.. They may come back next year!
- Disconnect and drain all hoses and drips lines from spigots
- Cover newly planted bulbs with leaf, needle or straw mulch.
- Blow out that sprinkler system!
- After the freeze, you do not have to pull up all of the dead material, so that pollinators and other insects have a place to overwinter.
Rick’s Garden Center Bare Root Fruit Trees 2023
Great news for backyard orchardists- our bare root fruit trees just got confirmed for Spring 2023. This will be our second year offering bare root trees in the nursery. For those not in the know, bare root trees are sold, as the name suggests, without any soil on the roots. There are numerous benefits of planting bare root, but time is of the essence as far as purchasing, handling, and planting are concerned. If you missed our blog post from last year, check [here] for a great rundown on what bare root trees are, how to handle and plant them, and a lot of other great information. Here’s a brief rundown of some important information you can find there:
Why Bare Root?
- Improved tree health- no circling or girdling roots, easier transplant
- Reduced weight- less gas used, less expensive shipping, easier handling/planting
- Cost effective- roughly ½ the price of similar-sized container trees. All varieties will be $48.99, tax free (that’s right- you pay with a $50 bill, we’ll give you back a dollar and a penny in change.)
When are they available?
This depends largely on weather- trees should be arriving in early April. All bare root trees are sold on a first come, first served basis. Sales end when trees break dormancy–usually in late April–which necessitates their immediate planting. If you’d like to be notified when they arrive, please email info@ricksgarden or call the store at (719) 632-8491.
We’ve made some tweaks to our available varieties, and I’d like to take the time and share them with you. We have some varieties I’m confident you won’t find anywhere else.
This variety arose from a chance seedling discovered in British Columbia. This is one of the newest varieties available at Rick’s nursery, and has a sweet, juicy, aromatic fruit. This apple boasts beautiful color, long storage time, and once cut is slow to brown due to its low acidity.
Auvil Early Fuji Apple
This sport has all of the things you love about Fuji apples, and is ready for harvest six weeks earlier, making this apple a great option to spread out your harvest time. Discovered by Grady Auvil, a renowned Washington orchardist. Complex in flavor with a dense, crisp flesh.
Gale Gala Apple
This exclusive, improved Gala strain is noted for its beautiful, deep red color. Available only through VanWell nursery, our distinguished wholesale grower. Similar in taste and texture to Royal Gala making it good for both fresh eating and preserving, and perfect for desserts.
Royal Red Honeycrisp Apple
Everyone’s favorite apple now comes with better storage time and improved color. The perfectly snappy, crisp texture and sweet, slightly tart profile explain this apple’s overwhelming popularity. A versatile, hardy, and in-demand apple.
Red King Red Flesh Apple
New this year to Rick’s nursery, this apple has the unique feature of dark red flesh- even the juice is pink! Brilliant red skin, beautiful pink flowers, and an irresistible crunch are other qualities of note. This tree is triploid, which means that its pollen is sterile and will not pollinate other apples. For those interested in only the most unique apples, this variety is sure to please.
Red McIntosh Apple
It’s hard to think of a more classic apple than the McIntosh, whose popularity has been holding steady for more than 200 years. Perhaps also the poster child of the “all-purpose” apple, this variety has impeccable range as fresh, baked, preserves, cider, and many other applications. A supremely hardy, reliable producer.
Yellow Newtown Apple
The oldest heritage apple available through our bare root program, the Yellow Newtown (also called Newtown Pippin) originated in the late 17th century. Regarded as a winter apple due to its impeccable storage time, its flavor actually improves after harvest. As Thomas Jefferson said while visiting Paris, “they have no apples here to compare with our Newtown Pippin.”
This sweet cherry does it all: it is self-fertile (does not require a pollinator), late-blooming (to avoid early Spring frosts), semi-freestone (easy to pit), and has a gorgeous carmine color. A reliable producer with large fruit, its taste is superbly sweet with just enough acidity to make it perfect for fresh eating and also baking and preserves.
Early Italian Plum
This self-fertile plum is rich in flavor and ripens sooner than regular Italian plums, a boon to those of us with a short growing season. Another versatile “all-purpose” variety that is good right off the tree as well as in the kitchen. Tree features smaller stature and fragrant blooms.
Thanks for reading! We hope to see you in the nursery this Spring. We open our doors mid-April, but we have staff on board all year long to aid you in your gardening quest. Happy planting!
Too Deep in Love: Two Common Killers of Freshly Planted Trees
Trees are the cornerstones of our landscapes. No other kind of plant impacts the local ecosystem as broadly and effectively as trees; they create shady, cool microclimates, provide erosion control with their expansive roots, and supply habitat and food for many creatures. Planting trees is not difficult, but with their slow growth and considerable price, it pays to get it right the first time. Here are two common problems we see with freshly planted trees at Rick’s Nursery.
The most common and fatal error in planting trees is burying the root ball too deep. It only takes a few inches of soil on top of the root ball to smother it. When you plant your tree, take it out of the pot, then lightly brush off the loose soil on top-assume that the tree was never planted at the correct depth in the pot by the nursery that grew it. Then, after you finish planting the tree, you should still be able to see the top of the potting soil. In areas of poor soil drainage, it may be appropriate to leave the “shoulders” of the root ball as much as 2 inches above grade. Top with mulch to prevent the surface roots from drying out, but be careful not to contact the trunk. It will look wildly incorrect when created for the first time, but it is essential to the plant’s health. When you plant too deep, you starve the roots of oxygen, and the tree is prone to dying within the first 2-7 years of planting. Once you start observing trees, you may even begin to notice mature ones that are planted too deeply; trees should never look like a telephone pole sticking out of the ground, there should always be a distinct root flare. If you have already planted your tree too deep, you can carefully excavate by hand around the root flare to expose it. You can even mitigate too-deep planting in mature trees, though care should be taken not to damage roots. Just carefully remove the soil until you find the root flare, then mulch.
Our soil in most parts of Colorado is notoriously poor. Whether you have sand, clay, or just decomposed granite on bedrock, amending your soil with organic matter can solve several soil problems. We often forget, however, that in life and gardening, moderation is key. When you amend the backfill of your planting hole, you should use a maximum ratio of 1 part compost to 4 parts native soil. When you amend by more than 20% organic matter, you risk “containerising the hole.” This happens when you over-prepare the backfill of your planting hole; the roots of your tree are content with the fluffy, rich soil, and never establish outside the new hole. This creates circling roots and other problems associated with container trees, thus “containerising the hole.” Trees whose soil is over-amended are more prone to overwatering because the soil holds on to excess moisture. Trees may also begin to sink and list to one side as the extra compost decomposes and shrinks in volume, especially when the compost is dug under the root ball. Thus, the bottom of your planting hole should always be firm, unamended soil. Fresh compost should never contact the roots directly and should be mixed thoroughly into the backfill soil. Depending on what kind of tree, and the soil condition, it might be wisest to skip amendment altogether, and just let the wood mulch on top do the soil work. Generally, though, just a dab of compost will do the trick. Ultimately, we gardeners see soil amendment as an act of caring; just make sure not to love your tree to death.
Nothing makes us happier at Rick’s Garden Center than seeing your nursery plants thrive. For more information on planting, see our Tree and Shrub Planting Guide, available on our website. Happy planting!