February brings us the first signs of spring

1February brings us the first signs of spring. Tulips, hyacinths and primrose are starting to appear in garden centers and grocers and longer, warmer days are interspersed with snowstorms.

February is our last real month of winter. So enjoy skiing, sledding, skating and all that frosty beauty while you can.

Upcoming Classes

Private cooking, crafting and garden classes, garden consultations and herb walks are available for you or your group or organization. Call Susan @ 303-697-6060 or email [email protected] for more information.

Pressed Flower Arts

2Denver Botanic Gardens, Saturday, February 7, 10 am-noon, $39 member, $44 non-member.

register here

Can’t wait for spring flowers? Spend an enjoyable morning creating masterpieces with pressed flowers. Participants make bookmarks, cards and two kinds of flower candles to take home. Learn the best flowers to grow and how to press for optimal color, durability and longevity. All materials, handout and refreshments are included.


Warming Winter Soups and Chowders

winter soupDenver Botanic Gardens, Thursday, February 26, 2015 – 6-8pm, $42 member, $47 non-member. register here

Savory soups are easy, inexpensive, rich in vitamins and easy to freeze. Learn how to make delicious lemon soup with lamb/mint meatballs; creamy fish chowder with bacon and exotic Indian chicken stew with vegetables and lentils. Dinner, bread and a sweet are included, along with take-home recipes.


Mexican Fiesta Cooking Class and Dinner

4Denver Botanic Gardens, Thursday, March 12, 6-8pm, $42 member, $47 non-member.

register here

Discover the ease of preparing delicious dishes from south of the border! Learn how to master the classics: salsa, guacamole and chipotle crema and use them for garnishes for a Mexican meatball soup, creamy chicken with pumpkin seed sauce and zesty fish tacos. Wash it all down with hibiscus/lime tea and chili chocolate cupcakes. Recipes and dinner included.

Plan ahead – We just finalized a trip up to Estes Park, A Wild Plant Weekend, from Friday, May 29 – 31. Great price, scenery, hiking and all things wild. See below for details.


Fun Things to Do


Colorado Garden and Home Show, February 7-15. The big guy with gardens, demos, classes and aisles of new ideas.  Garden and Home Show

5 Denver Restaurant Week, February 20 to March. Try a multi course meal for 2 for $60 at that posh restaurant you’ve been wanting to try. Make reservations early, the 6-8PM spots fill fast. Check out menus and venues at Denver restaurant week.

Free Days
zooDenver Art Museum – Saturday, 2/7
Denver Zoo – Saturday, 2/7, Thursday 2/19
Denver Botanic Gardens – Chatfield, Tuesday, 2/3, York Street, Monday, 2/16
Clyfford Still Museum, Friday, 2/27




February is a great month to purchase seeds. Catalogs are here and the selection is great. It’s easy to get carried away so you need so do some planning. Take out a piece of paper, make a rough sketch of your garden and then fill it in with your selections.

7.This is also a great month to take some classes. Garden Centers are gearing up and many offer free classes on everything from growing seeds indoors to what fruit trees to plant. Check O’Tooles, Echtors, Tagawa Gardens and other nurseries for special events, classes and deals. Denver Botanic Gardens has great classes year round. Saturday, March 7 is their annual New Gardener Boot Camp, a full day of classes to get you ready for the season. info here  Classes are a nice fix for your spring fever.

Another great resource for gardeners is your local county extension office. Master Gardeners and horticulturists are on staff to answer questions and dispense with helpful handouts.

Need some color? Pick up a primrose. These sweet little flowers can be planted outside in spring if you can keep them alive indoors until then. They like it cool with evenly moist soil. Pick off fading blooms (make sure you take the stem too) to keep it in flower. Smell before you buy. The yellow ones are especially fragrant.


Recipes of the Month


New England Clam Chowder (my version)

8I love this soup. You can add (or delete) whatever vegetables you have on hand to give it more (or less) nutrition. Veggies that do nicely in this are zucchini and bell pepper.  If you have shrimp, scallops or other fish that needs to be used in the fridge or freezer, just throw it in.

  • 3 6-1/2 oz cans minced clams with juice or 1lb container of frozen chopped clams,  thawed, available at Whole Foods
  • 6 slices bacon
  • 3 medium potatoes cut into small, bite size pieces
  • 1 medium onion, diced small
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 cup chopped kale or spinach
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped into small pieces
  • 2 carrots sliced into thin coin pieces
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth, you could also use clam juice
  • 1 ½ cups milk, 1/2 and 1/2, or shock us with your decadence and use cream
  • 1 tbs flour – I like Wondra flour for this, fewer lumps
  • thyme, dill, paprika, salt and pepper to taste (herbs are optional)

Drain clams reserving the liquid and add enough chicken broth or clam juice to make two to three cups, enough to cover the potatoes. In a soup pan fry the bacon. When crisp set bacon on paper towels and set aside. Drain off drippings, leaving enough to cover the bottom of the pan. Add onions, celery, and garlic to drippings and sauté until tender. Add in the potatoes, carrots, and enough clam juice and chicken broth to cover, and cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender. Whisk flour into a ½ cup of the milk to make a paste until dissolved and add to the rest of the milk. Add to tender potatoes and broth along with chopped kale, seasonings and clams. Simmer until thickened and kale is tender. Add more broth or water if needed. Add crumbled, cooked bacon and serve.


Crispy Chorizo Quesadillas with Guacamole – 1 each for lunch or smaller portion, 1 ½ for full portion – serves 4-6.

9These are fast, easy and very tasty. Top with guacamole, lettuce, salsa, olives and sour cream for the full meal deal. Sliced fresh mango is nice on the side.

  • 1 lb cooked chorizo sausage, this is the kind that looks like ground beef – sauté in pan over medium heat until cooked through
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 12 oz freshly grated cheddar, queso fresco, or pepper jack cheese
  • Fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 12 flour or corn tortillas, get the smaller size, the big ones are too hard to flip
  • Vegetable oil or butter

Mix cooked chorizo with grated cheese. Spread 6 tortillas with mixture and top with scallions and cilantro. Keep filling away from the edges of the tortilla. Top with remaining tortillas. Press down. Heat oil or butter in skillet; add quesadillas one at a time, carefully turning over when browned on one side.  Keep warm in oven while you cook the rest. Cut in half and serve warm with toppings.


Estes Park Wild Plant Weekend

Friday, May 29, 2015 – 3 pm check in to Sunday, May 31, noon

10Become immersed in the fascinating world of wild edibles and medicinals in this weekend getaway. Learn how to rejuvenate yourself with wild herbs for the body, mind and spirit. Explore the ancient art of making restorative teas, salves and soothing natural remedies while you relax in Rocky Mountain splendor.

Hike through gorgeous scenery and explore wildflowers and edible and medicinal plants.

Classes are taught on all facets of identifying, harvesting, growing, eating and crafting with wild plants. Participants make and take home customized herbal teas, a soothing salve, recipes and detailed handouts. Weather permitting, most classes are held outside. A variety of activities such as a horseback riding (xtra charge), swimming, craft studio, museum, mini golf, labyrinth and roller skating may be enjoyed Saturday afternoon.

All classes, handouts, samples, meals and lodging are included. Accommodations are at the YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park new mountain lodge that borders Rocky Mountain National Park. The spacious bedrooms have two queen beds and a private bath. Six meals are included with a buffet of different entrees including a salad bar at lunch and dinner, as well as fresh fruit and veggies.



~ Friday

3-5 pm Check in

5pm Wild Tapas Happy Hour, Introduction


Class: Wild Plants 101 – Safety, Identification and the Top 10 plants for eating and healing.


~ Saturday


Morning hike to Rocky Mountain National Park – Identification, ethical harvesting practices and edible and medicinal uses of wild plants.


Afternoon free – on site activities include hiking, horseback riding, indoor pool, craft studio, museum, mini golf, labyrinth, roller skating.


Class: Foragers First Aid – How to use wild plants for medicine. Learn common, local plants to safely use for various ailments. We’ll make a soothing herbal oil and salve, demonstrate an herbal poultice and how to add nutrition to sauces, smoothies and meals with fresh and dried wild herbs. Custom craft your own tasty, nutritional/medicinal teas from an herbal buffet.


~ Sunday


Class – Ritual and Spiritual Uses of Sacred Herbs.

For centuries plants have been used in ceremony and ritual. Explore this fascinating ancient art as we make sage sticks and prayer bundles to take home from a selection of local ritual herbs.





Double occupancy: $353 per member, $373 per nonmember

Single occupancy: $442 per person, $462 per nonmember


*Please register by Sat, March 28* at www.botanicgardens.org, 720-865-3580,
[email protected]

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