We’re not out of the drifts yet but signs of spring are everywhere as are hopeful indicators for an end to the pandemic. It’s been a long, hard slog but April arrives with an intoxicating sense of anticipation and possibility. Get your hands in the soil, and dig that warm-weather wardrobe out of the closet.
Feast on asparagus, artichokes, baby dandelion leaves, and berries. Clean out and prepare your garden beds and get those early seeds going. Pack away all your long johns and dig out those Easter pastels. Time for longer, warmer days and the sweetness of spring.
With things loosening up class planning is in the works. Should have most of the public classes set by May. They will then be up on the website and in the May newsletter.
Fun Things To Do
Visit public gardens. Most of these are still on a reservation basis but take advantage of the smaller crowds while we still have them. Spring will be on full display.
Denver Botanic Gardens Downtown, Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield, Hudson Gardens,
Desert Canyon Farm in Canon City, The Gardens at Spring Creek in Fort Collins.
Check out local garden centers, they will be stocking up this month. Pick up some pansies, seeds, herbs, and veggie starts.
Take a hike. April has perfect weather for hiking when we aren’t having a late snowstorm. Check out the local parks and enjoy the early wildflowers and flowering trees and shrubs or hit the zoo for a day out with the kids.
For more ideas of what to do in Colorado check https://www.colorado.com/things-to-do
Easter Sunday is April 12th. Easter originated with the pagan festival of the vernal equinox in late March when the celebration of Eostre, the Anglo Saxon goddess of fertility, agriculture, and spring was celebrated. She was often accompanied by the snow hare, the original Easter Bunny. Later the holiday was changed to Easter Sunday, honoring Christ’s resurrection into heaven.
Eggs have long been a symbol of birth and regeneration. Celebrate this holiday by coloring some Easter eggs with a child, touching base with friends and family, and consider what dreams you would like to bring to fruition in this time of renewal and new beginnings.
It’s time to start gardening in earnest. You can start your indoor seeds if you haven’t already. Get old debris and early weeds out of the garden. Make sure you are pulling weeds and not perennials. Cut back your ornamental grasses to make way for new growth. Prune out dead wood and cut back late summer flowering plants like Butterfly Bush and Russian Sage to increase growth. Don’t cut back any spring-flowering plants like lilacs or you will remove the blooms.
As soon as the ground is workable you can plant bare-root strawberries, onion sets, seed potatoes, and seeds of cool weather crops like peas, chard, beets, carrots, lettuce, and broccoli. Remove tree wrap and water when temperatures are over 40 and the soil is dry.
Get a plan together complete with a shopping list before you go to the nursery and garden center. Spring fever can have a negative effect on your pocketbook and garden plans. Have you ever gone grocery shopping when you’re starving? Enough said.
Herb of the Month – Dandelion
That’s right, dandelions. Emerging dandelions are plentiful and tasty right now.
Taraxacum officinale, dandelion, happens to be one of the top five most nutritious vegetables, ahead of broccoli and spinach. It contains Vitamin A, calcium, iron, thiamine, riboflavin, and trace minerals. Europeans have been eating dandelions for centuries and you can find them here in upscale markets and restaurants, not to mention the back yard.
Medicinal plant properties include its use as a liver tonic and mild diuretic. All parts of the plant are edible. Dandelion leaves can be used in salads, egg dishes, casseroles, soups, and vegetable dishes. Pick young leaves in the spring before they flower or set bud, as older leaves or leaves from flowering plants are bitter. They can be used to replace spinach in recipes. The fall roots can be chopped, roasted, and used as a healthy coffee substitute.
The flowers, steeped in water, make a fine face wash, herbal bath, or steam. You can also use the flowers for vinegars and wine. Pull out the flower petals and blend them into butter and cheese spreads, or as a bright garnish for salads and other dishes. The flowers are a source of natural yellow dye and are an important pollen source for honeybees.
So don’t scorn this generous, sunny little plant. Pick it and use it to give yourself a healthy spring boost.
The Herbalist's Happy Hour
Warm weather is on the horizon and it's time for refreshing beverages, cocktail parties, and al fresco dining. My book includes recipes for fresh, artisanal beverages and finger foods made with ingredients from the garden. I went for low effort and delicious results. It includes recipes for cocktails, infused liquors, non-alcoholic refreshers, bitters, garnishes, savory small bites and more. From Blueberry Basil Blast to Smoked Salmon Mousse you’ll find plenty of ideas for healthy hydrating and flavorful snacking. Get it here
“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain.” – Vivian Greene