Volunteer Spotlight: Matt Huebschmann
Colorado Master Gardener℠ (CMG) volunteers are a dedicated group of individuals who are knowledgeable and passionate about sharing gardening, landscape and horticulture education. This month we are highlighting Matt Huebschmann.
When did you join the Colorado Master Gardener program and why did you join?
After several years of being a professional artist, I realized that my landscape-inspired sculptures had inspired me to start landscaping. It seemed innocent at first, but I quickly learned that I would rather be working outside instead of in my studio. That year I participated in the Aurora Water Xeriscape Rebate Program and was hooked on gardening immediately. I tried to absorb every word in every garden book at the library, but that was not enough. In 2019, I joined the CMG program. 
Grow and Give: Addressing Local Food Insecurity
By Lucinda Greene, Colorado Master Gardener Program Coordinator and Assistant Horticulturist
Photo: Lucinda Greene
The Grow & Give program is a new initiative of the Colorado Master Gardener program, launched in the spring of 2020, to support food insecure populations throughout the state. Modeled on the Victory Garden movement of World War II, this program encourages home gardeners to learn to grow their own food and donate any excess to local food banks or families in need. Because of job loss and the economic downturn that accompanied the COVID-19 pandemic, incidences of hunger throughout the state have increased. With the closing of schools, families with students who previously relied on national school breakfast and lunch programs were impacted.

In 2018 data, approximately 58,770 citizens or 9.2% of the Arapahoe County population were considered food insecure. April survey information from the USDA and Feeding America.org, show that those estimates are expected to rise to 14.3% in Arapahoe County for the 2020 year. Approximately 7% of families in Colorado receive hunger assistance support from federal programs. However, many food insecure families are not eligible for federal assistance.
Holiday Containers - Living Christmas Trees
By Kathi Thistlethwaite, Colorado Master Gardener
This is the third of a six-part series focusing on container gardening in Colorado.    

Now that fall is past and beautiful harvest colors are transitioning to winter white, it’s time to turn attention to live plants in holiday containers. What could be more appropriate for the holidays than a potted Christmas tree to be planted in the landscape and enjoyed for years to come?
There are many varieties of evergreen trees available as “living” Christmas trees. Choosing a type of tree depends largely on where it will be planted after the holidays. Consider space and the size of the mature tree.
Photo: White Flower Farm
From the Hort Desk
Pollinator Syndromes
Now that the days are shorter and the cooler weather is here, this can be a nice time to begin thinking about your garden plans and goals for next season. Are you interested in planting more pollinator-friendly plants? Have you thought about why some plants attract pollinators while other may not?

What is a Pollinator Syndrome?
In general, research has shown that plants have specific flower traits that attract pollinators, and the plants provide the pollinator with nectar and pollen rewards. These attractive traits can include flower color, odor, shape, and availability of pollen and nectar. Some plants even have nectar guides which are markings showing where the pollinator should go to collect the reward. Different traits attract different pollinators. Why would a plant evolve with traits to attract pollinators? Because visiting pollinators will facilitate plant reproduction. This relationship benefits both the plants and the pollinators.
Lisa Mason
CSU Extension Horticulture Agent
Hummingbird at Broomfield Demo Garden,
 Photo: Nancy Klasky
For example, bird pollination is called “ornithophily.” In Colorado, hummingbirds are primary bird pollinators. We know that hummingbirds generally prefer to visit flowers that are red, orange, or white. The flowers tend to be funnel-shaped, hang loosely on the plant, and have plenty of nectar deep in the flowers. For other birds around the world such as sunbirds, honeycreepers, and honeyeaters, the plants tend to have strong perch support for the bird to land. Flowers that attract birds typically don’t have an odor, because birds don’t need the scent to find the flowers. You might also notice that the flower petals tend to curve outward to make it easier for a hummingbird in flight to drink nectar.
Humidity for Health
By Paula Szilard, Colorado Master Gardener
Colorado is a challenging environment for the tropical plant enthusiast. Many people who grow tropical rainforest plants in Colorado’s dry climate have learned the lessons of humidity the hard way—a failure to thrive, wilting, decline, or sudden death by collapse.
The term relative humidity (RH) is very descriptive. It’s the amount of water that the air can hold at a specific temperature. In the winter months, non-humidified interiors without plants can have a relative humidity of as little as 10%. Unfortunately, most plants from the humid tropics thrive under much higher RH. So, lovers of tropical plants have to work hard at creating an optimal environment for their plants.
Alocasia 'Frydek', Photo: pinterest.com
For health and adequate growth, plants try to maintain an equilibrium between the amount of water they lose through transpiration and the amount they take up. The hotter and sunnier the environment, the more most plants transpire. To some extent, plants can control this process by opening and closing the stomates or pores on the underside of the leaf blade. When the stomates are open, carbon dioxide can enter, but water is lost through transpiration. Wilting causes the stomates to close, reducing water loss, but also reduces carbon dioxide uptake, thus reducing photosynthesis and resulting in less vigorous growth. This may be a partial explanation for the less luxuriant growth of plants in environments with reduced humidity.
Timely Garden Tips
By Judy Kunz, Colorado Master Gardener
  • Discourage unwelcome critters like squirrels and rabbits from digging in bulb and perennial beds by laying down chicken wire followed by a light covering of evergreen boughs.
  • Organic matter is lacking in many soils along the Front Range. Fallen leaves are like gold, adding organic matter and feeding microorganisms that make for healthy soil. Save your back from the task of raking and mow the leaves into the lawn so they work their way into the soil profile. To speed up decomposition, make several passes with the lawnmower, chopping them up so they don’t smother the lawn and create mold issues. Mother Nature will do the rest.
Photo: staging.shared.com
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