Putting your Colorado garden to bed for the winter

Autumn weather so far is resembling summer, other than the brief cold snap last month.

Along with recent 80-degree days, there are dangerous fires still burning in parts of the state. The city of Fort Collins is on water restrictions because of drought, the Cameron Peak fire and the maintenance project on the Horsetooth Reservoir.

Next week, temperatures should cool to the 60s with little to no moisture relief in sight.

Will sweater and parka weather arrive soon? Your guess is as good as mine. It is Colorado, after all, and winter can arrive any minute, impolitely skipping a gradual cool-wet fall season that gardeners and landscape plants prefer.

Let’s all make the best of it: Get some exercise outside on these beautiful October days and put the landscape to bed properly.

Water

Our landscapes are dry. We’ve had only one moisture-producing storm of late along the Front Range. (You remember Sept. 8 and 9, when it snowed and gardeners quietly cursed.) For an already dry region that only receives roughly 15 inches of precipitation yearly, we are currently at 7½ inches. Nature has some catching up to do.

Landscape plant roots absolutely need to be moist going into cold weather prior to the ground freezing. Dry roots can spell disaster for perennial plants that went in the ground this past spring, summer or last week. Dry tree roots, coupled with lack of winter moisture, can lead to root and branch death, less foliage, scorched foliage, no foliage or no tree next year.

If you are unsure if your landscape is dry, the simplest way to assess is to poke a screwdriver straight down in landscaped areas, like mulched beds, lawns and around trees. If it goes down easily, you’re probably not too dry. Conversely, if you’re using a bit of effort, there’s your answer.

Water all plants weekly until temperatures remain below 40 degrees and decent rain and snow arrive. Water deeply so all landscapes plants enter winter with adequate soil moisture. Trees need to be watered to a depth of 12 inches. For all other landscape plants, apply water so that the plant itself, and close-by surrounding soil, is moist to a depth of a couple of inches (not wet, but moist). A 2- to 4-inch layer of organic mulch like shredded bark or chopped leaves mixed with chemical-free lawn clippings are readily becoming available as trees shed leaves and you’re still mowing.

If you are new to Colorado, winters can be bone dry for long stretches. That means you need to drag out the hoses and give every plant another deep drink or two between snow events.

Garden cleanup

It is a gardener’s choice whether to cut back ornamental perennials with dead foliage in the fall or spring. Plants receive additional insulation and protection from our frequent freeze/thaw winter cycles when foliage is left in place. Snow-covered foliage can also add interest during the winter months. Birds appreciate seed heads and using the foliage for screening.

Any

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Colorado Springs artist creates secret garden in new exhibit | Arts & Entertainment

What lurks below a thriving garden might be even more beautiful.

Liz McCombs has spent months building a secret garden in her studio. What has emerged are ceramic and mixed-media humanlike sculptures all caught in the mysterious process of metamorphosis. Greenery sprouts up out of curled-up human figures; rootlike vegetables have grown heads sporting full lips and round eyes; and femalelike figures are given tangled roots for legs while lush gardens push up out of their skulls.


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Her pieces start with kiln-fired ceramic to which she adds recycled materials, such as wood, bark and pieces of glass.

“A key element of the show was transformation from one thing to something else,” says the longtime Colorado Springs artist. “In the garden you have birth, death, one thing nourishing something else, all things that make life life. I incorporate those ideas into each of the pieces. Each one has a unique story. They all fall under the overreaching idea of transition.”

“Secret Garden” is open now at Bridge Gallery. You can see the show from noon to 3 p.m. Saturdays through October. McCombs also will be working in the gallery throughout the month. Also on display will be a series of Halloween-inspired pieces, some influenced by the Day of the Dead Mexican holiday.

McCombs, an avid gardener, has always been fascinated by the cycle of life under the surface, and in this case, the garden. A simple seed is planted, watered and nourished with loving care and attention. How will that seed grow? What will it become? The possibilities are endless.

“It’s like the acorn turning into an oak tree,” she says. “I like the revealed and concealed idea. There are secrets inside all things and if given the right nutrients and space and time to grow, anything can happen.”

And how might that apply to human life? Very much the same. To grow, one must allow for new paths and new ideas to take root, which means others must die to make room. There’s a natural letting go that we can either nurture or resist.

As you might guess, McCombs is in favor of weeding out the old to make room for the new. It’s a theme that winds through her life. She eschews the idea of planning out what your life should look like, and instead allowing for the magic of the unknown to flow through.

“Unfortunately, when you have an idea in your mind of what you should be or what your life should be, you don’t leave any room for the possibility of anything greater than that dream,” she says. “If you think ‘If I have this then I’ll be happy’ is so limiting. We never know what’s out there and could be greater than anything you imagined.”

McCombs was a maker practically right out of the womb, she says. Recently, her mother found old pieces of her art labeled “Liz, age 4.” And even in

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Colorado State House District 45 candidate Q&A

Why are you seeking public office?
It’s time for Douglas County to have a representative who is more inclusive. I’m heartbroken at the provocative anti-LGBTQ+ legislation introduced by the current representative. I’m a second amendment supporter, gun owner and sport shooter who believes in common sense gun legislation.

What will your top three priorities be if elected?
1- Providing resources to combat COVID using science and data.

2- Dismantle TABOR

3- Address Education needs such as funding, class size and teacher evaluations.

Do you support some type of public option health insurance or Medicare for All at the state level? If so, which and why? If not, why not?
Access to medical care, including physical, mental and women’s healthcare are a human right. This would enable every resident, especially children to enjoy a happier, healthy and productive life.

Have your views on policing and racism in Colorado changed this year? If so, how?
Recent events prove the police are grossly mishandling incidents involving people of color. Racism and bias were always suspected, but this year we have irrefutable proof of that from across the country. I’m particularly disturbed by the image of a black family being made to lie on the hot asphalt during a “stolen car” investigation in Aurora. I can’t imagine the same happening to a white family. And that’s the glaring difference.

Do you place a greater importance on addressing climate change or preserving Colorado’s oil and gas industry? What steps would you take on these issues as a lawmaker?
Climate change is an emergency for our planet. Colorado can take the lead in showing how to reduce fossil fuel emissions by investing in clean renewable energy. Colorado is a great location for both wind and solar energy. The “Just Transitions” program is an agreement between industries and unions to move carbon fuel workers into well paid clean energy jobs. I will do all I can to support this.

Should Colorado consider any new gun laws? If so, which do you support?
Two new gun laws are safe storage and increased concealed carry training. Safe storage would mandate that guns not in the possession of the owner should be securely locked away to prevent theft, reduce suicides, and prevent accidental shootings. Gun owners should carry firearm insurance to mitigate damages done by unsecured firearms. As a person who has completed several concealed carry classes I find the standards and training for a permit to be grossly inadequate. Training should be standardized, include live firing and simulations of stressful situations, as well as regular ongoing training to raise awareness and skill of those carrying deadly weapons.

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Colorado State House District 33 candidate Q&A

Why are you seeking public office?
It’s been an honor to serve the people of Broomfield, Superior and Erie over the past four years. We’ve accomplished a lot in advancing paid family and medical leave, criminal justice reform and protecting people who need unemployment insurance in an unprecedented time. We still have a lot of work to do on improving transportation and public education, and I’m excited to do it.

What will your top three priorities be if elected?
Finally funding transportation adequately, finally funding public education adequately, and implementing paid family and medical leave.

Do you support some type of public option health insurance or Medicare for All at the state level? If so, which and why? If not, why not?
I support a public option if structured responsibly, and I trust those working on it. Medicare is a federal program so can’t be implemented at the state level.

Have your views on policing and racism in Colorado changed this year? If so, how?
I learned most about the criminal justice system when I was working in it every day as a prosecutor. I’ve also done a lot of listening in the past year from folks in the community.

Do you place a greater importance on addressing climate change or preserving Colorado’s oil and gas industry? What steps would you take on these issues as a lawmaker?
I think you can be smart about both. As we actively transition to renewable energy, we still need oil and gas, which we can manage responsibly. We also need to address the global threat of climate change, where we’re far behind where we need to be.

Should Colorado consider any new gun laws? If so, which do you support?
Gun safety is an important issue that we should always have an open mind about. We haven’t stopped the epidemic of gun violence, and we shouldn’t stop working until we do.


Why are you seeking public office?
I have the passion and desire to serve my community. I will safeguard our liberties for our children and our grandchildren. I will stand up against government overreach and special interest agendas. I will faithfully support our unalienable constitutional rights. I bring voice of reason, balance, and will represent ALL the residents of House District 33.

What will your top three priorities be if elected?
My top priorities are fighting for school choice, parental choice, community

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Colorado State House District 3 candidate Q&A

Why are you seeking public office?
I’ve been privileged to serve in the Colorado State House for two years and I’m proud of what we have accomplished. I am seeking re-election to continue to work for all Coloradans, not special interests.

What will your top three priorities be if elected?
My priorities continue to be adequate and equitable funding for public education, to preserve Colorado’s air, land, and water, and to ensure an economy that works for all.

Do you support some type of public option health insurance or Medicare for All at the state level? If so, which and why? If not, why not?
I am in favor of increasing accessibility to and affordability of health insurance and think a public option should be considered.

Have your views on policing and racism in Colorado changed this year? If so, how?
The urgency for action to address systemic racism and policing became very apparent this year. I am proud of our first-in-the nation, landmark, bi-partisan police accountability bill, SB217.

Do you place a greater importance on addressing climate change or preserving Colorado’s oil and gas industry? What steps would you take on these issues as a lawmaker?
It is unfortunate that this question presupposes that the two cannot coexist. As demonstrated in SB19-181 we can place health and safety as the priority of the oil and gas commission, continue to issue permits and address climate change.

Should Colorado consider any new gun laws? If so, which do you support?
Yes I am in favor of common sense gun violence prevention measures, including reporting of lost and stolen firearms, and safe storage measures.


Why are you seeking public office?
I believe that one party Democrat rule in a city or a state over a period of time will lead to the same outcomes we can see in places like California, Portland, Seattle, Chicago and others. Outcomes include more poverty, more homelessness, more lawlessness, sky high taxes, budgets busted by debt and poor management, over regulation and, most importantly, loss of individual freedoms. Colorado can become a place where citizens recognize that their values are “cancelled” and they feel compelled to move out.

What will your top three priorities be if elected?
1. EDUCATION EQUITY. Having served on the State Review Panel for 9 years and and evaluating the lowest academically

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Garden of the Gods receives donation for park advancement | Colorado Springs News

Improvements to the Garden of the Gods are on the horizon after the park received a hefty donation earlier in September, a city news release announced Wednesday.

The Garden of the Gods Foundation, a local nonprofit that oversees the betterment of the park by collecting money and distributing it to support the park’s needs, gave $367,826 to enhance public safety, visitor experience and restroom construction.

“This is such a great example of community organizations working together toward a common goal, which in this case, is enhancing and protecting Garden of the Gods Park for the enjoyment of generations to come,” Karen Palus, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services director, said in the release.

A chunk of the donation, $102,000, will go toward the park ranger program such as staff salaries, John Stark, the parks manager said.

Park rangers are key to protecting the park and its environmental philosophy, Stark said, as well as providing educational programming and services for visitors.

Another portion of the donation will go toward restroom construction within the park, Stark said, although more fundraising is needed before construction can begin.

A bulk of funding came from the Garden of the Gods Visitor & Nature Center, including money generated from the park gift shop and café, Stark said.

The visitors center was shut down from mid-March through May because of the coronavirus pandemic, but reopened to the public in June.

Despite the temporary closure, the nonprofit was still able to give back.

“We’re really fortunate to have the relationships with the Garden of the Gods Foundation,” Stark said. “They’re just such wonderful partners for the city.”

 

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Tips for how to save your plants over the winter in Colorado

Here’s how you can save your plants — without a greenhouse.

DENVER — As night temperatures drop, gardeners need to decide which plants to dig and save over winter.

You don’t need a greenhouse to do this. You do need sunny south or west-facing windows or indoor grow lights.

Forget saving annuals that complete their life cycles in a single season, such as marigolds, zinnias or petunias.

Concentrate on long-lived tropical perennials and shrubs. This includes common flowers such as geraniums and begonias as well as more exotic plants. You can save the “mother” plant or take cuttings, or sometimes both.

It’s easy to dig up and re-pot many plants. Cut them back a bit as you do that.

Cuttings root easily in jars of water. Once rooted, these can also be easily potted up as well.

Plants that are easy to root include coleus, bloodleaf, sweet potato vine, sun-tolerant impatiens, geranium and several species of Swedish ivy (Plectranthus).

RELATED: Five ways to turn fallen leaves into free fertilizer for your garden

Plants that I recommend saving include “filler” plants such as oxalis and spider plants. They’re not all that spectacular by themselves, but are excellent for filling in container plantings.

Additional plants that I always endeavor to save include angel trumpets (Brugmansia), bananas, ferns, ivy, flowering maple (Abutilon), asparagus fern, spike dracaena and cordyline, New Zealand flax, lion’s ear (Leonotis), dwarf citrus, cuphea, bougainvillea, cacti and succulents.

Dahlias, cannas and other summer bulbs can also be saved. They need to be dug and stored after they frost, so that can wait for another day.

RELATED: Evergreen trees with brown tops? Here’s a way to save them

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Bancroft Park’s self-cleaning restrooms a finalist in bathroom competition | Colorado Springs News

The TikTok-famous, $300,000 self-cleaning public restrooms in Old Colorado City’s Bancroft Park are once again gaining attention after placing as a finalist in America’s Best Restroom contest.

Among 10 finalists, The Bancroft Park bathrooms includes ADA-compliant options, lights that indicate stall availability and hand-wave activated appliances. Plus, park maintenance is alerted by an app when supplies are running low. But above all, the bathrooms are automatically self-cleaned after every 30 uses.


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Not only are the restrooms tidy, the doors open with the push of a button. But be ready — once you enter you have 10 minutes to do your business before the door starts a final countdown and automatically opens.

Other finalists in the competition include restrooms across the country at hotels, airports, and restaurants. 


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“As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of clean restrooms to the forefront, we’re proud to spotlight these unique and well-maintained restrooms that provide comfortable spaces for guests,” Sean Mulcahey, marketing manger of Cintas, the competition’s organizer, said.

The competition’s winner, which will be decided by a public vote at www.bestrestroom.com/us, will receive a Cintas UltraClean restroom service and $2,500 in cleaning services from Cintas.


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Colorado Springs’ Garden Ranch YMCA closing permanently, a casualty of COVID-19 | Colorado Springs News

The Garden Ranch Y in central Colorado Springs is shutting its doors for good, a permanent end to what once was believed would be a brief adjustment because of the coronavirus.

The facility announced what it thought would be a temporary closure in mid-March at the start of the pandemic. But after months of shutdown, the region’s YMCA leadership decided to close it because of the financial burden it posed, YMCA spokeswoman Theresa Johnson said.

“Unfortunately, like many other organizations, we took a hit,” Johnson said.

The Garden Ranch YMCA was in a tough financial spot before the pandemic, struggling with low membership and unable to locate $10-$12 million needed to renovate and upgrade the 38-year-old building.


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Some renovations had been done to the swimming pool last year, Johnson said, but the Y also required complete upgrades to its rooms, restrooms and other amenities.

And with just 970 memberships, the facility was well below the 3,000 typically needed to run a facility of comparable size, Brian Risley, the nonprofit’s metro board chairman, said in a video about the closing.

The COVID-19 shutdown proved to be the breaking point.

To keep other facilities in the region thriving, the closing was the right step for the nonprofit, said YMCA of the Pikes Peak Region President and CEO Boyd Williams.

“This is a difficult decision, but it’s my responsibility as the CEO to ensure the longevity of this association,” Williams said in the video. “Our Y has been through a lot since 1878, and we’re going to continue to serve the needs … but that will come with change.”

The building opened in 1984 and included a swimming pool, racquetball courts and a gymnasium, alongside other typical YMCA features like multipurpose and locker rooms, Johnson said. It also offered classes and was the site of birthday parties, much like other YMCA facilities in the region.

Johnson said she wasn’t sure why membership at the Garden Ranch location had fallen over the years, but speculated the city’s eastward growth may be one reason.

“The middle of town has shifted and we’re moving east,” Johnson said. “There’s a lot of housing around the Garden Ranch facility and not a lot of room for new family growth.”

Williams and Johnson encouraged the Garden Ranch facility’s current members to join other Ys in the area with similar amenities and services, including the Briargate branch.

The Garden Ranch property will be sold and the revenue will be used to support capital improvements at other locations, Johnson said.

Some of the improvements on the organization’s horizon include building a new downtown Y facility at the corner of North Nevada and East Platte avenues that will include multiple stories of affordable housing, in addition to a full recreation center in the bottom of the building.

The Garden Ranch Y will

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Bancroft Park becomes finalist in bathroom competition | Colorado Springs News

The TikTok-famous, $300,000 self-cleaning public restrooms in Old Colorado City’s Bancroft Park are once again gaining attention after placing as a finalist in America’s Best Restroom contest.

Among 10 finalists, The Bancroft Park bathrooms includes ADA-compliant options, lights that indicate stall availability and hand-wave activated appliances. Plus, park maintenance is alerted by an app when supplies are running low. But above all, the bathrooms are automatically self-cleaned after every 30 uses.


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Not only are the restrooms tidy, the doors open with the push of a button. But be ready — once you enter you have 10 minutes to do your business before the door starts a final countdown and automatically opens.

Other finalists in the competition include restrooms across the country at hotels, airports, and restaurants. 


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“As the COVID-19 pandemic has brought the importance of clean restrooms to the forefront, we’re proud to spotlight these unique and well-maintained restrooms that provide comfortable spaces for guests,” Sean Mulcahey, marketing manger of Cintas, the competition’s organizer, said.

The competition’s winner, which will be decided by a public vote at www.bestrestroom.com/us, will receive a Cintas UltraClean restroom service and $2,500 in cleaning services from Cintas.


Colorado Springs installing new meters downtown where parking had been free

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