Hello, again!

When asked why he rides his bike across the country every summer, my friend Hal says something like:

‘It’s just awesome! The scenery is awesome but it’s the people I have met along the way! They are so friendly. I meet them once and the next year they are looking for me to be riding through their town’.

Last week Angie and I spent the week in Colorado, camping in the teardrop camper, cooking delicious meals on the Skottle grill, and enjoying the smell, sound and taste of bacon cooked outdoors! Showering in community centers and laundromats was a, uh… highlight of the trip (said nobody ever!) But as Hal mentioned, the people along the way make an impression on you. On the way back home, we chatted about which of our new acquaintances was the one who stuck out. Was it the kid throwing pizza dough in Crested Butte? Or one of the bike riders heading NOBO (northbound) on the Great Divide Mountain bike trail? Or Wayne and Dina in Westcliffe, Colorado, who helped us resolve an issue we had with the vehicle? No... it had to be David our camp host at the campground near Almont, Colorado.

When checking us into the campground, David wanted to know how many nights we’d be staying. We weren't sure, so we opted for 2 nights. David let us know that he’d have to check us in again if we changed our minds. I’m sure he's got a life story. Most camp hosts are in their retirement motorhome; he was in his 2-person tent. One thing we realized soon after our arrival was that this new friend of ours loved his job. He wouldn’t allow the mowing crews in because they mowed everything too low; he liked the wildflowers. Our campsite was spotless, every inch of it. David went over it with a leaf rake after the campers vacated the site. He even swept the boulders in the campsites. Dad always had us rake in the greenhouse every evening; he said it made everything appear much cleaner and well kept. He was right.

David's boss showed him how to keep the bikes coming off the trail from going too fast. With his hands giving the ‘slow down’ motion, David showed us his jive version of it, with his ‘Detroit Lean’. I’m sure it was effective.

Coming across a field of yellow blooms, we soon found out they were Sunflower Mule-Ears. This Colorado native plant is a relative to our native Kansas Sunflower. There must be something about sunflowers, because plant breeders are having a fun time introducing new var ieties for our landscapes. Bred in the UK, sunflowers are typically grown from seeds and produce a tall stalk topped by a few large flowers, or they can be shorter with a number of smaller blooms. SunBelievable™ is different. It’s a brand new hybrid with a multi-branching, short and compact habit, and because it doesn’t produce seeds, it can put all of its energy into making a constant crop of flowers.

Trials in both the UK and in the US have demonstrated the plant’s ability, given appropriate water and fertilizer, to pump out 1,000 blooms over the course of the growing season. And, unlike the foliage of other types of sunflowers that can get beat up as the season goes on, this plant’s luxurious foliage actually deepens in color with age, so it looks better, longer. Stop in and get some of these amazing plants to add to your landscape!

Your friend in the garden,

Marty Johnson
Owner - Johnson's Garden Center