Calhoun: Wake-Up Call

Denver Daisy, Day One

It used to be that Mother's Day was considered the safe day to plant in Denver. But after those May 13 snow showers, experts revised their estimate, emphasizing that the real first day to safely plant gardens in this town is May 15.

So yesterday, I planted my Rudbeckia, the trademarked Denver Daisy.

On Earth Day at the Denver Botanic Gardens, Mayor John Hickenlooper had unveiled the Denver Daisy, "a special introduction from PlantSelect specifically chosen to commemorate the City and County of Denver's 150th birthday on November 22, 2008," according to the seed packet (available free at locations around town). "This plant is the progeny of Rudbeckia birta, a Colorado native, and Rudbeckia 'Prairie Sun.'"

The Denver Daisy is supposed to grow to about two feet tall, and produce six-inch flowers that look a lot like hungover Black-Eyed Susans, with deep-red rings surrounding the center eyes.

At least, that's what the Denver Daisy is supposed to grow into. But my seeds won't germinate for twenty days -- if they germinate at all. Since the Denver Daisy is supposed to be a hardy, urban plant, I've put mine on a survival course of Darwinian proportions. I found a pot on my shelves -- a souvenir from the wonderful Maria's Bakery that operated out of a greenhouse in northwest Denver. At the bottom, I put gravel from the Westword parking lot, then filled it with potting soil courtesy the Plant Yourself at RiNo event. And after planting the seeds I'd picked up at the Botanic Gardens, I poured in some nice Denver tapwater from a bottle that once held Michelob Ultra Lime Cactus.

If the Denver Daisy can survive that, it can survive anything. You grow, girl. -- Patricia Calhoun

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Patricia Calhoun co-founded Westword in 1977; she’s been the editor ever since. She’s a regular on the weekly CPT12 roundtable Colorado Inside Out, played a real journalist in John Sayles’s Silver City, once interviewed President Bill Clinton while wearing flip-flops, and has been honored with numerous national awards for her columns and feature-writing.
Contact: Patricia Calhoun