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June 21, 2017 Willowtail Springs


Solstice Greetings,

Much has been happening since I last wrote a post. Chris and I had our first half day off in months, and we felt like celebrating! We took a hike to Megan Lakes with Shrek. This was our afternoon snack break in a high mountain meadow. Shrek and I were sharing an apple.

Then Chris was getting a sticker out of his sock, when the grand “sock thief” snatched the sock and ran, which caused a short game of keep-away before Chris was able to coax his sock away from Shrek.


Lizz gave Gina and Sean a lesson in bee caretaking. She opened the honey bee hives, and showed them how to identify the bee eggs, young brood and bee larvae (baby bees), and what newly capped honey cells look like.


Our official farm greeting staff have relocated away from the Farm Stand store (which is closed now for the season until next spring).  Our farm greeters have found other places on the farm to linger and visit with folks.


Really…if you were greeted by this fellow, wouldn’t it just make you want to smile!

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This week I’m working away from the Farm and homeplace and I’m being hosted by Willowtail Springs in Mancos, Colorado. This is the most lovely Nature Preserve and Retreat Center, along with Bed & Breakfast you could ever imagine!

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The owners and caretakers of this amazing piece of land are Peggy (above) and Lee (below) Cloy.

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Yesterday, we had a full day of plant adventures here. In the mid-day I gave a Nature & Plant Walk-About. There was a wonderful group of people that came out for the day to enjoy talking “plants” as we took a walk on the property.

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We shared insights about milkweeds and other native wild plants, naturalized plants like alfalfa, a few weeds, loads of beautiful garden dwellers such as lavenders and mint, and trees both native (Pinon Pine) and domestic (sour cherry).

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It was such a delightful and gracious group. I enjoyed myself greatly.

Then last night I gave a lecture on some of my favorite native North American plants and all the ways that people have been in relationship with them during past, present and future. The Mancos Public Library hosted us for this event and it was such a lovely way to close the day.

I’d like to thank everyone who spent the day with us and an extra thanks to those who bought my books while they were here. You are each amazing!

Late in the afternoon today I will be doing another garden plant walk-about and book signing event in Durango at the Ohana Kuleana Community Gardens at 5:30-6:30pm. This plant walk is being hosted by The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado and Maria’s Bookshop. If you want to join us, we’ll be at 564 E. 30th Street.

Normally, when I visit Willowtail Springs, I visit for peace and quiet and relaxation…a time to read, stitch and take walks. This year my visit is a bit different as it is a working visit, but there is still plenty of peace and quiet here. This place is a sanctuary of nature and one cannot help but be nurtured by it to your very core. If you ever want a place to stay that will provide you with a beautiful nurturing and peaceful place and experience, consider making a reservation at Willowtail Springs.  https://www.willowtailsprings.com/

This year I’m here to share my knowledge about plants with others, but there is still quiet time during my stay, and I’m finding some time to work on my needlework too. I’m very nurtured by the Cloys and this really beautiful piece of land.

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This mornings while I was out for a walk in the gardens, I came upon Peggy and Micael. Micael works here as one of the grounds keepers tending gardens and helping with any other projects that need doing. She is an amazing young woman and I’ve enjoyed meeting her.

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Steve, I met last year when I was here for my stitching retreat. He also helps care for this amazing place and adds his touch to all sorts of projects. When I came upon he and Lee this morning they were creating a plan to customize this old canoe with beautiful wooden seats.

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Anyway, that’s all for today. My stitching is calling me and soon it will be time for me to go to the Community Gardens in Durango for the garden plant walk.

Enjoy your day and do something really good with your time today…like this bumblebee working the Woolly Lamb’s Ears flowers outside my garden cottage door!

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This past weekend was the final days of our Open Farm Days and our retail Farm Stand store. As of June 4th, we are closed for retail sales until next spring. We want to thank each of you that visited our farm during this spring’s Open Farm Days! For those of you that are not close enough to visit, but gave the information to others who do live close enough to visit or maybe you sent us messages of support and encouragement, we give you our thanks too!

Chris gave a tour of the desert garden here at the farm. I taught a class on making your own salves, ointments, creams and lip butters. We had our annual farm tour walk-about and a fragrance herb workshop. It was all great fun and so nice to have time to visit with our visitors.

Now the Farm Stand store has been emptied of all remaining plants, which have been moved to other greenhouses so that they can be available to sell to wholesale customers. Lizz, Sean, Gina and I worked hard this week to get this accomplished. Now Lizz and I will begin to pot up new stock plants for vegetative propagation needs. There are gardens badly in need of weeding and lots of plants that are waiting to be planted in those same gardens. I have presentations to prepare for upcoming events this summer that start in another week. Then in two short months, Lizz and I will begin to propagate seeds, divisions and cuttings for next spring’s plant inventory to be ready for Open Farm Days in spring 2018. No rest for us, but the next 2 months will have a slower, more normal and sane pace. Everyone on the farm is smiling and happy, but we are bone weary from the spring busy season. We are looking forward to that more normal pace.

There are a few upcoming events I want to share with you.

On June 17th, Saturday, at noon, I will be giving a presentation at Tagawa’s Garden Center in Centennial, Colorado. The name of this presentation is “Tammi’s Favorite Herbs” and it’s going to be great fun! Please visit the Classes & Events page of this blog for information on this presentation and the other upcoming ones that will happen this summer through 2017 and into 2018.

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These links will take you to the flyer and information for my June 20th events at Willowtail Springs Nature Preserve & Education Center


Tammi Hartung – class June 20th

My intention was to put the actual poster on this blog, but for the life of me the proper technology steps to accomplish this simple task have completely eluded me, and I’ve spent more than an hour trying to do just that with no success. So, if you will kindly just click on the links above, they will take you to the poster and the webpage that tell you all about my Willowtail Springs Nature Walk-About and later the Evening Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine lecture that is happening at the Mancos Public Library. At both of these events, I’ll have copies of all of my books available to purchase and if you would like me to sign them, I’d be honored to do so.

I’m so excited about being at Willowtail Springs to do these events. I’ve been going to Willowtail Springs for several years now for my own personal writing and stitching retreat time, and it’s a beautiful and magical place where nature rules and Lee and Peggy Cloy (the owners and managers) are the most amazing caretakers of this piece of land. I’m thrilled to give back some of the joy they have shared with me when I’ve been there in the past. They are hosting me again and it’s going to be an amazing time to share about plants and nature. Please join us if you can.

While I’m visiting Willowtail Springs, I will also be giving a garden talk and walk hosted by the Ohuna Kuleana Community Garden and Maria’s Bookshop in Durango, CO. Below is the information about this event.

June 21, 2017    Ohana Kuleana Community Gardens & The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado, along with Maria’s Bookshop hosts Tammi for

Homegrown Herbs Garden Walk and Talk followed by a Book Signing

Location: Durango, Colorado at the Ohana Kuleana Community Garden     For more information visit 2017 Conservation Education Workshop Series – The Garden Project  or call The Garden Project at 970-259-3123 or Maria’s Bookshop  at 970-247-1438 or visit http://www.mariasbookshop.com

Other Events that are upcoming!

There are other upcoming events to know about too. At the end of June or early in July, there will be a podcast that goes live that I did for the group Urban Farm.org. As soon as I know the exact date the podcast will be available, I’ll post it up so that you can listen to it if you like. In July, I’ll be speaking at the Perennial Plant Symposium in Denver, Colorado on July 23rd. In August, I will be visiting the United States Botanic Garden in Washington DC to give a presentation. I will be presenting for the Denver Botanic Gardens Herb Guild on October 11th and I’m going to the Kansas Mother Earth News Fair in October too.

Again, if you go to the “Classes & Events” page of this blog, you can get more details about all of these happenings.

What else is happening?

Well, Chris and I are really worn out from the spring busy season. Of course there is always farm work to be done, so that never changes, but as the work days become a more normal pace, we are looking forward to that. We’ve been working 14-17 hour days for months now. I haven’t had a day off since the end of December and Chris has been working 7 days a week too since early February. We are planning to begin this weekend our once a week hikes with Shrek when we will do our farm chores in the morning and then go somewhere beautiful to hike the rest of the day. This will be our day off each week and we cannot tell you how much we are looking forward to that!

Shrek stealing Chris’ hiking hat and playing keep away.

A moment’s rest at a mountain stream.

So, as our friend James would say….

Happy Trails & Green Thoughts, Tammi


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This past Monday there was a great hot air balloon launch at the Abbey here in town and as I was opening up the greenhouses at the start of the day and doing my watering chores, I was able to watch 15 balloons sailing through the sky. So colorful and they just give you such a feeling a joy and calm. It was a nice way to start a very busy Memorial day Monday.

This weekend is our final Open Farm Days! On Sunday at 4:00 pm we will close the farm again to the public and return to wholesale business only. If you are still hoping to stop by and enjoy the farm and do some shopping for plants in our Farm Stand Store, you can visit us this Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 4pm and we’ll be very happy to see you! We still have loads of good plants to choose from in the Farm Stand Store. There are great workshops and farm tours happening on Saturday and Sunday (see the classes and events page of this blog for specific details). The gardens are absolutely stunning right now, with so much blooming happening and there are baby birds everywhere on the farm learning to fly and live life without their parents taking care of them completely.

Farm Stand Liz and Beki will greet you in the Farm Stand with their cheerful smiles and helpful tips.

Their last days of work here for the season will also be on Sunday and then they will be off to do other things. We’re going to miss them both very much!

The wholesale part of our business has also been extremely busy and Chris has been spending way more time driving his truck than anything else. Even at that, this week we had more deliveries then Chris could accomplish, so Mom and Dad to the rescue. We loaded their PT cruiser full of plants headed to Westcliffe and they took the delivery for us. Shrek was disappointed that there wasn’t any room in the car for him to ride along with them.


This week also brought with it the official beginning of the flower seed crops field work farm season. We have an awesome pair of folks to help us out this summer. This is Sean. Sean is a college man, who has convinced his professor he should do his farm work this summer as credit for college.

Meet Gina! Gina comes to us as an experienced farm crew person. She’s taking the summer off from her PhD work and we are the lucky ones.

We are thrilled to have them both working with us. They are fun and efficient and we’re delighted!!

The gardens are stunning right now. Iris, catmint, california poppies, fairy rose baby breath, penstemons, and so much more is blooming.

The Desert Garden in the driveway is more beautiful and nice than we’ve ever seen it and Chris will be doing a tour of this and some of the other gardens this Saturday at 10:00 am. Join him if you can to learn about these special regional native plants.

All through the garden the lavender plants are about to burst into bloom. They look so close to flowering that I won’t be at all surprised if they are blooming this weekend.

We have many kinds of poppies blooming all through the gardens right now. These are Brilliant Oriental Poppies, and there are three different varieties of oriental poppies in bloom, but there are also Flore de Pleno poppies, california poppies, orange and yellow horn poppies flowering too.

And then there are the mischief makers that come in the night. Most of the time the raccoons visit at night and we hear them chattering among themselves through our open window, but they usually don’t cause trouble. This week there was a night when they knocked the bird feeders out of the Manchurian Apricot tree. No real harm was done however. We picked up the feeders, refilled them and hung them back up for the birds.

Well, all for now. I still need to prepare a plant list handout for this weekend’s tour of the Desert Garden.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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This weekend we have several free workshops happening during our Desert Canyon Farm Open Farm Days and Farm Stand Plant Sale. Perhaps you can join us for one or all that may be of interest to you.

So, what does potatoes have to do with any of this? Or for that matter, how about the rosemary below? Well, on Saturday morning there will be a workshop on using herbs for delicious ways to prepare potatoes. This workshop will be at 10:00am.

In the afternoon at 1:00pm on Saturday, we’ll be taking a stroll through the gardens to talk about how to use weeds for food, medicine and other ways. This Coyote Gourd below will be part of that conversation and workshop.

On Sunday at 1:00pm I’ll be giving a workshop on edible flowers and how to cook with them. Old Fashioned Pink Hollyhock will be part of that workshop.

Then on Sunday at 2:30pm, Monica will be giving an incredible workshop on attracting Monarch and other butterflies to the garden. Milkweeds will be suggested in that workshop.

If you want to join us for a free workshop this weekend, please just show up at the appropriate time. There is no need to pre-register, but it is wise to bring paper and pen for note taking and perhaps something to drink if you want it. Workshops are usually held outdoors no matter the weather, so dress for the weather. If you have a portable lawn chair you can bring, that would be wonderful…we have a good amount of chairs, but the number is limited if we have a big crowd. If it’s cold, a lap blanket is also a nice idea.

The workshops are held at Desert Canyon Farm, which is  located at 1270 Field Ave. in Canon City, CO. Please no pets. Thank you. Children are most welcome to attend with a supervising adult.

We also hope you will come and do a bit of shopping in the Farm Stand store. We have loads of heirloom vegetables and lots of fruit plants. There are so many different kinds of herbs, you’ll have a blast trying to choose. We have a great selection of native plants, perennials, edible flowers, fairy garden plants and a LOT more. Come and enjoy yourself and see what  you might find to plant in your garden!



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May 19, 2017 Bee Swarm!

Last Sunday we had some real excitement here. There was a swarm of bees, which we thought might be from our beeyard, that showed up in front of the Farm Stand store entrance. Oh my! As quick as they arrived, they started to leave towards our neighbors place and then they back-tracked and collected into a cluster on the elm tree branch in our heirloom fruit orchard.

Lizz sprang into action and went to get her swarm gear to collect the swarm, with the hope of installing them in an empty hive with the hope of them establishing a new colony. Then there was the ladder problem…none of ours were tall enough to reach the spot in the elm tree where they were clustered on an extended branch. So…plan B.

We called our friend Monica, who is a teacher at our Open Farm Days, to see if she had a longer ladder. Yay, she did and she and her mom came over pronto to collect the swarm. Monica gifted us with a colony of bees when we were first getting started here with farm bees, so Lizz and I decided it would be a proper exchange for Monica to take this swarm to establish in her bee yard. There are 3 beehives here in our bee yard now, so that is enough for time-being.

Then Lizz went to check on our beeyard to see if the swarm came from one of the hives there, but no…all the bees here were happy as always. This swarm came from elsewhere. Now it has a happy home at Monica’s farm in Florence.

This weekend there will be another beekeeping workshop on Sunday, so if you come you can probably get Lizz to share the story with you first had. She’ll be giving lots of beekeeping insights. Monica will be teaching on Sunday also about wild birds in the gardens. She is a bird expert and a garden expert, so it will be a wonderful workshop to be sure.


And while we’re talking about workshops, on Saturday James will be giving two workshops. One on the art of homesteading and another on using your food garden harvest to fill your pantry and eat from all year-long. He’s an amazing food gardener and no one could offer better insight to the art of growing your own food than James.

Where’s Lizz? She can barely be seen behind the mountain of flats she and Beki planted one day in the greenhouse. This stack was 200 flats tall and Lizz is standing behind it in the far corner! That is a lot of planting for two women in one day’s time.

This is the Penstemon superbus blooming in the White Rabbit Garden. It’s also blooming in the flower seed production field and there is a whole bed of it out there intermixed with the Narbonese Flax. It’s quite beautiful and one of mine and Chris’ favorite penstemons.

The rose behind that penstemon is Austrian Copper and it always gets everyone’s attention when it blooms. The iris are blooming, jupiter’s beard, chocolate flowers, fairy rose baby breath and loads of other plants.

It’s been cold for the past couple of days, and our friends in other parts of the State have even gotten snow. Here we got rain and it sure is chilly. We’ve put the woodstove back on duty to keep the house warm, but tomorrow the warmth of spring returns and the days and nights will start to get warm again. The flowers are happy!













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This week is the week before Mother’s Day weekend and it is by far the busiest week for us of the entire year! So much is happening that we feel like we are on a wild teacup ride!

Desert Canyon Farm Open Farm Days and our Farm Stand store has been busy, which makes us so happy and appreciative of our Farm visitors and customers.  Thank you to each one of you who is enjoying our Open Farm Days and helping to create livelihood for us and our crew. You are the lifeblood of this small farm business and know we are very grateful to you for supporting us. Plus so many of you have become part of our farm family during the last 21 years and we look forward to seeing you during Open Farm Days. It’s such fun to see you enjoying yourselves as you choose plants for your gardens and explore the farm.

Our wholesale customers are also preparing for this weekend, which translates to many wonderful orders for us to deliver to them this week, for which we are very grateful. That said, we are pulling, cleaning and labeling orders at a lightning pace to get them ready for Chris to deliver. Chris will be making deliveries 6 days this week, driving from here to New Mexico, into the Mountains, going to Denver three different days. Today he will be taking nearly 200 flats to Denver Botanic Gardens for their big Spring Plant Sale event. Whew!

The flower seed production field is being prepared for the growing season. Chris and Shane are working hard to get all the perennial beds cleaned up, new beds prepared for planting, the drip irrigation system repaired and functioning, and new seed crops planted. It’s starting to look pretty sassy out there and two new crops have already been planted…Shangrila Sage and Arctic Glow Echinops. There are others waiting in the greenhouse for their turn to be field planted as Chris gets time to work on this in-between doing our wholesale order deliveries.

So, let me give you an update on what is happening in the Farm Stand store.

The flower baskets and planters have grown HUGE and BEAUTIFUL! They make the whole Farm Stand a cheerful and colorful place to be. This week is Mother’s Day, so perhaps there will be a flower basket or planter here that would make a lovely gift for one of the special Mom’s in your life.

On Saturday, we will be raffling off the first of our two fairy garden containers. These are such fun. Raffle tickets are $1.00 each and you might be the lucky winner this Saturday! If not, you will have another opportunity to win the remaining fairy garden on Saturday, June 3rd. The money from selling raffle tickets we use to buy fresh produce to donate to our local food bank, so this is a wonderful way to support the local community. Plus, it makes us smile! You do not need to be present to win, but you must be able to pick up the garden you won by  no later than 4pm on Sunday, June 4th.

We’ve made some Mini Gardens too, with themes like culinary herb garden, mixed herb garden, herb butters garden and a herb garden to attract pollinators. For those who are looking for a special gift or for those who want the work already done in selecting plants that go nicely together, these Mini Gardens in a Basket might be just the perfect choice.

Look at the flowering kale! Oh my goodness these are so gorgeous now. I’m definitely going to plant some of these in my garden here this spring. They are quite beautiful and tasty besides.

The nasturtiums are blooming like crazy and they have the most incredibly nice fragrance. They are selling fast, but there are still some little nasturtium baskets at this point. We also have them in 2″ size pots for planting up your own containers or baskets or planting straight into the garden. I like to plant them around the Belen Hen (the little red hen that lives in our White Rabbit Garden here).

We have been putting out more varieties of plants in the Farm Stand store all this past week and there are even more varieties that I will be putting out before the weekend. Sunflowers and loads of different kinds of beans will be coming out, plus there are still some additional herb varieties, more squash and pumpkins and perennials that will be ready this week. I’m hopeful that some of our old-fashioned annual flower varieties will be ready by the weekend too.

So, Chris and I and all the crew here (Lizz, Beki, Farm Stand Liz, M’lissa and Shane, plus the crew that has finished for the season) invite you to come and enjoy the farm during our Open Farm Days. There is more information about the happenings, the free workshop schedule, and lists of the plants we grow on the various pages of this blog, so if time allows, please explore this website to learn all about the farm. My books are available in the Farm Stand store too, including my new book Cattail Moonshine & Milkweed Medicine. This week there will be workshops on herbs, fairy gardening and beekeeping happening also! The Belen Hen in the garden kindly requests you join her for some time to explore the gardens, the heirloom fruit tree orchard and the flower seed production field.

We’ll hope to see you here and if you can’t join us….well, this blog will keep you posted of all the Farm happenings and our lives on this Homeplace.

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Open Farm Days are happening now and we have had so many wonderful visitors so far. For the most part the weather has been pretty good for the first two weeks we’ve been open, but starting tomorrow we are expecting a short cold spell to come through Canon City. Indeed all of Colorado and New Mexico will be affected with rain and snow.

So Mother Nature will be dressed as the snow queen on Saturday and that has caused Kris Isom, our permaculture teacher, and I to have a long discussion just now on the phone about whether or not it would be a safe travel for her to drive up from Belen, New Mexico where she lives, to teach the permaculture classes here on this Saturday. With 6-15 inches of snow expected along much of her driving route, we’ve decided it is best for her not to make the trip. This is the 2nd year in a row that she has tried to come up to teach for us at Open Farm Days, and this is the 2nd year in a row that a snow storm has squelched that plan. Sadly, we are canceling the permaculture workshops this Saturday at the farm.

However, for those of you that want to brave the snow and come out on Saturday to the farm, there will be two different Farm Stand plant walks happening, at 10am and 1pm, in place of the permaculture workshops. We will stroll the floor of the Farm Stand greenhouses and talk about individual plants, how to grow them and what their uses are, when and how to harvest them, what pollinators like them, etc. It’ll be fun.

Now, I know this is very disappointing, at least Chris and I are very disappointed, that Kris won’t make it up this weekend. However, it is never wise to risk safety and health driving in a snow storm for a 9 hour drive, so it’s best she stay home safe and cozy in the bad weather.

I also know many of you have been trying to attend Kris’ permaculture workshops for the past two years, so she and I have put together a plan…well, it is a plan in the making. She will come up this summer to the farm and do a stand-alone day of permaculture classes. She and I will be discussing what date will work best for both of us to do this during the summer months. Once we have the date settled, I’ll post that information on the blog “classes and events” page of this website, with the details. If you would like to have flyer sent to you with the permaculture workshop details, once we have the date set, please mail your name, address and phone number to me. I’ll put you on the list of people who are interested in attending this event.  I’ll send you a workshop flyer that will tell you how to register. If you want to include your email address too, that would be great. Mail your information to Tammi Hartung, 1270 Field Ave. Canon City, CO 81212.

Below is Kris with a giant tree root on her farm in Belen, New Mexico.

On Earth Day the yellow-headed black birds arrived at the farm. They are a rawcas group, full of noise and fun, and we really enjoy them being here. They don’t nest on the farm, but they drop in regularly to visit and have a meal at the bird feeders.

Oh, on Sunday, the weather is going to be improving considerably and the sun is supposed to be back out again. I will be teaching two classes on Sunday. The first is at 1pm and will be about Native Medicinal Plants. The second class will be at 2:30pm on How to Deter Deer from Eating Your Garden Landscape. Come and join us for these free workshops if you can.

Other news is that all the tomatoes are in the Farm Stand store now, along with a selection of squash, cucumbers, pumpkins and peas.

There are still more varieties of squash, pumpkins, peas, cucumbers, greens, tomatillos, garden huckleberries, hollyhocks, siberian motherwort, and much more that will be big enough to bring out very soon, hopefully by the weekend of May 6th. With a bit of luck and good growing weather between now and then, we also hope to have some plants like calendula, milk thistle, burdock and others ready as well. Beans and sunflowers should be in this groups too. So, lots more plants coming to the Farm Stand store soon, but right now there are loads of things to choose from already!

Well, all for now. It’s time to sleep and be ready for a new day tomorrow.

With Green Thoughts, Tammi

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