Growing on the High Plains

Airs Thursdays at 10:30 am CT and Saturdays at 8:35 am CT

Years ago Skip Mancini left the rocky coast of Northern California to return to her roots in the heartland. Her San Francisco friends, concerned over her decision to live in a desolate flatland best known for a Hollywood tornado, were afraid she would wither and die on the vine. With pioneer spirit Skip planted a garden, and began to learn about growing not only flowers and vegetables, but hearts and minds. If you agree that the prairie is a special place, we think you'll enjoy her weekly sojourns into Growing on the High Plains. 

Contact Skip Mancini about the program. 

The month of March

Mar 20, 2015

If you live on the Southern High Plains and you like to grow things, then you know what a gamble spring planting dates are.  Just when you think you'll have some early goodies to gather in a few weeks, a blizzard can rear its ugly head down in the Southwest and sweep across our part of the world in nothing flat, leaving us with seedbeds under a foot or two of snow.  In our part of the world, March comes in like a lion and often leaves with another mighty roar.  

Houseplant name games

Mar 4, 2015

A look at several botanicals that are often best known by their common monikers.  Burro's tail, string of pearls, and mother-in-law's tongue are long lasting houseplants that have earned a place in my home because they can take the heat, both in and out of the kitchen.   

The Perfect Houseplant

Feb 25, 2015

A trip to the supermarket produce section can result in great beginnings for growing your own bromeliads.  This week's Growing on the High Plains looks at a popular tropical plant that doesn't take a lot of care and pays off with beautiful blooms for weeks on end.

Keeping it all in the family, Skip takes a short trip back in time and learns how to keep her mother's violets alive.  And in doing so she develops her own keepsakes for the future.

Orchids 101

Feb 11, 2015

Growing your own orchids can be challenging unless you plan ahead and consider investing some time in learning what makes these tropical flowers so special to so many floral fans.  Today we'll talk about air, water, light, and growing mediums.

A look at the history and development of one of the largest plant groupings in the world.  As with many other life forms, these fragile tropical plants are facing a questionable future in the wild, which makes their development in botanical gardens, protected areas, and commercial outlets all the more valuable.

Houseplant Basics

Jan 28, 2015

A look at some of the most popular and easiest houseplants to keep you in greenery for the cold season.  Skip looks at the four basics needs of a healthy houseplant, and how to create a suitable environment in often overheated winter homes.

Bonsai is an ancient, living art form that never is completed.  It requires focus, balance, and composition.  Bonsai live for a hundred years, so many times plants are passed from one generation to the next.  Bonsai are never centered, but always placed to one side or another.  The plants are trained to an asymmetrical balance. 

This kind of gardening teaches patience, introduces the glories of solitude, and opens the mind to thoughts about size and scale, and the importance of a single leaf or action.

Thank goodness for houseplants. Without them, gardeners might have a hard time making it through the hard times of winter.  Jade is a natural-born houseplant perfect for busy people who want a bit of winter greenery, but don’t want to take on a major houseplant commitment.  

A long-lived garden

Jan 7, 2015

This was the year that keeps on giving when it comes to the garden, except for the beets that I replanted three times with no results.

I'm hoping to have a few last salads in the New Year with my remaining tomatoes. 

A Fruitful Calendar

Dec 31, 2014

My calendar for the new year takes me back to a time when crates for vegetables and fruit were made of sturdy wood, and the labels were works of art.

A guide to the care and watering of  the plant that says "Christmas" no matter the time of year.

 Today, we'll catch the scent and track two biblical spices that have been used for centuries in exalted temples, though they are best known for their appearance in a lowly stable in Bethlehem.

Christmas Cactus

Dec 12, 2014

It takes special care to get this holiday favorite to bloom at the right time.  Skip tells you how.

Thinking of the holiday season takes me back to my childhood, the smell of black gold in the oil patch, well-worn ornaments, and a gunny sack for collecting mistletoe once the grown-ups knocked it out of the tree with buckshot.

Well, it's taken a long time (I'm not talking about weeks or months, but years) but I think I'm making progress in the department of landscaping with trees.  To being with, I've finally adopted the 'less is more' concept, especially on our treeless high plains.  There are trees that will grow here, and do pretty well if they have a bit of moisture now and then.  But those examples are few and far between.

In this final segment of our trip down the Great Gardens memory lane, we travel to Colby, Kansas to the garden of Beverly and Curt Eicher.  The Eichers took a trip, and returned home wanting their own cottage garden.

When Kathleen and Robert Fields moved into their home, the neighborhood was well-established.  The backyard was surrounded with ready made shade.  Kathleen quickly learned that leaves were great start for compost.  

"Great gardens begin with soil building," she says, "You can get a sick plant and bring it back to health if you have good soil."

Kathleen also believes in perennials.  She subscribes to this saying, "The first year they sleep.  They second they creep.  The third they leap."

The Great Garden series continues with a visit to Darla Wood's garden in Timbercreek Canyon, Texas.  Darla has tried the traditional lawn route unsuccessfully, and now integrates art and listening what the land wants to be.   


Oct 22, 2014

Some consider this wildflower a weed, but to Monarch butterflies and those who love them, this perennial is precious and should be a part of every garden.   It is also perfectly suited to the high plains climate.

 In this look back at Great Gardens across the High Plains, Skip travels to Amarillo, Texas.  There she meets Bob Hatton, who took a yard composed primarily of lawn, and created a landscape featuring plants that trigger memories of his childhood like this beautiful redbud tree.

The Great Garden series continues with a trip back in time to the Shirley Opera House in Atwood, Kansas.  Skip talks with Alice Hill who is setting the tables at the Opera House with good things from the garden.

You'll remember Alice Hill, whose latest adventure is Full Circle Aquaponics.  She's busy growing everything they eat at Beaver Creek Ranch.

As we continue looking back at the Great Gardens of the past, today we'll head to Amarillo, Texas to meet Angie Hanna.  Angie has coined the term "extreme" gardening, referring to growing things in a transitional climate that is between growing zones, faced with constant shifts.  The challenge of the climate brought Angie to a goal of working with the climate, not against it.  

Angie also has a website full of growing tips for our neck of the woods:

Great Gardens Series

Sep 24, 2014

Skip Mancini asked gardeners from throughout our broadcast area to participate in a special 'show and tell' series on Growing on the High Plains. A 'June in January' look at eight great gardens begins with an overview of the people and places that Skip visited during the summer of 2008.

Today begins a look back at a series called Great Gardens, which originally aired in 2008.  Visits to eight High Plains gardeners located throughout the HPPR broadcast area resulted in interviews on a variety of topics.  From wildflowers to grapevines to landscaped lawns and cottage gardens, we'll begin a repeat of this series, and a call for eight more gardeners to join in a new interview series for the future.     

The Survivor Tree

Sep 10, 2014
Fred R. Conrad /

During Skip's latest trip to The Big Apple she visited the 9/11 Memorial site and learned about a special tree that's growing in the center of the Plaza.  It's called The Survivor Tree, because it survived the 2001 destruction of the World Trade Center and surrounding area.  Nursed back to health by many volunteers, it was replanted in 2010 and was a big part of the opening of the Memorial Park in 2011.  Today the Callery pear tree stands tall among a forest of oaks, and it serves as a reminder of our human strength and spirit throughout the seasons of each year.

Skip explores a part of the plant world that offered something sweet in ancient times.  Today it's most prevalent in boggy areas or landscaped water gardens, which makes it quite popular in lots of back yards on the High Plains.    


Aug 27, 2014

Today we'll learn about an ominous sounding chore that is a necessity for maintaining a perennial flower bed.  To some of our more mature listeners the title of today's show might recall Volkswagen vans packed with Greatful Dead fans touring the summer rock concert season.  But for the true garden buff, the term denotes a frequent summer chore of clipping spent blossoms in order to tidy up and control re-seeding.  It's a task that's never-ending but necessary.   

Pioneer Plant Finder

Aug 13, 2014

Not all New World explorers discovered countries.  Some found new plants for the world to enjoy.  Today we'll look at a naturalist who helped record the floral finery of the gulf coast of Texas.  

Skip Delivers Bountiful Garden Basket

Aug 13, 2014

Each spring Skip Mancini, host of Growing on the High Plains, stops by HPPR's studio to help-out during the station's on-air membership campaign. While at the studio, she also holds a drawing, in which she'll  take off across the High Plains to hand-deliver one lucky listener a giant basket full of her garden's summer harvest.