A Garden Catalog for Colorado

high-country-gardens-catalogLast week I was complaining about catalogs full of tempting, desirable plants that simply will not grow here in Colorado. Today I want to introduce you to a catalog full of tempting, desirable plants that love it here.

Most experienced local gardeners already know about High Country Gardens, but if you don’t, you should. Based in Santa Fe and Albuquerque, New Mexico, this company specializes in perennials suited for the high, dry gardens of the western U.S. In fact, a lot of their stock won’t do well in “average garden conditions” (a phrase that means “conditions in gardens that are not in Colorado”).

salvia-pachyphylla-giant-flowered-purple-sage-santafegreenhouses-2008jun28-lah-171The catalog is divided into sections by how much water the plants need, and then by bloom time. It’s easy to go through and pick out flowers with similar requirements, combining colors to create the effect you want. I have a penchant for combining shades of orange and purple; it was helpful that the catmint and gaillardia were on adjacent pages.

If you don’t feel competent (or have the time) to make your own selections, well-known plantswoman Lauren Springer Ogden has created whole gardens you can buy, complete with seedlings and scale drawings of how to arrange them. You even get a discount by buying them all together.

alcea-hollyhocks-santafegreenhouses-2008jun28-lah-148On occasions when I have bought plants via mail-order, they arrived packed to survive anything the post office could possibly dish out (except perhaps incineration). Not a leaf was damaged. Even better, every plant not only survived transplanting into my yard, it thrived. I couldn’t have been happier.

After spending years drooling over their catalog, carefully weighing which plants I can afford on my limited budget, I finally had a chance to visit their demo garden (at Santa Fe Greenhouses)… in June! This garden has got to be one of the holy sites of western landscaping.

penstemon-mexicali-red-rocks-santafegreenhouses-20089jun28-lah-040Of course there were plenty of plants for sale in the adjacent nursery area, but no one minded that I spent several hours just wandering the garden—taking a zillion photos, comparing the plants to my dog-eared catalog, making lists, and just enjoying the experience—without making a single purchase. (Such restraint… or rather, such an empty wallet!)

There are many xeriscape demonstration gardens in the Pikes Peak area, and I’ve blogged about several of them. The nice thing here is that not only can you see what your options are, you can experience the instant gratification of buying them on the spot.

Disclaimer: I haven’t yet figured out how to get companies like High Country Gardens to pay me for saying all these nice things about them, so you can be assured that this is my unbiased opinion.

Do you have a favorite source of plants for your high and dry garden?
Plants, from the top: Giant Flowered Purple Sage, Hollyhock, ‘Red Rocks’ Penstemon

3 thoughts on “A Garden Catalog for Colorado

  1. Hi there! I would love to see HG display gardens, they sound amazing. I remember going to the Denver Botanical Garden years ago and it was amazing to me too. I receive HG catalog each year but have never placed an order yet. Your write-up just might be my tipping point…I think I am going to have to try them this year! I’m in the Boise area, Z6 so I think I’m well suited for HG! Thanks for the post!

  2. Thanks Andrea, I checked out your blog and liked it so much, I added it to my links here.

    I just helped our daughter and son-in-law move from Idaho Falls to Seattle, driving through Boise–it looks like a lovely place to live and garden.

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