A Passion for Purple

Gomphrena_DBG-CO_LAH_8573Do you like flowers? Are you passionate about purple? If so, you can’t miss out seeing the newest themed garden at Denver Botanic Gardens. Carved out of previously inaccessible space, this small but packed area is dominated by purple in all its glory. From mauve to plum, through violet to amethyst, every shade of purple is represented by the variety of flowers chosen.

When I asked at the information desk, I was astonished to learn that the plants have only been in the ground since August. You’d never guess. While the shrubs are still small, and obviously new, the annuals and perennials spill over rocks, fences, and one another in a profusion of blossoms.

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An Invitation to Hummingbirds

Broadtail Hummingbird_COS_LAH 780My yard is full of hummingbirds! Last summer I faithfully put out feeders full of sugar water, but had no takers. Not a single one. The only hummer that visited was a Broad-tailed Hummingbird that stopped by to check out the lone flower on a honeysuckle vine that was sitting in its can, waiting to be planted. But this year! From mid-July to late August, I probably had over a dozen in the yard at any one time—Broad-tailed, Rufous, and even several Calliope Hummingbirds that hung around for over a week. It was all I could do to keep my two feeders filled.

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Come See My Garden!

Front yard_NewSantaFeTrl-COS-CO_LAH_2653I admit to feeling pretty good about my landscaping this year. I’ve been receiving compliments and relishing each and every one. All that hard work is paying off.

This is kind of our third summer in our new house. The first year, nothing got done outside until early August. Once the landscape was finally installed, we had a lovely long fall and the roots had time grow—but of course you can’t see that. Last summer, the woody plants still mostly sat there. I spent the growing season adding perennials, which was tons of fun, but being new, most of those didn’t grow much either.

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Garden Hopping

Gazebo_HASDemoGarden-COS-CO_LAH_9487As an enthusiastic gardener, I spend a lot of time in my yard, but it’s always a treat to visit other gardens. Just as sandwiches always taste better if I don’t have to make them, a garden I haven’t tended seems more lovely somehow. Perhaps it’s because I’m not responsible for pulling every weed; I can just relax and enjoy the flowers.

I’ve been garden hopping a lot this month. Earlier this month, our house suffered 45 minutes of half-inch hail accompanied by a torrential downpour. Runoff scoured my gravel paths and adjacent flower beds—I  never did find some seedlings I had just planted. Happily, other parts of town completely missed the destruction. I find their intact flowers and un-shredded leaves therapeutic, easing my bruised sensibilities while my garden heals. Continue reading

Uncovering New Growth

Crocus_XG-CO_LAH_6223The forecast for today is a high of 73, with sunshine and balmy breezes. Yesterday reached the 70s too. After weeks of cold and wind, the desire to be outside is overwhelming. So what can we do in the garden now?

In spite of the weather, it’s much too early to plant. The soil is cold; seeds will sit and sulk. Besides, we know that temperatures are sure to dip well below freezing in the coming weeks and months.

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Is It Dead?

Malus x scheideckeri 'Red Jade'_Crabapple_DBG-CO_LAH_4099-001Congratulations! We just survived one of the coldest winters in recent history. Spring has finally arrived, even here at 7,000 feet. Bulbs are blooming, trees are budding, and there’s a bit of green in the dead grass. As my perennials finally begin to sprout, I’ve been busy clearing off the dead stems and dried seed heads. One by one, they return to life, and I mentally take attendance. Catmint? Here! Blue Mist Spirea? Here! Ornamental Sage? Hello? Has anyone seen Sage lately?

Yes, some of my favorite plants are no-shows. Others, such as the Blue Mist Spirea, are producing leaves from the base of the plant, but the stems are still bare and lifeless. As I check on the woody plants in my garden, I notice that not all my shrubs are leafing out as expected. Should I cut them down? Dig them out? Or am I just too impatient? How can I tell if there’s still life left in those limbs? Continue reading

Cottonwood Creek’s Xeriscape Garden

cottonwoodxg_lah_2470Successful gardening in Colorado means choosing plants well suited for our arid climate. Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) maintains two demonstration gardens, featuring beautiful perennials, grasses, shrubs and trees that are adapted to limited irrigation. Many people are aware of the large garden at the CSU headquarters on Mesa Road, overlooking Garden of the Gods. I wrote about it in April. But very few people are aware that there’s a second, smaller garden in front of the Cottonwood Creek Recreation Center at 3920  Dublin Blvd., just west of Rangewood Drive.

iris_cottonwoodxg_lah_2504While much more limited in scope, this garden provides plenty of inspiration for a homeowner seeking to conserve water and still enjoy a beautiful landscape. When I visited in mid-June, a large swath of Stella ’d Oro daylilies were in full bloom, their bright golden yellow accented by the soft lavender of the surrounding Walker’s Low Catmint. The colors were repeated in lovely deep blue irises, purple Jerusalem Sage, and pastel yellow Moonshine Yarrows and Pineleaf Penstemon.

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