Gazing at the frozen tundra our yards have become, the thought of getting your hands in soil may seem a distant dream. The snow is receding at a glacial pace, and you wouldn’t be surprised to find a walrus sunning itself on the ice floes still in the streets.
Seed catalogs help, but to ready yourself for the upcoming season, dig into seminars that will make you eager for spring. At the seventh annual High Plains Landscape Workshop, February 27 at the Fort Collins Senior Center, you’ll learn tips for making your garden big in style but small on needs, using less water, fertilizer, or pesticides. A fundraiser for the Gardens on Spring Creek, the event gets down to earth about real-world gardening.
“One day I was standing at the Home Depot, watching people load their cars with all of the plants they’d purchased,” says author Marcia Tatroe, keynote speaker for the event. “I knew most would take these home and cluster-bomb the yard with them, putting them in based on how they look now, not after they’ve grown.”
Ignoring plant tag information on how much water and room the plants need, or mixing them together with bluegrass is often why they fail, she says, and why Colorado gets a bad rap on gardening. This doesn’t have to happen to you – develop an understanding of your yard and the conditions on the ground, and your flowers, grasses, and perennials will be the envy of the neighborhood.
Her talk “Design and Evolution of a Garden” helps people think of their landscape in zones, including the differing soils or micro- and macroclimates that can be used to the garden’s advantage. Customizing each area for how it will be used and choosing the right plant combinations comes later in the process.
But if the thought of learning about design makes your palms sweat with nerves, relax. Tatroe, who’s spent 22 years gardening on the Front Range, isn’t a dirt-covered diva demanding perfection. “There’s not one right way to do anything, and no one doesn’t make mistakes, especially in your own yard. This is how we learn. I want to help people look at their own property and realize they have choices; they need to learn what works for them.”
In addition to the keynote seminar, attendees can choose two other seminars for the day: Hardy Succulents by Gwen Kelaidis, Plants We Need to Use More by Tom Throgmorton, or Cultivating a Sustainable Kitchen Garden by Susan Tweit.
“This is a chance to see top-notch speakers give great insight into new garden ideas,” says Throgmorton, a garden consultant who provides commentary on KUNC radio Saturdays at 7:20 and 9:20 a.m. He’ll be speaking on using lesser-known plants that are better adapted to our region.
Native plants are a good substitute for imports that can become thugs here in Colorado. “Russian sage, for example, is invasive, so try lead plant for that late season blue hue,” he says. But if you’re going to use natives, be sure to put them in the right place. Care of the plants will be included in his virtual tour of good choices.
The popular event includes lunch and a chance to talk with other gardeners who revel in early season planning for beautiful landscapes. Registration is $35, including lunch; $40 after February 17. Workshop information and registration materials are available at fcgov.com/highplains or by calling the Gardens on Spring Creek at 970-416-2486.
If you go:
What: Seventh annual High Plains Landscape Workshop
When: Saturday, February 27, 8:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Where: the Fort Collins Senior Center, 1200 Raintree Drive, Fort Collins.
Benefits: The Gardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins.