Posts Tagged ‘Denver Botanic Gardens’

A friend leaned close to whisper awful words in my ear, words that make many gardeners in the west sad.  “High Country Gardens has closed down,” she said, speaking of the Santa Fe, New Mexico business that has been a class act in our region and leaders in developing and promoting water-responsible plants for over 19 years.

According to an article in The Santa Fe New Mexican, High Country Gardens and its parent company, Santa Fe Greenhouses, could not overcome setbacks caused by the effects of slow consumer spending, drought, fire, and competition from big-box stores.  Attempts to downsize failed to save the nursery.

“I think what David and Ava Salman did was to bring the message of the beauty of water wise garden plants to the country,” said Pat Hayward, Executive Director of Plant Select .  “People fell in love with them; all over the country people wanted that look.  David combined beauty and water wise gardening in ways no one else has done, creating excitement.”

Salman worked closely with the Plant Select, a program dedicated to finding, promoting, and distributing plants that thrive in our harsh, dry Rocky Mountain gardens.  “We’ve been working closely with David since I first came on as Executive Director.  Blonde Ambition blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’) was one of his introductions, and we plan to have more of his work.  The void is huge, but he’ll continue breeding plants and discovering new, beautiful introductions.  He has an amazing eye.” 

The current economy doesn’t seem to favor any business right now, but plant industry is dear to the hearts of gardeners.  When one of our own closes down we feel the loss, especially gardeners in far flung locations that have difficulty finding water thrifty plants in their communities.  Panayoti  Kelaidis, Senior Curator and Director of Outreach for the Denver Botanic Gardens, commented on his December 6 blog, Prairie Break , that High Country Gardens’ 19 years “is a hell of a run for any nursery.”

With many plant introductions of his own, Kelaidis said he was deeply saddened by the closing of the cutting edge business.  “No question, it was the highest caliber of production, the perfect combination of quality plants for the widest market.  Theirs was a magical gift to our industry.”

Kelaidis points to Plant Select for those looking to fill the void in searching for additions to water responsible gardens.  The plants Salman helped that program introduce will continue to thrill gardeners, keeping nurseries in Colorado doing well, by and large, said the esteemed Denver Botanic Gardens’ plantsman.  “Salman helped Plant Select create a pallet of plants ideal for western gardens, plants that are low water.  It’s like our own drought insurance for our industry.  These plants are adapted, tailored to our state and growing conditions.”

Rumors abound as to whether the catalog business of the company will find new ownership, but in the meantime, gardeners, take a moment to ponder where you purchase gifts this season and next year.  Check out local garden centers and nurseries for their stock, and talk to the staff.  Over repeat visits, you’ll find they become like family, and our patronage helps them stay afloat while we all ride out the economy.

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Throughout the long, dry winter, gardeners dreamed of spring, when we could get outside and get growing.  And while catalog shopping is nice, what we really wanted was to get our hands on some plants and sink them into the soil where they could thrive.  Green thumbs are nurturers by nature, coaxing seeds and seedlings into glorious displays in summer.

So it’s no surprise that when a group of gardeners gets together, they throw a plant sale to benefit causes close to their hearts.  This weekend kicks off the season of plant sales, where you can pick up plants while supporting community causes.  Make room in your schedule and planting plans to attend several of these worthy fundraisers.

Denver Botanic Gardens plant sale, today and Saturday, May 7, is the largest event in the area.  They’ve changed their layout this year, so look for the digital map just inside the entrance to plan your shopping spree.  To ensure that you get the plant of your dreams, plan ahead by checking the lists of plants offered on their website, botanicgardens.org/content/spring-plant-sale.  Looking for a perfect gift for Mother’s Day?  Check out their container gardens for a pre-planted mix designed to show off in sun or shade.  Shop from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.  Admission is free to the sale, unless you’d like to shop the plant sale preview party Thursday, May 5, from 4 to 7 p.m.  Tickets for the preview party are $35 per person.

 Boulder Garden Club’s plant sale, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, May 7, at the Eisenhower School, 1220 Eisenhower Dr., Boulder.  Browse member-grown perennials, annuals, vegetables, herbs, shrubs, and trees from the oldest garden club in Colorado.  At the Boulder Orchid Society table of orchids, you’ll find unique plants and good advice from the staff at the event.  Proceeds go toward supporting the club’s civic projects in Boulder and their international projects.

 The Gardens on Spring Creek Spring Plant Sale, Saturday, May 7, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 2145 Centre Avenue, Fort Collins.  Unusual annuals, heirloom vegetables, herbs, and perennials are offered for the discerning shopper.  For a plant list and more information, check out fcgov.com/gardens. 

Loveland Garden Club plant sale, Saturday, May 7, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the All Saints Episcopal Church, 3448 N. Taft Avenue, Loveland.  Perennials, annuals, vegetables and herbs are ready for your garden and if you’re unsure which is best, ask one of the Colorado Master Gardeners staffing the event.  Proceeds go to community causes, such as Larimer County area tree plantings, Loveland Youth Gardeners.  For information:  Laura 970-223-2265/970-222-3322

Happy Transplants Garden Club plant sale, Saturday, May 21, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the parking lot of Vectra bank, 3300 west 72nd Avenue, Westminster.  Sale of perennials, annuals, herbs and vegetables fund community projects and scholarships.  Information: 303-423-2923.

Growing Gardens Community plant sale, Saturdays and Sundays, May 14, 15, 21, 22, 28, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily at the Growing Gardens Greenhouse, 1630 Hawthorn Avenue in Boulder.  The event offers thousands of vegetable seedlings, plus annuals and perennials and benefits Growing Gardens programming, such as Cultiva! Youth Project, Able Gardening, and community gardens.  For information: growinggardens.org/.

Golden Gardeners annual plant sale, Saturday, May 21, 8:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. held in downtown Golden on the corner of Washington Ave. and 12th Street.  The sale offers perennials, annuals, ground covers, day lilies, and iris, plus a few begonias.  For information, call 303-271-1830.

 Plan to make your trip easy on the arms, by bringing your own boxes, wagons, wheelbarrows or carts to carry around your plants.

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The new year has gotten off to quick start and gardeners are eager to get their hands back in the soil. But the ground is frozen and plants are asleep, so the best cure for the green thumb itch is to sit through a few classes. Fortunately, there are several seminars to choose from along the Front Range.

Two powerhouse speakers, Lauren Springer Ogden and David Salman, are appearing January 22 at the Drake Centre, 802 W. Drake Rd. in Fort Collins. Salman, owner of High Country Gardens in Santa Fe, and landscape designer/author Springer Ogden are expert in creating beauty in the west. Their topic, “Creating Undaunted Gardens: Plants & Inspiration from Two Pioneers in High Country Gardening,” is a must-see for gardeners feeling the winter blues.

Fee for this seminar, a fundraiser for the Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins, is $40 members, $45 for non-members, and includes a breakfast buffet. Information and registration are available online or by calling the Gardens on Spring Creek at 970-416-2486.

“Your Edible Gardening Workshop,” offered by the Colorado State University Extension offices of Larimer, Adams, Weld and Boulder counties, is a one-day immersion into food gardening. The basics of soil, water, and plant selection are explored, along with seminars on specialty crops, like strawberries, tree fruit and brambles. This all-day workshop is Saturday, January 22, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ranch in Loveland, and costs only $75. Lunch is not included. Call 970-304-3565 for more information or to register.

Can’t decide between landscaping for beauty or wanting to plant for food? Check out the one day “High Plains Landscape Workshop,” Saturday, Feb. 26 at the Fort Collins Senior Center, 1200 Raintree Dr. Featuring Scott Calhoun, author and columnist for Sunset magazine, the workshop focuses on gardening from the ground up with seminars on perfect plant combinations, soil savvy, strategies for design, and choosing vegetable varieties.

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; $40 after February 16. Workshop information and registration materials are available online or by calling the Gardens on Spring Creek at 970-416-2486.

If you don’t mind driving and want a chance to hear elite speakers discussing issues and intricacies of gardening in a land with limited resources, head to Colorado Springs for the Peak to Prairie Landscape Symposium, Feb. 4 and 5. Design tips, trends, and water-wise landscaping are the focus of this two day event.

In addition to David Salman speaking on designing with xeriscape plants and also on rock gardening, Denver Botanic Gardens’ plant explorer Mike Bone will dazzle you with “The Wisdom of Well-Adapted Plants,” and Dr. Patty Limerick of the University of Colorado’s Center of the American West presents the thought provoking “From the Ground Up: Harvesting the Lessons of Westward Expansion.”

Register for both days or a single day only; check out their Web site for fees and registration information online.

This post was previously published in the Longmont Ledger.

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When the tool shed is full and you’re shopping for someone whose needs are dirt simple, what do you give them?  Wrap up something different this year, by giving the gift of time, luxury, or knowledge.

Your Edible Gardening Workshop, offered by the  Colorado State University Extension offices of Larimer, Adams, Weld, and Boulder, is a one-day immersion into food gardening.  The basics of soil, water, and plant selection are explored, along with seminars on specialty crops, like strawberries, tree fruit and brambles.  This all-day workshop is Saturday, Jan. 22, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ranch in Loveland, and costs only $65.  Lunch is not included.  Call 970-304-3565 for more information or to register your gardener.

The Denver Botanic Gardens has a wide assortment of classes to fit every gardener.  From botanical illustration to cooking with aromatic herbs, you’re sure to find a class your loved one will adore.  Browse their online catalog for winter classes to inspire your gardener, then enroll them and wrap up the certificate for under the tree.

Gifts of time, guidance and comfort can be just right for the gardener on your list this holiday season.

One of the hallmarks of an obsessed gardener is that we like to dream, especially in winter when we’ve forgotten the insects, disease and heat that had us complaining in summer.  Our eyes are ever forward, so give your loved one a book to pour over on chilly days:

The Encyclopedia of Container Plants,” by Ray Rogers and Rob Cardillo (Timber Press, $34.95) is a richly photographed exploration of successful container gardens.  Featuring over 500 plants, this is one book that does double duty as both coffee table eye candy and valuable resource.

Edible Landscaping,” by Rosalind Creasy (Sierra Club Books, $39.95), is the long awaited update of the 1982 groundbreaking book exploring the combination of landscape design, permaculture, and edible plants.  Hot off the press, this is the book for anyone who wants to make beautiful, functional, landscapes.

When you have your hands in the dirt, nails and fingers can turn as rough as sandpaper.  A basket of salves makes a welcome gift.  Pull together Burt’s Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream ($6), Crabtree and Evelyn’s Gardener’s Hand Therapy lotion ($15), and Dr. Bronner’s Organic Shikakai Lavender Hand Soap ($8.99), then wrap them up for your gardener.  For an added touch, slip in a gift certificate for a manicure.

What I love is the gift of time, because no matter how well equipped a gardener is, they could always use a little more.  Surprise yours by giving them a hand in the garden; wrap up a certificate good for spring cleanup, flower pot planting, or mulching.  But don’t be fooled: this isn’t a cheap gift to give. A day spent rototilling or pruning is sure to leave you grimy, sweaty, and scratched.  Your gardener will love it.

This post was previously published in the Longmont Ledger. 

Note to FCC:  the above suggestions were not solicited by the companies.

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Having a planting plan can really crimp your style, especially if you’re a plant person with a shopping problem.  Though being organized enough to know what you need to go out and get is soothing, there’s little room for disguising the purchases you made on a spur of the moment.

Which is what I’m going to have to figure out how to do now that I’ve seen the new Plant Select plants for 2010.  Old friends and new have made this year’s list of hardy plants that thrive in the Rocky Mountain west.

Developed by the Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado State University, and members of GreenCo (the green industries of Colorado), Plant Select has been testing and offering gorgeous selections from across the globe that are suited for our harsh sun and dry conditions.  Each year several new introductions earn the moniker of this prestigious plant program, with the 2010 offerings arriving in local gardens centers.

If you’re shopping for something to set your garden apart, check out these plants:

Snow Mesa buckwheat (Eriogonum wrightii var. wrightii), is a tough little plant that would do well under the tender care I dish out to the garden – neglect.  Growing 18 to 20 inches tall and wide, the plant tag suggests putting it in lean soil, unenriched by compost or fertilizers.  Keep this xeric plant dry and you’ll be rewarded with blooms from August to November.  As the snowy white flowers age through fall, they turn russet, punctuating the garden with delighterful color.  Zones 4 – 9.

Hockey fans wanting a bit of fun in summer should pop in Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora), a hummingbird magnet sure to give your backyard all the action of the NHL.   Whizzing along at top speeds and bouncing off each other in their haste to get to the blooms, hummingbirds find this native of Texas and Mexico an irresistible draw.

 Arching, evergreen sword-like leaves are topped by towering spikes of brilliant rose-pink flowers.  Plant this in a drier location of your garden where the birds have room to fly; once it’s established it needs and occasional deep watering to keep it thriving.  Zones 5 – 10.

 If you need a plant that stops passersby, look for Red Feathers (Echium amoenum), a petite, four-inch tall plant that knows how to put on a show.  Lifting rust-red flower spires on 14-inch stalks, Red Feathers will bloom over and over if deadheaded after the first spring display.  Zones 3 – 9.

Tow-toned Prairie Lode Sundrops (Calylophus serrulatus ’Prairie Lode’) is a prairie native that lights up drier parts of the garden.  Unfurling from orange buds, the yellow flowers cloak the plant throughout the summer, providing a steady show of color from May through September.  Perfect for sun or part shade, Prairie Lode prefers lean soil and drier conditions.  Zones 3 – 9.

Garden spaces crying out for groundcover are the ideal spot for Partridge Feather (Tanacetum densum ssp. Amani), a silver creeper that slowly but surely will cover a two-foot area.  Soft leaves make petting this plant hard to resist; put it in the hottest sun-filled spot in the yard.  Zones 4 – 9.

These plants and more can be found at local retailers. 

This post was previously published in the Boulder Camera, Longmont Times-Call, and Loveland Reporter-Herald.

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What a year 2009 was for gardening.  The too-dry spring was merely an overture to a season of wild weather that had us ducking hailstones, celebrating rain, and growing great greens.  Before launching into another season of planting, here’s a quick look at some of the top stories in gardening for 2009:

5.  Denver Botanic Gardens upgrade.  Staying open throughout season one of a multi-year construction project wasn’t easy for the Botanic Gardens, which added a much-needed three-level parking garage at their York Street location in Denver.  During building, parking was squeezed into a tiny dirt lot on the north end of the grounds; if your car couldn’t steer with the agility of a ballerina, you stayed away.

Anticipation grows as work on the new 15,000 square-foot greenhouse and three-acre Mordecai Children’s Garden gets under way.  Plans for these expanded areas include classes and interactive experiences to delight the public.

4.  Rain barrel water collection signed into law.  In April, Governor Ritter signed SB80, which allows rainwater to be collected from roofs of 3,000 square feet or smaller beginning July 1.  But not everyone can reap the rain harvest; only those whose residences aren’t connected to a municipal water system or a water supplier are allowed to capture it; you must have a well permit.

Though this doesn’t benefit gardens now (in addition to having a home with a well, the permit for using the water must be for domestic purposes), gardeners are watching this easing of water law closely, waiting for the day we’ll be able to capture rain for our plants.  Read more of the new law at the Colorado Division of Water Resources.

3.  Nasty weather had many of us believing it was gardening Armageddon, with June hail wreaking havoc, July tornados tossing trees, and October pumpkins freezing in the fields.  The only thing lacking was a plague of grasshoppers, but that was probably because Mother Nature felt sorry for us.  On the plus side…

2.  Rain and cooler weather made 2009 a delightful year. Gardens had an easier season for growing, cool season greens thrived, and lawn stress from a hot, dry summer failed to show.  Savvy green thumbs reduced their irrigation during this wet summer, saving water and reducing water bills.  

For a vegetable gardener like me, the number one story of the year:

1.  Growing your own food got hip.  Turning years of retail sales upside down, food gardens finally gained the spotlight with a bit of help from First Lady Michelle Obama planting a White House vegetable garden.  Harvesting over 1,000 pounds of produce in its first season, the White House proves that with a little compost and a will to till, any backyard can be turned into a bounty for the kitchen.

 These were stories that made my top list; you might have stories of your own – add them here!

This story first appeared in the Longmont Ledger.

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Windswept trees, mountain ranges, forest glades, and tidal pools come in itty-bitty packages this weekend at the Fall Bonsai and Suiseki Show.  Sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society, masters of the art display their works at the Denver Botanic Gardens tomorrow and Sunday, October 10 and 11.  Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society

Between 50 and 80 of the diminutive trees will be showcased along with Suiseki(pronounced swee-seckee), artful stones that evoke images of mountain peaks, glaciers, caves, and other natural formations.  Demonstrations are planned for both days at 1 and 3 p.m., or bring in a tree you would like to work on for a personalized lesson in this ancient art.

 “But whatever you bring in should be something you can carry, no forklift-sized trees, please,” says Will Kerns, co-Chairman of the show, “otherwise you can bring in just about anything and we’ll figure out something to teach you to do with it.”

If you don’t already have a small tree or shrub you’re working on for bonsai, Kerns suggests shopping at a local nursery for a starter plant.  Look for those in one-gallon pots, and “go for something with a good sized trunk and small foliage.  Almost anything will work: spruce, maples, elms, cotoneaster, burning bush – there are lots of them you can use.”

Courtesy of Rocky Mountain Bonsai Society Society members will be available all day each day to show you techniques for shaping, trimming, repotting or training your bonsai.  Though most have a few supplies for your lesson, bring a pair of small garden shears for working with your tree.  If you don’t have time to shop, Colorado Bonsai Limited will be on hand, selling bonsai as either starter trees or finished ones. 

Planning to go?

Where:  the Denver Botanic Gardens, 1005 York St., Denver

When:  October 10, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and October 11, 9am to 3pm.

Admission:  Entrance to this event is included with admission to the Denver Botanic Gardens.

Information: Contact Will Kerns at 303-478-6135 or willkerns@hotmail.com

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