Sunday, September 1, 2019

Garden Bloggers Fling 2019--Loveland and Fort Collins

High Plains Environmental Center, Loveland, CO
Garden Bloggers take lots of pictures. These of plantings of Colorado
native plants at High Plains Environmental Center in Loveland
The Garden Bloggers Fling is an conference of garden bloggers. Each year they gather to visit gardens. I went in 2017 and this year, when the conference was in greater Denver,  June 13-16, 2019. My summer has been so busy I haven't written about it.

Well, that's one excuse. But also, I was processing what I saw. The conference began in Loveland and Fort Collins Colorado, where I live. And yet it took me to gardens I had not seen. I think--I hope--that that applies to a lot of people; there are local resources that you don't know about. There was a time when paging through the phone book you could see what was close by. Today that information is scattered between print publications and the internet and it can be difficult to find services you do not know exist. I can't offer an easy solution to keeping current on what's in your area other than: pay attention.

Thus, I had not been to the High Plains Environmental Center in Loveland. They are commited to  "Restoring Nature Where We Live, Work and Play," incorporating wildlife and native plants into urban and suburban habitats. Given our human-dominated world, that's a critical goal if wild creatures are going to survive. HPEC provided information on growing natives and making wildlife habitat compatible with suburbia. My version of wildlife habitat in a suburban yard is much sloppier than HPEC's, but theirs is a necessary step from manicured spaces to places wildlife can use. I enjoyed their native plant nursery (they sell an array of appealing plants and I bought three despite myself), the community gardens, and the informational material.

Garden of natives for sale
High Plains Environmental Center, Loveland, CO

The community garden. We were there when it was quiet but clearly, many people participate in this.

Community Garden, High Plains Environmental Center, Loveland, CO

One of the stars, showy milkweed, Asclepias speciosa, which is Colorado's common roadside milkweed, like the common milkweed, A. syriaca, further east. I think everyone took its picture.

Asclepias speciosa, showy milkweed
Asclepias speciosa, showy milkweed
The Gardens on Spring Creek in Fort Collins was another place new to me. I thought I had been there but if so, so long ago it looked totally different. Here were beautiful natives and others adapted to Front Range growing conditions. With artificial hills they have created warmer and cooler spots, allowing them to successfully grow desert plants and mountain plants from neighboring areas. I coveted many of their plants.

Flower beds on gravel. It works well in Colorado.

Gardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO

Artificial hills making warmer and drier spots.

Gardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO

Below, Colorado's state flower, Colorado blue columbine, Aquilegia coerulea (buttercup family, Ranunculaceae.) State flower and related websites spell the scientific name A. caerulea,  but it is correctly A. coerulea. See for example the USDA plants pages link and Flora of North America link. Apparently the State of Colorado spelled it A. caerulea in 1899 when it was created the state flower link. Which makes a nice conundrum: there is no A. caerulea so Colorado has no state flower or if you correct the spelling to make it a real plant, is it no longer Colorado's state flower? It is a very beautiful columbine, however you spell it.
Colorado blue columbine, Aquilegia coerulea
Colorado blue columbine, Aquilegia coerulea
The Gardens on Spring Creek were under construction too, with new areas to be completed sometime in the fall. The plants will go in the spaces. With 15" of rain a year, it helps to place plants pretty far apart. The rocks provide warmth and give adjacent plants more water, as whatever falls on the rock goes to the plants around it, not to a competing plant growing there. Compare the photos above to imagine how this will look in a couple years.

Gardens on Spring Creek, Fort Collins, CO

The Fling then took us to the private gardens of Carol Shinn and Jan deVore. One had lots of shallow soil--rock garden--plants, very beautiful, the other had big trees and was gardening under them, reminscent of other areas since Loveland and Fort Collins are out on the plains (barely) not in the Rocky Mountain forests.

Fort Collins garden

This crevice garden was very carefully built, the rocks laid in close rows to imitate mountain conditions:

Crevice rock garden, Fort Collins, CO

Or, put these striking red penstemons along a large rock:

rock garden, Fort Collins, CO

Here, at the second garden, tall trees provided a forest effect:

garden, Fort Collins, CO


garden, Fort Collins, CO

And a very pretty path edged in iris:

 garden, Fort Collins, CO

That was just the first day of the Fling. Looking at garden design and the plants, wow!, stimulating and tiring. I tended to walk past the plants that are in my garden and focus on ones I am not now growing. In fact, looking back up the post, I have tried but not yet succeeded in growing showy milkweed or Colorado blue columbine and I have only one small plant of those dark purple irises. I came away wanting to spread more pea gravel since it looks nice and plants grow well in it, and to build a proper rock garden. Very much a day of "why don't I do that?!"

Comments and corrections welcome.

Others at the Fling have blogged about the experience. Here are some of their posts about the first day:
Pam Pennick - Digging In: "Jan Devore Garden under the pines"  link
Idelle Fisher - Pickelwix Custom Web Design - Denver Garden Bloggers Fling link
Barb Gorges - Rocky gardening featured in Rocky Mountain garden tour - Cheyenne Garden Gossip - link
Jason Kay and Judy Hertz - Garden in a City - 2019 Denver Fling: an Overview link
There are more: search on Garden Bloggers Fling.

If you don't blog about gardens--required to attend a Garden Bloggers Fling--but love gardens, there are many tours focused on gardens.  For example, check out Pacific Horticulture, the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, Garden Design and Road Scholar. A search will turn up others.

Kathy Keeler, A Wandering Botanist



1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed your coverage of these gardens, and your perspective as a Colorado gardener! Pam/Digging: penick.net

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