Sunday, August 6, 2017

Visiting Northern Colorado--Yampa River Botanic Park

No plant enthusiast passing through Steamboat Springs, Colorado should miss the Yampa River Botanic Park. Website

The Painter's Garden, Yampa River Botanic Park
The Painter's Garden
This gem is snuggled along the Yampa River on the north side of the city of Steamboat Springs. The six acres are divided into dozens of individual gardens, tended or supported by the Steamboat Springs community. Some have themes--the Blue Garden, the Butterfly Garden, the Painter's Garden--some just feature plants the gardener loves.

This, for example, is the Crevice Garden:

Crevice garden, Yampa River Botanic Park

Crevice garden, Yampa River Botanic Park

Here are other views of the Park:

Yampa River Botanic Park

A lawn for events

Yampa River Botanic Garden

A frog by the pond

Yampa River Botanic Garden

The love applied to the garden is obvious. These plants are cherished!

Flowers! Yampa River Botanic Park
Petunias, marigolds, ornamental cabbages...what else do you see?
Beautiful monardas, red blanket flower, a cultivated onion in seed,
 and a few yellow yarrow
But Steamboat Springs is at 6,880 feet in the Colorado Rockies. They have only two months--60 days--when the nighttime temperature stays warm enough not to create a killing frost (below about 28o  F for more than a few minutes). Days can reach the 90s (o F), nights are 20-30o  cooler and it can be absolutely rainless for weeks. Lots of ordinary plants die under those conditions. The Botanic Park is a showplace of mountain gardens, making the profusion of flowers even more impressive.

Yampa River Botanic Park

Yampa River Botanic Park

The plants have name lables, generally accurate and near the right plant. Plants routinely get ahead of the staff at botanic gardens, leaving tags behind. Yampa's tags are better than the average botanic garden.

The plants range from ordinary garden plants--impressive at this elevation--to natives. Lots of diversity.

A grand bed of stonecrops (Sedum sp.) and pinks (Dianthus sp.)

sedums and pinks, Yampa River Botanic Park
Stonecrops and pinks
And this is yampa. The botanic park is named after the river and the river is named after the plant, so the plant in the park brings it full circle. Yampa is Perideridia gairdneri, a little umbel (carrot family, Apiaceae) that was an important food for the Utes and other tribes in the region.

yampa Perideridia gairdneri, Yampa River Botanic Park
yampa, Perideridia gairdneri
The Penstemon Garden is an exuberant bed of beardtongues, genus Penstemon. I particularly liked this red one:


AND it is hummingbird territory. All summer they have hummingbirds in the Hummingbird Garden-- and everywhere else. Hummers are a treat to watch. 

Humming bird on monarda, Yampa River Botanic Park
If you are in Steamboat Springs during the summer, don't miss the Yampa River Botanic Park. No excuses: it is free and open from dawn to dusk.

Yampa River Botanic Park

(If you know the Park well, you'll spot that my pictures could not have been taken in 2017. You are right, some are from as long ago as 2012. I keep going back!)

Comments and corrections welcome.

Kathy Keeler, A Wandering Botanist

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