Rocky Mountain Gardening: Ice to Blooms

 

When I signed up for Group Writing this month, I thought I was going to write about the challenges of gardening in a high-altitude, arid climate with capricious weather requiring a certain ruthlessness. Plants which underperform don’t last long in my garden and meet their inglorious end in the compost pile. But, the promises of spring and surviving the last battle (God willing) of late freezes (yes, multiple) have mellowed my mood. So, instead, you’ll get some photos working backward in time.

Ice on the Serviceberry tree (Amelanchier Autumn Brilliance):

The ice actually helps the tree to retain its fruit, holding the tender vegetative connective tissue at 32 degrees while the air temperature drops below freezing around it (28 degrees for two nights with durations over eight hours each).

Building straw men in preparation:

The mostly empty bed is one I’m renewing this year after 30 years of working around old plantings. I dug up and divided Goldenrod Fireworks, many yellow and white Iris rhizomes, and Autumn Joy Sedum among other oldtimers, and gave them away to friends. I’ve amended the soil (cotton burr compost and Yum Yum Mix) and am trying some new plants, both tender (Dahlias) and perennial (Elderberry Lemony Lace).

The children’s playhouse was built by Grandpa Chauvinist when Little Miss Anthrope was about two years old. It sits on stilts in the canopy of some Scrub Oaks with eye-level views of the birds we attract to our feeders. When our garden was included in the FOX Garden Tour last year, the Master Gardeners and I would invite people to go in and then wait for the squeals of delight. We were not disappointed.

This is what the garden looked like last year in full bloom:

I have a few thousand more photos, so just let me know if you want more. ;-)

Happy Spring!

Published in Group Writing
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There are 10 comments.

  1. Member

    Building strawmen, ya say? 😜

    • #1
    • May 15, 2019, at 7:04 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  2. Contributor

    Wow, gorgeous, WC. The simplicity of the rock section is wonderful. When we lived in Parker, CO (probably lower altitude than you are), we just stuck marigolds all around the house and begonias. The marigolds had enough protection that they came back every year and they were so tough! Some of them would probably have qualified as bushes! Our biggest battle was with the hail storms: they’d beat the heck out of the plants (knocking off every single blossom), and we’d go around and tenderly put down Miracle-Gro to try to revive them–and it usually worked! Thanks for a beautiful post.

    • #2
    • May 15, 2019, at 7:09 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  3. Member
    Western Chauvinist Post author

    Arahant (View Comment):

    Building strawmen, ya say? 😜

    Everything I know about it I learned on Ricochet. 

    Ooohhhhh, burn!!!

    • #3
    • May 15, 2019, at 7:10 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. Member
    Western Chauvinist Post author

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Wow, gorgeous, WC. The simplicity of the rock section is wonderful. When we lived in Parker, CO (probably lower altitude than you are), we just stuck marigolds all around the house and begonias. The marigolds had enough protection that they came back every year and they were so tough! Some of them would probably have qualified as bushes! Our biggest battle was with the hail storms: they’d beat the heck out of the plants (knocking off every single blossom), and we’d go around and tenderly put down Miracle-Gro to try to revive them–and it usually worked! Thanks for a beautiful post.

    Hail, yes! The bane of all Colorado gardeners. I invented a system to protect my tomato plants last year which, if I had the energy, I might try to market. About 530 people came through and saw it last year, so it’s not a big secret. Let’s just say it involves a patio umbrella frame and hardware and hail cloth. 

    The rock garden has been there maybe 20 years? And now I learn it’s the latest thing in gardening and is called a “notch” garden. Lots of sempervivum (hens and chicks) and some natives like pussy toes. The snap dragons add color and are all volunteers. 

    • #4
    • May 15, 2019, at 7:19 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  5. Member

    How beautiful.

    I’ve been working all spring in my office, trying to ignore my gardens while I finish the projects I’m working on. I think I shall play hooky and go outside to play today. 

    Thank you for the inspiration. :-) 

     

    • #5
    • May 15, 2019, at 7:34 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. Contributor

    A garden that is very English in nature.

    • #6
    • May 15, 2019, at 7:44 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  7. Member
    Western Chauvinist Post author

    Shawn Buell (Majestyk) (View Comment):

    A garden that is very English in nature.

    It’s all about the vignettes. Some have an English cottage feel, but others are xeric, or Santa Fe, or even exotic:

    Not sure why these are all blurry, but you get the idea.

    • #7
    • May 15, 2019, at 8:57 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. Thatcher

    It has been a while since I visited your garden. Perhaps when I leave the rats to continue the race, I should get Linda & myself out there with our new home on wheels….

    Maybe next year…..

    • #8
    • May 15, 2019, at 9:07 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Contributor

    I really like the way the stone wall sets off the raised bed from the grass in several photos. I had largely forgotten the preparations for winter, as we just don’t get that here in the Valley of the Sun.


    This conversation is part of our Group Writing Series under the May 2019 Group Writing Theme: Blooming Ideas. Do stop by and sign up!

    • #9
    • May 15, 2019, at 4:29 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Coolidge

    Love your passion and patience, Sis. Your garden blooms with both :)

    • #10
    • May 15, 2019, at 5:43 PM PDT
    • 5 likes