Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Gem of a garden

A cloudy, blustery day in October is hardly the time to visit or photograph a garden, but there are those who are up to the task! I had visited Lisa and Drew Bourey's gem of a garden a half dozen years earlier (in September that time) and was anxious to see it again. Like all plantsmen's gardens, this one is multidimensional: I can only imagine what it must be like in the magical months when there are hundreds of flowers everywhere. But autumn has its compensations, like the heavy fruit set on the Pyracantha espalier!

Durango is not just in Southwest Colorado, it is a beacon in the Southwest! I think this may be one of the great gardening climates, judging by the astonishing array of plants not just in the Bourey garden, but everywhere. What impressed me most about this area is that the plants LOOK good right now after a very hot summer: the cool nights at the relatively higher elevation are no doubt part of the reason. And more reliable snow cover. I love the melting tones of the zinnia with the casual purple Amaranth (Lisa had cut the giant purple amaranths the night before: they had predicted 23F and of course it didn't freeze at all!)...

This is, of course, a modest sized lot in a city neighborhood: my pictures just catch a few glimpses here and there: I love the way the Snow in Summer Euphorbia (E. marginata) picked just the right spot to come up!

This is a native around Denver, and yet we hardly ever see it in gardens hereabouts. I was surprised to find it grown in Kazakhstan, and in Europe it is a popular passalong plant: and here it is growing with debonaire charm on the West side of the divide...where it isn't native!

I forgot to ask which Carex this is...but I think it is particularly enhanced with the lush, green spread of Geranium magniflorum in front of it. Lisa made much use of this woefully neglected Plant Select offering, which warmed the cockles of my heart (I collected this with Jim Archibald in the late 1990's on Joubert's pass)...

Two enviable specimens: a gargantuan blooming Sedum cauticolum, and next to it one of the biggest Pelargonium endlicherianum I have ever seen: I would love to see that one in bloom! Plantsmen's gardens are above all about plants themselves, their intrinsic majesty and beauty, but these gardens are also about juxtapositions and combinations and a story. In this case, Lisa has decades of experience with plants a nursery manager at a local garden center, as the leading landscape designer in Durango. Her husband, Drew, obviously shares much of her enthusiasm, and is no horticultural slouch! He takes the initiative with the large collection of succulents scattered throughout (check out his blog: you can see evidence of his and Lisa's formidable photographic skills)...and read about a man who lives his dreams!

A few more vignettes from here and there in the garden: isn't this a great way to show off the seedheads of Allium christophii?

A cloudy, chill October morning, yet this garden entranced me: I could tell that Lisa and Drew and their kids have endless fun there. Despite the small size in square feet, it really seemed endless in its convolutions: what a great place for kids to grow up! I doubt I have seen more great plants superbly grown in such a small area, nor more imaginitive design. I nominate the Bourey garden as the epitome of the Colorado garden: rich, varied and lovely year around!


  1. It is a riot whenever it is not completely covered by snow. On about a half acre there are more than 15 choice trees including; Metasequoia, Bigtooth, Paperbark, Sunset, Japanese, and Vine Maples, Russian Hawthorn, Ptelea, Holly leaf Oak, Blue Ice Cypress, and more and a half a dozen of the best foxgloves in cultivation, not to mention hundreds of natives grown from her own seed company, Edge of the Rockies. And there is also a lawn and a vegetable garden.
    It is truly one of the Rockies least-known and most interesting and beautiful gardens.
    We were very glad you got a few minutes in your busy schedule to visit!

  2. Just re-read this (over 100 hits! cool...) and realized I used the word small about twenty times: to set the record straight, this garden is substantial by urban and suburban standards: It is such an optical illusion I couldn't actually tell how big it was! (All those garden rooms...). Of course it is full of small treasures (the only small thing about it really!).


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