There are many blessings to being a gardener in Colorado, but I count as chief among these the relative proximity of Laporte Avenue Nursery, one of the greatest alpine plant nurseries in the world, and much much more. Owned by Kirk Fieseler and Karen Lehrer, they have grown thousands of plants and list hundreds of kinds of plants every year on their wonderful website.
Where else in America would you be likely to stumble on what must be Primula stuartii, a mythical plant from the Himalayas, blooming contentedly?
Here are flats and flats of Draba dedeana from Spain, a fabulous cushion plant I have grown once or twice...but not like this! Needless to say, I have a few more in my garden this spring to enjoy thanks to Laporte! They are mail order (still time to sneak in an order), but more and more they do wholesale shipments in our area, supplying the fabulous garden centers of Colorado with some of their choicest morsels. They are open by appointment to serious gardeners who intend to do some serious buying!
There is an exquisite and extensive garden around the nursery: the private garden of the Fieseler's actually, that they have been kind enough to open to some garden tours and nursery open days. There are dozens of troughs, one choicer than the next, and they were in glorious bloom during my recent visit.
Here are the two masters in their original rock garden (and also stock garden!)...Kirk does all the grafting and growing of conifers as well as taking on little projects like the ambitious and amazing Garden at Spring Creek's enormous new rock garden...Karen is the most consistent, focused and amazing propagator I know. I am sure she can root match sticks. Her eye for beauty and her conscientious love of plants is second to none. I can't say how much I respect and love these two.
Here's a typical little treasure you will find there: Androsace montana (aka Douglasia montana: it's an androsace, sure as shootin'--you might as well get over it!): I have never seen a more beautiful specimen including literally thousands I have walked past in the wild.
How about this little hummer with Primula auricula and Primula hirsuta from the Alps: makes you want to break out into a yodel (almost anyway...)
And here is the nearly mythical Gentiana oshtenica from the Caucauses, the cool primrose yellow form of G. verna....to DIE for! Can't tell you how many times I've grown seed of this and it turned out blue.
Primul marginata cunningly tucked into a crevice in the large demonstration garden at Laporte Avenue Nursery in April: just about the best place on the planet to be that day.
More shots of alpine treasures arrayed by the thousand in their many impeccable greenhouses....I could go on and on and would like to (I took dozens more pictures, any one of which would be a match to what I have shown you)...and I am drawn to Fort Collins every few months to revisit one of America's premier nurseries. I doubt that there has been a nursery that has consistently produced such a high level of quality plants in such quantities, and done so with such integrity and flair. Kirk and Karen are national treasures: and they are among the touchstones of my life, constantly astonishing me with their ingenuity, energy and accomplishment. Thank you, Laporte Avenue Nursery: you are the gold standard for our industry. Long may you flourish!