Sunday, May 8, 2016

A Colorado mountain garden suprises!

Primula denticulata
If someone had told me when I was a young man in the last century that I would live to see a botanic garden mature and flourish in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, at nearly 7000' I would have thought they were truly insane. You see, I was born some 18 miles away, and spent stints every summer at my uncle and cousin's home with my father fishing the vast--mostly empty--spaces of Routt County. Northwest Colorado is somewhat more populous--but still pretty sparse. To have created a garden of this scope and have it maintained so well is truly a tribute to the entire community--but especially to the founders (Bob and Audrey Enever) and the dynamic staff lead by Gayle Lehman from the inception.

I just had to give that acknowledgment! I have featured this garden in a previous blog which I hope you will click on to compare: the garden changes dramatically through the season...and well worth visiting any time it's open (roughly May into October most years)...

 This June the Garden is co-hosting the Annual General Meeting of the North American Rock Garden Society (something I would have found equally incredulous a few decades ago) and we will have a breakfast here in a month and a half. I know the rock gardeners attending will be dazzled!  The garden is full of wonderful vignettes of choice plants and beautiful vistas of the Park Range and Flattops in various directions. I would love to append a long commentary on each picture below--but shall restrain myself with just a few plant I.D.'s--just enjoy and try to compensate a bit for my glaring photos (still not used to my camera...)

New crevice garden
Only two years old, the dramatic crevice garden has grown a lot over last summer...

New crevice gardenl vignette
The big cushions to the lower left are probably Dianthus anatolicus. The small white buns above them are an Arenaria (not sure which) and the yellow and white to the right are Draba dedeana var. zapatieri and Draba hispanica.

Tulipa tarda in the rock garden

Tulipa kaufmanniana in the rock garden

View of the rock garden

Tulipa kaufmanniana in the rock garden

Rose garden in crocus time
The roses are still quite dormant...
Closdr view of Rose garden in crocus time
Crocuses love the rose bed...they're HUGE.

Very happy Crocus vernus

Daffodils in the aspen grove

Pediocactus simpsonii
I was surprised to see a mountain ball cactus blooming just a few days after April--I'm sure other years this must bloom later. Mine are just blooming in Denver...

Chionodoxa luciliae gone crazy
I'm astonished that the Chionodoxa have spread so widely--they have huge patches over a whole half acre of woodland garden...

Art in the garden
I am not crazy about garden art in excess--but they found the right spot for this piece!

The dry sunny slope with Agave parryi
I would never have dreamed that agaves and manzanitas would persist and do well at this altitude: these have been here for years. I am curious if the agave shall ever bloom.

Agave parryi
I think this may be straight parryi: var. neomexicana from New Mexico would be even hardier.
Arctostaphlos x coloradoensis 'Mock Bearberry'

Pulsatilla vulgaris

Sedum rupestre 'Angelina'
I'm intrigued that this vigorous sedum is even MORE vigorous at altitude!
Last look at the Crevice Garden
The garden had just opened the day I visited--and I was amazed there were so many primulas and early perennials not to mention bulbs blooming. I should have taken time to photograph the willow catkins and the many beautiful details--but the visit was stolen moments between my cousin Maria Callas' funeral in Craig 40 miles west and her internment in Oak Creek (18 miles south), which we almost missed...Αιώνια η μνήμη σου, ξάδελφόυλα μου.


  1. Those are all beautiful plants. However, the one that strikes me the most is the Agave. That plant is rather a stretch to be growing in Denver. This is the kind of thing I was talking about in my earlier comment. The plants I particularly like in my garden are the plants that remind me the Bunjinji bonsai style. These plants look like the tough survivors that inhabit the top of a mountain.

  2. We've overwintered a dozen species of agave in Denver, James--what
    s remarkable is that they've done it in a borderline Zone 3 climate in the mountains!

    1. The Agave is the only genera you mentioned that I have never seen in the Midwest. If they can grow it in zone 3 then maybe I should give it a try.

  3. This garden is amazing. I really enjoy the excellent photos you post of it. Do you think the founders might be available during the upcoming meeting to chat with participants? I would love to learn about the construction of this work of art.

  4. How wonderful to have such a crocus display when the roses are looking uninteresting.

  5. Gayle Lehman, who has overseen this garden since its inception, is one of co-chairs of this summer's NARGS AGM--she is hosting the group for breakfast, but will be there the whole time. I am sure that Audrey and Bob Enever will be very much a part of the meeting: you should have lots of time to visit. And I agree about the roses!


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