Thursday, November 1, 2018

Woodland gem on the high plains

Ray Radebaugh on his extravaganza garden

Let's get it straight: it's Loo-iss-ville, not Loueyville my friend! We're talking the pastoral neighbor of Boulder just over the Dakota sandstone ridge, where one of my oldest gardening friends has worked for many decades creating what is surely a supreme masterpiece of naturalistic gardening.

Quercus imbricaria
Just HOW long have Ray and I known each other? I remember when the Shingle oak pictured above was first planted--not much more than a sapling. It's a honkin' shade tree now. Oaks do grow faster than is generally acknowledged, but we're still talking forty years. And I knew Ray well before this when he actually lived in Boulder. Don't do the math please. That's Jan in the distance--I swear she's not taking cuttings.

In addition to truly monumental rock work done with amazing flair, the garden is full of all manner of woodland treasures: Cyclamen self sow throughout--each with a seemingly unique pattern. Big patches of Epimedium and glorious rhododendrons and azaleas. You have to pinch yourself to convince yourself you're not in Connecticut or Oregon.

I love the Christmas tree pattern on this Cyclamen purpurascens. We'll talk about ferns later...

Hard NOT to talk about the ferns--they are everywhere--and self sowing into crevices where he never dreamed they'd grow!

The rockwork is so elegant and dramatic you have to remind yourself you're not in the foothills...

Rock gardens showcase plants like no other garden style: they're like gems set into an amazing matrix, and they stand out so boldly, like this little Japanese false cypress in its niche.

Daphne x hendersonii
 Of course in April, May or June the garden is bursting with color--but even in late October the greens and silvers contrast so well with the lichened rock. Who needs that brashness--although I would have loved to see this rare daphne in bloom come to think of it!

Arenaria 'Wallowa Mts.'
 The contrast of cool, smooth green mat with rough rock and soothing black water--this is what this garden is all about...and reflections of course!

Everywhere you look the there are different assemblages of rare plants--even in the tiniest crevices and in the water...

Asplenium trichomanes in the crevices
 Ray showed me where the original maidenhair spleenwort was planted--the dozens, maybe hundreds of others in the rocks planted themselves. Lucky guy!

A devil-may-care sweep of Hakonochloa macra 'Aureola'--a grass rarely seen in Colorado.

And the ferns! He pointed out this amazing Notholaena sinuata that appeared spontaneously--indicating these rocks must have come from hundreds of miles south of Denver. Like 500 at the very least!

Cheilanthes fendleri
 I can't recall if the Cheilanthes and Ebony spleenwort were actually planted in this spot or volunteers as well...

Ebony and maidenhair spleenworts
I wish I had spleenworts sprouting everywhere!

Dryopteris spp.
 There are shield ferns eveywhere, intentional and volunteer!

Asplenium ceterach
I still like to call this Ceterach officinarum, which I've admired all across Eurasia. And now in Loo-iss-ville!

Adiantum venustum
Ray even has more evergreen maidenhair than I do--which is saying a lot! Surely the most underplanted fern in America--definitely in Colorado.

One last look at Ray's masterpiece. Mind you this is just the back yard: there are sunny gems on the side yard, and treasures in front as well. I am fortunate to have known this remarkable man for so long. How many gardens can you visit this time of year and be inspired like this?


  1. Linda from Each Little World: What a knockout! Great plants but the rockwork is amazing.

  2. Replies
    1. Ray directed heavy equipment which had to maneuver around his pie shaped suburban lot at the end of a cul-de-sac. Ray is a world-class Physicist used to sophisticated engineering at all levels down to the subataomic.

    2. I think this is excessive for a personal garden. If people are going to create such extravagances then they should build them where the public can enjoy them. Also, I worry those boulders were removed from a natural area. I think it is unethical to take a rock that took thousands of years to shape so you can have a trophy for your yard.

  3. This is an amazing garden. It seems like a different world. Beautiful.


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