We went to the Denver Botanic Gardens on a recent vacation. It was beautiful and filled with different styles of gardening, good ideas, and lots and lots of plants. My husband was impressed with a crevice garden, I enjoyed the Bonsai. Here’s a sample of pictures.

I’ve always loved public gardens and recommend that people go to them. They are a great place to get inspiration and to see plants in person. If you go to one that is nearby or similar in growing conditions to what your own garden is, you can walk away with a great plant list, and know that the plants will probably do good in your own garden. It’s a far better way to find plants than just looking at nursery tags or even in books. I live in Utah, but we are very similar in climate to this Colorado garden. There were more short grass prairie plants than I often see around here, but I don’t think it is because they won’t do well here, just that people don’t utilize them as much as they could. I really want to put blue grama grass somewhere on my property; this plant was used in several different ways at the gardens.

My garden is nowhere close to looking like the gardens there. It was established in 1951, so it makes it 62 years older than my own garden. Gardens are just very slow to develop and establish properly. Even if you have lots of time and money (which I don’t anyway), plants can take years to establish, and re-evaluation needs to be done constantly. Gardening is an art with living forms, where the artist does not have full control but works within the constrains of environment and the results takes years to achieve.


Spring Starting

Not much has been happening around the home, but that is about to change. Spring is starting, which means the garden is starting up. We also have some massive plans to work in in the inside of the house, so stay tuned.
Planting bulbs is immensely satisfying. It doesn’t take long in the fall, and then by spring when the act of planting them is nearly forgotten, they spring up and remind you of the wonderful world that exists after the snow.

This pea sprout is the first of the garden. I planted them nearly a month ago during a warm spell. They braved a few cold spells and snow storms, and will start what will hopefully be a large and productive garden.
This flower bud appeared on a shrub I had nearly given up on identifying. I had not seen any flowers or fruit or any other noteworthy characteristics on this thing for a year and a half. This year it has identified itself as a flowering quince. Good to know…although they don’t do great in this climate, so it still might be slated for demolition.

Weber Basin Garden Visit

Recently the Weber Basin Water Conservation Learning Garden (they need a shorter name) had a garden fair, and I thought it would be fun to go down there. I haven’t been there in years, and it has matured nicely since a visit while I was in college.

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I’ve been looking at permaculture methods for so long, I miss the water wise gardens that I used to work in/look at and love all the time. They aren’t exclusive at all either–permaculture just often forgets to make things look nice along the way of creating super productive gardens. Solely focused water-wise or xeriscaped gardens don’t.  It was a good reminder to me that even if I am exploring and working with permaculture, I can still remember to make the gardens pretty and not just productive.

Quick side note: A water-wise garden primary focus is to conserve water. It often includes edible gardens, native plants and other good gardening and environmental practices, but it zero-ins on water conservation the most. Many times, a water wise garden will simply tweak traditional garden practices to conserve water more. A permaculture garden would also include water conservation, but the primary focus is the three permaculture ethics: care of the earth, care of the people, and return of surplus. A permaculture garden tends to have more food production and doesn’t follow traditional gardening at all, but instead mimics and builds upon natural landscapes.

Native Plant Garden

I came across a couple native plant gardens, while wandering around up on the USU campus. Fun to fine, when on college campuses there tends to be a lot of lawn and mass plantings (necessary for the large-scale nature of the landscape, but still a bit boring).

Chocolate flower (Berlandiera lyrata)…the smell is far better than the appearance, and this one even looks quite nice. 

Here is a fun fall combo, rabbit brush,(Chrysothamnus nauseosus) desert 4 o’clock (Mirabilis multiflora), and sunset hyssop (Agastache rupestris). 

Rabbit brush,(Chrysothamnus nauseosus) and Zauschneria (Epilobium canum….or Zauschneria latifolia if you don’t care about botanical name changes.)



Gardens don’t just grow plants. Here’s a look at some insects I found in my garden the other day:

Ick. I could use a lot less of these grasshoppers. I still don’t have any control methods I’m comfortable with, so I just give these guys glares and kill as many as I can.

Much better. This was a good sized praying mantis, we left him alone.

This guy is (as far as I can tell) a locus borer beetle. We have a lot of locust trees around for the juveniles, but this adult has taken up residence on one of the sunflowers.

Soap box moment: I don’t use insecticides at all, I think it can cause more problems that solutions. It is much more interesting to let insects fight it out. And please, don’t ever spray because you want to prevent an unknown problem. Spray only for known pest as a last result.

Garden Tour in Ogden

I went to the Ogden Nature Center garden tour. It was pouring rain when I started out. The rain added to my already foul mood, but as soon as I started to walk through the gardens it all dissipated.


Notice the  gravel edging 

I started out with the best home on the tour. I believe the owner was a retired nurseryman, and it was a gardener’s haven. Even areas that he felt were weedy (I talked to him briefly), were beautiful. I want two acres that I can transform into a plant paradise, like he has.


I love the blue grama grass here





grass lines

I’m a big fan of grassed planted in rows. It was windy, and the movement they create is beautiful.

Many of the homes were well landscaped, but less than memorable. I have a picture of one and I have no memory of visiting it. There is nothing wrong with the landscape, but there is nothing special about it either.



This next home stood out. It wasn’t a plant haven, but it was unique. The garden was not what you would expect driving in a cookie cutter suburb. The designer said the garden was meant to be a walking meditation, and it was.



Another home I enjoyed worked with natural features instead of excluding them. Much of the landscape was native hackberry trees, sagebrush and beautiful, natural rock.


Unmowed fine fescue blends with natural rock


Pictures from Red Butte Gardens

This is a lucky picture. I love bees. 

Good idea of the day was to take pictures of the flowers I didn’t know with the sign in the frame.
I love the idea of this–it’s a pear tree trained over an arch.
This is mostly all natives, centered around a grove of natuuraling occuring oaks. Beautiful, and I can’t imagine it requires a lot of maintenance.
I loved this viburnum and lilac combo.
spring bush

Spring is Here (really)

It might be cold and sometimes snowy outside, but spring is in full swing.

The first seedlings in my garden are coming up. Every time I plant a seed I feel anxious, not knowing if the seeds I sow will grow or thrive. All the veggies I seeded are doing wonderful. (I did freeze some lettuce transplants though.)



The bulbs in the front yard are blooming. My three year old has preemptively opened some of the flowers. And my toddler likes to sit on them. It makes the bed more interactive.



The garden center is filled with color. We went to buy some transplants and explore, regardless of the snow falling. So many plants were blooming! My son kept asking me what everything is and I realize how out of practice I am identifying plants: I need to study. (We went down to Willard Bay Gardens. It is an awesome place for perennials)