Rocky Mountains Gardening 55 Stories

October is the beautiful bridge month between autumn and winter. The days are noticeably shorter, bright and cool. October is a busy month in the garden, the time to prepare for the harsh cold and snow of winter while enjoying every moment you can spend outdoors.
Great Design Plant: Symphyotrichum Novae-Angliae Ushers in Fall
New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae) is one of the showiest North American native plants in the fall garden. Vibrant purple petals and contrasting yellow to orange centers are visually attractive to both gardeners and pollinators. With...
Great Design Plant: Wild Bergamot, Friend of Foragers
Wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa) is one of the most resilient North American native plants and is a delight for bumble bees and butterflies. It can be used in a variety of situations, including butterfly...
Great Design Plant: Meadow Blazingstar (Liatris Ligulistylis)
One morning several years ago, before the monarch butterfly populations crashed in 2012 and 2013, I was looking out of my window at the garden, admiring the splendor I’d created. Suddenly a far corner lifted off in a splash of orange, then another splash,...
Great Design Plant: Butterfly Milkweed, a Beacon in the Prairie
Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa) is a magnet for bees and butterflies in early spring — often providing an important source of nectar when other sources are scarce. What other perennial can rival its bright orange flowers,...
Great Design Plant: Canadian Milkvetch Draws Bees and Birds
I’ve been walking my local prairies and meadows looking for plants that seem to be thriving in various conditions. My hope is that if they do well out in diverse natural settings, they ought to do fine in my garden. Of course, I’m also looking for...
Great Design Plant: Sunrose Dazzles on Dry Slopes
Sunrose is a carefree perennial that dazzles when in bloom and soothes winter-weary eyes when dormant. This versatile plant loves dry soils and is at home on slopes, in containers and in xeriscapes. Use it as a cheery accent plant or a small-scale ground...
Great Design Plant: Curl-Leaf Mountain Mahogany, an Easy Evergreen
This native of the U.S. West has a strong presence in the landscape. Evergreen foliage cloaks a large, upright to loosely rounded form that’s perfect as a winter accent, screen or hedge in dry, cold climates. It’s a nice alternative — especially...
Great Design Plant: Evergreen Candytuft for Glossy Winter Foliage
Hues of brown and gray predominate in the winter garden, so a peek of green now and then is most welcome. Evergreen candytuft is a perennial — technically a woody subshrub — that maintains its neat, low mound of dark, glossy green foliage throughout...
Inspiring Winter Scenes From the Denver Botanic Gardens
I had the opportunity to visit the Denver Botanic Gardens last January on a day that was so cold, I thought I had flown to Alaska by mistake. I had pretty low expectations — what could I possibly expect to see at that time of year? Yet I came away both...
Great Design Plant: Aromatic Aster Keeps on Blooming
I have at least a dozen species of aster in my garden, from shade lovers to sun lovers, drought tolerators and rain garden mainstays. But in my top three is aromatic aster, because it grows in even the worst soil and blooms and blooms and blooms — even...
Great Design Plant: Rocky Mountain Zinnia Brightens Hot, Dry Spots
If you're struggling with a hot and dry area that needs a big dose of color, Rocky Mountain zinnia can come to the rescue! This long-blooming perennial is a hardy native found on the dry slopes and mesas of the southwestern U.S., but is sorely underused...
Great Design Plant: Poppy Mallow Wakes Up Hot Garden Spots
Every landscape needs a plant with a bit of rambunctious zing. Poppy mallow, with its long, trailing stems and summerlong show of flowers, is stunning as a single specimen plant, used en masse as a ground cover or planted throughout the landscape as a...
Great Design Plant: Towering Colewort Adds Playful Drama
Imagine baby's breath (Gypsophila spp) on steroids; that's colewort. The oversize foliage and towering inflorescence evoke a fun sense of the tropics for gardeners in colder, drier climes. Colewort, also referred to as giant crambe, is a plant...
Great Design Plant: Retreat to the Shade of Hardy Catalpa
Bold and beautiful, hardy catalpa takes a big commitment of space and energy to maintain, but the payoff is worth it. Large, fragrant flowers cover the tree in early summer, and the big heart-shaped leaves provide dense, cooling shade. Winter interest?...
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