One of the reasons I love to travel is to visit public lands and botanic gardens, both to admire and discover plants that I am unfamiliar with, and to bring ideas back that might work in our Southern Sierra and southern central valley areas. I’m always interested and delighted when I see California native plants mixed with plants from around the world that also work with our climate. Recently I was able to make a quick stop at the Denver Botanic Garden. Here are some things that caught my eye:
Prairie gardens always interest me. We did one once for a client in Springville, but when will I create my own? Maybe this fall? I just put in my order for Galleta Grass seeds! Other plants to include are Gramma Grass, Artemesia, California Brickellbush, Mexican hat, Buffalo Grass, yucca and small cactus, and Milkweed. There are different types of prairie ecosystems, but variety is desirable. Switch Grass may also work in the deepest, most fertile soils on the valley floor. When creating a prairie in the landscape, I think marking boundaries, with trees, sidewalks, and walls, might be necessary to prevent the garden from looking untidy.
Dryland Mesa includes many more trees like small oaks and cypress, plus large shrubs like Fremont’s Mahonia and Desert Mahogany. It also included several grasses and flowering perennials found in the shortgrass prairie, plus buckwheat, Monardella, Matillija Poppy and Lead Plant, which I would love to try in my own garden.
Japanese Garden: I love the simplicity and orderliness of a well-done Japanese Garden. I was especially interested to notice the gravel for the “negative,” or open space. In this garden, the Ponderosa Pines are known for their individual character and age. They were chosen and brought down from the Roosevelt National Forest for the garden. They are pruned carefully to keep their original uniqueness formed by tough weather.
South African Steppe: it would be nice to find more plants from South Africa to mix with our climate-adapted gardens, but sadly many of them can’t tolerate our frosty winters and brutally hot July. Oh well, I can still admire the simplicity of these mass plantings amongst the rocks.
What will inspire you on your travels?