Proven Winners, one of the 2019 Denver Garden Bloggers Fling’s phenomenal sponsors shared this bit of gardening whimsy with us and graciously gave me permission to share it with you!
I’m calling myself a “5” because my sons, at 39 and 42, are long past standing anywhere I tell them to, so clearly I can’t be a six…the fact that you read this blog puts you at least at a three or four!
Scott, owner of a Boulder landscape design-build company, and his wife Paula have transformed a distressed property in foreclosure into a beautiful and highly functional indoor-outdoor living experience inspired by the fusion of art and nature. Warning–this is another garden whose photos just would not allow me to delete them! A riot of foliage, form and texture makes a statement in its rocky surroundings. The garden is not only filled with art but is home to many specimen plantings whose forms are natural artwork.
This very large piece of crystal (usually only found as one or two of the little ball formations) was hauled back from Mexico by Scott and foreshadows many other unique pieces of art we will see in the Deemer’s home and gardens. This lovely couple graciously opened their home to the Garden Bloggers Fling participants, allowing us to wander through to view their collection of modern paintings and sculptures and soak in the home’s modern mid-century vibe. As welcomed as we were I would not post photos of the home’s interior or art in deference to the family’s privacy. I did take some shots from the balcony off the second story master bedroom and will share those further on.
Only steps from the sleek modern kitchen is an outdoor world the Deemers enjoy through every season. Multi-level living and entertainment areas have been developed with extensive rock hardscaping and lush plantings and large windows on the home’s rear allow almost all of the shallow and wide back garden to be visible from the interior living and kitchen spaces.
The back garden runs the width of the home but not the full depth of the lot which slopes uphill. The Deemers have left a naturalized meadow strip behind the landscaped areas. The home is flanked by two undeveloped lots and the cul-de-sac is adjacent to an open meadow area. The meadow area is a favorite pass through for many types of Colorado wildlife. The massive stones used throughout form a natural feeling retaining wall and soft line of demarcation between the tamed and the wild parts of their backyard oasis.
A massive set of stone steps allow the basement to be accessed from the back garden. The elevation change is significant. Both side of the steps are beautifully planted, again using the stone to create planting pockets. Another twisty blue spruce is perfectly placed to grow as a backdrop for the patio’s grill.
As if the show-stopping fireplace, gorgeous fire pit area and off the beaten path veggie garden is not enough–we’re going to do a deep dive into one of the most well suited for its site pools I’ve ever seen.
The pool was designed to appear as if it is a natural swimming hole occurring in the mountains at the base of a small waterfall. The uphill side rock formations have continued across the width of the garden as does the naturalized meadow wildlife runway. The pool is not treated with chemicals but instead employs a biofiltration system utilizing beneficial micro-organisms to remove impurities.
The photos taken from the master bedroom balcony (visible in the next to last photo) offer a wider view of all of the garden’s elements. They emphasize many of the features of this garden that I find most appealing including the variety of foliage color on both coniferous and deciduous trees, the proximity of all the different entertaining spaces to the kitchen and the ability to have more utilitarian areas (like the veggies) a little bit out of sight but not too far away to work in easily. The most central parts like the fireplace and dining patio aren’t visible due to tree cover up against the balcony. Oh…and the view of the surrounding countryside is fabulous. No commentary needed on these–just take it all in.
As the homeowner is a designer-builder of rock rich custom landscapes it would have not been a surprise if the tons of massive stonework totally dominated this garden, leaving precious little attention given to the plantings. This was not the case and it is clear that much thought was given to careful selection of trees, shrubs and perennials and their placement in relation to the hardscape. A rich and diverse plant palette glows against the stone, softening the hard edges and enveloping visitors as if they have entered a forest. Probably not a garden for a young family with little ones needing running room and lawn for throwing a ball around but certainly a garden meeting the Deemer’s goal of a sanctuary where they can live in harmony with nature and art. For Scott, the landscape is “sculpture on a grand scale.”
Like what you’ve seen in the Deemer’s garden? Go to http://www.outdoorcraftsmen.com to see a gallery of other Colorado landscapes Scott and his team have designed and built.
It is not very often one gets to experience a public garden in its infancy. The Gardens on Spring Creek is the community botanic garden of Ft. Collins, Colorado. It opened in 2004 as a public-private partnership between the City of Ft. Collins and the Friends of The Gardens on Spring Creek. The botanic garden’s vision is stated as “to be a world class botanic garden that is community oriented, educational, experiential and sustainable.”
The Gardens on Spring Creek is in the midst of a two year expansion and renovation project which increases its size to about 18 acres, adds four new themed gardens plus a new, larger Visitors Center. Because of their proximity to the Visitors Center construction we were unable to visit several of the garden’s more mature areas such as the Children’s Garden (2006), the Garden of Eatin’ (2009), the Sustainable Backyard and the Daylily and Turf Demonstration Gardens. We did get to see just how the new gardens were shaping up and for some inexplicable reason I was faintly surprised to see that they look just like our own gardens do at the beginning of their lives–lots of smaller plant material, exposed irrigation systems and bare ground awaiting mulch! I guess I assumed public gardens just spring right out of the parched earth, immediately lush and mature.
THE GREAT LAWN AND THEMED GARDENS
The Great Lawn is a two acre garden with a soaring stage and featuring a half acre of amphitheater lawn seating surrounded by educational themed gardens. Garden Bloggers Fling participants assembled on the lawn for our group photo and had a short time to walk the surrounding areas before reuniting for lunch on the stage.
The asymmetrical roof over the stage is a show stopper. Shade structures similar in style are located throughout the surrounding themed gardens. Raw wood, hefty metal and rock–very Colorado.
A Rose Garden, Fragrance Garden and Moon Garden are newly completed and adjacent to the Great Lawn.
The Fragrance Garden’s raised beds bring the scents closer to visitors. Raw and new now, I can imagine that in a few years when the shade structures are massed with foliage and color this will be an appealing area for young and old alike.
Lonicera reticulata Kintzley’s Ghost® is planted at the base of the metal supports. At first glance to a California girl it looked like eucalyptus but I would later learn it is one of the Plant Select® program which features plants designed to thrive in high plains and intermountain regions. After we returned to our bus I realized I had totally missed a plot dedicated to Plant Select® specimens–a great resource for a local gardener to explore choices well suited to the area.
THE UNDAUNTED GARDEN
In In a daze near Denver…a praire meadow I introduced you to the work of internationally known landscape designer, author and Ft. Collins resident Lauren Springer Ogden. The 3/4 acre xeriscape Undaunted Garden was designed by Lauren and is in the plant installation phase. Named after one of Lauren’s books, the garden will artistically showcase plants native to western North America and non-native plants adapted to grow in drought prone areas. Fling organizers had arranged for Lauren to meet with us in the garden but we soon learned that just a day or two before she had fallen and seriously injured her knee–as we were walking the paths she had laid out, she was having needed surgery. The structure in this garden will act as an outdoor classroom.
From a distance the foliage on this succulent looked almost navy blue and made a striking contrast with its bright green neighbor.
THE NEWLY REOPENED ROCK GARDEN
This unique and naturalistic garden features Colorado native plants and plants adapted to local growing conditions. Dwarf conifers and specialty bulbs are set among the locally quarried rock. It first opened in 2011 and is the largest rock garden in northern Colorado. I readily admit to spending most of my browsing time in this area–it was spectacular and came equipped with a very knowledgeable young horticulturalist, Bryan Fischer, ready to answer all our ID questions. This garden was very well marked but over time plants have wandered about and popped up far from their tags and original sites! Happy plants!
Our time was very limited at The Gardens on Spring Creek. I could have spent a half day in the Rock Garden alone, noting plant names and combinations. I have an irrational fondness for small conifers (poorly suited to my garden conditions) and they were wonderful here in combination with so many other plant forms. I think much of the appeal of the rock gardens I saw in the Denver area is that they lend themselves very well to the personality of a plant collector. While still resting comfortably in the arms of the design principle of repetition of form and color there is always a little spot somewhere to sneak in that plant that could not be left behind!
The current construction phases are due to be completed this fall. You can find more pictures of the ongoing projects and learn about future events and programs at The Gardens on Spring Creek by going to their website http://www.fcgov.com/gardens/ –I’m going to give this developing garden oasis in Ft. Collins a couple of years after that and then schedule return trip. It will be fun to see how the newly planted areas have developed and to be able to see the older gardens not now open to the public.
A large and shady corner lot in the historic Montclair neighborhood of east Denver embraces a 1902 family home. First glimpses reveal broad green lawn with the home tucked quite far back on both sides of the lot.
Landscape architect Wendy Booth of Ivy Street Design worked with the homeowners to transform their shallow back garden into distinct garden rooms with the goal of creating welcoming spaces for family and friends to gather. There is no back garden gate–significant shade is really that offers privacy from the lawns. It feels as if it is all one garden with structures and furnishing defining individual spaces.
The addition of a substantial two sided brick fireplace creates living and dining spaces close to the home’s raised back porch. Multiple umbrellas add to the already shaded space and the rooms are decorated as if indoors. This is one of a very few gardens on this trip where I saw annuals used in any large numbers. The electric blue container of lobelia was one of a pair and drew my attention from the bus window.
The star of this garden dining room is this one of a kind concrete topped table for 12–with a slightly more narrow chair it could probably seat 16 or 18. Homeowner Scott designed the table and had it poured in place. There is a shallow trough with a zinc liner down the center in which to float candles or arrange flowers (chill wine?). Underneath the table a tube allows for the trough to be drained. The Hamling’s table is set for today’s Fathers Day brunch. Scott joked with us that underneath the table is also their designated tornado shelter.
There is a whole lot of living packed into this back garden and all within a comfortable distance from the house making it so much more likely to be used often. Its relatively easy accessibility from the home’s lawn areas makes it a great place to draw in your neighbors from their evening walk. Wrapped in blankets in front of the fire on a night with a bit of a chill or gathered at the huge table playing board games accompanied by wine and cheese–it all sounds great to me!
Over several weeks in June my guy and I worked to get a place ready in the back garden for a long awaited potting bench.
The project has been in my mind’s eye for several years to put in place on this north facing wall which is shaded the largest part of the day.
My heart’s desire was for a bench height workspace to span almost the entire width of the wall–about 16 feet. This back wall is largely unseen from the windows in our most lived in spaces so I could tuck a fair amount of stuff out of view but easily accessed by me without carrying supplies and materials all the way around the house from the garage. The sticking point has been the existing sprinkler valves (visible in the photo) and an in ground water shutoff valve. Over our 34 years of marriage, my sweet husband has always been pretty accommodating about my various schemes and projects for the garden but my casual suggestion that we could simply move these impediments elsewhere was met with stony silence. Even my fallback position of building around them was a no go as it would make them much harder to access when needed. So I marked off space on the wall with green tape to designate the necessary wall to accommodate a pretty standard 6 ft bench which we later upgraded to an 8 foot cedar bench I found on Etsy.
While I assembled materials for a hard surface support the bench–hoping to extend its life by not resting its legs in dirt–Dave removed remaining plants and weeds, dug the area out to accept a base of sand and concrete blocks and graded the area to allow water to move away from the house foundation. I did the shopping.
Not my easiest journey when the pallet holding the stone was too wide for the truck bed and had to ride home resting partially on the open tailgate. The stones weigh in at 108 pounds each for a total of just under 1300 pounds.
Another trip yielded 13 60# bags of sand and some weed block–hoping for a minimum 2″ base of sand for the concrete stones.
The base for the bench measures slightly over eight feet wide and 6 feet deep–enough for the 24″ depth of the bench and adequate space for me to step backward and turn around without falling off the edge! I ordered my bench from Threeman Products, an Etsy store based in Texas, and Charlie answered my concern about having only fractions of an inch clearance on either side by offering to construct the bench at 94″ rather than the standard eight feet. They do each piece as it is ordered so the custom size was not an issue and the three week delivery time would allow us to actually get the base finished and settled in, have our Fish Camp 4th of July, and be home right in time to meet the boxes at the door.
We still have to “redraw” the lawn edge, trim off the extra weedblock and fill some soil in around the edges but the hard work is done. Working with this sized block was challenging but the goal was to have as few seams as possible for weed issues. I am planning to using the raised tin tank as a shady holding area next to the bench.
My potting bench just arrived in two very hefty boxes, weighing in at a combined 90 pounds. I am relieved to see some very specific written directions and assembly diagrams and it appears there are some preassembled sections further down in the box–thank heaven for small favors!
Even though my one temporary one legged status will slow me down, I intend to have the individual pieces stained by Saturday’s end with the larger goal of having my bench in place next week. Fingers crossed.
Have you ever wondered how the seeds we take so for granted every year for our annual cutting and veggie gardens get in those cute little packs illustrated with the beautiful color drawings? The Denver 2019 Garden Bloggers Fling organizing committee was lucky enough to have Judy Seaborn, co-owner of Botanical Interests, at its helm and some of her staff in its ranks. Her prominence in the Denver gardening community opened a lot of great garden gates for us–and she gave us the opportunity to see the operation of her company’s 300,000 square foot production warehouse in Broomfield.
Judy Seaborn and partner Curtis Jones founded the 24 year old business in their garage, with a goal of providing gardeners more information on their seed packets. They now offer over 600 seed varieties which are sold in independent garden centers and through their mail order business. On their site http://www.botanicalinterests.com you will not only find the seeds of your dreams and selected garden products but also their blog and a variety of short educational articles. “I like to say that we are a gardening education company that just happens to sell seeds,” Curtis says in the About Us page on their site. You can also subscribe to their newsletter–there can never be too much gardening news in my inbox!
A seed’s journey begins in the receiving area where huge bags full arrive from selected growers. Judy explains that every bag is “sampled” for germination rate. This involves inserting a sort of coring tube through the bag (specially designed to allow this) and sending the sample to her laboratory for germination testing. No bag of seed moves into the production process until Judy is satisfied that the germination rate meets her high standard.
Judy almost glowed as she introduced us to her baby–this machine counts the seeds into the individual packets AND has a special mechanism inserting the tiniest seeds (like tomatoes) into a second internal sealed packet called a sachet.
We’re learning the order filling process which uses this customized cart to increase efficiency of steps up and down the long rows of seed packets ready to be shipped.
Each of hundreds of boxes contains a single type of seed and any given order may be for many different seed types. One of Judy’s 50 or so in-house staff will work each order on the “pick line” and once complete, the order will move to the packaging area.
The upstairs of the warehouse is home to the support staff which includes marketing and IT professionals. The seed packet art is all created by Colorado artists–here you see a proof sheet to be scrutinized for color and other detail.
Botanical Interests also has 60 field based sales representatives across the nation–sounds like a great job for me! The upstairs hallways are lined with photos sent in by customers of plants grown from Judy & Curtis’s seeds. Recently Judy introduced an indoor seed starting set up to look at new varieties.
We can’t get away without a quick look–and sniff–at the “vault” where the most dear of the seeds are stored. Judy shared a story of a package delivery she was called out to sign for once, even though it was quite small the pounds of tiny seeds it held were valued at over $10,000. The vault also offers cold storage for seeds with relatively short germination lives.
On the run again–last call for the bus to our next stop!
A week at our small cabin in Fish Camp just outside Yosemite National Park’s southern entrance is always relaxing but never dull. With daytime temps hovering in the high 70s and dipping down to the fifties at night, it is a cool respite from the Central Valley’s summer heat.
We get up early to enjoy the sunrise on the back deck, eat simply and play play lots of gin rummy and Yahtzee. Our good friends Barb and Rod D., along with their sweet pup Penny, came up to hang out with us and grill on July 4th. No fireworks for us here in this very fire prone forest region.
The cabin’s Little Free Library, finally set in its ground sleeve on our last visit, seems to be doing a good business–not many books I put in there remain and I’m getting an idea of what my summer neighbors read from what they’ve left behind in exchange. At our Volunteer Firefighters Association annual potluck I got suggestions for more kids books and a nightlight. I’m on the book quest but a flashlight hanging from a cord may be the best I can do for lighting!
We took a walk up the road to visit a friend and found these beautiful blooms on the banks of Big Creek where Hwy. 41 crosses the small flow of water. The large shrubs reminded me of the deciduous native azaleas we often saw in the North Georgia mountains. In almost full shade the bright green leaves and white blooms glowed. A little post-walk research leads me to believe they are Rhododendron occidentale, commonly called the western azalea and the only native azalea west of the Rocky Mountains. This colony was very fragrant.
These are “also seens” on our walk–nothing has changed since my last mountain wildflower post–I still don’t know the names of any of these. I’m hoping this huge seed puffball is something fabulous as they were everywhere!
Just in case you believe this mountain life is totally carefree and so that Dave doesn’t get out of practice…
A shower inside is never supposed to create mini geyser outside! The oldest of our leach lines for the septic tank was clearly blocked. Fortunately, we have a second line and had only to turn the valve to remedy the problem. With the call to our septic man made, Dave digs out the tank cap in preparation for both leach lines to be cleaned out next week.
ENOUGH WORK…NOW FOR THE MOOS!
The Bohna family cattle drive has been a part of local mountain history since 1959. Three generations of the family, now led by horsewoman Diane Bohna, and the cowhands of the Three Bar Ranch in Raymond, CA spend about three days each late spring or early summer moving more their 300+ head herd to the high country near Quartz Mountain for the summer. On their way to those grassy meadows at 8700′ elevation the herd crosses Highway 41 in Fish Camp to the delight of summer visitors. The crossing takes about 20 minutes and traffic on this highway leading to Yosemite is closed by California Highway Patrol in both directions. The intersection of that highway and Summit Road which leads to our cabin is a perfect viewing spot for all the action which usually takes place around Fathers Day–possibly the late winter in the high country is the cause for this later time frame for the drive.
About mid-photo on the right you can see the end of a narrow dirt trail coming down from the hills–this is where the herd will emerge, single file. Fifteen minutes or so earlier a rider had come through giving spectators a 20 minutes to arrival heads-up and asking that everyone stay as still and as quiet as possible to avoid spooking the herd. We will really only be a little more than a single traffic lane away from the animals.
This traffic sign (there is a large construction project just ahead) is alarming for many of the animals and causes a little panicky scuffle to break out. The shoulder drops off here and their attempts to go around the sign that way are a little sketchy but a cowboy gently encourages them and all is well.
This young girl, complete with cowboy hat and a remarkable amount of photographic equipment, told our little group of two dozen spectators that she was a photojournalist for a French magazine. Not everyday you meet a French photojournalist in Fish Camp, whose population sign reads 500 but I think is actually about 60.
This rider pulled down her kerchief as she passed us and spoke to the photojournalist in French so maybe that is a clue to the story in the making.
So that no idyllic mountain day ends unblemished…on my sprint back across the highway (OK 67 year old sprint) an audible pop and searing pain in my right calf signals that the party may be over. We (Dave) packed up and returned to Fresno and after having made my ER visit, I’m now awaiting the Ortho surgeon consult…happy trails!