In a daze near Denver…sculpture on a grand scale

THE GARDEN OF SCOTT AND PAULA DEEMER IN NIWOT

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.

GBF Deemer 12
The home’s clean lines and muted palette allow the landscape to shine
GBF Deemer 18
Sitting on a rise at the end of a cul-de-sac, massive rock installations create structure and planting terraces in the modest front garden
GBF Deemer 9
The front walk has a life of its own
GBF Deemer 1
Boulders grooved to accept curvy lengths of steel produce small flat planting pockets–loved this idea
GBF Deemer 8
Creeping color is tucked into the rock work, softening edges
GBF Deemer 13
Access and view from the driveway
GBF Deemer 2
Peony and catmint loving their time together
GBF Deemer 10
Casual gravel path right of the front walk from the lawn–almost a small secret garden perfectly visible from the basement windows
GBF Deemer 14
Massive stones tucked against the house bridge the elevation as the lot falls off away from the front porch
GBF Deemer 15
Wider angle of the same area with plantings at every level
GBF Deemer 11
Lovely mix of conifers, iris, perennials and woody shrubs
GBF Deemer 3
Eye-catching combo tucked between driveway and the front porch–Japanese maple, daphne and a twisty blue spruce
GBF Deemer 5
Color gets a bit more intense as you approach the front porch
GBF Deemer 19
Notes of burgundy in both flower and foliage are found throughout the garden
GBF Deemer 4
A pair of these huge planted metal bowls flank the porch
GBF Deemer 7
The view from the porch to the mountains on the horizon, we’re in for a brief rain
GBF Deemer 6
Selenite desert rose crystal

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.

GBF Deemer 37
Modern but very comfortable dining spot with the kitchen and outdoor grill close at hand
GBF Deemer 45
Stunning stone and plasma cut steel fireplace evoking the nearby Rocky Mountains
GBF Deemer 39
The mixed material garden “floor” adds interest and offers wee planting spots

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.

GBF Deemer 49
The fire pit is surrounded by enough open space for seating–yet another garden floor, this one small gravel
GBF Deemer 26
Looking as if this all has just found its place naturally even though I know every stone and plant was meticulously planned–it is hard work to make it all look so easy

GBF Deemer 25

GBF Deemer 27

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.

GBF Deemer 41
No spot is too insignificant to have a bit of cool color–notice the steel waves used to mitigate the steep slope and provide small flat openings for planting
GBF Deemer 33
This striking green goddess makes her home on the shady side of the steep stairwell in full view of the basement’s windows–Scott calls her Athena of the Marina
GBF Deemer 24
Looking back toward the dining patio and the Rocky Mountain fireplace
GBF Deemer 48
Up a stone or two from the fire pit-wonderful grouping of specimen conifers create their own skyline
GBF Deemer 40
Raised beds for veggies–the espaliered apple will eventually screen the mechanicals 
GBF Deemer 34
Fruit trees, veggies and herbs are somewhat obscured from the entertaining parts of the garden
GBF Deemer 32
This planting of weeping conifers (spruce?) marks the far side of the lot–I think they look like a group of ladies with heads bent together sharing a juicy bit of gossip about whatever is going on in the field beyond

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.

GBF Deemer 30
Pool view from the garden’s midpoint

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.

GBF Deemer 47
Backdrop plantings are kept low behind the pool to be able to see passing wildlife 
GBF Deemer 20
Great spot to dip your toes after long day of garden gazing
GBF Deemer 31
One of many outdoor art pieces tucked in amongst the plantings
GBF Deemer 38
The far end of the pool with screening plantings in place should the neighboring lot be built on in the future
GBF Deemer 51
Little burgundy iris surrounding by variegated reeds
GBF Deemer 44
A shady secluded spot
GBF Deemer 36
Looking back from the pool’s far end
GBF Deemer 29
A weeping copper beech tucked up against the home

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.

GBF Deemer 21

GBF Deemer 42

GBF Deemer 35

GBF Deemer 28

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.”

GBF Deemer 22
Scott Deemer greets us with his garden clippers in his back pocket just in case…

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In a daze near Denver…The Gardens on Spring Creek

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.

GBF Spring Creek 2

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.

GBF Spring Creek 1
Welcoming spot to lay out a blanket and enjoy a picnic or musical performance

A Rose Garden, Fragrance Garden and Moon Garden are newly completed and adjacent to the Great Lawn.

GBF Spring Creek 10
Clematis start their climb on supports in the Rose Garden

GBF Spring Creek 3

GBF Spring Creek 4

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.

GBF Spring Creek 6

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

GBF Spring Creek 7

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.

GBF Spring Creek 8

GBF Spring Creek 9

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!

GBF Spring Creek 21
Winding stone paths wander amongst more than a half dozen bermed beds
GBF Spring Creek 24
Drifts of pink Phlox grayi and yellow Alyssum stribryni
GBF Spring Creek 13
Serene stream bed
GBF Spring Creek 14
I have conifer envy
GBF Spring Creek 12
Waves of blue flowering ground cover
GBF Spring Creek 23
A few columbine still blooming
GBF Spring Creek 26
Whirligig seed heads of a clematis–maybe Clematis scottii  and what looks like snow in summer
GBF Spring Creek 17
A lovely mix of texture, foliage and flower forms
Staychs lavandufolia--mountain tea
Several large mounds of Stachys lavandulifolius drew a lot of attention–a xeric lamb’s ear relative
GBF Spring Creek 15
Every level of mounded rock offers new planting opportunities
GBF Spring Creek 20
Marked as Clematis integrifolia Mongolian Bells®–loved the two toned bells
Onosma alborosa
Identification anyone??
GBF Spring Creek 16
The rock offers a canvas on which to paint the plants, never overwhelming them
GBF Spring Creek 11
A final alpine scene

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.

In a daze in Denver…lessons from a cocktail napkin

THE GARDEN OF ROB PROCTOR AND DAVID MACKE IN DENVER

A few months ago my husband outlined the inspirational message he was to give at our youngest son’s wedding to his long-time love on a polka dotted cocktail napkin–you can actually see the napkin in his hand in the photos taken of him with the bride and groom at the altar. In the garden notes about Rob Proctor and David Macke’s phenomenal  garden, I learned that 25 years ago Rob drew a layout of the garden on a cocktail napkin  as he and David celebrated the closing on their new home. The cocktail napkin’s role in new beginnings and big decisions is starting to take on new meaning for me!

GBF Proctor 1

Rob and David invited us to enter their back garden through their 1905 brick home which displays an eclectic collection of David’s antiques and Rob’s watercolors. Rob Proctor is part of Denver’s horticultural royalty. He is a past Director of Horticulture for Denver Botanic Gardens and has written sixteen gardening books on topics from cutting gardens to how to create beautiful gardens on a shoestring budget. Rob has written for the Denver Post and is the resident gardening expert for Denver KUSA-TV. He is also a noted botanic illustrator and watercolor artist. This garden has been featured in many books and magazines and is open annually in August (at its peak bloom) for the Proctor’s Garden tour which benefits a local nonprofit community-based animal shelter/humane society.

A Denver Garden Bloggers Fling would not be complete without a chance to see Rob’s garden. Caveats to this post which simply does not do the garden justice, even in its first few weeks of the season; you get the light you get based on the time of day we are scheduled to be in any given garden and MY photography skills can’t do much to alter that; we have about 35 minutes in any single garden to not just take it all in but also photograph it. If you are a YouTube viewer, there are multiple videos over several years of this garden, several including interviews with Rob. Especially engaging is a June 18, 2019 YouTube upload set to music by fellow Flinger Janet Davis who blogs at The Paintbox Garden–unfortunately my platform doesn’t support links to video but any of the videos can be found by Googling.  Your search engine will also offer you a series of Rob’s own video clips at http://www.9news.com on a variety of gardening topics. All of these are worth watching.

On with the show…

GBF Proctor 3

The brick patio opens to a series of very long and lush perennial borders within a formal structure “walls” provided by brick columns and lathe fencing. The garden’s folly is the visual focus from the seating area and draws the eye to the into to the depths of the garden.

GBF Proctor 2
Flower filled intimate seating spot just a step or two away from the kitchen door
GBF Proctor 6
Turf plays the role of pathway between the borders
GBF Proctor 4
The lathe supports vines and climbing roses, the columns offer another location for containers
GBF Proctor 52
A spot to relax on the way to the herb garden

GBF Proctor 49

GBF Proctor 10

GBF Proctor 47

The parterre herb garden as viewed from several angles. Again, Rob has used formal structure but let the plants fill it in a blowsy, live and let live fashion. The herb beds are actually sunk below grade to collect water in a technique employed by the Native Peoples which Rob describes as the way a waffle collects syrup.

GBF Proctor 7
This climbing rose anchors the center of the parterre

GBF Proctor 17

GBF Proctor 8
Cobalt cushioned seating along the fence line overlooking the herb garden
GBF Proctor 14
A pair of potted clematis flank the loveseat

GBF Proctor 15

GBF Proctor 16

The gravel allee is actually the old driveway, now transformed into a long border completely composed of pots. This is perhaps a good place to note that this garden is home to over 600 planted pots. that’s 6-0-0! They are small and large, tall and squat, mostly but not all blue or terra-cotta. Holy moly–I’m doing well to not let the ivy left behind in last year’s abandoned container croak over the winter…

GBF Proctor 46

GBF Proctor 9

GBF Proctor 13
Rob and Dave snuck this red seating area in to see if we were paying attention
GBF Proctor 11
Lots of crimson and chartreuse in these terra cotta pots
GBF Proctor 48
A little peachier here

The next border over–they all extend from the back of the home sort of like tines from a fork–is quite shady due to the tree cover directly behind the herb parterre but chock full of emerging perennials. Pots of color are placed in the borders to add pops of interest at strategic spots.

GBF Proctor 20
Succulents planted in hypertufa boxes rest on a wooden bench at the base of a large shade tree
GBF Proctor 21
One type of pot, one type of plant= big impact
GBF Proctor 19
Looking down the border

GBF Proctor 54

This magnificent plant that is sited on both sides of the border at its sunnier end (look to the very end of the lawn strip in the next to last photo for the billowy clouds of white) was the subject of much interest to many of us–finally identified as Crambe cordifolia, sometimes referred to as giant sea kale. It sort of looks like airborne baby’s breath floating six feet in the air. Even in a smallish garden it could be used as the backdrop for other more colorful perennials and annuals.

GBF Proctor 24

The white lathe folly at the end of the center border is filled a variety of containers potted up with succulents, ferns, tropicals and houseplants needing a little protection.

GBF Proctor 23
Cobalt blue pots are again prominent, many with yellowy-chartreuse foliage
GBF Proctor 25
Matched hanging baskets of a huge coral hued begonia flank the folly’s doorway
GBF Proctor 26
Another cluster of blue pots are nestled at the base of a spiral staircase

Remembering that this garden is just now in its opening weeks of Denver’s relatively short growing season, I am not sure I can imagine all 600 of the pots bursting with blooms at the peak of the season.

GBF Proctor 28

GBF Proctor 22

GBF Proctor 29

The central border is alive with bright and dark foliage colors and many blooms. While more is not yet quite blooming than is, the overall effect is staggering. Another plant drawing a bit of attention is this huge leafed perennial which is present is all the borders in various stages of maturity. Several Midwest gardeners recognized it right away and referred to it ask hogweed, cautioning unwitting novices like me not to touch it! David Macke identified it for us as Heracleum maximum, commonly called cow parsnip. It is a genus of about 60 species of perennial herbs in the carrot family. Apparently it can deliver a nasty rash if you handle it and then the affected areas are exposed to sunlight.

GBF Proctor 33
The umbels on this cow parsnip tower least 8 feet in the air
GBF Proctor 30
Another favorite in this sunny border Kashmir sage, Phlomis cashmeriana

The most Westerly border ends in an arbor leading to the vegetable garden which spans the entire back of the property, mostly shielded from the view of the more ornamental borders.

GBF Proctor 32
A huge weigela is an explosion of blooms
GBF Proctor 34
Clematis recta billows at the base of the arbor
GBF Proctor 27
Things get a little wilder  as you approach the veggie area.
GBF Proctor 37
A little potting up space
GBF Proctor 38
Once again having structure and organization firmly in place allows for freedom within the planting beds
GBF Proctor 39
The “waffle” scheme is repeated here, allowing valuable water to flow into the below grade planting square
GBF Proctor 40
Each square of edibles has a terra cotta potted succulent centerpiece–art in its own right
GBF Proctor 41
Malva sylvestris, zebra mallow snuggles up against the base of a bench
GBF Proctor 44
Clary sage pops out of the gravel in abandon
GBF Proctor 43
Creative succulent containers abound

GBF Proctor 35

GBF Proctor 45

I am practically on a dead run from the far back veggies to the house as last call for the bus is made-fortunately I am not alone!

GBF Proctor 31
Looking back to main patio from central border path
GBF Proctor 50
Blue pots explode with pansies, succulents and more
GBF Proctor 51
How could I have missed this patio water feature–hidden amongst the myriad of pots!
Version 2
Rob bids us good-bye

The lush back garden Rob and David have planted, nourished and nurtured over 25 years after its initial plan was rendered on a cocktail napkin was beautiful on June 18th, the day of my visit. I expect that each day of its season, while different, is equally as stunning. Layer upon layer of plants will come and go through out the borders, beds and pots, rewarding anyone who is lucky enough to spend even 35 minutes amongst them. The “bones” and fundamental framework planned out on that cocktail napkin have made it possible for diverse plant materials to flourish in both contrast and harmony with one another–bits of interesting chaos resting safely in the arms of the garden’s structure. The message David delivered to the soon-to-be newlyweds was one of building a framework of confidence in one another through caring and communication. The goal being a relationship in which both can flourish individually and as partners, in times of contrast and harmony, but always in a safe space. Didn’t think you could get all that on a cocktail napkin, did you? A huge thank you to Rob and David for their generosity in sharing their garden with us on this day.

 

 

Poliomintha maderensis Lavender Spice™

Poliomintha 3

I’ve taken a couple of photos of this addition to my new lawn free front garden a few different times since it was planted in April. I just never quite got the post done and then the next set of pics would look even better. Sealing the deal to feature it is that it has sailed through several 100°+ days since June 1st–a good sign that it may hold up to our hot, dry summer.

Poliomintha maderensis Lavender Spice™ is a member of the mint family and commonly called Mexican oregano. Not an oregano but it is native to eastern Mexico, requiring full sun in all but the hottest regions. It is a loosely upright evergreen shrub supposedly maturing at about a three foot mound. The long tubular flowers open lavender, deepen to purple, and finally fade to white; all three colors are present on the plant at the same time–much like the blue to white fading Brunsfelsia pauciflora ‘Floribunda’ we call yesterday-today-and-tomorrow.

It has grown steadily

Poliomintha 2
May 30 and just putting on a few blooms
Poliomintha 1
Taken from a higher angle–lots of blooms on June 20

I had no small sense of unease on my Denver trip with lots of new plantings in the front garden, many untested as yet to heat, but everything held up fine with no extra attention or water other than my normal irrigation schedule–whew! I’ll let you know how Lavender Spice™ fares as the summer wears on.

P.S. Lovely true oregano fragrance, too.

 

 

Reminders of my life in the south…

Although the quintessential Queen of Blooms, Camellia japonica, is grown all over the world, it will always speak to me of the South.  Having lived for many years in an historic neighborhood in Macon, Georgia, which was covered in camellias, azaleas, dogwoods and hydrangeas, I will always associate the camellia with the laid back elegance and style of the deep South.  Leaving that garden paradise in 2008 to return to the hot, dry Central Valley of California required a major adjustment in expectations to successfully grow many of the acid and moisture loving plants I had come to rely on not only for a graceful landscape but also for a ready source of cut flowers.  In my zone 9 garden camellias fare best with morning sun and afternoon shade.  The scorching afternoon summer sun punishes the foliage so badly that by the time it cools off and the plants start to come into bloom in late fall and early winter they still show the effects of the summer stress.  We have fairly alkaline soil and are in an area with a lot of petal blight, a fungal disease which causes buds and flowers to prematurely brown and drop.  Many camellia lovers have persevered here in spite of the challenges and there are some lovely large plants around town which have flourished with just the right exposure, protection and care.

My garden has very few spots offering the coveted morning sun/afternoon shade combination so we just had to make do.  I have a number of large camellias in pots on my north facing covered patio—-a location made in heaven for them.  Too many more and I won’t be able to get out the door.  Over our first few years here I planted a variety of camellias against the fence on the west side of our house.  This is the “service” side of our property but it is a joy to see the blooms from the windows in our bedrooms and bath rooms.  Just about the middle April  we suspend panels of shade cloth from the fascia to the top of the fence behind the plants to give them relief from the summer sun.  The shade cloth panels usually come down around Halloween.  Although intended for the plants, the panels provide the extra service to us of protecting those rooms from the western sun and make it possible to actually have the shutters open on summer afternoons!

As they will be done blooming soon I took a few shots of some of my favorite varieties of this magnificent flower to share with you—Enjoy!

 

Clockwise starting from upper left: ‘Grand Prix’ (6″ across!!), ‘Sue Kendall’, ‘Jordan’s Pride’, ‘Nuccio’s Bella Rossa’, ‘Nuccio’s Gem’