Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The best of the Pueblo Xeric Garden Tour

The last stop was just wonderful. The hostess was so enthusiastic about planting and growing, and sharing what she has learned in the ten years she has lived in this house and fought with the severe growing conditions. The house sits slightly higher than others nearby, is surrounded by prairie and is a vision as you approach it. This is from the road. You can see there is no real division between the natural prairie and the landscaped garden, except for three inches of bark mulch that covers the yard. Going up the driveway, you can see a sculpture that was loaned for the tour. It is carved cement. This picture and the next two are a panorama of the back yard. This one looks toward the road. This one is straight into the back of the house. There is a little more variety of color here with yucca, salvias, and something red, maybe Jupiter's Beard. This one is looking toward to north edge of the yard. Looking east on the north side of the yard, this is the back of the house. This view is stepping around on the north side of the house, and shooting toward the west and south. Of course, you can see other houses, but there is still a feeling of isolation. Prairie vegetation is in the foreground. Red bushes define the parameter of the yard. Moving around and turning toward the front entry of the house, you see this bed that is elevated off the driveway along the east side. At the right side of the picture you can just see the piles of gravel and mulches that are added to the gardens as needed to keep the mulch three inches deep. The front entry way that faces east. Behind the wall is a lovely courtyard with a pool and an exuberant standard french poodle puppy. The owner/gardner has taken the master gardner classes and found them very valuable. When she started landscaping about ten years ago she covered the yard with weed barrier and a finely crushed rock called "breeze" and after a couple of years realized that her plants were not doing well. She found out the barrier fabric and rock were smothering the soil, not letting oxygen into it, so she removed all of it and the plants just took off! She said she was so excited when she finally began finding earthworms in the soil again! She has found that Zone 5 plants do not do well in her yard, so plants only Zone 4 and down. She gets most of her plants from Blue Stone Perennials in Ohio. She waters her established plants twice a month for 20 minutes, using soaker hoses and sometimes sprinkers. New plants get water once a week until they become established. She told me when she plants something she tells the plant, "I have done all I can do, now you either grow or you die!" Her reference 'bible' is a book put out by the Denver Water Board called "Companion Plantings". For local places to get plants she especially likes Brady's in Canon City which has exotic drought tolerant perennials, Apple Valley in Penrose which is a wholesale operation, Siefers in Canon City for drought tolerant plants and knowledgable people and Palace Nursery which is located behind Safeway in Pueblo West for nice pereinnials and knowledgable people. One last look at the gardens on the way out. An extremely nice lady who likes to share her knowledge. She highly recommends the master gardners classes.

Pueblo Xeric Garden Tour - 5

Not wanting to make an additional trip to Pueblo on Sunday, I decided to go on to Pueblo West and scout out the private gardens there. Two hosts were home and graciously allowed me to look over their gardens a day early. This one is only five years old and is adjacent to the Desert Hawk golf course. This is what the tour guide says about it: "Because the homeowners wanted time to devote to recreation, including golf, they created a low maintenance, lawn-free landscape. they selected a variety of drought tolerant plants that add winter color and interest to their yard. Plants are grouped by like water needs, and are planted in groups of 3, 5, or 7. The homeowners' water bills are significantly lower than those of their neighbors. The watering system consists of soaker hoses and a relatively inexpensive programmable timer."This photo looks across the back yard from the house area. You can pretty well tell where the soaker hoses are buried, because there is more plant life over them. The lady told me they water each zone for one hour, every third day, and they do not go over their minimum for water. Mulching is wood chips and paths are either brick or red rock outlined with river rock. Looking toward the front of the house, from the street, you can see the "spill" of large rocks along the edge of the driveway and street. They said they had the rocks put down, then they just dumped a bag of soil anywhere they wanted to add a plant, and the plants all grew. This is another view of the rock "spill" next to the driveway, showing the flowering plants to a better advantage. They all seem to be thriving. This is a different house and since no one was home, I only saw the front yard as a drive-by. It is a little too xeric for my taste, but I thought this cactus arrangement was rather interesting... But I'm glad it is not in my neighborhood!

Pueblo Xeric Garden Tour - 4

This was a nice garden around a modular home, very neat and tidy. This is what the tour guide says about it: "Designing and creating a garden that challenges traditional garden practices and implementing water saving techniques has been a priority for these homeowners since its imception in 2000. This 'user friendly garden' is routinely re-mulched to decrease evaporation and to discourage weeds. The vegetable garden, which is conveniently located close to the kitchen door, is amended with compost each spring. The covered patio facing west invites one to enjoy the garden and the sunsets." This was the very best thing about this garden. The grass is called Silky Thread Grass. The sun was lighting it from behind and it glowed! I had to touch it when I saw the name and it was as soft as it sounds! I see it is available in the High Country Gardens (Santa Fe) catalogue...I have to get some! I just liked this glass ball that was hanging from the patio cover, along with several others. Taken for plant identification mainly. Click on picture to find out what this is... Neat idea for a way to display garden implements... Jupiter's Beard, but I have never seen white before! Not even in catalogues. A mock orange bush that smelled heavenly! Very interesting implement...I guess for aerating the ground. I wonder if it was pulled by a horse or a tractor? After visiting this garden I stopped for lunch at a new-to-me place...Mi Ranchito Restaurant. The green chili served over the enchiladas was excellent! All these gardens were in an area of Pueblo I did not even know about...south and east and in an unincorporated area, as far as I could tell. Lots of housing development on former farms and the fancy houses butted up against fields and corrals. A very interesting area that needs to be explored further.

Pueblo Xeric Garden Tour - 3

This was a very interesting garden, and I probably do not have enough photos to do it justice. This was probably the most exciting plant to see on the whole tour...artichokes! The owner said they are not supposed to grow here, but she wanted to try anyway. And it has been a struggle because they do not over winter. She starts seeds in February in order to have chokes by fall! Seeds are from Park Seed Company. Plants are heavily mulched with chopped leaves, then in winter are completely covered with unchopped leaves, she said, but even then she usually loses about three-fourths of the plants each year. These certainly looked lush though. ( If you click on the photo it will open larger so you can see the detail better.) Outside her fence, she was growing really xeric plants, like wooly thyme and creeping thyme, yarrow and salvias, etc. I liked the way this looked alongside the road. And this seemed like such a good idea...putting weed barrier fabric down under a bird feeder so the discarded bird seed does not germinate! This is what the tour guide says about this garden: "The principle of hydro-zoning is practiced throughout this garden starting with the "oasis" near the front door and rippling out towards the street where the most water wise plantings are. Color, texture, light, shade and sound are all equally important in this garden and plants were chosen with this in mind. The garden was started about 20 years ago and is filled with lovely shade trees, gurgling ponds, fountains and drifts of color. The large vegetable garden supplies a plethora of edibles while the shaded backyard provides a peaceful seating area. This garden is home to many domestic critters and is a sanctuary for many wild birds and butterflies." The 'oasis' near the front door had a sandy floor that had been raked and the rake marks created a zen feeling. I have seen projects for making zen gardens with tiny rakes for one to put on a desk and I always wondered, why? But, after seeing this I can see how peaceful it is. We might all need a small, sandy area to rake when we are stressed... There were two fountains in ponds, one in front and one in back. A lap pool in back. Two rescued emus, two geese and a duck. Mature trees created a cool shady area in front and back. The back yard was so cool and inviting, it would be hard to stay out working in the sun... She uses a "leaf chopper" by Toro to create her mulch from yard waste. Everywhere you walk is covered with wood mulch. (I should have taken more pictures here...)

Pueblo Xeric Garden Tour - 2

Second stop on the Pueblo Xeriscape Garden Tour was probably my least favorite, simply because all the garden was in front of the house so there was not so much to see. Tour guide says this about the stop: "This garden was planted to create a long succession of blooms and texture. The homeowners have resided here four years and have installed a lawn and fruit trees in the backyard. The shrub and flower beds are irrigated with a drip system. The tall ravennae grasses add a certain drama and punctuation to the landscape. The most intensely planted areas are close to the house where roses, flowers and herbs mingle." Most interesting spot here was the use of colored bark mulch to set off this arrangement of a rabbit and small bedding plants in the midst of the gravel mulch.

Pueblo Xeric Garden Tour

On June 6, 2009 I went on the Xeriscape Garden Tour hosted by master gardners in Pueblo. The tour was a two day affair, with gardens in Pueblo on Saturday, and gardens in Pueblo West on Sunday. There were four personal gardens and one demonstration garden scheduled each day. I visited the personal ones, because I knew I could visit the demo gardens at any other time. Here are photos of each garden visited, and comments: This was the first home and this is the view as you walk up the driveway, showing the grapevines. I liked their arrangement of gourds in the window box on their back patio area. Raised beds for vegetable gardens. They looked so neat. The area between beds was covered with a material that seemed to be a combination of crushed rocks, some still pebble size, most looking like sand. It was neatly raked, showing rake marks, very zen like. This is a plant several of us have, and since I did not know the name, I was glad to find out it is called a "French" hollyhock. This just shows one of the ways gardners create walking areas in their gardens...crushed rock paths, lined with river rock. A different view of the house. They still have a lot of grass but the gardens are xeric and wonderful. This is what the guide says about this garden: "This cheerful home was built 16 years ago and the garden was designed around it. The garden's elements have evolved by both design and by plant migration and continue to expand with the homeowner's knowledge and requirements. The lot is located on an old corn/alfalfa fiesl and the owners are grateful for the native soil that they have continued to amend and mulch. This garden is planted with happy abandonment as to color and is sturdy enough to withstand the wear and tear of pets and children. It includes an automatic irrigation and a manual drip system." I'm going to post each garden separately because placing the pictures becomes more of a pain and the length of the post lengthens.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Dotees for Swap

I belong to the Dollstreet Dreamers (great group by the way). Judi asked if we would be interested in doing a swap of dotees. She gave us a link to flickr to see what dotees are and I was hooked. These are the three that I am going to send. i really like how they turned out...they were kind of hard to part with. But, I will be receiving new dotees and will look forward to them. I'll post the picture when they come in. I can't wait to see my new dotees!