Xeriscaping

The Rose Monster Blooms Again

One of the toughest roses I’ve found that does consistently well in my Zone 5 backyard has turned into something we affectionately call The Rose Monster.

Something most people don’t know about me is that I grew up with a mom who had too many things going on inside the house to be worried about the landscape outside the house.

She didn’t plant flowers. We didn’t have a vegetable garden. There were no colorful containers overflowing with petunias. As long as the lawn got watered and mowed on a fairly regular basis, she was happy with her gardening efforts.

So it’s no surprise I was captivated by the one flowering plant in our yard—a beautiful climbing red rose. Every year that rose grew on its own. It wasn’t lovingly pruned and it certainly wasn’t babied with any special soils or rose fertilizers. It wasn’t protected from freezing temperatures with thick layers of mulch and there was no winter watering.

Silver Fountain Butterfly Bush Doing its Job


The Silver Fountain Butterfly Bush is now loaded with purple blooms and I’m not the only one to notice.

Harison’s Yellow Rose Keeps on Blooming

I wrote about my Harison’s yellow rose a few days ago…and since then it’s come into full bloom.


Great Ghostly Vine for Western Gardening

One of the toughest plants in my landscape is a vine that has a ghostly past.

A few years ago I picked up a ‘Kintzley’s Ghost’ honeysuckle at the Plant Select annual meeting and planted it next to an arbor in my sunny backyard and practically forgot about it.

This spring, the hardy perennial vine reminded me why I was attracted to it in the first place. Without any care from me over the winter, it sprung to life late last month.

It’s now one of the loveliest, most reliable plants in my garden.

Scott Skogerboe, a plant propagator with Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery, discovered the vine while driving around the city one day. He liked the looks of this honeysuckle, especially its round, silver-dollar size bracts with small yellow flowers. The bracts resemble eucalyptus and turn from green to silver-white and remain on the plant throughout the summer.

Another Good Shrub for Western Gardening

The silver fountain butterfly bush in the perennial garden is turning into a nice-sized specimen plant.

I wasn’t sure how many of my shrubs would make it through the winter, because the weather was so cold, so dry, and so windy.

It wasn’t clear to me until a few weeks ago what would leaf out and what would be chalked up to winter kill.

I was especially heartened to see my silver fountain butterfly bush (Buddleja alternifolia ‘Argentea’) was going to be blooming again this year.

Even though the shrub had quite a few dead branches that needed to be pruned away, there are still plenty to display the nice lavender flowers that call out to butterflies.

Plant Select recommended this butterfly bush in 1998 because it’s the only one that’s reliably shrubby in most of the U.S. and is good to Zone 4. The Denver Botanic Gardens has one of these shrubs in its xeric garden that’s grown to its full 15 feet tall and 12 feet wide. The purple blooms cascade down the branches for a fabulous display.

Deer-Resistant Shrub for Western Gardening

Potentilla fruticosa, also known as bush cinquefoil, is a reliable no-maintenance shrub that is one of the 50 Beautiful Deer-Resistant Plants mentioned in a new book by Ruth Rogers Clausen.

The first blooms are showing up on the Potentilla in my cottage garden and I’m so glad to see them.

This shrub looked dead just a few short weeks ago and now it’s covered in fine-textured  grayish-green leaves and hundreds of little blossoms ready to pop like corn.

Seemingly overnight, it turned from brown to green and now has my admiration for making it through one of the driest Denver winters on record.

This native shrub will soon explode with little yellow flowers that will last most of the summer. It usually blooms again in fall. It has a nice bushy habit that retains a somewhat rounded shape without any pruning. In fact I didn’t even touch it this spring because I didn’t think it was going to make it.

Reliable Performers for Western Gardening

‘Harison’s yellow’ rose is one of the undaunted plants recommended by Lauren Springer Ogden in the Summer issue of Zone 4 Magazine.

The Harison’s yellow rose (Rosa x Harisonii) growing in my backyard was a good investment when I planted it several years ago.

This is one of the most reliable performers in my Western garden and it gets more beautiful with each passing year.

If I had to find fault with this hardy bloomer is that it only blooms once a year. I love the small yellow roses covering the thick thorny branches that cascade like a river down the canes.

The flowers are delicate with just a hint of fragrance, but they’re perfect for giving honeybees another early-season food source.

I’ve written about Harison’s yellow before because it’s an old rose that pioneers brought with them when they came west. They just had to have these roses in their gardens wherever they lived and I understand why.

Thank You Birds for the Golden Currant

I didn’t plant this Golden Currant, but I sure appreciate the birds who did.

One of my favorite shrubs in the backyard is one I didn’t choose at the garden center or buy at a garden club plant sale.

Every spring it blooms with brilliant yellow tubular flowers that have a fresh spicy scent and these flowers grow into berries that birds love.  Which is only fitting.

A bird must have stopped by for a drink at the birdbath several years ago and “planted” the seed for this broad-leaf native shrub. Golden Currant (Ribes aureum) is a member of the rose family, it has a nice upright habit and can grow to 6 feet tall.

Even though I didn’t plant this shrub, I might have if I had known how easily it would grow in my garden. And I might have planted it in that exact spot, too. When it’s in full flower it practically glows in the afternoon sunlight.

Western Landscape Symposium Success

I had a great time helping gardeners learn ways to garden on the cheap in Pueblo on Saturday.

A big thank you goes to the planning committee for the fifth annual Western Landscape Symposium in Pueblo this weekend. I was delighted to be part of the program.

The symposium is a wonderful educational experience for gardeners interested in creating sustainable landscapes in southeastern Colorado, especially when it comes to water-wise gardening practices.

My “Gardening on the Cheap” talk gave gardeners 10 steps for becoming cheerful cheapskates in the garden and I shared many of the ideas I’ve used in my own landscape for cultivating a green thumb without going into the red.

Because one of my suggestions is to always be on the look out for free or low-cost options, I gave away tomato and pepper seed packets donated by BBB Seeds in Boulder for the Plant a Row for the Hungry effort.

Nine Gardening Trends From the Last Decade

The end of the year–and the decade–is a good time to look back at some of the changes I’ve seen in the world of gardening.

The exceptionally dry summer of 2000 caused me to change the way I thought about my suburban landscape.

Using only a spade and an old wheelbarrow, I dug up most of the front lawn and replaced the bluegrass with drought-tolerant flowers and shrubs.

Now I’m seeing more yards with less lawn and more homeowners interested in planting xeriscapes and learning about sustainable landscaping practices.

Here are a few other positive gardening and landscaping trends I’ve noticed over the last 10 years:

1. More people are thinking about how their individual lawn and garden choices impact the environment.

2. Nurseries and garden centers are carrying more environmentally-friendly lawn and garden products.

3. There are more xeric and native plants to choose from.

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