Monday, February 04, 2013

Winter Wows - v. DEN

Denver has the power of a world-class botanical garden in it's midst.

It's thinking beyond their legendary setting, skiing an hour west, professional sports, big concerts, summer events, fit people galore, sports racks on every 3rd vehicle or microbrews. I wonder how the latest at the Denver Botanic Gardens might unleash and be translated across their city and endless suburbs?

What do you think of my first cool season visit in a decade?
Not even a corner of their new parking garage was left out from plantings. Bristlecone Pine,
and numerous high and dry plants are thriving up there. Glimpses of the Children's green
roof peeking above, and that mile-high sky.

Didn't think Denver was snowy and cold all the time, did you? Even Minneapolis isn't.

Morning light on a winter-red mass of Little Bluestem / Schizacrium scoparium,
against the gray board-formed concrete wall. Pagoda Tree / Sophora japonica
silhouettes in the background, with the seed pods. Oooh!

Got bluestem?

Seep Muhley / Muhlenbergia reverchonii - looks like a smaller version of the
common 'Regal Mist' Gulf Muhley used in many Abq-region landscapes.

Except this central and north Texas native is winter-hardy in Denver!

Patterns of Little Bluestem and other grasses, trunks of native Plains Cottonwood / Populus sargentii, with mown Buffalograss / Bouteloua dactyloides - a nice place to sit. It evokes the semi-arid, central Great Plains where Denver is located.

Is this a tapestry? Or is it on some higher level? 

How about these dormant winter grasses, plus the shadows of the columnar allee onto the orange wall? Striking simplicity. I think the evergreen conifers to the right, that pop up in the distance beyond the orange wall, also make this work.

The key here is pattern, mass, and contrast. 

More winter interest, but this time using a cold-hardy cactus in a container, perched
up high to accent that sky and cream-colored wall and wall cap. The blue sky with
the columnar tree picking up the container color - perfect.

In the shade following some below zero weather, a deciduous Quercus leaf is frozen in time - a white oak of some sort.

An informal hedge of Desert or Shrub Live Oak / Quercus turbinella. These are bluer than the same species in the foothills of the Rio Grande valley, such as where I live. My guess is the seed source for these was from Arizona up into southern Utah and western Colorado; those tend to be more blue-green in color than our green, so they get my prize for aesthetics.

Like I said - what a leaf!

Note that winter interest need not be confined by just conifers, though they work, too? Even in Denver.




16 comments:

  1. Nice! I especially like the combo with that orange wall.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad you like - so refreshing to see, after their cold previous days!

      Delete
  2. What a great garden to visit year round.

    After seeing this I'm adding bluestem to the list of possibilities. I tried them a few years ago and they died out. Time to try again because that winter red is a looker.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes - each time is better, too. Little Bluestem - just a few tucked in can work. Seep Muhley - a stand-out where I saw it on outcroppings in Kerrville.

      Delete
  3. Something's different with your pics, you are on fire! Love them.

    And thanks for highlighting a botanical garden I've not visited. Been jaded by too many with too similar choices...across myriad continents. Ha, what a snob!

    Garden & Be Well, XO Tara

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks - I feel it too. Too many great botanic gardens to visit, even on our continent!

      Delete
  4. Glad your visit was so inspiring --- and I agree with Tara, you got some fabulous photos. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That it was, especially meeting you all! Thanks - much more to come.

      Delete
  5. What a treat to see my workplace through your eyes: wish we'd had a little more time together: NEXT time! Thanks for introducing me to Susan Cohan--she's a pistol!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here! Yes, and I intend to come up a couple more times this year, so be warned... SC - she is great!

      Delete
  6. Replies
    1. They even let in OSU alums, I hear:-)

      Delete
  7. I just love the shadow patterns that plants make sometimes - great bonus!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Same here - and Susan also noted how strong the shadows are in drier places like Denver.

      Delete
  8. Cool (or was it cold?)! Subtract the bare deciduous trees and you could mistake the plantings as being from some warmer time of year. The grasses in particular seem to hold up well to the season. Nice how they've thought out combinations that would look nice while other parts of the garden take a break.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was frigid looking at that ice, but it was toasty in the sun, especially the next day...the polar opposite of SD weather mellowness. But makes the variety of spaces work, as you note...fallow soil or vibrant interest.

      Delete

Thanks for visiting! I try responding to comments within a few days, though my day job can call. Comments now require word-verification, thanks to evil spammers...