Visit to Denver Botanic Gardens: Water-Smart Garden, Wildflower Treasures & more


It seems kind of stay-at-home-ish to admit that my absolute favorite garden at Denver Botanic Garden, which I visited earlier this month, is the one that looks almost like it could be in central Texas—with the addition of conifers and an intensity of color that we rarely achieve in the more-humid low country. But it was. The Water-Smart Garden, located along a glass house that we didn’t have time to visit, photographed in a hurry as my family tugged at me to leave, complaining of empty bellies (it was lunchtime), is a long, narrow strip of drought-tolerant plants arranged with an eye for contrasting textures, color, and grassy movement.


The long strip is gently mounded, so the plants “flow” down the slope toward the viewer.


Agave and lavender do a cool-blue color echo, with the dark-green pine in there for contrast.


A very blue Eryngium—love!


A wider view. Berming the bed adds a lot to the beauty and enjoyment of this garden—you can see everything easily.


Other garden areas contained beautiful plants too, of course.


These grasses, yuccas, and flowering perennials were in a garden near the entry, I believe.


Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) was in full bloom.


An open, patio-style garden called Wildflower Treasures (I think) contained flowering groundcovers, hypertufa troughs, and a geometric bamboo sculpture, backed by beautiful Colorado evergreens.


This hot combo was labeled as Californian firecracker plant (Dichelostemma ida maia) and sulphur-flower buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum).


Close-up of the buckwheat


Another look at the geometric bamboo sculpture, which is anchored in a pond.


These boat-like bamboo sculptures were floating in another pond. They were my favorites.


Pretty blue pots with cactus, aloes, and other assorted tender plants


‘Zwartkop’ aeonium, I think, backed by chartreuse sweet potato vine


There was even a kitchen garden…


…with evidence of a gardener recently at work.


I hope you enjoyed my posts about Denver Botanic Garden all this week. DBG is packed with beautiful gardens, and our 4-hour visit was not sufficient to see everything. I’ll definitely have to plan a return visit.

For a look back at my post about DBG’s Plains Garden, Rock Alpine Garden & Dryland Mesa, click here. You’ll find additional links at the end of each post.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Rocky Mountain National Park: Bear Lake, wildlife, & tundra


My family and I recently enjoyed a nearly two-week vacation in Colorado, and I’d love to share some photos from Rocky Mountain National Park, a favorite destination for this Texan looking to escape the heat for a little while. Bear Lake Trail is an easy hike around a small, nearly circular mountain lake on the east side of the park. Although the trail is heavily used by visitors, I still find a slow meander around the lake to be a restorative experience.


We’ve walked around Bear Lake many times before, on sunnier days. But this time rain clouds had socked in the lake, making for a dreamy, contemplative hike.


On this still day, the glassy surface reflected a mirror image of the surrounding firs, pines, and mountain ridges.


Although the pine bark beetle has killed off many thousands of evergreens in the park, Bear Lake is still relatively untouched, although we did see stands of dead trees here and there. All part of the natural process, we were told, though it’s still sad to see entire mountainsides of bare trunks and fallen trees.


Shapely, white-trunked aspens are a favorite of mine. Walking through a grove of them, with their fluttering leaves overhead, is almost a transcendent experience.


We saw some cute critters, including this bold golden-mantled ground squirrel…


…and lots of birds, including this small nesting female, who flitted into a crevice under a rock shelf, right in front of our eyes, where she settled on her nest of peeping chicks, which we could only hear, not see.


She was quite safe from predators there, as the rock face was steep, and her nest situated under a overhanging ledge.


I don’t know what this satiny gray-trunked tree is, but its bark was very beautiful.


I spotted a number of wildflowers along the trail as well. though I don’t have IDs for any of them. This is a groundsel…


…and this is cow parsnip (thanks for the IDs, Tina).


Beautiful texture amid the ferny undergrowth


We also drove Trail Ridge Road, which takes you seemingly to the top of the world at 12,183 feet elevation. We took a short walking path through the tundra, admiring alpine plants that eke out a living up here, with a growing season of only about 40 days.


It’s easy to get altitude sickness at this elevation, if you’re not careful. That happened to me one year, when we walked the trail on an intensely sunny day. As I got back in the car, a stabbing headache, sensitivity to light, and severe nausea set in, and all I could do was close my eyes and slump against the window until we got back down to our cabin in Estes Park at 7,500 feet. Luckily, that didn’t happen this year.


We were higher than some clouds.


Later we spotted this elk on the side of the road, and I snapped a few photos through the windshield.


Majestic, no?


In one of the valleys, a sighting of a female moose having lunch in a marshy area stopped traffic on the park road, as several of us pulled over to have a look through binoculars and telephoto lenses. Wildlife sightings are one of the highlights of a visit to Rocky Mountain National Park, along with beautiful scenery and mountaintop vistas.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

Summer color in the hot garden


Cheery color for you on this almost-summer Tuesday! This is purple skullcap (Scutellaria wrightii), a low-growing native suitable for a sunny rock garden. ‘Color Guard’ yucca catches the sun’s rays behind it.


Another long-blooming Texas native, hymenoxys, or four-nerve daisy (Tetraneuris scaposa), blooms its yellow head off spring through fall, and sometimes even in winter.


The non-native of the bunch is hot-flowered Pride of Barbados (Caesalpinia pulcherrima), a tender perennial here in central Texas, but it loves our long, hot summers.

How about you, fellow Texans? Are you ready for summer?

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.