Hello, my green followers. This week is the second part in my series highlighting the CRC Water Division's summer conservation programs.
In addition to providing inexpensive trees with low water requirements to the public, Garden in a Box is another effort to encourage people to use xeric plants to create beautiful yards instead of non-native grasses. After the first two years while they become established, the plants require no further supplemental water, saving the customer money and precious water. Most bloom from late spring to fall, providing a colorful garden instead of the monotonous green of grass. Last summer, as an intern, I helped sort gardens for pick-up in Longmont, passing out plant information sheets and diagrams for planting the gardens. There were several repeat customers, who had nothing but positive things to say about their other hardy and gorgeous plants!
Types of gardens
The 2009 designs are Latitude 40, Bare Naked Natives and Cool Connection. Designs are created by local xeriscape professionals and change each year, but Cool Connection has remained the most popular over the years with its beautiful purple flowers (see pictures below). Here are the descriptions of plants included in each Garden in a Box (with full species names in case you would like to create your own xeric garden):
• Latitude 40: Named after a planned garden for Chautauqua Park on the 40th parallel and includes species of sage, primrose and sunflower that thrive in full sun; low water requirements. Plants include:
Achillea filipendulina, Coronation Gold; Achillea sp., Moonshine; Mirabilis multiflora, four o'clock (first photo below); Nepeta faassenii, Catmint; Oenothera macrocarpa, Evening primrose; Penstimon rostriflorus, Bridge's Penstemon (second photo); Perovskia atriplicifolia, Russian Sage; Pulsatilla vulgaris, European Pasqueflower; Salvia azurea grandiflora, Salvia; Zauschneria garretti, Garrett's Zauschneria (third photo); Callirhoe involucrata, Poppy Mallow; Helianthus maximiliani, Maximillian Sunflower (fourth photo); Ceratostigma plumbaginoides, Plumbago.
• Bare Naked Natives: Plants native to Colorado including species of grass, cornflower and penstemon.
Andropogon gerardii, Big Bluestem Grass; Sporobolus heterolepis, Prairie Dropseed Grass; Echinacea purpurea, Purple Cornflower (1st); Artemisia ludoviciana, Sagewort (2nd); Schizachyrium scoparium, Little Bluestem Grass; Penstemon strictus, Rocky Mountain Penstemon; Solidago sp., Golden Rod (3rd); Verbena bipinnatifida, Cut-leaf Verbena (4th).
• Cool Connection: Named for the cool-tones of most plants and flowers; species of sun daisy, sage, fescue, and dianthus.
Salvia nemorosa, Blue Queen Salvia; Panicum vergatum, Shenandoah Switchgrass; Agastache cana, Double Bubblemint; Osteospermum sp., Lavender Mist Sun Daisy (1st); Liatris punctata, Gayfeather; Artemisia stelleriana, Silver Brocade Sage (2nd); Diascia integerrima, Twinspur; Dianthus gratianopolitanus, Firewitch Dianthus (3rd); Fescue glauca, Boulder Blue Fescue (4th).
These gardens are only available to residents of the cities of Boulder, Loveland, Golden and Longmont. However, due to the popularity of these discounted plants, all full gardens are sold out. Waitlists extend back one year in some cases. To place yourself on the list to be contacted in summer 2010, please request a garden online
or call the Water Division at 303-999-3820 x 217.
However, individual and slightly damaged plants are still available at the CRC. Call the number above immediately to check on the availability and arrange a pick-up time. The Center for ReSource Conservation is located at 2639 Spruce Street in Boulder.
Caring for xeriscapes
Drip irrigation is perfect to water these, or any other, xeric gardens. A specialized hose is placed in the garden that applies just enough water to each plant, often controlled with a clock. After the garden becomes established, the hose can be removed as the climate will be able to sustain the plants. Drip kits can be purchased through the CRC for $56 by clicking here
Compost can be added instead of fertilizer to provide nutrients, which is especially beneficial for Colorado's clay soils. Compost tea is an easy and effective way to supplement your soil. This 'microbe brew' is made by Eco-cycle in Boulder and can be purchased online
. For more information on composting, please visit the Eco-cycle website
Have fun xeriscaping your lawns this spring, Colorado!
Photos courtesy of conservationcenter.org and coloradowaterwise.org