Gardens in Fort Collins Felix Wong

As I mentioned in the Simplify Your Life Revisted post, I am trying to minimize the amount of yard work I have to do (or outsource) all while having an attractive home landscape. While the first thing that comes to mind is just to cover everything with rock, that is not an option due to HOA requirements. Besides, I like plants!

Right now I am exploring another solution: xeriscaping. Xeriscaping can be summed up as landscaping with native plants and inorganic matter (e.g., rocks) that minimize water requirements. In Colorado’s relatively dry climate, having drought-resistant plants (as opposed to just having water-thirsty lawns) make a lot of sense. Indeed, xeriscaping was actually conceived in Denver and has become popular all along the Front Range.

My first introduction to xeriscaping was going to Fort Collins’ City Hall where, out in front, are some gardens. I went on an evening where there was supposed to be an organized tour with experts on hand to ask questions, but when I arrived there was only one person there. By complete coincidence, it just so happened to be my friend Stan! He recently purchased a home and, like myself, is also trying to do some landscape enhancement (although he is currently making much more progress than I!)

After we talked and browsed around the gardens, Stan invited me on a self-led garden tour of other people’s landscapes in Fort Collins. Being desperate for landscaping ideas and knowledge, I readily agreed to join them.

So one day in July I hopped in the MG and met up with Stan, Pat, and their friend Arlene who was visiting from the Bay Area of California. Arlene—like Stan—used to pilot airplanes and wished to have a ride in the MG en route to the start of our tour. Of course, I was happy to oblige.

We then walked around a modest (i.e., largely McMansion-free) neighborhood just about 3 miles southeast of Old Town for about an hour, and I was amazed to see that not just a few houses here and there had really nice, well-kept gardens, but the vast majority of them! Indeed, while there seem to be very few run-down neighborhoods in Fort Collins, this was quite shocking after driving through the East Bay of California last week (where middle-class single-family homes fetch $600k+) and seeing the sorry state of many people’s yards.

Seeing all of the nice gardens in the “Choice City” begged a question: am I the only one in Fort Collins who does not have a green thumb and struggles to maintain all types of plants aside from the plastic variety? Hmmm…

In any case, the garden tour was indeed inspiring, even if I cannot recall even half of the names of the plants that Stan mentioned during our tour. This may be a long process for me. Stay tuned to how work progresses on my own yard in the next couple of months…

Also, here is Stan’s recap.

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In June I went to visit the gardens in front of City Hall to learn more about xeriscaping.  By coincidence, so did my friend Stan! (June 19, 2007)Double-flowering plum.Sunflower motif.In July I went on a garden walk with Stan and his friends.  His friend Arlene from CA wanted to ride in the MG and of course I was happy to oblige. Photo: Stan Wolf.Multi-level rock... very low maintenance.I liked the bench in the middle of this front garden.It's a start...This one is just starting out too, but the owners clearly knew what they were doing.Arlene, Stan, and Pat admiring the different plants in this oneWell-done with a mixture of large rock, brush and mulch... looks pretty low-maintenance to me.Busier, but also well-done.A weeding disaster.Beautiful cottage.Another weeding disaster.Nice job.

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