Featured photo for Wildlife Habitat Garden Tour

Wildlife Habitat Garden Tour

Stan and I went on yet another Fort Collins garden tour—this one sponsored by the Fort Collins Audubon Society. We walked around five unique gardens (four of them at private residences) which “showed ways plants, design and structures create beauty and attract birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.” It was quite fascinating stuff, even for someone whose interest level and knowledge about both plants and wildlife has historically been lower than children’s in kindergarten.

Of course, it helped that very soon, I will be planting a garden of my own. Hence, I particularly paid attention to the gardens’ layouts and tried to learn/remember as many plant names that my small amount of cerebral matter could contain. We even asked a bunch of questions—all of which the hosts were more than happy to answer. (The passion of these gardeners was astounding!)

In general, Stan asked the more technical and intelligent questions, whereas half of mine were more akin to “so how much maintenance does this require?” The gardens ranged from very low to very high-maintenance. A quick summary:

Miller Garden: Very wild with virtually all native plants on a typically sized city lot (50′ x 95′). Perhaps “too wild” for my manicured tastes, but admirable in its maintenance requirements (at least after the first “establishment” years). In response to my question about how often the owners water the plants, the Millers responded, “never—except before a garden tour like this, when we water them about once a week.” Cool! Unfortunately, I took no photos here.

Idea Wild Garden: Very original, with a good use of logs, raised beds, water features, and xeric plants. Wally—one of the owners—even demonstrated his drip system for Stan and I. Also pretty low maintenance.

Nix Natural Area: This is a relatively new area operated by the city of Fort Collins. It is so new that Cecelia—one of the cheery volunteers on hand—said, “some of these plants were just installed last night!” That explained why the plants looked so healthy and the whole grounds were remarkably weed-free. Unsure of the maintenance requirements here.

Griffin Garden: Super impressive 2.5 acre property with also super high maintenance requirements! Larry, the owner, related how he usually spends a whole day each week tending to the plants, and that prior to the tour he was spending 8 hours each day! I guess that’s fine when you truly love doing that type of work, as he clearly does.

Morgan Garden: All wild in front, very nicely manicured in the rear with even a natural-looking irrigation ditch. I loved the perennial garden as it was not only gorgeous, but looked manageable. This was the best inspiration for my own garden so far…

Cool post decorations.
The Griffin Garden was perhaps the best manicured of any ones we had seen.
The Griffins even had their own greenhouse.
Cool birdhouse in front of a pond that contained many water lilies.
Lots of perennials.
Black-eyed Susans at the Morgan Garden.
Irrigation ditch looked natural.
Bird feeder with "gourmet" bird food included dried cranberries.
I loved the Morgan's perennial garden!  This will be the inspiration for my own...
Plants included Siloam Double Classic, Plum Perfect, Chorus Line, "Spanish Peaks" Foxglove, Chocolate Flower, Petite Delight Bee Balm, Pardon Me, Apricot Sparkles, Rosy Returns Daylily, and Blanket Flower Gaillardia.
Wally collected these logs from various places he had worked at and used them to decorate his yard.
Next stop was the Nix Natural Area.  Here are some oak shrubs with very hardy, leathery leaves.
A bunny was one of the wildlife creatures stopping by.
Stan and Cecilia inspect a Marsh Sunflower plant at the Nix Natural Area.
Mexican Hat flowers.
Huge native sunflowers!
Ceclia shows us a spiralry seed that can penetrate through layers of mulch quite easily.
Rock with cutouts that served as bird drinking areas.
Stan examines a water feature at the Idea Wild Garden.