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…