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Show #45/4606. Stunning Gardens At An Incredible Site

Garden History
It's impressive for a town the size of Cheyenne to have a garden of this caliber. And equally impressive is Shane Smith. Shane is the Director and founder of this Garden. Shane tells us that THE GARDEN WAS STARTED IN 1977 and originally was located east of town in a solar heated greenhouse, probably one of the largest solar heated greenhouses in the nation at that time. From there they have evolved and in 1986 moved on to the city property in Lions Park. They again built a solar heated facility. 50% of their electricity comes from photovoltaic collectors. Thus, sustainability has been in their DNA since the late '70's. Another way they can have a botanic garden in a city of this size is the huge level of volunteerism within the community.

Click here for more info

1700's Garden
They start with native plants and the Rotary Century Plazas. There are 3 different plazas that cover about 300 years of people-plant relationships. They start in the 1700 area. IN THE 1700'S CHEYENNE WASN'T EVEN HERE, so this is what one might have seen coming across the country. These plants are very drought tolerant, very low water use. Cheyenne only receives about 12-13 inches of moisture annually. Even so, they have a wide variety of plants. Something is in bloom almost all the time, including the Wyoming state flower, the Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja mexicana.

Click here for more info

1800's Garden
DURING THE 1800'S people concerned themselves with food, thus there were many people-plant relationships. People had to grow things to eat, there weren't grocery stores in this part of the world at that time so they grew things in their gardens. Much is familiar in this garden. For example, Rheum Rhubarb is very long-lived, low maintenance and provides food every spring. Prunus North Star Cherry, sour Cherry is easy to grow. Sweet cherries don't grow in Wyoming because it's too cold but put a little sugar with these cherries and one can have a great pie. The Gooseberry, Actinidia deliciosa Gooseberry, is a native plant, makes a nice little fruit and, too, will make a nice pie. It does have a few thorns but they won't inhibit one from picking. And they grew ornamentals back then. Flowers were/are important in everybody's life. Thus they grew Alcea rosea Hollyhock. It is super drought tolerant, easy to grow and comes back every year, re-seeding quite often.

Click here for more info

1900's Garden
MUCH HAPPENED IN THE 1900'S. We entered the century with farmers utilizing a horse and plow and much labor but exited the 1900's with computed controlled agriculture, new kinds of fertilizers, new kinds of pest controls and GPS controlled tractors. Shane points out a 1929 Farmall tractor which was world changing. The invention of the tractor enabled the farmer to do so much more. The interpretative panel quotes a 100 year old farmer in Kansas. She said that the invention of the tractor gave horse and man their first needed rest on this planet. This invention saves a lot of backs, helps produce a lot of food and gave the horse a little rest, as well. Bart knows on his family's farm the work just wouldn't get done without a tractor. A tractor today can do so much especially with all the hitches and different components that can be added. They are dependable workhorses. Another of the big events of the 1900's was the Great Dust Bowl. It devastated a lot of the high plains and a lot of agriculture. We later realized it was caused not just by drought but by how we farmed. By implementing different farming practices we learned we could slow the wind. One example is creating shelterbelts which is a row of different varieties of trees that help slow the wind as well as cause the snow to drop to the other side.

Click here for more info

Perennial Gardens
The Wyoming public really appreciates a lush garden. Wyoming has lot of dry desert and sagebrush because there is not a lot of moisture hitting the lower elevations. They do have beautiful mountains, but when locals see a lush perennial garden they love it and appreciate it. Shane shows us the gardens here. PERENNIAL GARDENS CAN BE MISLEADING. Perennials can require a bit more work. Many get tripped up by the concept. Shane looks at a perennial garden as an orchestra, you've got to conduct a lot of things to get it right. When looking at a perennial garden, count the things that have to happen. First of all, perennials don't bloom for a whole summer, at least, most don't. Usually you get a 2-3 week show. So everything must be timed right. One needs plants that will bloom at different times of the summer to ensure a show at any point during the summer months, even spring and fall. You also need to concern yourself about height.

Click here for more info

A False Perspective
Bart and Shane walk down a path that is between 2 beautiful gardens. But it is not your ordinary walkway. It is called -A FALSE PERSPECTIVE. The walk is actually wider on one end than it is on the other thus creates an optical illusion of being much longer when viewed from one end versus looking the other way. Homeowners can use this to their advantage. If you have a small yard and want to make it look long you can create the same effect. If you have too long a space and want to make it look short, try this approach.

Click here for more info

Annuals Planted In Clumps
In 1 bed several different annuals are planted among each other, in the other bed a very wide variety of ANNUALS PLANTED IN CLUMPS which are sort of scattered throughout the bed. Years ago Shane took a trip to France and saw they were doing a lot more clumping with their annuals. He brought that idea back and in one bed they're clumping tighter with good selections, good color combinations and the show is yet to peak. They can't grow tall ornamental grasses so they grow Sorghum vulare Broomcorn that when it seeds out will look like a wonderful annual since tall grasses can sometimes reach 9 feet tall. These clumps work well together.

Click here for more info

Two-Story Annual Bed
But on the other side they're trying A TWO-STORY KIND OF SHOW. They have Verbena bonariensis up high and Silver Wave Petunia which is a lighter Petunia growing lower. The Silver Wave is so aggressive that in another week or so it will start to climb up the Verbena bonariensis. It will become even more dramatic as the bonariensis reach heights almost double what they are now. And, they're great at attracting butterflies, a real show. As a backdrop in this garden they have an area where they have a number of what were full size Picea pungens f. glauca Blue Spruce that they prune into a hedge. It makes an impenetrable hedge year round and does a great job of blocking the parking lot. A lot of people never had any idea they can actually use Blue Spruce as a hedge.

Click here for more info

Gardening In A Greenhouse
Shane has written a book on greenhouses. Bart wonders if Shane has any TIPS FOR GARDENERS INTERESTED IN GARDENING IN A GREENHOUSE? Shane believes that if people like to garden outside, they're going to love gardening in the wintertime. If you live in a cold climate, it's a great way to spend the winter. You could have a detached hobby greenhouse, a detached solar greenhouse but the best is to have an attached solar greenhouse. Because for every square foot of that greenhouse, you can heat 2 square feet of your home. So between growing food, some fresh flowers and free heat, it's almost - Can you afford to not have one of these? In Shane's book "Greenhouse Gardener's Companion" he tries to explain to folks that greenhouse gardening is not hard, it's just different. It requires a little different scheduling, a little different pest control, a little bit different watering technique. There are lots of things that are just slightly different from how you approach it outside, but none of it is hard. It's really quite simple. Shane's goal is to make it simple for everybody.

Click here for more info

Children's Village
The guys next visit the PAUL SMITH CHILDREN'S VILLAGE. This is a children's garden that's in the final stages of construction. It's an interesting garden because it has an overall theme of sustainability - past, present and future. They teach kids how to pump water past and present, either by hand, with farmers windmills or with solar electric windmills. They also have windmills that create electricity, as well as photovoltaic electricity. Lots of different things throughout the garden that teach lessons of sustainability, which is so important.

Click here for more info

 

LINKS:

Garden Smart Plant List

Nagle Warren Mansion

Cheyenne Botanic Garden

Greenhouse Gardener's Companion

Greenhouse Information

Complete transcript of the show.

Show #45/4606. Stunning Gardens At An Incredible Site

Early settlers moving west had to be innovative and self-sufficient. The Cheyenne Botanic Garden continues that tradition today.

Many consider Cheyenne, Wyoming the eastern most western city in the U.S. It epitomizes that wild west attitude that everybody loves. So much so, that Bart halfway expects top see a cowboy coming down the street on horseback. The Mayor of Cheyenne, Mayor Richard Kaysen, introduces the town. He tells us that Cheyenne was founded in 1867. It was the result of the Union Pacific Railroad bringing the eastern part of the country to the western part of the country.

The elevation here is 6,000, thus the early settlers endured many weather related hardships. Several years after their community was founded one of their residents wrote in her diary that Cheyenne had a total of 12 trees. Just 12 trees. Imagine that. Today, they have over a quarter of a million trees in this great community. As the Mayor looks back over the years since founding it sticks out to him that this community has a can-do attitude, a stick-to-it attitude that has allowed everyone to get things accomplished. An example is the fact that Cheyenne is now a Tree City, USA. They've had that designation for 27 years. And, they celebrate Arbor days. There is a definite interest in planting and gardening in Cheyenne.

There is a lot going on today. They just held the 113th Annual Cheyenne Frontier Day Celebration. This event has been attracting residents and visitors for 113 years and this year over 200,000 visitors attended. It's a great time and a lot of celebration takes place. The help of volunteers makes it all possible.

Cheyenne is a great place to live. They have a wonderful quality of life. The gardens, the parks all are important factors. Business is booming as well. The National Center for Atmospheric Research is going to locate a super computer facility here, it will be the largest computer in the world. And, right here in Cheyenne. The General Electric Coal Gasification Research Center is also coming to Cheyenne. Cheyenne is not only a great place to reside but a great place to conduct business.

Bart and the Mayor are standing in Lions Park which is in front of the Cheyenne Botanic Garden. The Botanic Garden is a wonderful attribute for the community, an award winning facility. And, again, it was a can-do attitude, a get-it-accomplished attitude that made it possible. Shane Smith and his great volunteer staff make this possible. In fact the Cheyenne Botanic Garden was the brain child of Shane. He has worked diligently over the yeas to make this a world class Botanic Garden.

It's impressive for a town the size of Cheyenne to have a garden of this caliber. And equally impressive is Shane Smith. Shane is the Director and founder of this Garden. Shane tells us that THE GARDEN WAS STARTED IN 1977 and originally was located east of town in a solar heated greenhouse, probably one of the largest solar heated greenhouses in the nation at that time. From there they have evolved and in 1986 moved on to the city property in Lions Park. They again built a solar heated facility. 50% of their electricity comes from photovoltaic collectors. Thus, sustainability has been in their DNA since the late '70's. Another way they can have a botanic garden in a city of this size is the huge level of volunteerism within the community. Seniors, youth at risk, youth working on awards programs and handicapped individuals working together with folks that don't fit into those classifications provide between 80% and 90% of the labor force on the grounds and in the building to get the work done. They're city operated but they do have a non-profit arm that raises all the funds for their landscape development. So, it's the generosity of Cheyenne, their citizens, their business partners, local, regional and national corporations that make it all possible. People have a lot of ownership in funding this garden. And, that's been their history, one of community involvement. Add in the fact this is a very tough climate - #1 for hail, #4 in the nation for wind - they have a lot of challenges but that can-do attitude gets it all done.

Shane has been gardening forever. He received a degree from Colorado State University in horticultural science. He's a registered horticulture therapist with the American Horticultural Therapy Association and he did a year stint at Harvard as a fellow with the Graduate School of Design. He writes books on greenhouse gardening, does a little lecturing and a little consulting. His passion though is getting out and about into 3rd world countries on occasion and doing a kind of 1 man horticulturist without borders, trying to help villagers learn some of the basics of gardening. Life has been busy, but a lot of fun.
Top

Bart is impressed with Shane's credentials but wants to see the gardens. They start with native plants and the Rotary Century Plazas. There are 3 different plazas that cover about 300 years of people-plant relationships. They start in the 1700 area. IN THE 1700'S CHEYENNE WASN'T EVEN HERE, so this is what one might have seen coming across the country. These plants are very drought tolerant, very low water use. Cheyenne only receives about 12-13 inches of moisture annually. Even so, they have a wide variety of plants. Something is in bloom almost all the time, including the Wyoming state flower, the Indian Paintbrush, Castilleja mexicana. It is seen all over the state, has a long bloom period and is nice and bright. It's hard for gardeners to grow because it does like it dry, it doesn't like an irrigated situation. It's also hard to grow because it's semi-parasitic - it likes to grow it's roots into adjacent plants, especially grass. Shane points out an area where it's thriving in the grass and doing well.

The grass is unique, a drought tolerant grass. It's on the market and called Legacy Buffalo Grass Buchloe dactyloides. It's a male grass that is vegetatively reproduced, thus it doesn't produce seed heads. They plant it in plugs about 8 inches to a foot apart. It fills in, in a season and only needs 1/10 of an inch of moisture each week. Compare that to an inch of moisture each week for Blue Grass. It's a wonderful turf for drought tolerant situations. Another plant Shane likes in the 1700's garden is Fallugia paradoxa 'Apache Plume.' It's a shrub and has a long bloom period. The word paradoxa derives from the fact that it always seems to be blooming at the same time it's setting on seed. And both are quite interesting. It has lots of dainty white blooms and the seed pods look like smoke, adding an interesting effect to the garden.
Top

DURING THE 1800'S people concerned themselves with food, thus there were many people-plant relationships. People had to grow things to eat, there weren't grocery stores in this part of the world at that time so they grew things in their gardens. Much is familiar in this garden. For example, Rheum Rhubarb is very long-lived, low maintenance and provides food every spring. Prunus North Star Cherry, sour Cherry is easy to grow. Sweet cherries don't grow in Wyoming because it's too cold but put a little sugar with these cherries and one can have a great pie. The Gooseberry, Actinidia deliciosa Gooseberry, is a native plant, makes a nice little fruit and, too, will make a nice pie. It does have a few thorns but they won't inhibit one from picking. And they grew ornamentals back then. Flowers were/are important in everybody's life. Thus they grew Alcea rosea Hollyhock. It is super drought tolerant, easy to grow and comes back every year, re-seeding quite often. Cynara cardunculus Artichoke is a long lived perennial with big, fleshy tubers. One wouldn't grow hungry when growing this plant. They yield so many pounds per square foot it's incredible. They even beat potatoes. They're a similar tuber to potato, but not the same flavor. One must grow accustomed to the flavor but it's a good yielder. And in the landscape it provides a sort of hedge effect, which screens the wind. Also, it's great in an ornamental garden, providing a nice backdrop because it's tall, allowing shorter perennials to be planted beautifully in front.
Top

MUCH HAPPENED IN THE 1900'S. We entered the century with farmers utilizing a horse and plow and much labor but exited the 1900's with computed controlled agriculture, new kinds of fertilizers, new kinds of pest controls and GPS controlled tractors. Shane points out a 1929 Farmall tractor which was world changing. The invention of the tractor enabled the farmer to do so much more. The interpretative panel quotes a 100 year old farmer in Kansas. She said that the invention of the tractor gave horse and man their first needed rest on this planet. This invention saves a lot of backs, helps produce a lot of food and gave the horse a little rest, as well. Bart knows on his family's farm the work just wouldn't get done without a tractor. A tractor today can do so much especially with all the hitches and different components that can be added. They are dependable workhorses. Another of the big events of the 1900's was the Great Dust Bowl. It devastated a lot of the high plains and a lot of agriculture. We later realized it was caused not just by drought but by how we farmed. By implementing different farming practices we learned we could slow the wind. One example is creating shelterbelts which is a row of different varieties of trees that help slow the wind as well as cause the snow to drop to the other side. Sometimes one might place their shelterbelt in an area where you wanted some snow cover in the winter. The idea for shelterbelts was brought over by German farmers in the early part of the century, then perfected after the time of the dust bowl. When researching how to create a good shelterbelt it was found that if you plow around your trees, thus keeping the weeds and grass and other deciduous plants or any plants out from underneath the trees, the trees will grow much, much quicker. Whether you have large acreage or small acreage, trees are a great protector of your home. They actually reduce the energy required for your home. Shane recommends people think about planting evergreens to the north and the west of your home, then use deciduous trees to the east and south. That way one gets good winter sun into the home because the deciduous trees drop their leaves, but will have some protection from cold northern winds because the evergreens stay green year round.

In Cheyenne the 1900's were influenced by plants that were developed at the old Cheyenne High Plains Horticultural Research Station. It was in existence from the 30's to the 70's and it came up with all kinds of plants that have helped them make the high plains a beautiful place. A future GardenSMART show is devoted to this topic and facility.
Top

We've gotten a great history lesson on how gardens in the area developed or progressed, now its time to see how those lessons apply to the annual and perennial beds of today. The Wyoming public really appreciates a lush garden. Wyoming has lot of dry desert and sagebrush because there is not a lot of moisture hitting the lower elevations. They do have beautiful mountains, but when locals see a lush perennial garden they love it and appreciate it. Shane shows us the gardens here. PERENNIAL GARDENS CAN BE MISLEADING. Perennials can require a bit more work. Many get tripped up by the concept. Shane looks at a perennial garden as an orchestra, you've got to conduct a lot of things to get it right. When looking at a perennial garden, count the things that have to happen. First of all, perennials don't bloom for a whole summer, at least, most don't. Usually you get a 2-3 week show. So everything must be timed right. One needs plants that will bloom at different times of the summer to ensure a show at any point during the summer months, even spring and fall. You also need to concern yourself about height. The tall plants are in the back, the shorter plants in the front. Look at texture. If the plant isn't in bloom, it still must provide some interest whether a fine leaf or a fatter leaf plant. These things must work together and create interest for the eye, even when the plant is not in bloom. We also need to consider colors together. So when some of the orchestra's playing over here, you have 2 different colors that look good together. There's a lot to think about. And, you need a fair amount of space to make it all work well. A garden journal can help and homeowners can turn to their botanic gardens for information. Some have charts on how to make this orchestra work together. If you don't have a botanic garden check with your local extension agent or local university.
Top

Bart and Shane walk down a path that is between 2 beautiful gardens. But it is not your ordinary walkway. It is called -A FALSE PERSPECTIVE. The walk is actually wider on one end than it is on the other thus creates an optical illusion of being much longer when viewed from one end versus looking the other way. Homeowners can use this to their advantage. If you have a small yard and want to make it look long you can create the same effect. If you have too long a space and want to make it look short, try this approach. This design idea comes from the Romans, they played around with false perspective all the time and had a lot of fun with the concept.
Top

In Shane's annual beds he has 2 different design concepts going on. In 1 bed several different annuals are planted among each other, in the other bed a very wide variety of ANNUALS PLANTED IN CLUMPS which are sort of scattered throughout the bed. Years ago Shane took a trip to France and saw they were doing a lot more clumping with their annuals. He brought that idea back and in one bed they're clumping tighter with good selections, good color combinations and the show is yet to peak. They can't grow tall ornamental grasses so they grow Sorghum vulare Broomcorn that when it seeds out will look like a wonderful annual since tall grasses can sometimes reach 9 feet tall. These clumps work well together.
Top

But on the other side they're trying A TWO-STORY KIND OF SHOW. They have Verbena bonariensis up high and Silver Wave Petunia which is a lighter Petunia growing lower. The Silver Wave is so aggressive that in another week or so it will start to climb up the Verbena bonariensis. It will become even more dramatic as the bonariensis reach heights almost double what they are now. And, they're great at attracting butterflies, a real show. As a backdrop in this garden they have an area where they have a number of what were full size Picea pungens f. glauca Blue Spruce that they prune into a hedge. It makes an impenetrable hedge year round and does a great job of blocking the parking lot. A lot of people never had any idea they can actually use Blue Spruce as a hedge.

Bart has spent a lot of time in greenhouses but this one is different. There are some big tubes of water and a roof on part of it and there is no glazing on the north end. It is a 100% passively solar heated conservatory or greenhouse and passive means there are no moving parts that make it warm. It's totally done by its inherent design with a few things working together. There is water in varied containers, made of plastic and metal. They hold the day's heat, then re-radiate it back into the space at night. And they keep it cool in the summertime. They have triple thick polycarbonate glazing. Polycarbonate is great because it bounces hailstones off and they have a fair amount of hail. They have an insulated north roof, an insulated east, north and west wall and along with an insulated foundation, all help. The earth helps hold some of the heat as well. Those things working together keep this building well above 40 most of the time, normally above 50 in the dead of winter when it can get as low as 20 and 30 below with wind chills that are incredible. It's quite amazing how well and how simple this system is, particularly with no moving parts.

And with the conservatory they can grow about 50,000 bedding plants. Enough so that they can plant the whole city park system. Volunteers do all that work, so they function as a municipal nursery. They also grow a number of interesting plants, everything from plants for an herb garden, cactus, succulents, different tropicals, a lot of edible tropicals, bananas, figs, guavas and a lot of gee-whiz plants that they have a lot of fun with. The volunteers help keep it going and it creates a lot of interest for folks. They also grow a fair amount of food here. When they're done growing bedding plants for the summer park system and the grounds of the Botanic Garden they start growing tomatoes, cucumbers, veggies, etc. In the wintertime they grow more cold tolerant plants. But in all it's free heat and that enables a small town to have a botanic garden. It brings the community together and brings people into the gardens, providing interaction with plants. In a harsh climate like Cheyenne people will walk in here, breathe the humid air, smell the flowers, look at the flowers, especially during a long winter and just feel good and say that's what we want.
Top

Shane has written a book on greenhouses. Bart wonders if Shane has any TIPS FOR GARDENERS INTERESTED IN GARDENING IN A GREENHOUSE? Shane believes that if people like to garden outside, they're going to love gardening in the wintertime. If you live in a cold climate, it's a great way to spend the winter. You could have a detached hobby greenhouse, a detached solar greenhouse but the best is to have an attached solar greenhouse. Because for every square foot of that greenhouse, you can heat 2 square feet of your home. So between growing food, some fresh flowers and free heat, it's almost - Can you afford to not have one of these? In Shane's book "Greenhouse Gardener's Companion" he tries to explain to folks that greenhouse gardening is not hard, it's just different. It requires a little different scheduling, a little different pest control, a little bit different watering technique. There are lots of things that are just slightly different from how you approach it outside, but none of it is hard. It's really quite simple. Shane's goal is to make it simple for everybody.
Top

The guys next visit the PAUL SMITH CHILDREN'S VILLAGE. This is a children's garden that's in the final stages of construction. It's an interesting garden because it has an overall theme of sustainability - past, present and future. They teach kids how to pump water past and present, either by hand, with farmers windmills or with solar electric windmills. They also have windmills that create electricity, as well as photovoltaic electricity. Lots of different things throughout the garden that teach lessons of sustainability, which is so important. They're looking forward to this garden opening.

Shane thanks their all volunteers for their incredible effort. The volunteers have put in most of these plants and they work under the direction of the Director of the Horticulture, Sue Whetten. Sue has done a great job organizing the volunteer effort.

Shane opines that since 1977 the Cheyenne Botanic Garden has had sustainability in its DNA. And, that was before sustainability became a buzzword. For them it's enabled them to have a botanic garden of this size in a city of this size. It's saved them money, helped them do more with less, it's created community ownership and they view sustainability on a human level. So, for them sustainability's not a buzzword, it's a part of everyday life.

Thanks Shane, you and your staff have built a wonderful botanic garden in Cheyenne. It's been a pleasure to have met you and to see the Cheyenne Botanic Garden. We hope many in our audience will have the pleasure of visiting the Cheyenne Botanic Garden.
Top

LINKS:

Garden Smart Plant List

Nagle Warren Mansion

Cheyenne Botanic Garden

Greenhouse Gardener's Companion

Greenhouse Information

 
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Many of us are thinking ahead to our yards and gardens and, looking forward to getting outside and working in the dirt once again. This article “Gardening Trends For 2017” from our February enewsletter provides insight into 9 key trends for 2017. Read more...


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