GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2009 show51
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SHOW #51/1812. The Colorado Gardens of Mary & Pearl

JOE MEETS MARY BY THE DRIVEWAY
IN FACT WHEN PULLING IN, THE TIRE DOESN'T EVEN TOUCH THE DRIVEWAY BEFORE THE GARDEN MEETS THE VISITOR. That is when one sees the first area, a slope, which is often under 6 feet of snow during the winter time. In fact there was snow here 6 weeks ago during May even June. The rocks here came from the lot next door. They were being removed during construction of the home. Since they were going to haul them away Mary asked that they be placed on her lot instead. They help retain the soil, and they look great. Mary wants for her gardens to look as natural as possible, like the mountain hillside, high up. There are great colors everywhere, even in crevices, it is quite evident that she gave much thought to the plants she chose. The Campanula rotundifolia 'Bluebell blueflower' grows in crevices and looks great. Cerastium tomentosu 'Snow in Summer' provides a nice color contrast, grows well and is tough. The little pink Dianthus also crawls into crevices, stays low, is nice and bright, as does the Lamium maculatum 'Pink Pewter'.

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THE AREA IN FRONT OF THE MAIN ENTRANCE
The growing season here lasts maybe 3 and 1/2 months and they maximize their opportunity to plant it out with lots of color. The bulbs have come and gone but Mary has a new season of color and it is looking good. THIS AREA PRESENTS CHALLENGES BECAUSE IT DOESN'T HAVE AS MUCH SUNLIGHT AS THE PREVIOUS AREA by the driveway. Thus she has planted Aquliegia vulgaris Columbine which grows well in filtered shade, particularly in this part of the country. Dicentra spectabilis 'Bleeding Hearts' also does well. Asperula odorata 'Sweet Woodruff' flourishes in filtered shade and Mary uses it to fill in the spaces where the bulbs were visible. It's a nice way to hide the foliage of the fading bulbs. She has also utilized Papaver orientale 'Oriental Poppy'. They make a statement, don't last long, but they're fun and they steal the show when in bloom, especially when the light hits them. Stylophorum diphyllum Celandine Poppy, the Yellow Flower was given to Mary by a friend in Seattle.

Click here for more info

VEGETABLE GARDEN
This area is a nice surprise. When coming down the steps and around the curve MARY HAS A VEGETABLE GARDEN. Joe notices that she has picked the sunniest part of the yard for this garden. That's because vegetables are happier in the sun. But Vail has a short growing period. She can't really plant until June 1 and maybe they have until September 1 before the first frost. She has tried tomatoes but they weren't happy in this environment. Crops that have fruit growing above ground are too vulnerable to the climate changes here. But she has had success with those with roots and leaves. Plants such as Lactuca sativa (milk sap) 'Lettuce' and Daucos carota 'Carrot' and Beta vulgaris 'Beet' have done well. She even has some Rubus idaeus 'Raspberry' and the Raspberries are great.

Click here for more info

WATERFALL/POND AREA
THIS WATERFALL/POND AREA HAS 2 DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS - one is a wetlands setting, the other a drier environment. The wetland is closest to the creek, then about 3 feet out she switches to dry land plants. They discuss some of the plants. Iris sibirica 'Siberian Iris' is not in bloom presently but is very happy in the water. It's a good water plant. Trollius europaeus 'Globe Flower' is nice and yellow, has great looking foliage and really fills in. And it's tall. Syringa vulgaris 'Primrose' is a favorite of Mary's, it's pretty in bloom and does reseed, thus she's hoping to get more. At the top of the hill Joe notices Lychnis chalcedonica 'Alba' Maltese Cross. It is a nice tall plant, stands up, doesn't fall down, Mary likes the red color. Next to it is Chrysanthemum coccineum 'Painted Daisy. These are pink and pinker. Next to it is the Papaver nudicaule 'Iceland Poppy', another great choice.

Click here for more info

JOE MEETS PEARL & PEARL'S TIP
They take a closer look. JOE NOTICES AN ATTRACTIVE GROUND COVER THAT IS A GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO GRASS. It is Thymus pseudolanuginosus Woolly Thyme. It will eventually grow over the rocks and hide the rocks which detracts from their interest. Pearl has a tip. She just picks the rocks up, puts them back down and quickly and easily has performed that maintenance, it's a real time saver.

Click here for more info

PEARL'S BERMS
Joe notices that as they walk through the garden THERE ARE A LOT OF GRADE CHANGES and wonders if that is the natural topography. They were not here originally, these are the berms she mentioned and created. She used all her landscaping debris, then covered it with grass clippings, then used topsoil. She was able to do that in the front but when she got to the back she had to flag down construction trucks that were headed to the landfill with their construction debris then used that material to make the berms in her backyard. This was a win-win. In her quest to be environmentally sensitive she kept a lot of stuff from going to the dump, and importantly created a lot of privacy and created a lot of interest. Well done.

Click here for more info

NATIVE SHRUBS
PEARL HAS A LOT OF NATIVE SHRUBS, one is Shepherdia canadensis (L.) Nutt. Russet Buffaloberry. It is the plant nurseries now want to sell rather than Russian Olives which are invasive and reported to be ruining water systems. Buffaloberry has the same shape and form as the Russian Olive but has safe, less invasive properties. Ligustrum jonandrum Privit tree is a tall plant, thus great for privacy. It offers fullness and looks extra tall because it's on one of Pearl's berms. But not all of the plants she added for privacy provided the needed height, that is when she came in and started adding some trees. The Populus tremuloides Aspen is one example. It is very pretty in the fall with its yellow leaves and it grows fast. Another fast grower is Pinaceae Blue Spruce.

Click here for more info

AREAS BY THE FRONT DOOR
THIS IS WHERE VISITORS COME TO THE FRONT DOOR. It's a challenging situation because it is shady and to further complicate matters is a sunken garden. A lot of people might consider this a dead space but Pearl has planted it nicely. This area originally was all rocks. Her husband looks onto this area from his office, thus she wanted it to look attractive. She added greenery, Pinus balfouriana ssp. Austrina Foxtail Pine. It's a good choice because of its tight growth habit which is perfect for this narrow space. She has also planted some native Mountain Mahoney. They're doing great and importantly do well under the pack of snow that accumulates here in winter.

Click here for more info

THE VIEW
They make their way to THE BACKYARD AND JOE NOW SEES THE MILLION DOLLAR VIEW. The Sawatch Range with the New York Mountain as the highest mountain is like a picture framed by the back yard. Snow stays on the mountains all summer, it's covered with Aspens, in the fall they're all gold and in the winter the ski runs are visible. This was certainly an area that Pearl didn't want to cover in her quest for privacy. And, the area is filled with beautiful plants. Pearl talks about several. Physocarpus opulifolius Ninebark bush is one. It has a very pretty burgundy color which is a theme carried throughout the garden. Berberis fendleri Colorado Barberry is another that blends in beautifully. Pearl likes the color burgundy in her home and carries it outside into the garden, bringing the house and garden together. Joe notices a plant that looks a little like a Sedum, it has little yellow flowers but when feeling it it feels like a rubber mat. It is Bolax gummifera and is very hardy. Sedum 'Hens & Chicks' is always fun and they're presently blooming. This is a great plant, with a lot of interest but when in bloom it really makes a statement. Another Sedum is taller and provides great fall color.

Click here for more info

LINKS:

Evergreen Lodge : Vail

Plant List

COMPLETE TRANSCRIPT OF THE SHOW.

In this Episode GardenSMART visits two private gardens in the Vail, Colorado area. Both gardeners face challenges most will never face but provide gardening motivation for all. No matter where we live gardening presents its challenges and that certainly is the case at higher elevations.
Juliana Maes owner of Raindrops On Roses introduces the show and the area. Juliana started her company because she loves to garden, it's her passion and she turned it into a business. Juliana also loves to teach and to make gardening accessible. She believes that oftentimes gardening can be a bit elitist, some may think that only certain people can have beautiful gardens. It's not true, if one knows the principles and is willing to put in hard work you can have a beautiful garden no matter where you live, no matter how much you make or how big or small your yard and house might be. Juliana makes that information accessible. She relishes people asking questions. No question is a stupid question, everyone needs to know the basics.
There are certainly challenges with gardening in Colorado. Elevation is the key, here it ranges from 7,500 to 10,000 feet in altitude. Temperatures get very cold in the winter, it can get cold in the summer. They can get frost in July, it can snow in July. The native soil quite possibly shouldn't even be called soil. This is the Rocky Mountains, the soil is very rocky, it's naturally low in organic matter. So, soil is one of the biggest challenges, if not the biggest. One can't control the weather but can do some things to improve the soil. Juliana feels putting hard work into the soil, amending it with compost, using organic fertilizers, all are things needed to build the soil. It's your insurance policy for a beautiful garden.
Juliana knows the gardens we're visiting today and they are beautiful. She wants everyone to understand that when one sees a beautiful garden up here it's the result of a lot of sweat and love.
Joe first meets with Mary. He knows that people think of Vail as a great place, yet a cool place, to live in the winter. But Mary moved here from a much colder place. She grew up in Duluth, Minnesota, which is a beautiful place in the summer but too cold for her in the winter. She went to the University of Colorado in Boulder and after one winter didn't think she needed to go back to Minnesota for another winter. She ended up in Denver, raised their children there and when her husband, Dick, retired in 1982 they moved here full time. They first arrived in Vail in 1965, build a cabin and lived in it part time for years. They tore it down in 1987 and rebuilt it from the ground up with their 4 hands. They did hire a plumber but did everything else, including the stucco, themselves.
This area is a great environment for gardening, Mary believes that they receive more than 300 days of sunshine each year. And, gardening, on this property, started at the beginning. Mary put some Geraniums in the windows during construction. It was just kind of bright and fun.
This lot is approximately 1/4 of an acre, yet she has done much. IN FACT WHEN PULLING IN, THE TIRE DOESN'T EVEN TOUCH THE DRIVEWAY BEFORE THE GARDEN MEETS THE VISITOR. That is when one sees the first area, a slope, which is often under 6 feet of snow during the winter time. In fact there was snow here 6 weeks ago during May even June. The rocks here came from the lot next door. They were being removed during construction of the home. Since they were going to haul them away Mary asked that they be placed on her lot instead. They help retain the soil, and they look great. Mary wants for her gardens to look as natural as possible, like the mountain hillside, high up. There are great colors everywhere, even in crevices, it is quite evident that she gave much thought to the plants she chose. The Campanula rotundifolia 'Bluebell blueflower' grows in crevices and looks great. Cerastium tomentosu 'Snow in Summer' provides a nice color contrast, grows well and is tough. The little pink Dianthus also crawls into crevices, stays low, is nice and bright, as does the Lamium maculatum 'Pink Pewter'. Mary says this area is challenging, one needs to be part mountain goat to work the area.
They move down several feet and are now in front of the main entrance to the house. It too has a steep slope. The rocks here are from the surrounding area, Mary reminds Joe that they don't call these the Rocky Mountains for nothing. She says that rock picking was a major sport of theirs for quite a while.
Top

The growing season here lasts maybe 3 and 1/2 months and they maximize their opportunity to plant it out with lots of color. The bulbs have come and gone but Mary has a new season of color and it is looking good. THIS AREA PRESENTS CHALLENGES BECAUSE IT DOESN'T HAVE AS MUCH SUNLIGHT AS THE PREVIOUS AREA by the driveway. Thus she has planted Aquliegia vulgaris Columbine which grows well in filtered shade, particularly in this part of the country. Dicentra spectabilis 'Bleeding Hearts' also does well. Asperula odorata 'Sweet Woodruff' flourishes in filtered shade and Mary uses it to fill in the spaces where the bulbs were visible. It's a nice way to hide the foliage of the fading bulbs. She has also utilized Papaver orientale 'Oriental Poppy'. They make a statement, don't last long, but they're fun and they steal the show when in bloom, especially when the light hits them. Stylophorum diphyllum Celandine Poppy, the Yellow Flower was given to Mary by a friend in Seattle. She felt that Mary might not like it because it comes up everywhere. Mary said that that was fine when it comes up in the wrong place, she would just move it. They bloom almost all summer, thus she likes it.
Top

Mary and Joe go around to the backside of the house. This area is a nice surprise. When coming down the steps and around the curve MARY HAS A VEGETABLE GARDEN. Joe notices that she has picked the sunniest part of the yard for this garden. That's because vegetables are happier in the sun. But Vail has a short growing period. She can't really plant until June 1 and maybe they have until September 1 before the first frost. She has tried tomatoes but they weren't happy in this environment. Crops that have fruit growing above ground are too vulnerable to the climate changes here. But she has had success with those with roots and leaves. Plants such as Lactuca sativa (milk sap) 'Lettuce' and Daucos carota 'Carrot' and Beta vulgaris 'Beet' have done well. She even has some Rubus idaeus 'Raspberry' and the Raspberries are great. This is another challenging situation, it's on a slope, but it has been terraced nicely providing deep, level beds. Good job.
As they move away and go further up Joe notices the pathways and stairs. Mary and Dick, mostly Dick, built these. But Mary has planted it out beautifully. Joe likes the whole effect, especially the switchbacks of the paths, it makes the area easy to navigate.
Joe notices a pocket garden that overlooks a water source. Water is nice in a garden, it brings life to the area. But it all starts at the waterfall at the top of the property. As they arrive at the top area there is a patio area where and Mary and Dick spend a lot of time. They eat breakfast here every morning and have happy hour here every afternoon. It's too hot for lunch here, though. The water for the waterfall comes from a mountain spring and runs all year. They had to move it a bit to get it to go over the rock which came with the property. Dick then built a pond below, then directed the flow further downstream.
Top

THIS WATERFALL/POND AREA HAS 2 DIFFERENT ENVIRONMENTS - one is a wetlands setting, the other a drier environment. The wetland is closest to the creek, then about 3 feet out she switches to dry land plants. They discuss some of the plants. Iris sibirica 'Siberian Iris' is not in bloom presently but is very happy in the water. It's a good water plant. Trollius europaeus 'Globe Flower' is nice and yellow, has great looking foliage and really fills in. And it's tall. Syringa vulgaris 'Primrose' is a favorite of Mary's, it's pretty in bloom and does reseed, thus she's hoping to get more. At the top of the hill Joe notices Lychnis chalcedonica 'Alba' Maltese Cross. It is a nice tall plant, stands up, doesn't fall down, Mary likes the red color. Next to it is Chrysanthemum coccineum 'Painted Daisy. These are pink and pinker. Next to it is the Papaver nudicaule 'Iceland Poppy', another great choice. This area is beautiful.
Our time here has come to an end. Joe thanks Mary, it was an honor to have spent time with her.
Joe arrives at the next garden. Mary's yard was a north facing mountain slope with a lot of evergreens and dense cover. Now we're in a completely different environment. Pearl's house is on a south facing mountain. It has fewer trees and more open space. Joe hasn't met her yet but is looking forward to the opportunity because by just looking at her street side garden he can tell she's a great gardener.
Pearl has lived in Colorado all her life, but only lived in the Vail area for about 16 years. She was born on a farm and always helped out. She's always been an outdoors type person, has played tennis and golf, she's always been active. What she has done with this outside space is unbelievable. After moving here she looked at the yard all summer then in the fall started the makeover. Pearl started with the berm visible from the living room windows, then went to the back because that was the view. She started with native plants because she wanted to be environmentally correct, not put a city garden in a rustic place. She used a lot of Sagebrush and other native plants. When it became obvious they needed privacy she turned to taller plants. Evergreens are attractive and provided that privacy year round. But additionally she built berms to provide height and privacy. Pearl, half jokingly, says that after that she just kept spending money and buying more plants.
Top

They take a closer look. JOE NOTICES AN ATTRACTIVE GROUND COVER THAT IS A GREAT ALTERNATIVE TO GRASS. It is Thymus pseudolanuginosus Woolly Thyme. It will eventually grow over the rocks and hide the rocks which detracts from their interest. Pearl has a tip. She just picks the rocks up, puts them back down and quickly and easily has performed that maintenance, it's a real time saver.
Top

Joe notices that as they walk through the garden THERE ARE A LOT OF GRADE CHANGES and wonders if that is the natural topography. They were not here originally, these are the berms she mentioned and created. She used all her landscaping debris, then covered it with grass clippings, then used topsoil. She was able to do that in the front but when she got to the back she had to flag down construction trucks that were headed to the landfill with their construction debris then used that material to make the berms in her backyard. This was a win-win. In her quest to be environmentally sensitive she kept a lot of stuff from going to the dump, and importantly created a lot of privacy and created a lot of interest. Well done.
Pearl originally focused on native plantings such as Artemisia tridentata Sagebrush, much of it was on the property when she arrived. The Sagebrush is presently in bloom and good looking. But originally she had to take a lot of Sagebrush out to make the beds and then move them to different places. A lot she saved because of the character of their trunks. She leaves these plants alone until after the flower blooms and they start looking dead, at that point she prunes them. Another native, probably her favorite, is Purshia tridentata Bitterbush. It has a little yellow flower in the spring and doesn't need deadheaded or trimmed. Another is Chrysothamnus viscidiflorus Yellow Rabbitbrush. It's pretty when blooming. Another is Amelanchier arborea Serviceberry, it will get quite large and the birds love it.
Top

PEARL HAS A LOT OF NATIVE SHRUBS, one is Shepherdia canadensis (L.) Nutt. Russet Buffaloberry. It is the plant nurseries now want to sell rather than Russian Olives which are invasive and reported to be ruining water systems. Buffaloberry has the same shape and form as the Russian Olive but has safe, less invasive properties. Ligustrum jonandrum Privit tree is a tall plant, thus great for privacy. It offers fullness and looks extra tall because it's on one of Pearl's berms. But not all of the plants she added for privacy provided the needed height, that is when she came in and started adding some trees. The Populus tremuloides Aspen is one example. It is very pretty in the fall with its yellow leaves and it grows fast. Another fast grower is Pinaceae Blue Spruce. The color is great.
Top

Pearl and Joe visit another area. THIS IS WHERE VISITORS COME TO THE FRONT DOOR. It's a challenging situation because it is shady and to further complicate matters is a sunken garden. A lot of people might consider this a dead space but Pearl has planted it nicely. This area originally was all rocks. Her husband looks onto this area from his office, thus she wanted it to look attractive. She added greenery, Pinus balfouriana ssp. Austrina Foxtail Pine. It's a good choice because of its tight growth habit which is perfect for this narrow space. She has also planted some native Mountain Mahoney. They're doing great and importantly do well under the pack of snow that accumulates here in winter.
The next area, to the left of the front door, is also a shady area but has some wonderful plants. Pearl talks about some of her favorites. She points out a giant Hosta and a miniature Hosta and the Polemonium reptans, Jacobs Ladder which is variegated. Another favorite is the Dicentra Variegated Bleeding Heart. The variegation really lights up this shady spot.
Pearl is anxious to show Joe the best part of the garden, the back yard and the view. As they make their way there Joe notices that in addition to all her great plants Pearl has artfully placed garden art throughout the garden. She has stumps, wood pieces, painted stones and birdhouses. He loves the look. And, Pearl's children love it too because she is easy to buy for.
Top

They make their way to THE BACKYARD AND JOE NOW SEES THE MILLION DOLLAR VIEW. The Sawatch Range with the New York Mountain as the highest mountain is like a picture framed by the back yard. Snow stays on the mountains all summer, it's covered with Aspens, in the fall they're all gold and in the winter the ski runs are visible. This was certainly an area that Pearl didn't want to cover in her quest for privacy. And, the area is filled with beautiful plants. Pearl talks about several. Physocarpus opulifolius Ninebark bush is one. It has a very pretty burgundy color which is a theme carried throughout the garden. Berberis fendleri Colorado Barberry is another that blends in beautifully. Pearl likes the color burgundy in her home and carries it outside into the garden, bringing the house and garden together. Joe notices a plant that looks a little like a Sedum, it has little yellow flowers but when feeling it it feels like a rubber mat. It is Bolax gummifera and is very hardy. Sedum 'Hens & Chicks' is always fun and they're presently blooming. This is a great plant, with a lot of interest but when in bloom it really makes a statement. Another Sedum is taller and provides great fall color. It's a nice plant, especially for this arid environment, it doesn't take much water.
They look at another area, a smaller area. The Picea pungens Koster Blue Colorado Spruce catches Joe's eye. The color is amazing and it has grown very thick and full. It's a great tree for privacy and screening. Pearl has a very tall Aquilegia vulgaris Columbine. Pearl doesn't know why it grew so tall, but it is impressive. There are also two varieties of Salix xsimulatrix, they're very different yet basically from the same family. One has burgundy stems the other grey foliage. All of this is married with different colors, great looking rocks and a water feature. It all looks great and ties together beautifully.
Joe thanks Pearl for her time and for the tour. Her yard is stunning.
Joe reflects on the day. After spending the day with Mary and Pearl not only is he tired, but very impressed and incredibly humble. Pearl did tell Joe he could say this - she is 84 years old. Beyond the fact they these gardens are in the Rocky Mountains, both of these ladies have unique challenges in their gardens. Both spend a lot of time and put in a lot of work, outdoors. These gardens are their labor of love. Their sheer determination to take on the challenges has made it possible to show these gardens to our nationwide audience. So next time you think you have a challenge in your garden think of Mary and Pearl. Joe knows he will.
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LINKS:

Evergreen Lodge : Vail

Plant List

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