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Show #47/2208
Every Plant Has a Story


High Plains Horticultural Research Station
He and Bart are in front of what used to be the USDA HIGH PLAINS HORTICULTURAL RESEARCH STATION. It operated from 1930's to the mid 1970's when it was converted to a USDA Grasslands Research Station. But its work as a horticultural research station is renowned and is probably one of the most important historic agricultural sites west of the Mississippi, if not the world. It's treasured because this site had a big impact on settling the high plains. Typically people traveling across the United States on their way to Oregon, or California would go right through Wyoming and right through the high plains. That was because this was barren country, there were hardly any trees, not much to eat, no grocery stores; it was a tough life here and the wind was howling. The USDA in its infinite wisdom decided to set up research stations across the country. Cheyenne was probably in the most harsh of all climates. The objective was to determine what could survive here. They engaged explorers to bring back different plant material from around the world. Those plant explorers brought back things like trees, shrubs, edibles, plants, flowers. This was a nexus for trying to figure out what plants would survive in this kind of climate.

Click here for more info

Cheyenne Mock Orange
The guys first look at the CHEYENNE MOCK ORANGE. It is one of Scott's favorites at the station. At one time, in 3 rows, there were over 200 Mock Oranges collected from around the world. But since '74 when the station closed only one tree survived. Why? It's because it's a western native. This plant, now the state flower of Idaho, was found on the Lewis & Clark expedition in 1804. It's perfectly at home in Wyoming where they receive less than 13 inches of precipitation each year.

Click here for more info

Chinese Crabapple
It's a CHINESE CRABAPPLE, called Hung Hai Tung. When Scott went into the records he found that it was discovered at a Buddhist Temple in Zhejiang Province in 1927. The Buddhists who lived in the temple had used it as an edible apple because the Europeans had not yet established trade in Northern China, thus they hadn't acquired the edible apple that we know today and is available at grocery stores. Scott thinks that what probably caught the eye of P.H. Dorsett, the plant explorer, was that it had 2 and 1/2 wide white, fragrant flowers that dwarf any other Crabapple.

Click here for more info

Manchurian Apricot
Another gorgeous little tree is MANCHURIAN APRICOT, the variety is Sino. The first USDA explorer's name was Nils Hansen and he was sent to, mostly, Asia to try to find plants that would benefit the people of the U.S. One of the things Dr. Hansen wanted to do was to find the northern range of the apricot because the apricot had such a wide distribution from west, southwest Asia all the way to northeastern Asia. Dr. Hansen took the Trans-Siberian Railroad from Vladivostok into Manchuria and at every stop would go to the farmer's markets and see what they had. If he saw apricots he would think this might be the northern most range, he would buy them, then go to the next town. Finally after 7 trips to Asia he was able to find the northernmost range of the apricot.

Click here for more info

Cheyenne Privet
We've seen a lot of plants here that have a ton of potential but are there any big success stories here. Yes, one in particular is the CHEYENNE PRIVET. It's probably one of the most successful plants to come out of this station. Scott would guess there are 100 million plants that have been propagated from this single plant. It was found by a Harvard professor in the Vulcan Expedition outside Sarajevo in 1936, thus has a long and interesting history.

Click here for more info

Bart Meets Lorna
BART NEXT MEETS LORNA in front of her home. This landscape seems a very stark contrast to what he's used to as a gardener and most likely different for most of our audience. Lorna provides a little background of her home and area. This property was originally owned by Dr. Barrett. The home was built in 1979, they moved here in 1990 and are the 4th owners of this home. Lorna guesses many previous owners moved on because of the weather. The winters here can be difficult. It can be extremely windy and they can have 120 inches of snow or winter could be completely dry but windy. It just depends. Getting plants to survive in the landscape with temperatures and snow like this is a challenge.

Click here for more info

Lorna's Privet
They look at the privet in Lorna's yard. IT IS A GREAT PLANT but in some parts of the country it can be invasive. It hasn't exhibited that characteristic here. It is drought tolerant, tolerant of heat and importantly, cold tolerant. Lorna explains that she and Kevin planted this hedge to block the wind. They had a terrible wind tunnel between the garage and the house, this gave them the opportunity to block the wind and provide privacy. She doesn't notice seedlings dropping and it's been a great hedge. She likes the flowers in the spring and the berries that it produces in the fall and winter are great for birds. They have been very happy with this hedge.

Click here for more info

Water Feature
Hedges are a great way to divide ones garden into garden rooms. They look at one of Lorna's garden rooms. It is a beautiful area and has A STUNNING WATER FEATURE. Lorna chose this location because they previously had dead lawn in this area during the summer and heat and because 2 of the original trees they planted on the property competed with the grass. The Black Hill Spruce was a culprit as was a throw away hedge of Golden Elderberry, that was planted on the side. The Elderberry developed over the years into a beautiful hedge so they wanted something that brought them out into this part of the yard so they could enjoy the hedge. The pond just kind of happened. The pond is actually a horse tank, it blew in by the train tracks, they reclaimed it and put it in the ground. It prevents the tree roots from causing a problem with the liner. They then covered the liner with rocks. The rocks look great in and around the pond but when combined with other plantings provide a sense of landscaping, a sense of continuity.

Click here for more info

The Entrance To Their Home
The next area visited is actually THE ENTRANCE TO THEIR HOME. And, it is inviting. One comes off the drive, through this garden, then up to the front door. It too allows Lorna the opportunity to be whimsical with her "things." It provides a great introduction to the home. And, it utilizes good design techniques, providing an interesting appearance, drawing one along the path, up the stairs and to the front door. But Bart notices it's a shade garden. It didn't start out that way. At one time this was a hot spot, in fact a lot of this property was like that. But everything transitions as you bring in plants and birds bring in plants for you. Originally she had a lot of roses here because that's what she wanted. There are still a few roses trying to hang in even though it has become a shade garden. One of the problems with a shade garden is that it's hard to incorporate color. Lorna has done a good job of that by using antiques and other interesting features and by painting them bright colors. Lorna decided this was an area to have fun.

Click here for more info

Inspiration Garden
The next area Lorna refers to as her INSPIRATION GARDEN. It's a small room garden. When they go and visit different places, different homes, different cities when they see something they like, they bring it back. In this area they have created a landscape on a small scale. Bart likes the use of hardscape, the angular stones in the path, the cobbles, the walls and he likes the plant choices. They have lots of different colors, lots of different textures through foliage. There is a special tree in this garden, the Black Walnut tree. They got it from Kevin's father, they're not common in this area which makes it even more special. Adding a plant with sentimental value really makes a space much more personal.

Click here for more info

 

LINKS:

Garden Smart Plant List

Nagle Warren Mansion

Cheyenne Horticultural Research Station

Cheyenne Botanic Gardens


Complete transcript of the show.

47/2208.
Rarely do people know where their plants come from, but every plant has a story. In this Episode GardenSMART marries fascinating plant stories with a beautiful garden.

At the beginning of the 20th century the United States Department of Agriculture sent explorers all around the world to find new and interesting plant varieties for use by the American people. Many of those varieties ended up in Cheyenne, Wyoming at the Agricultural Research Station.

Shane Smith, the Director of the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens, joins GardenSMART to provide more information. He and Bart are in front of what used to be the USDA HIGH PLAINS HORTICULTURAL RESEARCH STATION. It operated from 1930's to the mid 1970's when it was converted to a USDA Grasslands Research Station. But its work as a horticultural research station is renowned and is probably one of the most important historic agricultural sites west of the Mississippi, if not the world. It's treasured because this site had a big impact on settling the high plains. Typically people traveling across the United States on their way to Oregon, or California would go right through Wyoming and right through the high plains. That was because this was barren country, there were hardly any trees, not much to eat, no grocery stores; it was a tough life here and the wind was howling. The USDA in its infinite wisdom decided to set up research stations across the country. Cheyenne was probably in the most harsh of all climates. The objective was to determine what could survive here. They engaged explorers to bring back different plant material from around the world. Those plant explorers brought back things like trees, shrubs, edibles, plants, flowers. This was a nexus for trying to figure out what plants would survive in this kind of climate. As a result, one won't find a city in the high plains, in the Great Plains, that doesn't have a plant, tree or shrub that came from this station. This facility produced numerous releases of edible plants, fruit trees, small shrubs and ornamentals, because they realized it was important to smell a flower. And they also researched shelterbelts. Remember the dust bowl occurred during the same time period that these stations started, the 1930's. Thus, an area of focus was creating shelterbelts because it was important to have protection from the wind, oftentimes in order to have something to eat. The USDA knew that horticulture could help create community and what they did here was amazingly beneficial.

Scott Skogerboe, one of the top historic horticulturists in the area has studied the Research station extensively and leads the tour. He not only identifies specific plants but has interesting stories that go with them.

Scott chose the road less traveled. He served in the United States Army until he was 31 years old. While serving he was an ambulance driver and on occasion was assigned to teams supporting General Colin Powell and President Bush. But he found that he didn't go home at night and read about emergency medical techniques, instead would go home and read about organic gardening, because horticulture was his passion. He used the GI Bill, went back to his hometown of Ft. Collins and Colorado State University and got his degree in horticulture. After that he got a job at Ft. Collins Wholesale Nursery as the top head propagator. In the past 14 years he's grown close to 14 million trees and shrubs. But what he learned in his studies is that he loves to tie in history with plants. He found himself wanting to know more about the plants he was growing. He didn't just want to know that they were branches with leaves or needles and bark, but rather wanted to know where those plants came from, who brought them back, what was the story they had to tell. So, he found himself going into old records and finding out who brought these plants back. He found himself asking questions like - is there a Johnny Appleseed tree. So he went out and found one. When he heard the story of Sir Issac Newton and how an apple had fallen from the tree to give the idea of gravity he wanted to learn if that tree still existed. And he found it. And, he found these things by going through the records of old USDA stations and universities. He also found he could get much information from old-timers, from academics and from botanic gardens. He was amazed at all the things that were available out there that he could find. But one of his favorite places in the world is the old USDA Horticulture Station in Cheyenne.

When he first came to the Cheyenne Agriculture Research Station he was a student at CSU. He was on a field trip and found out that it was interesting to look at what plants had survived in the 20 years since the station had been closed. What really made these plants come alive for Scott was when he went into the station records and looked at notes scientists had hand written in the 20's, 30's, 40's and 50's. Those notes and stories made the plants come alive for him. He found himself wanting to come back for more, in fact he couldn't wait to come back. He would spend hours in the arboretum and in the records room finding out what stories were here. He discovered plants that were found around the world. Some had ties to history and go back 300 years, to kings, to presidents, to revolutions across the globe, for example the Chinese Revolution, the French Revolution and the American Revolution. These plants were just blowing in the wind and each had a story to tell. But one person in particular had a great impact on Scott's life. He was Gene Howard. Gene was the last director of this station and had been here for 25 years before the station closed. Although Scott and Gene were decades apart in age, they became fast friends. Gene taught Scott so much about the station and importantly the field of horticulture.

Bart is anxious to see the plants so they're off. Bart wants to know - Since they stopped doing horticultural research in the 1970's here, what has been the fate of these plants and what will their fate be in the future? The Cheyenne Botanic Gardens has acquired these 62 acres and will administer them under the name, High Plains Arboretum. So, this legacy will be able to endure. And, people will be able to view this amazing facility.
Top

The guys first look at the CHEYENNE MOCK ORANGE. It is one of Scott's favorites at the station. At one time, in 3 rows, there were over 200 Mock Oranges collected from around the world. But since '74 when the station closed only one tree survived. Why? It's because it's a western native. This plant, now the state flower of Idaho, was found on the Lewis & Clark expedition in 1804. It's perfectly at home in Wyoming where they receive less than 13 inches of precipitation each year. And, it's available in the trade because we've seen it several times in Cheyenne. And, they look great. It's a fascinating plant and is in the trade for a reason. It has fragrant flowers that smell exactly like an orange blossom, thus the name Mock Orange. The Denver Botanic Garden and Colorado State University's plant select program fell in love with this plant and they now promote it throughout the high plains and Rocky Mountain States.
Top

The next plant looks to Bart like a Crabapple and a good looking one at that. Scott, too, likes this tree, it's his favorite tree in the entire Cheyenne station. It's a CHINESE CRABAPPLE, called Hung Hai Tung. When Scott went into the records he found that it was discovered at a Buddhist Temple in Zhejiang Province in 1927. The Buddhists who lived in the temple had used it as an edible apple because the Europeans had not yet established trade in Northern China, thus they hadn't acquired the edible apple that we know today and is available at grocery stores. Scott thinks that what probably caught the eye of P.H. Dorsett, the plant explorer, was that it had 2 and 1/2 wide white, fragrant flowers that dwarf any other Crabapple. The fruit ripens on September 1 and is tasty. If you've ever tried the double crabapple, it's similar. It makes great jams and jellies, but Scott is really impressed by how big it is. It's a massive specimen and healthy as can be. This should be in the trade but isn't. But maybe with a little help it can be. It really is a winner.
Top

Another gorgeous little tree is MANCHURIAN APRICOT, the variety is Sino. The first USDA explorer's name was Nils Hansen and he was sent to, mostly, Asia to try to find plants that would benefit the people of the U.S. One of the things Dr. Hansen wanted to do was to find the northern range of the apricot because the apricot had such a wide distribution from west, southwest Asia all the way to northeastern Asia. Dr. Hansen took the Trans-Siberian Railroad from Vladivostok into Manchuria and at every stop would go to the farmer's markets and see what they had. If he saw apricots he would think this might be the northern most range, he would buy them, then go to the next town. Finally after 7 trips to Asia he was able to find the northernmost range of the apricot. He brought the seeds home to Broken, South Dakota where he was a professor. He grew them out and by 1936 he had named 12, then planted them at this station. Of those only 1 and its sister seedling Hulan have survived survived. The thing that's remarkable is that they were planted in 1936 and since 1974 this plant has survived on 13 inches of annual precipitation and absolutely no care. And, it's not only living, it's thriving. A plant like this would do great in the trade but it isn't available yet.
Top

Bart wonders - We've seen a lot of plants here that have a ton of potential but are there any big success stories here. Yes, one in particular is the CHEYENNE PRIVET. It's probably one of the most successful plants to come out of this station. Scott would guess there are 100 million plants that have been propagated from this single plant. It was found by a Harvard professor in the Vulcan Expedition outside Sarajevo in 1936, thus has a long and interesting history. We're next visiting the Cherry's house and gardens and there is an excellent specimen in front of their house. In fact a whole hedge of it.

Bart hates to leave, would like to see every single plant but there is more to do so he's off. Scott invites GardenSMART back. And the next time he'll show us the other 700 plants we've not yet seen.
Top

BART NEXT MEETS LORNA in front of her home. This landscape seems a very stark contrast to what he's used to as a gardener and most likely different for most of our audience. Lorna provides a little background of her home and area. This property was originally owned by Dr. Barrett. The home was built in 1979, they moved here in 1990 and are the 4th owners of this home. Lorna guesses many previous owners moved on because of the weather. The winters here can be difficult. It can be extremely windy and they can have 120 inches of snow or winter could be completely dry but windy. It just depends. Getting plants to survive in the landscape with temperatures and snow like this is a challenge. Keeping the house warm is even a challenge. They can have snow blowing through the logs of their home and that prompted them to start their windbreak and get larger trees growing on the property.

Bart notices the garden is lush and verdant. When Lorna and Kevin 1st moved here they didn't have a lot of money but were fortunate to come across plants and trees either at a discounted price or at nurseries that were going out of business. They were often at the right place at the right time and able to get plants, then bring them home. Lorna collects old relics and recycled items. She finds that a lot of fun. Her motto is if you can put dirt in it, then she'll put flowers in it. Thus she brings some different items home, things like canoes. Many different items that the wind has blown in. She finds these things fun and they keep her garden whimsical.
Top

Bart explains we've just come from the USDA Research Station and saw some privet hedge there. They look at the privet in Lorna's yard. IT IS A GREAT PLANT but in some parts of the country it can be invasive. It hasn't exhibited that characteristic here. It is drought tolerant, tolerant of heat and importantly, cold tolerant. Lorna explains that she and Kevin planted this hedge to block the wind. They had a terrible wind tunnel between the garage and the house, this gave them the opportunity to block the wind and provide privacy. She doesn't notice seedlings dropping and it's been a great hedge. She likes the flowers in the spring and the berries that it produces in the fall and winter are great for birds. They have been very happy with this hedge.
Top

Hedges are a great way to divide ones garden into garden rooms. They look at one of Lorna's garden rooms. It is a beautiful area and has A STUNNING WATER FEATURE. Lorna chose this location because they previously had dead lawn in this area during the summer and heat and because 2 of the original trees they planted on the property competed with the grass. The Black Hill Spruce was a culprit as was a throw away hedge of Golden Elderberry, that was planted on the side. The Elderberry developed over the years into a beautiful hedge so they wanted something that brought them out into this part of the yard so they could enjoy the hedge. The pond just kind of happened. The pond is actually a horse tank, it blew in by the train tracks, they reclaimed it and put it in the ground. It prevents the tree roots from causing a problem with the liner. They then covered the liner with rocks. The rocks look great in and around the pond but when combined with other plantings provide a sense of landscaping, a sense of continuity. For example, a Mugo was planted the same time as the Black Hill Spruce but looked lonely in the landscape for many years. The rocks tie it all together. Since they're somewhat close to the interstate the waterfall helps drown out that noise. Lorna chose some low growing succulents and some other low growing plants that one normally wouldn't find next to a water feature. They chose those type plants for maintenance reasons and because they facilitate walking around the pond. Walking on them doesn't seem to bother the plants, they're tolerant of foot traffic and they're low enough that Lorna can enjoy the pond from their pavilion. Bart also notices some mature plants in the landscape. He likes a new garden that incorporates mature plant material. They provide a finished look.

The pavilion is an outdoor living space. It allows everyone to sit and enjoy the garden. Kevin built the pavilion partially for their daughter's wedding that was held in this garden 2 years ago. It provided an opportunity to share a special moment out here. Also, this is on the east side of the house and the wind is not as bad here as in other parts of the yard. So, it made sense to have this garden and this pavilion here to enjoy the space. Bart is certainly enjoying the space but wants to see other parts of Lorna's garden.
Top

The next area visited is actually THE ENTRANCE TO THEIR HOME. And, it is inviting. One comes off the drive, through this garden, then up to the front door. It too allows Lorna the opportunity to be whimsical with her "things." It provides a great introduction to the home. And, it utilizes good design techniques, providing an interesting appearance, drawing one along the path, up the stairs and to the front door. But Bart notices it's a shade garden. It didn't start out that way. At one time this was a hot spot, in fact a lot of this property was like that. But everything transitions as you bring in plants and birds bring in plants for you. Originally she had a lot of roses here because that's what she wanted. There are still a few roses trying to hang in even though it has become a shade garden. One of the problems with a shade garden is that it's hard to incorporate color. Lorna has done a good job of that by using antiques and other interesting features and by painting them bright colors. Lorna decided this was an area to have fun. And, Kevin wanted her to bring all of her "junk" to one spot. Containers are a great way to bring color into a landscape. Painting your chairs bright colors is another way. Add in all the other things they've either collected over the years or have been passed down by family, or that she found in a junk yard or alongside the road and it makes for an interesting, eclectic area. And, it works.
Top

The next area Lorna refers to as her INSPIRATION GARDEN. It's a small room garden. When they go and visit different places, different homes, different cities when they see something they like, they bring it back. In this area they have created a landscape on a small scale. Bart likes the use of hardscape, the angular stones in the path, the cobbles, the walls and he likes the plant choices. They have lots of different colors, lots of different textures through foliage. There is a special tree in this garden, the Black Walnut tree. They got it from Kevin's father, they're not common in this area which makes it even more special. Adding a plant with sentimental value really makes a space much more personal. This is their kind of little private area. It's a garden she and Kevin come to, it's not in the public view and very special.

The next garden is very pretty but also serves as an entrance and introduction, not only to the home and gardens but also to Lorna and her husband. This area, too, has provided an opportunity to be very creative. Kevin built a shovel fountain and welded it together. They've incorporated a lot of color with blue containers, Lorna always has a bowling ball in her gardens and it too adds color and the roses certainly are colorful. Lorna likes this garden as does Bart.

Bart thanks Lorna for sharing her gardens with our GardenSMART audience. This is like an oasis in the high plains. Lorna thanks Bart in return, but points out that what they were trying to do here was to have some fun digging in the dirt. After all, isn't that what gardening is all about. You've done a great job Lorna. Thanks.
Top

LINKS:

Garden Smart Plant List

Nagle Warren Mansion

Cheyenne Horticultural Research Station

Cheyenne Botanic Gardens

   
   
 
   
   
   
   
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