Postcard from Colorado

Prairie planting with mountain view

I'm back from a fabulous week spent in Denver at this year's Garden Bloggers Fling. The gardens - as usual - were amazing, but many of us found other stars of the show in the shape of the ever present mountain views and huge skies over the plains we passed through. It's a deceptive landscape because the flatter looking land hides the fact we were at an altitude of over 5,000 feet. Now I'm back I can understand the benefits of living that high: my regular Zumba class yesterday felt much easier and I could work harder without getting puffed!

Plains, mountains and big sky in the Boulder area of Colorado

This is a view from one of the private gardens we visited in the Boulder area and illustrates perfectly the importance of using the borrowed view in garden design. The owners of this property and many more we saw ensured they made the best of their natural resources, both in terms of scenery and local geology.

You can see the clouds building up over the mountains which brought rumbles of thunder in the afternoon and just a few spots of rain on most days. Those mountains tend to keep the precipitation to themselves, so the gardeners in the Denver, Fort Collins and Boulder areas we visited have to grapple with a relatively short growing season compared to the UK, plus a meagre annual precipitation of 15 inches. It was interesting to see how they'd managed to use many of the spring and summer plants I'm familiar with, mixed with a xeriscaping approach to gardening and local native plants such as the Denver Gold Columbine (Aquilegia chrysantha).

Dramatic skies over Denver airport

On the day I left (Monday), the late afternoon storm ventured further and poured itself over Denver. I storm watched from the train as I made my way to the airport, where for a while no planes were taking off or landing. My evening flight meant I was luckier than most of my friends who'd left in the afternoon. They were delayed by some hours, whereas my fears of a cancelled flight were replaced by a mere 40 minute delay. Had I known my friends' location we could have had an early reunion instead of waiting for the Fling in Madison next year!

More on the gardens themselves to come. In the meantime, the #gbfling2019 hashtag on Instagram brings up a feed of happiness...

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