An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

August 24, 2014

The Road to Mt. Evans

     I'm an early riser, and if I sleep much past 6 a.m., even on my day off, someone better check on me. On our first full day in Colorado, I was up early, as usual, even given the different time zone. While having coffee with Sherpa Girl K, I remarked that I did not see how we were going to work everything into our limited vacation schedule, especially time to get up into the mountains. With the rest of the house still in bed, K suggested that we head up to Mt. Evans right then, to which I said "let's go".

      To someone who has spent the majority of his life just a few feet above sea level, the mountains have a special appeal, especially here on the Atlantic Coastal Plain where they are several hours away at best. Mt. Evans is one of the 50 plus peaks in Colorado exceeding 14,000', but is only one of two you can drive to. In fact, the road to Mt. Evans is the highest paved road in the country, and there's nary a guardrail in sight. I was so glad that someone else was behind the wheel.

     Out first stop was Echo Lake, where the water was like a mirror, and the air smelled of Christmas.
Echo Lake

Man on a Mirror

     Further up the mountain, the trees give way to alpine tundra, and we stopped to visit with one of the locals who was quite relaxed around transient visitors.
Marmot (1)

Along the Road to Mt. Evans (1)

Along the Road to Mt. Evans (2)

Marmot (2)

Cirsium scopulorum (2)

Cirsium scopulorum (5)

Cirsium scopulorum (1)

The Font

Along the Road to Mt. Evans (5)
     Back in the car we climbed to Summit Lake. My last visit here was impaired by altitude sickness, but on this trip I refused to let that be an issue.
Summit Lake (1)

Summit Lake (4)

Summit Lake (3)

     Summit Lake is one of those places where you don't know whether to focus your eye on the grandeur in front of you, or the details at your feet. Looking at the entirety of it touched my soul and brought tears to my eyes, and yes, I am sure it was not the thin oxygen making me think that way.
Phacelia sericea

Phacelia sericea (1)

Hymenoxys grandiflora

Rocky Mountain Parnassian on Hymenoxys grandiflora

Field Crescent Butterfly on Phacelia sericea (2)

     The man in the following picture is not me, bowing my head in prayer, though it could have easily been. Though he was a kindred spirit, and he was also part of Wildlands Restoration Volunteers. The group was working at Summit Lake planting tiny little alpines, the seeds of which were gathered from the same sight the previous year. They looked like a fun group, and I felt like picking up a trowel and getting my hands dirty, but we had run out of time, and had to get back down the mountain.
Chicago Lakes Overlook (3)

Summit Lake (9)

Summit Lake (10)

Chicago Lakes Overlook (5)

     We did make one more stop on the road to Mt. Evans, and that was so I could hug some thousand year old trees, but I will have to share that in another post.
Summit Lake Panorama

August 18, 2014

At the Denver Botanic Garden Without Glasses

     With all the wonderful glare coming from the Chihulies, it was somewhat difficult to focus on just the plants and gardens at the Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG), but I forced myself. This trip was my third to DBG, and I've been impressed from the first visit. For a botanic garden, it is not large, basically just a couple of enclosed city blocks. However, because of the way space is utilized and designed, the garden feels large, but you can see everything in one visit. Like most botanic gardens, there are themed gardens throughout, showcasing plants and gardening styles from around the world. Where they can, DBG uses native species, or others that are adapted to similarly dry, cold-winter climates, to support these themes. I think what I like best about the garden is how it has embraced the varied regional climate zones and plant communities that can be seen in the high plains and Rockies. I wish more botanic gardens would tie themselves to the surrounding landscape in such a way.

     In light of what I said above, please don't think the gardens are only full of  yuccas and sagebrush. They are quite colorful.
Herb Garden Border (2)

Helenium 'Helbro' Mardi Gras

AAS Display Garden (1)

Agastache and Gazania

Alcea rosea (2)

Containers (4)

Echinacea 'Magnus' (3)

Echinacea 'Magnus' (4)


Monet Pool Reflections (3)


Containers (6)

Herb Garden Border (1)

Lilium 'Pizzazz'

Nepeta and Monarda

Persicaria amplexicaulis 'Firetail'

Pinus bungeana (1)

Rose Garden (2)

Rudbeckia hirta

Rose Garden (3)

Rudbeckia laciniata

Romantic Gardens (2)

Celosia, Kale and Bouteloua gracilis 'Blonde Ambition' (1)

Origanum libanoticum (1)

Seseli gummiferum

Tentacle Planter (4)

     If for some reason you have not seen enough, here is a link to my complete photo set on Flickr, including more Chihulies.