We may not have a “botanic garden”, but Colorado Springs is home to a very lovely xeriscape garden – and it’s free! It’s a great place to educate yourself about plants that grow well in our high-altitude, low-moisture climate, and I finally stopped by recently. Spoiler alert – you can have a lot of color and flowers and still have a very water-wise landscape!
The Xeriscape Demonstration Garden is operated by Colorado Springs Utilities and maintained by volunteers. Most all of the plants are labeled, and it was very helpful for me to see established plants at full-size, as I have a hard time imagining that when I’m shopping at the nursery. And while there might be some people who pay attention to the sizing that’s printed on the tag and measure everything out, I’m not one of those people – but, I’m determined to get better at it!
They had a wide variety of plants for everything from the hottest, driest places in your yard to places that might actually get a lot of moisture due to runoff or drip lines from roofs or trees. “Micro-climates” are a big deal in Colorado, according to the books I’ve read. (I think the reason they are able to grow those agave plants in the garden is due to all of the rocks helping to hold the heat from the sun!)
So many plants grow well in our hot, dry climate, and there are so many colors and shapes! It’s not all just native grasses and rocks – though I’m learning that there are ways to incorporate those ubiquitous grasses without just plopping them into a circle of rocks.
The lobby is open 9-5, Monday through Friday, and you can get additional information in there. The gardens themselves, however, are open all of the time, so you can pop in anytime. I’m hoping to stop by a couple of times this winter as I am really interested in trying to make our landscaping interesting in the winter and I’d love to see what many of these plants look like when they’re dormant.
If you are at all interested in gardening, hate the idea that water-wise landscaping means nothing but rocks and a few isolated clumps of native grass, or just want a pretty place to walk and get some fresh air, you really should check out CSU’s xeriscape garden!
I haven’t been, but there’s another CSU garden at Cottonwood Creek Park. You can check out the official information for both CSU xeriscape/water-wise gardens here. And, another small but free garden you could check out is the Horticultural Arts Society’s public garden display.
I also recently shared some of my gardening adventures in this post.