Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Xeriscape Demonstration Garden Part 2

Years ago (around 2001) I entered into a xeriscape garden contest in San Antonio. Winners would receive a gift certificate to your favorite nursery and hold a sponsored garden tour. I won one of the prizes and prepared for the tour. The extension agent came out with the xeriscape garden tour sign along with aluminum plant tags. We had a good time talking plants, adding labels and pumping up my ego. I was even going to wear a tie to the awards ceremony. My hat size had increased by 1/2 size.
Before the tour began a neighbor who recently moved from Denver came to visit the garden. She began shaking her head. What did this mean asking myself. Had I mislabeled or grown a non xeriscape plant? hmm? Finally she stepped forward and replied that these plants should not be in the same zone. A mistake? What?! What you talking about willis? She informed me that one of the xeriscape principles was to grow like plants in the same growing zones, meaning plants with the same light/irrigation requirements. Say what? What do you know I said to myself. Then she told me about the Denver Botanical Gardens demonstration xeriscape garden and the seven principles. It made a lot of sense. Two years later I moved to Colorado Springs and further investigated the gardens. Definetly changed the way I looked at landscaping and design.
Delosperma keladis 'Measa Verde' Ice Plant with Gazania I believe

Just as my neighbor informed me about growing zones, the Xeriscape Demonstration Gardens in Colorado Springs is set up into different zones. Primarily this garden is broken into three water zones, none, low, and moderate . Click on this link for plant information CSU Xeriscape Garden , for Zonal Information and choices for your own gardens.
Picea pungens 'Globosa' Globe Blue Spruce, Picea abies 'Nidiformis' bird's nest spruce, Penstemon spp. (not labeled), and  Cerocarpus montanus 'Mountain Mahogany'. This bed would be in the low water zone.
Penstemon pinipholius (Pineleaf Penstemon), Teucrium aroanium (Creeping Germander) low water garden
Daphne burwoodi 'Carol Mackie Daphne' with native stone.
The stone available for landscaping in the springs is unbelievable, flagstone, field stone, cobblestone, large river rock, decomposed granite in different colors, and that's just a start.
Picea punguns 'Colorado Blue Spuce', Sambucus canadensis 'Aurea' probably in the moderate water zone. For some reason these plants aren't on the plant list online.
 This would be a low water zone. The plant in the background is a Apache Plume. The Apache Plume Photo on the last post came from this shrub. As you can see it is quite large in captivity. I believe the foreground plant to be Buffaloberry-Shepherdia canadensis.
Moderate water zone, Peonie and Blue Spruce.

Part three will conclude with alternative lawn measures, no water gardens and various other goodies.


  1. I've had to learn about xeriscaping the hard way and it's been an expensive lesson! My garden has all three zones and needs clay-loving plants that can withstand heat, humidity, drought, and deluge. I buy a lot of plants from High Country Gardens and then pray hard!! Great post! :o)

  2. This is new stuff to me. I'll have to do some research. Basically, I plant it . . .I weed it . . .if it needs water, it dies. (we have a well and a rain barrel, neither very full in dry weather.)
    Thanks for the new information.

  3. I have heard people actually plant things according to water need. I thought it was a myth! ;) Actually, I think about it, but not for long - I throw it all in there and see what happens. I promise not to enter any contests. lol Great post!

  4. I have the gray creeping germander in my garden in one of the hottest driest spots there is, and it is very happy :-) Great plant that thrives on total neglect!! I guess I kind of plant this way just out of necessity (I didn't know there was a "rule.") I have one section of my garden that is sandy and dry, so that's where all of my sand loving plants go. Well, I think you should be proud you won that prize even though you may not have followed all of the xeriscaping rules to a T.

  5. What a great post! I am very familiar with the term xeriscape cause I live in the Intermountain West, zone 6, semi-arid. However, I didn't really think about make sure the groupings or zones of plants had the same water needs. I have always thought of it more as "really drought tolerant" plants! Good education for me and I love your photos! I have some of the plants in the post and you gave me a new idea of where I can plant peonies!

  6. Dear Greggo, I am surprised the Extension Educator didn't say anything to you about the xeriscape zones. This is a very informative post. P.

  7. Greggo, the way you've written about this is so interesting. I'm glad you took us on the tour of the Denver Botanical Garden's xeriscape program. I've yet to get there.~~Dee

  8. That pineleaf penstemon is gorgeous, I want one too now...

  9. Wow! Sincere congratulations, dear Greggo! And very nice photos!

  10. No wonder you don't do foxgloves ~ they are definitely not xeric! Great post and info. Congrats to you for winning the award in San Antonio too. I cannot seem to implement a xeric landscape. I have a lot of plants that would fall in that category and do well if I don't water them but I love too many other perennials (that need more moisture) to give them up totally. Thanks for finding my blog & leaving me a comment. I had even more success with delphiniums when I lived in Wyoming (like your sister) ~ I think the cooler climate is more agreeable to them.

  11. I just re-read your comment and I totally screwed up what you said! Sorry! So you do grow foxgloves? Spanish peaks or Obscura?? I didn't realize very many were xeric?? If so, that's encouraging for me since I love them so.

  12. Hi..beautiful blog...and such a Gorgeous post...beautiful photos..
    Happy Gardening

  13. We live in an area where there's a beautiful early spring - mid February - then long hot, dry summers. I am learning as I go which plants thrive and which I have to nurture along - just because I love them!
    Thoroughly enjoyed your post!

  14. You are so organized with this, and informed! Thank heaven there are people like you keeping track of things Greggo, and sharing with the rest of us. (My own randomness surpasses understanding...)

  15. Never heard of this, one learns something new every day. It certainly works, your garden looks great.

  16. Great post...I'm always amazed at just how beautiful Xeric gardens can be...the plants really are made for each other!


Thanks for leaving any comments, they are always welcomed. Sorry I had to add word verification as spam was becoming a huge problem. Greggo,