Maybe you've been wondering about my Colorado trip report, and that makes two of us! The mood has finally struck, so sit back and relax while I fill you in on one part of the trip.
My niece is a nursing student in Pueblo, about an hour south of her home in Colorado Springs. She has an anatomy and physiology class and lab that lasts five hours, which she couldn't miss, so I rode down with her and borrowed her car while she was in class.
The first thing I did was check out downtown Pueblo, which has quite a few historic buildings, including the lovely train station shown above. The interior of the train station now houses a few small businesses, a restaurant, and meeting rooms, but some of the original train station effects remain in place like the ticket window, benches, suitcases, etc. There were also old photos and ads on the walls, including this one, which fascinated me:
Presumably, the weed killing agent was tobacco smoke?! I know from other research that cigarette smoke misters were popular for killing houseplant insects in the mid-late 1800s, so, why not a train?!
I also walked along the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo, a 1.3-mile paved walk along storefronts, some garden beds, the river, and Lake Elizabeth. (Note the cute squiggly bench. Ever since Phoenix C started posting photos of benches, I notice them everywhere!) Now, I can walk 1.3 miles no problem, no questions asked, any day of the week. But it was hot as a kitten wearing mittens in July in Pueblo, and I was wilting! Colorado has very low humidity and while it reached the low 90s each day in The Springs, it felt comfortable and much much cooler than humid Michigan feels in the same temps. But it was over 100 in Pueblo and that's just too hot no matter how you slice it.
These lovely Yucca flowers along the walk were cool, though.
This photo is a bit washed out because part was in shade and part was in bright sun, but the bench is for Phoenix C and the public planting is for VP!
A cool window display. Why, yes, I do speak chocolate; in fact, I'm multilingual!
I noticed this grouping of hollyhocks growing out of cracks in cement in an alleyway, which I thought was really cool. I didn't realize hollyhocks were so xeric. Some seeds may also have fallen into my purse, la la la la.
Next, I drove around a bit trying to locate a nursery for which I'd seen a billboard from the highway one stop before we exited. My sense of direction is pretty good, but I didn't realize I had to go through a park, which was blocked off with barricades, to reach the nursery until a little later when I entered said park from another street and kept driving until I saw a greenhouse. Presto! There was Star Nursery, a wonderfully retro little storefront and some nice plants, especially shrubs. It was an eclectic place that also had Colorado's oldest pueblo structure as a mini museum on site, as well as some fun sculptures among the plants. I had a nice chat with a woman who worked there and ended up buying a cherry skullcap (Scutellaria suffrutescens), a tiny and cute sub-shrub reaching only 6" tall.Noogie!
While cruising downtown and wondering what to do next, I noticed friendly words on an otherwise nondescript multi-story building: University of Colorado Cooperative Extension. Well, hello! That's the parent organization to the master gardener program. So I parked across the street and headed up to the second floor. I explained I was a master gardener from Michigan (why oh why didn't I bring my dorky name tag that I secretly covet?) interested in Colorado native plants. I was sent back to the master gardener area. It's interesting how similar those offices looked to my local master gardener offices!
I don't know if the man who greeted me was the MG coordinator or simply a volunteer. He was perfectly friendly and handed me a few general brochures about the MG program and gardening overall, but said he didn't have anything specific to natives. Now, I answer the master gardener helpline in my own county so I know that beyond the glossy brochures kept up front at the counter where the public enters, there's also a mother lode filing cabinet back in the offices that holds all kinds of less glossy but still useful brochures, bulletins, and fact sheets on any number of gardening topics that can be given out upon request.
As I was mulling over how to broach this topic, a lady comes running down the hall, saying enthusiastically "Did I hear you ask for native plant info?" I explain my situation again and she's all excited. She walks me to said filing cabinet (I told you!) and starts pulling out all kinds of great info, all the while chit chatting about how wonderful natives are. Score! She also told me their extension started a native plant certification program, the Native Plant Master (what a cool name!), separate from the MG certification, which is the first such program in the country!
She asked if I had been to the Denver Botanic Garden or the xeriscape demonstration garden in The Springs, and I was glad to be able to answer yes to both. She then told me they had their own xeriscape demonstration garden in Pueblo, maintained by master gardener volunteers, and gave me directions on getting there.
It took me a little longer than anticipated to reach the Southeastern Colorado Water Conservancy District Demonstration Xeriscape Garden because I unknowingly took the I-50 business route instead of the regular I-50/I-96 route, which took me, as they say in German, mit der Kirche ums Kreuz (that's way the heck out of the way in English)! When I arrived, several master gardeners were braving the heat doing some planting. I didn't have too much time now until I needed to leave to pick up my niece, so I unfortunately ran around the garden in a hurry.
This cool shrub, past bloom, is Amorpha nana. I like how its foliage looks kind of like yarrow. The plant list gives its common name as dwarf lead plant, but according to Google it's also called dwarf false indigo, though the foliage looks nothing like Baptisia to me. (See in bloom here.)
Crikey, that's one tall Yucca (erm, or possibly Agave or Hesperaloe or...)! I just love the spikey, wispy foliage, whatever it is.
This cool palm-looking plant is a mimosa or silk tree (Albizia julibrissin), which I've only ever heard of (never seen). It's a small tree that gets exotic pink blooms earlier in the season (see them here). (Thanks to Liz Catt for the ID.)
Again, hollyhocks like it drier than I'd thought.
The colors were subtle but beautiful.
I just loved this Parry's agave (Agave parryi) and the fact that its common and Latin names are so intuitive!
I would have been back to my niece's campus exactly on time had I not been caught behind this thing (Objectus mysterious 'Mobili,' marked with orange arrow). It doesn't look like much photographed from behind, but I got to see the whole thing when I finally found a road I recognized to turn off on. It was long and looked kind of like the front of a high-speed/bullet train, but it decidedly wasn't in fact a train. I still don't know what it was, and I only arrived a few minutes late. Except my niece's class had gotten out 15 minutes early. Ah, well, the joys of discovery sometimes take us a bit off course, doncha know!
If you're interested in xeric plants, here's a list I put together some time ago of plants that don't need a lot of watering.