Lafayette is an old mining town gone to seed - flower seeds, that is. Located on the northern fringes of metropolitan Denver, this town with a French name was once home to Italian miners working local coalfields. Now it prospers as nearby Boulder grows.
During the gardening season in Colorado, the main attraction is Lafayette Florist, Gift Shop, & Garden Center (600 S. Public Rd.; www.lafayetteflorist.com or 800/665-0771), a family-owned business for 54 years.
As concern mounts that this will be Colorado's second consecutive dry summer, gardeners are looking for water-saving ideas. Master Gardeners certified by Colorado State University will be at the garden center from 10 to 4 every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through the end of June to offer advice on drought-tolerant gardening. Look for low-water plants such as gaillardia, gaura, gazania, linum, penstemon, portulaca, salvia, and zinnia. If you can't find something suitable from the more than 500 types of plants in the garden center's 68,000 square feet of greenhouses, your flower beds are probably meant to remain unmade.
While Lafayette's downtown is small, local antiques shops may have just the right something to put your new plant in. Check out Lafayette Antiques (closed Sun; 611 S. Public; 303/ 665-2212), which houses stalls for a number of dealers, and West's Antiques (409 S. Public; 303/666-7200), which specializes in antique furniture and new home furnishings.
For hot coffee before you begin shopping - or ice cream after - try the Cannon Mine Coffee Company (210 S. Public; 303/665-0625). But spend enough time tiptoeing through the tulips and you'll need a real meal. Efrain's Mexican Restaurant (closed Tue; 101 E. Cleveland St.; 303/666-7544) is located in a rambling frame building and is the town's biggest and best-known Mexican restaurant. La Familia (closed Tue; 201 N. Public; 303/665-8592) is an unpretentious place for authentic Mexican fare. Eat hearty - you have planting to do when you get home.
Lafayette plant quest
WHERE: Lafayette is 18 miles north of Denver and 10 miles east of Boulder.
CONTACT: For more shopping and dining options, contact the Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, (303) 666-9555.