Flowering perennials thrive in a Colorado entry garden

Colleen Smith,  – February 17, 2005

Drifts of blossoms in pastel shades of blue, pink, and lavender greet visitors to this garden near Vail, Colorado. The plant palette includes 153 different kinds of perennials. Pictured here in late July, from bottom right, are Campanula persicifolia ‘China Blue’, hot pink Geranium ‘Patricia’, deep violet Delphinium ‘Black Knight’, and three kinds of Dianthus (dark pink ‘First Love’, crimson ‘Flashing Lights’, and reddish ‘Zing Rose’). At front right, the swordlike leaves of iris form bold green sprays that contrast with the more delicate perennials.

At an elevation of about 8,100 feet, the garden lies in Sunset climate zone 1a, one of Colorado’s coldest. Sean Moody, a horticulturist with Land Designs by Ellison, attributes part of the garden’s success to the microclimate conditions in the northeast-facing site. Stands of aspens provide shelter from harsh winds and cast dappled sunlight during the growing season. Because the perennials are blanketed by snow for much of the winter, they suffer less kill. To add organic matter to the soil and hold moisture during the summer, the bed is top-dressed each spring with 1 inch of cotton burr compost.

DESIGN: Land Designs by Ellison, Avon, CO (970/949-1700)