Tag Archives: Garden

A Good Luck Story

It’s not everyday that I get to design a landscape for friends but this summer that’s exactly what I did.  Tom and Barbara were downsizing and wanted to move closer to town.  They found a very nice home on a large corner lot that would fit their lifestyle perfectly.  They are entrepreneurs and have several businesses they run out of their home.  So a good sized shed (think man-cave) was needed, room to grow the many herbs and plants they use to make essential oils, and plenty of parking was on the “must-have” list.  They asked me to evaluate the property, make suggestions based on their must have list and create a beautiful, water-wise and useful garden design.

So I took lots of digital pictures, measurements and ideas home with me to start the design process.  The color scheme of the existing house was perfect so I worked on creating unity throughout the entire property on those colors.

I will take you through the process of before the design and after so you can see the changes.


This is the view of the west side of the front yard when I arrived on the scene.  Tom had placed tires and pots where he wanted the shed and the curb of the future circle driveway.

New west side

This photo shows the new shed painted to match the main house, the new 6′ privacy fence and the planting bed between the house and new circle driveway.

In the backyard, Tom and Barbara were looking for privacy and a cozy patio where they could entertain family and friends.  They wanted a hot tub to soothe their aching muscles and plenty of room the the grand kids and dogs to run around.  Oh, they also wanted shade which is s necessity in this high desert climate we call home.









This is the uninviting scene from the back door looking out to the backyard and neighbor’s home.

Backyard west view patio

This is the design I created to bring privacy to the backyard along with a no maintenance patio laid with pavers.

Backyard patio

Barbara enjoying new patio
















The finished patio has everything the Lucks’ wanted and more.  Plenty of room for their outdoor dining set, potted herbs and flowers, shade and privacy.

Lucks foundation bed2 New Foundation bed
















The front curb appeal went from not much to show stopping.  Barbara tells me her neighbors rave about the improvements and love all of the colorful flowers and shrubs.   Above is the foundation bed before and after.  Below is the street side planting bed before and after.

001 Lucks driveway bed
















Simple things like matching the new shed and fence to the dark chocolate color of the main house made the property feel coherent.  Painting and taking the scroll embellishment off of the wrought iron fence at the front curb helped bring that element into the garden design as well.  

This transformation took several months and lots of work on the part of everyone involved but the outcome is wonderful.  We achieved all of the goals we set out in the beginning of this project and Tom and Barbara have a home they can be proud of.


What is a Garden Coach anyway?

Have you ever wondered if you are pruning your roses the right way or at the right time?  How about planting perennials or shrubs at the proper depth?  How about fertilizing your trees or watering your yard in the winter?

Is there anyone out there that can help you with all of these questions and more? Yes there is.
Landscape designers and architects are great at designing beautiful landscapes complete with decks, sidewalks and waterfalls.  They can provide you with a detailed architectural drawing of their design and have it installed for you.  What they probably won’t do is show you how to plant the design and how to maintain it properly.  They are not in the business of teaching you to become a better gardener.  That’s where a garden coach comes in.
 Garden coaches help their clients find their “inner gardener”.   I started my business in 2006 after going on several house calls for the CSU Extension Master Gardener program.    As you may know, master gardeners will come out to your home at your request to diagnose problems and offer solutions to your landscape dilemmas.  They are a valuable resource in our area and I highly recommend using their service when you have trouble in your yard.  When you want to learn how to avoid problems in the first place, then an hour or two with a garden coach might be a good way to go.
Rootbound plant
Garden coaches provide hands-on demonstrations and show you the proper techniques for maintaining your current landscape and help increase the functionality of it.  We help homeowners with irrigation schedules, fertilizing needs, planting requirements and more.   We can show you how to transplant shrubs and perennials, how to divide overgrown perennials and how to deadhead your flowers.
If you are new to your home and don’t know what is in your landscape, we can identify what you have and assess the current health of those plants.  We can help you determine what should stay and what should go depending on your family and lifestyle.
Other services garden coaches provide are escorted trips to the garden center.  We show you how to “pop the pot” to check for healthy, uncrowded roots from annuals to container bound trees.  Good garden centers and nurseries don’t mind customers checking the roots of their plants.  Garden coaches can also teach you how to examine the trunks of trees to be sure they are free of cuts, wounds or diseases.
Shopping with client at Bookcliff Gardens

Shopping with client at Bookcliff Gardens

We can also design landscapes.  From new construction to re-designing an existing landscape, we can create a garden that is beautiful, functional and easy to maintain.  There are many plants that thrive in our high desert climate that give you lots of “Bang for your Buck”  There are trees and shrubs that have beautiful flowers in spring, berries in the summer and colorful fall foliage.  Some of our xeric perennials attract butterflies, bees and hummingbirds with their showy flowers and have a heavenly scent for us to enjoy.

Before garden design

Before garden design

After garden design

After garden design

So now you know what a garden coach is.  We’re kind of like your Grandmother who taught you how to crochet or make cinnamon buns like mine did.  We can help you become a better gardener and enjoy your landscape year round.

Garden Tour Highlights

The 22nd annual Western Colorado Botanical Garden garden tour was this weekend and by my count, the wettest on record.  I have volunteered as a master gardener for the last 10+ years for the tour and have seen really hot days, really cold days, really windy days but never quite so wet.  The amazing thing was no one, not the homeowners, the volunteers or the brave souls who came out to see the gardens complained about the rain.  Everyone agreed that no matter what, we need the rain.  It didn’t affect the beauty of the gardens either in my opinion.

For the first time in 22 years, the tour was offered in August instead of the first weekend in June.  I love the idea of seeing our late summer gardens for a change.  So many shrubs and  perennials are just getting started in June we never see their full glory on the tour. But  according to Jon Schler, who is on the garden tour committee, the tour will resume its  rightful place during the first weekend in June next year.
Jon said because of the operational changes that occurred with the WCBG and Strive this year, planning for the garden tour was later than usual.  The hard working committee and volunteers struggled to find a date and homeowners willing to showcase their gardens with little notice and a unconventional time period.  When it is all said and done, I think the garden tour did a good job of presenting interesting gardens and continuing the tradition of one of the largest fund raisers for the WCBG.  Jon Schler was also quick to point out that the tour wouldn’t have been as successful without the help and direction of Susan Rose and the Master Gardener volunteers with CSU Extension.
So let’s start the tour!
WCBG Western Heritage Garden

I brought along two neighbors to see the tour.  One is a garden junkie like myself, the other moved here recently from Michigan and wanted to see how we garden in the high desert of the Rockies.  We started at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens and jumped right into the Plant Select gardens.  What a great program CSU Extension and The Denver Botanic Gardens put together to showcase all kinds of plants that thrive in our challenging climate.  The butterflies were flying in the Butterfly House and the outside gardens were awash in seasonal colors and textures.

Next up was the Arboretum at CSU Extension at the Mesa County Fairgrounds.  Because the BMX group was hosting a large event, we were not able to see most of the gardens that line the parking lot.  We did see the world renowned cactus garden and raised garden beds that surround the Extension building.
Loretta in the cactus garden
Gardens at the CSU Extension

The rain started coming into the Valley at this point in the morning but we were determined to see as many beautiful gardens as we could.  Upon arriving at the Loshbaugh residence, we were thrilled to see such an exuberant display in this suburban garden.  This garden was on the garden tour 10 years ago but it has matured into a rich tapestry of color, texture and interest that made it worth a repeat visit.

The front gardens at the Loshbaugh residence

Wandering through the gardens revealed a perfect pond complete with koi fish swimming in it and statues of herons looking in it.

Loshbaugh pond with herons

The variety of plants and the way they were combined really caught my designer’s eye.  I loved the look of the ribbon grass and nasturtiums.  The bright colors of the zinnias and dahlias also made me smile.

Ribbon grass and nasturtiums
Zinnias, dahlias and butterfly bush

Next we moved onto a serene, quiet reflective garden.  Lenore Donovan has turned her childhood home into a peaceful park in honor of her parents.  While caring for her aging parents, she turned to garden therapy to help ease her stress and satisfy her soul.  The result is an oasis in the middle of the desert.

Primrose Park – an oasis in the desert

Being peaceful and serene doesn’t mean you can’t have a little whimsy in your garden.  Lenore installed this beautiful fountain complete with blue water a few years ago.  She then added a heron statue with a fish in his mouth!  Looks like he just caught it out of the fountain.

A little whimsy at Lenore’s

In addition to being a park, you could also call it a cat sanctuary.  Lenore is known as the Cat Lady because she has a generous heart and takes in cats that need a home.  Some live inside, some outside, some temporary and some permanent.  I will always be thankful for the time she helped me with a lost cat in my neighborhood.  The ecosystem is in perfect balance as well.  Mosquitos that have an eye on her pond are promptly eaten by Mr. Jack the giant catfish in the pond  or the many varieties of birds that live in the surrounding trees. Toads by the gazillion hatch every summer and take care of any other insect that gets too much to handle.

When you think of an urban garden, what comes to mind?  A small patch of grass, a tree or two between the sidewalk and street?  The small backyard might have a patio with a few pots and more grass?   A visit to Judy Hilty’s garden will change your mind forever.

Judy’s Hell strip – a piece of shade heaven

With mature trees and seldom seen in this part of the world plants, this front yard and hell strip is colorful, lush and full of interest.  Jacobs ladder, hellebores and hostas thrive in the rich soil along side coral bells, begonias and angelonias.

Judy Hilty and her bathtub garden

One of the surprises in her backyard was the claw foot bathtub painted bright red.  Filled with tropical plants atop a raised bed, its a sight to see.

Her containers are filled to the brim with flowers of every color, size and shape.

I love the fact that Judy has adapted her garden over the years to accommodate the ever growing shade from her trees and she uses containers and trellises to fill narrow spaces in her gardens.  We were also grateful those large shade trees offered some protection from the steady rain as well.

We missed the three gardens in the Redlands because the rain was coming down too hard to enjoy ourselves.  I hope I get to see the Golden and Murdock gardens someday because my tour booklet says they were designed and installed by Bill Richardson of Dragonfly Gardens.  I’ve known Bill for many years and have worked with him on several of my own garden designs.  He has a good eye for designing with plants and does creative work with rocks, fountains and other hardscapes.  I also want to stop by the fire station on Broadway to see more of their gardens designed by Ann Barrett.  Even whizzing by everyday at 45 mph, the front gardens always look good.

Now that the garden tour is over, the garden tour committee will be working hard to line up next June’s gardens.  If you are interested in working on the committee or you would like to have your garden showcased on the garden tour, please contact the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens at  (970) 245-9030.  You can also visit their website for more information about the tour and events taking place at the lovely gardens throughout the year.  www.wcbotanic.org