Over the years I've had the pleasure of visiting the Denver Botanic Garden several times, in different seasons. Because our focus when in Denver is to visit family, each of my visits to the garden has been necessarily brief. Even though I always feel like I'm flying through the garden and missing great swaths of it, I've gotten to know it a bit and have really come to love it. I heartily recommend you put it on your must-go list if you happen to be in the area.
Our last visit in October by lucky coincidence coincided with the Chihuly exhibition. The installation will be in place until November 30th; if you can't make it in person, I hope you'll enjoy these photos.
Because it's quite close to my home, I have the satisfaction of regularly walking or driving by this front yard garden that I designed a number of years ago. Designed for all-season appeal but (I think) strongest in fall, this street-side garden is approaching its ten year anniversary. I've enjoyed the opportunity to witness the evolution of this garden and I've periodically been asked to assist with its continued development over the years. As with most gardens, some key edits, replacements and additions have been made along the way, but the general outline and key players date back to its original incarnation.
These photos were taken just the other day when I stopped and snapped these shots during a rare sunbreak on an otherwise dreary day.
Shining like a beacon, the Stewartia pseudocamellia commands attention. While the center of attention at this moment, the other evergreen components anchor this scene through the seasons. Dwarf conifers such as Tsuga canadensis 'Cole's Prostrate', Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Duncanii' and Cedrus deodara 'Silver Mist' surround the vignette (7 o'clock and clockwise) within a strong embrace. At the foot of the Stewartia and to the right, the neat and compact bun is Pittosporum tobira 'Shima'. Surrounded by a purple carpet of Heuchera 'Amethyst Mist' intermixed with a tapestry of burgundy hen and chicks (sempervivum), these plants round out the foliage frame.
In the background and to the right, Heptacodium miconoides is cloaked in its fall finery of colorful sepals. For a closer look at that beauty see the photo immediately below.
Looking along a bluestone path which connects the driveway to the front entry walkway, the shrub at the end of the path is Edgeworthia chrysantha. A duo of finely textured dwarf blue conifers (Chamaecyparis lawsoniana 'Duncanii') flank the path as an offset pair. This portal is vividly framed by Stewartia pseudocamellia and Heptacodium miconoides lending a splash of seasonal color.
Another view of the Edgewothia displaying its bold blue foliage. In the background is Acer palmatum 'Sango Kaku' sporting yellow fall color and to its left, lending somber undertones is Physocarpus opufolius 'Diabolo' with a purple Heuchera at its feet.
This is one of the first Edgeworthia that I planted and I've learned a lot about this plant by watching this one. First and foremost, in the right conditions it can be a really big plant! Second, it can survive and thrive even after traumatic damage. Several years ago a large section of this plant up and died for no good reason. I learned from a fellow designer and master plantswoman (Lucy Hardiman) that this can happen occasionally and that the best course of action is to cut away the dead sections and allow it to rejuvenate itself. Lo and behold, it barely skipped a beat and was fully recovered in no time.
While it's a lovely shrub in the scene above, I would be remiss if I didn't show you the reason it's usually grown. The photo to the left shows this same Edgeworthia in its full, fragrant winter glory when clusters of yellow blooms appear on bare branch.
Back to this fall day; below is the view of the garden to the right as you approach the front door. The star of the show in this shot is Cedrus deodara 'Silver Mist'. Other plants in this view that haven't been previously identified are Mahonia x media 'Charity' and Yucca filamentosa 'Golden Sword'.
I'm very pleased with this garden and proud of how it has developed and evolved over the years. Most importantly, my clients take great joy in it as well.
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