Gardening on the Front Range can be challenging! Colorado Chautauqua’s horticulturist has picked a few hardy plants to help you create a thriving garden of your own. You can learn more about waterwise gardening and dealing with animals here, too!

Iris Reticulata

Dwarf Violet Iris

These ephemeral flowers are native to Turkey, Iran, and the Caucasus Mountains. They will often present themselves when winter still has a bit of a hold on Colorado, as evidenced by this photo taken the day after a March snowstorm. They are relatively easy to plant and are resistant to many critters and the vagaries of early spring weather. If you chose a warm location, you may see them sooner than the mid-March. if planted in groups of nine or more, when they burst into bloom their cobalt blue and yellow markings “create the effect of butterflies hovering low to the ground”. Plant 3” to 4” deep in full sun to partial shade in an area that will remain dry or will dry out between waterings.

Crocus x Luteus

Yellow Mammoth Crocus

One of the most welcome precursors to spring. They are bright golden flowers with a little striping around the base. Crocuses are a relatively easy-to-grow family of plants. Their waxy coats allow them to bloom right through many of our spring snowstorms. The calyx-shaped flowers open on nice days. On cold, snowy and rainy days, they will remain tight and are quite beautiful in this position too. For the most part, they are critter resistant, though when foods supplies are difficult to find occasional browsing may occur.

Arctostaphylos x Coloradoensis Panchito 

“Panchito Manzanita”

A beautiful broadleaf evergreen with oval leaves and mahogany red-colored bark. Usually blooming in late winter. Although, as evidenced in these pictures taken on January 13, 2022, sometimes they bloom in not-so-late winter. After pollination, which just happened to be occurring as these pictures were taken, they will produce a small red fruit which the wildlife appreciates.  They are very drought tolerant once established and thrive in a full sun setting.  They will tolerate partial shade but their overall growth will be reduced. The name Manzanita means little apple in Spanish.

Sedum Spectabile ‘Autumn Joy’

“Autumn Joy Sedum”

A beautiful perennial with succulent foliage and an exceptionally long period of interest. The foliage itself is succulent and quite attractive and when it begins to show its flat-topped flowers that progress from a salmon pink to a russet red. Then in early winter they turn a rusty brown that still holds a great deal of visual interest, especially when snow or ice accumulates, sometimes persisting until the following spring.

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