Birth of a new rock garden at the Gardens at Spring Creek


Rock gardens are the stony guts, the steely heart and the fragrant soul of botanic gardens. The public gardens I love and respect most: the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx in America, no end of gardens in Britain (Edinburgh, Kew, Wisley) and Europe in general (Gothenburg, Vienna, Munich)--in short, the greatest botanical gardens in the world--all have an enormously ambitious rock garden at their very heart.

Why is this? Rock gardens are where the wild things are. The tiny gems of the highest peaks, the precious woodlanders glimmering in dappled shade, the meadow and steppe denizens grappling with grass, the lurid and alluring gems of bog and streamside. Rock gardens rock! Denver Botanic Gardens not only boasts the world renowned acre Rock Alpine Garden, but nearly a third of the vast new Mordecai Children's Garden is a stunning setting for choice alpines and montain plants (almost an acre in extent). The Gardens seems to have rock outcrops, rocky features, rocks in many other gardens as well (starting with the Gates Montane Garden, PlantAsia, Woodland Mosaic, Western Panoramas--and let us not forget Wildflower Treasures!).

I do not think it is an accident that the Gardens at Spring Creek, a young and very ambitious public garden in Fort Collins, chose to feature a rock garden as one of their first, premier creations. Rather than paraphrasing, I would like to quote their own press release which I just received. I think what they say is worth your reading and remembering. Great rock gardens are not born every day, you know: and I believe this one will be a classic.

"On Sept. 24, the Gardens on Spring Creek opened its newest display garden, a one-half acre Rock Garden, to the public. 

 "This stunning new addition to our display gardens is a unique and naturalistic garden featuring northern Colorado native plants, non-native plants suited to Colorado growing conditions, and an outstanding collection of dwarf conifers set among locally quarried rock. The rocks and plants are artistically arranged to reflect natural rock and plant relationships, creating a unique sense of place.

"The generosity of businesses and individuals made this garden possible.  The vision for this garden was conceived by Kirk Fieseler and students in his landscape design class at Front Range Community College.  Kirk and Maddy Weisz, a Fort Collins landscape architect, donated hundreds of hours to the design and implementation of the garden.  Local businesses supported this garden through various in-kind services, including hundreds of tons of locally-quarried rock donated by The Rock Garden, labor to lay the flagstone pathway donated by Fort Collins Landscaping, and thousands of plants donated by Gulley Greenhouse, Laporte Avenue Nursery, and Fort Collins Wholesale Nursery.  Funding from the North American Rock Garden Society covered installation of an irrigation system and other infrastructure.  Interpretive signage to enhance the visitor experience and plant labels were purchased with funding from the Colorado Garden Show.  Finally, volunteers, including volunteers from Denver Botanic Gardens and the Rocky Mountain Chapter of the North American Rock Garden Society, donated hundreds of hours of their time to plant and mulch the garden."

Rock gardens are where  botanic gardens first test many wild plants and unknown taxa. They provide the first big splash of interest in the spring, and the drama of rock and plant, mounds and mats are pleasing year round. They are never more beatiful than with snow nestling on rock and dwarf conifer branches in winter. It is enormously gratifying to me to welcome this "new kid on the block" of our local rock garden scene. I have no doubt that it will be a magnet for their garden, and produce untold floral miracles and magic, much as rock gardens do for all of us blest to harbor them in our homes and in our hearts!

P.S. Do make a point of checking in on this new rock garden. I plan to! Frequently! (If you are a player, you will want to join to support the Garden on Spring Creek. Now is when they will especially appreciate your help and partnership!)

At the Gardens

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