Durango BOtanic Gardens

Building Public Gardens Committed to Inspiration, Demonstration and Education

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  • 23 Jul 2020 1:04 PM | Bill LeMaire (Administrator)

         Bulb Basics was prepared for customers of the Durango Botanic Gardens' 2020 Bulb Sale by Mike Smedley...Read below and/or print out a pdf file here.                         Click the page below to expand for easier reading...                   

  • 16 Jul 2020 10:44 AM | Bill LeMaire (Administrator)
    •  Creative use of bulbs at Chanticleer Gardens, Wayne, PA. Photo by Lisa Roper and from the New York Times, July 16, 2020.

      Caution: When you plant a bulb, you’re handling highly concentrated flower power. There may be no other investment in your garden that will yield as great a return—in color, vibrancy, and pure joy—as bulbs.  And while it’s not essential to your enjoyment of bulbs, many of them have a fascinating history and geographical pedigree. A friend recently discovered that one of his bulbs has its origin in Uzbekistan. We may use the “bulb” liberally but the term typically refers not only to true bulbs, but also plants with tuberous roots, tubers, corms, and rhizomes. The information below can be applied to all or most of these.

      Here’s maybe the most important reason to buy bulbs—with just a little basic knowledge, anyone can grow beautiful bulbs. Why now? Savvy bulb gardeners know that right now is when the selection of bulbs is greatest; otherwise gardeners who wait for fall may find their favorites sold out and unavailable. Here are some other reasons you should consider bulbs—or more bulbs for your garden:

      1. Bulbs are a great way to add color to the garden at a time when little else is in bloom. The spring surprises offered by their emerging foliage and blooms are very rewarding. They can last for years when properly selected and planted at the correct depth. They are by far the most cost-effective perennial there is!  Some types of bulbs naturally multiply, increasing in blooms year after year. 
      2. Since most bulbs need a period of chilling before they can flower, Mother Nature takes care of that here, so our area is ideal. Mid-October to early November is the ideal time to plant because the ground has not frozen and there is sufficient time to allow root development. 
      3. Bulbs have a long and fascinating place in gardening history, art, literature and even speculative economic bubbles. Daffodils, grown by Egyptians and Greeks and brought into English gardens by the 1200’s, are deer proof, enduring, and now unbelievably diverse.
      4. Properly chosen–from Chionodoxa (Glory of the Snow) to Dutch iris to giant alliums–bulbs can give continuous color for three months, in the drab time between when the snow recedes and other perennials start to flower.
      5. One need not have a garden to try some of these beauties. Many varieties of bulbs are “good forcers”, which means they may be grown indoors in pots. A little patience and some refrigerator or garage space to provide the necessary dark pre-chilling period (8-14 weeks, 38-45ºF) that Mother Nature provides outdoors will brighten February days. 
      6. There is a strong case for planting spring-blooming bulbs as a source of food for bees. As homeowners remove dandelions from lawns, bulbs offer alternatives to bees. 
      7. Bulbs are easily grown in amended garden soil, and many are deer and rodent resistant.  

    Consider visiting our Sale Preview page to see what bulbs are being offered during our online sale period of August 1-8.

  • 25 Jun 2020 4:41 PM | Bill LeMaire (Administrator)

    While the Durango Botanical Society (DBS) has canceled its 2020 Gardens on Tour out of consideration for public safety, garden lovers can now see stunning photos of many of the same gardens online. DBS has produced a slide show featuring the 2020 gardens on our You Tube channel. View the show by clicking here. These same gardens will be on our 2021 Tour as all the homeowners have agreed to reopen their gardens for next year’s tour! Take a moment to view some of the area’s most colorful and well-designed gardens and we look forward to seeing you in June of 2021.

    Please Consider a Donation

    The DBS Gardens on Tour is one of our most enjoyable AND important fundraisers. While our all-volunteer organization puts in many hours tending the gardens, we still need funds to purchase supplies, plants, etc.  We would be so grateful if you could manage to make a general donation at this time.  If you wish to make a donation, go to our Donate tab.  

  • 20 Jun 2020 10:11 AM | Bill LeMaire (Administrator)

    The following post is submitted by Melanie Palmer, curator of the Durango Botanic Gardens. She will continue to update us on this year's bulb sale.

    As is the case for most nonprofits in the area, the Durango Botanic Gardens have been hit hard by COVID 19 restrictions and have had to cancel all of this year’s fundraising events. However, we have found a way to make the annual bulb sale happen!  This year’s sale will be held in an online “store” on our website: www.durangobotanicgardens.org.  We will be offering the same high-quality bulbs that you have come to expect, from our premium supplier in Holland:  daffodils, crocus, hyacinth, rock garden iris, tulips and MORE! Bulbs are the most cost-effective perennial there is, and they are great for pollinators!

    This is how it will work:  the online store will be open August 1-8.  This is a limited window, so be sure to mark your calendars NOW.  There will be colorful pictures of all of the offerings for pre-order and pre-payment.*   Bulbs will be shipped from Holland and packaged for our customers for pickup at the Durango Farmer’s Market on October 17, in perfect time for fall planting, with all the instructions you will need.   Additional pickup locations are being determined.  

    NEW THIS YEAR!  Due to popular demand, we will be offering peony roots from a premium farm in the US in gorgeous shades of red, coral, white, and pink for immediate fall planting. Quantity will be limited, so you will want to place your entire order as soon as you can. 

    BONUS! Free bulb fertilizer for orders of 50 or more bulbs!

    We appreciate our many loyal customers over the past years.  Your support is more important than ever in helping us to go forward with maintaining our beautiful gardens and our ambitious plans for future development of the areas around the Library. Let your friends know, and DO NOT MISS OUT this year!

    *If a bulb from the online store becomes unavailable from the suppliers, DBG reserves the right to substitute a bulb that is as closely similar as possible.

    Below, clockwise, beginning with upper left:  Cool Crystal Tulips, Candy Princess Daffodil, Sweet Invitation Oriental Hyacinth, Blue Magic Dutch Iris.

  • 28 Apr 2020 12:51 PM | Bill LeMaire (Administrator)

    The Durango Botanic Gardens (DBG) developed and launched a web application, an “app,” in 2019 designed to help visitors tour the gardens on their own.  While there is currently no app icon to load onto your mobile device, members, visitors, and others can either go to dubg.oncell.com or scan a QR symbol (see below).  Since its 2019 introduction, the app has improved in numerous ways, including the recent addition of a Junior Botanist Challenge.  This feature enables youngsters to answer questions about the gardens, collect badges, and earn a Junior Botanist designation.  

    Upon accessing the app, visitors will find each of the gardens listed, including diagrams and a comprehensive list of plants, trees, and shrubs in each garden.  See a plant or other item you like or want to know more about?  With just a few swipes or clicks the visitor will have a photo of the plant and information such as its scientific name, growing zones, sun/water needs, mature height and width.  

    The app was the brainchild of former Executive Director Cindy Smart, who wanted the Gardens to embrace new technology that offered an enhanced experience. She drew her inspiration from the way this technology is used at museums, larger gardens, historic sites, and National Parks. 

    "Cindy also wanted detailed garden information available to visitors outside of regular docent tour hours,” says the Gardens' Curator, Melanie Palmer.  “Especially during this stay-at-home, safer-at-home moment, when our docents are not leading tours, it enables people and families to get out of the house and do something together in our gardens or simply try it at home or in school,” she adds.  While she hopes the app will enhance the garden experience for visitors and encourage support of the Gardens, she and the Durango Botanical Society (DBS) strongly recommend and support current COVID-19 safety measures such as social distancing, wearing masks, and other prudent measures.

    Melanie Palmer, John Anderson, Cindy Smart, and Shirlee Krantz all contributed to developing the app and the team continues to explore ways to improve it.  Krantz, in particular, was instrumental in developing the new Junior Botanist Challenge and cleaning up some technical issues.  “It is still a developmental product,” says Krantz, “but it is already functional, informative, and a major step forward in engaging with visitors and the community.” 

    Palmer encourages DBS members to give the app a try and offer feedback.  “We do understand that it’s still early days for this application so the more we learn about what is working and what needs improvement, the more useful it will be.” 

    While the focus is currently on making the application more user-friendly and easier to navigate, the app team also has its sights set on additional, exciting features that can further customize the garden experience for visitors. The group also hopes to encourage advertising and sponsorships on the app to offset costs.

    If you give the app a test run, the DBS app team would appreciate your feedback.  Go to dubg.oncell.com or use the QR symbol above. Send comments, suggestions to dbgfeedback@gmail.com.




  • 14 Apr 2020 8:36 PM | Bill LeMaire (Administrator)

    One of the most anticipated events on the 2020 gardens and horticultural calendar, the Gardens on Tour (GoT), produced by the Durango Botanical Society (DBS), is canceled, according to Connie Markert, chair of the tour committee.  Markert says the DBS board voted for cancelation of the 2020 event, rather than postponement, at its April board meeting.  The decision was driven by concern for threats from COVID-19 for both garden hosts and tour attendees.

    “It’s with heavy hearts that we have taken this decision,” says Markert.  “With the pandemic still evolving and its path difficult to predict, the health and safety of our visitors, homeowners, and the community-at-large must be our priority.”  Markert emphasizes, however, that the Durango Botanic Gardens at the library will remain open and remain maintained by its corps of volunteers.  “What better time,” she adds, “to visit our gardens and remember the resilience of nature and remind us that we are resilient as well.”

    While the physical tour has been canceled for this year, the GoT Committee is exploring a variety of ways to connect the community to its public gardens as well as the private gardens scheduled for the 2020 tour.  DBS will communicate those plans through its website and emails.  Images below from the 2019 GoT.


  • 11 Apr 2020 11:48 AM | Bill LeMaire (Administrator)

    When we planted our bulbs last fall, we did so in a different world than we experience now.  However, just in time to remind us of the promise of rebirth and regeneration, gardens around La Plata County are springing to life with crocuses, daffodils, tulips, hyacinths and all manner of bulbs, corms and other harbingers of spring.  Maybe they've been doing this for years or maybe they're new--purchased last fall at the Durango Botanical Society's annual bulb sale.  Whichever, they're back and more welcome than ever!


    Carol Wallace, DBS board member, sent some photos of her newly muscari paradoxum and daffodils, seen on the home page (the first two on left). The red Emperior Tulips on the right are from Bill LeMaire's yard.  If any of our members have photos of their own spring beauties, send them to Bill LeMaire, DBS website administrator, for a possible slideshow.  If possible, please identify the plants and owner's name, otherwise we'll just admire them for their appearance. Send to bill.lemaire@gmail.com.

  • 22 Mar 2020 10:07 AM | Bill LeMaire (Administrator)

    If sheltering-in-place, social distancing, and other pandemic remedies are getting you down, look outside.  You'll likely see a smattering of those little harbingers of spring--crocuses or croci if you prefer--braving the last of the winter storms to make their perennial appearance.  

    Mike Smedley, a bulb enthusiast and perennial supporter of our Durango Botanic Gardens, is excited to welcome "peak crocus" to his yard.  Mike writes that crocus are beginning to appear in his yard and now's the time to get out and appreciate this little genus of the iris family.  

    At left, Crocus chrysanthus, also known as "Goldilocks," one of Mike's favorites and one of the first to bloom in early winter. In the evening, as the sun goes down, they exhibit a dark purplish-brown feathering. "The toughness of bulbs still astounds me," he adds.

    This weekend, and most weekends, you'll find Mike at 3090 E. 4th Avenue maintaining vigil over his bulbs and other plants.    

  • 15 Mar 2020 3:58 PM | Bill LeMaire (Administrator)

    A message from John Anderson, president, Durango Botanical Society...

    Following the guidance of our public health agencies, The Durango Botanical Society (DBS) recognizes the need to increase social distancing at the present time.  This may include the postponement or cancellation of a variety of upcoming DBS events. Those decisions will continue to be guided by public health recommendations. As many of you know, both the Durango Public Library and the Recreation Center are closed at least until May 10.

    Accordingly, we have found it necessary to cancel a number of upcoming events, including "Astounding Plants of the Mediterranean," originally scheduled for March 26 and “Pollinators in the Garden," originally scheduled for April 18.  We will abide by the City of Durango guidance and policies regarding events at these locations. 

    Please check our web site often at www.durangobotanicgardens.org for updates that will be shown on the events tab at our web site. If you are currently registered for scheduled events you will receive an e-mail specific to the event as we know more about changes to the City of Durango policy for public gatherings at these or other locations.

    Remember: The Durango Botanic Gardens are open year around to enjoy throughout this pandemic.  Thank you for your support as we continue our work of creating public gardens in the city of Durango.

    John Anderson, President, Durango Botanical Society

    A good source for information on the COVID-19 coronavirus is the San Juan Basin Public Healh website 

  • 06 Mar 2020 3:56 PM | Bill LeMaire (Administrator)

    Melanie Palmer, Curator of Durango Botanic Gardens (DBG), recently attended the Colorado Home and Garden Show, February 28, 2020 AND the Colorado Native Plant Society Conference: Landscaping with Colorado Native Plants, February 29, in Denver.  The Colorado Garden Foundation uses funds raised at the Home and Garden Show for grants to various projects around the state.  The Durango Botanic Gardens has been the recipient of three such grants in the past.  Following is Melanie’s observations on both events…

    The Colorado Home and Garden Show had many themed garden displays, but the highlight was the educational display by Colorado Master Gardeners, specifically Arapahoe County Master Gardeners, with papier mâché displays of  beneficial and harmful insects. (Shown in the photos)     


    CONPS Landscaping with Natives Conference       

        This is the fifth straight year that this conference has sold out.  There were at least 425 attendees.  The presentations will be uploaded to the CONPS.org site.  All registrants received ONE of their 5 regional planting guides.  All of these guides are available on their website. 

    The keynote speaker was Scott Hoffman Black of the Xerces Society, named after the first butterfly genus to go extinct in the US, and dedicated to invertebrate conservation.  Xerces.org has many downloadable resources. Many important takeaways from Dr. Black's presentation and four other presentations:

    • Alarming decreases in invertebrates all over the planet: (99% decline of Western monarch butterflies, 70% decrease in invertebrate biomass in Germany over the last 20 years studied, 28% of bumble bee species in North America are threatened, aquatic stoneflies, crabs and snails threatened)
    • 95% of songbirds rear young on invertebrates
    • 85% of flowering plants require insect pollination

    Threats are coming from:

    • Habitat loss
    • Habitat degradation (grazing, mowing, fires)
    • Pesticide use
    • Diseases (esp in bumblebees)
    • Climate change
    • Escaped biocontrols

    Some ideas for helping:  (Includes many ideas from several of the other presenters)

    • Think about the needs of individual animals and their life history, the animals at the bottom of the food chain.  WRT butterfly gardens, plants like lantanas, zinnas, butterfly bush, cosmos, and the like may attract ADULT butterflies, but do NOTHING for critical butterfly egg laying, larvae production etc.  Cater to the CATERPILLARS more than the adult butterflies.  Learn to distinguish between desirable and harmful (CSU Fact Sheets)
    • Restoration is good, but preservation of existing habitat is better—even simple things like changing highway mowing practices. 
    • Maximize the diversity of native flora by managing vegetation in natural areas.
    • Plant bee lawns (low-growing flowers with some bare space for ground nesting bees)
    • 70% of plant biomass in your yard should be native in order to support birds—birds need soft-bodied insects to feed their young, NOT bird feeders, although birdfeeders in winter are very helpful
    • Non-native plants do not support the bottom of the food chain as well; alien ornamentals support 29X less biodiversity than natives.
    • Curb carbon footprint
    • Educate people on the beauty of native plants
    • Provide water for birds
    • Provide a variety of structure:  Trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses.  Group plants that bloom at one time together and have something in bloom for as long as possible. Don’t tidy your gardens in fall (except for removal of diseased plants)
    • Build pollinator meadows for business campuses instead of lawns.
    • Start small – convert 10% of your lawn
    • Educate people about the possibilities that rooftop gardens and rain gardens can have on heat islands 
    • Use multiple strategies

    Locally native vs. native CULTIVARS:  no conclusive research except for some butterflies and caterpillars. Natives are superior to cultivars, BUT AVILABILITY IS A BIG ISSUE.

    There are many free resources available on what to plant, especially at the conps.org website, and many resources on the garden design process at extension.colostate.edu

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