Buses depart at 7:30 a.m., board in front of Marriott courtyard on California Street.
First stop on this tour is at the Colorado Springs Water Conservation Garden, which was designed nearly twenty years ago by local landscape architect Fawn Bell to demonstrate what a truly natural Colorado garden should look like. It was planted and developed subsequently by a series of dedicated staff of the Colorado Springs water utility, and now several dozen volunteers maintain these gardens. Views of Pikes Peak (one of 53 Colorado peaks topping 14,000 feet) are complemented by the dramatic miniature crevice gardens and wonderful island beds full of xeric perennials.
By June, the Garden plans to unveil an exhibit of five front-yard templates that demonstrate appropriate low-water landscapes for the area. We’ll then head farther south toward Pueblo, , where we’ll meet with Jeff Ottersburg for a tour of his private garden and his Wild Things Nursery, the largest cactus grower in the state. Jeff’s nursery and home garden are gems of native plant excellence, featuring native prairie grass and desert plants. A few minutes down the road are Andy and Michelle Conrad, whose private garden overlooks the Arkansas River. Their ambitious rock garden showcases hardy succulents, with many large specimens.
The tour will stop for lunch at Mi Ranchito (a local favorite). Two additional stops in Pueblo will wrap up the day’s tour. We’ll visit Jeff and Marie Thompson’s garden and nursery, consisting of several greenhouses filled with the largest collections of hedgehog cacti (Echinocereus) in America. The Thompsons also have a wonderful collection of alpines and small perennials. And then we’ll end at Don and Celia Barnett’s private gardens. Don and Celia have one of the largest assemblages of rare native xeric plants, many not found in any other garden in the region.