We just returned last week from a spectacular trip to Colorado that was focused on the North American Rock Garden Society‘s (NARGS) annual meeting. The theme was ‘A Higher State — Steppe to Alpine’ and it was in two locations, the Denver Botanic Garden and Steamboat Springs over 5 days. It had been a while since we had been to Colorado, so we met with friends and family in Boulder and Golden beforehand. I’ll try to give a brief overview of what was a wonderful and relaxing exploration of mountain wildflowers.
Hiking just outside of Boulder we encountered this lovely Calochortus.
The NARGS meeting began at the Denver Botanic Garden where we got a personalized tour of the rock gardens by Mike Kintgen who oversees the Alpine collection.
Their garden features a crevice garden which has been established for several years now (long enough to see several successful cushions)
They manage to grow the wonderful Devil’s Claw that we first saw in the Dolomites last year.
The Denver Botanic Gardens are not to be missed if you are in Denver. In this season they have a spectacular display of Foxtail Lilies.
On our way to Steamboat Springs we stopped at the Betty Ford Alpine Gardens in Vail which has newly constructed tufa wall for optimum planting of tiny alpines.
And the outside part of the gardens is quite nice as well.
In Steamboat Springs we visited local gardens including the Yampa River Botanic Park which right along the Yampa River in a very pretty setting. They have built a stunning crevice garden there.
I fell in love with a little Stachys planted in one of the crevice locations.
We also took several hikes in the trails surrounding Steamboat Springs. We drove out through countryside that really summed up what steppes are all about.
Just along the side of the road we saw beautiful Lewisia and Shooting Stars.
One stop near a trailhead into the Zirkel Wilderness area produced a bevy of these very small Ladyslipper Orchids
We stayed a few days past the conference and on the last day of hiking we walked up a ridge near the Rabbit Ears pass area. The views were excellent, but it was remarkable how you had to pay close attention to see that the hillside was covered with wildflower treasures.
And a final sighting on this ridge was a very nice ground orchid.
All in all, a wonderful trip, with a suitcase full of tiny treasures brought back to Maryland from the plant sales at the conference. My thanks to Laporte Avenue Nursery and Sunscapes Rare Plant Nursery.
Also, I should mention that the Denver Botanic Garden has published a very nice book on this region of the world (and similar) entitled ‘Steppes: The Plants and Ecology of the World’s Semi-arid Regions‘. Check it out…