Monday, August 15, 2022

Wish List

One of our favorite end of summer walks takes us through the Colorado State University test garden in the center of Ft. Collins. It is truly a gardener's delight that displays exactly what we can grow in gardens here in northern Colorado. Filled with beautiful perennials and amazing annuals that are heat tolerant and not quite as thirsty as zones that receive more rain and have higher humidity, the garden features both established plants and tests newly developed varieties. Each plant has a label that includes where the plant be purchased.

 I am one of those gardeners here in Zone 5 who seeks to grow the perfect English garden, but with our daily 90+ degrees summer temperatures and freezing cold, dry winters we have to be creative and selective to get that desired look and grow plants that thrive under such conditions. 

A panoramic view fo the gardens all laid out in perfect rows in some what of circle, with nary a weed to be seen.

I came home with a nice, realistic wish list of plants that I want to add to the Garden Spot, which begs the question: Where to plant them? In years past, I've wandered around the end-of-season plant sales at our favorite garden centers only to bring home gangly, aged plants that either sit on the patio until they aren't viable or if they are lucky enough get planted,  they don't set enough of a root system to survive the winter. So this year, no bargain shopping for plants; instead, a plan of action for next spring.

The flower beds all need to be cleaned, weeded, and thinned; so once it cools down and the Head Gardner is done with archery hunting, we will dig into the gardens to clear spaces for new, exciting plants. 

A Good Plan Begins with a Wish List

The test garden has a variety of mature hibiscus. I love this dinner plate size beauty. We have one hibiscus in the garden, but I teased the HG about planting a row of them along a 6 ft. privacy fence that blocks out the neighbor. Oddly, he didn't blink, but began to come up with an irrigation plan. But, no. There won't be a dozen of the giant plants ordered for next spring. It would be spectacular, though.

More realistic would be dozens of these gorgeous Rudbeakia. We already a few Black Eyed Susans, but I could easily add more. The bees love them.

If we could attract more green bees like this one--commonly known as a sweat bee--I'd plant a dozen more. I see an occasional green bee, not many. 

Each year the garden has new varieties of echinacea. A popular new color combo seems to be the magenta coupled with lime green. Stunning.

Or choose from a wide variety of colors to fill an open space.

Each year the cone flower offerings increase, offering a colorful palette. 

This collection would require a large area, but would be beautiful. 

The most common pink cone flower thrives in our garden, reproducing easily by self seeding. I've planted other colors, but not with much luck; still, the magenta would be a pretty addition The cone flower feeds butterflies, insects, and gold finch will feast on their seeds in winter--and this most unwanted garden pest, the Japanese beetle.

These beetles were all over the test garden. Beautiful as they are with their iridescent green and copper backs with the row of white dots, a bit of research reveals just how destructive they are in a garden. We took a lot of pictures of them, but I don't think we want them at the Garden Spot.

We have never grown anemones, but after meeting this beauty, it is at the top of the list. It looks to be sturdy and colorful and will beautiful color to the August garden. I'd like to add it to the newly created hosta garden.

I've planted phlox before, but they didn't last long, but I have to admit to lusting after this sea of pink phlox. I'm not sure what the gardeners feed the these plants, but they are giants.

Almost more pink than even I can bare the new geranium hybrids will enhance any garden.

Clematis are a favorite here, but their bloom in June and done by mid to late July, so this lovely low growing vine would be beautiful in bare spots. With a bell shaped flower much like the pink Duchess Annabell that grows in the front court yard, this clematis does climb; instead, it vines on the ground.

We don't have much blue in the garden and it would be a nice replacement for the vinca that dominates the center circle with about the same shade of blueish, but I don't think that it would as invasive as the vine and I love the bell shaped bloom.

The Plant Select on its tag indicates that is new for 2022. We happened to start up a conversation with a woman who told use she was a part of Plant Select that chooses the new varieties for the garden each year. You can click here to learn more about Western gardening and the new plant varieties that available. I especially like that it lists local retail outlets. Plant Select is located at CSU's Horticulture Center.

But I've saved the best for last, the giant--and I do mean giant-- Anastasia Oriental Lily. This one is a must. I'm barely 5 ft. 2, so I come out from behind the camera to demonstrate how tall this lily is. The description on Brent and Becky's Bulbs  says that the blooms will be dinner plate size and the plant will grow 3-5 feet--um I think they underestimate CSU horticulturists' ability to grow plants. Still, it's a beautiful lily and I'll be placing my order in January.

Unlike our favorite botanical gardens and city gardens, this garden does not have much in the way of architectural interest other than the Andy Warhol soup can and a small water feature. The beauty of the garden lies in the beautiful plants. But a garden isn't complete with out some interesting creatures.

Saffron-winged Meadowhawk: Sympetrum costiferum

These plants certainly are must in a garden since they provide so much for the insects. It's our duty as gardeners to provide the most beautiful plants that will provide a sound, healthy diet for the pollinators. 

Another look at the Japanese Beetle.

And now back to the reality of the Garden Spot. I've made my list and will be doing some serious research, garden redesign, and searching for these new plants. In the mean time, there is plenty of work to be done in the garden as summer winds down. 

I spent a while in the garden picking raspberries, pulling onions, and gathering peaches before it got hot. I should go out each day now and pick the berries.

I don't know about you, I am having a really hard time buying good fresh fruit. The store raspberries and strawberries mold quickly, and most of the that I bring home cantaloupe have no flavor. 

have tended to ignore the raspberry patch, but I'm going to try to be more diligent in picking them. Bees present a problem because they like the the berries much as I do and I'm allergic to bee stings. 

The young hens are maturing nicely. We lost another old hen so we have 9 now. These young girls should start laying soon. This is their first forage in the garden. They didn't quite know what to do at first, but there are plenty of fresh bugs to snack on.


Like this green grasshopper

The kale is beginning to look like kale, rough around the edges. But it is a pretty plant.

The poor peach tree looks pretty pathetic, but has a nice stand of sweet, juicy peaches that I pick every few days as they ripen. I try to beat the birds and the earwigs--no photo of those disgusting creatures. 


I think I picked about $6 worth of raspberries and a nice bowl of peaches. They are small, but tasty. I'm thinking homemade peach ice cream sounds pretty good.

I take tons of sunflower photos. I just love their bight, cheerful faces, even as they age they gain more character. 

Have a wonderful week.

Thank you for joining me today. I'll be linking with Angie for Mosaic Monday. See you there.


  1. I love seeing all the flowers...they take your breath away! Neat dragonfly and bug pics too. A list sounds like a plan and something to look forward to next Spring!

  2. The CSU garden is quite a colorful show and where there are flowers and other plants there will be critters! I'm glad you enjoyed it.

  3. Ann - as I read through your post, I started my own wish list. And then I stopped because I had written down everything .... Isn't that just like a gardener? Fresh beauty is hard to resist! And now I am salivating for home-made peach ice cream!!! Thanks for linking to Mosaic Monday!

  4. I adore echinacea but they don't like our garden conditions and I didn't grow any sunflowers this year! I do lie the sound of peach ice cream too!


The Last Hollyhock

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