With that in mind let’s look at a few options. How about creating your own private bird sanctuary? Like all creatures, birds seek out environments that provide healthy food, secure shelter and a place to bring up their kids. A variety of shrubs fit the bill just perfectly. Native chokecherry and serviceberry provide everything birds want if you have a sunny and fairly dry spot to plant them. If your yard is rather shady, and even a bit soggy, plant red-osier dogwoods, elderberry and honeysuckle (twinberry). They all are native, have pretty flowers and – in case of the dogwoods – striking red twigs. Crabapple trees, mountain ashes and hawthorns attract birds as well. Add a bird bath and a few nesting houses and let the bird watching begin. A comfy chair and some binoculars will enhance your experience.
Incorporating edibles is another way to add zing to your garden. Ornamentals and edibles do not have to be separated; in fact, many plants fit both descriptions very well. Pansies and nasturtiums add color and spice to both flowerbeds and salads; sweet peas and green beans growing up a trellis or railing produce pretty blooms and reward you with a snack later in the season. Chives, sage and curly parsley look awesome in containers mixed with your favorite annuals; leaf lettuce adds vibrant color to still immature, early-season; strawberries are a perfect perennial groundcover (and look so dazzling when mixed with orange and blue pansies). I like to plant zucchini for their gorgeous flowers (which you can fry up) and occasionally I even get a thumb-sized fruit. For a real thrill I’d recommend casually sprinkling a bit of broccoli and/or Brussels sprouts around your flowerbed. Raspberries aren’t particularly good-looking, but they sure are tasty! I know of several very productive raspberry patches around town. Tuck them away behind a shed, or in a less frequented side yard. Of course, you want to be very careful to only use organic fertilizers and certainly no chemical sprays on your plants if you hope to munch on them. Kids love edible gardens! For inspiration, visit this excellent and fun website: www.fritzhaeg.com/garden/initiatives/edibleestates
Maybe it’s the colors you want to work with.
How about an all blue garden? Although blue is considered a cool color, the “Blue Flower is a central symbol of Romanticism. It stands for desire, love, and the metaphysical striving for the infinite and unreachable….”(Wikipedia) Wow. Here is a recipe for a blue garden: Plant deep purplish blue clematis against an east or south-facing wall as a background (needs trellising). Add light or dark blue delphinium (needs staking) or lupine (no staking), Siberian iris and our own state flower, the blue columbine, for medium height. Step down to sky blue scabiosa, soft pinkish blue veronica or salvia, and end with a border of blue shades of vinca, campanula and/or phlox. Containers and baskets are great candidates for the blues, too. Try a combination of trailing bacopa, fat cushions of lobelia, sky blue petunia, true blue pansy and at center stage a thick clump of blue angelonia. If you like your arrangement cooler yet, add some silvery licorice plant; if you prefer it a bit softer, add a touch of orange or sunny yellow. Let me top this off with a blue flower poem by Lilla Cabot Perry:
My love dost see this little pale blue flower?
I plucked it where the summer fields stretched wide,
Sun-kissed, embraced by hills on every side,
In purple distance stretching to the sea.
There sprang my tears at the swift thought of thee,
Prisoned by walls, upon thy couch of pain!
Elisabeth Gick has worked with plants in Telluride since 1984. She owns OUTER SPACES INC, a landscape design, consulting and maintenance business.