High-Altitude Horticulture

March 1996

Gardening is chic. You see the renewed interest everywhere. On her weekly TV show, Martha Stewart’s upper-crust fingers are as likely to dabble in piles of compost as crystal finger bowls. General interest magazines like Family Circle are spinning off whole publications devoted to the genteel garden. Hardware and home stores offer more and more tools and accessories for gardening — and not just toys, but serious equipment with ergonomic designs and “green” packaging.

The most joyous evidence of the gardening revival can be seen around town in the fresh, new look of front yards and public areas. Gone are the days when a wide, monotonous green lawn with a few dignified shrubs was the shining model of good landscaping. Now we must have color, imagination, and most of all, earth-conscious plantings. Bit by bit perennial beds, imaginative stonework and paving, and drip watering are replacing Kentucky bluegrass, bare concrete slabs, and wasteful sprinklers and hoses.

Denver’s semi-arid climate and high altitude don’t offer the friendly growing conditions that gardeners enjoy in other parts of the country. But these same characteristics have made our city an ideal experimental arena for gardening under difficult conditions.