Secret Gardens

April 2000

“I think of gardening as creating art with plants,” says Denver gardener Susan Yetter. “My garden is a moving sculpture.” Indeed it is. Yetter’s garden, abundant with opulent greens, richly colored blooms, and perfumed breezes, was once an uninspiring square lawn in the 1970s. Today, her well-cultivated collage of horticulture includes clematis, trumpet vine, penstemon, polygonum, a smooth sumac tree, prairie plants, and many other organic gems.

The garden began to take shape in the early ’80s when Yetter and her husband were married and ceremoniously planted two trees. A short time later, she began taking classes in horticulture from the Denver Botanic Gardens and realized that “the more I did it, the more I wanted to learn about plants.” Soon her plants were flourishing, and she had transformed her yard into a thriving garden.

A fundamental principle of Xeriscape is to reduce the amount of turf to decrease the need for watering. Looking around Yetter’s flourishing garden, you’ll find no trace of the former lawn. Most, if not all, plants in Yetter’s garden are native to Colorado. This includes her favorite plant, the manzanita (Spanish for “little apple”), a flowering broad-leaf evergreen found on the Western Slope