Colorado Wildflower Tour, Part 2...

As promised, the rest of our fabulous trip to Colorado, in photos.  The second day was spent in Estes Park and Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP), which is incredible.  The tundra at RMNP was impressive along with the herds of elk and the stout little flowers growing and stretching as far as oxygen would permit.  We learned a bit about identifying flowers and set out to identify a few on our own.  This was great fun with the exception of the altitude factored in.  We were at 11,700 feet and a few of us got sick.  I was just a bit dizzy and breathing a bit faster than usual, Julie was a lot dizzy and decided not to hike around so much as to just sit and take it all in (and go shopping at the visitor's center).
Photos cannot do the mountains justice.  The range is massive and one of the most awe inspiring things I have ever seen.  It really makes you wonder where all of this glorious earth came from.
Some of the exquisite flowers we saw while hiking at 11,700 feet.  Flowers I have never seen before.   You just want to sit and take it all in, and maybe build a little rock tower here and there...
Talking with one of the park rangers, I learned that there are no natural predators to the elk at this elevation, so the herds have become massive.  They are causing some problems with some of the foliage because their numbers are so high.  Because they are in a National Park, they are protected, no hunting here.  They were so beautiful. 
A nest of four adolescent bald eagles.  The width of the power pole is about 5-feet, the nest is huge, and the babies are huge.  Bald eagles are starting to increase their population in the West.  We have about 5 active nests along the Wasatch Front, I get really excited when I see one flying by.
The rest of our trip was spent at the Gardens at Spring Creek.  This was a fantastic little garden.  (It wasn't really little, it's just everything seems small after you are at 12,000 feet.)  I loved the feeling that this garden gave.  It was warm and welcoming and not so unattainable.  Denver Botanical Center was amazing, but I would need a staff of hundreds and a budget of millions to ever achieve anything like it. Spring Creek was do-able!  I loved the children's garden there, it had great water features and a giant koi that they had named and the kids could touch.  There was also a lot of garden art and statues.  They had a giant praying mantis that stood about 10-feet, and I loved the octopus in the vegetable gardens.  It is a very interactive garden and is something that I imagine the USU Botanical Center could easily achieve and be very happy with.

This last photo is purslane.  YES, PURSLANE!  That horrible weed that makes me want to burn everything down and start again.  It was everywhere in the gardens that we visited, and it was a beautiful ground cover with intense blossoms.  I may have to rethink my hatred of purslane!!!
We also spent some time at the Trial Gardens for Colorado State University.  These were impressive.  The color in itself was enough to knock your socks off!  It was also immaculate.  A staff of students weed and deadhead every single day.  Interns research and keep track of growth, size, color, and production as far as vegetables are concerned.  I loved how they put the plants in the ground and in pots, so that you could fully understand their growth potential.  It was stunning.

The color was a feast for my eyes.  I instantly fell in love with this little section of Fort Collins!
I loved the container trial area.  It gave you a great feel for how something would preform in a pot, and what to look for when picking out plants for your container garden.  
They had several varieties of canna that they were trialing.  I am in love with orange this year, so this one stole my heart!
Look at the coleus in the background.  It is stunning!
Little creeping zinnias.  They are so happy.  I love them up against the pink.  They seemed to plant things next to each other that created intensity.  A lot of yellow surrounded by black and purple.  Big vibrant colors together, and lots of play on texture!
 As you can see, we had way too much fun, laughed way too much, and took in more than enough color and vibrance from everything we were surrounded with!  Next year is Portland, we are so excited to stomp around Portland and take in all that it has to offer.  Thanks to the Extension staff at USU for letting us tag along and share in the fun.  They worked their tails off to make this a wonderful trip and I have to say that they succeeded above and beyond my expectations!


  1. I wish I could have gone! So beautiful and amazing!

  2. I wish I could have seen some of this in the month or so I spent in Ft. Collins. But that was 22 years ago.


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