Mountain Garden Guide: Pretty Steep Little Garden in Denver

Sunset, March 2002 | Go to article overview

Mountain Garden Guide: Pretty Steep Little Garden in Denver


* For years, Mary Samora couldn't figure out what to do with the very steep lot behind her cottage in Denver. From the back door, there was only 20 feet of level ground before the slope dropped abruptly toward an alley at the rear of the property. Then, one day while Samora was driving in the mountains, she spotted a gazebo with the builder's ad attached. She hired him to construct a similar one in her backyard. Built on pillars, the octagonal wood-frame gazebo juts out over the slope, extending the outdoor living area. In the summer, Samora furnishes the gazebo with white wicker chairs and a table.

The final problem she faced was a blank garage wall. Then, while she was sitting in a tearoom admiring an arch painted by artist Deborah Bays, serendipity struck again. Samora asked Bays to paint a mural on the bare wall. The trompe l'oeil scene depicts a cottage draped in wisteria. Bays also added rooftop planter boxes; Samora fills them with blue scaevola and waters with a hose-end wand. Her pastel color scheme is picked up by pink impatiens in the bed at right and pink petunias, lavender verbena, and purple heliotrope in pots.

To hide the gazebo's underpinnings, Samora surrounded the structure with lush plantings of shrubs and vines, including clematis. She also installed a water feature: two ponds linked by a streambed and spanned by a wooden footbridge leading to the gazebo.

an umbrella for tender crops

Marcia Tatroe

* I failed to harvest a single eggplant in my Montana garden for 10 years. The plants just didn't ever mature in our cool mountain evenings. But last spring, I tried covering the seedlings with a solar umbrella, and I finally picked my first ripe eggplant later in the summer. In fact, the umbrella worked so well I wish I could find one big enough to put over my entire garden. …

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