Prunus virginiana_Chokecherry_LAH_003If I could create one perfect plant for the Pikes Peak region, what would it be like?

Of course, I’d want it to be attractive. It should adorn itself with cheerful spring flowers, good-looking foliage, and intense fall color. I’d add persistent fruit or berries to feed the birds and provide winter interest.

My perfect plant should be easy to grow; I’d want it to thrive in our native soils with little or no supplemental water. It must be hardy to at least 8,000 feet, and still handle summer heat waves.

I’d create a versatile plant that could be trained as either a medium-to-large shrub or small tree. Deer resistance would be a bonus. And I’d want it to be readily available from local garden centers (at a reasonable price).

Well, it seems that Somebody beat me to it. There is a perfect plant for this area—the common Chokecherry.

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For a wrap-up of other areas and what’s been blooming, check out:
Blooming in Monument Valley Park – All Posts.

As promised, this week we’ll look at a couple of the berries and seedheads that you can now see in the park. I can’t resist adding a couple of new blooming plants as well. Many of the plants highlighted in last week’s post are still blooming as well.

Chokecherry
padusberriesred.jpgWe’ll start at the parking lot where Fontanero Street ends at the park and head west down the hill. Turn right at the dumpster and walk north on the path. After about 1/4 mile, you will notice some LARGE shrubs on the east side of the path with lots of small red to reddish-black berries. This is our old friend the native chokecherry (Padus virginiana) that we saw blooming back in May. The berries are edible, though not terribly tasty (hence the name?) and a bit astringent. Reportedly, the riper, blacker berries are sweeter. The fruit are a favorite with bears and in other areas of town, it can be difficult to see many berries because of this.
padusberriesblack.jpg (more…)

It is fun to go wildflower and native plant hunting in the foothills and mountains, but don’t forget to check out our own backyard here in town! Just this morning, the following plants were seen blooming in the north part of Monument Valley Park. Park at the small lot where Fontanero ends at the park, and start walking north.

<i>Leucocrinum montanum</i>

Leucocrinum montanum

Sand Lily & Tufted Evening Primrose

About 20 yards north of the parking lot on the right, you’ll see a small

<i>Oenothera caespitosa</i>

Oenothera caespitosa

clearing/meadow with several sand lilies (Leucocrinum montanum) and tufted evening primrose (Oenothera caespitosa) blooming. Both have white flowers with the sand lilies being the smaller. The sand lily flowers have six slender petals and are at the base of a strappy leaves that are about 8 inches tall. The evening primrose have four, heart-shaped petals and rise above a basal rosette of leaves. If you are visiting in the sunny afternoon, these flowers may not be open. (more…)