It has been a few years since we’ve had two Landscape Symposiums (Symposia?) in our area in the spring. The Colorado Springs-based Peak to Prairie Landscape Symposium held its final program back in 2012 (sigh), but we’ve still had the terrific Western Landscape Symposium in Pueblo to attend. But this year,  we have a new one-day program on native plants in Colorado Springs this year! Yay!

First, we have the 2015 Water Smart Landscape ProSeries Native Plants Program (courtesy of Colorado Springs Utilities) on Friday, March 6. It will be held at Library 21C from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and is open and free to the public. Presenters include Judith Phillips, Loretta Mannix, and Eric Becker. More information on this event is here:

 WLSlogorectangle.JPGThe 2015 Western Landscape Symposium happens on Saturday, March 14, in Pueblo with yet another super line-up of sessions for this year.

Registration is a bargain at $18 per ticket in advance. **Tickets are ONLY being sold in advance, not at the door.** This event has sold out the last several years well in advance and is expected to do so again, so if you are thinking of going, do not put off buying your ticket.

This year’s schedule promises sessions by Karla Dakin, Whitney Cranshaw, Leo Chance, and more. A full schedule and registration information can be found here:

photo by Lisa Bird

Berlandiera lyrata

Appearance: This very aromatic plant has bright green, flat spreading leaves with shallowly lobed edges.  The flowers are daisy-like, with green center and light yellow petals.  The underside of the petals have maroon markings on them.

Habitat: This plant is very drought tolerant and blooms profusely throughout the season.  The flowers have a wonderful chocolate scent are are edible.  Chocolate Flower prefers full sun and needs very little water.  Found on the Western plains to northern Mexico, in dry rocky soils.  Hardy to Zone 4. (more…)

Sphaeralcea coccinea

Cowboy’s Delight

Sphaeralcea coccinea

Appearance: This small perennial appears to be a sweet little hollyhock. It grows to just over 12″ tall, and the silver-green, hairy leaves are each deeply lobed into three sections. Another variety found in cultivation, Sphaeralcea munruona is very similar, but with more gently lobed leaves. The wheel-shaped bright orange flowers are under an inch in diameter. Their bright appearance in often otherwise dull areas is what earned it its common name of cowboy’s delight. Blooming starts in June and continues through September.

Habitat: Cowboy’s delight thrives in sunny, open areas and can be found in both the plains and foothills. (more…)

Iris missouriensis

Appearance: Wild Iris is a bluish-purple native flower characteristic in appearance to cultivated irises.  It grows to about 2 feet in height and blooms from May to July.

Habitat: It is found in foothills to subalpine life zones, mostly in moist open areas, wet meadows, and stream sides at 4,500 to 9,500 feet elevation.  Growing in full sun, it drenches meadows in its vivid blue color, and is prevalent in areas that have been grazed heavily. (more…)

Dwarf Pussytoes (Antennaria parvifolia)

Photo by Lisa Bird

Appearance: Dwarf Pussytoes has pretty white flowers clustered like a cat’s toes on stalks growing to 6 inches in height.  The lance-shaped leaves grow in low mats, so the combination of the leaves and flowers on stalks makes it ideal for use as a groundcover.

Habitat: One of nine species found in the southern Rockies, it is commonly found in open mountain and foothills areas in sandy, well-drained soils. It has low moisture requirements and grows in sun to part shade. (more…)

Poison Ivy in Summer photo by Lisa Bird

Poison Ivy

Toxicodendron rydbergii

Appearance: Poison Ivy is a member of the Sumac family and recognizable by its three shiny leaflets, white flowers in March to June, and smooth white berries later in the summer.  It grows to a mature height of 2 feet.

Habitat: Found in the plains and foothills, it grows on rocky slopes and at cliff bases in full sun to partial shade. (more…)

Mariposa Lily

Calochortus gunnisonii

Appearance: Blooming from March to June, this is one of the most beautiful, simplistic wildflowers of Colorado.  A close relative to lilies, the cup-shaped flowers of Mariposa Lily have 3 translucent petals, usually white with a tinge of pink or blue.  Inside the cup of petals is a ring of bright yellow hair.  This native perennial grows up to 20” tall on a single slender stem.  Narrow, grass-like foliage usually withers at the base of the plant by bloom time. (more…)

American PlumPhoto by Lisa Bird (Prunus americana)

Appearance: American plum, a member of the Rose family, is one of the first native woody plants to bloom in the spring, with the white, fragrant, 5-petalled blossoms appearing before the leaves unfold.   There are numerous 1”-2” long, blunt thorns along the branches.  The leaves are long, pointed and oval-shaped.  American Plum bears edible 1” diameter fruit which ripen mid- to late summer, and fall color can be a muted reddish-orange. (more…)


White fir (downed by lightning)

Have you noticed that some of the white firs (Abies concolor) in the Colorado Springs area are suffering? Many of these beautiful native trees seem to be having trouble this year, and experts are stumped. The needles start to turn a slightly lighter shade and drop, sometimes in a spiral pattern from the top down. Looking at the whole tree, it looks like it is declining gradually overall. The problem is affecting white firs of all ages and in all planting situations, non-irrigated, irrigated, sandy soil, clay soil, etc.

Of course, all evergreens naturally lose needles every year from the interiors of their branches. As the trees grow, those needles become shaded and no longer useful in the photosynthesis process. So the efficient trees drop those needles and concentrate their energy on the newer needles on the branch ends. With this condition, which has been informally dubbed “white fir decline,” all the needles along the branches are dropping. Another interesting feature is that these trees seem to have their upper branches covered with more cones (fully and not-yet-fully developed) than usual. (more…)

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

I am pleased and surprised to be able to share four new blooming plants this week!

Start at the parking lot where Fontanero Street ends at the park, and start heading west down the hill.


Brickellia grandiflora

About halfway down the hill, on the north side of the road/path under a white fir, look for some pale yellow flowers that dangle down from their stems. This is the native tasselflower (Brickellia grandiflora). Although it is usually more often found on rocky slopes, canyon sides, or cliffs, I saw this in three different areas of the park. Sometimes the flowers can be a bit more greenish. It can be easy to overlook, so really keep your eyes open for this one.