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…)

Zinnia grandiflora @ChatfieldBG 2006jun29 LAH 003rAPPEARANCE

Resembling a carpet of sunshine, prairie zinnia will delight you with a profusion of gold flowers late summer through fall. A native southwest perennial, prairie zinnia grows low and mounded. Tiny needle-like leaves of light green grow 4 to 8 inches tall topped with vibrant, nearly round yellow-rayed flowers.


This native wildflower loves the heat and sun. It thrives in dry, well-drained soil and can grow on slopes and in rugged terrain. Prairie zinnia is hardy in zones 4-7 and is deer and drought tolerant. It grows naturally throughout the southern regions of the intermountain west. Start seeds indoors in the spring or sow in the garden in late spring. For a longer flowering period, sow the seed in succession. It will self-seed once it is established.


Prairie zinnia forms masses of golden flowers resembling daisies on finely textured foliage growing from a woody base. The low, shrub like growth makes a good ground cover, spreading 4 to 15 inches wide. Prairie zinnia is perfect for naturalizing, in borders and edging around other dry loving plants such as penstemon and cacti. The flowers remain from summer to fall and attract birds and butterflies. Remove the dead flower heads to increase the number of flowers and length of bloom.

Contributed by Valerie Smith, Colorado Master Gardener. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at 520.7684, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Mondays-Thursdays, or

Photo by Leslie Holzmann, Colorado Master Gardener.


While most fall and winter berries are red, or perhaps dark blue, snowberries sport showy clusters of pristine white, berry-like fruit. If not eaten by the birds, the fruit will adorn the bare branches in winter. The upright, finely-branched shrubs are about three feet tall. Moderate growers, they are long-lived, with tiny pink, bell-shaped flowers that appear in early summer.


A Colorado native, snowberry is well adapted to our growing conditions, and is hardy to zone 3. Soil type doesn’t matter, so long as it’s moderately fertile and reasonably well-drained. Plant in full sun, and water until established. While mature plants are highly drought tolerant, they also survive once-a-week watering, which also results in heavier fruit crops. Prune only to remove old, dead wood.


While the slightly toxic berries are considered inedible by people, deer will browse on the plants. With its dense foliage, snowberry makes a good foundation shrub. For a woodland feel, combine with other natives such as Oregon grape and ponderosa pines.

Contributed by Leslie Holzmann, Colorado Master Gardener. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at (719) 520-7684 (new number) or

Photo courtesy of Leslie Holzmann.