What plant thrives indoors, shrugs off low humidity, and blooms all winter in bold shades of white to pink to red? Surprise! It’s wax begonias!

Also called fibrous begonias, these familiar bedding plants have large, round succulent leaves in either lime green or a beautiful burgundy- or bronze-red. Flowers have fleshy petals surrounding a bright yellow cluster of stamens. Plants grow to a height of about six to twelve inches. They tend to flop, creating a solid mass of color, and even trailing over walls and container edges.

Wax begonias are usually considered summer annuals. It’s true that they do well in our gardens, given light shade or (preferably filtered) sun. Space them a foot apart in soil high in organic matter and keep the roots evenly moist. Happily, pests are usually not a problem—even the deer tend to leave them alone! (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…)


With its ostentatious white flowers clamoring for your attention, Boulder Raspberry (Oreobatus deliciosus ) impresses like a hybridized cultivar, rather than a native shrub. Growing three to five feet tall and six feet wide, arching, sprawling stems carry bright green, lobed leaves that turn yellow in fall before dropping for the winter. Spring’s blooms develop into small reddish purple fruit resembling cultivated raspberries. While edible, the berries are generally considered unpalatable. However, they will attract birds and other wildlife. Unlike other raspberries, the stems are thornless.


Dry shade is enough to send most plants running, but Boulder Raspberry thrives there. Long-lived and very hardy, you can find these shrubs on Rocky Mountain slopes and ravines between 4,500 and 9,000 feet. They prefer gravelly or silty soil with good drainage.

Landscape Suitability

A bit coarse for a formal garden, Boulder Raspberry combines well with other natives in a natural setting. It works best as an understory plant or in a northern exposure. Pink shrub roses (such as ‘Nearly Wild’) or purple-leafed ‘Diablo’ Ninebark (Physocarpus opulifolius) would make outstanding companions. For best results, situate plants in light to medium shade, and add two to three inches of compost to the soil. Water deeply but infrequently.

Article and photos by Leslie Holzmann, Certified Colorado Gardener

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…)

Tilia cordata - Littleleaf Linden leaves & flowers @DBG LAH 165-1APPEARANCE

The Linden tree is a deciduous, shade tree with a dense compact crown. Depending on species it can grow from 30-60 feet tall and 16-60 feet wide. Heart-shaped leaves can vary both in size and color: from 1 ½ inches to 4 inches long and from glossy to dull dark green, light to dark green with silver underneath. Drooping clusters of small, fragrant, yellowish- white papery bracts  appear in late May to early July. Lindens are easily identified by their pyramidal shape.


Given deep, rich soil, and full sun it is xeric when established. It is a slow to moderate growing tree. Young trees need staking and shaping; while older trees only need corrective pruning. They are visited by few destructive insects although you can expect bees during the flowering season.


Lindens are great for lawn, patio, and street planting. Of the seven species of linden grown in this country, the Littleleaf linden (Tilia cordata) is the most commonly available and best-suited for home situations. The leaves remain green on the tree long after other trees have shed.

Contributed by Nadine Salmons, Colorado Master Gardener. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at 636.8921 or CSUmg2@elpasoco.com.

Photo courtesy of Leslie Holzmann.

Alchemilla mollis - Lady's Mantle @DBG 2008jun26 LAH 003rssAPPEARANCE

This perfect yard darling displays soft olive-green leaves with bursting clusters of star-like yellow-greenish flowers. It grows in a mound shape that complements any garden.


Lady’s Mantle prefers dappled sun to partial shade. It also grows in full shade. As long as you provide a rich, moist, well-drained area, it will grow, and grow fast (heights from 12 to 18 inches and spreads 18 to 24 inches). It self-seeds and, once established, can be drought-tolerant. It won’t ask for anything more. This is a low-maintenance perennial. It can be established up to 7,000 foot elevations in Colorado.


Great used as ground cover, and in mass plantings, rock gardens and edgings. If dried-flower arranging is of interest to you, you will enjoy the blossoms. If you have deer and rabbits, they may hop over Lady’s Mantle on the way to nibble your honeysuckle vine.

Contributed by Kerry Peetz, Colorado Master Gardener. For answers to your horticultural questions, contact the Master Gardener Help Desk at 636.8921 or CSUmg2@elpasoco.com.

Photo courtesy of  Leslie Holzmann.