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.


Stands of bright gold aspen (Populus tremuloides) shimmering in the sunlight are a spectacular sight, so it is no surprise that many people plant aspen in their home landscapes. Aspen are fast growing and relatively short-lived relatives of cottonwoods and poplars. Ranging from 40 – 65 feet tall, they have a smooth white trunk and bright green, heart-shaped leaves. Female trees produce 2-inch catkins that develop into tiny long, narrow cones.



Flowering crabapple trees, with single to double blooms of white, pink, or carmine, are a beautiful symbol of springtime. Varying widely in form, cultivars range from small upright trees 15 feet tall to umbrella-like specimens more than 30 feet across. Some form narrow columns; some are weeping. Many produce small, ornamental fruit that lasts all winter, in shades of yellow, orange, or red. The simple green leaves of some varieties may have a reddish cast, especially in the spring. ‘Indian Summer’ is an example having orange fall foliage. ‘Molten Lava’ has attractive yellow bark. With over 200 cultivars available, you can choose a tree that matches your site and provides four seasons of garden interest.


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

Photo courtesy of Leslie Holzmann.