If you go
What: High Plains Landscape Workshop
When: 8:15 a.m.-3 p.m. March 9
Where: The Drake Centre, 802 W. Drake Rd., Fort Collins
More info: 970-416-2486 or fcgov.com/gardens/high-plains-workshop
Gardening in Colorado is not for wimps. The state's semi-arid, windy and solar-intense environment often has gardeners and plants both shriveling from exposure.
For gardeners seeking success, they should pause and ponder what Colorado's climate has to offer its beautiful gardens. Western landscapes are breathtaking, yet getting that low-water flow beauty is tough and takes a change of mind and outlook.
A good place to find enlightenment is at the upcoming annual High Plains Landscape Workshop, March 9 at the Drake Centre in Fort Collins. With a lineup of speakers well-versed in the uniqueness of western landscaping, you'll get a fast-track on gardening with our climate, instead of against it.
Kenton Seth will discuss how far is too far when reducing water to the landscape in his talk, "Going All the Way: Surprising Results and Lessons from Going Totally Un-Irrigated." After five years of trials, he's come up with a list of plants that need no supplemental irrigation.
"Walking around, we see plants growing without irrigation all the time, in parking lots or gravel areas," said Seth, the owner of Paintbrush Gardens in Fruita. "So, I've wondered what will grow entirely without water?"
Seth will bring his list of low-water plants for beauty to the workshop.
First, establishing what plants to use is the key to success, Seth said, as well as changing the gardener's mind on what xeriscape in Colorado can look like.
"In Denver, folks think xeriscape is an open area with not a lot of plants covering the gravel," Seth said. "This is inspired by landscapes around Tucson, Arizona. But our Front Range isn't the Sonoran Desert; it's a grassland, a prairie."
For gardeners looking to harness native grasses for their lawns, Tony Koski will get back to his roots and bring his expertise in exploring how prairie grasses grow and can be used as lawns. The Colorado State University Turfgrass specialist's talk, "So You Want a Native Lawn?" will offer a step-by-step tutorial on the ins and outs of going native.
Included in Koski's advice will be a call for gardeners to approach the conversion to native grasses with a healthy dose of reality: they can be hard to establish, they aren't carefree and weed control can be challenging.
"People think native lawns are easy, but it's not always as smooth as they envision," said Koski. "There are limitations, it won't look like bluegrass, and you've got to change what you've always done — what your vision of a lawn looks like."
Supersizing the event is Pamela Berstler, CEO of G3, Green Gardens Group in Los Angeles, California. Berstler, sharing her concept built in a land that imports much of its water, will discuss "The Watershed Approach: Landscaping Like the Earth Depends On It."
Berstler, also executive director of the Pacific Horticulture Society, is changing the way regulators view private landscapes with her innovative approach to treating home landscapes as individual watersheds.
"We take basic, understandable, healthy principals and apply them to every property: where does water land, how do we move it around, hold it and where does it drain," Berstler said.
This is a must-see talk for every gardener who wants to understand the impact their own property has on our water.
The event includes lunch, a book sale, a silent auction and a chance to talk with other gardeners. Registration is $65 for members, $75 for non-members (registration raises to $85 after Feb. 21).