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Outstanding Residential Gardens - Part I

A record number of 63 gardens have been designated Habitat Hero Wildscapes.  Applications this year were incredibly diverse in both style of gardens and geographic range, making it a very successful year for gardeners!  These residential gardens, community gardens, city open spaces, schoolyards, public demonstration gardens and private sanctuaries were seen in cities as far reaching from Big Horn, WY to Walsenburg, CO, from Cody, WY to Grand Junction, CO and everywhere in between, totaling 200 acres in transformed habitat!

A Habitat Hero wildscape supports wildlife by: including diverse layers that provide shelter and nesting opportunities for wildlife - providing natural food (based on plants that provide food for wildlife in different seasons, especially those native to your area), offering water for drinking and bathing – conserving water and energy, eliminating/minimizing the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, and does not spread invasive species.  Below is a few of our outstanding Habitat Heroes that took our guiding principles to the next level and created some residential landscapes that are truly awe-inspiring.

GORGES - CHEYENNE, WY

After arriving 26 years ago, this yard has been transformed from just a couple trees and a rosebush to diverse plantings of 548 trees, shrubs, perennials and grasses that offer something in bloom from frost to frost.

Avid birders and active members of the Cheyenne High Plains Audubon Society gave them the encouragement in creating a bird-friendly habitat.  They were up for the challenge, as gardening is no easy feat in Cheyenne, coupled with their shade dominant yard made it even tougher.  Over the past 10 years they have observed 85 different species of birds in their yard and documented them into various Citizen Science platforms like Project FeederWatch and eBird.

BONNICKSEN - BOULDER, CO

‘Before’ view of home and barren yard in 1976.

After 40 years, this one acre property now boasts 15 gardens with various styles including a mountain garden, 65 trees and over 800 plants.

This is a classic example showing that creating a wildscape can be done in phases over many years.  This approach ensures you have the time, money and resources to invest, while your garden constantly evolves and transforms.  She now gets to enjoy her feathered friends that visit her garden and multiple feeders – including; house wrens, chickadees and even great horned owls!

HOPE - SHERIDAN, WY

(Before) looking down the shelter belt in 1985.

(After) looking down the shelter belt today!

Hope grew up on some land in Texas and her earliest memories revolve around the enjoyment of watching birds.  Her current property in Sheridan, is reminiscent of those fond childhood memories – but that wasn’t the case when she moved in.  The land was formerly home to an automobile race track and gravel to head-sized boulders stood in the way of creating her dream wildscape.  Sectioning her property off into various functions allowed for a plan to take place. View the aerial map to see this 2 acre property and all the habitat it provides between the shelter belts, brush piles, butterfly and hummingbird garden, along with massed plantings of willows and serviceberries.

ALLENBAUGH - WALSENBURG, CO

Backyard in 2011 – Living in dry southern CO on the west edge of a coal mining town – Allenbaugh knew the importance of introducing easily maintained water-wise plants.

Desirable habitat needs to include food, water, shelter and places to raise young.  This backyard is teeming with wildlife from their box elder trees that have been home to nesting juncos, finches, sparrows, robins and orioles.  A pond attracts singing toads, dragonflies and other insects.  Food comes in the form of plants and feeders with the rabbitbrush and goldenrods acting as bee and butterfly magnets.

Backyard in 2015 – out with the barren land and in with a variety of evergreens, deciduous trees, perennials and forbs that insects, birds and even amphibians call home!

DUFFY - LAEKWOOD, CO

This is a wonderful example of how an average suburban lot can have a huge impact.  After moving into her home in 1999, the 100% turf grass lawn was slowly taken out in chunks and replaced with perennial gardens.  Duffy’s personal transformation was as great as the landscape as she took self-educating to the next level.  Attending many workshops and seminars, reading books and experimenting with a variety of plants, Duffy is now a Jeffco Master Gardener and Native Plant Master.

Duffy’s view on gardening, “I’m a more intentional gardener now, I view my yard with an eye toward pollinators and wildlife rather than just seeing color, size and texture when selecting plants.”

SCHREINER - CASPER, WY

Wind, minimal moisture, extreme day-to-day temperature fluctuations and intense sun make for some tough hurdles in the gardening world.  Schreiner beat the elements in this difficult climate and instead of having a water guzzling turf grass lawn – incorporated many xeric plants that require minimal water.  In addition to attracting insect pollinators like bees, butterflies, moths and dragonflies she has also documented 70 different species of avian species in eBird.

A naturalistic garden that beautifully ‘flows’ into the surrounding short grass prairie.

MORGAN - LOUISVILLE, CO

Wild, whimsical, and wonderful is exactly how Morgan’s yard is described in Boulder County Home & Garden Magazine.  She has also been featured in Denver Post Grow Magazine, so it is not surprising that this yard is an outstanding Habitat Hero wildscape.

Just goes to show that you don’t need a lot of space to pack a punch in creating a habitat garden.

 

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