Garden Photo of the Day

A Denver Garden Re-Do

By Kim Charles

What do you get when you combine a talented "rock whisperer" with Shelia Shultz's green thumb? These photos say it all!

"I figured it was about time to post a few 2016 photos of my non-traditional Denver gardens. A bit of history… we moved from the Chicago area to Denver in 2005 and I joyously went from shade to sun possibilities. Our original Denver outdoor space was 80's landscaping in the front and a cement basketball court encompassing our tiny backyard. A talented friend and designer agreed to help us rethink our space. She is a brilliant rock whisperer and hardscape genius. She did the hardscape and trees, I did the plantings. The only rhyme or reason that relates to my design style are my changing passions, color and local availability. I know many of my fellow GPODers would like for me to include plant ID's but it would take hours since I am no longer that organized, so this is just a visual. 2016 was unforgiving for my gardens and containers. May thru July we were in the wrong path for hail, and we had 3 golf ball sized hail storms that…Well, the following photos are the best I could come up with. Note to anyone…thin leaved plants deal with hail quite nicely, wide leaves, not so well!"

Container post to follow tomorrow!

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  1. frankgreenhalgh 02/02/2017

    Great to see your gardens today, Sheila. Lovely structure and colour palette. Also, nice water feature and rabbit. I'm intrigued by your rock whisperer friend - Sounds like a one way conversation to me! Looking forward to tomorrow's post. Cheers from Oz

    1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      Thanks Frank... glad you like the gardens and hardscape. We do enjoy the soft sounds from our little waterfall. It was actually created with a purpose, to mask the 24/7 hum from the radon fan attached to the back of the house! The gentle splash of water is heard now, not the hum! Enjoy your summer weather, we have a layer of ice today but 60 by Sat.!

    2. perenniallycrazy 02/03/2017

      Wishing you the happiest birthday Frank! How do you typically celebrate?

      1. frankgreenhalgh 02/03/2017

        Thanks Cherry. This year a BBQ and meal in the gazebo. Birthdays come around faster each year, but I guess it is good that they come around. Cheers my friend

        1. user-7007498 02/03/2017

          Frank, I didn't know it was your birthday. Best wishes for a terrific day, and enjoy the BBQ. Birthdays sure seem to come and go as we get older. Wish we could slow down time.

          1. frankgreenhalgh 02/03/2017

            Thanks Kev. - you are a good mate! We had a visitor to the party - an echidna (ant-eater) came towards the rotunda from our neighbour's yard, and gave up looking for ants and started to bury itself (for protection) when it realised it was the subject of a photo. shoot. Cheers, Frank

          2. user-7007498 02/03/2017

            Great photos, Frank. You have shared so many pictures of animals that I have only seen in zoos. I do have to make an Australian trip happen someday. Have a great weekend.

    3. user-6536305 02/03/2017

      Well, happy birthday Frank. Another and many garden years to come! Love this post and conversations.

      1. frankgreenhalgh 02/03/2017

        Hey Lilian - thank you for your birthday wish. I too hope there are a few more left in me. GPODers are such a friendly and welcoming community. Cheers, Frank

  2. Jay_Sifford 02/02/2017

    Beautiful combinations, Sheila. I love all the textural juxtaposition. There are a few plants I am unfamiliar with, but that's the beauty of seeing blogs like this with contributions from all over. Happy gardening!

    1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      I sincerely appreciate your comments, Jay. Like you, I've always felt that it's the combination of textures that allow gardens their own distinct personalities. Thanks for your kind words.

  3. Maggieat11 02/02/2017

    Wonderful plants and plant combinations, Sheila! Could you send a winter photo or 2 so we can see the "bones" of the garden? Were the rocks from your property or did you "import" them? Thanks for sharing. Love it!

    1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      I'm pleased you like my combos Margaret, I'll see if I can pull up a winter shot or two. It's all about the boulders for me, I adore their gnarly texture enhanced with the occasional blotch of silver-green lichen. When we moved in the landscape was flat and there wasn't a rock to be found. The boulders and pallets of stone had to be 'craned' over our roof to our backyard then carefully positioned since we don't have enough width on the side of the house to allow for a bobcat!

      1. Maggieat11 02/02/2017

        Thanks, Sheila. I too, love incorporating rocks into the landscape. Hopefully, this summer, I can send in some photos.

        1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

          I can't wait to see your work!

  4. tennisluv 02/02/2017

    Sheila, love how you, with the help of your 'rock whispering' friend, took advantage of your move from the central plains to the Rocky Mountains to create such a lovely rock strewn landscape. Can't decide if it is your plantings that enhance the rocks or the rocks that enhance your plantings. Regardless, you have created a beautiful garden.

    1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      Thank you Sonya. The beauty of Lynne's 'artistic eye' for boulder placement is that she was able to take a completely flat space and create a mountain landscape that tricks the viewer into thinking it's natural. I don't have that ability, no matter how hard I try. A couple of years ago we had to take the waterfall apart to repair a leak, it took me all afternoon to put it back together but it never looked as realistic! She has quite the gift. I must admit she was pretty irritated with me when I told her I was going to do the plantings. She forgave me when she realized I understood her vision.

  5. User avater
    treasuresmom 02/02/2017

    Love, love, love it all!!!

    1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      Thanks so much!

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 02/02/2017

    Sheila, I love how your plants intermingle so happily. If this was a human neighborhood, they'd be having weekend barbecues together and putting on 24/7 black parties... where all were welcome and compliments filled the air. Each plant seems to bring out something special in the ones surrounding it...such a continuous loop of positivity. I see pleasing color echoes galore. If, for some reason, you ever have to stop gardening, then you should take up quilting and continue using your great eye for color and textures to create fabric "gardens".

    1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      Dearest Michaele... your words are magical. I'm laughing as my imagination is running wild thinking about the garden parties that happen when I'm sleeping! When I was a child and 'horse crazy' I firmly believed that when I closed my eyes at night, all my horse statues came alive and had parties. I was also pretty impressed that they did such an excellent job of cleaning up so I wouldn't be any the wiser!!! I always knew the truth though, they couldn't trick me!
      BTW, my mother was an exceptional quilter, but it didn't carry over. I can't sew a stitch!

      1. User avater
        meander_michaele 02/02/2017

        Well, well, Sheila, another thread of commonality...I, too, was a horse crazed girl who loved her collection of various colored toy equines. My favorite was a chestnut who I immediately named Flame in honor of Walter Farley's The Island Stallion. Oh, the adventures that plastic horse and I shared...we traveled the world,conquered all adversities and were beloved by all who came into imaginary contact with us. Thanks for tickling my memory.

        1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

          I bet you read all of Walter Farley's books, too, didn't you? I think I still have my favorites in a box, but it's probably time to pass them on to another generation of young girls that dream of galloping through the open fields on their beloved stallion that only they can ride! That was a good age.

          1. User avater
            meander_michaele 02/02/2017

            Yes, you nailed one of the most important parts of the irresistible allure of Walter Farley's stallion creations, The Black Stallion and The Island Stallion. They were loyal to the taming by their one special human and in our girl dreams, we got to be that remarkable individual who could ride the spirited horse to the stars and back.
            Lucky you to still have copies of your original books to pass down.

          2. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

            I would wake up and know I had gone to heaven if I could recapture those powerful and freedom filled dreams of my preteen years. Why is it that we can still feel the rush of air in our imaginary long tresses, Mike?

          3. User avater
            meander_michaele 02/02/2017

            I feel so incredibly fortunate that I had those uncomplicated and innocent preteen fantasies. Wouldn't we have had fun being two young girls playing with our horses and having our totally unrealistic adventures. I'm sure we would have politely taken turns winning the great Race of the Century between The Black and Flame and we both would have been wicked awesome riders!

          4. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

            I feel the same way and will try my hardest to allow those dreams to enter my granddaughter's reality and imagination. What a gift that we can still feel the thrill of the ride of being extraordinary so many years later.

  7. NCYarden 02/02/2017

    "Hail to the Chief Gardener!"...just not on the garden please. It's beautiful, Sheila. It's like a grand mixed media piece of art. Great elements - rocks, blooms, textural leaves, goodness, it has it all. Love the silvery blue flow in pic 4 - outstanding. Hope all hail does not break loose this year. Thanks for sharing.

    1. User avater
      Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 02/02/2017

      Took me a I'm laughing. Puntastic.

    2. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      You are good...really, really good, my gardening friend. I just had my first 'snort and chuckle' of the day, Love It! I'm so very pleased you see my vision... you just have to love the movement of Artemesia, seafoam, don't ya? It has been one of my favorite plants since I discovered it at the nursery years ago. I'd be a very happy gardener even if I only could have Agastache's and Seafoam in my gardens! Hail yea!

  8. VikkiVA 02/02/2017

    Stunning garden Sheila. I love the variety. What is the purple flowering plant in the first photo? I recognize many of yours but not that one. Thanks for the beauty in my in box this morning. Vikki from VA

    1. annred97 02/02/2017

      Hi Vikki, Looks like Pulsatilla vulgaris (also known as Anemone pulsatilla) to me. Nice dark purple one! Mine are all seedlings of the originals now and the color isn't quite as vibrant, but still nice.

      1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

        Thanks Ann, this plant actually was reseeded from the original that is long gone. What you can't really see is that it is growing in a once tiny crevice in a large boulder! This delicate beauty has maintained it's deep purple color for about 9 years now. It's pretty darn happy!

    2. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      Thanks Vikki... I'm thrilled my gardens gave you a smile this morning. Ann is absolutely right, the purple flower is a Pulsatilla vulgare commonly known as a Pasque flower. It's such a lovely springtime bloomer and when the flower fades it turns into a soft 'swirl' that lasts for quite a few weeks.

      1. anitaberlanga 02/02/2017

        I LOVE Pasque flower! your gardens are gorgeous!

        1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

          Thanks Anita... Pasque flower is such a delicate beauty. I love them, too!

  9. Chris_N 02/02/2017

    Thank you, Sheila, your photos this morning brought a smile to my face. Love the agastache's. Did a double take on your photo that has the red Abyssinian banana in it. I wondered what that little plant was and then saw the fence and realized it was a large plant, just down slope and farther away. I also like the peek through the trees at your patio with the cactus and agave.

    1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      Thanks Chris, aren't Agastache's the best? I adore them as do the hummers, butterflies and hummingbird moths that frequent my summer gardens. You're absolutely right, that banana is actually in a 3' tall, teal colored container at the back of this garden. I surrounded the plant with dichondra that was very, very happy, full and lush by the end of the summer. At the end of the summer we brought the plant, pot and all, inside and placed it in front of a window. Bananas do really well inside for several months given a little light! Glad you like the view of the patio thru the Aspen trunks, it's one of my favorite shots.

  10. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 02/02/2017

    Wow, Sheila. Your garden sure packs a whollup! Loving everything, from stem to rock. Your Agastache is magnificent. I'm hoping mine will establish themselves elsewhere in my garden besides the crevice between my garden and front sidewalk.
    The cactus (ferocactus?) in the pedestal pot next to the giant Agave is perfection. Artemisia Sea Foam has outdone itself. I'm completely in love with the orangey-red of the Zauschneria (?) with the purple Agastache. I could go on and on! Let winter be gone.

    1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      Hey Tim... thank you for your kind words, they mean a lot. That particular Agastache was one of several reseeded plants from the original that only made it for a year. The seedlings are now on their 3rd or 4th year! What do you bet that the one place your seedlings will chose to grow will be in that crevice?
      The cactus next to my beloved agave is a small golden barrel. It has been in that pot for 3-4 years now. As you know, I had to say goodbye to my big agave after 11 years. He could no longer make it through the doorway to overwinter inside. Jim and our son-in-law were overjoyed not to have to lug it in and out of the house and up the stairs anymore, but I loved that plant!!! I, too, adore the bright orange of the Zauschneria, Orange Carpet. It's very determined to take over, but a couple times a season I rip it into submission to try to control it's behavior. I'm never successful but I get out a lot of aggression during the process! Ha! Have a good one!

  11. wittyone 02/02/2017

    Did your rock whisperer use broken up concrete from the basketball court to provide backdrops for your plantings? Whatever, the result is just beautiful.

    1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      That would have been such a good idea, but no, the concrete was hand jack-hammered and then hand carried out of the backyard only to be hauled away. The boulders and stones were hand-picked from the stone yards. (See the reply to Margaret.) I'm pleased you like the outcome!

  12. user-7006958 02/02/2017

    Your garden is so mature now! I remember some of your earlier posts on this garden! Love all the contrasting textures and the use of silver foliage against hot colored bloom! It makes for a memorable garden!

    1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      How fun you remember the earlier posts when the gardens were in their infancy! The personality of a garden changes over the years, but the style of the gardener generally remains similar. I guess I'm still a bit of a 'wild child' when it comes to the look that makes me happy. Thanks Daniela!

  13. User avater
    LindaonWhidbey 02/02/2017

    Good morning, Sheila. You certainly have a way of combining plants that make them look like they just sprung up naturally without any human intervention. I love the artemisia with the brunnera which are two plants that I have in my garden but never thought of pairing since one seems to need shade and the other sun so I'm curious, is that a shady or sunny place? Love that banana plant hiding near the fence and all of your beautiful coral hyssop.

    1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      What a lovely compliment, thank you Linda... a natural look has always been my goal, and the boulders and stone pockets seemed to demand that style as well.

      I have the brunnera and artemesia combos in a few places. I, too, was surprised the marriage worked, but it has and they receive morning shade then hot sun after 1. I've found that Jack Frost seems to tolerate more sun than other varieties of Brunnera.

      The banana and hyssop are in the backyard and about 10' apart. The banana is still in a partial shade area, but the hyssop is flooded with our intense CO sun.

  14. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

    Awe, thanks Diane! I'm pretty crazy about the Jack Frost Brunnera and Seafoam Artemesia combo myself, especially when positioned close to a Moss Rock boulder. It always makes me smile.
    I'm pleased you noticed the color echos I use in our back yard. It is a very tiny space so I treat the colors I use as a visual whole as opposed to individual parts. The color echoes allow the backyard to appear comfortably larger than it is in reality.

  15. schatzi 02/02/2017

    Love it, love it, love it!!! Beautiful, Sheila. What a happy plant party! It all looks so natural and the rocks are wonderful too. I envy your success with agastache. I adore them but they tend to be annuals for me. They drown in the winter. I keep trying to find or make better drainage for them because they are so beautiful. I must have been a hummingbird in a former life a because I love tubular flowers! I also like the scent. Congrats to you and your rock whisperer friend - great job!

    1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      Your lovely words are very appreciated, Shirley, thank you! To be very honest, I've had mixed success with my Agastache's. I normally buy 'Plant Select' Hyssop's because they were created for the Rocky Mtn. region and the Plains states. Their 'Sunset' hyssop is the coral colored plant by the Aspens. It is a rupestris variety and is 24" - 36" tall. I have had great success with these and they reseed readily which is fine. The purple agastache in the next to last image is Sonoran Sunset and is a cana variety that tops out at about 15". I have only had one of these make it a second year, but I like them a lot so I consider them annuals. I love their scent, too. I always try to position them close to a pathway so their fragrance is in the air. Have you ever tried 'Tutti Fruiti'? It has kind of the juicy fruit gum scent... and 'Double Bubble' smells just like bubble gum!!!

      1. schatzi 02/03/2017

        Thank you for your informative reply, Sheila. I sympathize with your mixed success - glad I am not the only one who struggles with a love of plants that do not love us (or our environment) back. But they are worth the struggle, and sometimes we succeed. They are also worth planting as annuals, if necessary. Ah, plant lust...Hope Mother Nature treats you and your garden better this year - no hail! I am ready for spring, but we are still having freezing weather, so I guess it will be a while. The only things I have blooming right now are Hellebores - love 'em!

        1. schatzi 02/03/2017

          Oh, and cyclamen.

  16. user-3565112 02/02/2017

    Good morning Sheila, The small water feature & surrounding plants are so well balanced & natural looking that Mother Nature herself must be impressed. I can't add anything to what has been said earlier. Thank you for sharing your gardens this morning. They have provided a treasure trove of ideas & inspiration for all of us. . Good luck this spring, Joe

    1. sheila_schultz 02/02/2017

      Ah, thanks Joe! My gardens have made me very happy over the last 11 years! Good luck to you as well... every spring is new adventure for gardeners!

  17. GrannyCC 02/02/2017

    Thanks Sheila for these wonderful photos of your eclectic garden. I love all the textures and colours of plants set off by the wonderful rocks. it just goes to show how the different colour and shape of the leaves can add such interest in the garden once the flowering is done.

    1. sheila_schultz 02/03/2017

      Thanks Catherine... the beauty of gardening is that we do it for our own pleasure. If others get a bit of enjoyment from the end result it's the icing on the cake!

  18. Cenepk10 02/02/2017

    Now - that's right pretty ( As we say in the South ...)

    1. sheila_schultz 02/03/2017

      I'm going to be grinning in my dreams tonight! Thanks!

  19. perenniallycrazy 02/03/2017

    Wow! Sheila Schultz' treats for the next 2 days! Yours is one of my favorite sun garden with loads of color, texture and rocks. I'll be examining each and every photos for days to come...and then perhaps reviewing the genesis of your garden on video once again. I'm certainly looking forward to your containers tomorrow. I hope that Laurel, your partner in your passionate garden design/landscaping business, will one day honor us with photos of her own garden and containers too.

    1. sheila_schultz 02/03/2017

      Sweet Cherry... you always know how to make me smile! Laurel will be excited when I tell her what you just said! Thank you, dear friend, for your kind words. After all these years, I know they come from your heart.

  20. linnyg. 02/03/2017

    What a delight, Sheila ~ thanks for sharing ! Makes me want to hurry winter up and get to gardening. Last summer was a challenge for sure - I live NW of you in Westminster and teach full time year-round so depend on fair weather in May to get planting. Last year, it seemed to rain every weekend --- or hail. Which brings me to a question: I adore hostas and have them around the pond BUT once they are shredded they look miserable. We do have tarps at the ready, but that doesn't work when we are gone. Some gardeners I've seen put up patio or golf umbrellas if they suspect foul weather. Your hostas look so wonderful. What is your secret? (Here's a May 21, 2016 picture of our Dragonfly Pond area before the hail.)

    1. user-6536305 02/03/2017

      Linda, you should send photos of your beautiful garden to this post! What a beautiful lawn.

      1. sheila_schultz 02/03/2017

        I agree completely Lilian!

        1. linnyg. 02/03/2017

          I've thought about doing it some year, but Sheila, your pictures capture the best of the Denver area and mine pale in comparison.
          I have 15 themed gardens (Welcome, Butterfly, Friendship Bunny, Enchanted Fairy, Dragonfly Pond, Spring Rose, Bumblebee, Ladybug, Inspirational, Hummingbird, Narnia, Raised Herb, Asian, Patio, and Moroccan Patio) that were geared towards an interactive free field trip for my students, but had to stop that as in these days you never know when you will get sued years later over something you cannot disprove. I love it when the grandchildren or others come over - it's so fun to watch them frolic and play! But last year was a double disaster with all the hornets and mosquitoes. Yet gardeners are also an optimistic lot: THIS year WILL be better! It's like discovering treasure just to see what has survived over our winters.

    2. sheila_schultz 02/03/2017

      Hail is so unpredictable, it can destroy everything a block away and not touch your yard. I guess I had been too lucky for too long. I got slammed 3 times last year. I didn't receive a warning call for the 1st storm and I wasn't home for the last two mid-July that were incredibly destructive. We have a huge 'tarp system' we put up in the spring over our deck and patio to protect my containers and plants for clients. It's a joke!!! Unfortunately we can't cover the gardens. I discovered my first season gardening here that hosta's are remarkable when it comes to regenerating leaves if shredded early in the growing season. That said, I have learned to try to go with the natural flow of our area and plant thin leaved native plants whenever possible. They often come out unscathed!
      BTW, your hosta's are gorgeous!

      1. linnyg. 02/03/2017

        Well, that pic was just a few days before the Wrath of Hail shredded them as my hubby and I were trying to cover them. I should have taken an after picture BUT it was so disheartening. Even the grass lost its lushness. Of course, we had days of rain before this picture was taken - highly unusual (reminded me of the years back on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state where you can just look at a plant and it grows like a weed!)
        You can tell who the true gardeners are because when the hail comes, we go out and protect our plants and let our vehicles fend for themselves! So, do you cut back the shredded leaves afterwards or let the hostas regenerate with what they have? Also, I notice you have ferns - they don't seem to do well in my garden. Any hints on specific species and growing?

  21. user-7007498 02/03/2017

    Hi, Sheila. I saw your photos briefly this morning, but had to run to work early. Just got home and have been enjoying your garden for the last 30 minutes.

    How wonderful that you had the foresight to add the rocks to the garden and change the grade before you began. The stone and perennial combinations are so beautiful. I also love your use of Heuchera villosa 'Caramel', since it works so well with so many other greens.

    I am also a huge fan of the agastache. The coral color is so soothing.

    When I started my garden 20 years ago, I also had a flat property. Unfortunately, I did not realize the value of rocks and berms until 8 years ago, so now my efforts are all about "retrofitting". Bravo to your work.

    1. sheila_schultz 02/03/2017

      Thank you Kevin for your very thoughtful comments. I would love to take the credit for the berms and boulders but their inspiration came from my talented friend Lynne who had worked her magic in the Evergreen area of CO since the early 70's.
      I, too, enjoy the coloring of 'Caramel'. Funny thing, most of the Heuchera's shown in these photos were reseeded by their parents in other locations of the gardens! You should see the plants growing in random crevices of my boulders!

  22. user-7007140 02/03/2017

    Wonderfully colorful and full of interest. The natural looking garden is my favorite.

  23. greengenes 02/04/2017

    All so very nice Sheila! Certainly a lady of many talents!

  24. terieLR 02/06/2017

    Hi Sheila! Oh boy, do I know the disheartening effect of hail damage!?! A couple years ago it rained pellets of hail in the Spring and shredded newly emerging hosta... and any other perennial that wasn't protected by tree foliage. Oh, and tree leaves were shredded. I was so sick about it that I couldn't walk through the gardens for a couple days...then I was pleasantly surprised how quickly nature recovered.
    Thank you for gifting us with these gem-shots! I absolutely love how you pair perennials at the base of those trees. Very intriguing...and many of the same perennials we can use here in the northeast. All my best for a new garden-season!

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