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Mountain West Regional Reports

Plants for High and Very Dry Mountain Gardens | Regional Report

Hot Wings® Tatarian Maple has vibrant, eye-catching samaras. Photo: Steve Aitken

Rocky Mountain gardeners are a hardy bunch, gardening in some of the most inhospitable parts of the United States, with unpredictable swings in weather patterns and a persistent threat of wildfire. Though some places experience no shortage of water, for most of America west of the 100th meridian, water is scarce and sacred.

You may be faced with some difficult choices in your garden, but take heart: “fire-wise” and “water-wise” gardens are totally doable, and they can be stunning. These thoughtful new approaches to gardening share several principles: a good plan, efficient and well-maintained irrigation, wise use of mulch, improved soil, and carefully selected plant materials.

The first and easiest way to adapt is to lose any notions you have about the gravelly, bony look of dry gardens and go for big color. Exercise wild abandon with your use of hot pink, purple, orange, red, and gold. Use bold colors…

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