Garden Photo of the Day

Revisiting Sheila’s garden in Colorado, Day 1

Plumbago, variegated iris, Agastache ‘Sunset’, Heuchera ‘Palace Purple’, Lavandula ‘Hidcote’, Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’

It’s been over a year since we last visited Sheila Schultz’s garden in Denver! I was so happy to see new photos of her garden in my inbox yesterday. 

‘Hot Cocoa’ floribunda rose, Iris pumila ‘Argentea’, Caryopteris ‘Dark Night’

Sheila says, “Hey gardening friends, I figured it was about time to send some photos of my gardens and containers to GPOD, it’s been quite a while. We moved to Denver from the Chicago area 9 years ago and my style of gardening changed dramatically. I was used to shade gardening, ample rain, and more-than-desired humidity. Denver is considered a high plains desert so we have intense sun, typically low rainfall amounts, and very low humidity. It has been quite the learning curve, especially when you add in all the different micro-climates in my gardening areas!

Lysimachia punctata ‘Alexander’, Monarda ‘Fireball’, Sedum rupestre ‘Angelina’, Polemonium ‘Brise d’ Anjou’, Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’.

We re-landscaped our tiny backyard within months of moving in mainly out of necessity since it was home to a broken basketball court. The 20×60 space was replaced with a flagstone patio and two gardens. The front yard followed the next spring, and my rock gardening passion was born.

Brunnera’s ‘Macro’ & ‘Jack Frost’, Artemesia ‘Seafoam’, Mexican feather grass

These gardens were my first to design even though I had gardened for years. My initial goal was to try as many new sun plants as possible, the hotter the colors the better. As always in gardening, some lived and some died. The good thing is that I have yet to run out of new possibilities to try!

Calamintha nepeta ‘Montrose White’, Heuchera ‘Purple Petticoat’, Agastache ‘Sunset’

I freely admit to being a plantaholic, but I am trying to be far more thoughtful in using low water plants. In the hottest of summers, watering 3 times a week is sufficient for my beds, but my goal is getting it down to 2. Having no grass is very helpful in our drought ridden area.”

Blue oat grass, Salvia ‘May Night’, Nepeta ‘Walker’s Low’, Zauschneria ‘Orange Carpet’, Sedum ‘Purple Emperor’

Everything is sooooo lovely, Sheila! ***Tomorrow we’ll get a tour of Sheila’s container creations!****

Zauschneria ‘Orange Carpet’, Gaillardia ‘Arizona Sun’
Artemesia ‘Silver Brocade’, Japanese painted fern, Heuchera ‘Dolce Licorice’, Sedum ‘Dragon’s Blood’, Veronica spicata

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  1. perenniallycrazy 09/30/2014

    Woot woot Sheila! Your garden photos have helped to chase my fall weather blues away. Thank you. I love the rocks, colors, textures and plant choices added to the fact that you've created a waterwise garden. My favorite combo is of the Mexican feather grass, artemesia sea foam and the brunnera. Everything works so well together. Wish I could visit in person. Can't wait to see your containers tomorrow... I'll be checking in early for tomorrow's post for sure.

    PS I'm also taking note of all the flowering plants that are working for you. That recommendation for the Agastache was A1. Thanks again.

    1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

      Hey PC... glad you like the photos. When I was pulling some to send to GPOD I realized that I didn't take as many garden photos this year as I thought! The combo you mentioned is one of my faves, too. I planted a couple of Mexican Feather Grasses a few years ago and they reseeded like crazy. That particular one surfaced this year and I love the textural combo w/ the seafoam and brunnera's. I'm happy you like them, too. Have you planted any seafoam artemesia? I'm crazy about that plant!!!

      1. Nurserynotnordstroms 09/30/2014

        Don't you love it when a plant just shows up,and it puts itself exactly where it should be. I have had a few of those this year. Most of them stayed exactly where they landed ,I didn't need to move them not even an inch. Thank for the beautiful pics.

      2. perenniallycrazy 09/30/2014

        Can't say I have hence I am totally attracted to it! I have Artemesia Powis Castle and right now Valerie Finnis which I hope to plant with Black Mondo Grass. I've also love Artemesia Silver Brocade and have planted it time and again. I think silver foliage is indispensable in any garden, don't you?

        1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

          I have to look up Valerie Finnis, I'm not familiar with it at all, but I do love Silver Brocade. Unfortunately my big one became history this summer. It was in the waterfall garden and got so huge last year that it covered both of the large stones at the bottom right of the above photo. I cut it back every year, but this year it just never thrived. I think it rotted, I'll find out more when I dig it out this fall. It will be replaced. I love the way the color and texture works so well with the moss rock and Japanese Painted Ferns.

  2. GrannyMay 09/30/2014

    Absolutely gorgeous Sheila! Love your colour combinations and the way you designed a flowing tapestry of plants without spaces in between. That rock garden with pond, waterfall and birch clump is a work of art!

    I had no idea that Japanese painted fern would survive in a hot, sunny, dry location. Yours certainly looks happy. I love the look of it, so I'll be trying it in some dry places next year for sure.

    1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

      Good morning GrannyMay! I'm so pleased you like my waterfall garden, I have found it to be so peaceful. As 'hot colored' as the front gardens are, this one is a bit 'cooler' and more peaceful... especially with the sound of trickling water. BTW, the mini-waterfall was added to the design to counteract the annoying and continuous hum of our radon fan on the brick wall of the house!

      Don't get too excited about placing a Japanese Painted Fern in a dry area, definitely not in a sunny spot. I have lost many, but those that have survived like being nestled amidst a lot of other plants. I definitely think the dense planting keeps their toes cool and allows them to be happy.

      1. GrannyMay 09/30/2014

        Good point Sheila. It really is all about microclimate and other local challenges, isn't it. I'm trying to put in more grasses to help avoid watering, but find the bunnies are thrilled to try new food! They even ate artemisia when I tried that for gray colour.

        1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

          It's so thoughtful for you to feed the local wildlife! The pickin's must be slim in your neighborhood for them to go after artemesia!

          1. GrannyMay 09/30/2014

            Sheila, I think they have become bored with the huge variety and endless supply of edibles here and just nibble on whatever they see in front of their noses. One of the artemisia was in a container on my front steps. That got nibbled in passing, but not destroyed. The other was in the ground - it did not survive.

          2. sheila_schultz 10/01/2014

            Dang! Hope they ended up with indigestion!

  3. user-1020932 09/30/2014

    always snazzy! everything looks great and full of interesting color combos and textures. i will examine more closely when i wake up to study the details. love it all but the birch clump bed is my favorite ,,,,,,,well at this moment it's my favorite ! i will be saving container photos tomorrow for inspiration in 2015

    1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

      Thanks Jeff... I really do like that bed, too. It's always been my easy garden until this year. Last winter was really tough on it and I lost probably 25% of the plants, but that did open up endless opportunities! Fingers crossed the remaining clump of aspen will remain healthy. Our devil squirrels take great joy in girdling the tops, we've lost 5 in the bed so far, and the remaining trees are about 10' shorter than when we moved in! New this year is the Japanese Maple, Crimson Queen, that you can barely see on the left side of the garden. It was a gift from a dear friend... hope it overwinters.

  4. NCYarden 09/30/2014

    Awesome, Shelia. I love that the only exposed ground is a fascinating rock, which I bet you have pretty sweet access to some beauties now. And those stark aspen/birch(?) trunks - great structural element. Congratulations on adapting your garden style to the new climate and turning out such a beautiful palette. Hot colors is right. I, and especially Christine, really miss our Agastache 'Sunset'. It has been wetter in our area over the past couple of seasons and I think it more or less drowned. I'm sure the hummingbirds miss it too. And that Zauschneria 'Orange Carpet, is magical...ha, a magic carpet! I'm gonna have to look into that one for my dry hill in the back. Thanks for being water wise as well. You've created a wonderful garden. Don't squash your plant addiction too much, and rock on. Thanks for sharing.

    1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

      Mornin' NC! A dear landscape designer friend from N CA saw my gardens for the first time this spring and she told me I was the 'groundcover queen' ;) I do love the way they look, especially Lysimachia nummularia 'Aurea'. The yellow color just makes everything around it pop! It also has the added benefit of keeping the soil moist a little longer after watering. I must admit, though, to spending a lot of time ripping out groundcover in the spring and fall. It's an ongoing challenge to keep the majority of the moss rock visable.

      Keep on trying the Agastache. I feel lucky if I can get the main plants to make it 2 years in a row. But, it reseeds like crazy, so versions of it seem to appear out of nowhere in the most interesting places come spring! Don't you just love Zauschneria? It can be a thug, but I couldn't live without it, orange has become my fave garden color! It needs full sun but can take very dry soil or well watered soil. It's such a happy camper!

  5. User avater
    Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/30/2014

    Sheila! I was so excited to see your name come up and I am not disappointed! Looks spectacular. I, too, am in love with your zauschneria. I've killed several and have a new one struggling in my gravel garden! That's an amazing color on your monarda and Loree Bohl of Danger Garden was just recently askong about Artemisia Seafoam: love that texture! Can't wait for containers!

    1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

      So glad you like my gardens Tim. Best of luck with the Zauschneria. I think it's well suited for our dry and sunny climate, but it sounds like the gravel garden might be the ticket for you. The only place it doesn't thrive for me is in the waterfall garden. It's alive but not vigorous. Too much shade. Do you have any Seafoam? It really rocks... and it looks great around blue-toned agaves ;)

      1. User avater
        Tim_Zone_Denial_Vojt 09/30/2014

        I don't have the artemisia, but may have to try it. Does it run or stay in one spot? I've been ordering more agaves for containers and am trying to resist trying any more hardy agaves in the're not helping! :)

        1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

          Hey, all my agave's come inside... the nursery (alias spare bedrooms) is officially full!

          The artemesia does run a little, but it's very easy to control. Last year I removed a lot... maybe a bit too much, it took longer than normal to look lush again. It was coming off a real tough winter in that we had very little snow cover with a lot of frigid winds. I think I will not cut it back this fall, but wait until spring, just before it starts growing.

  6. User avater
    meander_michaele 09/30/2014

    Sheila, your garden is an outstanding example of how water wise landscaping can be so full of color, texture, and plant diversity. I found myself lingering over every picture because each was such a complete visual treat.. I'm with Granny May in expressing surprise that the Japanese Painted fern is not more water needy although ,perhaps since it is tucked in at the base of that beautiful silver trunked tree, the filtered shade helps balance things out. And, heck, a good soaking 2 to 3 times of week is obviously plenty of moisture. As with your container combinations, all your plant groupings are so interesting and provide a tutorial on what works well together. Can't wait for tomorrow but ,in the meantime, I think I will scroll back up and linger a little longer.

    1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

      You sure do know how to bring a smile to my face Michaele, I love that you enjoy my gardens. I read a while back that if you plant what makes you happy your gardens won't disappoint, and I have in most cases found that to be true. Since I have become such a texture and foliage freak I've definitely been having a whole lot more fun playing with plants. Even on the worst days, after a little deadheading and a nip and tuck here and there, the sun shines brighter. I couldn't live without it.

  7. User avater
    HelloFromMD 09/30/2014

    Love the water feature in the first photo. I want to add a waterfall to my rock garden but assumed it would have to be large and require moving conifers around. Thanks for sharing, I might borrow the idea. You rose to the challenge of new conditions beautifully.

    1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

      Thank you so much for your kind words, MD. I have to say that our back yard would not be nearly as relaxing without the soothing sound of the water coming from that tiny waterfall. My friend that did all the hardscaping for the gardens has been referred to as a 'rock whisperer'! It's a gift that I don't have. She received a huge compliment when our tree guy that works primarily in the mountains came over for the first time... he said that if he didn't know we were in a very flat neighborhood, he would think our lot was at 9000 ft. It's all about how the stones are this case, size doesn't matter!

  8. wittyone 09/30/2014

    Oh Sheila, what a wowser! These combinations are just wonderful--especially the zauschneria, sedum, nepeta and monada. It's beautiful with the Arizona Sun galliards as well. As it happens I have just planted some of that galliarda around another planting and was wondering about filling in between the plants with something else. Well, now I know exactly what will work there. Thanks so much for all the plant names----they come in so handy.

    1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

      vwitte, you are so kind, thank you! Good luck with your gaillardia. It seems like everyone and their mother can get them to grow easily... except for me. I needed and wanted the color combo, but I swear I have planted at least a dozen and only 2 have ever survived even though I tried ever fool-proof trick in the book! I switched over to a coreopsis with the same yellow/orange coloring this season. We'll see if it overwinters since I don't seem to have a good track record with them either ;( I am nothing if not stubborn!

  9. Nurserynotnordstroms 09/30/2014

    I Love all of the textures,and your color combinations. The water feature has a nice drop into the pond so the splash sound must be wonderful,and a nice way to attract wildlife. I need to take the time and look up your other photos for some reason the here button to see your last years photos was missing today. I am so glad you shared with us again.

    1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

      Ah, thanks Nnn, the birds and squirrels do indeed enjoy the waterfall... as we discovered does our daughter's 4 mo. old Rottie pup! She was over the other evening and was standing at the edge of the pond and decided it looked good enough to drink. She started lapping the water as I dove towards her... a little too late! She did a header in the pond as I grabbed her. I think she thought I must have pushed her in from the surprised look on her sweet little face as I pulled her out ;) I'm guessin' she won't be doing that again!

  10. user-7006958 09/30/2014

    Love the textures, colors and choices of plants in your garden. I have to find that fine artemisia! It looks so lovely with brunnera. Zauschneria looks so good, I have to find it for my front hill bed which doesn't get water much. I spotted some nice large hostas in the background and variegated Solomon seal! You didn't leave the northern garden without some fine reliable perennials! You had inspired me again!

    1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

      Thank you so much Daniela... you're right, I didn't leave my favorite shade plants in the dust, especially since I have a few shady spots both in the front and the back! I couldn't live without the var. Solomon's Seal or Hosta's just to name a few, they both bring so much quiet beauty to a garden. I do have to say that I'm having so much fun in the sun though ;) It's a real treat for me to have the chance to play with all the bright colors!

      It sounds as if you have a great spot for Zauschneria, it should do really well if your slope gets plenty of sun. If you can't find the Artemesia 'Seafoam' at your local nurseries next spring, order it through a catalog. It's readily available. Have fun!

  11. annek 09/30/2014

    Mmmmmmm, beautiful combinations Sheila. I love the colors. You're a design perfectionist resulting in an amazing garden. Thanks for sharing your success

    1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

      Your words mean the world to me, Annek, especially your gardens always inspire me! Thank you.

  12. Meelianthus 09/30/2014

    Hello Sheila ~ I so enjoyed your gardens this morning. All of the colors are just delicious! The Brunnera with the Artemisia and Feather grass is breathtaking and those beautiful tree trunks add such an artful backdrop. I love your rocks too. I am going to revisit your gardens again this afternoon ^_^ Thank you.

    1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

      Meelianthus, I'm so pleased you are liking the colors! I have been having fun with them ;) The Mexican Feather Grass is such a fun textural element to gardens, don't you think? Every little breath of wind allows it to sway. It is considered an annual here, but as I mentioned to Meander, it reseeds readily. (It's also easy to remove if it pops up where you don't want it.) Thank you!

  13. Clarkpark 09/30/2014

    Thank you for sharing the pic of your stone garden near your birch trees! I have been wanting to create a small pond with waterfall; The small size of the waterfall is charming! You are a very talented gardener and your beautiful pics have motivated me to start my small pond/waterfall this spring! One question, is Monarda Fireball mildew resistant? THANKS, Patty in eastern WA

    1. sheila_schultz 09/30/2014

      I'm so happy you like our waterfall, Patty! It is definitely small, but it has certainly made an impact in our equally small backyard! I'm so happy you are considering building one for your own space. Not much is more soothing than the splish-splash of falling water.

      A couple things about the Monarda 'Fireball'... it seems to be more mildew resistant than many other varieties of Monarda, but it does get mildew. I have learned to thin it out A LOT in the early spring, that has helped tremendously. I probably remove 40-50% of the small plants to give those that are remaining more breathing space. The original draw for me was not only the color, but also the height... it was supposed to top out at 18-24". WRONG! The first year it hit 48" and was way too tall for the location. A neighbor suggested that I pinch it back in the spring, so I pinched every stem back at least by 50% once it got to be 12" or so, and that did the trick. Good luck!

  14. Clarkpark 09/30/2014

    Thank you for sharing the pics of your small stone pond and waterfall near your birch trees; the small size is charming! You are a very talented gardener and your pics have motivated me to start a small pond and waterfall this spring. One question: is Monarda Fireball disease resistant? THANKS, Patty

  15. schatzi 10/01/2014

    Hi All. I didn't have time to comment yesterday when these photos first aired, just drool and get on with the day. The textures in picture 4 are fantastic! And I love the zauschneria with the salvia - great color combination. And I love agastaches - the colors and the scent are terrific and the hummers and bees love them. Living in CO you must be familiar with High Country Gardens - they have amazing plants that would do well for you. I can keep "aggies" alive in my climate if I give them good drainage. For living in a sometimes wet climate, I really love the prairie flowers - agastaches, salvias, coneflowers ( I love the newer hybrids but don't have enough summer heat for them to do well unless I buy them in bloom, and then it's too wet in the winter). I agree on the value and beauty of texture, but I will not ever give up my passion for flowers! I actually have a zauschneria that is happy in my rock garden and blooms every year. and it is definitely not a thug in my garden. The waterfall is beautiful. I love the sound of falling water and the birds like having a place to get a drink. Sheila, you are definitely an artist. Your gardens and pots are to die for.

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