Michelle Provaznik

Michelle Provaznik

Michelle discovered a love of gardening when she and her husband joined friends in renting a community garden in Arlington, Virginia. Several years and two states later, she turned her passion into a career by studying ornamental horticulture at Foothills College in Los Altos Hills, California. While in school, she worked at a local nursery, gardened on a private estate, and interned at a public garden. A move back to Colorado introduced Michelle to the challenges of gardening in the Mountain West, where she ran her own horticulture maintenance company for six years and served on the nonprofit board of a developing public garden. In 2008, Michelle became the executive director of the Gardens on Spring Creek, the botanic garden in Fort Collins. Since then she has grown the Gardens on Spring Creek by constructing gardens and overseeing visitation, programs, volunteers, and partnerships. She is excited for future programming in the new facility as it works to fulfill its mission of enriching lives through horticulture.

1. What do you like most about gardening in your region?

Nothing is ever the same from year to year. Each year brings new opportunities and new challenges.

2. What’s the biggest challenge to gardening in your region?

Same as above!

Lavender Twist® redbud
Lavender Twist® redbud. Photo: courtesy of White Flower Farm


3. What plant are you jazzed about in your garden right now?

We added a Lavender Twist® redbud (Cercis canadensis ‘Covey’, Zones 5–9) near our bubbling rock water feature last year. Redbuds are a little “iffy” in our climate, but its shape is amazing, and I can’t wait to see it bloom for the first time. It will remind me of other parts of the country where we have lived.

4. What was the last plant you killed?

There have been too many to count—I am always trying new things. We planted a new berm last year with shrubs and perennials and I can’t wait to see what emerges in the spring. I’m sure a trip to our favorite nursery will be inevitable.


  • Xeric plantings
    Mountain West Regional Reports

    Xeriscape Gardening in the Mountain West

    If you’ve lived in the Mountain West for any period of time, you know the importance of water. Throughout our winters, we watch snowpack totals accumulate in our mountains, and…

  • Albyn dwarf Scots pine
    Mountain West Regional Reports

    Dwarf Pines for the Mountain West

    The forests in the Mountain West are made up of huge swaths of pines, such as lodgepole pine (Pinus contorta, Zones 4–8), ponderosa pine (P. ponderosa, Zones 3–7), and many…

  • Collecting seeds
    Mountain West Regional Reports

    Propagating Native Plants From Seed in the Mountain West

    When I think about growing plants from seed, I usually think about my vegetable garden. I direct-sow many types of these seeds, such as beans, carrots, and squash. I follow…

  • Mountain West Regional Reports

    Mountain West: January Garden To-Do List

    Enjoy the winter landscape. While providing natural insulation, a blanket of snow creates the perfect canvas to highlight the “bones” of your landscape—its structure, form, and textures. Our woody trees…

  • knocking snow off branches
    Mountain West Regional Reports

    Protecting Trees Through Unpredictable Winters in the Mountain West

    Drought, 60° to 70°F temperature fluctuations in a 24-hour period, and early and late season snows are hard on trees in the Mountain West. While we can’t control Mother Nature,…

  • Cyclamen
    Mountain West Regional Reports

    Mountain West December Garden To-Do List

    Purchase houseplants for the holidays. I love to add living color to holiday décor. Poinsettias (Euphorbia pulcherrima, Zones 10–11), amaryllis (Hippeastrum spp. and cvs., Zones 8–10), Christmas cacti (Schlumbergera spp.…

  • Mountain West Regional Reports

    Mountain West November Garden To-Do List

    Give the lawn a final mowing. Depending upon the weather, the final lawn mowing can happen in late October up to mid-November. I tend to do this cutting a little…

  • Mountain West Regional Reports

    Amazing Autumn Bloomers for the Mountain West

    As the heat of summer wanes into the cooler days and chilly nights of fall, our gardens undergo another seasonal transition. While we often focus on the golds, russets, and…

  • Mountain West Regional Reports

    Growing Chilis and Hot Peppers in the Mountain West

    The Mountain West is known for hot pepper selection, with New Mexico as the home of the Hatch green chili and Colorado as the home of the Pueblo chili, so…

  • Mountain West Regional Reports

    Mountain West October Garden To-Do List

    Dispose of fall leaves. While I like to keep some leaves around my perennials for extra protection in the winter, I have too many for all of them to remain…