1. What percentage of the plants in the pictures do you think came from Harlequin’s Gardens?
2. Did you create this garden (you and your family) or did you have professional help? Describe briefly:
We designed the garden ourselves. It evolved over many years. It was more plant-driven design than designed on paper. Water was a limiting factor that disciplined our selection, and we grouped plants by water needs and what looked good together. Strolling through the garden (sometimes with a plant in hand) and looking often inspired design.
3. What is the age of this garden? What town or area? What elevation?
The garden, which we call a Rock Meadow, was started in 1985. It is still evolving. We are located near Boulder, in a rural area, 5300′
4. What irrigation method(s) do you use and how often do you water and for how long?
We water by sprinkler on a a hose, usually for 30 minutes at a location, 5-6 times a year, generally once a month and twice in July. We water when the garden needs water. New plants get hand watered to establish.
5. What is your soil like? Did you amend it? With what?
Our soil is gravelly with some clay; some areas have more clay. Some areas were amended with just compost, some with pea gravel, sand and compost. Newer areas have some expanded shale. We have added some rock minerals, some light fertilizers and some compost topdressing, especially in the fall. Occasionally we use compost tea.
6. How big is your garden and how often do you work in your garden?
I’d estimate the Rock Meadow is about 900 square feet. Because I’m busy, I get help with weeding and watering, and some planting. It is hard to guess how much time I spend but maybe 2-8 hours a week.
7. What has, or currently does, inspire you to garden and use sustainable practices?
I like natives and drought tolerant plants, mostly from western US and from Steppe regions of Turkey, Afghanistan, Iran, Kazakhstan, etc. Those plants that are adapted to our conditions thrive and those that don’t I let them go. The garden has kinda naturalized over the years.
8. How do you deal with “weeds”? What is your approach to insect pests and disease?
I weed with good hand tools (occasionally with a spade.) I get after grasses early in March, Bindweed in April, May and allow no seed, Ground Ivy whenever I see it. I thin flowering biennials, I don’t let weeds get too big before removing them. I think some weeds are ok, like edible purslane. Wet years I’m less tolerant of weeds. I garden organically and almost never spray anything for insects. I have lots of benefical insects in the garden.
9. Share a brief story about something you learned from your garden or plants, or inspiration received from gardening?
After 11 years, my Agave parryi started pushing up a bloom stalk. It grew so fast and so dramatic people started coming to visit it. Finally, it reached 11 feet tall with a 3′ candelabra-like bloom of orange-yellow cup shaped flowers that attracted both people and a Bullock’s Oriole.
10. What is your experience growing plants from Harlequin’s Gardens?
The plants that I get from Harlequin’s, though perhaps smaller and maybe not in flower, are the most dependable to establish. Once they are in the ground, they grow well and are more drought tolerant and tough.
11. Is there anything else you’d like to share with us and/or our community?
I look forward to visiting other gardens on this virtual garden tour. Also, I hope Harlequin’s can continue to survive, because I enjoy the naturalness of the setting and the helpful and friendly staff.