Garden Spotlight – Bare is Beautiful

by Janet Fitzgerald, HAS Member

 Photo Credit:  Debra Stinton Othitis 

The graceful and stately American Elm tree is indisputably the centerpiece of the HAS Heritage Garden. It boasts an umbrella-shaped canopy and has branches like spreading fountains. Its engaging winter architecture gives way to green leaves in summer that turn gold in fall. This tree can provide some serious shade. It’s likely the HAS tree (Ulmus americana) was planted about 1908, when the historic Van Briggle Pottery building opened in what was then the newly-formed Monument Valley Park.

Although this would currently date the tree at more than a century old, American Elms can live up to 300 years and grow to more than a 100 feet. The American Elm in the HAS Heritage Garden survived the devastating flooding of Monument Creek in 1935. It also escaped succumbing to the nation-wide scourge of Dutch Elm disease in the 1930s. The last known measurements were taken in 2007 for the Notable Trees of Colorado calendar. At that time the tree was 50 feet high and had a trunk diameter of 49 inches.

EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the first in our new Garden Spotlight series featuring photos from Debra Stinton Othitis.

It’s Seed Swapping Time

by Rob Lucey, HAS Trustee

                                               Photo Credit:  Rob Lucey              

It’s time to begin planting cold season starts indoors, and the occasional warm day prompts dreams of poking seeds into the actual dirt outside. That means it’s seed swapping season!

Step one, pull out your seed collection. Step two, realize you have way too many of some seeds and not nearly enough of others. Step three, hit the seed swaps!

Sure, you might place an order with a seed catalogue or pick up some sachets at your favorite nursery, but a seed packet usually has way more seeds than you need for a typical home gardener’s bed.

Why not swap surplus volume for variety? If you saved too many marigold and hollyhock seeds last year, swap your surplus for somebody else’s extra tomato and lettuce seeds. One of the pleasures of a seed swap is acquiring varieties that you might not otherwise have tried. Pikes Peak Squash? Parsnip? Giant beets? Why not?

The other great pleasure is meeting your fellow gardeners. Often, they can provide firsthand details about growing the seeds they’re swapping. How’s it look? Where does it thrive? What’s it taste like?

Here are a few upcoming swaps:

• March 11, 3-4:30 p.m., Food to Power Hillside Hub, 1090 S. Institute St. Register at Donation.

March 29, 5-7 p.m., SEE (Sustainable Educational Experience) Seed & Plant Swap + Garden Planning event, East Library 5550 N. Union Blvd., $5 suggested donation.

April 1, 1-3 p.m., during Pikes Peak Herb Fest, Colorado Springs City Auditorium, 221 E. Kiowa St. Free event.

Another great place to swap seeds is a local seed library. The best one in this area is in the Manitou branch of the Pikes Peak Library District, currently residing inside of the Manitou Art Center, 515 Manitou Ave. Seeds packets are located in the drawers of an old library card catalogue. Just leave packets of your extra seeds and take what you need.

If you are in Pueblo, there is also an excellent seed library in the Rawlings Library, 100 E. Abriendo Ave.

Joining a garden group on social media is a good resource to learn about other swap opportunities. If you are comfortable trading seeds through the mail, there are even a couple of seed swap groups on Facebook.

 Marcia Tatroe Shares Western Cottage Garden Wisdom


Photo Credit:  Marcia Tatroe

The beautifully restored Peel House, formerly the home of William and Patty Jewett at First Lutheran Church,1515 N. Cascade Ave, Colorado Springs, CO
When: Saturday, April 29, 2023, 10-11:30 a.m.

Refreshments and social time starting at 9:30 a.m. with the talk following at 10:00 a.m.

HAS members: $11
Non-members: $21

Magic happens when the old-world charm of the traditional cottage garden combines with American ingenuity and enthusiasm. Marcia Tatroe will deliver this year’s HAS Founders Day Lecture. She will show us examples of gardens where opportunities for personal expression abound and where anything goes – with Western natives mixing it up with old favorites. The results: highly individualistic and satisfying gardens.

Marcia has been gardening in Centennial, Colorado, for more than 35 years. Her photography and gardens have been featured in numerous books, magazines and nationally televised gardening shows. She lectures throughout the West focusing on garden design, rock gardening, xeriscape and native plants, advocating the use of drought-tolerant and native plants and indigenous materials to create a gardening aesthetic unique to this region. Marcia’s garden was awarded Gold Habitat Hero status by the Audubon Rockies in 2017 as an outstanding urban wildscape.

Please register early, as the Peel House only seats 100 participants. Register to attend using this link:

Your reservation is not guaranteed until we receive payment.  If you need to pay via check, IT MUST BE RECEIVED AT OUR MAILING ADDRESS BY APRIL 20TH!
Please send to:
Horticultural Art Society
P.O. Box 7706
Colorado Springs, CO 80933

Use the links below to pay for the lecture via Paypal. You do not need to have a Paypal account.  



Plant Select 2023 Introductions 

by Diane Engles, HAS Member 

Plant Select® is a nonprofit collaboration of Colorado State University, Denver Botanic Gardens and professional horticulturists. In their words: “Our mission is to seek out and distribute the very best plants for landscapes and gardens from the intermountain region to the high plains and beyond.”

Plants are trialed and tested for 2-5 years at Denver Botanic Gardens, Colorado State University, and public and private gardens. There are six new introductions for 2023.  Four of them are native to the western and plains states. Check them out below — for more detailed information click on the links. 

TUSHAR bluemat penstemon (Penstemon xylus) is a tough small penstemon from the Tushar Mountain range in Utah. It has lavender-blue flowers from June to July and steel-blue foliage. This xeric penstemon loves gritty soils and full sun. Its size makes it ideal for rock gardens, troughs and crevice gardens. Its evergreen foliage is a bonus in winter gardens. It is hardy to Zone 5a. 

Ultra Violet Salvia (Salvia ‘Ultra Violet’ PP 21,411) is an exciting addition to the Plant Select program from horticulturist Lauren Springer. This western salvia is cold hardy and compact growing 18-24 inches tall and wide

It has iridescent, deep purple flowers that add a pop of color in the late summer garden. It starts blooming in July and will offer flowers into the fall. Ultra Violet Salvia is xeric, easy to establish, and is both rabbit resistant and deer resistant. It is hardy to Zone 5. 

TIDY Littleleaf Peashrub (Caragana microphylla ‘Tidy’) is a large shrub or small tree, depending on how you choose to train it. It has airy, bright green, fern-like foliage. In the spring, it produces showy yellow flowers. It can be used as a windbreak, bird habitat or landscape tree. It was selected for reduced suckering, making it a perfect courtyard tree with a southwestern look. This tough xeric plant takes heat and cold in stride and is hardy to Zone 4. 

Shimmer Evening Primrose (Oenothera fremontii ‘Shimmer’ PP19,663) is a great pollinator plant attracting bees, sphinx moths and butterflies. It has cheerful, large, lemon-yellow flowers that bloom profusely in late spring and re-bloom in the summer and fall, filling the evening air with a beautiful scent.

SILVER TOTEM® buffaloberry (Shepherdia argentea ‘Totem’) has an upright, columnar growth habit, making it ideal for many uses, including accents, privacy hedges, colonnades lining walkways, or for shielding unsightly parts of a yard (like a telephone pole). In the spring, it produces small clusters of tiny yellow flowers before its narrow, silvery green leaves emerge. It’s a great choice for sunny, dry locations. It tolerates heat and drought, but does equally well in moist conditions. The flowers of SILVER TOTEM®  are female, tiny, yellow, and bloom on the stems before the leaves emerge in spring.

Bellina Pink Cornflower (Psephellus simplicicaulis) is a well-behaved, small-scale groundcover slowly growing up to 24 inches wide that produces bright pink pincushions from spring through summer. It has frilly, matte green leaves that have a silver hue on the underside. The showy, bachelor button-type flowers have pale pink centers. 

It is ideal for rock gardens and borders. Its foliage is short at 4 inches but the flowers grow 8-10 inches high making them good for cutting. Bellina Pink Cornflower is hardy to Zone 5.

Photo credits:  Plant Select®