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.
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.