Durango BOtanical Society

Building Public Gardens Committed to Demonstration and Education

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  • 11 Aug 2019 4:45 PM | William LeMaire (Administrator)

    The following appeared in the Durango Herald, August 10, 2019 reporting that the Durango Botanical Society had dedicated and named its new gardens the Cindy Smart Miniature Tree Garden.  The new gardens are just north of the library. Ms. Smart retired as executive director of DBS in 2019. The article was written by Bret Hauff of the Herald.

    Cindy Smart credits her passion for plants to her grandfather.

    The man loved gardening, she said. So much so that he roamed the southern coast of Lake Michigan cultivating property in and around Beverly Shores, Indiana, that he did not own. He called his creations “public gardens,” Smart said.

    She remembers helping him one day – she was 6 and her arms were covered in blood from working with rose bushes – when a man approached and said, “‘Hey, you can’t do this. This is my property.’

    “My grandfather said to him, ‘Well, you’re not using it,’” Smart said on the patio of Durango Public Library. The Durango Botanical Society on Saturday dedicated the Cindy Smart Miniature Tree Garden flanking the library to the north.

    “It’s created a welcoming outside environment,” Sandy Irwin, director of Durango Public Library, said of the Botanical Society’s work in the last eight years. “Libraries and gardens go so well together.”

    Durango Public Library, which the Durango Botanical Society wrapped with gardens, didn’t exist where it does now in 2007, when the idea sparked in Smart’s mind, she said. 

    And she wasn’t afraid to ask for help. Smart sold dozens of talented and eager people on her public garden idea and, in 2011, they got to work. If you asked her, she may deflect the credit to those who supported her throughout creating the Botanical Society.

    “An idea took possession of her,” board president John Anderson said of Smart’s early work to start Durango Botanical Society. “This dedication is in honor of her work, vision and commitment.” 

    She recognized others’ talents and was candid about her need for help, “and you know what, that works,” Smart said. When people joined, she gave them “free rein to use their talents without micromanaging,” she said. 

    But she kept things organized – keeping people invested by giving them a goal without telling them how to achieve it. It empowered people, she said. 

    “They are very invested,” Smart said. “We picked these plants.”

    Her grandfather was more of a creative and a risk-taker – planting what he wanted, where he wanted, she said. 

    Smart said she’s more organized and orderly, and that shows in how she adopted and adapted her grandfather’s “public gardening” concept though legal and institutional means rather than defiant and rebellious ones.

    “I’m getting older – I’m in my 70s now – and I just need to take care of some things. This was a full-time job,” she said of forming and running the Durango Botanical Society. “Part of it was being a teacher, but then I became part student. That’s when I know it’s time to let them do their thing.”

      Cindy Smart addresses the DBS  Membership and Community  Appreciation Party on August 10.

  • 03 Jul 2019 10:27 AM | William LeMaire (Administrator)

    Melanie Palmer, Durango Botanic Gardens Curator, and Patsy Ford, one of the Durango Botanical Society’s newest docents and board member of The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado attended the Plant Select® annual meeting June 11, 2019 at the Denver Botanic Gardens. Plant Select, a consortium of Colorado State University, the Denver Botanic Gardens and cooperating commercial nursery partners, the program sources and promotes plants designed to thrive in high plains and intermountain regions. There are currently 60 Plant Select Demonstration Gardens in Colorado, including the Durango Botanic Gardens.  DBG was recognized for its outstanding work in the program with the Golden Shovel award in 2016.  DBS has planted 70 new plants this year in the gardens, some Plant Select plants as well donations from DBG Alpine Curator Mike Kintgen.

                Palmer and Ford remarked upon several presentations, including those of David Salman, chief horticulturalist and founding member of Plant Select, who emphasized the importance of songbirds, hummingbirds, and pollinating insects in a landscape design. Salman shared a variety of strategies aimed at how to keep these pollinators working in your yard all season. 

                An especially topical message came from Scott Denning, Monfort Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University. Denning reduced the climate change discussion to its barest essentials: When earth absorbs more heat than it emits, the climate warms. With a steady depletion of planet’s ozone shield which protects us from harmful ultraviolet radiation, entire regions of the earth could face catastrophic changes in climate and, therefore, growing conditions. 

               

    In photos above, at left Scott Denning delivers his presentation on climate change, at right, Patsy Ford, Melanie Palmer of DBS with Ross Shrigley, director of Plant Select. 

                For example, warmer average temperatures, the kind we are experiencing almost annually now, are associated with dramatic increases in the frequency of extremely hot weather.  Warmer air evaporates more water from soils and vegetation, so even if precipitation doesn’t change, the demand for water will increase with warmer temperatures, according to Denning. Policies that realistically confront what the science of climate change is revealing to us is essential, says Denning, because the consequences of unchecked climate change to the global economy are simply unacceptable.  Foremost, those policies must require the development of energy efficiency and the rapid deployment of non-fossil fuel energy systems.

                Economically, says Denning, the clean energy transition required to address climate change will almost certainly be expensive, perhaps involving roughly one percent of the global economy.  (Ed. Note: Many estimates of the size of the world economy place the number at $87 trillion or roughly $87 billion.) But while that financial commitment is large, Denning points out, it’s not that much out of line with previous economic transformations and dislocations, noting that previous investments in indoor plumbing, rural electrification, the global internet and mobile telecommunications also paid huge dividends to society. “Our descendants will live better lives if we develop and improving their infrastructure just as our ancestors did,” says Denning.

                Melanie Palmer says what impressed her about the Denning remarks was that he was not preaching deprivation, shaming, or the demonizing of fossil fuel producers and users, but simply urging the expanding use of technologies we already have to begin a transition from burning fossil fuels.

                For more on Denning’s thoughts, strategies for dealing with climate change, to go www.Simple.Serious.Solvable.org

                For more on Plant Select®, including soon the Plant Select® items for 2020, visit https://plantselect.org 


  • 01 Jul 2019 2:40 PM | William LeMaire (Administrator)

    Bayard Peake has purchased a bookcase stone for his wife, Nancy, to commemorate the couples’ fifty years of marriage. Nancy, a longtime supporter of the library, is currently a member of the board of the Friends of the Library and is former president of that organization. Many of the couple’s extended family were present for the informal dedication of the stone. Nancy’s name is inscribed on the bookcase stone and displayed on one of the steel shelves holding bookcase stones in the Demonstration Garden. 

    In another personal tribute, Richard Ballantine, chairman of the board of Ballantine Communications, has purchased a tree, a Star Magnolia, in the new Arboretum to the north of the library, as a memorial for Sari Goodman Ross, who passed away in 2015 at age 86. Among those attending the tree dedication were Mr. Ballantine, Reid Ross, Sari’s husband of 65 years, Sandy Irwin, director of the library, John Anderson, president of DBS, and Camilla Potter and Theresa Anderson, DBS board members.

    Sari was a longtime educator and was popularly known, especially by children in Durango, for her “Sari Tales,” enhanced by puppets, costumes, and books. Ballantine remarked: "With her animated and sometimes costumed story telling, her young and old listeners couldn't help but expand their imaginations, to their joy.  Sari's creativity rubbed off on those around her, sending listeners into worlds far away." The tree is now accompanied by a plaque dedicated to Mrs. Ross, which reads: In Memory of Sari Ross, a “Magical Storyteller”.

    Below, left, Bayard and Nancy Peake; below, right, Reid Ross (seated), L-R, John Anderson, president of DBS, Sandy Irwin, director, Durango Public Library, and Richard Ballantine, chairman of Ballantine Communications. Click on photos to enlarge.

     

    There are many ways to donate to the Durango Botanic Gardens, for more information on donation opportunities, visit https://durangobotanicalsociety.com/page-1513771

  • 26 Jun 2019 2:54 PM | William LeMaire (Administrator)
    Unseasonably cool weather and threatening skies could not deter garden enthusiasts as they turned out in record numbers for the Durango Botanical Society’s (DBS) 2019 Gardens-on-Tour. The tour was canceled for 2018 as the all-volunteer DBS focused its time and resources on building the new Arboreta on the north side of the library. That turned out to be prescient considering that the devastating 416 Fire subsequently started on June 1, 2018, just weeks ahead of usual June tour date.  The delay only whetted the appetite of many. At least one tour participant was heard to say: “I really missed the tour last year; this is where I get my gardening inspiration." (Click photos below for enhancement. Photos courtest of Pete Varney.)


         

    Inspiring it was as a variety of gardens were on tap this year ranging from the smaller, urban sanctuary of Annette and Bill LeMaire in Durango to the expansive properties of Michael and Sandy Bruce at Rancho del Perro Feo and the historic Barr Orchard property owned today by Eric and Alice Foutz. Panoramic views of the Animas valley and a stunning water feature were highlights of the Rick and Jane Anderson property while John and Theresa Anderson showed how a once muddy, new construction lot in Edgemont Highlands could be transformed into a highlands oasis. If you wanted to see how flowers can turn a property into a kaleidoscope of color you enjoyed seeing Kim and Ed Warshauer’s property. Marilee White’s property offered a unique interpretation of the garden aesthetic as “edible landscape,” focusing on fruit trees and other edibles. Much of White’s abundant harvests gets channeled into worthy local causes.

    John and Theresa Anderson summed up the feelings of most garden hosts: “For passionate and avid gardeners there is nothing to compare to a day sharing your plants with friends who are committed to creating their own gardens filled with the beauty and vitality of growing things.”

    Folks registered for the Tour at the library providing attendees with an opportunity to see the work of the new Arboreta, comprising the Arboretrum of larger trees and shrubs alongside the Miniature Tree Garden, both located immediately to the north of the library.

    According to the tour committee of Connie Markert, Carol Wallace, Camilla Potter, Shirlee Krantz, Jill Hoehlein, and Barbara Johnson, 228 people purchased tickets, mostly online but many at the door. In addition to the hours put in by the committee, there were another 27 volunteers working at various gardens.

    Additionally, a number of musicians and artists were sprinkled around the seven private gardens on the tour as well as a number of firemen who made themselves available to discuss fire mitigation strategies with homeowners.

    Thanks everyone: Attendees, Firefighters, Musicians, Artists, Volunteers, and Hosts!

    If the tour whetted your appetite for more gardening inspiration, consider joining the Durango Botanical Society or renewing your membership by visiting our web site’s membership page at https://durangobotanicalsociety.com/page-1513945


  • 17 Jun 2019 7:04 PM | William LeMaire (Administrator)

    Seven unique, colorful private gardens around LaPlata County are busy putting final touches on their gardenscapes in preparation for over 100 visitors this weekend. The Durango Botanical Society’s Gardens-on-Tour has returned in 2019 and it promises to be one of the best tours yet. Tour registrants will see some of the area’s most interesting home gardens as well as seeing first-hand how our new Arboreta at the library are evolving. 

    Tour participants will begin their day with registration on the south side portico of the library where they will receive wristbands, in lieu of tickets, brochures and maps and other materials for the gardens they will be visiting.  Hoping to alleviate overcrowding at one or two early stops, visitors will be assigned a beginning garden at random. 

    Durango Botanical Society members have been polishing up their gardens, including the Demonstration Garden, the Crevice Gardens, the Gabbro Miniature Garden and the new gardens comprising the Arboreta on the north side of the library.

    Did you know there are hundreds of varieties of thyme? You'll get a hint of this hardy herb's various incarnations with a new addition to the gardens in 2019--a time-keeping sundial decorated with twelve varieties of thyme, one within each of the hourly segments. Above, members of the Mountain Thyme Herb Society stand in front of the Mountain Thyme Clock they have donated to the Durango Botanical Society. The Mountain Thyme Herb Society will also maintain the clock and plantings going forward, perhaps assuring its keeps perfect thyme.   

    As a tribute to the amazing community service rendered by firefighters during last year’s 416 Fire, DBS will donate 10% of all proceeds to the Durango Fire Protection District. Firemen will be at many gardens to discuss fire mitigation strategies.


    We’re just a few days away from this don’t-miss event. Visit our web site now to register for this annual highlight of the gardening calendar https://durangobotanicalsociety.com


  • 30 May 2019 10:18 AM | William LeMaire (Administrator)

    There’s a little more available space in area garages, attics, and storage units following the Durango Botanical Society’s Yard Sale on May 25. A steady flow of folks found a lot of bargains and DBS raised around $1800 from the efforts of numerous volunteers. T-shirt sales and memberships contributed several hundred dollars more. While funds raised will help enhance the DBS public gardens at the library, the sale also benefited a lot of other folks and organizations.  The Volunteers of America selected a number of items that would benefit their clients and the La Plata County Humane Society sent a truck on Saturday to pick up unsold items.  

    Jenny Nedergaard was the team leader for the sale, ably and tirelessly assisted by DBS members, Barb Johnson, Connie Markert, Melanie Palmer, Camilla Potter, Susan Hannon, Anita Albright, and Lynn Metzlaff.

  • 16 May 2019 4:50 PM | William LeMaire (Administrator)

    The Durango Botanical Society interprets the public education component of its mission broadly. While much of our interaction is with adult gardeners, engaging future gardeners and sustainers of public gardens is equally important. DBS docents give numerous tours of our gardens to school groups throughout the year. However, we also go to schools as well. This is exemplified by our long and fruitful connection with St. Columba Parish School, an independent Catholic school for pre-K through 8thgrade. Those who walk by the school may have noticed a number of raised bed gardens, tended by the youngsters. Those gardens also provide a fundraising opportunity for the school and DBS docents are very much involved.

    When the seed growing project begins, DBS docents explain the parts of the seed and what a seed will need to grow successfully. They also guide the children as they plant their seeds. The children learn to experience the thrill of seeing their work produce handsome seedlings, which also raise money to buy items needed at the parish food pantry.

  • 08 May 2019 3:09 PM | William LeMaire (Administrator)

    Art has always been an important accompaniment to the Durango Botanic Gardens. Visitors to the Demonstration Garden admire or ask often about the striking blue Puma sculpture or the Thomas Grams Memorial featuring its ravens in flight. Now, visitors to our new Arboreta on the north side of the library are stopping to comment or inquire about our most recent additions to our art program--decorative metal panels. There are currently three metal art panels, fabricated by Bryan Saren of Saren Studios, in the Arboreta. 

    Saren, shown at left, erected the most recent panel, donated by Annette and Bill LeMaire, on Tuesday, May 7. The panel, designed by Annette LeMaire, depicts a girl reading a book in the crook of a tree. In 2018 DBS members, John and Theresa Anderson, donated a panel in the Miniature Tree Garden. John is president of DBS; Theresa is a DBS board member and docent training coordinator.

    The first panel (at left in photo below) to be installed in 2018 was donated by Melanie and Clark Palmer. Melanie is DBS garden curator and docent trainer. The Palmers, representing a family with a long tradition of military service, chose to dedicate their panel “In honor and in memory of United States military veterans and their families.” Melanie adds that she and Clark wanted the panel to honor their military roots. An eagle, soaring protectively over the landscape in the panel, represents the U.S. military guarding our freedoms.


    The Anderson’s panel (above, right) was based on an original painting, titled “Glow,” by Durango artist, Annette LeMaire. Working with an image, Saren will fine-tune the artwork so it can be accommodated by his computerized metal cutting machine. This process uses water, laser or plasma to perform the final cut.

    The decorative art panels are a new and important way to contribute to the growth and beauty of our gardens. The metal panels are available for a donation of $2500, accompanied by a plaque naming the donors and may include any special memorials, quotes, or passages desired.

    For more on donating a decorative metal art panel, contact us at 970-880-4841 or email us at durangobotanical@gmail.com. There are many other ways to donate to our mission of providing amazing public gardens in Durango. For other donation options, go to the Help Us Grow tab. 


  • 02 May 2019 8:42 AM | William LeMaire (Administrator)

    When we succeed in the vegetable garden, there’s nothing like it for wholesome, tasty food and, uh, bragging rights. When we fail, well, we can always blame it on the deer, weather, climate change, or a hungry Yeti. Vegetable gardening is especially challenging here in the Four Corners region with rocky, clay-laden soils, big swings in temperature, and a paucity of rain. The key to success with your veggies, says Darrin Parmenter, Horticulturalist and La Plata Extension Director for Colorado State University, is planning and aligning what you plant with what you most want to eat and have time to grow. (Click Read More for full post)

    Parmenter was speaking to an audience of over 50 people at the first in the 2019 Great GardenSeries,sponsored by the Durango Public Library, the Durango Botanical Society, and the Colorado State University Extension Office.  The next in this Series will be June 5, when Kami Larson talks on “Good Bugs vs. Bad Bugs” at the Durango Public Library, 6:00-7:30pm.

    Before deep diving into frost schedules, soil temperatures, soil structures, and the merits of raised beds, Parmenter noted an overlooked part of vegetable gardening strategy is planning. For example, what does my summer calendar look like? Your garden can take minor stretches of neglect but not a series of extended trips. So either have a reliable, saintly neighbor or reconsider the size and scope of your plantings. Also, simply grow plenty of what you really like; if four items seem to dominate your summer table, then focus on those items. Volume also might depend on your level of interest in canning or other forms of preservation. Or, perhaps simply donate some of your surplus to many local organizations that feed the hungry.

    While most of us keep an eye on atmospheric conditions and temperatures, it is easy to overlook the importance of your garden soil and its condition and temperature, says Parmenter. Sand on the beach, for example, has no structure; veggie gardeners, on the other hand, want soil particles that join together with a kind of crumb-like structure. Adding organic matter is the best way to improve structure. 

    Parmenter also urges gardeners to pay attention to the temperature of their soil. Taking your soil’s temperature does not necessarily require elaborate equipment, a kitchen meat thermometer can do the trick too. He showed a slide with a variety of soil temperatures aligned with a number of popular vegetables. Getting the soil temperature right for planting is a significant aid to quick germination and getting a healthy vegetable crop. Obtain a copy of this slide and perhaps other slides in his Great Garden Series presentation by emailing him at Darrin.parmenter@colostate.edu.  The presentation is also available at http://www.co.laplata.co.us/government/departments/extension_offices_c.s.u.

    Parmenter shares vegetable gardening tips with over 50 local gardeners. The Great Garden Series is a collaboration of the Durango Public Library, the Durango Botanical Society, and the CSU La Plata County Extension Office. The next presentation will be June 5 on "Good Bugs vs. Bad Bugs."

  • 24 Apr 2019 9:55 AM | William LeMaire (Administrator)

    The Durango Botanical Society was honored at Durango's 39th Annual Arbor Day Celebration, April 19, 2019, with a plaque presented to John Anderson, president of the Durango Botanical Society. The honor, accorded to Anderson, recognizes him for "Outstanding Service and Commitment to Durango's Urban Forest, 2018." Anderson leads the nearly 100-member Durango organization committed to the advancement of public gardens for the purposes of education and demonstration.  The award will soon be displayed in the DBS bookcase in the Durango Public Library.

    The Durango Botancial Society (DBS) has built and maintained public gardens at the Durango Public Library since 2011. It's most recent project, The Arboreta, enhances its mission with gardens to the north side of the library. A new mobile app will enable visitors to the garden to look up information on plantings and other features in all the gardens.

    In photo below, DBS members join DBS President John Anderson at the city of  Durango's Arbor Day Celebration, April 19, where Anderson received an Outstanding Service Award. Shown here are, L-R, DBS docents Tish Varney and Kate Stewart, Connie Markert, treasurer, Theresa Anderson, DBS board member, and John Anderson, president. 

     

        





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