How does his garden grow?
Vail, CO, Colorado
A garden has flowers and plants in it. A good garden has a color scheme and a purposeful design. And a great garden is its own entity ” it draws in humans and can offer a therapeutic release, but also attracts the attention of wildlife. Occasionally, a great garden can become the center of a community ” that is what Edwards resident Scott Leffler strove to do with his garden.
And so far, it seems to be working. Leffler’s garden draws a lot of compliments from neighbors and passers by, but it also draws the neighborhood together. His house sits at the end of the Aspen Glen neighborhood in lower Homestead and his property backs up on a communal grass area, which doubles as a soccer and tag field for neighborhood kids.
“In a sense, I brought this (garden) to the community, the flowers are for the neighborhood,” Leffler said.
But the roots of his garden, pun intended, had a practical purpose ” his houses needed shade.
“The house gets so hot from the sun and west facing windows. It is 110 degrees throughout the day. If you need a sauna, I have one,” Leffler said with a chuckle.
To help combat the heat he put in trees, 14-foot trees to be exact, but they didn’t survive. The reason, he found out, was a previously undetected water leak underground. After getting the leak fixed, the yard no longer resembled a marshland. Leffler planted new trees and began to think about the garden.
“I liked designing the garden. It really entails a lot and there are things to think about like the structure,” he said.
Other important aspects to consider, Leffler said, are color schemes and how and when you want your plants to bloom.
“I hate square cut and blocked off (things),” Leffler said.
To give the garden character, there’s not a straight line in the flower beds design, instead it has a distinctly wavy look, softening the overall effect.
Leffler chose flowers with bold yellow and purple colors, accented with white, which gives the space a bright, cheerful personality. Every now and then other colors “sneak their way in,” he said.
He also knew he wanted the flowers to begin blooming as soon after the snow melts as possible. Another must in Leffler’s garden is constant blooming during the Vail Valley’s abbreviated growing season.
“I found out what (plants) jump up right away, what (plants) survive the longest and what (plants) are the tallest,” Leffler said. And of course he considered which plants are water hogs and stayed away from those, as water is a hot commodity. All of these became factors in his planting plan. The tallest plants are in the middle and they get shorter as they get closer to the edge, but to avoid a uniform look he mixed up the heights to create a more natural look.
The garden is very popular with the local wildlife, he said.
“I see hummingbirds and chipmunks in the yard. And my cat, princess, loves ‘the jungle’ and the hummingbirds,” Leffler said. As this summer winds down he is already thinking about next summer. The plan is to research what flowers hummingbirds are particularly fond of and plant more of them. As of right now, his tall, bright blue Delphiniums are what they are most drawn too. He also knows what the chipmunks like ” his daisies.
Even now, late in the summer, the garden still looks bright and colorful. “This morning (Monday) I was walking my dog as the sun was rising and the colors just popped in the light,” said Nancy Allen, Leffler’s neighbor.
The neighborhood kids keep an eye on the garden, as well. Allen’s twin 6-year-old boys, Jake and Tom, always notice when something new is added. The garden is like a big, real life “Where’s Waldo?” puzzle. Whenever Leffler adds a new flower or a piece of garden art the boys are sure to notice, Allen said.
“I like the chirpy bird,” Tom said, referring to a small plastic bird perched in the garden that sings whenever someone walks by. Tom’s favorite flower is the pink daisy because it has a red center, he said.
Leffler’s favorite flower are white aliums, which blooms resemble a sphere and look “like a grid on a globe.”
His advice for starting a garden is simple ” have a plan, constantly be on the look out for different plants, put in the time and don’t wait for permission from neighbors or your homeowners association. Just go ahead and start planting, your neighbors will not only compliment you, but they just might thank you.