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Take a hike to enjoy colors

Throughout the gardening season, the most commonly voiced lament that I hear from local gardeners is, “I need more color.”

This week, my advice is take a hike. Get out of town. Leave the rose garden. Idle your tools.

Instead, go high into the back country, or drive over the passes surrounding us. Look around. Can you beat that? The colors are as rich and brilliant as the draperies and appointments in a French Quarter bordello, except that nobody planned for this show to be so emotionally evocative.



I keep selling the idea, to little avail, that all we need to achieve a great landscape is to celebrate what surrounds us. All evidence to the contrary, this is not a suburb of the United States. Despite the fact that the overall concept doesn’t exactly dove-tail with larger profits for sellers of ornamental plants, I plan to pound onward toward the goal of our finding a seamless transition between alpine city and alpine surroundings.

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been talking off and on with a property manager who has lived here since the mid-1960s. He manages one of the developments here that is commonly recognized as being one of the more desirable areas in which to reside. Some of the owners of the properties inside the development are among the original developers of this valley. Their homes are uniformly grand. Their landscapes are remarkable for how well they blend in with their natural surroundings.



As we drove through the development, I listened to his ideas and came to understand that his overall vision, and the overall vision of the board of directors, was to achieve greater harmony with the untouched existing landscape. Understatement, what a concept.

We discussed and rejected creating more. We nodded in agreement about creating less. We agreed that bordello flower beds have a place in the overall scheme of how the valley should look, but that we have yet to achieve a harmony with our surroundings in areas that really should compete less with our surroundings.

This past week, I watched a late- night documentary on the 10th Mountain Division. I don’t believe I ever fully “got” what these men were about. I think I’m beginning to get it. As I understand it, they did not come to conquer the mountains. They came to live among them. They came to live exuberantly acclimated lives with less oxygen and more snow ” to develop blood red enough to carry its own oxygen as they ran uphill and the legs to glide downhill over the snow.



This week, in order to learn to garden expertly in an alpine area, I recommend you take a hike.


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