Janet Day: It’s been a bloomin’ beautiful summer | SkyHiNews.com

Janet Day: It’s been a bloomin’ beautiful summer

Janet Day / Talk of the Valley
Fraser Valley, CO Colorado

Red, pink, blue, purple, yellow and orange, in all their variations, colored Winter Park this summer as the public flower gardens burst with stunningly vivid displays. Where else but in Colorado’s high country can you find Snapdragons, Poppies, Petunias, Dianthus, Coreopsis and more so thickly in bloom at the same time?

We have sunny days and cool nights, as well as this summer’s heavy rains, to thank for the profusion of blossoms. But Mother Nature can’t do it alone. She gets a big assist from Town Gardener Shawn Nohl and her three-woman seasonal staff. They plant in June; weed, fertilize and dead-head (snipping off dead blossoms) through September; then pull up and cover the beds in October.

Last winter wasn’t kind to the public gardens. The occasional lack of protective snow cover killed some of the perennials. But the garden team’s efforts brought it all back.

“It’s a lot of work, especially right now since everything’s peaked at the same time,” Nohl said this week. “We water two times a week and dead-head two times a week or more right now.”

The result of that work is blue Delphiniums more than four-feet tall, thick stands of Black-Eyed Susans and bunches of delicate Pinks. Those are just a few types of the dozens planted throughout 110 flower beds stretching from one end of the town of Winter Park to the other. Among them, the beds contain more than 500 flowers including annuals and perennials.

Nohl, who has a Master Gardener certificate, has been the Town Gardener for three years. One of her predecessors designed each of the gardens to focus on color, ease of maintenance and minimal water use. Nohl said she hopes to add new flowers to the mix next year, including more perennials that bloom year-after-year, to help reduce the cost of buying a lot of annuals each year.

The density, height and longevity of the flowers this summer grabbed a lot of people’s attention, including that of the gardeners.

“I’ve never seen the poppies this big,” Nohl said, standing next to one of the corner gardens along U.S. 40 at Hideaway Park where the tallest flowers reached nearly to her shoulders.

As we talked next to the flowers, visitors from South Florida stopped to admire the blooms, take photos and ask questions. Nohl and her staff get that a lot. People just want to know what the blooms are, how they grow “up here” and where they can find more information about the gardens or high-altitude gardening.

If you want to learn more about the flowers planted around Winter Park, go to the Gardens page on the town’s web site – http://www.wpgov.com – for lists and photos of every type of annual and perennial planted. The site also offers useful information for your own property, like how to get rid of the wild scentless Chamomile that seems to have taken hold everywhere and how to tell the difference between the ornamental Shasta Daisy and a similar-looking invasive variety.

And if you’re wondering about the effect of all that lane-blocking construction at the flower beds along much of U.S. 40, don’t worry. It will improve the flower beds even more, Nohl said. The red brick areas that so often became home to weeds are being replaced with natural river rock, a much easier landscape to maintain and keep weed-free.

– Keep in Touch: What or who has gotten your attention around the area? Let me know. I’ll try to answer questions or spread the news. Send it all to JDayQuilts@msn.com.

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