June 25, 2016

Visiting the Yampa River Botanical Park, Steamboat Springs

We're so busy on our second day here at the Annual Meeting of the NARGS (the North American Rock Garden Society) here in Steamboat Springs, that I wanted to update everyone one on what happened today.Aside from a full day of board meetings and chapter meetings, which are always invigorating yet time consuming, most attendees including us, were able to visit a few gardens, which NARGS conferences typically offer at this conferences (sometimes, the garden tours alone are worth the trip). 

Today we visited the Yampa River Botanical Park in Steamboat Springs, a volunteer-run garden which I can't say enough about. A fantastic crevice garden, and an even more magnificent alpine rock garden which was in peak bloom for our visit. This garden is a jewel for the city of Steamboat Springs and is clearly one of the finest public park rock gardens in North America. If you are ever in the Steamboat Springs area, do take time to visit it.

There are 4 rock gardens within the park, and two are very large.

The crevice garden at the Yampa River Botanical Park. Crevice gardens use thin rocks often set on edge, and set deeply into to ground so that the roots of alpine plants can be warmed in the winter, and kept cool in the hot, dry summer. They create micro climates, with shade for tiny alpines, and once mature, make excellent water-wise gardens.

The Yampa River Botanical Park is a six acre park that was created with a simple mission - to be a place of serenity celebrating the trees, plants and birds and to encourage conservation of plants native to northwest Colorado. It is home to 63 gardens and 4 rock gardens.

June is peak bloom in many rock gardens, and although there are plants which bloom throughout summer and fall, I feel that we may have visited at the perfect time.

Columbine explosion!

I have to admit, my Penstemon identification is weak, but I may need to find out the name of this one!

I suppose it helps tremendously that this great rock garden is located in, well, the mountains. The scale of the trees add a mountain feel, as well as the aspect. The matrix of plants selected for this garden reflects some expertise, as it looks both natural and magically rich in flora and other plants which are integrated naturally with the rocks, even though it is a man made garden.

Calceolaria biflora growing in a woodland border was one of my favorites here at the garden.

We are in the land or Eriogonum here in Colorado. Here is Eriogonum umbellatum, or Sulphur Flower. Difficult to grow in the Northeast were we live, but in the dry West, it puts on a show like this.

This Genista captured everyone's attention, and you can see why. 
Erigeron nanus, a small if not tiny aster for the western, dry rock garden.

Aster alpinus, just one of the many asters which provide color in spring and summer to rock gardens and crevice gardens.


  1. It looks like valley of flowers. You always come with insightful and interesting garden posts. Loved rock gardens, it is not a new concept though people don't prormote it much.

  2. Sweet peas always remind me of my nana. She had huge beds of them. They were very common in New Zealand in the 70's and 80's. I am a full time landscape gardener in Auckland and I think I have only had them requested once in 16 years. They add such colour and especially texture to a large garden. Great blog. BTW


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