Four-season beauty at a rustic mountain home.
There’s a famous quote attributed to Heraclitus: “No man ever steps in the same river twice. For it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” The same can be said for landscapes and landscape design. As any Green Industry professional knows, even the most meticulously designed and maintained landscapes are in constant flux. The simple transitions from season to season alone are dramatic. Annuals riot with color, annuals die, perennials thrive, perennials go dormant, herbs release scent, herbs go to seed, trees bud, trees go bare, and plant sizes, color palettes, and blooms change from week to week.
Year to year, the changes are even greater. Trees mature, shrubs grow, plants are added, plants die, spreaders spread, climbers climb, invasives invade, sunlight moves, mulch decomposes, new pests arrive, and mystery plants appear while established ones just as mysteriously disappear.
So imagine the unique challenges and incredible rewards when a landscape company not only completes a stunning Design-Build project in natural mountain terrain, but then has the opportunity to maintain the property over the past 15 years. Perhaps it’s not surprising that the property has won 11 awards for Designscapes Colorado since 2007—most recently, a 2022 Gold Award for Residential Landscape Management from the National Association of Landscape Professionals (NALP).
Over the years, Designscapes Colorado has helped the landscape evolve to optimize the Colorado mountain environment and its four seasons. Of course, Winter landscapes are challenging in many states with freezing temperatures, but rejuvenated pots, evergreen branches, tinsel, pinecones, and more transform the snow-covered scene into a Winter wonderland.
Set on 23 acres of lush, forested Colorado mountain terrain, the property is highlighted by a flowing river and pond. As a result, the property owners had two primary goals when originally designing the outdoor space. First, capitalize on the beauty of the creek and the adjacent pond by providing views and access to the water. Second, create an inspiring setting for entertainment and relaxation.
Designscapes Colorado installed a bridge to access the other side of the river, and both the bridge and river create dynamic elements of visually appealing functionality. Irrigation for the property is pulled straight from the river, allowing for sustainable landscaping. In addition, a lower water usage bluegrass was placed around the property to minimize the overall quantity of water needed.
Colorado’s natural features were used in the foundational structure of the design, and in the accented details. The mountain terrain does not come without its challenges, though. The soil can be rocky or sandy and not as full of nutrients as a landscaper would hope. To help add nutrients back in, five-yards of amendment (organics) was placed every 1000 square feet.
Over the years, the pond on the property also started to naturally shift. This required a new retaining wall to be built this past Summer, but also provided a new area to create another garden. The abundance of wildlife in the area made plant selection crucial to help prevent animals from eating the new garden.
Spring & Summer
Plant selection is one area where a landscaping firm can really maximize seasonal beauty in a maintenance account. The array of blossoms that thrive in each season are carefully selected and layered so that as soon as one plant is done putting on a show, another will come to life. This creates a unique and enduring canvas of colors throughout the year.
In early Spring, pots are decorated and planted for Easter. But as the weather starts to warm up, the pots are not the only pop of color on the property. The landscape begins to explode with purples, yellows, whites, and blues, as Spring bulbs planted in the Fall start to bloom. The client likes unique bulbs in the scillia, chionodoxa, and allium varieties, but daffodil bulbs are also planted for their deer and rabbit resistance.
Perennials across the property peak during the Summer and are paired with various annual flowers. Some perennial varieties used throughout the gardens include: catmint little Trudy, strawberry barren, dianthus kahori, moneywort, snow-in-summer, sweet woodruff, lady’s mantle, lilacs, hydrangeas, and veronica. The wrap-around driveway has a central garden which holds a variety of plants and a sprinkling of aspen trees.
As a native tree in the Colorado mountain terrain, aspens have been planted in various other places around the property. Designscapes Colorado strove to include many native plants and natural materials that complement the beauty of the natural environment.
Fall & Winter
When bright Summer colors wind down, Designscapes Colorado continues to add vibrance to the landscape and include festivity for the coming months. The annual flowerpots are revamped for Autumn by adding additional flowers to existing summer ones, or replacing them with fall flowers that can handle cold weather and frost. Because the property is in a higher altitude environment, it’s essential to select hardy varieties in the Fall as the climate can change to freezing very quickly. Some varieties used in the past have included: asters, or tall snaps for the centers of the pots, and pansies, or violas as fillers. Cabbage and kale sometimes add an elevated appearance to these pots as well. During this time, preparing for Spring also takes place with bulb planting on the property.
A similar rejuvenation of the annual pots happens in Winter, before the holiday season. Planted elements can include ever- green branches, tinsel, pinecones, or any other kind of festive décor. Designscapes Colorado also hangs holiday lights and décor, which add a warm, cheery feel to the home and its entry gate. This is also the time to prepare for the warmer months ahead. Winter maintenance services and planning for any Spring or Summer changes are done during this time.
One thing that sets this property apart, and helped earn it awards, is the experimentation with different plant pairings. Playing around with different combinations over the years has allowed for the utilization of local materials and created unexpected beauty that enhances the already stunning environment surrounding the property.
Johnson is the marketing coordinator with Designscapes Colorado. Based in Centennial, CO, Design- scape Colorado has been in business for 30+ years, and today provides high quality landscape design, construction, and maintenance to both residential and commercial projects. For more information, visit designscapescolorado.com.