When we moved to Colorado in 1997 I had to approach gardening a little differently than in the East Coast. I had to educate myself on the harsh climate, the rocky, clayey, alkaline soil and micro-climates.

I read some very good books on high altitude gardening and took the Master Gardener Course in Durango, CO in 2001 to really get a grasp on gardening in the Rocky Mountains. I made mistakes and lost a few plants along the way, but as my Master Gardener teacher use to say “Try it, if doesn’t live, it’s not a big deal. At least you learned something.” With those words in mind I have pushed the zone barrier a bit and have been happy with some of my experiments.

Here are some resources that helped me along the way and  some books I’m reading now:

On My Shelves

High Altitude Planting by Ann Barrett

Colorado Gardener’s Guideby John L. Cretti

Sunsets Western Garden BookSunset has some of the best regional garden books. When I started my gardening business this book was by my side at all times, it has the dirt and water stains to prove it!

American Horticultural Society Plants for Places, 1000 Tried-and-Tested Plants for Every Site, Soil, and Usage— The title says it all! I found a few used on and eBay for purchase.

The Organic Gardeners  Handbook: A Serious Guide to the Art and Science of Organic Gardening.

Pruning Made Easy: A Gardener’s Visual Guide to When and How to Prune Everything from Flowers to TreesI didn’t leave home without this book either.

Taylor’s Guide to Growing North America’s Favorite Plantsby Barbara WellisI like this book. It has lengthy descriptions on which genus to select, site and soil, planting, care through the season and landscape uses for each plant.

Garden Books to Spark Inspiration and Creativity

The American Meadow Garden: Creating a Natural Alternative to the Traditional Lawn By John Greenlee and Saxon Holt– Love, Love, Love this book!  Beautiful photographs by Saxon Holt.  John Greenlee has put together a stunning book with so much great information on ornamental grasses.  It’s a must have!

Grasses: Versatile Partners for Uncommon Garden Designby Nancy J. Ondra and Saxon HoltI love the photo on the cover of this book, so beautiful!

Garden Design & Structure: Ideas and Inspiration for Your Garden byDerek Fell — Serious eye candy!  Beautiful photos.

Garden Design Detailsby Arne Maynard with Anne de Verteuil — More beautiful photos.

Designing with Plants by Piet Oudolf with Noel  Kingsbury —  I’m so inspired by this book.  It’s exactly what I needed to read for my next garden bed project.

Hardy Succulents: Tough Plants for Every Climate by Gwen Kelaidis Another book with beautiful photographs by Saxon Holt.


I was a garden and horticulture magazine junky, but I’ve narrowed it down to just a few now. Magazines I can’t quit:

Fine Gardening

Garden Design

Organic Gardening

Horticulture I buy the DVD at the end of the year because our house is so small I can’t find anymore room for my magazines.

Online Resources:

Garden Web I love this site and I visit all the time and have found a lot of useful information from other gardeners there.

Extension.orgFor a local Extension Office near you go to this website and punch in your zip code.

High Country GardensMail order catalog from Santa Fe, New Mexico. Love to look at all their plants and they have some of the best information on waterwise plants and gardens.  I use their catalog to show my clients plants that will do well here in Colorado.  Xeriscape gardens are not all about cactus and gravel!  Sign up for their monthly newsletter.


Native Roots Garden Center

Durango Nursery & Supply Inc. – in Durango, CO.  I could spend hours here!  This nursery has a wonderful selection of native and xeri plants. Friendly and helpful.

Bayfield Gardens  In Bayfield, CO.  Make the trip out to this nursery, it so beautiful packed with healthy, locally grown annuals and perennials.  Their custom made hanging plants are stunning.  Very friendly and helpful.


Renee’s Garden Seeds vegetables, herbs, cottage garden flowers.

Seeds of Change certified organic seeds. Live plants, tools and supplies.

Territorial Seed Companyhuge assortment of vegetable seeds, books and tools.

Fertilizers and Soil Admendments

Biocontrol Network — Stress X -Soluble seaweed extract is a must have.

Planet Natural — Earth friendly products

Gifts for the Gardener

Dietz MarketThis is one of my favorite shops in Durango, Colorado to buy a gift anytime of the year.  I never leave the store without buying something for myself!  Dietz Market has many beautiful pots of all sizes and colors for planting container gardens. They have great garden art too!

Handcrafted Garden Structures built to last by Ray Jarrosak.   Contact Ray 970-946-6042.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s