Rocky Mountain gardeners know that different rules apply when you’re gardening a mile high. There are plenty of magazines, nursery catalogs, and gardening blogs out there created for the average “lowlander”, but up here, success depends on learning from local gardening experts and creating gardens and landscapes with Colorado-hardy species. Here’s how shopping at a local Denver-area nursery and garden center will give you the advantage:
1. You’ll find varieties that thrive in your specific climate
It’s not enough to look for words like “early” or “Arctic” when you’re shopping for Denver-friendly garden plant varieties. Whether you’re looking for native species or specialized cultivars, locally-owned and operated garden centers stock hard-to-find plants they know will do well in the area, from lawn mixes to lavenders.
Want to push your luck with a long-season variety? Start seeds indoors before the last frost date (follow the seed packet instructions) or, better yet, purchase “starts”: Young plants grown in a greenhouse to give gardeners a leg up on the season.
2. You’ll take home healthy plants acclimatized to seasonal conditions
Transportation stress is one reason plants fail to thrive; temperature shock is another. We source our nursery stock from local partners, and plant starts and potted specimens are typically “hardened off” (gradually acclimated to current temperatures) by the time you “meet” them.
Healthy, stress-free young plants are far more likely to survive the transition from nursery pot to garden bed, and they’ll exhibit faster growth.
Tip: Look for well-hydrated plants with uniform, rich colors. Pass over individual plants that look like they’ve flown the redeye from South America in the seat in front of a hyperactive toddler. Well-adjusted plants don’t drop leaves or buds and don’t droop.
3. You can pick up amendments and supplies developed for Colorado gardens
Every region’s soil has its own personality. You’ll want to perform a soil test in your own garden beds, and we carry kits for Colorado’s Soil Testing Lab so you can balance your soil’s nutrients using the right organic or formulated products. Read labels, compare products, and stay true to your pledge to stay organic… or not. It’s up to you.
Our local soils tend to be on the “heavy” (claylike) side. Adding up to 30% organic matter with a mix of compost, worm castings, and shredded coconut coir”fluff up” compacted, clayish soil, allowing oxygen and water to reach plant roots. Be sure to re-test your soils after adding amendments; we recommend beefing up your soil in the fall and testing in the spring when you’re building new beds.
4. You’ll get support from experts who know how to grow in the Denver area
Gardening is all we do, and Denver isn’t just our area of expertise—it’s our home turf. We’re always exchanging ideas, inspiration, and experience with our fellow gardeners and customers, and we’ve accumulated a lot of experience over the years. You won’t hear any of our staff answer your questions with, “sorry, I’m from the ceiling fan department”, but you will find great advice on setting up drip irrigation.
Here are just a few location-specific questions we’ve fielded this month alone. Imagine how we’ve coached our customers since 1954!
- “Which daisies grow best in Centennial?
- “Can I actually grow wheatgrass in Wheat Ridge?”
- “Can I really use beer to trap slugs?” (From a Coors employee in Golden)
- “What xeriscaping plants do you recommend for Lowry?”
- “Do you have a wildflower mix native to Douglas County?”
Our gardening pros are experienced in troubleshooting Denver-area gardening challenges and helping you avoid them from the start. We’re always ready to help you out in the store or over the phone, but we encourage you to use our contact form, especially in our busiest months.
Did you know? Microclimates don’t just exist between towns and neighborhoods. You probably have several on your own property! Soil near a dense wall will stay warmer longer due to thermal mass—stored heat from the sun. Plants exposed to prevailing breezes will dry out faster than those only feet away, and low areas in your garden collect cooler air. Consider these factors, as well as sun exposure, when you’re mapping out your garden and selecting species. While you’re at it, consider irrigation strategies. Low-pressure “drip” systems are affordable, easy-to-install, and they save water! (That’s a big deal here in Colorado.)
5. We’re your neighbors
We’ve grown for—and with—the Denver and Arvada communities for more than 70 years, and we’re still a family-owned business. Some might say we’re the heart of the local gardening community, but our customers are what makes us great. Your feedback and suggestions help us select the plants and products that ensure you get the best possible outcome in our climate, and your support inspires us to give back.
Get to know us! Meet our team and learn about our history and outreach programs here!
6. The visit is the best part of the experience
Scrolling online or thumbing through an old-school print catalog for the season’s new garden additions is a favorite pastime of any green thumb, but spending an hour (or, hey, all day) perusing ornamental and edible plants, shrubs, vines, and trees is 100% better.
Get to know our staff, meet your neighbors, and find out firsthand if you really like the shape, size, color, and smell of that future window-box inhabitant you read about last winter. Dive into our greenhouse on a rainy day, or duck into the garden shop to flip through books written specifically for Colorado gardeners. Choose your own plants; don’t risk ending up with a squashed and travel-weary specimen shipped from across the country.
Come check us out!
For more than 70 years, Country Fair Garden Center has been the place for new and seasoned green thumbs to pick up supplies, plants, shrubs, trees, and helpful advice. Stop by our Denver location to browse our gifts, nursery, greenhouse, and garden shop!