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This no-fail Colorado perennial is close to my heart | Opinion

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Editor’s note: This is part of The Know’s series, Staff Favorites. Each week, we offer our opinions on the best that Colorado has to offer for dining, shopping, entertainment, outdoor activities and more. (We’ll also let you in on some hidden gems).


Gardening in Colorado isn’t for the weak-hearted.

It’s taken me decades of battling clay soil, grubs, slugs, beetles, weeds, drought and my own ignorance to arrive at a comfortable truce with my yard. No more do I throw my hands up in disgust every time I walk outdoors.

But it’s been a difficult — and costly — road.

In the spring, I would say prayers over my victims when I purchased hundreds of dollars worth of perennials and annuals, many of them destined to die in short order. An East Coast transplant, I once had high hopes for those acid-loving rhododendrons and Cape Cod-blue hydrangeas. I had silly visions of South Florida azaleas and bougainvillea thriving at 5,000 feet (RIP, lovely plants). Thousands spent on soil additives, organic fertilizers and pampering, all useless.

A honey bee retrieves pollen and nectar from Mountain mint. (Getty Images)
A honey bee retrieves pollen and nectar from mountain mint. (Getty Images)

Even plants that should have survived around my central Denver home (I’m looking at you, the dozens of Columbine that rejected my affection, or the handful of clematis that wilted on my trellis) haven’t stood a chance.  Every year, the same thing. Crushing rejection.

It takes its toll on the spirit.

But this year, I have come to terms with my inability to consistently nurture nature. Thanks in part to this spring’s unusual rains, I am focusing instead on what I can grow more than what I can’t. And it all started early, when my beloved bleeding hearts poked their little heads up on the sides of my raised bed, a reminder that I don’t completely suck at growing things.

Those babies speedily spread out into little mounds of foliage, and when that first little drop of pink appears … ahhh. “You can do this,” they whisper.

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