Saturday, September 20, 2008

Kendrick Lake Gardens by Carol King

Jefferson County Colorado Master Gardeners were treated to a visit at the Gardens at Kendrick Lake Park this week. We were given a VIP tour by Greg Foreman, Urban Parks Specialist for the City of Lakewood and two of his top aides. Located on Jewell just west of Garrison, Kendrick Lake Park is a veritable botanic garden for drought-tolerant plants. We saw more than 350 flowers, shrubs, ground covers, trees, and roses. In 2001, Greg and his staff set out to create the new western garden, using flora that makes sense in Colorado. Greg is a man on a mission: showcasing just what wonderful gardens we can create with plants appropriate to six habitat areas that encompass Colorado: plains, foothills, upper Sonoran, montane, and alpine. The one acre garden features six beds of beautiful native and non-native plants that will grow in these life zones. Many plants are from other dry areas on the planet like Turkey, Iran, and Afghanistan. There are also flowers native to Texas, California, Utah and others. The Rocky Mountain region has become known for horticultural innovation of drought-tolerant species thanks in large part to people like Greg.
These gardens prove that if we choose the right plants, properly prepare the soil (this garden uses fine gravel called slurry, mixed half and half with garden topsoil) and water correctly, we can have lovely gardens that are much more appropriate to the western landscape. Mulching for moisture control is a large part of the process. This magnificent garden demonstrates several types of mulch: rock, bark, and my favorite, buffalo grass. These plantings need very little water. They water less than once a week during the hottest months and none in the fall and winter. Visits to this garden will, dear gardener, encourage even the most resistant of you to try some new kinds of plantings and perhaps join the anti-lawn, native, or xeriscape plant movements.
Incidentally, the Urban Parks Division maintains all the parks within Lakewood. It also cares for plantings in the 1,550 acres of parks, on 242 miles of street medians, all the public buildings and right of ways in the City. And all with only 34 staff members (plus some seasonal help)! Once you have visited the Kendrick Lake gardens, I am sure you will see Greg Foreman’s innovative, thoughtful hand in many public garden areas throughout Lakewood. We are fortunate to have this talented man with his dedicated staff working to make our City most beautiful. (and water wise!).

*“The word "Xeriscape," was coined by the Denver Water Department in 1981 to help make water conserving landscaping an easily recognized concept. The word is a combination of "landscape" and the Greek word "xeros," which means dry.”* It is in fact a trademarked word owned by them. Xeriscape does not mean “zeroscape”. or no water, it means wise water use. A reduction of 60% of water use is quite common when using xeriscaping principles.

* From the Colorado WaterWise Council website: