Visit the Yampa River Botanic Park

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What a long, beautiful fall we had in the Mountain West last year! I was lucky enough to be able to take a little tour of Colorado in September and see again. Yampa River Botanic Park in Steamboat Springs. It’s been over 10 years since my last visit, and it’s been amazing to see how it’s grown and matured over that time. This garden is a real gem.

Creuse Garden at Yampa River Botanic Park
Creuse Garden uses fieldstone to create pockets for plants that prefer rocky soil, including conifers and spreading groundcovers.

Two rock gardens display alpine plants.

One of the first gardens we found was the stunning Creuse Garden, built in 2014 using Wyoming fieldstone. Nestled between the rocks are alpine plants that love the heat the rocks provide. Adjacent to the Creuse Garden is the Member’s Rock Garden, one of the oldest and largest gardens in the park. Both gardens are on a slope, in full sun, and use rocks strategically to create planting pockets that will help retain water and heat for selected plants. Looking at these gardens I’m thinking differently about a small berm in my landscape that plants have struggled with. I see more rock gardening in my future!

Garden in the fall at the Yampa River Botanic Park
The September Charm Garden is full of fall favorites, with some goldenrods in full bloom while a row of upright sedums are just starting to bloom.

Eventually we wandered along the wetlands, enjoying watching the osprey fly in and out of its nest. We continued to explore gardens full of various conifers and high country natives. As we made our way around the main lawn and pool area, I arrived at the September Charm Garden. As it was September, this garden did not disappoint. upright sedums (Hylotelephium spp and cvs., zones 3–9), asters (Symphyotrichum spp and cvs., zones 4–8), and goldenrods (Solidago spp and cvs., zones 3-9) created a wow-worthy moment for me when I rounded the corner. It was a truly wonderful garden on a gloomy day. I plan to add one of these fall flowering plants to my garden.

Yoga class in the public garden
Visitors practice yoga on the lawn next to a beautiful pond with mountains in the background.

As many of you have guessed over the past three years that I’ve been writing these regional reports, I love public gardens. I have had the pleasure of leading. Gardens on Spring Creek In Fort Collins, Colorado, for about 15 years, my friends have been working in gardens around the country, and I always visit gardens when I travel. Yampa River Botanic Park is a true Mountain West gem, with a variety of themed gardens that will not disappoint regardless of the time of year.

For more information on interesting gardens in the Mountain West, check out:

And for more Mountain West regional reports, click here.

Michelle Faraznik is the CEO of the American Public Gardens Association.

Photos: Michelle Farznik

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