The Lyons Garden Club, a non-profit volunteer organization, began in 2008 with three women drinking coffee at the Stone Cup and looking at two empty lots full of weeds. We decided to bring plants from our home gardens to these two areas to help beautify Lyons, one flower at a time. The group grew in size, as other Lyons residents wanted to make our little town more pleasing to the eye with annual, perennial, and xeric plants that would do well in our complex climate and soil conditions.
Since 2008, we have planted over five thousand daffodil bulbs, designed and maintained the gardens along Main Street and the stone planters along Highway 36, and maintained plantings along High Street, including the west wall (near the sculpture of the bears) and the butterfly planter (near the former Steamboat Mountain Natural Foods). Our group’s only fundraiser is the annual Chili Cook-off, which happens in the Stone Cup parking lot on the Saturday of the Lyons Halloween Parade.
In 2013, Lyons suffered tremendous infrastructure losses due to the flood, and some of our gardens were totally destroyed. All the stone planters along Highway 36 were inundated and the irrigation systems wrecked. Our plantings along Main Street were also trashed, as well as the irrigation to those gardens. Most of the daffodil bulbs planted in those stone planters on 36 also were destroyed, or at least relocated.
In 2014, we instituted a program called “Plant it forward.” We received donations from a grade school in Longmont, as well as plants from a gardening group in Boulder. Gwynne’s Greenhouse also stepped up and donated a hundred dollars’ worth of plants to match each hundred-dollar donation to the Garden Club. With this, we were able to help rebuild ten private gardens in town that were damaged by the flood.
As the years have passed since the flood, our role has changed. The Town of Lyons took control of the Main Street and Highway 36 landscaping, which has left us with the west wall, the butterfly planter, and the area in front of the dynamite shed across from the Stone Cup (known to us as the berm). As you admire all the pretty flowers and plants that bring smiles on your walks through town, remember all the volunteer hours that have gone into making these gardens what they are today.
That brings me to now, when our lives have changed due to COVID-19. While we all shelter in place, our gardens are awakening as if nothing has happened. The birds are still chirping, the daffodils and hyacinths are beginning to bloom, we can see our trees budding out, and the sun is still shining.
Get out to your garden
When we are tired of baking, cooking, watching TV, reading, or playing board games, some of us will feel the need to get outside into that warm sunshine and garden! It’s too early to plant annuals or vegetables (except for cold-tolerant ones such as lettuce, spinach, and peas), but we can begin to look at catalogs and websites that promise all kinds of beautiful additions to our outdoor spaces.
The Lyons Garden Club has lots of experience about what works and what doesn’t work in Lyons gardens.
Seeds: If you want to begin seeds, do some research first. The packets they come in have information on the back about when to plant outdoors. I plant as if we live in zone 4, which has worked well for me at home and with the gardens in town.
If you want to begin earlier, try building a cold frame. I have already put flower seeds in mine, which sits in a south-facing area in our yard. You can also begin seeds inside your house, planting in egg cartons, yogurt containers, or seed-starting kits. You just need a sunny window, soil, water, and patience. When the weather cooperates, you will need to put your seedlings outdoors a little at a time to get them hardened off and ready to be put in the ground or in pots.
Plants: You can also buy plants from nurseries, hardware stores, or online. These will come with information about sun requirements, water needs, and what critters will likely eat them. Deer, rabbits, and squirrels are always hungry.
I love going to the Flower Bin in Longmont, which is still open seven days a week (as of this writing). All those beautiful things under one roof! So many choices, and so little time (and money). The Flower Bin will take your order over the phone and meet you curbside to limit your exposure to others. There may be other nurseries offering the same service; just call ahead to get the current information.
Another local nursery we’ve used is Duran’s Hobby Acres, north of Longmont on US 287. Regardless of where you buy, you get the benefit of bringing those plants home and getting your hands dirty, which is good for the soul.
The two mail-order suppliers that have been most successful for us are K. van Bourgondien and Eden Brothers. We also like High Country Gardens, as their plants are grown in conditions similar to what we have locally. Another good resource is the Colorado State University Master Gardener website. This site is full of great information for any type of gardening you might want to do in Lyons.
Over the next couple of months, members of the Lyons Garden Club will be contributing articles pertinent to the season. Please take advantage of our experiences, and enjoy gardening. We all need something that brings us happiness; getting my hands dirty does it for me.
Sue Wratton is treasurer of the Lyons Garden Club. She and her husband have lived here since 2008. She is medical coordinator for the Lyons 9 Health Fair.