What phrases can I use to describe the Annual 2023 “Mountain Blooms” Home Garden Tour? Fit for a magazine? Beyond my expectations? Unique but gorgeous? Well, let’s take a stroll down Lyons’ streets and look at the lovely ten home gardens that were on display on Saturday, June 7th. I will highlight a couple of items at each home garden, and share photographs of about half the homes with the most unusual presentations.
We’ll start our garden tour on the far west side of town with Patty McNichol’s yard in Eagle Canyon. In approaching the house, you might rightly expect that the terraced yard, with boulders and wildflowers that need no watering would be the highlight. But once you enter the backyard, you cannot take your eyes off of the huge, unique rock formations… that is until you realize that just above them, you are looking right at Steamboat Mountain!
Heading next into old town Lyons, Julie Jacobs and Sean Dunn have what some might call a yard waiting for a party. The grassy, tree-covered backyard, trimmed by flower gardens, is ready for the next big BBQ. The shed has a pool table and bar, with a sign over the door reading “Cajun cooking,” which a friend gave to them, explaining that it was from Oskar Blues.
When I walked through Debbie and Steve Simms‘s yard, I could feel the temperature drop 10 degrees. Was it the lush grass and shady trees, or was it because of the cool breezes lifted off the nearby river? The yard has an abundant mix of flowers and vegetables, including a hardy raspberry patch. They too had a big party-patio — with a spectacular view overlooking, far-below, the St. Vrain River and Planet Bluegrass grounds.
I hope you took the time to find David and Chrystal DeCoster’s oasis on busy Hwy. 7. The three patios were each fit to be in a home-and-garden spread. David took visitors on a tour, explaining the bottom level as being where the original house stood many decades ago, and was now an ADU rental. A beautiful stone wall separates it from the middle patio, which was full out modern “living outside,” with fire pit and BBQ. And the 3rd patio, still further up the hillside, was a quiet, cool meditative area. Each was surrounded by trees and vegetation, but it was just background dressing for all the funky or rustic furniture, sculptures, art work, and water feature.
Travelling to the opposite side of town, and going up steep First Avenue, and even more steps to the backyard of Gabriel and Tanya Daty, visitors found it hard to decide which was the most interesting view – the display of a couple of dozen varied, and intricately pruned bonsai plants, or the view overlooking the entire town of Lyons.
Going back down to base level, and turning down Stone Canyon Road, most people were surprised to find a walking trail next to the home of Chris Meline and Jane Carlough-Meline. As you gazed over the property line, it was like having your own little Open Space to reflect on. Jane was excited to show off her “red worm compost bin,” and explain the simple way you could add nutritious WATER! and dirt to your garden.
On the south side of town, you will find what Steve and Jocelyn Fankhouser call a “non-traditional English Garden.” To me it’s a very lovely unstructured garden. I ran into this last year too, where a homeowner basically just had a sort of trellis gate entrance to a fenced-in small garden area, and also called it an English Garden. There seems to be a loose definition of what an English Garden is. In Britain, most homes have only a small front “yard” (as we call it), and it may have a small patch of grass, but it is mainly full of a variety of mostly tall flowers that bloom all year. It is not formal like the Italian and French gardens. Having said that, the Fankhouser garden is full of big flowering plants, with eye-appealing colors.
A few blocks down is the Keith and Sara Erickson garden, which again is crammed full (their words!) of both flowers and vegetables, and includes many succulents. A fun walk includes discoveries like a side garden with low plants in the shape of a harp, and some raised hügelkultur beds (which we also saw and explained last year – and it was fun to stop and see last year’s beds’ progress).
If you are the kind of person who asks around “Who lives there?” because a garden has caught your eye, then you have no doubt walked past the garden paradise of Ken Jackson and Steve Grant and asked that question. To find it, look for a yard that has a fence that comes to a triangular point, and is across from the old Valley Bank building at Railroad Avenue. As you enter this one acre (yes! an acre in town) you will find yourself disappearing into different wonderlands. Because it has “ditch rights” (water rights) it is not only lush, with 40 mature trees, but it literally has a small, moving stream in it, and two holding ponds. Over time, they have created different small structures, surrounded by thickets of greenery. The old greenhouse was converted into a Meditation Room (think “Buddhist” influences). A covered wagon was added in one section, with its own “outhouse.” A sitting room attached to the house by a walkway has tall glass windows. Some people know Ken because he did the huge, gorgeous mounds of flowers in Bohn Park for many years. Back then, he made sure they were bountiful all summer because he hand-watered them, with his water wagon, and now he does the same in his yard.
Photos by Kathleen Spring (all photos copyright 2023)
During the tour, not only were the homeowners present to answer visitor questions, but also one member of the Garden Club greeted people at each house. I met Robin at one house, and she said that she was new to Colorado and had found that through her membership she had received an abundance of information on how and what to plant. Plus, of course, meeting some great new friends. Robin said that a tour visitor told her and some others that the flower petals on yucca bushes were eatable. So they all tried it, and found it was like a mild tasting, thick salad leaf.
I think the most frequently asked question was “What’s that small red flower bush” that grows in such abundance. (see first photo in article, above). The answer was Jupiter Beards. I personally asked it a couple of times, because it was such a strange name, it was hard to remember! Its popularity comes from not only its beauty, but because it thrives on neglect, and only needs watering in very dry conditions. Also, it is a rabbit and deer resistant plant. It will grow to three feet tall, in sun or light shade. It can bloom all summer, with snipping off old buds. It is considered an Old World wildflower. The clusters of tiny dark red flowers stand out against the deep green foliage. So, if you didn’t make it on Saturday, you now have at least one gardening tip! courtesy of the Tour. And, this may entice you to come and “see” and “ask” at the next annual garden tour.
The Rocky Mt Botanic Garden was also on the tour. It is open from dawn to dusk, every day. (no dogs or bikes allowed). It is the first such park in the state. Both RMBG and the Lyons Garden Club appreciate volunteer help to maintain the parks. The Garden Club’s main responsibility is taking care of the “mushroom/butterfly” garden, and the “bear” garden, which are located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue and High Street, near Chase’s Redstone Cyclery and Moxie’s Bread.
If you would like to volunteer at either organization, please contact them for questions. Garima Fairfax runs the RMBG, and she says to “just show up”— see our ARTICLE. Officially, volunteers work Sundays, Tuesdays, and Fridays, from 9 to 11 a.m., but most any day you will find Garima working in the garden. Bring gloves, hand tools, and a water bottle, and they have the rest. Go to www.rmbg.org for more information; and contact Garima (email@example.com) with inquiries.
The Lyons Garden Club welcomes new members. You can be added to their mailing list to learn about opportunities through their website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Also, if you are interested in being involved in next year’s annual “Mountain Blooms” Garden Tour contact the organizer: Lyons Garden Club.
The third official “garden” in Lyons is the Lyons Farm Community Project. It is run by Adrean Kirk, and she welcomes volunteers to work in the garden, and she says she can meet you almost any day of the week; just contact her. // Also, see their Facebook page for information, and planting tips. For more information or directions, or donations of plants to the garden, contact: LyonsCFP@gmail.com or Adrean Kirk 908-209-1069.
Proceeds from the event go towards maintaining their current gardens, purchase of tools, seeds and other supplies for our community gardens and planters in the public spaces, and support of their scholarship program at Lyons High School/Middle School. Our motto, since our founding, is “Making Lyons Beautiful, One Flower at a Time.”
Thanks to the 12 businesses who made the event possible: Tucker Group, Bent Heirlooms, Wild by Design, McCann realty, Boulder CPA group, SunFlowerShade Umbrella, Peter Baumgartner, The Flower Bin, Laura Levy realty, Cemex, St. Vrain Market, G.Bhan Photography. ==THANK YOU TO THE HOMEOWNERS WHO OPENED THEIR GARDENS TO THE PUBLIC FOR THIS EVENT!