Monday, August 23, 2010

High Country Roadtrip

My family ventured out of the muggy heat of our Phoenix garden this weekend. We happily ended up on the road north to the ponderosa pine forests of Flagstaff. This short two hour drive out of the valley becomes a perfect weekend day trip. One of our stops was The Arboretum of Flagstaff where we enjoyed an afternoon of cool mountain air and an amazing array of native plants which thrive in the 7000 ft. high elevation. The 200 acres of pines and open meadowland was formerly a working ranch settled in the shadow of the San Francisco Peaks. Here, seeds and plants collected from the vast Colorado Plateau region, are propagated and displayed in their native environment. Ten acres of gardens are designed to give visitors a close up look at what grows in this high desert climate. We loved the casual, uncrowded beauty of this place. We wandered through an herb garden, butterfly garden and water conservation garden as well as a constructed wetland. My favorite section of the garden was the wildflower meadow and the 1.2 mile trail that meandered through the ponderosa pines woodland.
The Elderberry Pond and Riparian area where lovely dragonflies hover all around us. Cattails stands flourished in the wetlands of the Arboretum.
It might have been the change in altitude, but it seemed like the wildflowers here in the "high country" were so much more delicate and fragile.
Mexican Hat, also called Prairie Coneflower waving in the breeze.
One of the great ideas I'll take home with me. Long strips of shiny, silvery ribbon strips hung from the eaves to keep the birds at bay. They also made excellent use of their abundant rocks, using them for paths, seating, and garden boarders.
This is the cactus house which reminded me of Mr. McGregors garden from Beatrix Potter's tales of Peter Rabbit. Lots of pots and plants pleasantly askew.
This is the horticulture center, where 2500 species of high elevation plants are housed. A passive solar greenhouse used for research is also packed with growing plants.
Lupines, columbines, bee balm, scarlet gilia, and blanket flower spill onto the garden paths.
Inside the horticulture center it was warm and sunny, just right for these rows and rows of seedlings and transplants.
The potting station, lined with garbage cans and filled with compost and other good stuff. As you enter, one of my favorite aromas fill the air, moist earth! The Flagstaff Arboretum isn't a typical botanical garden with formal structure and lines, it has more of a park atmosphere. Really, you can barely tell where the boundary lines begin and end. It gently blends right into the magnificent scenery that we call Arizona!

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