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Master Gardener: Improvements at Yampa River Botanic Park

Emma Friedland
For Steamboat Pilot & Today
A flower at Yampa River Botanic Park. (Courtesy photo)

A wise gardener once said that a garden is never complete. Millions of happy gardeners around the world have adopted this mindset. Charmed by the ephemeral nature of perennial gardens, those of us who choose to practice our craft in a seasonal climate are blessed with the annual disruption of winter, when we have a chance to reflect on the season that has freshly passed and fantasize about the upcoming spring.

As another buzzing season begins to cool down at Yampa River Botanic Park, we are looking forward to unveiling our newly renovated Hummingbird and Butterfly Gardens in spring 2022.

For those of you who are familiar with the gardens, you may be curious as to why the renovation is necessary. The hummingbirds and butterflies were often present, and the colorful perennials were beautiful to look at. It is true that this original garden served the purpose of it’s namesake; however being one of the oldest gardens in the park, the overgrown space was in need of a refresher.



After over two decades of growth, much of the diversity of the original planting design was reduced, as more aggressive plants were able to “choke out” many of the other perennials. The soil was in serious need of amendment, and the hardscaped paths and boulder work had shifted and settled over time. We like to revamp two gardens in a typical year, and it was time for this pollinator garden to be given some new life.

We are excited about the opportunity to bring in a fresh palette of colors, textures and smells into the space, including some plant material that will be brand new to the botanic park. Some of these plants include the beautiful Hearty hibiscus, the fragrant Sunset hyssop, and the late blooming Yellow Sombrero coneflower.

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We will be enriching the soil with compost that we generate in the park from our very own garden waste, and hardscape improvements will include slightly wider stone pathways, an addition to the boulder wall terrace, as well as a bubbling water feature.

If you find yourself at the Yampa River Botanic Park this fall, take a peek at the pollinator gardens for a glimpse of a rare and exciting site: a garden in transition. We are looking forward to observing how the new Hummingbird and Butterfly Gardens will grow and adapt over time, and we hope that you, as well as some of our winged friends, will be visiting us here for years to come.

Emma Friedland is a CSU master gardener apprentice from the Class of 2021. She is the assistant horticulturist at the Yampa River Botanic Park.


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