Gardening at 9,000 feet!

ahs16(4CO)April 28, 2005

Hi There!

We just built a house outside of Divide, CO. I am trying to get information on perennials (or even some annuals) that will do well at 9,000 feet and that won't just be food for the mule deer up here!! Any suggestions? Also need to plant grass seed to control the erosion of the hillside of decomposed granite left over from the new construction. We have tons of sun and lots of wind -- and also on well water, so anything I do has to survive all that! HELP!

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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

Well, welcome to the area and to GW!!

Your best bet is to call the Extension office in Cripple Creek. The Master Gardener group here is pretty active and has developed a fairly extensive list of high altitude perennials for this specific area.

My folks live in Divide and I'm just down the hill from you in Woodland Park.

As for the deer-well they will eat just about anything if hungary enough. Good thing we've had plenty of moisture this year-they just may leave your new plants alone (for a while).

    Bookmark   April 28, 2005 at 9:10PM
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Aunee(z5 CO)

Hi! We also just moved into our new mountain home last month. We are south of Florissant on 35 acres (at around 8.700 ft.) overlooking Wright's Resevoir and 4 Mile Valley (?)(near the Evergreen station). We also have a large, sloping meadow area that is still all bare from construction. However, last fall I did go into the Forest Service (?) extension in Woodland Park and ordered 50 lbs. of native grass seed. I took in samples of what was already growing there. They made up a custom mix which I put down all over the disturbed area (after adding a very thin layer of top soil). Hopefully some of it will germinate. We shall see! It is too big an area to water, so nature will have to take care of it. Just before the last big storm 2-3 weeks ago, I threw out another 50 lbs., but I am not too optimistic about that since much of it probably blew away due to the strong winds that accompanied that storm...

I am also eager to learn about perennials, bushes and possibly trees that can succeed in our area. Last fall I transplanted numerous flowers from around our property, potted them, mulched around them and overwintered then. So far it looks like a good number of them are starting to come alive. It should be interesting to see whether they transplant well or not. We also have many mule deer and I plan to concentrate on native flowers & bushes that the deer & rabbits do not favor. Rosa is right, if they are real hungry, they will eat anything. And that's OK with me since they were here first. But I will try not to tempt them with their favorite ones!

This is a wonderful website. Due to building our house these last 9 months, I have not had time to post, but I have read this forum daily and am so impressed by the members and their advice and willingness to help us "newbies." Thanks to all of you!!


    Bookmark   April 30, 2005 at 10:42AM
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emagineering(z5 co)

Woodland Park here.....

You may have missed a great workshop at the library. It focused on gardening in our area, a full day and worth every moment. Purhaps next year, I will go again to catch up on what I most likely missed and more questions with some experience gained.

I also got seed from the forest department including wild flower. A tad expensive but if the gems grow they will reseed. Here is a link for Teller County perennials:

City Market in WP will also special order plants/bushes for us which are hardened/grown for this area. Ask for Tammy in the floral department and let her know what you are interested in. She is a wealth of information.

One of the things I am trying here is Russian Sage. It grew fast and furious at 6,000. May or may not happen in
WP, but I love this plant and from past experience has been greatly forgiving in major storms, drought and location.

The above info is mainly from meeting people here and info from the workshop. I am definitely in the learning mode for our area and look forward to any thoughts, suggestions and knowledge from all of you.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 1:46PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

you say, "City Market in WP will also special order plants/bushes for us which are hardened/grown for this area.."
Is this by chance from Pleasant Ave Nursery in Buena Vista? They are wonderful. I've ordered and meet the truck at the Farmers Market for pick-up.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 8:46PM
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doccod(Z5-6 NM)

Former Guffey resident here,

If you like Iris, I know there is species of Iris that grows
all over the pastures along Park County 102 and into the Florrisant area.

They did seem a bit invasive though. I'm sure someone would
let you dig some out of their pasture!

There was a big deciduous tree at Evergreen station in Teller County that seemed to be doing well, it looked like a cottonwood or elm, I was am still curious to know what it was, as it was the only deciduous tree within miles, beside the Gambel Oaks. The native Currents are the only other
shrub type woody plants I noticed.

Beatiful area, just a bear of a commute to the "springs" during the bad winter storms, especially if you employer
didn't like you taking a "snow day", as mine did.

I think the last poster was referring to City Market in
Woodland Park, down the hill from you, much better meat and produce than the Safeway.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   May 3, 2005 at 9:13PM
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emagineering(z5 co)

Rosa....City Market orders their plants from a nursery in Black Forest. I looked them up but can't seem to find their location, most likely wholesale.

Is Pleasant Ave. nursery another resource for me? I would like to try raspberries. Probably just asking for the deer/bear to love my place.

DOCCOD....The house I moved into is new, but on an existing lot with a backyard of years with someone gardening at one time. There are many plants of iris popping up. They look like a small variety, will be interesting what evolves.

There is also a crab apple tree which is about 10 feet high and looks quite healthy. Surprised by this as I don't see any others around. Quite a few bushes of some type, yet to know what they are. Divide being higher in altitude, it would be interesting to know what decidious trees you are seeing.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2005 at 8:54AM
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Joan_CO(Z4 CO)

Does anyone have any experience growing raspberries or blueberries? I also live in Divide and have just bought my home. If I can figure out where to put them, I would LOVE to grow raspberries. I am also looking for some sort of bush for filling in some space in front of my house. I was looking at arborivitae (sp?) but the nursery said those will die in the winter in Divide. Any other ideas??

    Bookmark   June 15, 2005 at 3:33PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

Yes, Pleasant Ave Nursery is a great resource. Their stock is field grown in Buena Vista so it's sure to survive here in our area. The prices are reasonable and have a alot of native species.

Raspberries should grow just fine and do along the roads near you. Not blueberries tho with the acid soil requirements. Do you wnt deciduous or evergreen for the front of the house Joan?

    Bookmark   June 23, 2005 at 8:32AM
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emagineer(z5 CO)

Hey all high altitude gardeners....haven't been on for a while, the garden has called. Decided to bump this but most of you are probably out gardening too.

After all of my angst about what to plant and what will garden is beautiful. Have met so many people here that deeply love planting and all surrounding us.

One of my best finds was a nursery called "Diggin in the Dirt", in Woodland Park. Bought way too much, but everything has grown without a hitch. If you go, you will love Tina. She even visited me last week to look at my planting and all the mysterious plants I knew nothing about.

One of the biggest surprises has been trees here. A crabapple bloomed and now the locust with blanketed flowers.

Check are all up here doing?

Sandy in Woodland Park

    Bookmark   July 10, 2005 at 12:41PM
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Joan_CO(Z4 CO)

I was thinking about some deciduous bushes, but for now I have a butterfly bush there. Where is this nursery in Woodland Park?? I would love to check it out! I just put in my herb garden and some tomatoes/peppers and scarlet runner beans. Being my first foray into high altitude gardening, it should be interesting to see what does well, and what doesn't. Thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2005 at 9:16PM
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Rosa(4ish CO Rockie)

We have a nursery in WP???
Where, Where????

    Bookmark   July 15, 2005 at 8:56AM
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Joan_CO(Z4 CO)

I just noticed this morning that some of my plants have curled leaves (brown) It was really hot yesterday, but I thought they had enough water. Could it be the heat or could it be the soil?? I used topsoil/cow manure and potting mix for the raised bed. I would say 3/1/.5 bags of the mix. The plants I have in the other beds that I put mulch on top of seem to be doing better. Any ideas? (also the herbs that I planted in the holes of the cement blocks are looking a little brownish. Would that be from not enough water, or could it be a reaction to the concrete??)

    Bookmark   July 20, 2005 at 6:04PM
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Welcome to Divide! I've gardened in Woodland Park for 12 years and am moving to Divide next month. It's a good thing too because I've run out of planting room at my current location! There is no shortage of perennials, shrubs, and trees that thrive up here. The trick is choosing the right variety. If you want information about what plants the deer will leave alone, the High Country Gardens web site annotates which plants are deer and rabbit resistant. I'm personally passionate about growing fruit up here and have one apple and one crab-apple that produce annually. I also grow cherry, currant, gooseberry, plum, grape, honeyberry, sea berry, juneberries... Perennial herbs that do particularly well here include mint, lemon balm, chives, thyme, and tarragon. Vegetables are a real challenge without a green house because our season is so short. If you tell me what type of plant you're looking for, I'd be happy to give you some suggestions and sources.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 5:40PM
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Joan -- Raspberries do very well up here but you've got to choose an early summer variety otherwise you won't get fruit before frost. 'Boyne' and 'Killarney' will both produce well and finish producing before autumn frosts set in.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 5:46PM
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Joan -- If you want to grow blueberries up here, try planting one in a half-barrel with some acidic potting soil. Brunswick Maine and Burgundy Maine varieties are available from Raintree Nursery. Both are cold-hardy enough for us as well as small enough to do well in a half-barrel. I had some delicious blueberries at the beginning of summer! You'll get better fruit production if you plant one of each variety for cross-pollination.

    Bookmark   October 5, 2005 at 5:57PM
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Howdy you�ll,

We have a house at 9000 feet too and, knowing nothing about what will grow so high, I started a little garden about three years ago with a verity of curios results.
Here is a page about it:
I am looking for sources of plants (seeds, sprouts whatever) that will do well at 9000 ft.. Our house is in the Jemez Mountains


so New Mexico sources are best but mail order is ok too.
Any suggestions?

    Bookmark   May 6, 2011 at 3:07PM
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We built a house 1 1/2 years ago near Guffey and have had some interesting results with our plantings. Lilacs are prolific and deer resistant. Vinca and Columbine and Zinnias do well and the critters, large and small seem to leave them alone as well. Pansies, Sweet Willams, Asiatic Lillies, Gerbera Daisies, Dusty Miller, and Miniature Roses do well as long as they are covered with a wire basket cover. I don't even notice the wire any more.

We palnted grass seed on the bare construction spots and it did not come up last year but it did this year. We had a few spots that came up last year but they were protected by some straw we had spread around to protect the seed form birds. However most of the straw blew away and left bare ground. The patches that stayed covered did produce grass though. I recommend that any one who wants to raise a crop of grass the first year, cover the seed with burlap or other garden cover. Or just be patient. We also had a lot of weed come up the first year. I has not come back this year. We were told by our builder that it takes about 3 years to regrow the areas that have been disturbed by the construction and we are seeing that to be true so far.

If you are looking for a nursery in our area, "Diggin in the Dirt" in Woodland Park can't be beat. Tina has an amazing selection of plants to choose from. Many she has propagated herself and she knows what grows here. She will even come out to your place and make recommendations for your particular situation. Her number is 719-687-3505.

One thing we can use to help warm our soil is the dark volcanic rocks that we find along our roads out here. We put them near our flower beds and they really do soak up the sun and then help to keep the soil warm at night. Don't put them too close to the plants though as they will burn them during the day.

Using mulch arounnd the plants is a must up here to keep the wind and sun from sucking up any moisture that may fall. Just be sure to keep it away from the stems and trunks of trees.

Hope this helps some of you.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2012 at 10:30PM
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Hello Everyone!

I've lived up here in Woodland Park for two years now and I've just built a small pvc greenhouse (WHOOO!!). Has anyone tried growing haskaps (aka Honeyberry)? I ready about them in a magazine. Flavor somewhere between a blueberry and raspberry and the native environment is I believe Siberia? Also doesn't require really acidic soil like a blueberry and doesn't have thorns like a raspberry. Grows in a nice bush.

So, has anyone tried it in the high country yet?

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 10:35PM
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