Chance Xeriscaping

This image functions as a good demonstration of just how dry gardening is in Denver without the benefit of a hose. This landscape is nothing more than a random scattering of common mullein (Verbascum thapsus) with a few hot pink-flowered hollyhocks and dry land grasses thrown in. I’m not even sure it qualifies as a garden in the traditional meaning of the word since it looked to be completely untended and the product of a few resilient volunteer plants.

And yet it works. I’m sorry I didn’t capture it with the digital camera, but the silvery verbascum alongside tall, hot pink hollyhocks really made a stand-out pair. I was intrigued enough to ask our friend to stop the car and let me out so that I could take a few (or several) photos with all four of the cameras that I had in tow. I didn’t make that request for any of the “proper” gardens we saw. But then again, I am a sucker for the soft, statuesque grace of verbascum.

Gayla Trail
Gayla is a writer, photographer, and former graphic designer with a background in the Fine Arts, cultural criticism, and ecology. She is the author, photographer, and designer of best-selling books on gardening, cooking, and preserving.

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8 thoughts on “Chance Xeriscaping

  1. Hi Gayla- I’ve been following your blog for 5+ years and this is my first post! I live in Denver and really tried to make it to the Botanical Garden for your presentation. But I couldn’t make it work. We are very fortunate to have the wonderful Botanical Gardens here in Denver. They have done a lot of improvements in the last 3 years. Your pix of the common mullein is funny to me. I always see them as weeds in many unkept yards around Denver. I’ll try harder to see their beauty in the ‘hood. Thanks for putting Denver in the spotlight, usually it is the mountains who get all the attention.

  2. Another person who likes mullein and doesn’t consider it a weed! I think it’s so pretty. Then again, I love tall plants like that. I’m tickled that there are several in my backyard this year. They’re quite pretty and striking, even if most people consider them weeds.

  3. Mary: There is lots to see in and around Denver. The mountains are interesting, too, but it was the dry landscapes that interested me most.

    Ginger: It comes up occasionally here as well. And I too always leave them. Mullein is a very good medicinal herb.

  4. LOVE Mullein! Although the ladies in the “county” here call it a weed. It’s an eye catching crazy specimen in my home garden. Does better for me when I sprinkle the seeds from the tall yellow spikes rather than trying to transplant.

  5. i love verbascum/mullein. Didn’t know what it was called, but it’s my favorite roadside plant in Montana. Beautiful.

  6. Great Blog page, I cannot for the life of me figure why people have front lawns to mow and blow when strategic planting can turn a front or back yard into a mini botanical garden with half if not three-quarters of the maintenance, along with water savers and shade makers…
    Regards llc
    “It’s like a Paper-clip for Potted Plants”

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