Saturday, June 07, 2014

Our unenchanted, Denver gardens

Honeysuckles and marigolds box
Denver and eastern Colo. are no places for gardens like Michael Sedano's in Pasadena. Despite snowstorm pics in the news, Colorado's dry--alpine arid--though it doesn't take a village to do a garden right.

Gardening is god-like, our pretending to be dioses, remaking the jungle into an image of our choosing. My wife and I are lucky to have a home and the time to devote to a garden somewhat different from others.

A neverending, Aztec-adirondack design
Our knowledge about the Mexica gardens of the Anahuac Valley is incomplete. Tezcozinco was the name of the poet-prince Nezahualcoyotl's gardens; Chapultepec and Xochmilco were the Aztec's. The invading Spaniards described them as more wondrous than any in the world, though they didn't know about those in Asia.

Aquaponics, hydroponics were practiced by the indigenes with their milpas; and recycling and waste management were taken to an extreme in Tenochtítlan because of limited land available for the Aztecs to settle on. This part of the heritage would be good to recover, obviously. Today, my wife and I are hosting an Unenchanted Garden Party, and maybe raising a little money for battered women's shelters. Here's what visitors will see.

My wife Carmen's vegetable and flower garden out front contains: tomato plants, plum, catalpa, peach and apple trees, jalapeños, strawberry, roses, yarrow, honeysuckle, tulips, icy plants, catnip, cosmos, tiger lily, currants, lilacs, lamb's ear, climbing wild roses, and trumpet vine.

Succulent, nopal, yucca and blue fescue living together
My half is the desert-prairie: Evergreens, wildflowers like cosmos and Colo. sunflowers, succulents, hens-n-chicks, groundcovers, agastaches, marigolds, penstemons, sages, lavenders, and prairie, blue fescue and buffalo grasses, yuccas, mt. plants, and a dozen varieties of cactus.

The yard goes for water-saving, with prairie grass that needs little water or mowing, with the sod landscaped into rolling hills to keep water from reaching the street. Cactus, succulents and grasses are native varieties from Mexico, the SW or Colo. native. Where possible, terracing keeps water loss down, especially on my wife's half. Inverted, Spanish roof-tiles channel rain-gutter water away from the house.

Jalapeños/onions box
Organic fertilizer: We use a concentrated, seaweed emulsion, about every two weeks. Better than MiracleGro, cheaper and requiring less frequent applications. Here's our organic weed killer & ants-ridder: 1 gal. vinegar; 2 cups Epson salts; 1/4 Dawn dish soap [blue original]. It works in less than a day. Just a little squirt kills ALL plants, so we use a sprayer set to a stream setting.

Latest attempt at an Azteco bench
Except for three items, the wood furniture and other yard features are homemade, primarily from reused or salvaged cedar and redwood. The designs are based on Aztec or indigenous models or motifs, avoiding boxy, ninety degree angles, when possible.

Marigolds, four-o-clocks and wild cosmos box
For the front patio, we cut over 100 bricks to make the curved border, set each brick with 6" rebar and laid it on pea gravel, to avoid using concrete.

For those of you out of town, this completes your tour of our unenchanted gardens. If you're in Denver, drop by today between 11:00am and 3:00pm.

Drinks and eats and transplants and seeds are here. And lots of chatting about gardening in the desert-prairie.

the front deck, built with lockers underneath
RudyG and Carmen
waiting out front in the yard

Strawberry hutch

a selfie of some our goldfish, out back


msedano said...

orale, los sedano are in pasadena. but thanks for the thought, i'd love to have a place in dago.

Anonymous said...

I moved you back home.

Alpinista said...

As a fellow gardener in Northwest Denver, I understand why you referred to your garden as "unenchanted" but the virtual tour you presented shows all the beauty, magic and mystery of planting a space and making it your own. Thank you for sharing. I wish I could have visited your garden yesterday.

Anonymous said...

Alpinista, feel free to come by this summer. You can Email me here or contact on FBook for the address.

sramosobriant said...

Lovely, Rudy. I'm going to try your weed killer, but I don't want it to kill the good stuff. You say a "stream" but that sounds heavier than a spray or a squirt. Am I reading it wrong?

AlvaradoFrazier said...

I love the furniture- you both are very creative and patient to tend such a lovely garden.
My daughter/son live a few miles outside of Denver and she missed our Calif. garden. She has managed to grow a potted succulent garden beneath a large window and now placing outside on their tiny balcony.
I've written down that ant away recipe. I have one for gnats: Vinegar, a drop of Dawn-blue, place in a shallow bowl and the gnats are gone in 24 hours.

Kathleen said...

Lovely, Rudy. I'm keeping a vegetable garden for the third year in a row, thinking and blogging about our relationship with food. Much to learn, much knowledge to recover from our ancestors.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Kathleen Alcalá, much to recover. The respectability of Greek, Roman, etc. knowledge is greatly based on surviving manuscripts; without those, there is no Homer's logic, math of the Ancients or their literature. 99%, maybe more, of indigenous America's libraries and books were burned, lost, along with other of their lore. Latinos 2nd-class citizenship would be difficult to maintain if America used a calendar as accurate as the Maya's, a Quechua or Mexica calculator, or had read the prose of the indigenes. We can only imagine what was lost.

Anonymous said...

Above, I meant Aristotle's logic, which is logical.