So you’re walking along in a pleasant Denver neighborhood of single family homes, when suddenly you come upon a front yard that looks distinctly different. This is the garden of Jim Borland, a retired radio talk show host, and one of my favorite stops on the Denver Garden Bloggers Fling last June.


The front garden is a densely layered mix of Colorado native plants that receive absolutely no supplemental watering. The upper layer of shrubs and small trees almost completely obscures the house.


But turns out there is a path to the front door. Notice the nice patch of Wild Blue Flax (Linum lewisii) on the lower right.


I am in love with that plant. Wish I could grow it.


The front porch, with some very cool hanging succulents.


Unfortunately I can’t remember the names of most of the plants we saw, but there were some Agaves.


One of the plants that I do remember is Apache Plume (Fallugia paradoxa). It was kind of hard to get pictures because of the strong sunlight, but you can see it above underplanted with some kind of Amsonia.


Anyway, this is a really neat twiggy shrub of the Mountain West (from Utah and Nevada down to Arizona and New Mexico). It’s kind of like a cross between an apple tree and Prairie Smoke, with five-petaled white flowers that mature into feathery plumes.


Bees like it.


More Agave.


From within the front garden it’s easy to forget that you’re in a city neighborhood.


There are also some Cacti. That might be some kind of Cholla above. Too bad we were too early for the flowers.


Now, the back garden is a bit more conventional, but still very attractive.


There’s a bit of lawn, an herb garden, a vegetable garden, and a substantial compost pile.


There’s also an out-of-the-way corner where Jim Borland starts plants from seed. Here’s an amazing thing about his front garden: the gardener grew all those plants himself from wild-collected seed. The first stage of planting involved starting plants in 1,500 pots nearly 25 years ago.


Not sure if this flower is a native or not. I like it, though.


I get the feeling that Poppies are very happy in Colorado. The red ones are my favorite.


There are also some robust shrub roses in the mix.


This is a corner house, and the other side facing the street has lots of high plains wildflowers growing along  the sidewalk. I wonder what this is – could it be something in the Mallow family?


Some Basket Flowers and some kind of Penstemon.


More Basket Flowers and some Indian Paintbrush.


Jim Borland’s garden is an eloquent testament to his passion for plants, native and otherwise. He has built up a remarkable store of knowledge, along with his remarkable garden, and luckily he is happy to share both with others.

42 Comments on “Plant 1,500 Seeds, And What Do You Get?”

  1. So very beautiful… and exactly the right type of garden to that climate!
    There are some really pretty flowers and the blue of the Linum is simply wonderful.
    I can agree those hanging succulents look cool but I’m not certain if I like them. 😀
    Again, thank you for sharing! This series of posts is very interesting.

  2. It’s interesting to see some Texas natives from farther west and south in the garden. I think the Indian paintbrush might be Castilleja lindheimeri rather than our C. indivisa. Lindheimer’s grows out in the hill country, farther west.

    You’re right about the mallow; it’s a globe mallow. This looks like our woolly globe mallow, but it might be the scarlet globe mallow, S. coccinea, or Emory’s globe mallow. There are a couple of other native species in Colorado.

  3. I like all those natives and the “order out of chaos” he has created. I try to start natives from seed but some are really finicky about stratification and scarification. He gives me hope. I wonder if Jim is related to the writer Hal Borland?

  4. Hi Jason .. thanks for stopping by ! .. Casa Blanca was my first white lily that I fell in love with, and I still do love it ! I also have a thing for white , especially in shady areas .. there is nothing like that POP !
    Wow with this garden .. I love the fact that it is a hidden paradise within the city .. and yes ! patience and perseverance, has to be his “tools” above all else .. it is amazing to think of all that work being followed through with, and paying out in such wonderful plants . Now that is a gardener ! LOL

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