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We Are a Treasure!

21 May 2021 7:02 PM | Bill LeMaire (Administrator)

            Panayoti Kelaidis, senior curator and director of outreach at the Denver Botanic Gardens, was in Durango May 15 in conjunction with planning the North American Rock Garden Society (NARGS) conference, which will be held in August in Durango.  Kelaidis has designed plantings for many of the gardens at the Denver Botanic Gardens, especially the South African Plaza, the Rock Alpine Garden, and has been a valuable resource and friend of our own gardens in Durango. He has introduced hundreds of native ornamentals from around the world to our region and beyond, essentially transforming the horticulture of the American West. He has just been elected president of the North American Rock Garden Society.  Our Melanie Palmer, curator of the Durango Botanic Gardens, spoke with him and enjoyed his comments and praise of a number of our plants.  Following is her report...

Panayoti Kelaidis visited the Durango Botanic Gardens during regular Saturday maintenance and took some time to speak with volunteers and Lisa Bourey, garden designer and part of the NARGS organizing committee. 

            While the Durango Botanic Gardens is a valuable resource for the average homeowner, guiding choices at local nurseries, it DOES contain some rarities. It is the Durango Botanic Gardens’ willingness to trial plants donated by legendary plant collectors from the Denver Botanic Gardens that allows our Gardens to add some unique interest to our own collections.   

            In his walk-through with us, Kelaidis zeroed in on a couple of plants in the garden and told us some fascinating information about these two plants.

     One plant, the Atlantic Daisy, Leucanthemum atlanticum, at left, was collected by Denver Botanic Gardens' curator Mike Kintgen in Morocco, propagated, and then donated to our gardens in the Gardens’ early days.  It has proven difficult to grow in other gardens but seems to thrive here.  Panayoti pronounced it “one of the finest specimens he has seen anywhere”.   He even went so far as to say there are few to equal it outside of Morocco itself.  This fairly non-descript small white daisy shines AFTER blooming, with its pink architectural seed heads.  Seed will be collected by Lisa Bourey for distribution to NARGS conference visitors and propagators.  

     The second plant (at left, click image to enlargeof southern African origin, is found in the Alpine section of the Garden. It grows natively in the mountains of the small country of Lesotho. It is a mat-forming perennial with gray-green tiny foliage, covered in tiny pink-white flowers. Called Helichrysum pracurrens, it is rarely cultivated in botanic gardens.  In southern Africa, it is found covering hillsides there.  Donated to the Durango Botanic Gardens by Mike Kintgen, it has increased in size every year.  The flowers close up in shade but are tiny and daisy shaped. Lisa Bourey is going to collect seed from this plant as well for distribution to NARGS participants.

                  Mr. Kelaidis was extremely impressed with the appearance of the gardens, and the new areas which have been added since his last visit—the Crevice Garden, the Wind Garden, the Arboreta, and the soon-to-be-planted Elevation Grass Collection.  He is certain that the Gardens will be a source of excitement and appreciation by NARGS attendees who come from many parts of the United States and even some foreign countries.  Although small, our diversity is simply amazing. 

            Our hard-working volunteers deserve a huge THANK YOU for many years of dedication to making our Gardens the gem that they are. The Gardens are getting the recognition they richly deserve from some very important and internationally recognized giants of Western horticulture far and wide and will long be remembered by NARGS attendees.



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NOTE: Our physical location is 1900 E. Third Avenue, at the Durango Public Library. The gardens are located to the north and east of the library, along the Animas River Trail.

Mailing Address:

Durango Botanic Gardens

10 Town Plaza, #460

Durango, CO  81301

Phone: 970-880-4841

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Durango Botanic Gardens

Our Location:

The Durango Botanic Gardens are physically located at the Durango Public Library, to the north and east of the library.  The library is located at 1900 E. 3rd Ave., Durango.

There is no admission charge.  Stroll the gardens yourself (there is ample signage in most gardens) or call us at 970-880-4841 to arrange a group tour. See the About Us Tab for more.

Contact Us:

10 Town Plaza, #460
Durango, CO  81301    

Phone:  970-880-4841

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