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Discovery Point #1

The Golden Rectangle can be particularly helpful in establishing the most pleasing dimensions for flowerbeds, lawns, and arbors.  The rectangle that you see in the Southwest Literature Garden, and in the image below, has the property that each time a square is removed, another golden rectangle of the same proportion remains.  A Golden rectangle is a rectangle whose length to width ratio is equal to the golden ratio of approximately 1.618.(1)

A spiral is created by drawing an arc from one corner of each square to its opposite corner, and then continuing to draw successive arcs within each smaller square.  This will create a “golden spiral” such as in the image above.

Look at the picture of the rose shown below.  That signature spiral is not just pretty to look at, its form has an essential function. Known as the ‘golden spiral’ the arrangement allows for the most compact containment of the petals,  All the petals exhibit a twisting of about 1.618034°, to optimize exposure to sunlight.

 “Plants are not ‘things’ but ‘energy events” (3)




This optimized exposure to sunlight aids in photosynthesis and allows each leaf to receive the maximum amount of sunlight and rain. The spirals provide the most efficient means of directing moisture to the roots of the plant and give the best exposure of the plant for insect pollination. (2)

Discovery Point #2

What Are Mason Bees?

Mason bee refers to a species of solitary bee in the genus Osmia. They do not live in colonies. They are commonly called masons because of their nesting habits, in which they use mud and other materials associated with masonry to build their homes.  They do not produce honey.

Mason bees are known to be one of the most important and effective polinators and have very different foraging techniques compared to non-native European honeybees.  Mason bees are chaotic and crash into flowers while rubbing their abdomen all over the blooms covering the scopa hairs either on the leg or on the underside of the abdomen.  Mason bees fly closer to home, usually little more than one hundred meters. Because of this, they do not need pollen baskets and can afford to lose a few grains of pollen on the flight back to the nest. The advantage of having scopa hairs that can readily pick up and brush off pollen grains combined with the mason bee’s erratic method of jumping from flower to flower is the perfect combination for superior cross-pollination.

Mason bees are extremely efficient polinators. Several of the plants in the Southwest Literature Garden are favorite pollen gathering plants for Mason Bees.  These include the Golden Current (Ribes aureum), the Rocky Mountain Penstemon (Penstemon strictus), and Firecracker Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii) that are in a corner of the Southwest Literature Garden.

Carol English, Native Plant Master Source:

Disclaimer:  We have made a good faith effort to properly attribute and source information and photographs relied upon throughout this website.  If the reader discovers an omission or mistake in that sourcing and crediting, please contact us at

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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 our Information Tab for more.

Contact Us:

10 Town Plaza, #460
Durango, CO  81301    

Phone:  970-880-4841

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