The Surface Creek Valley's avocational gardeners put lots of thought and energy into their passions for growing things.
There is one of those gardens in particular that passersby in Cedaredge may have noticed. It is a boisterous and thriving "conifer display garden," as local horticulturist Walt Teegarden describes his favorite outdoor project.
The Teegarden conifer display is built around special, unique varieties of conifers -- or pine trees as lots of people know them. The special varieties of conifers in the garden are known as "cultivars." Generally speaking, cultivars come from common varieties of pine trees, but they are individual specimens that display some noticeably unique characteristic in form, color or other aspect. The unique characteristic can be cultivated and developed into other individuals that display the same characteristic.
Assisting Walt with the garden is Stacy Morton of Cedaredge who describes herself as "an avid gardener." When Walt decided to look for some good help with the gardening chores this year, he conducted an online search for the right person. Stacy was the first one to respond to Walt's inquiry and, as things have turned out, she was the only one that he needed to talk with.
"This is the best job I have ever had in my life," Stacy said about working with Walt. An interest in working with the Earth and growing things is part of Stacy's family, too. Her daughter, Brianna, was awarded this year's Future Farmers of America/Hellman Motors scholarship at CHS. Stacy and her husband also have a home-remodeling business.
Walt is a retired engineer whose interest in growing things delves deeply into art and science. For example, one section of his garden is devoted to miniature varieties. There you will find Walt's experiments with grafting sprigs of one variety or another onto varieties of some other, thus producing a root stock in the process.
According to an online authority, a cultivar is defined as a plant, or a plant grouping, that is chosen for some desirable characteristic. This desirable characteristic can be propagated. Many of the recognized cultivars have come about through cultivation; however, others are specimens that have been taken from the wild.
The creating, propagation, recognition and naming of cultivars is an activity which has a governing body and an international registration authority. Each unique cultivar that is recognized receives a unique name through the registration authority.
Walt and his wife Joann lived in Cedaredge a number of years ago where they had a home in West Ridge. Walt was also very active with the Cedaredge Tree Board in those days. Walt developed an extensive display and nursery of his conifers there before the couple moved away for a few years.
Even though the Teegarden display specialized in conifers, it contains many other types of plants -- perennials and flowering varieties as well. Stacy said there are 50 types of perennials in the garden now and that another 25 are expected to arrive soon.
The garden display included about 135 total varieties as of early spring, Stacy said.
A neighbor of Walt's, Gerry Mendralla, is a big fan of the project. Mendralla has some gardening credentials himself as he was one of the very first "boots on the ground" founders of the Cedaredge Community Garden. He thinks that others would want to enjoy and learn from Walt's enterprise. "It is really amazing what Walt's dedication has created there," Mendralla said.
The display garden that Walt and Stacy are creating is, of course, protected by a high fence that keeps hungry deer in the neighborhood looking elsewhere for things to munch on. However, the two enthusiastic gardeners say they are happy to show their project to others. Anyone passing by the garden across from Cedaredge Middle School and who notices Walt or Stacy working in the garden is welcome to stop in. and visit about the project.
The seventh annual Eckert Crane Days, the annual viewing of the sandhill cranes migrating north from New Mexico through Colorado's West Slope, will be March 16-18. Representatives from the Black Canyon Chapter of the Audubon Society (BCAS) will be at the viewing site east of Eckert at Fruitgrowers Reservoir, 9 to 11 a.m. each day, to answer questions and provide binoculars and spotting scopes.