The water resource engineers’ efficient garden

Ann English
Angie Fowler stands in her garden.
Ann English

From large yards with many gardening hands, to smaller yards with only two gardening hands, from flower beds to landscaped yards, from xeriscape yards to low water use gardens, from downtown to subdivisions around town, the Glenwood Springs Garden Club has chosen to select interesting and varied yards to highlight each month from May through the fall, and to honor the gardeners for creating more beauty in our community.

The Yard of the Month for August is in the Red Mountain subdivision at 1007 Riverview Drive. The gardener is Angie Fowler, and she happily expressed, “My favorite early morning activity is to go out and weed!”

Ten years experimenting with her gardening hobby has been fun for her as well as neighbors, as many chat to share ideas, plants and seeds in her neighborhood. You will see many colorful gardens along the streets in this subdivision. The Fowler yard, near the corner of 10th and Riverview, is in a unique place to greet residents and visitors with an overflowing display of colorful tall cone flowers all along the deep street side garden area. More colors pop from the side yard along their east driveway.

When she and husband Michael bought their home, it had been a rental for many years. She showed me photos of a flowerless yard and a house that looked nothing like theirs now. “It was just shabby grass down to the sidewalk,” explained Angie. They gradually updated and remodeled the house and changed the exterior colors, but Angie wanted to create large flower gardens in front that bloom through the seasons with low water use. Michael was skeptical as she began her new hobby but now appreciates the colorful gardens and how much less water is used than for lawns. They both are water resource engineers. “We promote water efficiency at work, so this all feels right to us.”

Angie feels her interest in gardening was inspired by her mother, a horticulturist in Nebraska. She gave Angie many suggestions for plants. Of course, what grows in Nebraska often does not grow here. Thus regular experimentation, questioning neighbors, and visiting nurseries helped to develop the gardens that can be seen now.

Amid the tall coneflowers in various shades of purple and pinks are splashes of yellow rudbeckia goldsturm, goldenrod, and gold yarrow, plus decorative grasses, mint, purple ornamental oregano (which Angie calls her “August bloom”), and blue Russian sage (the family dog is named Sage). Hidden among these are other plants of varied heights.

Angie calls herself a spring pruner and tends to leave the dried flowers on most plants. After the bees enjoy the summer flowers, the birds can find winter food. She thinks the tall grasses are most beautiful in the winter and loves to hear them rustle in the wind.

Angie believes, “Gardening is forgiving. It doesn’t have to be perfection.” But she is perplexed over a non-forgiving new enigma in a small yarrow bed — bind weed. It’s a problem for many gardeners, and we shared ideas from Garden Club discussions with master gardeners.

Rushing off to work after our interview, this working mother of a 17-year-old giggled and quipped, “I think when I grow up, I want to be a master gardener.” Of course — gardeners always have new projects and plans.

Ann English is past president of the Glenwood Springs Garden Club and a member of its Yard of Month Committee.

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