Make your neighborhood ‘greenery’ with envy

This spring, transform your yard into a water-wise landscape with these six native plants.

March 14, 2017 | By: Kim Unger
Pantone color swatch of the color greenery
Pantone’s color of 2017 is a little bit yellow and a little bit green.

The Color of the Year for 2017 is … drumroll please … “greenery.”

That declaration, from the company behind the color matching system used by designers, printers and paint manufacturers, is a yellow-green shade (Pantone 15-0343 to be exact). The hue is meant to inspire a reconnection with nature.

At Denver Water, we happen to like greenery. As in, the kind that fills a water-wise landscape along with colorful flowers that attract nature’s pollinators.

With spring fast approaching, now is the time to start thinking about your landscape plans. Whether you want healthy native grass (or “turf,” as they say in the industry) or eye-appealing flowerbeds, here are six suggestions to get you started.

  1. Coronado red hyssop (Agastache pstessene)

    A tight photo of red hyssop plant in bloom
    Otherwise known as hummingbird mint, this plant’s fragrance is a deterrent to deer and rabbits. Photo credit: Doreen Wynja

 

The trumpet-like flowers on the red hyssop provide nectar for hummingbirds and bloom between July through September. This plant will grow about 16 to 18 inches tall and thrives with moderate to low watering. We recommend planting it within view of a window as its light, minty fragrance provides for some great bird-watching opportunities.

2. Butterfly milkweed (Asclepias tuberosa)

butterfly feasts on the nectar of the butterfly milkweed plant
The Perennial Plant Association’s 2017 Plant of the Year, butterfly milkweed is a favorite of pollinators. Photo credit: Monrovia.com

 

Don’t let the name fool you, this bushy perennial plant is far from a weed. Its bright orange flowers are a favorite of butterflies, including the magnificent monarch. Butterfly milkweed prefers full sun in soils that have good drainage, such as sandy soils. Add some ladybugs to help control the aphids who may want to chomp on the leaves.

  1. Denver gold columbine (Aguilegia chrysantha)
A close up of a yellow columbine flower
Bees and butterflies enjoy the 3-inch flowers of this columbine. Photo credit: NetPS Plant Finder

 

Coloradans know the state flower is the Rocky Mountain columbine, but it is not the only columbine found here. The Denver gold columbine is a bright yellow variety that thrives in sunny or partly shady locations. This native plant flowers in May and June, and will rebloom later in the season when the faded flowers are removed.

  1. Blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis)

    close up picture of seed groupings on blue grama grass
    This plant is not a fan of shade and will remain dormant in winter or drought.

 

Did you know that Colorado has a state grass? The blue grama grass was adopted in 1987. Growing 12 to 20 inches, it is drought-resistant, tolerates high pH soil conditions and retains its color through the fall season. This feathery plant sprouts small eyelash-like seed groupings and does not like heavy clay soil, so don’t forget to amend first.

  1. Blue mist penstemon (Penstemon virens)

    blue penstemon plant growing out of the rocks
    Commonly found in the foothills, the powdery blue flowers will bloom in late spring. Photo credit: Dave Powell, distributed under CC BY 3.0 license.

 

Blue mist penstemon is a great addition to your garden. This small plant, which will grow about 10 inches, provides a foraging source for birds and insects, and attracts pollinators, such as bees and hummingbirds.

6. Purple poppy mallow (Callirhoe involucrate)

Close up of the purple poppy mallow flowers
Visited by pollinators, purple poppy mallow flowers will open in the morning, and close in the evening. Photo credit: Stan Shebs, distributed under CC BY 3.0 license.

 

If you’re looking for a plant to fill in some bare space, consider the purple poppy mallow, or “wine cups.” It grows about 1 foot tall, but has a spread of about 3 feet. It needs to be planted in soil where water can drain and not pool at the root of the plant. It can be planted in hanging baskets or planter boxes where it can cascade to create a wall of flowers.

Switching to water-saving native plants is easier than it sounds. Remodel your yard with help from the Center for ReSource Conservation with a selection of preselected garden boxes. Denver Water customers qualify for a discount.

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