Festival of Flowers Come revel in the wild floral beauty of Colorado's high country , BY EVE GILMORE One of the many distinctions Colorado can claim, testifying to its beauty and the wonders of nature, is its wildflowers. Picture the popular postcards and calendars featuring vistas of expansive, floriferous valleys and mountainsides. Visitors to the state buy them by the handful each year. We love them ourselves and are guilty of sending them far and wide, showing our true colors to loved ones in less colorful states. For all the glory and joy our state’s wildflowers bring us, too few flower lovers are acquainted with Crested Butte, Colorado’s official wildflower capital, and its annual weeklong wildflower festival. According to the festival’s website, “The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival began in 1986 through the efforts of a few insightful Crested Butte locals who envisioned a wildflower celebration in one of the most picturesque valleys in Colorado. The festival has grown into a weeklong celebration with more than 200 classes offered by nearly 65 instructors.” Those 200 classes respectably cover just about every wildflower you could imagine and several that you couldn’t. One thing is for sure: There is something for everyone who has ever been inspired by a flower, a mountain or a garden at the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival. Classes run the gamut and include basic plant identification walks offered daily, botanizing by bicycle, harvesting and using edible and medicinal plants in recipes, daylong hikes at altitude and slide shows for the more tame at heart. The gardens are also increasingly represented — good news for the wildflower gardener, as this is the perfect venue for gardeners and native plant enthusiasts to cross-pollinate. As stated in its mission, “The Crested Butte Wildflower Festival is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of wildflowers through education and conservation. We are committed to protecting our priceless natural botanical resources for future generations.” Growing these “botanical resources” in our own gardens makes perfect sense in light of the festival’s mission of preservation, appreciation and education. The more we grow the plants that want to be here — that were here long before we were — the more we learn about the nature that surrounds us. To observe and appreciate it in our own gardens gives us tangible reasons to work toward preservation and conservation of our prized natural areas. Garden tours in this quaint and lovely historic mountain town are available, as are the following gardening classes: designing a natural garden; alpine wildflowers: in nature and at home; water features in the garden; wildlife in the garden; common landscaping mistakes; the perfect arrangement: designing with wildflowers; and native plants well-suited to the mountain garden. Class descriptions can be viewed and participants can register at https://www. crestedbuttewildflowerfestival.com. The festival dates are July 6-12. Hope to see you there. Eve Gilmore is a garden coach in Durango, where she owns her business, Gardens by Eve. She has been an avid plants woman for many years in Colorado and other western states. Eve’s passion is working with plants and people in hopes of optimizing the experience of both. She can be reached via gardening@ coloradocountrylife.org or by calling 970-769-3319.
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