Make Your Backyard a Mindfulness Zone with Native Plants from CMZoo

April 24, 2024

IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CHILDREN’S HOSPITAL COLORADO –Summer is around the corner, and many parents are planning activities to keep the kids active, healthy and inspired. Our partners at Children’s Hospital Colorado offer expert tips for making outdoor activity and exercise fun for the whole family.
Plant sale overview photo
How about a summer project that doesn’t require a road trip, but does provide endless memories, education, and screen-free time in the calming presence of nature? A backyard pollinator garden checks all the boxes, and the size of space available doesn’t matter. Plus, it feeds butterflies, hummingbirds, bees and other pollinators that are so vital to our ecosystems.
Tomato plant
If establishing a garden sounds overwhelming, keep reading. The annual Plant Sale at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo can be your guide! This year’s sale is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thurs., May 16 and Fri., May 17, plus 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sat., May 18 at the Zoo. With a selection of drought-resistant, native, pollinator-friendly and deer-resistant plants, gardeners can feel confident they’re choosing items that can do well in Colorado’s sometimes-tricky gardening zone.

“I can say from experience that gardening together builds some great core memories,” Zach Groskopf, horticulture technician at CMZoo, says. “I got into horticulture because I used to garden with my grandmother a lot. Now, I actually work the same garden that we planted together years ago. It’s nice; it brings back memories every time I’m in there.”
Variegated strawberry plant
Zach and the rest of the horticulture team at Cheyenne Mountain Zoo will be available at the Plant Sale to help shoppers pick the best plants for their gardens, guiding folks through variations in sunlight, soil, water and attention needed for the plants to thrive. Here are three plants available at the 2024 Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Plant Sale that Zach recommends adding to any Colorado garden.

Tradescantia. This is a perennial flowering plant that produces pollinator-attracting flowers all season long, from spring to the first frost in fall. It grows wild in Colorado, so it should thrive in any backyard. There will be two color varieties at the Plant Sale: a lime-green foliage with a deeper purple flower and a slivery blue leaf with a lighter, more violet flower.
Buddleia plant photo
“I find tradescantia naturally all over my yard, and I love it,” says Zach. “The only downside is the deer love it, too. As long as you plant it near deer-repelling flowers, or you don’t get deer in your yard, it’ll be fine. Tradescantia is super resilient. It tolerates heat and cold and doesn’t need a ton of water once it’s established.”

Zach also recommends the silver butterfly bush, a type of buddleia making its first-ever appearance at the Plant Sale. This perennial grows drooping clusters of tiny pastel purple flowers, and this specific type of buddleia can grow up to four to six feet tall. It’s deer-resistant, drought-resistant, pollinator-friendly and can grow in full sun or partial shade.
Rocky Mountain columbine
No Colorado garden is complete without the Colorado State Flower – the Rocky Mountain Columbine. Three color varieties of columbine will be available at the Plant Sale: Denver Gold, with vibrant gold petals; an all-white variety; and the classic Rocky Mountain variety, featuring purple and white flowers.

“The columbine is my personal favorite flower because they’re beautiful and they’re resilient,” Zach says. “I keep bees and these flowers make the most delicious honey, too. The columbines at the Plant Sale are special because we grew all of them from columbine seeds collected from all around the Zoo.”

In addition to Zach’s top three plants, shoppers can pick up a unique variety of interesting pollinator-friendly plants, veggies, herbs and more. One special addition this year is a non-fruiting strawberry plant with interesting variegated leaves, known for its super-spreading ability to cover blank spots in the garden.
Russian sage plant
The Russian sage is another Colorado favorite, although it is not a native plant. The flowering shrubs grow up to five feet tall and five feet wide, and they need very little water or attention. They’re perennials, so each year they return stronger and taller, producing aromatic sage leaves and small purple flowers that bees and butterflies can’t get enough of.

Zach also recommends the moonshine yarrow as a more simple ‘first-timer’ plant. The leaves are incredibly soft, so it offers an additional tactile element for kids exploring in the garden.
Yarrow plant
Herbs, like basil, and a ton of tomato plants are available for purchase for those who would rather try a patio veggie garden or kitchen-window herb shelf.

There are no reservations or tickets required to attend the Plant Sale, which will be open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thurs., May 16 and Fri., May 17 and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sat., May 18 – when the Zoo closes early for Run to the Shrine. Plants will be available on a first-come first-served basis, so don’t be late!

This year, the Zoo’s fundraising Plant Sale will be near the front entry of the Zoo. Keep an eye out for signs directing you to the sale as you walk towards our admission windows. Zoo admission is not required to attend the Plant Sale, and Zoo guests can stop in to shop on their way out.

This year’s Plant Sale is in-person only. There will be no online shopping or shipping options available. Come out to the Zoo and chat with our expert horticulturists about which plants work best in your garden, and know you’re supporting the ongoing beautification of the Zoo with your purchases.

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