Be A Habitat Hero

2014 HH award releaseBe A Habitat Hero


2014 Habitat Hero Garden Award Winners Announced!

Twenty-eight gardens, parks, and commercial landscapes spanning the Rocky Mountain region have been recognized as “Habitat Heroes” in the 2014 Awards sponsored by the Habitat Hero project, a project of Audubon Rockies and the Terra Foundation, in partnership with PlantSelect® and High Country Gardens. Winners include public gardens, schools, parks and trails, apartment/townhouse/condo complexes, landscapes designed by professionals, and residential yards and gardens from northern Wyoming to Southern Colorado, and from western South Dakota to Utah.

Twenty-three of the Habitat Hero awardees are in Colorado, with 13 of those in the Denver Metro area, another five in the northern Front Range (including two in Fort Collins), two in Colorado Springs, and three in rural Colorado, including Salida, Silverthorne, and Grand Junction. Wyoming claims two Habitat Hero awardees, one in Cheyenne and one in Powell. Utah has one in Salt Lake City, and two are in South Dakota, both in Rapid City.

Habitat Heroes use wildscaping to “plant a lifeline” for songbirds, pollinators and other imperiled wildlife—removing water-thirsty and sterile turf grass and restoring diverse habitat in gardens and landscapes, whether public, private or commercial. This year’s 28 Habitat Hero winners include examples from cities and suburbs, multiple family housing complexes and rural areas. The judges cited all for their creative habitat restoration, and recognized 12 as“Outstanding” examples, plus cited two more for special characteristics.

The Habitat Hero Awards exemplify founder of the Habitat Hero Project Connie Holsinger’s motto: “Plant it and they will come.” The project’s small staff likes to say it has a big mission:Grow a network of habitat for songbirds and pollinators in gardens across the Rocky Mountain sand beyond, save water, mitigate global climate change, and restore our joy in nature every day.

The Habitat Hero project encourages wildscaping, planting native and regionally-adapted plantsto restore habitat right at home. As the 2014 Habitat Hero award-winning gardens demonstrate, wildscapes are as different as the gardeners and designers who create them. They can be formal gardens, meadow-style expanses, flower-filled cottage borders, or natural landscapes. Whatever the style, a wildscape is based on five simple principles:

  • Create diverse layers and shelter
  • Grow natural food
  • Provide water for drinking and bathing
  • Control invasive species
  • Conserve water, energy and chemical use.

The 2014 Habitat Hero Awardees are (in alphabetical order by category):

Public Gardens


  • • Pinedale Elementary School, Rapid City, SD: “Outstanding School Garden”
 Contact: Malinda Chappel,, 605-394-1805
 4901 W. Chicago St., Rapid City, SD

Parks and Trails

  • • Monarch Spur Trail, Salida, CO: “Outstanding Park/Trail Project”
 Contact: Donna Rhoads, SPOT;, 719-221-4008
 P.O. Box 748, Salida, CO 81201
 Trail runs from Sackett & H Sts to Wal-Mart on Hwy 50, Salida, CO

Apartment/Townhome/Condo Complexes

  • • Cherry Creek 3 Homeowners Association: “Outstanding Multi-Family Development”
 Contact: Don Ireland, HOA President;, (720) 217-1310
 9224 E. Nassau, Denver, CO

Professional Landscapes (Designed by horticultural professionals, not necessarily open for public visits. Please contact first.)

Residential Yards and Landscapes (May be available for public visits. Please contact first.)

  • Alberty/Buschmann Yard, Salt Lake City, UT “Outstanding Residential Garden”
 Contact: Erin Alberty,
  • Aslakson Yard, Littleton, CO
 Contact: Lorrie Aslakson,, 303-284-5123
  • Bidgood Yard, Denver, CO “Special Recognition for Citizen Science”
 Contact: Jason Bidgood,
  • Blum Meadow, Silverthorne, CO
 Contact: Marcia Blum,, 303-489-7312
  • Bonahan Yard, Cheyenne, WY
 Contact: Michelle Bonahan,, 307-630-3120
  • Cappel Yard, Brighton, CO: “Outstanding Residential Garden”
 Contact: Mary & Pete Cappel,
  • Engelstad Yard, Rapid City, SD: “Outstanding Residential Yard”
 Contact: Louise Engelstad,
  • Freudenburg & White Yard, Colorado Springs, CO: “Outstanding Habitat Garden”
 Contact: Patti Freudenburg & Tony White,
  • Gaudet Prairie Restoration, Berthoud, CO
 Contact: Loni Gaudet,,
  • Hemenway Wildscape Yard, Fort Collins, CO
 Contact: Gayle Hemenway,, 970-407-0258
  • James Garden, Denver, CO
 Contact: Gordon T. James,
  • King Wildscape Garden, Lakewood, CO
 Contact: Carol King,, 303-455-8001
  • Morland Yard, Denver, CO 
 Contact: John Morland,, 303-618-0415
  • Piombino Garden, Boulder County, CO
 Contact: Pam and Joe Piombino,
  • Rose Wildscape, Powell, WY: “Outstanding Zone 4 Garden”
 Contact: Stephanie and Andy Rose,, 307-899-3322
  • Segrest and Beard Yard, Grand Junction, CO
 Contact: Jessica Secrets and Randy Beard,, (970) 255-8363
  • Stalls and Purner Yard, Denver, CO: “Special Recognition for Creativity”
 Contact: Jonathon Stalls,
  • Wasko Yard, Englewood, CO
 Contact: Barbara Wasko,, 303-781-0316

For more information and photos visit:

Join Audubon Rockies, Plant Select® and High Country Gardens in promoting wildscaping. Plant a life-line for songbirds and pollinators in your yard and neighborhood. Be a habitat hero!

Audubon Rockies

Habitat Hero Project

Plant Select

High Country Gardens 

Gardening Between Storms

May 15th – when it is usually a safe time to plant tender annual flowers – is six weeks away.  What can we do in the meantime?  Prep and plan!
All the beautiful flowers and bountiful veggies you want to grow this year begin in the soil.  It’s where seeds germinate, grow their roots and take their first steps toward the plants they will become.  Get the soil incubator ready now to nurture the seeds and plants you’ll be putting into the ground next month.  Add quality compost and till it into the soil either by hand or with a rototiller.

Consider a soil test.  The results will provide useful information about the quality of the soil and help guide your fertilizer program.  Colorado State University has a soil testing lab and provides instructions for collecting a soil sample and submitting it for evaluation.  Fees are reasonable.

Another productive task is to check out the condition of last season’s tomato towers and pea and bean trellises.  Early spring is a good time to stock up on these items and other supplies you will need later.  It’s a time saver to shop now before garden centers get busy and have long lines at checkout.

It’s always smart to have a plan for the edibles garden and seasonal color that will brighten beds and containers.  What would you like to do new or differently?  For example, striped petunias and those with a lime green edge will be popular this year.  If these trends are something you want to include, get them on your list and build your plan around them.

Planning checklist for annual flowers  

  • Color scheme – will 2014 mean a monochromatic mix of different flowers all of one color, an assortment of mixed colors, very bright colors or soft pastels?  Having a color scheme in mind will help direct your plant choices.
  • Texture and foliage – are you considering some containers that are exclusively foliage?  Do you want foliage plants interspersed with annuals?  Are you seeking a few plants with a dramatic texture?  Making these decisions ahead of time will further direct your choices.
  • Moisture and exposure – water and light needs vary among annuals.  Some need less than 1″ of water per week and others need more than 1 ½”.  Some flowers and foliage plants will thrive in sun, others need shade and still others can tolerate some of both.  Placing and grouping flowers based on these requirements will create a more successful garden.

Planning checklist for warm-season veggies

  • Go back through your records and list those all-time favorite varieties you want to grow again.
  • Try something new – what would challenge your green thumb?
  • When you draw the layout of this year’s garden, remember to rotate crops away from where the same plant was grown last year.  And keep a record of this year’s final planting plan so you can use it to plan rotations next year.
  • Plan enough space for each plant.  Over-crowding will limit production.
  • Plant a few extra varieties that grow well for you to share with friends, neighbors and the local food bank.