One of the challenges of gardening at high altitude is the changes from season to season. Living in an area with a high altitude short growing season, the 2019 season was cut even shorter. While it is not uncommon to receive a few good snow storms in May, this year the snow just didn’t stop giving us an extended ski season and a good base for water levels and improving drought conditions. A late storm at the end of June shocked tender annuals and reminded us to be patient with planting. An increase in moisture levels allowed watering and irrigation schedules to be decreased which was great for water conservation. After just a few months of summer, the snow returned in mid October, ending the season early and motivating the transition to winter. Many plants benefited from the increased moisture, while some were confused with the late spring and early fall snowfalls and did not even get to bloom. I find it quite interesting to observe these changes season after season.
The 2019 season started with Mountain Roots’ receiving an award for the Environmental Champion through the Summit County Chamber’s Business in Excellence Awards. We were also a finalist for Small Business of the Year. Mountain Roots’ stood out as the Environmental Champion with our dedication to Sustainable and Environmental friendly business practices, water conservation efforts, supporting local growers, suppliers, and businesses, as well as contributing back to the community through volunteering and financial support to local non-profits.
After receiving the Environmental Champion award, I attended a class in Dillon about the Pollinator Gardens of the Smithsonian Gardens in Washington, hosted by the Summit Historical Society. A unique opportunity to contribute back to the Historical Society by creating a Pollinator Garden using Summit County native Perennials at their museums site in Dillon followed. The garden is trained for sustainability and water conservation, contains educational information on native plants and pollinators, and will enhance the museum and encourage more visitors. You can read more about this project in our Blog piece Summit Historical Pollinator Gardens.
This year we featured 3 full gardens, and 3 drive by gardens on the Summit County Garden Tour. Our goal was to promote Sustainable, Xeric, water conserving gardens. Often a misconception, Xeric gardens are bright, colorful, beautiful, and great for the environment! Funds from the tour went towards Scholarships for the Colorado Mountain College Sustainability program as well as a Native Garden for the Keystone Science School. Thanks for everyone who opened up their gardens, and participated on the tour!
Another focus of the 2019 season was the Mountain Roots’ cutting gardens for Floral Design. The floral industry has a huge issue with carbon footprints from suppliers, plants grown with heavy pesticides and herbicides, and a large amount of packaging trash and waste. This project was a challenge because of the short growing season in Summit County and colder temperatures. In March, seeds were started inside with grow lights for a head start. Most crops were placed in covered beds to allow for extra warmth and protection from frost and snow. I treated the seedlings with the same organic practices and water conservation methods that I recommend for perennial gardens and sustainably grown containers and vegetables. At the end of the season I was able to determine what crops can thrive in our unique environment, and what crops will not be grown again. By using Summit County locally grown stems for floral design and events Mountain Roots’ has the potential to drastically decrease our floral carbon footprint. These services also allow us to extend our services and season in an already short window of time. In 2019, we hosted 2 separate Basics of Floral Arranging classes in the community.
The 2019 Season ended with a second place win for the Best Landscaper of Summit County. As a female small business owner this is a huge honor in the community. Many thanks to everyone who voted! Congrats to the other winners! As we look back at the 2019 season, we are excited to start planning for next season. We are working on new workshops to host, new educational content, and new inspiration in the community! Below are some of our favorite images from the 2019 season. Thanks again for your support and using our services.