top of page

Musings About Family, Travel And Gardening With Allen Martinson.



IT’S HARD FOR ME TO believe that we are already moving into September. The wet August has not been so bad. From my greenhouse life it’s been pretty good. It seems like in between rains the sun has come out plenty enough for the plants that we’ve been growing to get plenty of light. When the storms pass through I must admit it’s been a nice break from that intense sunlight coming through the greenhouse plastic which acts as a magnifying glass. The floor in the greenhouse where I spend most of my time is a very clean, white concrete so the intensity of the light reminds me of walking on snow, bright from above and reflective from the ground.

There are days that it is so bright that I wear my glacier glasses since they protect my eyes from above, underneath and from the sides. Those glasses can give me a good case of the raccoon eyes. The crop loves the intensity of the light coming in from all directions because it offers light to the upper sides, undersides and all around the leaves growing some very good looking plants.

From Mimi’s retail side of life at her garden center the frequent rains have not been all bad. We’ve noticed over the years that when it gets August, hot and dry, people just don’t get out in their yards. That includes us. We will, in that case, turn on the irrigation system and wait for August to go away. The ground gets too hard to have any fun, the plants shut down to go into survival mode just like us. This year the ground has stayed workable, the lawn has flourished, weeds have been easy enough to keep in order. We have even added some bedding plants as summer rolled forward. Garden Works retail has had a relatively busy August which is pretty rare. Our landscape company had to really watch the radar because the storms were so spotty. It’s hard to tell the guys to come in or not depending on what area of the Northside their crew will be installing a landscape, even then we can be fooled. The landscape company did some fancy dancing with the weatherman and had very few weather hiccups.

September is the month that things begin to dry out some. It seems less humid later in the month and I’ve always believed late September and October are the best months to get projects done because it normally rains less. We might even turn on our irrigation system for the first time in two months.

Mimi and I saw our opportunity to skedaddle out of here last week. It was her birthday week. The rains had everything tempered down. Everything looked like no one would even know if we disappeared for a few days. We checked to see what bands would be playing at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, one of our favorite places to go for a quicky. Denver is so easy to get to and there are so many kinds of trips that you can base out of there.

Normally we would use Denver for a jumping off place to start a hike in the Rockies. This time we decided to actually stay in Denver to enjoy all this city has to offer. The first concert at Red Rocks was the second night we were there. We had all day to spend at the Denver Botanical Gardens. This stop would have been worth a visit to Denver alone. Upon arriving there we were surprised at how many people were there on a Thursday. We could tell there were fellow garden nerds who were local and some just visiting like us. There were school age kids, young couples having daytime dates, young couples with little children and people who looked like rickety old gardeners, all who were there for their own reasons. WE

LOVE TO GO to botanical gardens to learn new plants names, see full grown plants and to get inspired for our moves we make at home and at our garden center and new things that we can offer at our clients’ homes.

By the looks of things this garden is 100s of acres and has been there long enough for the base plants to have reached a very established age. We love going to young and old botanical gardens. They both have very different feels about them.

The aisles were very wide to accommodate for people to be able to stop and look and take pictures. Most of the walkways were lined with tall trees with beds in front of them. Depending where we were, each area was themed. The themes were hot and dry plants (one of our favorite areas, full of succulents and agaves), English style, cottage gardens, water gardens and shady gardens. There were all kinds of vines growing up very neatly and purposefully trellises. There was a huge Asian themed area which we tend to gravitate toward just for the complex simplicity of that style. There was a permanent Chihuly glass art display. If you haven’t bumped into any Chihuly art exhibits you should look the gorgeous glass work up, there’s nothing like it. We didn’t know he would be showing at this time so we were pleasantly surprised.

After we hung around the succulent section and took 100s of photos we finally moved on to the next area which was a surprising contrast. The water gardens were like none we have ever seen. There was a giant pond built just for showing off their giant lily pads. I mean like some of the pads were five feet across, some were tye dye colored. We saw lotus flowers, canna lilies, and giant sedges.

They had darkened the water black by using a dye just for the reflective appearance it gave for photographic purposes. The black also hid the pots the plants were actually growing in. There was a worker with waders on cleaning up some of the finished blooms and bad leaves. The water seemed to be about knee high on her. She saw us watching and stopped what she was doing to answer our 20 questions. Of course what I was dreaming about was how to turn our pond in our backyard into one of these. We have plants along the edges of our pond but nothing growing out in the middle. We could do it but without them growing in pots it wouldn’t look as neat and clean.

The plants were spaced out just enough so that each one had their own thing. I think without pots to contain them they would get away from us and become a maintenance nightmare. The lady that was trying to work in the pond said they had a concrete bottom for the anchored pots to be placed on. I guess we will have to win the lottery to do that or figure out a way to set stages on the bottom of our pond for the pots to be set on so it won’t be too deep for the plants. I think that can happen. These last couple of months would be the time to get that done so we could be ready for next spring, looks like I’ll be going swimming.

We had a great lunch and wandered the rest of the gardens taking pictures and getting the names of unfamiliar plants. We were ready to get off our feet for a while before the concert that night, so we headed back to the hotel for a little rest.

We made the 20-minute drive to Red Rocks just in time to make that hike to the top where the amphitheater sits atop a mountain. From up there we could see all of Denver. It was really cool to see darkness come, and the lights of the big city come on. At the same time the temperature began to cool off into the upper 60s, just perfect.

MIMI SURPRISED ME for her birthday by getting second row seats right in the middle. We felt like we were on the stage with this really fun band. We had an absolute blast dancing and getting to know our concert neighbors. If you have not been to Red Rocks you should look it up. It’s hard to describe its beauty. Some genius realized this natural rock formation would be a perfect place for people to come and listen to all kinds of music. The venue is literally carved into the top of a mountain with steep cliffs on either side that are lit with different colored lights during the shows. It is mesmerizing.

The next day we drove about an hour out of Denver to Idaho Springs, Colo. since our friends had just been out there the week before. They told us about a bluegrass festival that would be happening. This little mountain town is at about 7,500 ft. So, you can imagine how nice the temperatures were. We had light jackets on while we wandered down the main street seeing the same flowers there that thrive here in March and April and begin to peter out in May. The town was wonderful with its great restaurants with outdoor dining and the hippy shops that we still like to visit. There’s just something about the smell of those places that entice us in their doors. We usually walk out empty handed but this time I found a T-shirt that had a drawing of me with my new beard, the likeness was uncanny. I wore it to the reggae music festival at Red Rocks that night, lots of people saw the likeness and asked where they could get a shirt with their likeness on it. I told them you have to be really lucky while fumbling through a smelly, hippy T-shirt shop. That night during the reggae festival with 10 bands playing, it began to rain right before the second band came on. There is no cover anywhere, so we dashed out of there.

We spent the last day just doing stuff around Denver with reservations at a great restaurant that night to look forward to. Walking around town we noticed the beautiful plantings around the city. Denver used the same giant pots all around the city with perfect, colorful bedding plants that were well maintained. We found some new plant combinations to offer our pot clients and found some new ornamental grasses that we hope will work here. If they do they will be game changers.

We needed to get to the Denver airport for the two hours early rule, so we had to wake up the next morning at 4 a.m. for an 8 a.m. flight. We had to gas up the rental car, turn it in, take the shuttle to the airport and get through security all before 6 a.m. so that wasn’t much fun. Once we were settled on the plane, we smiled and relaxed. The three-hour flight gave me enough time to squeeze out this week’s article.

EVERYTHING WAS just great on this trip except for me leaving my favorite brown fedora on the flight from Atlanta to Denver on the way out there in the baggage space above my head. When everyone got in such a hurry to get off the plane, I got caught up in it and left the hat. I didn’t realize it was missing until I was checking in at the hotel. I think everyone at the Denver lost and found and at Delta lost and found know about that hat by now. I bugged them mercilessly about it. Hopefully, someone somewhere is enjoying that hat as much as I have. I’ll find another. Happy September to you. Fall is in the air.

26 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page