Garden Love

Nina's Garden

Nina’s Garden

I’ve been feeling much love these past days. It’s a different sort of love. It’s a love shared around a theme:  gardening. This is rather new to me, since I’ve never been much of a gardener. I love visiting beautiful gardens and receiving a bouquet of flowers counts as one of my greatest joys in life, but getting down and dirty with the soil has never been my forté. Now, however, I’m much more enthusiastic, perhaps it’s because this year I decided to add vegetables and herbs to my potted plants. This year I yearn to see the fruits of my efforts and I’m crossing my fingers for an abundant harvest of tomatoes, peppers, basil, melon, pumpkins and more. As I sit at my desk, I’m sending love to all my little plants with the hope that they will defy the challenges of living at over 9,500 feet and that somehow they will miraculously thrive.

Nina's Garden Encore

Nina’s Garden Encore

Nina's Budding Bounty

Nina’s Burgeoning Bounty

One of Many Peaceful Places within Nina's Garden

One of Many Peaceful Places within Nina’s Garden

All this love began with an idea and then many people—-mostly women—-helped me put it into action. In a climate where irises bloom in July and nighttime temps still plummet into the high thirties/low forties, I decided to wait until last weekend for my plantings. That coincided with a glorious Friday night garden party, the seventh annual, held by a radiant woman by the name of Nina in Ridgway, Colorado, a funky mountain town less than an hour from where I live in Telluride. Her gardens evoke the love and goodness that this fair lady exudes. What a tradition she created in establishing an early summer garden party open to some of the most interesting and down-to-earth women of the region, many of whom—-like myself—-barely know her. We all bring a dish and/or a bottle of wine and celebrate the loveliness of Nina’s garden, the magnificence of Mother Earth and the goddess we honor within ourselves as we contemplate and socialize within this bucolic setting. Really.

One of Many Buffet Tables

One of Many Buffet Tables

Lounging on the Lawn

Lounging on the Lawn

Patsy Young

Patsy Young

Rosa Lea and Her Granddaughter (l) Hannah

Rosa Lea and Her Granddaughter (l) Hannah

Alicia, Paula, Patsy and Pattie

Alicia, Paula, Patsy and Pattie

Nina:  Our Gracious Hostess

Nina: Our Gracious Hostess

Casey:  A Fishing and River Guide

Casey: A Fishing and River Guide

Yes, it might sound crunchy granola-like but it’s as true and authentic as a summer sunset. Indeed, there’s lots of long hair, bangles and dangling jewelry, flowing sundresses and sparse makeup. There wasn’t a meat item to be found; kale, quinoa and bean dishes dominated the buffet and it was all delicious. And oh, the desserts. Yum. Even the gluten-free coconut cake was out of this world. Backdropped by the majestic snow-capped peaks, the whole scene was Colorado par excellence.

And that’s so much a part of why we love it here. Whether a native Coloradan or a transplant from New York, we celebrate the free-wheeling spirit of our Rocky Mountain state, one best savored in a gorgeous garden on a warm, summer night.

From there, I ventured to the rooftop deck of Chipeta Solar Springs Resort with my friend Paula, a resident of Ridgway. We headed up to their Skybar which was hopping with locals, other ladies from the garden party and folks from a wedding party that was taking place at this peaceful, southwestern-styled lodge and spa over the weekend. Paula and I swilled our wine and danced and swayed to the bluegrass tunes of Bone Wagon, a local band that plays at Chipeta every other Friday. More down-home fun, more Colorado love. And yes, I caught more than one whiff of marijuana in the cool night air that I can report here, since it is after all legal now. More fun, more love.

Me Chatting with Jack Young, Chipeta's Owner While the Band Plays On

Me Chatting with Jack Young, Chipeta’s Owner While the Band Plays On

“We must come back here (to The Four Corner’s Cafe) some night and have dinner at their restaurant,” I said to Paula.

“It’s very good,” she replied. “And there’s the summer concert series in the park every Thursday.”

“Yes, Steve (my boyfriend) told me that Peter Rowan is playing at the end of July. He’s one of our favorites.”

Paula Hooking Me Up with Tomato Plants Outside of Her Greenhouse

Paula Hooking Me Up with Tomato Plants Outside of Her Greenhouse

I spent the night at Paula’s in her eclectic home, perched high on a hill distinguished by a dirt road scarred with seventeen gnarly switchback turns. After a tour of her in-house plantings, her outdoor gardens and her greenhouse, she sent me on my way the next morning with a dozen farm-fresh eggs, five tomato plants, basil and a bushel-full of advice about how to best nurture my potted garden into existence.

The View from the Road Below Paula's/John Wayne Country/Ridgway, Colorado

The View from the Road Below Paula’s/John Wayne Country/Ridgway, Colorado

I picked up my car back in Ridgway and loaded it with flats of flowers, herbs, vegetables and two heavy bags of potting soil, thanks to the excellent tutelage of Barbi White, owner of the Park Nursery Garden Center. “We’re the highest nursery in the country,” Barbi proudly proclaimed. “Everything here will grow well at 8,500 feet,” she added.

“I live at over 9,500 feet,” I said. “How will they do there?”

“They just need lots of sun and water,” Barbi replied, leaving me less than sure that our short growing season of perhaps eight weeks would produce much of a harvest.

“It gets pretty cold at night,” I trailed off.

Park Nursery Garden Center in Ridgway, Colorado

Park Nursery Garden Center in Ridgway, Colorado

I planted all at my boyfriend’s house where I don’t yet live although I hope to move in very soon. I figure a garden will help to get me in the door. He seemed to enjoy the domestic bliss of having me toiling on the deck while he mowed the grass and accomplished other chores. There’s no doubt that we felt a lot of love for each other and our pseudo garden spread out on the deck in pots, in big barrels out front and, of course, the richest one that was burgeoning in our hearts.

Now it’s up to him to water every day and nurture our garden of love. In the meantime, I trust that the harvest will be satisfactory, if not plentiful. Plus, I have all the love and support of the ladies in my life, the women who have been present throughout these endeavors, to buoy me up throughout the summer and forever.

We are already so blessed. Our garden of love is always greater than we realize. And I rejoice in the fact that so many are cultivating their patch of goodness right along with me.

A Selection of Our Plantings on Steve's Deck

A Selection of Our Plantings on Steve’s Deck

My Lady Friends

I thought I’d provide more information about some of the ladies pictured above. They are people you would want to interact with both socially and professionally. And they embody the spirit of Colorado wholeheartedly.

Paula Marlatt, broker associate, United Country Sneffels Realty

Patsy Young, owner of Chipeta Solar Springs Resort

Rosa Lea Davis, owner of Salon 7 hair and beauty salon

Alicia Nogueira, owner of Bali Dog yoga and pilatis clothing

Pattie Boyd, owner of Traveling Lite baby and childcare rental service

Casey, the fishing/river guide, is a new acquaintance; I don’t yet have her info. but I hope to be in touch with her soon.

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