On June 9 and 10, something amazing is going to happen here in Durango. No, it has nothing to do with the end of road construction, the opening of another hotel or the start of some outdoor-sport-related activity.
It’s all about plants. Now, hear me out. I’m assuming if you read my articles, there’s an outside chance that you have an interest in growing things. You may have an interest in agriculture, vegetables, fruit trees, lawns or landscape plants. So if you’ve made it this far – about 100 words – you may be interested in attending the Four Corners Horticulture Conference at Fort Lewis College. It’s the first time in my memory that anything like this has happened here in Southwest Colorado – a collection of some of the most acclaimed horticulturists in the Intermountain West, the West or even the United States, all in one place.
But here’s the beauty: You don’t have to be a plant nerd, work in a nursery or even have the term “horticulturist” in your job title. Maybe you want to learn more about growing orchids in a dry climate. We’ve got that covered. Perhaps you have gotten caught up in the cacti and succulent craze and want to figure out how to take care of the ones you spontaneously purchased. Yep, you can learn about that, too.
And if you are ready to step it up a notch, the conference will also cover: xeric and waterwise plant selection, turf grass that will stand up to drought conditions and dog urine, annuals that actually work well in Colorado, native plants, how to successfully grow conifers and, phew, even more.
The conference is being put on by the Durango Botanical Society, which is the group behind the ever-growing garden space around the Durango Public Library. You can purchase a full-conference pass for $175, which includes all the talks, a swanky reception Thursday night (think finger food and tasty beverages), a couple of lunches and, maybe more importantly, an opportunity to talk and meet like-minded gardeners, and even an occasional plant nerd.
That’s always the beauty of conferences – realizing that there are others who have the same interests or passions as you. As the coordinator of the local Master Gardener Program, I know that once you put a quiver of gardeners in the same room, the stories (some true, some a lot like my fishing ones), the suggestions and the exchange of plants will soon follow.
If you are like many locals, it may be hard to commit to two full days of “conferencing.” If that’s the case, you can always pick the talks that interest you and just go to those. If you go to www.durangobotanicalsociety.com, you can select for $20 a pop which plants perk your pleasure.
At the end of the day, you are not just attending a conference – you are supporting a local nonprofit that supports public horticulture. And while some of you may not see the “value” in plants in public spaces, just take a short walk on the Animas River Trail in Durango. Stop at the garden behind the library. Sit on a stone, watch the insects, smell a flower, take a breath and just feel what public horticulture can do for you and thousands of others – locals and tourists alike.
Darrin Parmenter is the director and horticulture agent of the La Plata County Extension Office. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 382-6464.