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Lawn and Garden

Cheyenne Botanic Gardens

by Andrew Jozwik
Johnny Appleseed Greenhouses

(click for larger version)
03/01/2012 - Believe it or not, in some parts of the country, March is the month that the first signs of spring begin to show. As you well know, Wyoming is not one of those places. Often times March is one of the most brutal winter storm months. It wasn't too many winters ago that I can remember getting marooned in Buffalo for four days in one of those storms. It was just the dog and me stuck in a motel for three days straight. On the third day I was sure they would open the road, so I gave up our motel room. That night it was just the dog and me stuck in a freezing truck in the motel parking lot!

Needless to say there is not much gardening getting done outdoors in march in Wyoming. Although there is not much for the plant lover to do outside, there are places one can go to see some interesting gardening things. I was fortunate enough to get to go to the botanic gardens in Cheyenne last month. Even though all the outdoor displays are dormant the greenhouse is still open. I spend just about every day in a greenhouse, but it is still fun to go and see what other people are doing in theirs.

When you first enter the greenhouse in Cheyenne it looks like a lush rainforest where all the plants are just growing haphazardly where ever they like. But after you look around a while you see that most of the specimens have their own tags telling what they are and revealing some interesting information about them. The variety of plants they have gathered into one place is one of the best things about the botanic gardens. They have everything from a fruiting Coffey bush to a banana tree. Since the garden is as geared more toward study and show, rather than a production greenhouse, they are able to give plants that you will not see anywhere else in Wyoming a permanent home.

My favorite of all the plants there are the Brugmansia (Angels Trumpet) tree and the other exotic flowering plants. I have grown the Angels trumpet in the past for myself, and I cannot get enough of them. They are very exotic and interesting plants. They grow like wild and would make a great addition to our crops at Johnny Appleseed. But, they are deadly poisonous so we haven't ever put them into production. The one at the botanic garden is huge; it overhangs most of the greenhouse. If you haven't seen an Angel's trumpet yet, it is reason enough in itself to make the trip.

In addition to their exotic plants they also have some pretty interesting ways of heating the greenhouse. Most if not all the heat in the greenhouse is solar. Not only the daytime heat, but the nighttime heat as well. They are harnessing the sun's energy in huge columns of water that line the rear wall of the greenhouse, then at night these columns release the heat back to the air. It is a very interesting way of heating a greenhouse. If you are a plant lover you will be surprised at how many interesting plants they have managed to put in a pretty small area.

My wife and kids are not quite as interested in plants as I am so I am sure they were ready to leave about an hour before I was. Next time you are in Cheyenne plan a little time to explore the greenhouse at the botanic gardens, it is definitely worth the time. Visit their website: botanic.org.

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