Tag Archives: eco-friendly


The Small But Perfect Cheyenne Botanic Gardens

When Cheyenne in South Dakota was first settled, there were only a few scraggly trees in the area.  The land and climate was simply not great for plants and trees.  Either it doesn’t rain or it rains so hard that the water bounces off the parched earth without a chance to soak into the ground. Cheyenne is now a leafy city because the city’s women made a point of planting trees and maintaining them.  They would take a train out to where there were trees, dig them up and return with them to plant in their city.  When their children went to school, they were sent with a bucket of water that the household had recycled and expected to water a tree. The school children would leave the bucket by the tree so that other children would know that tree had been watered.

Cheyenne botanic garden

This background is what makes the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens so beautiful.  The garden is small by botanical garden standards and occupies only 9 acres. I’m sure keeping this garden lush takes some serious effort in the High Plains climate.  Starting off as a small community garden in the 1970’s, the botanic gardens are still the state of Wyoming’s only public garden.  The garden, however, is free to the public and run and maintained by volunteers.  Many of the volunteers are the elderly, at-risk children or the disabled.  Working with the garden is considered horticultural therapy for them.

cheyenne botanic garden

For visitors, the garden is also very family-friendly.  There are lots of shaded areas and paths to meander along which are well-protected from the blazing sun.  The wetlands area has funny poems which my children liked to read explaining how wetlands work.

dragonfly poem

The garden also has lots of sculptures and other things to maintain your interest, such as these stones with quotes.  There is an old out-of-service locomotive engine on the grounds too.  After all, you can not forget that Cheyenne started off as a railroad town.

The little maze was charming even if it wasn’t very high.


There is a separate children’s garden which not only provides entertainment but also teaches with interactive exhibits on solar energy, windmill power etc.  The whole thing is based on sustainability and promotes eco-awareness to a new generation in a fun way.  Adding to the crunch granola feel is the little peace garden.

peace tile

There are also lakes where you can take a paddle boat or a row boat out.  These lakes were actually watering holes back in the days when the cattle barons would drive their cattle into Cheyenne for sale.  During our visit, we saw lots of families.  In fact, I think I saw more families at this botanical garden than usual because more traditional gardens are probably a bit boring for children.  It’s hard to maintain a child’s interest in dozens of varieties of roses!

We spent a lovely morning in this garden.  In Cheyenne’s heat, it would be very easy to stay inside in air conditioning.  This garden, however, lets the whole family enjoy fresh air and beautiful surroundings in a climate-challenged environment.

Grand Show Gardens

Did you have a chance to see the show gardens of the Garden Awards finalists at Grand Designs London 2013?  Four garden designers were chosen as finalists by Kevin McCloud for their innovative use of a  40 s.m. (430 s.f.) plot.  So basically a small garden which is what most of us in urban areas have (if you are lucky!).

Garden Finalist 1 (and Winner) by Christine Wilkie

Christine designed a garden entitled “glow” which is geared for those who are busy urbanites who want a stylish low-maintenance garden.
credit:  Christine Wilkie

credit: Christine Wilkie

The seating area is a floating patio of timber, tiles and artificial lawn.  The feature wall contains an eco-fire, the glow of which is echoed in the under LED strip lighting of the floating patio.  What a great idea for evening parties!  The pathways, made from recycled aggregate, are lined with raised beds to provide privacy.  And, can you believe the colourful wall art boxes are actually bee hives?!
photo:  Christine Wilkie

photo: Christine Wilkie

Get the look:  Traxmax aggregate from CED Natural Stone; bee hotels from The Red Beehive Company; LED lights from BLT Direct; furniture from Indian Ocean; artificial lawn from Easigrass; stone planters from Livinggreen Design; pebble tiling from Porcelanosa and cedar cladding from Global Timber Products.

photo:  Christine Wilkie

photo: Christine Wilkie

Garden Finalist 2 by Andy Stedman

Andy Stedman’s garden is an homage to up cycling showing how industrial chic can be done on a small scale.

credit:  Andy Stedman

credit: Andy Stedman

The green pergola is actually painted scaffolding.  Framed vertical planters provide a living green wall.  The feature wall is a grid made from recycled re-bar, steel and recycled floor joists and filled with potted Buxus.  Sedum strips in the decking add interest and planting to the floor space.

Get the look:  Framed vertical planters from Grufe Products; furniture from Gas & Air Studios; water feature from Water Garden Ltd and decking timber and re-bar from Covers.

Garden Finalist 3 by Scott Lawrence
The garden designed by Scott Lawrence is also environmentally conscious.  The decking is recycled plastic composite and the water features themselves use recycled rainwater.  The use of green walls and mass planting helps with the feeling of a secluded hideaway.
aqua hideaway

Get the look:  Green wall from Treebox; water wall from David Harber, composite decking from Saige Longlife Decking and furniture from Barbed.
Garden Finalist 4 by Miles Raybould

Miles Raybould’s design creates a floating garden oasis which appears both lush and minimalist.
floating garden
The deck floats over planting watered by the rainwater recycling system. Rainwater is also used for the living walls.  The slatted walls and shelves provide a linear contemporary look.
living wall

Get the look:  Planters from Cedar Nursery; LED Cubes from Jusi Colour; raised decks from Swift Scaffolding and slatted screen from Silva Timber.


What do you think of these gardens?  They provide lots great ideas for making gardens eco-friendly.  I love the up cycling of materials, the recycling of water and living walls. These designs really show that a contemporary garden can be so much more than hard surfaces and minimal planting.

These gardens really make me look forward to the RHS Chelsea Flower Show next week.  I’ve never managed to get tickets before and I am SO looking forward to it.