Tag Archives: gardens


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.

john lewis green

Five Favourite Finds at Grand Designs Live

Did you have a chance to visit Grand Designs Live in London last week?  I’d be curious to know what you thought of it.  I was a little underwhelmed – there was a lot of repetition of the same types of stuff and the same stalls from last year.  For example, there were at least a half-dozen firms promoting their garden rooms.  The most exciting was the Noa house from Katus Architecture which I wrote about last week.

Here are my 5 favourite finds from the rest of the show:

John Lewis Kitchens

The John Lewis Kitchens stand was really buzzing.  It was easy to see why.  I had expected a boring or even safe kitchen but I think John Lewis have really upped their game.  I loved the mustard yellow splash back combined with the black/off-white and grey colour scheme.  It’s neutral yet not boring.  Check out the design of the countertop as well.  The slight recess underneath the countertop makes it appear as if it is floating above the cabinets.  It’s a lighter look than if the countertop was flush with the cabinets.

john lewis green

Another kitchen I thought was cool had a weathered wood finish.  The look adds texture and rustic charm in a modern setting and without the splinters.


I love concrete floors but they are a major undertaking to install.  Concreate have set themselves up as an alternative to poured concrete floors because they provide engineered concrete tiles. Ingenious!  If you get bored with the look, you can just replace the tiles just like any other tiled floor.  At Grand Designs, the Poggenpohl display was on Concreate tiles so that you could see the tiles in a large space.  They look fabulous.  Of course you do get grout lines which you wouldn’t with a poured concrete floor.  On the other hand, you have a lot more flexibility.

poggenpohl concreate


It would never have occurred to me to graffiti anything as a kid.  Seriously.  I was as boring and suburban as they come.  Street art, however, has come a long ways since then anyway.  Alfreshco is a company that lets you live out your urban artist fantasies.  They provide markers as well as spray cans as well as other accessories so that you can tag whatever you would like.

There is an amazing array of colours.  I would seriously give my kids some of these paints and let them loose on a garden wall in our home.  My daughter would draw hearts and my son would draw airplanes.  They would love it!  And, we can always paint over it at a later date.

Georgia Lindsay trug seats

Georgia Lindsay is the garden designer who created the Family Garden for the show.  She created these charming seats using regular tub trugs and filling them with colourful cushions.  They can be stacked and easily moved around.  Although created for the show, they are available for sale if you contact her through her website.

trug seats

Jamie Hubbard Creative Woodwork

I met Jamie Hubbard who had created artwork his friend’s stand in the Grand Gardens section of show gardens.  A cabinet maker, Jamie uses offcuts from his work as well as other materials he recycles into cool one-off art pieces.  The X below, for example, are recycled bottles he gets from a cafe near his workplace mounted onto wood with LED lights.  His pieces are one-offs and he works to commission as well.

As an added bonus, I was delighted to see the scaffolding four-poster bed from The Wrought Iron & Brass  Bed Company was featured again this year as a Kevin McCloud green hero.  That is two years on Kevin’s list.  Upcycled industrial is here to stay!


What do you think of these products?  Did you get to visit Grand Designs Live?  Were you more impressed than I was with the show itself?  I’d love to hear from you.