The long-awaited planting has begun in the Rocky Mountain Botanic Garden. Here's the background on how the years-long dream of one person, with the support of many others in the community, has become a reality as told by that person, Garima Fairfax.

 

I first had the idea in 2006, since I love going to botanic gardens and there was no botanic garden in Boulder County. Lyons is such a spectacular location, with the two branches of the St Vrain river coming from the mountains and meeting the prairie grasslands from the east. I thought it would be a perfect spot for a native plant botanic garden, and gathered a few botanist and gardener friends who wanted to help. 

We wanted to plant native plants from the different areas of Colorado to show what can grow here in our home gardens, plants that are adapted to this climate and soil. Our design is to have plants from five zones:


Foothills ~~ as we have surrounding Lyons, with Ponderosa pines, junipers, shrubs, and wildflowers

Prairie Grassland ~~ representing the plains to the east, with yuccas, prairie flowers and grasses

Riparian ~~ featuring plants that grow along rivers and lakes in Colorado, such as cottonwoods, willows, and chokecherries

Montane ~~ plants that grow up above 8,000 feet, a conifer forest with wildflowers

Southwest ~~ plants from west of the Rockies and southern Colorado, including cactuses, sagebrush, and unique flowers


We looked for a suitable piece of land in or around Lyons, for all those years, with the help of three mayors. Then the flood came along in 2013. Near Bohn Park was the Foothills Mobile Home Park which was unfortunately completely destroyed in the flood. The land then became one of the buyout properties available for application from Town Hall. We got permission to build our botanic garden there in December 2018.


We have been weeding and preparing the soil for a year and a half, have built a shed, a patio, over 800 feet of 5-foot wide pathways, and a fence along two sides of the garden. We are all volunteers, working a few mornings a week, and have had the help of the Lyons Volunteers for many of our big projects. The Town of Lyons helped us pay for our fence and Boulder County provided mulch. Youth groups who have contributed include the Lyons High School Football team, Mormon church teens, and the Lyons Leos. 

We have just had our first day of planting at the garden, at the front around our patio. This is the Prairie Grassland zone, and we planted Black-eyed Susans, Big Bluestem, Rocky Mountain Beeplant, Mexican Hat, June-grass, Buffalograss, Blue Grama Grass, One-sided Penstemon, Common Milkweed, Little Bluestem, Leadplant, Switchgrass, Wild Blue Flax, Gayfeather, Nodding Onion, Sand Cherry, Rabbitbrush, and Wine Cups. The plants all have signs on them for easy identification, with common names, botanical names, and family names. We hope to have several more plantings this year, and will continue next season as well. Most of these plants will need very little watering once they are established, and can handle our fluctuating Colorado weather with ease. As the plants become established, we hope to attract local birds and pollinators, as well as bird-watchers and artists.


Our hope is that residents will find beautiful plants that they would like to add to their own gardens, and that those who hike will learn the names of plants they have seen when they are out in the mountains and plains.

Our Board of Directors are Garima Fairfax, Betzy Ekstam, Kris Todd, Anthea Rice, and Deirdre Daly.

Our regular volunteers include: Peggy Story, Linda Talley, Emily Walker, Jessie Berta-Thompson, Zach Berta-Thompson, Cathy Rivers, Bonnie DiSalvo, Betzy Ekstam, Sandy Spellman, Eileen Yelverton, Caroline Schoo, Cindy Kalyan, Sharon Denton, Calista Morrill, Garima Fairfax, Amy Scanes-Wolfe, and Tosh Golias.

The Lyons Volunteers built our shed, our fence, our pathways and patio, and put in our irrigation line. The volunteers include: Rick DiSalvo, Carter Christenson, Mike Karavas, and Barney Dreistadt.

The Lyons Weed Posse has come to assist in specific weeding projects, and these volunteers include Cathy Rivers, Emily Walker, Peggy Story, Garima Fairfax, Sandy Spellman, Bonnie DiSalvo and Linda Talley.

Dave Hawkins brought us multiple loads of recycled cardboard for our sheet mulching, and Dave Hirt, Boulder County Ecologist, helped us get huge quantities of mulch.

The Town staff and Parks & Rec staff have been generously helpful in numerous projects.

Jessie Berta-Thompson has been writing articles on a chosen plant each week, and these are available on our website ~~ rmbg.org

We have been allowed two bench spots within the garden. The benches are being donated by the Hunt family, who used to live in a mobile home where our patio is now, and by the Lyons Garden Club.

We usually have a fund-raising plant sale every May, which is always a popular spring event in Lyons. This year due to the shut-down, we had to skip this event, but we plan to be back on schedule next spring with lots of beautiful flowers, great prices, and colorful t-shirts with our botanic gardens logo.


The volunteers of Rocky Mountain Botanic Gardens have also created the Lyons Walking Arboretum, a self-guided walk around Lyons that includes forty kinds of trees. It begins at the Lyons Fire Protection Station, winds through Sandstone Park, the plaza in front of Town Hall, up and down both sides of Main Street, along High St, and back down to the post office. 


After we finish planting the Prairie Grassland zone, we'll move on to Southwest and Foothills zones. Anyone who would like to donate to the garden for future plantings can mail checks to Rocky Mountain Botanic Gardens, PO Box 613, Lyons, CO 80540.


We will continue weeding, planting, and maintaining the garden for the rest of this summer, and hope to be open to the public soon for viewing. We ask that bikes and dogs remain outside the garden fence.

Everyone who has worked on this project is a part of the garden you see when you pass by. It is incredible how much enthusiasm and energy comes with each volunteer, and all the volunteers constantly add their own creativity and ideas as the garden grows. This is an amazing community project to have in our town.

Our Board of Directors

We are registered as a nonprofit organization in the State of Colorado. We received our 501(c) 3 status with the IRS in December 2018. Our current volunteer members of the board of directors bring a diverse set of experience and skills to Rocky Mountain Botanic Gardens. They are: 

  • Garima Fairfax, President
  • Kris Todd, Vice President
  • Anthea Rice, Vice President
  • Betzy Ekstam, Secretary
  • Deirdre Daly, Treasurer

Carter Christenson is a long time volunteer and serves as our chief advisor for all things related to wildlife.

We also boast a rotating group of about 25 volunteers who are committed to enthusiastically helping us build the display gardens. 

If you'd like to be added to our email list of volunteers, please contact us using the form below, or email Garima Fairfax at garima@rmbg.org                                                                   Photo below by Cathy Rivers

Garima Fairfax, President

Garima is a botanist, ecologist, herbalist, and a Colorado State University Master Gardener. She has over 25 years of experience teaching botany and medicine-making, and she has expertise in plant ID and growing native plants. Garima worked as a botanist and herbarium curator for the US Forest Service in California, mapping rare and endangered plants. She is the author and illustrator of a vegetarian botany cookbook, and created her own herbal skin care line made from homegrown organic herbs. Garima designed and built a 5-element garden at SouthWest Acupuncture College and is a member of the Lyons Weed Posse.

Kris Todd, Vice President 

Kris’ gardening enthusiasm began in the early 1970's at Colorado State University, where she received her Bachelor of Science in Horticulture. She then worked in local nurseries and greenhouses for 40 years, growing plants from seed and helping customers choose plants. She had her own business in the 80's raising native plants from seed in her greenhouse and selling them in Lyons, and she volunteered at the Denver Botanic Gardens’ Rock Alpine Garden. Kris is a Colorado Master Gardener, with a degree in Landscape Design from the Professional Career Institute, and is a Colorado gardening expert.

Anthea RiceVice President

Starting with a childhood delight in the local wildflowers, Anthea went on to build a 35 year career in residential landscape design and installations, specializing in native, sustainable, and naturalistic practices. She brings her experience in organizing and supervising all phases of design and construction to the Rocky Mountain Botanical Garden project.

Betzy Ekstam, Secretary

Betzy has a BFA from Colorado State University with emphasis in graphic design, painting and art history. She has experience in graphic/web design and photography as well as events planning and customer service. She has also worked as a landscaper and has specific interests in high alpine plants and high plains native grasses and is currently working on updating her home garden with native and fire resistant plants. She enjoys Plein Air painting and hiking throughout the region.

Deirdre Daly, Treasurer

Deirdre is retired from 40 years of government and nonprofit work in Washington, D.C. and Colorado. She brings her experience in public administration, grant writing and grant administration, government affairs, project management, procurement and compliance, marketing and public relations, outreach and stakeholder communications, event production and logistics, and organizational operations to the Rocky Mountain Botanic Gardens. She loves to garden and learn about native plants and pollinators.

Carter Christenson, Chief Advisor, Volunteer

Carter is a retired USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service Manager (formerly called the Soil Conservation Service).  He has considerable experience with watershed planning, emergency watershed protection, stream restoration & wildlife surveying and management.  He received a BS in Fish and Wildlife Management and MS in Biology from the University of North Dakota and has been a Wildlife Society certified wildlife biologist. His farming, soil conservation and backyard gardening experience add knowledge to the development of the Rocky Mountain Botanic Gardens.


Our Wonderful Volunteers

Peggy Story, Emily Walker, Linda Talley, Sandy Spellman Cathy Rivers, Bonnie DiSalvo, Rick DiSalvo,  Jessie Berta-Thompson, Zach Berta-Thompson, Sharon Denton, Cindy Kalyan, Caroline Schoo, Eileen Yelverton, Mike Karavas, Barney Dreistadt, Calista Morrill, Carter Christenson, Betzy Ekstam, Garima Fairfax









Contact Us

Rocky Mountain Botanic Gardens
PO Box 613
Lyons, CO 80540  


Lyons, CO