The Chinle C&S Society developed and maintains two widely acclaimed outdoor cactus and succulent gardens in Grand Junction, with substantial support and assistance from both the Colorado State University (CSU) Extension and the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens (WCBG).
The garden at the CSU Extension office at the Mesa County Fairgrounds was designed by club founder Don Campbell and built by CC&SS members in 2000 at the invitation of the CSU Tri-River Extension agent. Over 300 different species, varieties, cultivars and hybrids of succulent, xeric and non-succulent plants have been tried in the garden. The WCBG garden, also designed by Don Campbell, was built in 2002 at the Western Colorado Botanical Gardens. Over 200 different cold hardy succulent and non-succulent plants have been planted in this garden.
Because the native soils at both garden locations (and most of the Grand Valley) are quite saline, building a suitable soil for the gardens required layering a heavy duty weed barrier fabric, then a 4-inch layer of 3/4-inch washed gravel, another layer of weed barrier and topping this with an amended sandy clay loam soil. This design provided a suitable soil for the garden while eliminating or minimizing the migration of salts from the native soils up into the overlying planting beds. The rock frameworks of the gardens consist of local sandstone and basalt boulders from the slopes of the Grand Mesa.
Both of these gardens showcase the astonishing variety of cacti and succulents that thrive in our challenging Western Slope climate. Take a look at the images below to get an idea of the fabulous colors, shapes and textures that these xeric plants can bring to a garden. Better yet, plan on visiting one or both gardens. The xeric garden at CSU is open daily, year round. Check the WCBG Web Site for their hours.
During the growing season the club has twice-a-month “Garden Parties” for garden maintenance. Guests are welcome! This is a great way to meet club members and to learn about cactus and succulent plants as well as gardening techniques. There are usually cuttings and/or plants generated from the parties that participants are free to take home and plant in their home gardens. For newcomers, we have tools to share.