Curious Colorado Conifers and a Bird.

My February adventure at the Gardens. My February trip to the gardens was a fun one. Before I left I was perusing the Denver Botanic Gardens website and found this walking tour for February about Ponderosa Pines. As many of you know I have a serious conifer (cone-bearing trees) addiction. I printed out the tour, and off I went.
 Pinus Ponderosa Tour, by John Murgel, Horticulturist. Thanks John!
After figuring out where I was in the gardens and spending 5 minutes oohing and ahhing over the wrong kind of pine tree, I got on the right track and visited these “Ponderosa Pines in the late juvenile stage”. 
Upon closer inspection of the bundles of needles, called ” fascicles” I was amazed to discover, yes, it’s true! Ponderosa Pine needles come in groups of three. Imagine!
 As I made my way to the next Pine exhibit, these Lodgepole Pines called out to me.
 “Hi!” They said, “Look at our straight poles and our lovely cones!” So I did.
These lovely ancient Bristlecone Pines were much more stately in their greeting, gently nodding their branches as I passed by.
 Then I was distracted by this curious tree – Paperbark Maple. Curious indeed.
 Ahh! Here we are! The next trees on our tour are actually Austrian Pine, common trees that are often mistaken for Ponderosa. They have more of a grayish bark, and this: 
TWO needles per bundle. Seriously cool. 
 Now feeling quite confident in my navigational abilities I found, on my own, with out circling the wagons, the “Dwarf Conifer Collection”.  It was all I could do not to grab a shovel and take these babies home.
This is a Ponderosa Pine! They call these little beauties “sports or witch’s brooms” that have been pruned out of mature trees and grafted onto rootstock. This one was maybe 3 feet tall.
 Here is a little Colorado Blue Spruce. I will be taking Pat Hayward’s Conifer Class in April and I can hardly wait.
On to the next point of interest. A grove of trees in the Gates Montane Garden.
Here is a lovely group of Douglas Fir, Ponderosa Pine and Mexican White Pine.
 Bark of the Mexican White Pine.
Needles. Of course I don’t remember how many needles per bundle.
 Bark of the Ponderosa Pine.
 Beautiful Ponderosa needles.
Curious bark of the Douglas Fir.
Interesting and soft needles of the Douglas Fir.
Last stop on the tour for me was the tallest Ponderosa in the gardens.
While I saw and heard very few birds this visit. I did hear a flock of juncos in the trees.  Found this beautiful female Slate-colored Junco. 
Nice ending to a perfect outing!
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