Plant Profile : Narcissus

Aaaah Spring. The light lingers longer and so do we…outside, peering curiously at our gardens to see the first signs of life emerging.  Soft catkins dangle from the cottonwood trees and a few timid hyacinth bloom low to the ground, lest they lose a limb to our spring snows.  Any day now, I expect to see a daffodil…the true herald of spring in my mind.

The daffodil (Narcissus genus) came from humble beginnings.  Growing in the dappled shade of an ancient woodland in Devonshire, the wild daffodil followed the glory-seeking path of the Tulip.  It caught the fancy of botanical tinkerers, was transformed through many patient decades, and can now be found all over the world in cultivated and wild scenarios from Western Asia to Europe…prolific in the form of 30,000 different hybrids.


Someone managed to classify those 30,000 hybrids into a mere 8 groupings.   Lovely.  I know that daffodils are overdone, but I just can’t stop loving them.  Have you really given this hardy little perennial, this world traveler the chance it deserves?  Sometimes it is the old standbys that offer us the most unexpected surprises.  Take a gander…and let me know if you plan to include daffodils in your bulb planting plans next fall. Enjoy:)


 daffodils for blog



Large Landscape Conservation

6681651603_21f29cc402_bThe idea of  “Large Landscape Conservation” is relatively new…and a bit fuzzy.

Years of conservation work and research have told us that the scale and complexity of impacts on the ecological integrity of the American West (or anywhere else for that matter) are often too overwhelming for any single group to address.  Large scale impacts, such as habitat fragmentation and watershed deterioration, pay no heed to political or governmental boundaries, making it difficult to gain consensus and support for the actions that are needed to address these challenges.

The growing consensus is that the scale of these ecological challenges requires a new approach… a new organizational strategy that focuses on creating connections between stakeholders.  There are several organizations that have stepped in to fill this niche, that work to connect, facilitate, and catalyze people and organizations with diverse interests who share a common place.  Trans-boundary collaboration on conservation initiatives has it’s own share of difficulties to be navigated, but this approach is promising.  If our challenges cross borders, then so must we.

If you would like to learn more about Large Landscape Conservation, the Colorado College is streaming a presentation by conservation biologist, Michael Soule this Tuesday (April 8) from 7-830pm. 

You can live stream it here:


Engaging the Next Generation

youtubeResearch suggests that there is a “moment” between the ages of 6 and 12 years old when nature imprints on a child. This developmental window of opportunity creates a lasting impression which helps to shape the way a child sees nature for the rest of their life. In previous generations a connection with nature was inevitable. That’s not the case anymore, particularly for urban families. And with the increased use of television, computers, and video games, children are more inclined to stay indoors than to go outside and develop connections with nature.

Bringing children to nature affects development in numerous ways. Studies have consistently shown that there are things that just can’t be recreated on a constructed playground, including:

- The pure physical diversity of the natural landscape

- Sensory stimulation: sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste.

- The ability for manipulation of the environment

- Potential for interaction with wildlife

- Increase in motor fitness, balance and coordination

- Better self-esteem and confidence

Cities are designed to be hospitable to one species: humans. As designers and planners, we are uniquely equipped to make a significant change in the lives of children by creating avenues of access and enjoyment of trees, plants, rivers, wildlife, bugs and birds. Maybe just as important, there is a “ripple effect” when children tell family and friends about their experiences.We are thrilled for the chance to help parks and recreation agencies bring kids out in the world to play and discover what can’t be replicated in the built environment where the skills and experiences can have crucial impacts on the adult each child will become.

View this video to learn more about an exciting and ambitious youth initiative that will inspire millions of young people to play, learn, serve and work in the outdoors.

Books Worth Reading


The National Parks: America’s Best Idea

by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan : Companion to the PBS series by acclaimed filmmaker Ken Burns.  Beautiful captivating imagery combined with a comprehensive history from the beginning of the idea to present.  This book brings the history of the NPS alive and expresses how truly lucky we are to have the National Park System alive and well in the US…it is nothing to take for granted.

A Passion for Nature : The Life of John Muir 

by Donald Worster : A biography that explores the extraordinary power of John Muir to inspire others to see the sacred beauty of Nature.  Including private correspondence, the book traces Muir from childhood through his adult life.

Wilderness by Design:  Landscape Architecture and the National Park Service

by Ethan Carr : A history of landscape park design, Wilderness by Design, places national park landscape architecture within a broad historical context.  The book explores the impact of landscape architecture on how the national parks are enjoyed and how well they are protected.

Building the National Parks:  Historic Landscape Design and Construction

by Linda Flint McClelland : Building the National Parks explores the conflicting missions of preservation and accessibility of the National Park Service and tells the history of the architects, landscape architects, and civil engineers who worked to create an infrastructure that emphasized scenic views and blended with  topography and natural features.

Mary Colter : Architect of the Southwest

by Arnold Berke : Details the incredible career of architect, Mary Colter, best known for her work in Grand Canyon National Park (Hopi House and Lookout Tower to name a few).

See America

original see america posters75 years ago, the WPA commissioned a series of posters, called “See America”, to encourage travel to the National Parks and simultaneously put artists to work.  From 1935-1943, various artists created this iconic series of imagery that remains popular today.  The bold, flat renderings and a clear separation of foreground, middle ground, and background are hallmarks of these vintage posters.

In partnership with the National Parks Conservation Association, The Creative Action Network is helping to revitalize interest in these posters and our National Parks.

new see america postersThey have just launched a new See America Project, with a modern twist.  CAN is crowdsourcing new poster submissions from artists for the National Parks as well as other cultural and historical sites in America.  Much of the work is directly inspired by the New Deal Arts Project but others are breaking tradition and venturing in unexpected directions.

Check out the new generation of See America Posters and get inspired to get out there and explore our National Parks…. or submit a poster of your own!