Carol O'Meara, Colorado State University Extension

Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension

LONGMONT – As daylight creeps longer and warmth start seeping into our bones, gardeners emerge from winter into the sun. Blinking at the awakening landscape, we notice gaps that need filling, and indulge in flights of fancy that include gardens bursting with color.

If you’re gearing up for the season with plans to search garden centers, plant sales, and catalogs for the right additions to your flower beds, check out a few early season fundraisers that benefit your garden and local plant societies.

Three events are upcoming to get your garden off to a great start. Kicking off the season, these are don’t-miss events with opportunity to purchase new or unusual plants that add color or interest in landscapes.

Get started with the Colorado Cactus Society Show and Sale, March 31 and April 1, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at the Denver Botanic Gardens ( These prickly denizens of the plant kingdom are fascinating and beautiful. In this, the Colorado Cactus and Succulent Society of America’s 45th annual show, hundreds of prized plants will be on view and thousands will be on sale.

View rare specimens from around the world, including plants native to Mexico, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, Madagascar, and the Middle East. If you’ve never grown cactus before, stop and chat with members who can lead you through setting up cacti in your garden; trust me, you’ll appreciate the advice. If haphazardly planted, you might find your cacti like to amuse themselves by sticking you with spines while you garden, so spend a few minutes talking with experts to save you from a prickly problem.

The Colorado Dahlia Society annual sale is Saturday, April 7, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Paulino’s Gardens, 6300 Broadway in Denver. I admit that I’m smitten with this plant. Big and boisterous, petite and pretty, formal, wild, single, double – dahlias put on a show later in summer.

If you’re looking for a selection of dahlias that do well here in Colorado, get your tubers from the group who knows best: the Colorado Dahlia Society. Table after table of tubers sorted into size and type are at the sale, along with members offering tips or advice on getting the most from your flowers. Browse their website for ideas on which dahlias to look for and come with a list; the sale is busy and it helps to zero in on our coveted tubers ( Not all dahlias on their website are available at the sale, so give yourself choices.

The Denver Rose Society Annual Educational SymROSEium is April 7, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. at Denver Botanic Gardens in Mitchell Hall ( This year the theme is “The Queen of Flowers and her Ladies-in-Waiting,” focusing on the glory of roses and plants that are perfect counterpoints to her charms.

Two speakers combine for a powerhouse of information on helping your roses show their best in your garden. Nationally known speaker, TV personality, and podcast host, Chris VanCleave presents “Roses for the Real World.” He’ll discuss roses that perform well under the tender loving care of the average gardener.

Following VanCleave, Shalene Hiller, horticulturist for the City of Westminster and former perennial propagator and grower for Paulino Gardens in Denver, will present “Ladies-in-Waiting,” an exploration of companion plants for roses.

The SymROSEium free with paid admission to the Gardens. Consulting Rosarians will be on hand to answer your rose-growing questions. Don’t miss the bare root roses and bare root companion plants for sale at the event.

Get to the sales for a great start to your season.

By Carol O’Meara, Colorado State University Extension. Colorado State University Extension, together with Boulder County Parks and Open Space, provides unbiased, research-based information about consumer and family issues, horticulture, natural resources, agriculture and 4-H youth development. For more information contact Colorado State University Extension at the Boulder County Fairgrounds,
9595 Nelson Rd., Box B, Longmont, 303.678.6238, e-mail [email protected] or visit