Our nation’s first president might not recognize the Mount Vernon Garden in Washington Park, created in 1926 to replicate a garden at his Virginia estate. All summer, Denver Parks and Recreation horticulturalist Michelle Simpson and her team of volunteers, worked to transform the formal garden near Grasmere Lake by planting, in her words, “what’s supposed to be here.” Instead of neat rows of begonias and geraniums marching across bare soil, Simpson’s lush new plantings teem with prairie grasses such as blue gramma and turkey foot alongside many native flowers. Unusual grains such as amaranth and sorghum now flourish in beds that have lain fallow during the pandemic. The new approach attracts hordes of hummingbirds, butterflies and bees, crowds out weeds, and requires fewer pesticides and less water — while returning nutrients to the soil. George Washington might approve of that.
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