Home / World News / How Water World has gardened with its patrons in mind — no matter how many legs they have – The Denver Post

How Water World has gardened with its patrons in mind — no matter how many legs they have – The Denver Post

Sanctuary, by definition means a place of refuge or safety, a nature reserve, which is what Hyland Hills Water World has created as the park has evolved over nearly 40 years.

Water World opened in 1979 with just a handful of rides, working around the already established trees and native areas. As the park grew, we added to the landscape always keeping our patrons in mind — no matter how many legs they have — providing shade, shelter and beauty.

Here are a couple of things that we do for our non-human visitors:

A stop during the monarch migration

Colorado Showy Milkweed is part of ...
Colorado Showy Milkweed is part of the great habitat for pollinators, especially Monarch Butterflies and is in every garden at the Water World Water Park. May 9, 2018 in Federal Heights.

The 70-acre water park at the edge of Camenish Park in Federal Heights is a Monarch Watch-registered Waystation. This designation, through the Kansas Biological Survey, acknowledges work to create a sanctuary for monarch butterflies migrating from Canada to Mexico to perpetuate their species.The monarch butterfly is considered an indicator species for the conservation and protection of pollinator habitats.

We provide everything the monarch needs — plants like butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata) and showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa), which is most common in our native areas. These plants are for the monarch to lay eggs on and the larva to eat, then pupate in their chrysalis stage. The adults get all the nectar plants they need to feed on from spring through fall.

They can also find a few places to puddle — sipping from moisture on leaves or in shallow pools on the ground — during dry periods because, after all, we are a water park.

Here is a short list of plants you can put in your landscape to help and attract monarchs:

Great early bloomers are Woods’ rose (Rosa woodsii) and nodding onion (Allium cernuum). Then we have purpletop vervain (Verbena bonariensis), blanket flower (Gaillardia x grandiflora), dotted blazing star (Liatris punctata), Rocky Mountain beeplant (Cleome serrulata) and Jerusalum artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus) for mid-season flowers.  And goldenrod (Solidago canadensis), sulphur flower (Eriogonum umbellatum) and rabbitbrush (Ericameria nauseosa) for flowers into fall.

I also have found the beautiful black, orange and white insects really like the broad, umbel flowers of moonshine yarrow (Achillea moonshine), mainly because it’s easy for them to rest on while feeding.

Habitat heroics

An Audubon Rockies' Habitat Hero Garden ...

Joe Amon, The Denver Post

An Audubon Rockies’ Habitat Hero Garden sign at the Water World Water Park. May 9, 2018 in Federal Heights.

Water World also is registered and certified as a Habitat Hero Garden through Audubon of the Rockies.

The Habitat Hero designation has a broader scope, encouraging gardening that provides habitat for all types of wildlife, whether they have scales, feathers or fur. It uses the term “wildscaping” to describe landscaping with native and regionally adapted plants which use less water and supply year-round food, cover and shelter. We also control invasive plant species that harm the native landscape, mainly by pulling and biological control.

It all sounds pretty simple, and it really can be. You don’t need to change your entire yard, but you could cave out a corner of your yard, commit the “hell strip” along the street, or just add a few new plants to your existing beds or gardens.

Plants like Crandall’s clove currant (Ribes odoratum), Gwen’s buffalo currant (Ribes aureum), Saskatoon serviceberry (Amelanchier alnifolia) and New Mexico privet (Forestiera neomexicana) supply flowers for pollinators and fruit for birds and some small mammals.

One-seed juniper (Juniperus monosperma), pinyon pine (Pinus edulis) and Gambel oak (Quercus gambelii) produce seeds or nuts for food and great cover with a more secure nesting site for quite a few bird species

You can attract butterflies and other pollinators and hummingbirds with perennials such as orange carpet hummingbird trumpet (Zauschneria garrettii), sunset hyssop (Agastache rupestris), Colorado four-o’-clock (Mirabilis multiflora) and Gloria Jean yarrow (Achillea millefolium).

Once you have put a design together and installed your landscape, you will be amazed by how many new and different creatures stop by or make a summer home in your yard and garden.

We are lucky to have a pair of great horned owls, as well as mourning doves, broad-tailed hummingbirds, sparrows and red-tailed hawks that nest at Water World and the native areas surrounding the park. They live along side red foxes and ground squirrels. We also see honey, mason and bumblebees, and the gardens are visited by mourning cloak, Western tiger swallowtail and painted lady butterflies. Our adjacent ponds are healthy habitats for small-mouth bass, perch, crayfish and, occasionally, turtles.

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