Most area nurseries have these bushes and several varieties of them. For re-vegetating open space or large areas of land, bareroot bushes, 10-30” in height, produced at the Colorado State University nursery in conjunction with the State Forest Service, may be obtained from Summit County’s Extension Office in the County Commons, at a fraction of the cost. The latter must be ordered well in advance of delivery. Contact the Extension Office for an order form, (970) 668-3595. Items available through the Extension will be labeled CSU in the information below.

Take a look at this terrific guide for planting bareroot shrubs:

Also see these guidelines provided by the Colorado State Forest:
Following are brief descriptions of shrubs which we know grow well up here. However, if you would like more details on those offered by CSU, please see the following Buyers Guide which also provides photos of the bushes.  csfsbuyersguide.pdf 

Caragana or Siberian Pea Shrub Caragana arborescens ~ CSU
This deciduous shrub can grow to a height of 15'. It is hardy, drought tolerant and likes well drained soil. The compound pinnate leaves have a bright green color. It may produce small yellow blooms.


Cotoneaster Cotoneaster acutifolia ~ CSU
It grows to about 6' high and has dense foliage. Cotoneaster is drought resistant and hardy, producing brilliant orange-red foliage in the fall, and berries which blacken.


Chokecherry Prunus virginiana ~ CSU
Wildlife enjoys this hardy shrub which can grow to a height of 20’. It is fairly drought resistant and produces golden yellow to orange fall foliage. It has the potential to produce berries which can be used for jam making.

Prunus virginiana ‘Canada Red’ is a variety that does well up here. It is a vigorous grower with wonderful foliage, the new growth being green, but as the season progresses, it turns to a rich purple burgundy color. It is a great addition to a garden. The nurseries in the county sell this plant.


Elder, Native Red Berried Sambucus pubens ~ CSU
This is a much stockier plant than the common elder. It can grow to about 12’ producing small creamy flowers which give rise to red berries later in the season. Dead wood should be pruned from the plant leaving space for new shoots to develop.

The bush in front of the pillar is a Red Berried Elder.

Elder, Native Red  Berried


Currants Ribes spp

  • Golden Currant Ribes aureum ~ CSU
    Another terrific shrub for this elevation, but it grows best with some irrigation. Golden currant matures to a height of about 7' with a spread of 3’. It produces little yellow flowers in early summer which give rise to yellow currants later in the season. The fruit is edible, but tends to be very sour. Leaves turn to an orange-red color in the fall.

Other varieties of currant seem to be much more sensitive to our altitude and climate than golden currant.

  • Gooseberry, Pixwell Ribes hirtellum ‘Pixwell’
    This shrub produces many edible gooseberries. Research shows that at lower altitudes the berries are large, turn pink when ripe and are favored for fruit pies. Up here, the fruit is small, occasionally has a pink blush and is tart. It's fun to have a bush that actually produces something edible!

Potentilla  Potentilla spp
Potentilla shrubs are also known as Bush Cinquefoil. These hardy, deciduous plants are native to the Northern Hemisphere. They are widely seen growing wild in Summit County. Ornamental varieties are sold in the nurseries, the bushes having been bred to produce a variety of different colored blooms from buttercup yellow, to orange, to pink and to white. Light pruning in the spring/early summer may be necessary to cut out dead wood and to keep the bush in a good, round shape.

  • Potentilla Jackman, Potentilla fruticosa ‘Jackmanii’, has bright yellow flowers and the bush blooms for much of the summer. The plants like full sun and will grow in a variety of soils.
  • Potentilla Abbotswood, Potentilla fruticosa ‘Abbotswood’, has white blossoms which contrast nicely with its leaves which are darker than other potentillas. This is said to be one of the better species of white blooming potentillas. It grows to a diameter and height of 3’.
  • Potentilla Katherine Dykes, Potentilla fruticosa ‘Katherine Dykes’, has medium green leaves and arching branches which bear 1” lemon yellow blossoms.
  • Potentilla Marian Red Robin, Potentilla fruticosa ‘Marian Red Robin’, is a low, spreading, small shrub with pretty brick red flowers.

Red-osier Dogwood Cornus serica ~ CSU
Cold hardy, but needing some moisture, these bushes have red leaves and stems which make them a most attractive garden shrub. They produce small white flowers and berries which are attractive to wildlife.


Rose Wild Rosa spp. ~ CSU
This low growing shrub grows well on most soils. It spreads easily, sending out succors from its root system, so make sure that you give is plenty of room and locate it in an area which won’t interfere with other grows. It is hardy and fairly drought resistant, but relishes water if it is available. Simple, pale pink flowers are a delight, and are the red hips, if they survive onslaught from wildlife. Deer seem to love the tops of the shoots when they are at their prime. If you are re-vegetating an area and want to encourage wildlife, do include the wild rose in your plantings.

Rose Wild



  • Native Willow Mix Salix spp ~ CSU
    CSU sells a collection of different species of willow, which are cold hardy, but require moisture for their existence. They can grow rapidly, given the correct conditions. They have some attractive seasonal color changes, though they aren’t vibrant.
  • Dwarf Arctic Willow or Dwarf Arctic Osier Salix purpurea ’Nana’
    The nurseries might tell you that this is a small plant, and it is if you compare its size with other willows, but give it plenty of space. It grows to about 5’ in diameter and about 3’ high. Its new growth is purple in color and the plant has a multitude of fine branches, each of which is trimmed with small pointed leaves. It can be pruned and used for hedging, or left to grow into its natural shape. It is a most attractive plant.

We try to educate our members and the community about gardening in Summit County and provide a social setting for informational exchanges to share the beauty of gardening with others.

There's lots going on in our Club and room for many to be involved. It's surprising how much we accomplish in our short Summit summer