Rocky Mountain Gardeners: From Texas to Colorado

Tommy and Leslie’s Year-Round Gardening Journey

Tommy & Leslie's 26' Growing Dome greenhouse during a snowy winter in the rocky mountains

Tommy and Leslie Kearney grew up in Texas, but Leslie spent many childhood vacations in Southwest Colorado. When Tommy and Leslie decided to move to Colorado, they started looking at homes in Pagosa Springs. It was on one of those trips that they saw the domes by the river, so Leslie started researching them and discovered Growing Spaces. And y’all should know she’s been a gardener since she was knee-high to a grasshopper!

Gardening in the Rocky Mountains is challenging to say the least. Not only do we have a very short growing season, but that little season can be interrupted by hail, summer frost or even snow and that’s the end of those tender tomatoes! The Kearney’s didn’t want to be without their garden, so they chose a Growing Spaces 26’ Growing Dome.

Greenhouse oasis

The greenhouse went up in May 2021 with help from the Growing Spaces crew. Leslie will tell you to get the biggest size (Texas style) Growing Dome you can fit on your property because she wishes she had gotten a 33’ dome! That is also a frequent recommendation from dome owners on our social media.

To Heat or Not to Heat?

What each client grows in their greenhouse is personal preference and influenced by taste buds. The Kearney’s love strawberries, tomatoes, okra, peas, lime, avocado, rosemary, succulents and flowers, lots of flowers!

Since they have lime and avocado trees as well as a staghorn fern they heat their Growing Dome in the winter. They also bring their outdoor flower pots and railing planters inside the dome for the winter. And of course you’ve heard everything is bigger in Texas, right? Well, Leslie grew the largest chard we’ve seen in a greenhouse and that was just because it was pretty, not to eat it! It was at least 5’ tall and while it ain’t supposed to grow taller than 2’, it did.

Leslie does most of the planting and watering of the garden and Tommy is one of those people that can do just about anything! He built the raised beds, hung their gorgeous staghorn fern as well as the Mr. Heater Big Maxx. He also set up a huge water tank outside for watering the plants as well as refilling the pond and probably a million other projects!  In his spare time Tommy runs a business in Pagosa Springs, rides mules and helps with projects around the POA where they live.

Garden Friends

Tommy and Leslie also share their dome with a variety of frogs, toads, anoles and other friends so you have to be careful where you walk. A frequent flier in her dome are the ladybugs she orders quarterly to help with pests. She also buys praying mantis egg cases and incubates them with Ziggy, her Bearded Dragon, in his heated aquarium in their house. (The praying mantis egg cases get relocated to the greenhouse before they hatch.) 

Words of Pond Wisdom from Leslie

Leslie, a former veterinary technician, also has years of experience with fish tanks and suggests leaving things alone once the water has balanced. Tommy and Leslie filled their tank with water and allowed the chlorine to dissipate for a couple of days before adding fish. After that they added 12 goldfish to the 1,200 gallon pond, but first they floated them in the bag for about 15 minutes to get them acclimated to the water temperature. Then they added the fish to their pond, but not the water from the bag as they weren’t sure if it had any chemicals in it. All but one of the fish survived (it jumped out of the tank) and are thriving in the pond.

Rocky Mountain Gardeners Tommy and Leslie

Leslie recommends starting out with a small number of fish because it takes about six weeks for the tank to cycle and for good bacteria to grow. They don’t have water plants in their pond now, but do have a board across their tank with planters on it and a big staghorn fern so about 75% of the tank is covered. In addition, they use a Laguna filter in their pond and water their plants out of the pond sometimes, that way she can add fresh water to her pond a couple of times a month and she doesn’t have to deal with algae at all! Leslie says to feel free to reach out to her if you want pond advice. She’s on our Growing Dome Enthusiasts Facebook page!

Join the Inner Circle

An exclusive place for year-round gardeners. Join us to receive our monthly newsletter, “The Happy Grower”. In our newsletter we provide community stories, event updates, expert gardening tips, and exclusive offers.

  • Provide your zip code for notification of open houses in your area.

  • This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

author avatar
Tina Jones Marketing Assistant
I joined Growing Spaces in 2021 as a gardener and now work with the Marketing and Social Media department. Formerly I was a kindergarten teacher and then worked as a Gardener and Volunteer Coordinator at Maui Nui Botanical Gardens in Hawaii. Since moving to Colorado I worked in the veterinary field and have been involved in therapy dog work visiting hospitals, schools and libraries with a national therapy group. My previous dog and I also worked as a crisis response team helping those affected by crises or disasters and were deployed through Hope Animal-Assisted Crisis Response. Muppet and I are now a crisis response canine-handler team! Outside of working and volunteering, I love growing native plants and flowers at home, hiking, photography and hanging out with my husband and our dogs. I like to garden and volunteer with my therapy dogs in the community. My husband and I enjoying skiing and horseback riding. He helps build gardening beds so I can dig in the dirt and grow things.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *