01 September 2011

Denver Botanic Gardens - well worth the trip

At the Denver Botanic Gardens (www.botanicgardens.org), there is something going on every day.

During the year, visitors might find a display of textile art, a pumpkin festival, ask-a-gardener day, plant and bulb sales, a guest-chef food festival, conservation classes, garden club meetings, a light show, a chicken coop tour throughout the Denver area, composting workshop for children, or one of dozens of other activities.

The York Street location is a 23-acre collection of 45 themed gardens with plants from around the world.


When visitors exit the gift shop and ticket building, the first exhibit is the O’Fallon Perennial Walk which is a broad sidewalk lined on both sides with gorgeous perennials in bloom. There are plenty of traditional English garden plants intermixed with drought-tolerant perennials.

The Native Roots Modern Form garden features 700 plants native to North America and Colorado specifically. One collection, Yuccarama, has a diverse collection of yuccas. The Modern Forms part of the display refers to the art of American modernist, Allan Houser, whose sculpture is displayed throughout the garden.

The El Pomar Waterway combines hardscape, water features and ornamental grasses to dramatic effect.


Denver Botanic Gardens is a voting site for All-America Selections. The contenders for each year are grown there and visitors vote for their favorite bedding plants and vegetables.

The Birds and Bees Garden, planted along a woodland path, is filled with trees, shrubs and plants that attract birds, frogs, butterflies, bees, moths and other fauna. It is a showcase of plant pollination and reproduction.

A tropical garden is contained inside the Boettcher Memorial Conservatory. The collection has thousands of exotics from the tropics. For families there is a two-story model of a banyan tree where children can get an aerial view of the tropical forest.


The Japanese Garden of Wind and Pines is a traditional setting with water, rocks, plants and a tea house that evoke harmony with nature.

June’s PlantAsia contains threatened plant species from the Asian steppes. The 8,000 exotic and fragrant plants are all in a one-acre garden. Peonies, bamboo, herbs, voodoo lilies, Asian trees, a handmade stone path, a stream, Chinese pavilion and moon gates fill the area with a quiet mood.

At this time of year — late summer — the herb garden was in full bloom. Several varieties of basil, mint, oregano, thyme and sage filled the beds with perfumed flowers and bees.

An extensive system of waterways, ponds and pools hold 450 species of aquatic plants such as lotus and water lilies.

The garden recently opened its publicly accessible green roof as a demonstration garden for homeowners who would like to create a roof garden.

One of the most famous features of the Gardens is the Rock Alpine Garden, home to over 2,300 species of plants in a rock garden setting. The rock garden was designed using 500 tons of rock that was brought in to set up a variety of habitats and environments.


If you plan a visit to the Denver Botanic Gardens, leave time to visit the Alter Arboretum, too. The University of Denver is in the process of a $2 million renovation of their Humanities Garden at the Alter Arboretum which is called a living fossil forest. Denver Botanic Gardens provided the design.

About the gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York St., Denver, Colo., has 23 acres of gardens, two organic restaurants, library. Information: (720) 865-3585,

Other locations: Chatfield in Littleton is a 750-acre rural garden with nature trails, meadow gardens, and an historic farm; and, the Mount Goliath location in the Arapaho National Forest has nature trails at 11,000 feet.

Find out what is happening at the Denver Botanic Gardens: Blog is at www.botanicgardensblog.com and Facebook page is www.facebook.com/denverbotanicgardens#!/denverbotanicgardens.

2 comments:

Acantholimon said...

Just stumbled on your blog: as a 34 year veteran of Denver Botanic Gardens, I thank you for your kind comments!

Molly said...

Hi Acantholimon!
Glad you made it to my blog - We were very glad we made it to your garden!
We will be back; hope you will, too.