Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Denver Botanic Garden

I have one more garden from the last day of the Garden Bloggers Fling to call out, and then I'll post about the rest. For a garden enthusiast no trip to Denver would be complete without a visit to the Denver Botanic Garden, the most visited public garden in North America. The DBG is a 23-acre public garden containing a conservatory, many themed gardens and an outdoor amphitheater.

We arrived and were escorted straight to lunch in the Annuals Pavilion (choice of sandwich or salad, chips, drink, cookie), listened to a short talk by Panayoti Kelaidis, senior curator and director of outreach for the DBG, blogger at PrairieBreak, and author of Hardy Ice Plants: A Horticultural Handbook for Hobbyists and Growers and a contributor to Steppes: The Plants and Ecology of the World's Semi-arid Regions. We were handed a map (God help me!), and given approximately an hour to scramble around trying to find the areas that interested us. I scarfed my lunch and took off with an increasingly desperate air against a ticking clock and with no sense of direction, trying to find my way to the Steppe Garden, the Ornamental Grasses Garden, and the Roads Water-Smart Garden.

DBG map

Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory

It was a warm, sunny day and although I do love tropical plants, I couldn't imagine venturing into the heat of the conservatory.

El Pomar Waterway

Ornamental grasses line the brick walkway and the tilted pots contain succulents
After a bathroom break and a stop to catch my breath (and scold myself for being a ninny), I managed to find the ornamental grasses garden. Of course, it was the wrong time of year for grasses, none were in flower yet and all pretty much looked the same. But fortunately, they had been interplanted with a multitude of colorful Eremurus, which made for a show-stopping display.

The craggy small trees are some kind of sumac, possibly Rhus typhina

With a Science Pyramid backdrop

Somehow I then managed to find the Roads Water-wise Garden, which is planted on a raised berm at the base of the conservatory, with a path so you can walk through it.

A cluster of blue Agaves, and oodles of pups, reminding me of hungry baby birds

Tanacetum densum ssp. amani

Stipa barbata

I don't know if this Agave was tagged, but it looks like maybe A. parryi

This was tagged as Delosperma 'Kelaidis' but it seems much too bright pink

Linum narbonense aka Spanish flax, an Old World species of blue flax with larger flowers than our Linum lewisii

More wandering took me to the Grant Family Cottonwood border, an area of cottonwood trees underplanted with grasses and perennials. The grass with the tufted ends looks to me like Hordeum jubatum, aka foxtail barley. The tall blue flowers are Penstemons, of course.

Not sure what the blue flower is, but the hot pink is Delosperma

I nearly made it to the Steppe Garden, which I think was the area next to the Cottonwood garden with raised berms around lots of rocks. Around this time I ran into members of the PNW contingent and it was nearly time to start making our way back to the bus, so I joined up with them and we all headed to the entrance.

I only managed to barely scratch the surface of what the Denver Botanic Garden has to offer. I could have spent the entire day here (although I would have required a lot more sunscreen).  On a cool spring day I imagine the conservatory is full of marvels. There are exhibits inside the Science Pyramid as well. Like my friend Heather, I didn't find the sunny, arid Denver climate to my liking, so I doubt I'll be traveling back to the area just to revisit the DBG.

But if you ever find yourself in Denver, go. Even just for an hour.


  1. Our time at the garden was pathetically short. Almost like being offered a treat and then having it yanked away. Andrew and I went back on Monday and I saw more of the garden, which was nice. The tropical house had a stairway up to a raised area with lots of bromeliads but it was CLOSED. Again, here's a treat...wait, nope!

  2. Thank you, Alison!
    Eremurus is among my favorite plants, but it doesn't like my garden for some reason. So, I admired it in your pictures.
    Tilted succulent pots maybe is an old idea, but it's a new one for me, so I borrow it!

  3. The map-reading plus brief visit was very anxiety-inducing. To be honest, I was a little underwhelmed by the garden, but my assessment is unfair because we lacked the time to slow down and appreciate the garden's strengths, setting-up the experience for failure.

  4. Too bad you didn't have more time to take in all the garden had to offer.

  5. Seeing the Denver Botanic Garden was #1 on my list of what I most regretted in missing this year's Fling. Only an hour to scramble through it would have annoyed the heck out of me. You did a good job with your coverage nonetheless.

  6. If I ever get to Denver, I'll be sure to put the DBG on my list, and give myself plenty of time to explore and enjoy. Zipping through a botanical garden in this way is just cruel! Having said that, the magnificent display of Eremurus in bloom was worth it! I so want to be successful growing one of those beauties and have it bloom.

  7. Those Eremurus were something! There was so much we didn't get to see - we were mostly in the prairie garden, which had lots of wildflowers, and a small pond garden.


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