Denver Botanic Gardens' highlights

Looking beyond the Chihuly glass to focusing on what makes the Denver Boantica Gardens , 

Of the 3,000 plants native to Colorado, over 120 are rare and imperiled. The Research and Conservation department collects seeds of Colorado’s rare plants to available for future necessary restoration projects, and for research projects, including developing best germination protocols for each species. The Endangered Species Garden, displays imperiled or endemic (they can be found nowhere else in the world) plants of Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region.  Colorado ecosystems featuredaround the amphitheatre in Western Panoramas, include the High Plains/Riparian habitat of the Grant Family Cottonwood Border, the Foothills/Ponderosa Pine habitat, and the Subalpine/Bristlecone Pine habitat. Each border represents a stylized version of a classic habitat found in Colorado with an emphasis on grasses, wildflowers and signature trees native to these ecosystems.

The Laura Smith Porter Plains Garden shows what Denver and the Front Range were like prior to development. With a few exceptions, seeds were obtained from areas within 30 miles of Denver, representing the beauty of local genetic material. The most sustainable garden, this garden thrives on natural precipitation alone and is resistant to cold, hail, drought and heat. The Plains Garden encourages conservation and appreciation for fragile and threatened native prairies, including tallgrass, mixed-grass, shortgrass, sandhills, wetland and riparian habitats. The garden provides some of our best examples of how to create regionally-appropriate gardens and habitats for wildlife, and inspires appreciation for our native landscapes.

Wildflower Treasures displays troughs that contain miniature landscapes with native flora and geology from emblematic ecological zones including the Arkansas Valley, Boulder County, Pikes Peak, Mount Evans, everywhere from Montezuma County in the southwest to Pawnee Buttes in northeast Colorado.

The world’s first Xeriscape Demonstration Garden (renamed Dryland Mesa, 2 years later) was created at the Gardens in 1986.  It was based on the “7 Principles” (planning & design, appropriate turf area, efficient irrigation, low-water-use plants, soil improvements, surface mulches, and appropriate maintenance) of Xeriscape.  The Garden showcases plants native to arid regions of the West, especially from the Madrean floristic province. It  has not been watered since 1997, except for new plantings that have been watered by hand. 

“Water in the West”
The Rock Alpine Garden includes plants from the Rocky Mountains in addition to other mountain ranges around the world. Alpine ecosystems are also extremely fragile, threatened by climate change and human destruction.
Le Potager Garden’s beds, hedged with herbs and boxwood, are designed based on the French Renaisssance period.  The garden includes a mix of vegetables, flowers, and herbs “lovely enough for the front yard”. The beds are divied into sections for easy succession planting to maximize yield by rotating crops throughout the growing season. Trellised vining plants and espaliered fruit trees take advantage of vertical space. Produce harvested is donated to local food banks, while heb are used in the garden’s Hive Garden Bistro.
Compost collected in
faux bee hive
The Herb Garden is maintained by the Herb Guild, a group of volunteers who creates herb-infused vinegars, oils, and other culinary products to raise funds for the Gardens.

A Scripture Garden features plants referenced in ancient religious texts.

When the Sacred Earth Garden was re-designed around the year 2000, there was an official ceremony in which members of three Four Corners area tribes blessed the garden.Plants used by Native Americans of the Four Corners region. A cultivated area showcasing the “Three Sisters” method of planting food crops in Zuni waffle beds is a highlight of the garden. Sacred Earth features a sand hill zone, a montane zone, a riparian zone and many desert areas. Sacred Earth receives little to no supplemental irrigation during the growing season. 

A Birds & Bee Walk showcases plant reproduction and pollination. The trees, shrubs and plants were selected because of their ability to attract birds, butterflies, bees,  and other fauna.