No matter the time of the year, the Denver Botanic Gardens is the ideal place to spend a beautiful afternoon in a relaxing and instructive manner. The Denver Botanic Gardens are some of the finest establishment of this kind in the entire nation, featuring floral samples specific to the alpine environment of the Centennial State and from many other places across the world.
The Denver Botanic Gardens is a certified member of the American Museum Associations and it is composed of three main locations – a 23 acres facility situated on York Street, situated within 10 minutes of driving distance from Downtown Denver; the Chatfield location, which is a larger open garden, focused on natural grasslands and reconstructions of historic buildings; and the alpine themed Mount Goliath, placed in the Arapaho National Forest, and accessible through various hiking trails.
The Garden’s history begins in 1951, when local plant enthusiasts set the foundation of the Botanical Gardens Foundation of Denver, with an initial 100 acres unfenced location in the City Park. Due to the difficulties of securing this open location, in 1959 the decision was made to relocate the institution to the present York Street site. The new Gardens were designed by the preeminent American landscapist Garrett Eckbo, and featured an enclosed facility which allowed it to exhibit tropical flora all year round. Since then, the Denver Botanical Gardens have greatly developed and pioneered innovative concepts in the field of botanical exhibitions, such as the focus on native plants and the promotion of environmental sound practices.
The Gardens are home to more than 16,000 taxa of plants, classified in 250 families. Highlights include the unique collection of xeriscape vegetation which is adapted to living in dry environments – The Roads Water-Smart Garden, Dryland Mesa and the Laura Smith Porter Plains Garden. These themed gardens exhibit the hardy vegetation that thrives in the semi-arid climate of the Colorado Front Range.
Other gardens, such as the Western Panoramas, Sacred Earth and the Heirloom Garden are oriented towards flora from the Western area of the U.S., European plants and tropical and sub-tropical exhibits. Tourists can also enjoy a serene stroll through the Japanese Garden, called Shofu-en or the Garden of Wind and Pines, designed by the renowned landscapist Koichi Kawana.
No matter the season, the Gardens are ready to welcome guests seeking to admire the natural beauty of the various species of shrubs, trees, aquatic plants and flowering plants. The institution also organizes special events throughout the year to attract visitors and periodically opens its gates free of charge for the residents of the Mile High City. Some of the most sought after attractions are the gigantic Corn Maze, stretching on 8 acres, where visitors of all ages can get lost or discover many surprises and the mesmerizing Trail of Lights, a winding trail through the Chatfield garden, illuminated by more than a million lights, organized during the cold winter months.
There is more than flora to be admired in the Denver Botanic Gardens. For example, the sunken amphitheater situated in the Gardens regularly hosts cultural and artistic events, such as concerts and dance performances. Modern sculpture exhibitions, such as the works of British artist Henry Moore, can be admired on the premises of the Gardens.
This perpetual effort of merging esthetic ambiances in a unitary form is a testament for the efforts of the Denver Botanic Gardens to provide an enlightening experience for those who walk inside this magical world.