On the last day of the 2019 Fling we visited the Denver Botanic Garden (DBG). Its 23-acres are located in an urban setting, not far from downtown – unlike Chicago’s Botanic Garden, which is located in the far suburbs.
There are at least a couple of dozen individual gardens you can visit at DBG.
However, we ended up spending most of our limited time at the Laura Smith Porter Plains Garden. It reminded me some of the Lurie Garden in Chicago, but it consists entirely of plants found within 30 miles of Denver in grasslands east of the Rocky Mountains.
There are areas with species from short and tall-grass prairies, sand hills, and wetland prairies. Among these was a decent number of stunning wildflowers.
God, this Larkspur! Not sure the species (maybe Delphinium exaltatum?) But just look at that electric blue.
Some kind of Prickly Pear. Would you call those flowers more red or magenta?
This garden gets absolutely no supplemental watering.
This is called Scarlet Globeflower, but I much prefer its other common name, Cowboy’s Delight (Sphaeralcea coccinea). Apparently it delights cowboys by blooming in places that are otherwise barren, dry, and rocky.
Speaking of water, there is a small pond and wetland prairie. These are rare in Colorado, but they do exist.
On the other side of the pond there is a small woodland garden.
Colorado Blue Columbine (Aquilegia caerulea).
Among the grasses found here are Green Needle Grass (Nassella viridula), Alkali sacaton (Sporobulus airoides – a cousin to Prairie Dropseed, S. heterolepis), Little Bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium) and Switchgrass (Panicum virgatum),
What exactly these guys are doing I couldn’t say. According to one of the signs, they are made of iron embedded with glass rods. The iron and glass is “a metaphor for the inextricable connection between humans and nature”.
OK, if you say so.
In any case, it was good to see, in the heart of a big city, a garden inspired by the grasslands that once covered such a vast area in this region.
That was a spectacular part of the gardens. I love meadows and prairies. It still amazes me how those plants survive with so little water and extreme weather conditions.
They are incredibly well-adapted to a harsh environment.
Our son goes to the University of Denver, and we love visiting the garden. In fact, we were leaving as a bunch of you Flingers were arriving this summer!
We could have waved if we knew!
Oh, that larkspur! Utterly beautiful. But the sculptures are downright creepy.
Agreed on both points.
I camped outside of Colorado Springs when my son was at a Boy Scout camp and remember those gorgeous columbines. That color is stunning. Beautiful photos, thanks for the tour!
Judy and I camped during our honeymoon in northern New Mexico near the Colorado border and we remember lots of columbines – in fact the place we camped was called Columbine Canyon.
It is always delightful when a city devotes itself to developing a beautiful garden and this one is great. The Larkspur is so vey lovely, isn’t it? And the sculptures….well, they are a little creepy.
The larkspur is just gorgeous. D. exaltatum is native to our area though I remember it as having a darker blue.
I had a few in my garden, briefly, but tree canopy has closed in and they faded away. They were never that large and robust to begin with~I was floored by your photo. sigh. Wrong place for them all the way around.
Those sculptures were a really bad idea. Otherwise? The garden’s sheer perfection. That larkspur is glorious. The first time I saw it in the wild was in the piney woods of east Texas, and it fairly glowed.
Not sure if it was the light or what but it’s such a gorgeous blue.
That bloom on the prickly pear looks more red in these pictures.
I used to go to this garden yearly since I had family out there but that was many years ago. I know it has changed a lot but I couldn’t afford two big trips in one year which is why I didn’t go on this SF. It is also why I don’t do many big SF because my DB and I usually take a nice trip together. I travel vicariously through your blog and several others. 🙂
Well this garden was just a small part of DBG. We need to make it out there for another visit.
Beautiful gardens! I didn’t know prickly pear would grow there.
It even grows in Illinois!
I like the columbine and larkspur. Beautiful colors!
Those sculptures look very like Anthony Gormley’s Iron Men near us. All very baffling for sure! Loved this, especially that larkspur, stunning! I’d call the prickly pear red.xxx
Not familiar with Anthony Gormley. The sculptures made me think of the Blue Man Group in need of repainting.
The Larkspur is amazing and the pretty little columbine makes me want to buy some.
In Denver they have blue and yellow columbine, both natives. We have the one that combines red and yellow, of course, which I think I like best. But the western columbine are beautiful.
That seems to be a European white birch in the third picture. I don’t know what native species looks like that. Those to the left seem to be quaking aspens or some related aspen.
There’s the native paper birch, and also sometimes the yellow birch looks more white. But I’m not really sure.
Oh, of course. I had to look that up. I did not consider that there are native birches.
A wonderful Botanic garden and I would love to visit it. So many plants are familiar and it is impressive that the gardens gets no extra watering. We do grow Columbines & they are very rewarding in a garden that survives on unpredictable watering. I have also grow Delphiniums… that Gorgeous blue!
I imagine there are similar plants given the similar arid climates in Australia and this part of Colorado. I know Australia sometimes does get snow in some areas, but I imagine the Colorado plains have much colder winters.
It’s hard to get past that larkspur blue — it is riveting! I was instantly attracted to the sculptures. In the photo which combines them with the inquisitive gardeners, they seemed to me the ghosts of those whose land it once was. To me they appear almost like guardians. Or mourners. Isn’t it interesting how such things are perceived in different ways?
You are one of the few who likes those sculptures. You see something that others do not. The Larkspur is really astonishing.
Ooh yes, that Larkspur is beautiful! What a clear blue. Lovely!
Wish you could find that blue on more flowers.
Hello Jason, I instantly recognised the delphiniums as I have then in the garden, but these are really pretty and delicate versions of the cultivated varieties and I like them both – the electric blue is the same in both too. We also used to have that particular Aquilegia in the order garden and it’s awaiting reintroduction into the current one. I’m as impressed with the artwork as you are. In all, it looks like a beautiful garden to walk around and explore.
I have grown one species of wild delphinium but have never tried the cultivated varieties. The wild species did ok but it is slow to expand into a clump.
Will have to tell daughter about this, and next time in CO, take an extra day to visit in Denver ourselves.
A good idea! Enjoy!