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Thursday 31 August 2023

Denver Botanic Gardens

Can you believe that we've lived in Colorado for four years now and had never visited the Denver Botanic Gardens during the day? We finally fixed that with an afternoon spent taking in the beauty of the gardens with friends a few weeks back.

Now, I should point out that we have actually been to Denver Botanic Gardens a few times in the past, but our visits were always in the evenings for holiday events such as the Halloween themed Glow at the Gardens and the wintry Blossoms of Light. You can click those bold and underlined links to see these events.

Experiencing the Botanic Gardens all lit up at night sure was spectacular, but seeing the beauty of the gardens during the day in Summer when everything is in bloom was something else.

Let's take a look...

We started our afternoon at the Botanic Gardens with a visit to the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory. Inside this hot and humid glass house we found ourselves surrounded by lush tropical plants of all sizes. Towering palms with giants leaves reached up toward the ceiling, while dainty air plants, orchids and ferns filled every surface imaginable. Now, if you know me, you'll know that I'm not a fan of hot and humid climates, but there's just something magical about exploring the plant life in a tropical conservatory. It's all so very different from what we experience at home. Even the plants that we're used to having in our homes as potted plants grow in such a different manner in such an environment. Total side note, but did you know that in Australia we refer to potted house plants as "pot plants"? This is definitely a term I've had to be careful using in the US as "pot plant" does not mean the same thing here! I'm sure I've left people thinking that I grow marijuana in my living room when I've spoken about my "pot plants" in the past!

Back out in the "just as hot but not so humid" outdoors we headed over to the Bill Hosokawa Bonsai Pavilion and Tea Garden to check out teeny tiny trees. Aren't Bonsai just amazing? The amount of love, care and skill that goes into growing each one amazes me. So much dedication.

My kids are always attracted to water, and our visitor's kids are no different, so once we were done looking at the Bonsai trees we headed over to check out a couple of ponds. The first pond we checked out was located in the Shofu-en Japanese Garden. Styled in a tradition Japanese fashion, this pond features lots of mossy rocks, tiny temple sculptures and is home to lots of koi fish. 

We then moved on to the popular Monet Pool, which just like Monet's famous paintings, is filled with stunning waterlilies. So many water lilies. I actually saw on the Denver Botanic Gardens Instagram account today that their giant waterlilies are on the small side this year thanks to all of the rain and the milder than usual weather we've had. They were still pretty giant though!

Then it was on the the Four Towers Pool and it's geometric fountain surrounded by garden beds of blooming flowers in every color imaginable. This particular pond is located right by one of the garden's quirkiest buildings. The Science Pyramid is, you guessed it, a pyramid structure that is home to hands on science exhibitions. It's a great spot to escape the heat for a bit. 

Speaking of structures, as well as the many buildings that can be found with in the grounds, the Botanic Gardens are home to quite a few pergolas, covered walk ways and smaller green houses including a cactus house. There are also many sculptures dotted around the gardens. At one point the kids were all laughing hysterically at a sculpture they were standing behind. I figured they must be laughing at the butt on the naked statue, but nope. It was a hilariously placed poop shaped pinecone. And yes - I'm immature and laughed at it too! 

If you've visited Denver Botanic Gardens before you'll know that there is a colorful Chihuly glass sculpture reminiscent of a red and yellow yucca located within the Ellipse Garden. This is always a popular spot with visitors, however, during our visit this area was closed off for a wedding. In fact, it must have been a popular day to tie the knot as there were at least three other areas closed off for weddings as well. 

In case you thought we were done with water features and ponds, you were wrong! The gardens feature smaller ponds dotted throughout the grounds. The kids were excited to find one in the Scripture Garden that featured blue tinted water. They had fun dipping their hands in and out of the water, watching them turn blue and then back to normal.

One of my favorite things about the Botanic Gardens is that there is a focus on plants that we find growing here in Colorado gardens. While not all of these plants are native to Colorado (or even the US), they are plants that are hardy enough to withstand our sometimes harsh conditions. Hot dry Summers and snowy Winters with late or early frost make for a tricky climate in which to plant a garden. The Botanic Gardens show home gardeners that it is possible.

During our visit to the Botanic Gardens we made sure to check out the Mordecai Children's Garden which is located across York Street on the roof top of the parking structure. It's a fantastic garden space made with the youngest visitors in mind. You'll find plenty of space for kids to run along trails, bridges to cross, rocks to climb, a pond to splash about in, and so much more. There is also plenty of seating, shaded areas, bathrooms and fantastic views over the Botanic Gardens. Of course, there are wonderful gardens throughout the space too, with a focus on Colorado native plants.

We didn't eat at the Botanic Gardens during this visit, but we have previously been to the Offshoots Cafe located just inside the gardens in the same building as the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory, as well as Copper Door Coffee Roasters located in the nearby Freyer-Newman Center. Hive Garden Bistro located by the Monet Pond is a great place to dine al fresco in the gardens.  

Now for all the info you need to know about visiting Denver Botanic Gardens...

Denver Botanic Gardens is located at 1007 York Street, Denver.

Parking is available across from the gardens in the paid parking structure. On street parking is also available in the neighborhood.

Denver Botanic Gardens are open seven days a week excluding Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. 

Daily hours vary depending on the season. Summer hours of 9am to 8pm are currently in effect through September 4th. For opening hours visit https://www.botanicgardens.org/york-street/york-street-seasonal-hours-early-closings

Tickets can be purchased online or at the gate and are priced as follows:
Adults $15
Seniors (65+) and veterans (with ID) $11.50
Children (3 - 15) and students (with ID) $11
Children 2 and under are admitted free of charge

Most indoor and outdoor garden areas are wheelchair and stroller accessible.

Restrooms and drinking fountains are located throughout the main gardens and the Mordecai Children's Garden. You can find them on the map here.

A gift shop is available in the entry building.

For more information about Denver Botanic Gardens visit https://www.botanicgardens.org/

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