What is it? Who does it? Why?
Obviously we study new species to add to your gardens. We have trial gardens, develop germination protocols, even breed new species. We also head out into Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region to study plants where they grow (in-situ) and sometimes collect seed to preserve genetic material, study the plants in the lab, or grow individuals for reintroductions (ex-situ).
The species we study may very well never contain the cure for cancer, might not become the next best specimen to have in your collection, and might go unnoticed as a single species loss. However, these primary producers are part of the ecosystem and affect other organisms and their environment in ways that are not always immediately apparent. There are over 100 plant species in Colorado alone that are at a high risk of extinction and hundreds more that are rare or are declining in number. If hundreds of species are lost, then real and obvious changes to our environment will be felt and will inevitably negatively affect us.
Researchers at Denver Botanic Gardens are working to prevent these loses through long-term study of these species, reintroductions, and work to mitigate the effect of invasive, non-native species. We're determined to protect these gems one plant at a time (more if we can do it) not because they all have unique traits and scientific value (which they do) or because they are intrinsically worth saving (which they are) but because we don't want to suffer the alternative.