August Walking Tour – Water Gardens

August 5, 2021 Tamara Kilbane , Curator of Aquatic Collections

The heat of summer is finally here and with it comes the peak time to enjoy our extensive collection of aquatic plants. You will find diverse water gardens throughout our 24-acre York Street location. The walking tour below will guide you through each of these, beginning at the main entrance and working your way west to our largest water feature, Monet Pool.

Crossroads Pedestal: As you enter the Gardens from York Street, a pre-formed pond is displayed atop the pedestal in the Crossroads Garden. A colorful mix of tropical plants including Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’, Canna ‘Lemon Punch’, Canna ‘Cleopatra’, Colocasia ‘Black Coral’, Colocasia esculenta ‘Elena’, Cyperus papyrus ‘Dwarf Form’ (compact giant papyrus) and Asclepias curassavica (tropical milkweed) are surrounded by floating leaved Ludwigia sedioides (mosaic plant) in this pond. Floating water lettuce (Pistia stratioites) and Lysimachia nummularia ‘Aurea’ (golden creeping Jenny) complete this small stand-alone feature, giving you a taste of the aquatic displays to come.

Ellipse Garden Pool: Strolling south from the Crossroads Garden, you will see Chihuly’s Colorado sculpture towering in the distance. A mix of hardy and tropical waterlilies and petite marginal plants such as Canna ‘Chiquita Punch’ and Colocasia esculenta ‘Black Magic’ are displayed in the small pond at the base of this piece, complementing the sunset shades of the glasswork. Mosaic plant (Ludwigia sedioides), a South American floating-leaved aquatic plant, also thrives in the warmth of this pool.

Romantic Gardens Pool: Continue west from the Ellipse garden and you will arrive at the Romantic Gardens, where a formal round pool displays a colorful array of “star waterlilies.” These tropical day-bloomers boast star-shaped flowers that are held high above the water’s surface. Hybrids displayed include Nymphaea 'Rhonda Kay', 'Carnea' (aka 'Orchid Star'), and 'Rhapsody in White'. Night-blooming water platters (Victoria ‘Longwood Hybrid’) highlight the center of this pond.

Four Towers Pond (east side): Directly west of the Romantic Gardens, the Four Towers pond abuts the Science Pyramid on two sides. Intersubgeneric hardy x tropical waterlilies are displayed at the east end of this pond. Once thought to be an impossible cross, multiple hybridizers have now successfully created these hybrids which boast purple or bright magenta flowers on winter-hardy plants.

Four Towers Pond (west side): Continuing around the Science Pyramid pond, a variety of marginal aquatic plants including Canna 'Blueberry Sparkler', Thalia geniculataCyperus prolifer and Hibiscus moscheutos hybrids can be found growing in the west side of the pond along with Australian waterlilies and Victoria ‘Longwood Hybrid’ plants.

Reflections pool: A display dedicated to taro (Colocasia esculenta and hybrids) can be found in the next small pond to the west of the Steppe Garden. These water-loving marginal plants are commonly grown for their starchy edible corms. Many hybrids have also been developed for ornamental use and have leaves that range from deep, glossy black to chartreuse with splashes of deep purple. A mixture of hardy and tropical waterlilies are also grown in this pool surrounding the stone sculpture titled Reflections.

Annuals Garden pools: Hardy and tropical waterlilies in the “Rocky Mountain Legacy Collection” are displayed in the next pond on our walking tour. This collection includes hybrids such as ‘Joey Tomocik’, ‘Colorado’, ‘Denver’s Delight’ and ‘Denver’ which were all tested for hardiness and performance in Denver’s unique climate and named by our former curator of aquatics. Marginal plants including White Rush (Schoenoplectus ‘Albescens’), Canna ‘Belinda’, Lobelia ‘Pacific Beauty’ and Hibiscus ‘Cherry Cheesecake’ also highlight these pools.

Monet Pool: Once you finish admiring the Annuals Garden and its ponds, stroll north until you reach Shady Lane. Head west on this path and you will come upon our largest display pond, Monet Pool. Victoria 'Longwood Hybrid' waterlilies encircle a large red-stemmed thalia in the center of the pond. A wide variety of hardy and tropical waterlilies and marginal plants including lotus (Nelumbo hybrids) are displayed in this pond as well.

Le Potager pool: We end our tour at the small pond connected to Monet Pool that sits in the middle of our Le Potager garden. Edible aquatic plants are displayed in this pool including lotus (Nelumbo), water chestnut (Eleocharis dulcis), gorgon plant (Euryale ferox), Santa Cruz waterlily (Victoria cruziana), ornamental rice (Oryza sativa ‘Black Madras’) and taro (Colocasia esculenta).

If you live in the area, be sure to drop by throughout August and September to watch our tropical waterlilies and water platters grow in size and reach peak bloom!


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