December Walking Tour – Winter Displays
Scattered about the Gardens are winter displays that celebrate our passion for plants. Many are in homage to summer beds; others showcase the changing textures and colors of fall. All speak to our love of plants in all their stages – and test the limits of displaying dried plants outdoors.
In keeping with our mission to be sustainable, the displays are 99 percent compostable. We only use air-dried and fresh plant material, or cuttings soaked in vegetable glycerin. The wire used in wreaths is reused, as are the armatures and foraged pinecones.
- We begin the tour before we cross York Street from the parking garage. By the crosswalk, garlands of Limonium binervosum (rock sea lavender), Seseli gummiferum (moon carrot) and Dipsacus laciniatus (dyed with Aronia berries) ring the insides of pots and seed heads of Allium schubertii (ornamental onion) rise on bamboo poles.
- Crossing the street to the left, a giant nest hovers above a container on bamboo stilts. The nest is woven from Salix matsudana ‘Snake’ and trimmed with dried flowers. Inside, a family of bottle gourd birds nestles in a bed of Miscanthus sinensis and Eupatorium capillifolium ‘Elegant Feather’.
- Straight ahead at the Bonfils-Stanton Visitor Center entrance, towers of maple branches are adorned with giant blooms built to resist the wettest snow. The petals are the fibrous pods of Asclepias speciosa (showy milkweed) and the centers, Echinacea (coneflower) seed heads. Encircling the towers are clouds of dried Limonium latifolium (sea lavender).
- Entering the Gardens, turn left into the Welcome Garden and upstairs to a bear made of alder twigs. The twigs are woven around a topiary and the eyes painted on slices of branch. In the left paw is a bamboo wand topped with an allium seed head.
- Ahead at the gate to the Secret Passage hangs a wreath wired with dried flowers and pods – Tanacetum vulgare, Dahlia ‘Summit Festival’ and Nigella ‘Albion Black Pod’ (love-in-a-mist) hint at the intensifying colors of the dogwoods and willows inside.
- Take the winding path past willow cages and birch nests and enter the Romantic Gardens where grand bouquets of Sorghum bicolor (broom corn), Hydrangea and more fill out pots. Each year the Garden Club of Denver descends like a flock of birds and decorates a dozen containers.
- Next head to Woodland Mosaic where dried plants are mixed with fresh. Taupe wands of Miscanthus rise from pots and create the backdrop for fresh clusters of red roses, as dried flowers of Hydrangea and Sedum cascade below freshly cut Berberis aquifolium (Oregon grape).
- Then on to South African Plaza to see evergreens mixed with generous bunches of Salix geyeriana (Geyer’s willow) and Salix monticola (mountain willow), their tawny bark seeming to glow even on grey days. Foraged cones fill a pot between them and pansies bloom in the reflective warmth of a concrete wall.
- Head north to the Victorian Secret Garden, where a spiraling Juniperus chinensis ‘Spartan’ rises at the entry. Inside the gazebo, a fountain of Sorghum bicolor rises above a pot and palm fronds and Symphoricarpos (snowberry) berries encircle a container of branches pierced with clear globes.
- Then it’s on to the entrance of Marnie’s Pavilion, where a container display glows tan and rose. Stalks of Eremurus (foxtail lily), Miscanthus and more rise above shifting shades of Celosia argentea var. cristata ‘Tornado Red’. Creamy balls of Hydrangea arborescens ‘Annabelle’ add pop and tresses of Amaranthus caudatus tumble over the pot’s edge.
- The last stop is past the Crossroads Garden along the benches. There, advent wreaths made of Cornus sericea ‘Baileyi’ float on bamboo poles. Each wreath is adorned with willow “candle sticks” and Lunaria annua (money plant) “flames.” Tucked into the wreaths are dried Nymphaea (water lily) blooms, Nelumbo nucifera (lotus) seed heads, and Bupleurum flowers.
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