January Walking Tour – Welcome. Please Come In.
Come for the plants, stay for the science, art, education, library, films, food and drinks! Plants touch all our lives without us even noticing, and as winter sets in, you can reconnect to nature through different avenues. Where should you begin? I suggest entering through the Freyer – Newman Center for Science, Art and Education, north of the Gardens’ main entrance on York Street. No admission is required to access the first floor, which includes the Helen Fowler Library and Copper Door Coffee Shop.
- As you enter the building, you will pass our state-of-the-art classrooms for the School of Botanical Art & Illustration. The school offers something for everyone, from those exploring art to the serious artist, and has classes online and in person. This is a beautiful way to connect to nature and improve your drawing skills, as well as increase your plant knowledge at the same time.
- After you have checked in at the visitor services desk, you will see our Natural History Collections behind the glass wall. Housed here are the Kathryn Kalmbach Herbarium of Vascular Plants, Sam Mitchel Herbarium of Fungi, and the Collection of Arthropods (DBGA). From Southern Rocky Mountain Region plants and mushrooms to insects and spiders found within the Gardens, we have it all. All three collections can be explored online or, even better, email firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a tour.
- One of the hidden gems of the Gardens, located next door to the Natural History Collections, is the Helen Fowler Library. Here, members can check out books. Members and non-members can do a little research or get some gardening questions answered by a Colorado Master Gardener (check our website for Gardening Help Colorado Master Gardener hours). In need of a Sensory Processing and Autism Resource Kit (S.P.A.R.K.) to use while exploring the York Street Gardens? Check one out for free at the library! These backpack kits were designed and created by the Autism Community Store in partnership with the Autism Society of Colorado.
- If you paid for admission, it’s time to head upstairs to explore our current exhibitions in the art galleries. Many visitors have come for premier art exhibitions featuring the likes of Henry Moore, but the Gardens’ exhibits team is always pushing the boundaries, inviting us to stretch our imaginations on the fusion of art and nature. The galleries offer a more intimate venue for viewing botanical illustrations, paintings, photography, sculptures and installations.
- Ready to sit for a bit? The Center houses the Sturm Family Auditorium where, on most days, you can watch a documentary produced by Denver Botanic Films (established in 2021) to create another powerful bridge between people and plants. Currently running is “Amache Rose.” This 29-minute film tells the story of a high desert rose grown by a prisoner of The Granada Relocation Center, or Camp Amache, an incarceration site in southeastern Colorado that unjustly imprisoned Japanese Americans from 1942-1945.
- By now, you might be a little thirsty or hungry and the Gardens has just the solution. Cross the Freyer – Newman Center bridge and head to Offshoots Café. There are delicious offerings for breakfast and lunch. If you just need a drink and snack, they have you covered as well.
- If you are feeling refreshed and have more time, you can explore our indoor gardens. The Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory (dedicated in 1966) offers a warm retreat. You can leave the Tropical Conservatory and walk through Marnie’s Pavilion (with its gorgeous orchids, ferns and other tropical plants) on your way to the Orangery. Evocative of Renaissance European greenhouses, here you can take the time to read a book among a lush display of citrus trees and rotating plant displays.
As winter progresses, come for a visit. The Gardens will have a new film premiering in February and the art galleries will always have pieces to uplift or provoke. The herbaria and library will be waiting for you. So, come inside and stay awhile.
Photos by Holly G. Haynes