June 3, 2019 | Nick Daniel, Horticulture Specialist, Cactus & Succulent Collection

As the soils warm and spring begins to transition into summer, the cacti and succulents begin to take over the show for a while. These succulent gems are found throughout the grounds of Denver Botanic Gardens and are a key part of many of our displays. Too often, their short-lived floral displays are overlooked as other plants are coming into flower, but this should not be the case!

As you enter the Gardens, you will come to the Roads Water-Smart Garden. Notice the prickly pears, agaves, and various other cacti with their unique forms, textures, and flowers complementing and contrasting with the rest of the plant life in the garden. After strolling through the Water-Smart Garden, go to the Steppe Garden.

In the Steppe Garden is a dramatic display of ice plants in as many colors as you can think. Two ice plants of note are Delosperma ‘PJS01S’ GRANITA® Raspberry and Delosperma ‘PJS02S' GRANITA® Orange, two newer introductions through the Plant Select® program. After being stunned by the neon flowers of the ice plants, head west down Shady Lane to the Nexus Berm.

The Nexus Berm is at the west end of the greenhouse complex and has been re-designed with loads of succulents and other water saving plants to take advantage of the inhospitably hot west-facing slope. Featured here, are the WALK IN BEAUTYTM Opuntia hybrids created by local horticulture legend, Kelly Grummons. The flower colors on these plants, as well as their ability to re-bloom, set them apart from all other prickly pear cacti in the trade. This is a good area to see the variability of forms, sizes, and flowers that hardy succulents bring to the garden.

From the Nexus Berm, follow the walkway southwest around the Monet Pond to Dryland Mesa. Dryland Mesa is never watered beyond what falls naturally. Keep this in mind as you enjoy the large chollas, many various prickly pears, and a plethora of other hardy succulents. The Yucca faxoniana on the southwest corner of Dryland Mesa is truly a sight to see.

After Dryland Mesa, stroll through the rest of our beautiful gardens and find cacti and succulents that appeal to you… they are tucked in all over. Keep our examples in mind as you design your own water-saving succulent themed gardens. Thanks for visiting!

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