June Walking Tour – Plant Select Plants

June 1, 2023 Mike Bone , Associate Director and Curator of Steppe Collection

Plant Select is a unique program that brings plants to the consumer market that are good for the Colorado Front Range steppe environment. Plants from the Plant Select® program are integrated into many of the gardens and can be found throughout Denver Botanic Gardens.

  • As you enter the Gardens and make your way to the Crossroads Garden you will see some classics from Plant Select. In the beds leading to the main building you can see Delosperma spp., commonly known as ice plants. Ice plants are a hardy groundcover from southern Africa and grow well in Colorado. Over the years Plant Select has introduced and recommended more than a dozen selections and species of Delosperma. Also in the Crossroads is Epilobium canum ssp. garrettii ‘PWWG01S’, commonly known as ORANGE CARPET® California fuchsia. This plant stands a little taller than the ice plants but is still considered a ground cover. These plants are very sought after by hummingbirds. You can often find these energetic birds fighting over these plants and all the nectar they produce. 
  • Continue to the west down the main path and in the planters on the top of the ramp on each side you will see lovely specimens of Picea glauca ‘Pendula’. At the base is Oenothera macrocarpa ssp. incana SILVER BLADE®. This low water combination shows off the beauty of silver foliage and the Oenothera is a very prolific blooming plant. Flowers are a soft yellow and open in the late afternoon to evening. This feature is where it gets the common name silver evening primrose. Silver foliage on plants is often a protective feature some plants develop to survive in very high light conditions as well as a way to preserve water in the plant. 
  • Now continue on west through Roads Water-Smart Garden and keep going into Shady Lane. Planted along the Shady Lane in the southern beds are examples of Daphne × burkwoodii ‘Carol Mackie’. This variegated shrub looks great all year long and in protected locations like Shady Lane the plant will be evergreen. About this time of year, the plant will be covered with intensely fragrant white flowers. Plants that thrive in dry shade can be a challenge to find but this is one of the very best of them. 
  • Once you have taken in the fragrant blooms of Daphne, continue west to arrive at the Darlene Radichel Plant Select Garden. This garden is designed as a showcase for the Plant Select program. Here you will find almost every plant that Plant Select has introduced and recommended. There are plants from the very first year of introduction to plants that won’t be available to the public until the following growing season. This garden showcases the different ways you can use and display plants from this program.

Plant Select has brought to the market more than 175 unique plants and many of them are Colorado and regionally native plants. With long seasons of interest and the ability to thrive in Colorado’s steppe climate, these are the plants that can help you transform your landscape into a beautiful, diverse, pollinator-friendly oasis.

Please visit plantselect.org for more information on this program and where you can find the plants to purchase.


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