November Walking Tour – Solitude on a Snowy Day

November 3, 2021 Holly G. Haynes , Plant Mapping Coordinator

Years ago, the Chihuly exhibition brought us crowds and ever since visitation has increased. Summer days at Denver Botanic Gardens are especially busy! Our sidewalks are full of wide-eyed children following butterflies from bloom to bloom, college students on educational tours and a vast array of adults exploring our grounds. Many visitors have fallen in love with the Gardens – fallen in love with connecting to nature.

Although I love seeing the crowds and the enthusiasm visitors have for the Gardens, visiting on a snowy autumn day brings a quieter visit and a slower pace. There is a hush that falls over the Gardens. Combine this with Colorado sunshine and it makes for the perfect day to take a stroll and discover aspects of the various gardens you might not have noticed before.

  • Begin this tour at the Roads Water-Smart Garden. This beautiful garden is on the main path as you round the corner from the Visitor Center and pass the Crossroads Garden pedestal. Here you will see stunning patterns of Parry’s agave (Agave parryi), fascinating textures of the yuccas (Yucca spp.) and maybe the remnants of the gorgeous colors of the sages (Salvia cultivars). Patterns, textures and colors are what a garden gives us, but a snowy day in fall has a way of highlighting these aesthetic qualities and putting them on full display.
  • If you continue west, you will find the Grant Family Cottonwood Border just to the south. This garden represents our plains ecosystem, which existed here before Denver came to be. As you take in this plains “painting” full of seedhead pom-poms of the pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida) and observe the movement of the grasses, like little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium), you begin to see the beauty of this lovely ecosystem.
  • Now, head back to the main path and walk down to Monet Pool. This is a spot to sit and enjoy the reflection of the snow-covered Blossoms of Light display in the water and to soak up views of surrounding gardens. Looking west, the pool has a gorgeous backdrop of evergreen trees (Pinus, Picea, and Abies) and, looking east you will see the impressive architecture of a 1972 planting of Pinus nigra (Austrian pine) and another lovely spot to sit--the Victorian Secret Garden gazebo.
  • After leaving this area, head west toward Dryland Mesa. With the Laura Smith Porter Plains Garden to your west and Dryland Mesa to your east, this path is surrounded by many textures, patterns and colors. Be sure to check out the Berberis fremontii (Fremont barberry) and Ephedra viridis (green ephedra) in Dryland Mesa as they are beautiful when covered in snow.
  • It’s possible you have had your fill of beautiful grasses and wonderful patterns. End your journey by wandering over to the Fragrance Garden green. I could stand here looking at the snow falling for an hour. The green is bookended by American arborvitae (Thuja occidentalis ‘Yellow Ribbon’), and staring down this corridor, it becomes obvious why this collection of gardens is called the Romantic Gardens. To me, it is truly breathtaking.

Here’s to hoping for tranquil snowfall, a slower pace, and a restful fall.


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