Plant Select® and Denver Botanic Gardens

May 24, 2019 Panayoti Kelaidis , Senior Curator & Director of Outreach

For most of the 22 years of Plant Select’s existence, nursery operators and staff from both Denver Botanic Gardens and Colorado State University have hosted an annual meeting to report on and celebrate achievements of this program. The initial impetus was to provide a forum for Colorado’s many demonstration gardens (now over 60). Meeting attendees would come to be educated about the program, study garden design and network. The program has become so popular that some members of the public now attend the annual meeting.   

This year Plant Select is welcoming participation at “Learning Landscapes” on June 11, 2019 at Denver Botanic Gardens. Guest speakers include:

  • David Salman of High Country Gardens will discuss attracting birds and essential insects to home landscapes.
  • Scott Denning, Monfort Professor of Atmospheric Science at Colorado State University, will address climate change in the garden.
  • John Fielder, renowned photographer, will present on “Colorado Then, Now & 2040: Warming, Water & Wisdom.”

Most members of Denver Botanic Gardens realize that Plant Select is related to the Gardens but sometimes don’t know what that means. The nature of the collaboration between the Gardens, Colorado State University and the Green Industry operates on several levels within the program. The Board that manages Plant Select (those who hire and monitor the executive director) include two people from each of the three entities.

The collaboration goes far beyond that, however. A great many of the plants that have been selected and promoted by Plant Select originated in Denver Botanic Gardens’ collections. Staff from both the Gardens and Colorado State University spend years planting, observing and taking copious notes on the performance of plants proposed for the program, and a small army of workers from the Green Industry joins in the vetting of potential plants.

At one time a survey showed that it took an average of 19 years for a plant to be released to sales from Plant Select from the time it was first grown at the Gardens. This rigorous process is subsidized by Plant Select funds, which pays for the salaries of staff at both CSU and the Gardens to work on the program.

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