July Walking Tour – Chasing the Shade
By Cindy Newlander, Associate Director of Horticulture (Plant Records)
The heat of June could be eclipsed by even more oven-like temperatures in July. But the Gardens will still beckon your visit. This month’s tour will help you find the coolest spots to hang out while enjoying some of July’s highlights in the Gardens. These shady spots feature benches where you can enjoy surrounding gardens, little known vistas and even a waterfall.
- Shady Lane – shade is in the name! This main path that runs from east to west when entering the Gardens can be found just beyond the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory’s dome and the entry plaza to Marnie’s Pavilion. Along the wide walkway lined with mature crabapples on the south side and younger ones to the north, look for secondary paths with benches. Here you can be bathed in shade by the Austrian pines (Pinus nigra) behind you and the many varieties of fruiting crabapples in front, all while you sneak views of the perennials on the sunny side of the walkway and the Orangery plantings beyond. Several brightly colored lilies (Lilium cultivars) can be seen blooming in July.
- The next oasis is nestled in the back of Oak Grove. Follow the mulch path from the rounded patio area and you will find several benches and chairs in the proximity of two spectacular trees: the fernleaf European beech (Fagus sylvatica var. heterophylla ‘Aspleniifolia’) and the Colorado state champion bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum). The grey trunks of beech trees always remind me of an elephant’s stout leg, and the lacy leaves of this cultivar are likewise charming. The maple, tied for the largest of its kind in Colorado, is also a native tree species in Colorado.
- Next head toward the western edge of the Gardens, perhaps first grabbing a cold drink at the Hive Garden Bistro or taking in the beauty of the brightly colored waterlilies in the Monet Pool along the way. The Gates Montane Garden is always a favorite place to visit on a hot day as nearly the entire walkway is cast in shadow throughout the long days of early summer. This was the first garden established after the founding of the Gardens in its present-day location at York Street. Ponderosa pines and aspens are just some of the trees you can see in this native centric garden focused on Colorado’s montane environment. Benches along the main path offer respite, but for more adventurous visitors, the uphill loop on the east will bring you to a bench where you can hear rushing water and glimpse a waterfall that plunges to the pond below, as well as take in beautiful views of the Laura Smith Porter Plains Garden as the swaths of native grasses are hitting their stride in summer.
- More shady spots can be found along the southern boundary of the Gardens. The first one you’ll encounter is a curved wooden bench on the west side of the moongate entry into June’s PlantAsia. Sitting under a majestic Kentucky coffee tree (Gymnocladus dioicus) during a morning visit, you’ll be able to view the multiple colors of daylilies blooming in the Ann Montague Iris and Daylily Garden while staying in the shadows. Walk through the moongate and around the southern path of PlantAsia’s steppe-inspired area and you’ll find some stone steps leading to a mysterious chapel-like passage of bamboo with a bench tucked just in the right spot to enjoy cool breezes that slip through the green and golden leafy poles.
- The next garden east of PlantAsia is Woodland Mosaic. As the name suggests, you will find several shady spots to linger under the trees here. A rounded metal seating area overlooks a grand swamp white oak (Quercus bicolor) as well as the solarium, which also has seating near it as well as on the deck to the south.
Hopefully these tips will help you find a new enchanting spot to cool off during your next summertime visit to the Gardens. Do you have a different favorite shady spot?