January Walking Tour – Plenty to See in the "Dead" of Winter
By Nick Snakenberg, Curator of Tropical Collections and Associate Director of Horticulture
Denver Botanic Gardens’ horticulture staff are frequently asked "What is there to see in winter?" The answer is "Plenty"! In addition to the bountiful winter-interest of dormant plants, persistent berries and coniferous cones and needles, there are also numerous indoor spaces to explore to satisfy your plant fix.
Immediately inside the lobby of the Boettcher Memorial Center you will find a beautifully designed planter filled with a variety of foliage plants. This space is a very low-light environment and can be a challenge for the horticulture team, but it also provides inspiration and ideas for visitors who struggle with similar low-light conditions in their own homes. Check back frequently to view new accent plants added for extra color.
At the west end of the Boettcher Memorial Center lobby, you will find the entrance to our largest indoor plant display – The Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory. Home to hundreds of plants, this space highlights tropical plants from around the world. Palms and bananas stretch to the ceiling while species philodendrons, anthuriums and other tropical wonders fill the understory. There is always something in bloom so come back often to observe how the space evolves through the year.
At the west end of the Tropical Conservatory, you will enter Marnie’s Pavilion. Here you will find more tropical plants surrounding a dramatic waterfall and stream. This space is accented with orchids and bromeliads rotated into the space from our behind-the-scenes collection greenhouses. A new addition to this space is a terrarium filled with many forms of butterwort (Pinguicula spp.), a group of carnivorous plants that trap insects on their sticky leaves. More carnivorous plants can be seen on display in cases just as you enter the Orangery.
From January 12 to February 20, the Orangery will be filled with blooming orchids. This year’s Orchid Showcase highlights not only the diversity of the orchid family, but also the diversity of the people involved in orchid research and cultivation. January is also a wonderful time to enjoy the fragrance of the blooming citrus trees.
Don’t forget to visit the Cactus and Succulent House in the southwest corner of the Gardens. Hundreds of plant specimens are on display in this cozy space.
In addition to the numerous plant displays, you can also visit the art galleries in the Freyer – Newman Center (included with admission) and before you leave, stop by the Helen Fowler Library (free admission to the library for members and the general public) to check out a book or two so you can continue your plant exploration at home.