Visit to Denver Botanic Gardens: Plains Garden, Rock Alpine Garden & Dryland Mesa

The more naturalistic, dryland gardens were my favorite parts of Denver Botanic Gardens, which I visited earlier this month. By naturalistic I don’t mean, of course, that these gardens are any less designed. They are beautifully designed, and the high-country plants growing in them sparkled in the intense sunlight that day.

I like the blue and blue-green plants threaded through this prairie-style garden. The purple coneflowers and golden-tipped grasses look so pretty growing among them.

A gravel path winds through mounded garden beds, enticing you around the next “bend in the road.”

Boulders emerge from the bermed beds along the path edge, and verbascum spires were standing tall here and there.

Wonderful rock work—it looks so natural.

This thin-leaved blue beauty is bluestem joint fir (Ephedra equisitina). My thanks to David Cristiani for the ID.

It was festooned with cascades of red berries.

Thistle, I think, not Eryngium.

Speaking of spiky plants, I spotted this beautiful agave vignette along one of the paths. Wonderful filaments on the leaves.

This agave had recently bloomed and, as agaves do, died afterward. Its bleached flower spike still stands, framed by the Arizona cypresses behind it.

In the alpine garden, I admired these tiny but tough succulents growing in a crack in a large boulder.

Here’s a crevice garden in progress. I’d like to see it again in a year or two.

Sunflowers, so intensely colored in the mile-high garden.

A ramada offers a shady spot to rest and enjoy the garden and that bright-blue Colorado sky.

Tune in tomorrow for DBG’s inspiring Water-Smart Garden. For a look back at DBG’s Romantic Garden, click here.

All material © 2006-2012 by Pam Penick for Digging. Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.

7 Responses

  1. Thanks again, including the link. It’s amazing what’s packed into that small-area, urban botanic garden. I am still surprised I see so little of it influencing the large-scale to smaller-scale landscapes in the Denver metro. I like that you always capture the spiky side of it there, like that very lush, full agave, or the new rock garden. Great stuff.

    You know that I’m into spiky, David. Those sculptural plants are just so darn photogenic that sometimes they hog the spotlight. But this garden had a lovely mix of soft and spiky, which is why I enjoyed it so much. —Pam

  2. Beautiful mountains and gardens. What a great trip.

    I think this part of DBG is my favorite, too.

    Thanks for the tours.

    I have two more posts, Linda, and the next one has a xeric garden that I liked even better than the ones in today’s post. I just wish I’d taken more pictures of it! It was on the way out, and the family was tired, hot, and hungry. —Pam

  3. Lisa at Greenbow says:


  4. Greggo says:

    I understand about family being hot and hungry. It seems it’s better with the boys grown and it just me and the misses. But…Cindy still gets tired of waiting. lol. The new rock garden looks interesting, I’ve seen some new landscapes with those rock forms laid horizontal.

  5. Les says:

    My favorite part as well, probably because it is so different from what I normally see.

  6. Scott Weber says:

    Gorgeous…love it, all of it…thanks so much for this virtual tour, Pam!

  7. I’m in a very hot dry area of Canada and grow many of the same plants. Of course you have many more choices of which I wish we had for more variety,