Visit to Denver Botanic Gardens: Water-Smart Garden, Wildflower Treasures & more


It seems kind of stay-at-home-ish to admit that my absolute favorite garden at Denver Botanic Gardens, which I visited earlier this month, is the one that looks almost like it could be in central Texas—with the addition of conifers and an intensity of color that we rarely achieve in the more-humid low country. But it was. The Water-Smart Garden, located along a glass house that we didn’t have time to visit, photographed in a hurry as my family tugged at me to leave, complaining of empty bellies (it was lunchtime), is a long, narrow strip of drought-tolerant plants arranged with an eye for contrasting textures, color, and grassy movement.


The long strip is gently mounded, so the plants “flow” down the slope toward the viewer.


Agave and lavender do a cool-blue color echo, with the dark-green pine in there for contrast.


A very blue Eryngium—love!


A wider view. Berming the bed adds a lot to the beauty and enjoyment of this garden—you can see everything easily.


Other garden areas contained beautiful plants too, of course.


These grasses, yuccas, and flowering perennials were in a garden near the entry, I believe.


Red yucca (Hesperaloe parviflora) was in full bloom.


An open, patio-style garden called Wildflower Treasures (I think) contained flowering groundcovers, hypertufa troughs, and a geometric bamboo sculpture, backed by beautiful Colorado evergreens.


This hot combo was labeled as Californian firecracker plant (Dichelostemma ida maia) and sulphur-flower buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum).


Close-up of the buckwheat


Another look at the geometric bamboo sculpture, which is anchored in a pond.


These boat-like bamboo sculptures were floating in another pond. They were my favorites.


Pretty blue pots with cactus, aloes, and other assorted tender plants


‘Zwartkop’ aeonium, I think, backed by chartreuse sweet potato vine


There was even a kitchen garden…


…with evidence of a gardener recently at work.


I hope you enjoyed my posts about Denver Botanic Gardens all this week. DBG is packed with beautiful gardens, and our 4-hour visit was not sufficient to see everything. I’ll definitely have to plan a return visit.

For a look back at my post about DBG’s Plains Garden, Rock Alpine Garden & Dryland Mesa, click here. You’ll find additional links at the end of each post.

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

6 Responses

  1. louis says:

    Beautiful!!! I think this is the Eryngium year. I see them everywhere right now. Maybe they are talking to me… “Plant us!!” I particularly like the agave and lavender combo. I think I will have to keep a mental not of that. I often take lavenders for granted. They smell soo darn good and are good rocks so to speak in the garden – especially if you are like me and tend to be a zone pusher. Lavender provide good bones and exude a great deal of warmth despite their cool blue tones. Wonderful!

    Lucky you to be able to grow lavender, Louis. It just doesn’t tend to do well in Austin—I suppose it’s the humidity, or maybe the nighttime temps that don’t really cool in the summer. Lavender does look great with agave, doesn’t it? But that Eryngium really steals the show. —Pam

  2. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    You bet I enjoyed each and every post of your tour. I really am amazed at all the bamboo sculptures. They could give a person ideas especially if a person had some bamboo growing in their garden. I don’t but I have neighbors that cut back their bamboo most years and put it out for the city to collect. Hmmmmmmmmm

    Making bamboo sculptures like these could sure keep you busy—they were monumental. Bamboo is one of those crazy-useful plants, it seems—good for flooring, food, garden structures, and art, and yes, even growing in the garden. —Pam

  3. Love that buckwheat – how pretty! I wonder if that is the edible kind? I have a feeling you loved those electric blue pots, eh? I can see those in your garden for sure!!!! Have a great weekend Pam, thanks for the escape this week to the cooler temperatures (if only in my mind) of the rockies.

    I’m glad you enjoyed the tour, Heather. It was 100 F the day we visited DBG, but yes, once we escaped up into the Rockies it was delightfully cool for summer. I’m ready to go back! —Pam

  4. Enjoyed the tour and especially seeing the combinations used in the gardens. The bamboo sculptures were a nice focal point in a very different setting. The same plants we have but blooming several months later is interesting to see also.

    I thought so too, Shirley. I’m glad you enjoyed the pics. —Pam

  5. Scott Weber says:

    I don’t think it’s stay-at-homish at all, Pam! I think you just know what you like…and I think we all naturally will gravitate towards what we like, in general :-) These gardens are wonderful…the color of those Eryngiums…and the wonderful, lovely grasses…sigh!

    Perhaps you’re right, Scott. I guess it’s good that I live where I do, since I like the kinds of gardens we can make. Although I always fantasize about gardening in your region, the lush Pacific NW. —Pam

  6. I think these posts from Denver have been fabulous. Love the purples and the grasses!! I just bought three Red Yuccas, they do well here. I look forward to them blooming next year!

    Thanks, Janet! I’m glad you enjoyed the series. Did you get the new ‘Brakelight’ red yucca? —Pam

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