Landscaping Ideas from the Denver Botanic Garden
Get garden design advice from the experts at the Denver Botanic Garden.
Photos courtesy Scott Dressel-Martin
Put in Good Paths
Any time is perfect for visiting the Denver Botanic Garden. Located just 10 minutes from downtown, the garden features a seemingly endless array of plants and display gardens, many of which feature waterwise and high-altitude plant selections.
Include Flowering Trees
Many of the pathways at the garden are paved in gravel, a readily available and often inexpensive material for use in home gardens, too. Additionally, gravel makes an excellent weed-smothering mulch for dry-loving plants because the material doesn't hold moisture.
Consider a Rock Garden
Few plants add the kind of bold impact to the landscape as a flowering tree in full bloom. This redbud, for example, is a definite scene-stealer. There are beautiful flowering trees that adapt to almost any climate.
Add Vertical Interest
Rock gardens make an excellent choice for gardeners who want low-maintenance color while maintaining a natural style. And you'll see an array of beautiful rock garden plants at the garden, including the pink armerias and yellow Calylophus.
Choose Attractive Edging
Be sure to include a few plants with vertical growth to add interest to the landscape. In the section of the garden shown here, upright salvias, penstemons, and verbascum, along with spiky yucca foliage, contrast beautifully with the myriad of mounding plants.
Landscape with Containers
Good-looking edging gives the garden a clean, professional appearance. Here, for example, wattle edging separates a border from a pathway -- and plays an artistic role as it divides the border into different sections.
Light It Right
Many gardeners limit their use of containers to decks, patios, and stairways. But containers function fantastically in the landscape, too. Because they're portable, you can move them to different sections of the yard to act as focal points or accent plants or hardscape features.
Use landscape lighting to make your garden more attractive and accessible after dark. Low-voltage systems may be easier to install than you think, and solar lights are incredibly simple to use.
Grow Old-Fashioned Favorites
You'll see a variety of wonderful groundcovers at the Denver Botanic Garden. In this photo, sweet woodruff, a fast-spreading plant with fragrant white flowers in spring, creates a delightful carpet under a canopy of oak trees.
Find the Right Plants for Your Area
Botanical gardens are a great place to see new varieties. But also keep an eye out for old-fashioned favorites that have a proven track record in your area. California poppy, for example, is often underused in gardens even though it blooms profusely and is delightfully drought tolerant.
Tuck Plants in Unexpected Places
Your local botanical garden is the perfect place to find plants adapted to your climate. Magnolia lovers in the Colorado area, for example, will discover varieties such as this star magnolia, which offers exceptional hardiness.
Grow Pest-Resistant Varieties
Adding a ring of mulch around your trees makes mowing easier (because you won't have to edge) and keeps trees healthier (because you won't injure the bark while edging, and you reduce competition for water and nutrients from grass). It also gives you a place to plant spring-blooming bulbs or small perennials that don't spread much.
Enjoy Subtle Beauties
Just like you, most botanical gardens have trouble keeping deer, rabbits, and other critters out. So the gardens are a perfect place to discover varieties, such as these alliums, that pests pass by.
Make Magical Combinations
You'll discover many plants that put on a big, bold, dramatic show at the Denver Botanic Garden. But watch for smaller, more subtle beauties such as these anemones. Though their blooms are only the size of a half dollar, they're full of charm.
Walk through the garden and you're sure to find many examples of great plant combinations that are easy to translate into your home garden. For example, forsythias and golden daffodils mix together to get spring off to beautiful start.