Yesterday, I spent a few hours at the Denver Botanical Gardens – until thunder, lightning, and dark clouds told me it was time to be on the highway again.
I’m something of a fan of botanical gardens, and there are some features that seem to be common to all of them. Denver’s large indoor collection of tropical plants has three levels. The visitor enters on the lowest, and ascends a gentle slope to see many of the plants from the middle level. A staircase or elevator leads to an upper balcony – and the discovery that many of the plants actually DO have blossoms, just high up where humans would not usually see them.
The number of waterways, pools, and other water features is noticeable, and in sharp contrast to the arid conditions surrounding Denver – perhaps that’s why the Botanical Gardens designed so many. They contain an amazing variety of water lilies – different in size, color, and shape. The simple purity of this one struck me with its beauty.
One of the paths at the Denver Botanical Gardens used a technique called “forced perspective” that was new to me. It looked for all the world like a long path with flower beds on either side, and hedges behind the flower beds. However, the hedges were carefully trimmed so that they were subtly shorter at the far end than at the near end – and the flower beds were slightly narrower at that end. The effect was to make the entire garden seem longer than it really was – the narrower flower beds and lower hedges giving the appearance of being quite distant. A sign explained the phenomenon, and walking the path was convincing. (Of course, from the other end, it works in reverse.)
The Botanical Gardens also include a display of drought-resistant and low-water plants, including many yucca and agave plants. They have a dustier green to them, with a few outbursts of vibrant color.
One feature that I have not seen in many botanical gardens was the provision of many benches, covered pavilions, and secluded spaces for visitors to simply sit and enjoy the scenery. In fact, the Monet Deck includes a small cafe with tasty sandwiches and and a shady eating area overlooking ponds and flower beds. My veggie panini was reasonably priced and tasty, and it was a beautiful and peaceful way to enjoy a break.
If, at least in the summer, a visit to the Botanical Gardens is certainly well worth your effort.