Colorado holds a lot of amazing treasures, especially when it comes to natural wonders. Many tourist spots and experiences you will discover throughout the state are nationally ranked treasures. From the amazing parks, hikes and natural wonders to the nightlife, breweries, wineries, zoos, charming towns and incredible street art- Colorado has something special and amazing for absolutely everyone to enjoy. I’m still amazed over the incredible variety of activities and places to enjoy all over the state. The Springs, where I live, itself holds so many fun surprises and diverse experiences you can have, something for everyone to enjoy and fall in love with. But this is not just found in Colorado Springs- the WHOLE state is a treasure trove full of adventures, places to explore and experiences to enjoy no matter who you are or what you love.
That brings me to yet ANOTHER treasure that Colorado holds within the city of Denver, nationally ranked and esteemed Denver Botanic Gardens. Growing up on the East coast in New Jersey, we frequented the famous Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania. Visiting gardens like this, I’ve developed a huge affinity and love of public gardens. My mom has always put a lot of love into maintaining a gorgeous garden at our home. So, yes, I LOVE flowers. The colors, the shapes… love them. Visiting a garden, makes my heart very happy and lifts my spirit to a higher place. I’ve visited public gardens all over the world, and this particular one in Denver definitely does not disappoint in any way. I’ve visited this place many times and I’m still falling in love.
Like many public gardens, Denver’s is split into several different “theme” gardens. Each celebrates the flora and fauna locally and throughout the world. Once again, lots of variety and diversity! To enjoy your more local flora and fauna, they have the section called Gardens of the West. Here you’ll enjoy the quintessential “Colorado gardens”. But it’s not just all cacti, you’ll see a wide array of flowers and vibrant colors! Within the Gardens of the West there are several “mini gardens” we’ll call them. I will not get into every single one, that would become a novel here and who has time to read all that? I’ll discuss my favorites. Before you even walk into the Gardens, when you’re still outside the building, there’s a beautiful display, just in case you weren’t sure what was the behind the gates! So even if you just happen to be walking by, you get a gorgeous display to admire. Now you’re waiting in line to get your ticket scanned and you come upon the Welcome Garden! The first little “teaser” before you are fully immersed into this heavenly botanic playground. It’s like a beautiful prologue to the gardens, showing you a little bit of what you’re about to enjoy. From what I see, I’m so excited to see more! Other Colorado highlight gardens, for me, are the Water-Smart Gardens with drought-resistant and arid-climate plants. That may sound very brown and dull when you use the word “arid” but make no mistake there’s lots of pops of incredible color to be enjoyed! There’s also the Sacred Earth garden, which is a tribute to the local Native American tribes throughout the Southwest, highlighting the plants that were most special and sacred to them. I found this one very moving and spiritual in nature. If you prefer a woodsier vibe or need a break from the sun, the Ponderosa Border is a great place to sit on a bench enjoying the trees, the shade and the wildflowers. Birds and little woodland creatures flying and scurrying around, I’m just waiting for Snow White to pop out at any moment with a posse of creatures. My other 2 highlights were the Conservation Gardens (because I love the juxtaposition of rocks with vibrant-colored flowers) and the Radichel Plant Select Garden, which I enjoy because it’s right by this beautiful water structure you can relax by and take in the floral views! But listen, all the gardens to celebrate the West are fantastic, those were just my personal faves!
The Denver Botanic Gardens also celebrates the flora and fauna found throughout the world, with the International Gardens! Just like Disney’s EPCOT allows you to travel and experience the world in a very small way, so do these series of gardens! The Japanese Garden is truly spectacular. From the architectural structures, the bridges and the tea house- it’s a place I can hang out in all day to enjoy. They did a fabulous job with these gardens. But you can also “visit” other regions of Asia through June’s PlantAsia Garden and the Steppe Garden. You just went from Japan to Pakistan! Don’t stop there! Let’s go to Africa next, the South African Plaza has a lot of great bursts of colors, I love those pinks and purples popping out on the hills. If you prefer more tropical plants, though, then Marnie’s Pavillion and the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Garden are the ticket for you. Both are indoor garden exhibits. If you’re like me, and you long for an Alpine type of adventure (Switzerland, I love you!) then the Alpine Gardens are a great place to explore. As someone who loves visiting Switzerland, I was really impressed with these gardens and I felt like I was back on vacation in the Alps. They utilize rock gardening, meaning those flowers are somehow thriving amongst a rocky landscape. Nature is amazing!
Then you have the Ornamental Gardens, these are incredibly unique! The Montague Iris and Daylily Garden is a spring garden wonderland! It holds spring bulbs and perennials so your best time to visit is, you guessed it, spring to mid-summer. I was having serious Jane Austen novel vibes here; I was Elizabeth Bennet for a second walking around. The Annuals Garden & Pavillion is also a great happy place to sit and enjoy. I sat here for quite a while just pondering the beauty of life. The Fragrance Garden is great to check out for all you people who love to stop and, literally, smell the roses. For me with allergies, I just enjoy looking and admiring. This garden leads you to a pool filled with waterlilies, so it definitely has a fairy tale vibe to it, a very romantic place to be. And it actually is nearby the Romantic Gardens, which has gorgeous gazebos that I really contemplated moving into for a second, I always wanted a tiny home! For all my lovers of Victorian culture, there’s the Victorian Gardens- love this garden so much. This is that classic Secret Garden vibe, it’s like you’re transported into the classic children’s story here. And there’s just gorgeous Victorian architectural design all around as well. I’m a huge admirer of when a garden can combine romantic, gothic, Victorian or intricate architecture with the gardens, it really transports you to another whimsical place and time period. This is very well-done throughout the Botanic Gardens and you see it many different places. Another example of this harmony of gothic, romantic architecture with flora and fauna is the Scripture Garden. With the beautifully aged statues and pillars with vines growing around them, it feels like a scene I remember in Jane Eyre or any other romantic or gothic novel I’ve read. It spoke to my heart. You also enjoy this at the Schlessman Plaza.
The Lilac Garden is like a little slice of heaven on earth, the purple creates such a serene atmosphere and there’s benches to just sit down on and meditate amongst the lilac, it’s great. For a classic garden feel, the Cutting Garden is a great place, it just reminds you of that backyard garden at grandma’s or mom’s house, it brings me back to my childhood memories. The Rose Gardens and Orangery are also fantastic, lots of great color, lots of places to sit and enjoy. If you’re an artist, the ornamental gardens are great places to sketch or shoot photography. From close ups to wide shots. There are several water gardens and structures as well to enjoy through the grounds and photograph, sketch or simply just adore, like the Four Towers Pool. For all my Impressionist art lovers, my admirers of Monet, there is a beautiful Monet Water Garden to enjoy as well. There’s a lot of inspiration to be found here at Denver Botanic Gardens no matter where your taste lies. But one ornamental garden that has a special place in my heart here is the Ellipse. You can tell when you’re here because you will see a structure that looks almost like a piece of rock candy on a stick. I’m not joking, it is a colorful orange and red spiky structure in the middle of this circular garden. Next to it is the gorgeous administration building which is a romantic stone home covered in dreamy ivy and vines. The gardens are beautiful, the building adds a lot of romance and then there’s this funny, unique structure that shouldn’t belong there but yet it works! It somehow ties in well and makes sense. I love its quirkiness, this garden speaks to my nature of classic, romantic but also fanciful, weird and quirky. As you can see, the Ornamental Gardens are just a beautiful mixture of romance, fairy tale-like wonder, whimsy, Victorian gothic architectural elements, color, vibrancy, fun and true beauty.
No matter what gardens you immerse yourself in, you’ll be transported through several different places, stories, and novels and so many time periods. It’s a fantastical garden adventure that will lighten you heart, fill your spirit, awaken your senses and imagination, invoke your playfulness, and inspire your sense of wonder and appreciation for this beautiful world we live in. The Denver Botanic Garden is a great place for children and adults alike to get lost in their own little magical world, where fantasy becomes real, where you can be transported to a wondrous place in your imagination. This place is my Colorado fairy tale getaway! And I 100% recommend, if you are in Denver, to absolutely visit! For me, I consider it a must-see.