Five Great Botanic Gardens in Colorado

Photo: courtesy Denver Botanic Gardens

Photo: courtesy Denver Botanic Gardens

check out these great Colorado gardens for spring visits

By Steve Graham

It’s National Public Gardens Week, and Colorado is in full bloom. Most Colorado gardeners are busy planting their vegetables and flowers for the season. But if you need some extra inspiration, or if you just want to admire someone else’s hard work, check out these great Colorado gardens for spring visits.


1. Denver Botanic Gardens

Before the summer concert season begins, come enjoy spring among 23 acres of plants from all over the world at the main York Street location of the Denver Botanic Gardens, the most famous public garden in Colorado. While the humid, tropical conservatory is an understandable draw, it’s easy to forget that the Denver Botanic Gardens also helped pioneer a responsible gardening method for our high desert climate, opening the world’s first xeriscape demonstration garden in 1986. The gardens are also currently hosting an exhibit of human figures from the Craig Ponzio Sculpture Collection.


2. CSU Flower Trial Garden

Last week, Colorado State University revealed its list of the best annual flowers to plant in Colorado this growing season. But you don’t have to take their word for it. You can see three acres of beautiful flowers on the east side of the main CSU campus in Fort Collins. Each year, students and researchers plant more than 1,000 varieties of bedding plants to test, evaluate and compare them in our harsh Colorado climate. (Note: it’s also the main garden game in town. The Gardens on Spring Creek is largely closed for a major upgrade and expansion).


Photo: courtesy Montrose Botanic Gardens

Photo: courtesy Montrose Botanic Gardens

3. Montrose Botanic Gardens

In the Western Slope town of Montrose, a little 3.5-acre botanic garden has a big mission — to make sure local gardeners can grow more than cacti and tumbleweeds. A wide variety of xeric plants, succulents and native plants are beautifully displayed and ever-changing.


4. Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Vail’s Ford Park hosts the highest botanical garden in the nation. The five acres of outdoor gardens sit at 8,200 feet above sea level. As the name suggests, the garden is focused on alpine and mountain plants. The gardens are open and publicly accessible from dawn until dusk every day, and the education center is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.


5. Benson Sculpture Garden

Finally, Loveland is perhaps best known for its valentines and its sculpture artists. Many of the best sculptures in town are on prominent and striking display in this 10-acre park. The site ranks low on our list of spring gardens because it is less of a seasonal draw. On the other hand, there is never a bad time to see the 164 sculptures on permanent display among the meandering pathways of the sculpture garden.


Honorable mention: Just over the Wyoming border off Interstate 25, the Cheyenne Botanic Gardens boasts a lush, tropical Grand Conservatory building featuring a 34-foot-tall palm tree; a beautiful and interactive children’s village; and nine acres of award-winning perennial and annual landscapes. 

Photo: courtesy Betty Ford Alpine Gardens

Photo: courtesy Betty Ford Alpine Gardens