Monthly Archives: June 2014

Chihuly’s Glass Menagerie Illuminates Denver Botanic Gardens

Chihuly's Summer Sun brightens the walkway in front of Denver Botanic Garden's water-wise garden.

Chihuly’s Summer Sun brightens the walkway in front of Denver Botanic Garden’s water-wise garden.

I’m not a person who gasps easily. But that’s just what I did throughout my visit to the Dale Chihuly glass exhibit last week at Denver Botanic Gardens (DBG). Chihuly’s sculptures are simply gorgeous, especially against the backdrop of DBG’s stunning flora.

Chihuly is the foremost glass artist in the country, and the DBG show marks the first time he has mounted a major outdoor exhibition in the Rocky Mountain Region. The show runs until November 30, 2014, and if you’re in Denver during that time, don’t miss it.

Neon purple reeds mirror the vegetation in the Monet Pond.

Neon purple reeds mirror the vegetation in the Monet Pond.

Inspired by nature, Chihuly’s pieces range from a vivid red, orange and yellow summer sun to a boat filled with purple and blue sculptures simulating elkhorn coral. The show includes 14 sites displaying the artist’s work.

In case you’re wondering, the glass sculptures are surprisingly durable, according to Chihuly’s staff. So if we get a hailstorm in Denver, the art is likely to suffer much less than the plants.

Blue and Purple Boat sparkles in the sunlight as it floats in the pond at the Japanese garden.

Blue and Purple Boat sparkles in the sunlight as it floats in the pond at the Japanese garden.

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Annual Enchanted Gardens Tour Delights Visitors Once Again

Enchanted Gardens Tour volunteer Stephanie Renn awaits the next round of visitors at the home of Tanya and Bert McMurtry.

Enchanted Gardens Tour volunteer Stephanie Renn awaits the next round of visitors at the home of Tanya and Bert McMurtry.

There’s one garden tour I’ve attended every year for the past three years—the Enchanted Gardens Tour of Northwest Denver. It’s sponsored by the Conflict Center, a worthy organization that promotes practical skills for peacemaking. Many of the gardens are designed by the homeowners themselves or with small amounts of professional guidance, and all the gardens reflect the love and care that have gone into them.

Last Saturday marked the 14th annual Enchanted Gardens Tour, showcasing 23 gardens. The yards featured everything from art and whimsy to xeriscaping and urban homesteading. Naturally, I can’t cover all the wonderful gardens in this particular post, but I would like to share photos from two gardens that excelled in xeriscaping. Xeriscaping means grouping plants with similar moisture requirements together to conserve water.

As most Denverites know, landscaping a tree lawn (between the curb and sidewalk) is a dicey proposition because the area is often such a hot, dry microclimate. But Tanya and Bert McMurtry have taken on the challenge and produced stunning displays of perennials and groundcovers along the tree lawns of their corner lot.

Prairie winecups, bachelor buttons, penstemons and other drought-tolerant plants thrive in this once-desolate corner of the McMurtrys' lot.

Prairie winecups, bachelor buttons, penstemons and other drought-tolerant plants thrive in this once-desolate corner of the McMurtrys’ lot.

At the intersection of their two tree lawns sits a diabolically sun-scorched corner with a manhole cover smack-dab in the center of the front edge. What have the McMurtrys done? They’ve transformed that triangle into a showpiece with drought-tolerant prairie winecups (Callirhoe involucrata), woolly speedwell (Veronica pectinata), soapwort (Saponaria ocymoides), penstemons and annual bachelor buttons.

Stella d'oro daylilies, coral bells, Angelina sedum and other groundcovers lend a tropical ambiance to the front yard of Lotte and Rick Dula.

Stella d’oro daylilies, coral bells, Angelina sedum and other groundcovers lend a tropical ambiance to the front yard of Lotte and Rick Dula.

One block away, neighbors Lotte and Rick Dula have skillfully combined groundcovers to create a tropical feel in their front yard while using plants that require just modest amounts of water. Angelina and other sedums mingle with Stella d’oro daylilies, coral bells, plumbago and other low-growing beauties.

The Enchanted Gardens Tour takes place around June 7 every year. I encourage you to attend this well-organized event and meet the friendly gardeners who live in northwest Denver.

To read about the Troy Chavez Memorial Peace Garden, a regular stop on the Enchanted Gardens Tour, visit The Denver Post website.

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