Tuesday, August 12, 2014

A glimpse of the Denver Zoo's gardens...

Flamingos at Denver Zoo
 The sky was mostly overcast (and it did begin to rain--hence the paucity of pix in this blog)...but a random sunbeam did come out in time to create this stunning tableaux: someone was thinking when they designed the flamingo exhibit!

Weigela florida

Of course, Zoos are all about animals. But their full name is "Zoological GARDENS"--and the animals wouldn't last long without the plants. And without a thoughtful and attractive setting, who would want to visit what might come perilously close to looking like a prison? Yes, plants at zoos matter a lot! And Denver's Zoo has been acknowledged as having some outstanding exhibits. Over the years a large number of Botanic Gardens' staff have migrated to work at the Zoo--most recently John Murgel, who spared some of his very busy schedule to show me around yesterday. I kick off a look at just a few of the vigettes there with this late blooming Weigela florida, which shown with almost tropical lustre!

Nasella tenuissima, Hesperaloe parviflora and Agastache rupestris
It was drizzling during most of the visit--so we were a tad rushed: I was impressed at how many special plants and plantings I saw in places I'd not visited in years. Here, for example, is a xeric garden featuring Agastache rupestris and Mexican hair grass next to the Zoo animal clinic. Visitors never see this--all the more impressive that they've come up with something unusual and lovely there.
Berkheya and Phygelius x recta
I was especially dazzled by a very large bed with a bright cultivar of Phygelius (Either 'Cherry Ripe' or 'Red Alert'--both of which have proved tough here) mixed with the pale pink Berkheya of the East Cape: what a wonderful mass planting!
Closeup of Berkheya purpurea with guest
The Berkheya rewards a closer look: it has a color unlike any other...seeing this wafted me up to the heights above Rhodes where I've admired the plant in the wild.
Elephants trampling on Phygelius
The Phygelius contrasts nicely with the statuary....

Berhkeya purpurea and Phygelius x recta
I really liked this planting--you are being subjected to more pix!

Diascia integerrima 'Coral Canyon' and Phygelius x recta
Here the Phygelius makes a good pairing with the alpine twinspur--which grows alongside both Phygelius and Berkeya purpurea in the wild as well!
Robust Berkheya clumps: next year these will dazzle!
I am really dazzled by the size of these Berkheyas!

Bed with African natives
An overview of the whole bed: imagine what it will look like as both plants continue to spread and proliferate.
Eucomis 'Sparkling Burgundy'
The Eucomis have come back a second year--I'll come visit these in September when they're in bloom!

Throughout the zoo, tropical plants have been bedded out for the summer, where they grow much larger than they would in the greenhouse: here bromeliads are brightening up a large patch of groundcover.

Impatiens namchabarwensis

I've saved the best for last: I've known about the blue impatiens of Tibet for several years, and yearned to grow it. You can imagine how thrilled I was when John took me to a special perch where this has been tucked (to evade the eyes of herbivores and strangers too): the color was even more refulgent than I imagine. I don't believe this is growing anywhere in Colorado--what a treat to see the very first specimen of this unusual and beautiful plant!
John Murgel with Erodium absinthoides (tissue cultured)
 A picture of John with a flat containing the loveliest Erodium, which he has managed to grow in tissue culture while he worked at DBG: although he's now a few blocks north of the Gardens (overseeing an area five acres BIGGER than DBG) I feel we have gained a Zoo rather than having lost a fine horticulturist!

1 comment:

  1. It is nice to see people moving on to bigger and better things. I've always admired the gardens at every zoo I have visited.



Featured Post

A garden near lake Tekapo

The crevice garden of Michael Midgley Just a few years old, this crevice garden was designed and built by Michael Midgley, a delightful ...

Blog Archive