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Gathering Gardening Ideas From Throughout the High Country

Ready to try something new in your gardening landscape but not sure where to start? Garden tours may be just the answer for you. Spending a day leisurely walking through a professionally designed garden is not only enjoyable in and of itself, but it also provides a bounty of ideas for your home garden. Luckily, we are surrounded by stunning and unique gardens that are only a few hours’ drive away.

Most are free to the public or are relatively inexpensive, and garden tours are perfect family picnic opportunities. Plan a day trip to any one or all of the following outstanding Colorado Gardens.

  • Betty Ford Alpine Gardens—Billed as the

World’s Highest Botanic Garden at 8,200 feet, Betty Ford is located in nearby Vail, Colorado. Open from dawn to dusk, you’ll be treated to perennial beds, rock gardens, waterfalls, and an awesome collection of high elevation plants. Docent-led tours begin at 10:30 on Monday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings from Memorial Day through Labor Day, but you can take a self tour anytime. Be sure to wear lots of sunscreen and drink plenty of water, especially if you’re not used to being at elevation. Learn about mountain gardening and view an array of unique high altitude plants. Admission is free, and donations are gratefully accepted. Learn more at

  • Mount Goliath Wildflower Hikes—Located in the Mount Evans area 17 miles from Idaho Springs, this tour is for folks who enjoy a moderately difficult 1.5 mile hike. Mount Goliath features alpine flowers and as a natural garden is only viewable 40 days out of the year. The trail is accessible by the M. Walter Pesman Trail, and volunteer guides give free tours Tuesdays and Thursdays from June 19 through August 2, and Saturdays June 30, July 7, and July 28. Tours begin at 8:30 a.m. and last approximately 5 hours. Tours are free, but there is a fee to drive the Mount Evans Byway. Reservations are required. Call 720-865-3577 to reserve your spot and get recommendations on clothing, footwear, and supplies.

  • Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Preserve—An extension of the Denver Botanic Gardens, Lady Bird Johnson is located at Chatfield Park along Deer Creek. There are nature trails, display gardens, and educational exhibits, along with picnic areas. Denver Botanic Garden members get in free. Others pay $5 per passenger vehicle. The gardens are open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except for national holidays. For more information, call 303-973-3705 or visit the Denver Botanic Garden website at

  • Denver Botanic Gardens—Located in Denver on York Street, Denver Botanic Gardens has so many types of gardens that you’ll want to spend the entire day. The Western Panoramas, Sacred Earth, and Heirloom gardens focus on regional themes are sure to give home gardeners lots of water-smart, altitude-compatible ideas. For information on fees and hours of operation, visit

  • Centennial Gardens—An area that used to be a car-crushing plant has been transformed into beautiful gardens based on the tradition French Formal, using native Colorado or adaptable plants. Located on the north-east side of Six Flags Elitch Gardens, visitors enjoy 5 acres of intricate formal gardens and learn about native plants and how to make water-smart plant choices. Centennial Gardens is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week, except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s days, and admission is free.

  • The Gardens of Spring Creek—A great place for gardeners, Spring Creek, in Ft. Collins, focuses on the process of growing plants and how communities can become involved in environmental horticulture and food crops. Located at 2145 S. Centre Avenue, this 18-acre site includes a children’s garden and a 400 foot parkway strip with 900 perennials and 8, 000 bulbs. Spring Creek and the Sherwood Lateral irrigation ditch flow through the gardens and have been planted with native grasses, shrubs, and trees. Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday until April 30th and after May 1st from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, call 970-221-6360.

Enjoy strolling through any of these botanic gardens and come home with new ideas for your own garden. You’ll find lots of professionals and volunteers who are eager to share information, and you’ll be ready to make this the best gardening season yet.

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