GardenSmart :: EPISODES :: 2010 show42
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Show 42/2203. Denver Botanic Gardens

Doug Price Introduces Denver
DOUG PRICE, the President and CEO of Rocky Mountain PBS, introduces us to Denver, Colorado. In his mind Denver, which is in the middle of the high desert, is one of the nation's most fascinating cities. About 3 million people live in the metropolitan area but approximately 8 million people watch television every week, a fact important to Doug.  For More Information Click here

Eric Meets PK
ERIC MEETS PK the Senior Curator of the Denver Botanic Gardens. PK welcomes Eric. PK tells us a little about himself. A lot of people are curious about his name Panayoti Kelaidis which is a Greek name. Both his parents came from the island of Crete. His name is obviously uncommon and finds going by PK much easier. PK has a long career in horticulture. He got interested in horticulture as a kid. Living next door to the Rockies he was always fascinated with wild flowers.  For More Information Click here

Secret Earth Garden
PK and Eric have a lot to see so they get started. PK suggests they start in the SECRET EARTH GARDEN. It is the 1st of a complex of gardens that showcase native plants of the Rocky Mountain region and the Great Plains. It has great significance, he believes, because it shows that people have been connecting with plants in this area for a very long time. All the plants selected for this half acre garden are plants that had some sort of use for the native people, the people of the four corners. To Eric it feels like they're stepping back in time. One of the things he likes about this garden is the way it brings in wildlife.  More Information Click here

Children's Garden
They next move from some of the most established parts of the garden to the latest endeavor which is the CHILDREN'S GARDEN. This garden has only been open about a month and a half but already over 25,000 people have come through and they're still opening up. They started with the alpine area which represents the area above 12,000 feet. It's about an acre and has many tiny plants. Especially noteworthy are the grasses which are an important part of gardening in Colorado and across the country. The blue fescue works about everywhere in the country. They have about an acre featuring the sub alpine and mountain woodlands with various Aspen which one thinks of when thinking about the state.  More Information Click here

Roof Top Garden
And, it's important to note that this is a ROOF TOP GARDEN. This is the top of the main parking garage and a massive earth garden. It is the largest eco roof open to the public anywhere in the Rocky Mountain region. They feel it is very important to have green space in cities and to be part of the environmentalism around the U.S.  More Information Click here

Romantic Garden
The guys move on to the ROMANTIC GARDEN. The whimsical containers that feature beautiful cacti immediately caught Eric's eye. But the containers appear suspended over water, it's not only a brilliant piece of design but also very intriguing. To PK this garden is a paradox. They live in a semi arid environment yet at the same time they have many water features. But they recycle.  More Information Click here

Western Panoramas
They next visit the Cottonwood border which is a panel of what they call the WESTERN PANORAMAS. This is a large space, quite different from some of the other gardens visited in this show. Throughout the garden one can travel through Japanese, Chinese and many formal type gardens, as well as perennial border gardens but here they combine all the elements and highlight their native vegetation. It is capable of really grand aesthetic effects.  More Information Click here

Water Smart Gardens
We have time for one more spot and PK feels he has saved the best for last. The WATER SMART GARDEN may just be their most perfect garden, it's one of their crown jewels and a beautiful place. Fall is the time of year one sees a lot of sunflowers and other interesting plants. One may ask - What is so great about them? Don't forget they don't plant just for beauty, instead they are feeding the birds, nurturing other plants.  More Information Click here



LINKS:

Loews Hotel Denver

Denver Botanic Gardens

Garden Smart Plant List



Complete transcript of the show.

In this episode GardenSMART visits the Denver Botanic Gardens which is set on 23 acres. This urban oasis contains more than 45 artistically designed gardens and more than 32,000 plants.

DOUG PRICE, the President and CEO of Rocky Mountain PBS, introduces us to Denver, Colorado. In his mind Denver, which is in the middle of the high desert, is one of the nation's most fascinating cities. About 3 million people live in the metropolitan area but approximately 8 million people watch television every week, a fact important to Doug. It's the capital of outdoors living, Colorado people love to be outside, they love to ski, to camp, to hike and most importantly, for Eric, they love to garden.  Return

Denver is a beautiful place, the mountains are incredible, the sky is beautiful, it's a place that has a real kinship with the landscape. When Eric thinks of Colorado he thinks of the recreation, the skiing, etc. But there is so much more. For example, they're currently in downtown Denver and it's a bustling area with magnificent buildings and construction all around. Doug feels it is a very interesting city and a vibrant city. Think about it, we've had an economic downturn yet there are cranes, the city is full of activity, there are magnificent buildings and construction all around. The area behind them is what they think of as architectural row, the Museum of Art, the Daniel Edition, the Graves Art Museum and more. The city fathers wanted to wed a beautiful landscape with great architecture, important infrastructure and positive financing. They did and it all makes a cultural mecca for a 14 state region.  

Eric has always been impressed with the cleanliness of Denver. They put a lot of emphasis on their beautiful urban landscape. People feel there is a reason to keep Denver green thus embrace environmentally friendly watering and other green practices.  

Eric opines that Rocky Mountain PBS is one of the nation's leaders in quality content, which of course includes great gardening content. Doug is delighted to have GardenSMART be a part of the family. Rocky Mountain PBS has about 1.8 million viewers viewers in any given week but most importantly they have 60,000 members which is a remarkable number in the 17th biggest media market in America. The idea of kinship between what they provide as a local producer and GardenSMART as a national show, providing some of the great elements of America's gardens, is really important and a real benefit. To see this partnership between the viewer, the supporter and folks like Eric providing great programming makes Rocky Mountain PBS the force it is. 

Why did Doug move to Denver? It's the same reason, in a lot of ways, that Eric and GardenSMART are here today. Doug's from a ranching family on the western slope, he's the 6th generation of his family to live in Colorado, his kids are the 7th. When he and his family lived in the foothills of Boulder, the kinship they had between the outdoors, the running, all the stuff they like to do, caused them some concern about moving to Denver. But on a 4th of July they came here, got a cup of coffee next to the Botanic Gardens, and found it magical. They walked the paths that we'll see in this show and it was a remarkable, remarkable experience. They bought a house 4 blocks from the Park itself and spend a lot of time in the Botanic Gardens. Doug is delighted that Eric will expose this jewel of Denver to the rest of the country. Eric is looking forward to the day and honored to be a part of Rocky Mountain PBS. Thanks Doug, for joining us.  

The Denver Botanic Gardens began in the late 1950's and moved to it's present location in 1961. The emphasis of the garden is connecting people with plants. And they've done that in many intangible ways. The garden designs have been laid out in such a way that visitors can hopefully look at these gardens and then implement these ideas at home. From different color schemes to the way textures are used and the way native plants have been used in the design are all incorporated to provide ideas for the visitors. The plants, for the most part, are adapted to the dry, sunny climate so they don't waste the limited water resources by using plants that aren't heavy water consumers. It is a garden designed for the community, it features many concerts and special events, thereby inviting people into the garden to enjoy it in a new way. There are many plant selections native to the Rocky Mountain region but there are also many collections. From orchids to aquatic plants, cactus, succulents, alpine plants, roses as well as tropical plants, all are showcased here. Perhaps the best known feature is the Tropical Conservatory. There is also a working pavilion and a large library. There is a lot to see, Eric is ready to get going.  

ERIC MEETS PK the Senior Curator of the Denver Botanic Gardens. PK welcomes Eric. PK tells us a little about himself. A lot of people are curious about his name Panayoti Kelaidis which is a Greek name. Both his parents came from the island of Crete. His name is obviously uncommon and finds going by PK much easier. PK has a long career in horticulture. He got interested in horticulture as a kid. Living next door to the Rockies he was always fascinated with wild flowers. He would go on fishing trips with his Dad where he would spend more time looking for flowers than fishing. He actually built his first rock garden when he was a little kid. And a rock garden brought him here. PK was consulting with the Botanic Gardens when these gardens were being designed, the architect liked him and his input so much that he told the gardens to hire PK. So it all started right here in this rock garden.  

His 1st job involved developing all the naturalistic gardens that fill this end of the garden. But, over the course of the years he has been booted upstairs. He now works with all the different departments in different ways but particularly advancing the whole vision of a more responsible water conservation garden. PK travels the world finding plants and is most interested in that. That's the most romantic aspect of his work. He does quite a bit of plant exploration. In fact he's just back from a month in Kazakhstan where he was collecting in the Chenzuan and Alpie. Return

PK and Eric have a lot to see so they get started. PK suggests they start in the SECRET EARTH GARDEN. It is the 1st of a complex of gardens that showcase native plants of the Rocky Mountain region and the Great Plains. It has great significance, he believes, because it shows that people have been connecting with plants in this area for a very long time. All the plants selected for this half acre garden are plants that had some sort of use for the native people, the people of the four corners. To Eric it feels like they're stepping back in time. One of the things he likes about this garden is the way it brings in wildlife. As one walks up the finches are eating seeds and bees are buzzing around flowers. PK discusses how the different elements came together. As mentioned, the plants in here were utilized by the native people. The sage brush was utilized by many. Indians utilized them for medicinal purposes, bees pollinate them. The rabbit brush was another extremely important pollinator for bees. There are edible plants - the gourds, maze, corn. Many of the most important food crops that we utilize in the world today were developed by native Americans in Mexico and the southwest.  Return

Eric also likes the sculpture, which is a focal point in this garden. This is the year of Henry Moore. Every year they have a major exhibit and promote a theme to highlight plants. Henry Moore was one of the greatest sculptors in the 20th century. In 2011 the theme is Native Plants, Native People and they will be featuring the sculpture of a great Apache sculptor, named Houser. That is another inducement to visit the Gardens.  

They next move from some of the most established parts of the garden to the latest endeavor which is the CHILDREN'S GARDEN. This garden has only been open about a month and a half but already over 25,000 people have come through and they're still opening up. They started with the alpine area which represents the area above 12,000 feet. It's about an acre and has many tiny plants. Especially noteworthy are the grasses which are an important part of gardening in Colorado and across the country. The blue fescue works about everywhere in the country. They have about an acre featuring the sub alpine and mountain woodlands with various Aspen which one thinks of when thinking about the state. Down below, and just opening up today, is the Great Plains and canyon lands. This is a fantastic way to educate everyone about the natural environment in the area. PK talks about some of the plants that have been successful in this area. The native plants love the very open exposure. Plants like Penstemons, the buck wheats all are successful in this environment.  Return

And, it's important to note that this is a ROOF TOP GARDEN. This is the top of the main parking garage and a massive earth garden. It is the largest eco roof open to the public anywhere in the Rocky Mountain region. They feel it is very important to have green space in cities and to be part of the environmentalism around the U.S. Eric can't help but notice the ancient spruce trees in this area. They provide a very interesting juxtaposition between all the young, tiny plants and these plants that look they might have been here for hundreds of years. PK hopes they will be here that long but were moved in several months ago, just like the other plants. They do think several are probably several hundred years old. They located them on private property, a ranch, where they have thousands of similar plants, got permits to move them and are thrilled to have their own magical ancient forest. This is a fun garden, the kids wander in and have a blast. Kids are the future and when you consider that half the worlds population lives in overpopulated cities, awakening kids to the importance of natural environments and to plants is their mission. Kids are the future of gardening. Return

The guys move on to the ROMANTIC GARDEN. The whimsical containers that feature beautiful cacti immediately caught Eric's eye. But the containers appear suspended over water, it's not only a brilliant piece of design but also very intriguing. To PK this garden is a paradox. They live in a semi arid environment yet at the same time they have many water features. But they recycle. They are very conscious of how they use water thus the plants are often drought tolerant. PK feels it is the tension between the water on one hand and the dry gardens on the other that provides much of their appeal.  Return

Behind the containers is a red wall. PK feels it's an interesting wall, obviously providing a beautiful pop of color. But it is more than just the pop of color. This is the El Pamar water way and marks the entrance to the entire romantic garden complex. The Romantic Gardens are amenity gardens, they're primarily for beauty. There are many weddings here. But they are intended to highlight design. In the springtime it is a sea of bulbs and perennials, apricot colors, yellows and golds, then in the late summer the grasses take over with the wonderful Caucasian Feather Grass and Miscanthus. But in the winter when those are down the shadows play against the wall as the sun drops down. It really is a multi season garden.  

Eric is impressed that throughout this garden that there are vignettes of design sprinkled throughout. He has picked up 5 or 6 ideas that are really fascinating, things he would never thought about. This aspect is one of the more special things about this garden. PK appreciates that compliment. They like to serve the God of art but also like to serve the God of science. Balancing the two is the real challenge with any botanic garden.  

They next visit the Cottonwood border which is a panel of what they call the WESTERN PANORAMAS. This is a large space, quite different from some of the other gardens visited in this show. Throughout the garden one can travel through Japanese, Chinese and many formal type gardens, as well as perennial border gardens but here they combine all the elements and highlight their native vegetation. It is capable of really grand aesthetic effects. The Cottonwoods are, of course, the emblem of the Great Plains, the only large tree that grows in eastern Colorado naturally. Underneath it are grasses and perennials which are beautiful in all seasons. Across the way is the foothills. Emblematic of that area is the Ponderosa Pine. As well there are some Firs and other trees from higher up. But the Foothills is really one of the most beautiful parts of their state. It is where so many of the great wildflowers - for example Penstamins and Buck Wheats grow. Then finally on the South side they have some wonderful gnarly old Bristle Cone Pines, one of the oldest trees in the world, the Bristle Cones are growing in a very naturalistic sort of Rocky Mountain garden. All three of these gardens are meant to show that one can use their native plants in some very artistic, bold ways. Importantly they are suitable for areas like industrial sites, parkways, medium strips. But homeowners can get some wonderful ideas about how to combine native plants and have really good water-wise gardens here as well.  Return

We have time for one more spot and PK feels he has saved the best for last. The WATER SMART GARDEN may just be their most perfect garden, it's one of their crown jewels and a beautiful place. Fall is the time of year one sees a lot of sunflowers and other interesting plants. One may ask - What is so great about them? Don't forget they don't plant just for beauty, instead they are feeding the birds, nurturing other plants. One really needs to visit this garden different times and different seasons because for about 5 months of the year this is actually a centerpiece for bright colors. One almost needs sunglasses in the spring and summer. But this time of year this garden is about texture. In Colorado they have a long winter, which is a long season when nothing is blooming and this garden is absolutely beautiful with the different textures. The grasses, the fine textures combined with the very bold features really provides interest throughout the winter months. Some of PK's favorites are featured in this garden - Agastache as well as many different types of Sedums are readily apparent. They've woven in beautiful textures with grasses and herbs. It's a multi functional garden and also a multi interest garden. The Morman Tea is quite large, it comes from central Asia, in fact PK just saw it a few weeks ago in Kazakhstan. The intenser blue color of the Yucca stands out. It is a Yucca Shudha from southern Arizona. They're amazed at the number of plants that originate from the Mediterranean. Many wouldn't think they would be hardy here. The Agistacis and the Delaspermum Mesa Verde are plants that came from the Denver Botanic Gardens. This garden has showcased many of the most important plants in the local industry. Many have now spread nationwide and to other countries. They have featured in this garden plants from sister climates, similarly dry climates, like South Africa. The American west has produced a tremendous number of interesting new plants like the Agastache which was first featured here in Denver. Eric is impressed, this is a great collection.  Return

PK talks about some of the plants that provide color late season, early winter. The Perovskia has been blooming probably since late July and it's almost October. It is a plant that grows almost all over the U.S. superbly well. PK recommends that people don't plant it by itself. Here it's next to a bright magenta salvia. Combining plants is what this garden is about. It shows wonderful ways of putting plants together so that they always have that dynamic tension.  

Eric tells PK that spending the day with him at the Denver Botanic Gardens has been special. Having that expert eye, expert ear providing behind the scenes insight has been wonderful. Eric has a much deeper appreciation for how wonderful and how special this garden is.  

But before we leave Eric wants to know if PK has any final thoughts. PK does. Botanic gardens have a lot to offer but the one thing he would like to remind viewers is that although these plants are in Colorado, most will grow almost anywhere in the country given proper drainage, even with a drought or tremendous heat. A lot of our traditional garden pallet has been developed in England and Holland which are very wet and cool climates. We're finding that it really helps to go back to nature in our own back yards. Use more native plants which are already evolved for our areas.  Return

PK has done a wonderful job of teaching that to us today. Thanks PK.  



LINKS:


Loews Hotel Denver

Denver Botanic Gardens

Garden Smart Plant List


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