Get to the Gardens!

By Jesse Eastman

If you love plants and live in Northern Colorado or Southern Wyoming, then like me, you are incredibly fortunate. We’ve got direct access to outstanding outdoor adventures, including the Poudre Canyon, Pawnee Buttes, Vedawoo, and the Snowy Range. We’ve got more days of sun than Florida, the “Sunshine State.” Most importantly, we’ve got an embarrassment of riches when it comes to ways to enjoy, celebrate, and participate in horticulture. From outstanding nurseries and garden centers to trial gardens and botanic gardens, we’ve got it made!

One of the most exciting recent developments in local community horticulture is the newly expanded Gardens on Spring Creek. Although the Gardens have been Fort Collins’ only botanic gardens since 2004, the recent spate of construction has transformed it from a quaint display of regional gardens into an 18 acre horticultural and community institution.

Prior to the last round of growth, the Gardens hosted a number of fabulous display and interactive gardens. The very first garden ever built at this site was the Children’s Garden, a fun-filled interactive space with knowledge to share for children of all ages. The Rock Garden was designed and built by our local alpine plant legend Kirk Fieseler and transports you to the upper climes of our Rocky Mountain region. The Garden of Eatin’ has served as an educational space for those interested in food production for many years.

With the new expansion, there are many more exciting offerings waiting to be discovered. The Great Lawn, a massive expanse of green now sits in front of a beautiful outdoor stage (the Everitt Pavilion) where family-friendly concerts will fill the summer evenings with music. The Undaunted Garden, designed by nationally celebrated local designer and plantswoman Lauren Springer-Ogden, features one of the largest outdoor collections of winter hardy cacti in the country and is a shining example of xeriscape principles in action. The Foothills Garden demonstrates true low- to no-water heroes and exemplifies the best our Front Range environment has to offer. The Wetlands offers a glimpse at that oh-so-rare (at least for most of us in Colorado) wetland environment where frogs croak and red-winged blackbirds spend their days.

Perhaps most exciting of all is the brand new North American Butterfly House. This 1,500 square foot tropical atrium features a broad range of live butterflies native to North America, living in an environment rich with blooming plants. A joint venture with The Butterfly Pavilion, guests can stroll through the tropical foliage as butterflies flit and flutter all around, a truly delightful experience. Trained Butterfly Pavilion staff will be on hand to offer education and interpretation, making this a great opportunity to learn with a huge smile on your face!

Hopefully you’re already aware of all the great things going on at the Gardens on Spring Creek. Entering their 15th year, it is a gem in the heart of Fort Collins. Often I’m asked what I love about my job, and the answer is always the same: I love seeing people fall in love with plants and find new and creative ways to enrich their lives through horticulture. A botanic garden is the perfect place to visit whether you’re seeking gardening inspiration, plant education, or simply a peaceful place to lose yourself for a few hours among the foliage, flowers, and butterflies. We are so fortunate to have just such a place, and each year it gets better and better!

To learn more about the Gardens on Spring Creek, including membership, click here:

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Board of Directors for the Friends of the Gardens on Spring Creek. This makes everything I’ve said a bit biased, but no less true! Go visit, I promise you’ll find something to love!

Originally published on November 6th, 2019.