Memories of visits to the Frick Conservatory in Pittsburgh and then to Boettcher Conservatory at the Denver Botanic Gardens over many years relate to a favorite winter ritual - one that helps make spring and new vegetation come into one's consciousness sooner. The Boettcher visit can be enhanced this winter by visiting several art exhibits - and perhaps enrolling in a botanical illustration class. DBG is accredited as a museum as well as a garden.
Graduates from the School of Botanical Art and Illustration are displaying a selection of works from their portfolios through Feb. 9 in the El Pomar Room. The ongoing school offers nearly 200 courses and workshops through the year - in various mediums and at varying levels of difficulty; in traditional and newer techniques. Visit the DBG website to check on availability and schedules.
Also through Feb. 9 in the Gates Garden Court Gallery, there is a juried exhibition of national and international professional illustrators called "Plants, Birds and Pollinators: Art Serving Science." It aims to bring attention to the importance of pollinators in our ecological cycles - everywhere in the world. We have seen a great deal of handwringing over the shortage of honeybees of late, but need to recognize that other pollinators: butterflies, birds, moths also need to be protected and respected. Planting flowers such as the bright red ones in our illustration is a pleasant way to support these lovely creatures and enjoy the color.
Until Jan. 12, "Catalyst," a collection of sculptures by 12 Colorado artists, is placed throughout the gardens and they are a splendid reason to walk through the gardens on a sunny winter day. They will have a different look and reflect a different quality of light now even if one has visited the collection in spring or summer. A map is available on the website, or at the door.
Look forward to "Illusions in Glass: Magic Lantern Slides from the Helen Fowler Library Collection" from Feb. 19 to April 27 in the Gates Garden Court Gallery, to learn about a technique that dates back to the 1600s and predates our modern projectors and films.
One more exotic attraction: The "Orchid Showcase" in the Orangerie, west of the conservatory, through Feb. 24. DBG has a large collection of colorful orchids in many varieties, shapes and hues. Standing in the middle of a room filled with extraordinary specimens can carry one away to the tropics, if only for a few moments.
If you go:
Denver Botanic Gardens is an intensely developed 24 acres located at 1007 York St., Denver. Check denverbotanicgardens.org for hours and admission information. Also available to plant enthusiasts: Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield in South Jefferson County, offer 750 acres with its historic farm and miles of trails in several ecological systems.