When I moved to Denver, I found an apartment off York Street and 13th Avenue. I was excited to be so close to all the happenings of the city — the Denver Botanic Gardens, parks, museums and countless restaurants.
I am a city gal, and the noise of the city merges easily with my daily routine — the clattering of the traffic, the honking of horns and the laughter, or yelling, of a passerby.
Then, on a crisp autumn or winter day, the first snowfall of the season blankets the city, and a hush follows. These days, to me, are magical and I am reminded that we all need to slow down and enjoy a little quiet time. I like to take a leisurely stroll around the Denver Botanic Gardens, a local park or in my neighborhood. Usually, there are few people out and many wonderful sights to take in. It’s really a walking meditation.
It has been more than a decade since I lived in that apartment off York and 13th, but I still appreciate the quietness that follows the snow, and now I have the good fortune of working at the Denver Botanic Gardens. So, when the snow begins, I always venture out for a walk around the Denver Botanic Gardens or Cheesman Park to take in the beauty of our little slice of nature. These snowy days highlight the beautiful textures and patterns of plants. From the stunning seed heads of perennials to the movement of the ornamental grasses or the architecture of an evergreen, it is the perfect time to connect to the beauty of nature.
What to be on the lookout for? Here are a few suggestions:
• Chocolate flower (Berlandiera lyrata)
• Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
• Blue grama grass (Bouteloua gracilis)
• Little bluestem grass (Schizachyrium scoparium)
• Smooth Sumac (Rhus glabra)
• Pinon pine (Pinus edulis)
Along with gorgeous textures and beautiful patterns, these plants provide many benefits to wildlife. Because so many people are learning about these benefits, there is a wonderful movement going on in the world of home gardening — people are starting to turn in their notice when it comes to doing fall clean-up in their ornamental garden beds. Leaving your grasses and perennials up through mid-spring provides protection to many beneficial pollinators and their eggs, as well as valuable food for our songbirds during the colder months.
I am hoping that, by the time you read this, we have received our first snowfall of the season and that this article will encourage you to take a few minutes to go for a quiet walk and see what mother nature has to offer. Take in the architecture of the Colorado blue spruce (Picea pungens) or the playful pompom seedheads of the pale purple coneflower (Echinacea pallida) or the patterns in the New Mexico agave (Agave parryi ssp. neomexicana). May you open your eyes to the beauty of gardens at rest and be able to enjoy the quiet solitude of a snowy day.
Holly G. Haynes is a plant mapping coordinator with the Denver Botanic Gardens