Dale Chihuly at the Denver Botanic Gardens
One of the pleasures of traveling across the world, or even across the country, is the opportunity to visit new gardens.
Recently I spent the perfect day with my daughter and two granddaughters meandering around the huge public gardens in the heart of downtown Denver.
The twenty-three acre ‘Denver Botanic Gardens’ actually encompass numerous smaller interlocking garden spaces, like gardens-within-a-garden, with individual themes such as woodland, prairie, or mountain, and each on a scale that we, as ordinary gardeners, can readily embrace.
These gardens are always a treat, but this time they were extra special because they were hosting a display by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.
The sculptures on display ranged from intimate to monumental. While perhaps we could imagine one of the smaller pieces, such as this collection of balls, in our own gardens, the larger creations were truly public art that was designed to be displayed in an expansive setting.
But what struck me most was the mutually symbiotic relationship between the art and the garden: Each piece of artwork on display was enhanced by its placement in the gardens and, in equal measure, the gardens were enhanced by the beautiful artwork.
I hope you enjoy this selection from Mr Chihuly’s Denver display. It will be there until November 30 of this year, at which time his staff will carefully dismantle the pieces and pack them up for shipment, either back to his studio in Seattle or on to the next show in his Garden Cycle, at the Fairchild Tropical Plant Gardens, south of Miami.
Fantastical hand-blown glass sculptures
This immense Blue Icicle Tower greeted every visitor as they entered the gardens:
Nestled among the perennials
The first garden-within-a-garden at Denver is the ever-popular O’Fallon Perennial Walk. As visitors of all ages strolled past the fall display of purple asters, golden rudbeckia and multi-hued dahlias, people literally squealed with delight as they caught sight of exotic hand-blown glass creations snuggled in amongst the flowers.
I understand Mr. Chihuly had made a point of visiting the gardens the previous year to get a sense of the colors and textures of late summer, and planned his exhibit accordingly.
Memories of winter
After the autumnal colors of the perennial walk we turned the corner to find the stunning white flowers of the Persian Towers at the base of a waterfall, and the White Tower in a still reflecting pool, both conjuring up memories of a frigid winter’s night.
Small sculptures between the flowers
In some of the gardens-within-a-garden we encountered little surprises: small glass sculptures in brilliant hues of red, purple, yellow and orange—each positioned to enhance its unique space, such as these brilliant-hued balls tucked in among the roses:
Designed for water
Many of Chihuly’s sculptures, such as this pair of fanciful boats and the elaborate creations in the Monet Pool, were designed to take advantage of the many ponds at the Denver Gardens:
Hiding in the jungle
Nearing the end of our day we almost missed these lovely ruby-red flowers hidden in the lush greenery of the tropical conservatory:
The Summer Sun
And finally, to complete our day, we discovered the ‘jewel in the crown’, an enormous glittering ball of twisted strands of orange and yellow that towered over the children as they rolled from top to bottom of the vast grassy amphitheater.