There is always something to be seen year-round at the Denver Botanic Gardens, even in wintertime, when more than a million gleaming lights turn the Capitol Hill complex into a fantasyland.

Located off East 10th Avenue and York Street, this oasis in the city features extensive plant displays, with specimens from all over the world. Outdoor plants are chosen for their ability to thrive in Colorado’s high altitude and sometimes extreme climate. Many of the gardens display native and adaptive, drought-tolerant species.

Different species bloom at different times, so displays are constantly rotated.

Notable exhibits throughout the property include the Lilac Garden, Japanese Garden, Wildflower Treasures, Romantic Gardens and the Cactus and Succulent houses. Also, a special display of sculptures by British artist Henry Moore continues in the Gardens through Jan. 31, 2011.

Art and nature create a beautiful environment at the Gardens.

The Gardens contain both preserved (nonliving) and living collections. The living collections are separated into seven major categories: alpine, amenity, aquatic, cactus and succulents, native, steppe and tropical. A PlantFinder kiosk, with data on more than 17,000 plants, helps visitors find out what’s in bloom and other information on displayed specimens.

The park’s research staff works alongside other organizations to learn about and preserve some of Colorado’s rarest plant species. They do much of their work in the plant’s native habitats. People with an interest in plant conservation may volunteer to become trained as rare plant monitoring stewards, who are responsible for the conservation of more than 40 species.

Among other programs, the Botanical Art and Illustration Program teaches artists techniques on how to accurately portray renderings of plants and flowers.

Sustainability is another aspect of the Gardens. A green roof, which is covered in green vegetation, sits atop the Gardens’ café, Offshoots. While also providing habitats for birds and other wildlife, green roofs extend the life of a roof by protecting it from the elements, and reduce heating and cooling costs. The structure creates an inviting and visually stunning atmosphere.

With plants from around the world, the Gardens are a botanical oasis.

Inside Offshoots, guests are served fresh, organic salads, soups and sandwiches for lunch, and tasty breakfast favorites in the morning. The café includes a coffee bar with free Wi-Fi. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Visitors can also choose to grab a bite at the Monet Deck Café in the Monet Gardens, where favorites such as burgers, chicken and fish are served. The café is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

For a taste of something a little more wild, the Denver Botanic Gardens owns two untamed locations to enjoy, as well: The Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield and Mount Goliath.

The Gardens at Chatfield is a nature preserve, which includes a wildlife observation area, nature trails, educational exhibits, a historic farm, a 19th century schoolhouse, beehives and picnic areas. Admission is $5 per vehicle and hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

Mount Goliath, located in the Arapaho National Forest in the Mount Evans area, features nature trails. Educational hikes begin at 9 a.m., and are free for explorers ages 10 and up.

If You Go

Denver Botanic Gardens

Denver Botanic Gardens
1007 York St.
Denver, Colorado 80206

Hours: 9 a.m.-9 p.m. May 10 through Sept. 30 and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Oct. 1 through April 30.

Admission is $12.50 for adults, $9.50 for ages 65 and up, $9 for ages 4-15, and free for children 3 and under.

Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield

8500 Deer Creek Canyon Road
Littleton, Colorado 80128

Mount Goliath
Mount Evans Scenic Byway
Clear Creek County, Colorado
720-865-3585 (Denver Botanic Gardens Info Desk)
(Directions are available on the website)