Do you have the winter doldrums? Is your house full of bored guests? If you’re tired of being indoors and need some fresh (if cold) air, here’s a great excuse to get into a garden. Denver Botanic Gardens is worth a visit any time of year, but right now (through January 3), the gardens are decorated with over a million lights—with spectacular results.
We recently braved the cold and plunked down our $9.50 admission. (Entry to “Blossoms of Light” is separate from the $11.50 daily entrance fee. They shoo all the daytime visitors out first, then open the doors again from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m.)
Even though the gardens were dark, it was easy to find the way. Extra paths were blocked off, simplifying matters. You could walk the entire route in less than 30 minutes, but why would you want to? Stopping to take pictures helped us slow down and really see the display. We also kept turning around to see where we’d been. Looking at each scene backwards gave us a totally different perspective.
Most of the lights were strings of small Christmas lights, all one color. The trees and shrubs were so packed with lights, you could easily see their form. Plants not suited for light strings had spotlights cleverly hidden behind the foliage. Buildings were also outlined, mostly in white lights. The effect was breathtaking.
Different gardens were decorated in creative ways, accentuating the theme. Huge glowing stars hung above Mahonia, junipers and pines in the mountain landscape. Cactus and yuccas were spotlighted in reds and oranges. The carefully shaped shrubs in the Japanese garden were particularly dazzling, and attracted quite a crowd.
A number of the fountains were lit up with changing colors, while more lights reflected in the water features. The contrast between the pinpointed light bulbs and the flowing water was delightful. A light rope laid along the edge of the largest pool kept everyone dry.
The unseasonably warm days we’ve had recently had melted the ice sculptures, but the lights were so impressive, we didn’t even miss them. The Henry Moore sculptures are made of stone, so they weren’t going anywhere. A number of those were illuminated with spotlights, adding to the view.
Hot beverages, roasted nuts (you could smell the cinnamon!), and the open greenhouses and gift shop helped everyone stay warm. However, even the three thick layers I had on weren’t enough to keep me comfortable. Hat, scarf, gloves (even better with those exothermic hand warmers!), and long underwear are highly recommended!
For more information, go to the Denver Botanic Gardens website.