A Passion for Purple

Gomphrena_DBG-CO_LAH_8573Do you like flowers? Are you passionate about purple? If so, you can’t miss out seeing the newest themed garden at Denver Botanic Gardens. Carved out of previously inaccessible space, this small but packed area is dominated by purple in all its glory. From mauve to plum, through violet to amethyst, every shade of purple is represented by the variety of flowers chosen.

When I asked at the information desk, I was astonished to learn that the plants have only been in the ground since August. You’d never guess. While the shrubs are still small, and obviously new, the annuals and perennials spill over rocks, fences, and one another in a profusion of blossoms.

Seeing that I visited in mid-September, fall flowers predominate. Dahlias can have a single row of petals or a huge pom-pom-like head, and everything in between. Magenta or pale pink Gomphrena mirrors the multi-layered shape of the dahlias, but in a much smaller size.

Small towers support vines, including my all-time favorite, sweet peas. As you might have noticed, both annuals and perennials are featured, along with long-lived shrubs such as dogwood, hibiscus, and roses.

You’d think all that purple would be overwhelming, but it isn’t. There are so many different shades, from palest purple-pink to a deep mulberry red, that no one hue predominates. To top it off, a few yellow flowers offer a sharp contrast, and shrubs with lime-green or variegated leaves brighten the shady spots.

Since many of the plants are annuals, I’m not going to assume the garden will look the same next year—but I hope it does. Even surrounded by so much competition, this is now one of my favorite spots, and I hope to visit it again in the spring.


My only frustration was that the majority of plants were not labeled. I saw flowers I’d love to grow at home, but I didn’t recognize them so I don’t know what to ask for at the nursery.

The purple garden is easy to find. When entering the gardens, most people turn right. But if instead you turn left and walk past the gift shop to the end of the paved area, it will be right in front of you.

Photos, from top: Gomphrena sp; statice, salvia?, petunias, Salpiglossis hyb, Painted Lady butterfly; Dahlia hyb, Gomphrena sp, Dahlia hyb; gold Cypress?, Cornus sericea ‘Hedgerows Gold’ Red Osier Dogwood, Seven-Son Flower (Heptacodium miconioides), Hibiscus ‘Minspot’ Fiji; Dahlia hyb, Creeping Jenny (Lysimachia nummulari), Goldenrod (Solidago hyb); snapdragon (butterfly cultivar); Cock’s Comb? (Celosia), snapdragon, Cosmos bipinnatus, African Daisies? (Osteospermum); Heliotrope (Heliotropium), Nierembergia?

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