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- Denver Botanic Gardens' mission is to connect people with plants, especially plants from the Rocky Mountain region and similar regions around the world, providing delight and enlightenment for everyone.
To this mission, the Gardens added four core values as an integral element of a new branding platform. These values, adopted in 2007 - transformation, relevance, diversity and sustainability - spell out the Gardens' intentions in the years ahead. Along with the Gardens' new brand platform, strategy, icon, and the Flourish Capital Campaign, the core values are cohesive and serve as a map to chart our course.
In 2015, the Gardens welcomed visitors from all over the world to explore the showcases of native and drought-tolerant plants. The Gardens' outdoor art exhibition was "Deborah Butterfield: The Nature of Horses" and featured 15 life-size bronze horse sculptures throughout the Gardens. The Urban Food Initiative expanded to offer affordable fresh produce grown at Chatfield Farms to local food desert communities. The Center for Global Initiatives continued its important partnerships with botanic gardens and communities around the world to educate and guide the development of plant conservation and research. The Gardens enjoyed its first corpse flower bloom in August. More than 55,000 visitors waited in line to see "Stinky" the corpse flower's massive bloom.
Denver Botanic Gardens was founded in 1951 by local gardeners, botanists and civic leaders. In 1958 the Gardens moved to its current primary location on York Street. The Gardens expanded in 1966 to include the Boettcher Memorial Conservatory, an indoor facility for tropical and sub-tropical plants, which made the Gardens a year-round attraction. The Conservatory soon became one of the ten most significant major conservatories in the United States, and is currently the only major tropical plant conservatory in the Rocky Mountain region. The unique structure, designed by Hornbein & White, became a city-designated historic landmark in 1973.
Denver Botanic Gardens is accredited by the American Association of Museums and is internationally recognized for the variety of its plants and gardens, including its Japanese Garden, Plains Garden, Rock Alpine Garden, Sensory Garden and water lily collection. The Gardens' Helen Fowler Library houses 33,000 items and is the largest collection devoted to botany, horticulture and gardening in the Rocky Mountain region.
The Gardens extends to three unique locations:
1) York Street, the 23-acre main location, includes indoor and outdoor plant displays, an herbarium, a library, lecture halls and classrooms. Plant displays feature over 32,500 species of plants in 45 gardens. The gardens feature plants from over 30 countries with arid climates similar to that of Colorado.
2) Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield encompasses 750 acres of open space southwest of Denver in one of the country's fastest growing suburban areas. It offers nature trails, educational exhibits, an historic farm and schoolhouse and 50 acres of wetland and riparian communities. The site is also an affiliate of the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, a national leader in native plant research and education.
3) Mount Goliath Alpine Trail presents an interpretive high altitude trail and alpine garden, as well as a Nature Center located along the Mount Evans Scenic Byway. Mount Goliath is managed in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and is the highest rock alpine garden in the world.
Board Chair/President Statement
Message from Board Chair
I send greetings from the Board of Trustees of the Denver Botanic Gardens and a hearty thank you for all the ways each of you support the work of connecting people to plants. As you see in this annual report, the Gardens continues to flourish in all of its venues and 2015 was no exception. At the heart of it is a shared passion for all things living and a desire to assure sustainability of our work in all dimensions...
• Scientific work is our small yet significant contribution dedicated to the sustainability of this lovely planet.
• Community investments literally and figuratively feed people through stimulation of the mind, body and spirit in ways that only plants enable.
• The creative and artistic beauty of the Gardens nurtures the soul of many communities and is fueled by a love of and passion for the wonder and amazement that only the natural world can bring.
Denver Botanic Gardens' team of staff, trustees and volunteers commit to this work because we believe in the mission and what fruit that mission can bear for this community and beyond. We look forward to continuing to serve you and hope this brief look into some of the important work we have done (and not nearly all the work that has been accomplished: that would take a report many pages longer!) makes you smile, motivates you to visit often and share the magic of this special place with others!
Thank you and see you around the Gardens!
Dr. Jandel Allen
Chair, Board of Trustees
The Gardens' core values: transformation, relevance, diversity and sustainability have enabled the Gardens to increase the ways we connect people with plants. The unification of art and science, as well as the art of science, shaped Gardens activities within its foundation areas of horticulture, education and research and conservation. Whether through the seemingly small act of a child planting and caring for a seed, or through the hosting of multi-day seminars for the nation's top ecologists and conservationists, the local and national communities were motivated to think creatively in order to better understand our environment through Denver Botanic Gardens' programs.
Our operations budget is what makes this beautiful oasis possible. From horticulture to research, education to art and exhibits, we pay for everything we do from a wide array of funding sources. The majority comes from admissions, membership, earned income and donations. These donations, your gifts, are vital to this equation.
Executive Director Statement
Message from the CEO
It was a year filled with opportunities, challenges and fulfillment. Throughout 2015, the Gardens once again saw what happens when a shared mission and sense of teamwork propels people to reach new heights.
The stories told in over 50 gardens at York Street flourished. The recently built Ellipse Garden, adjacent to the Waring House, exploded in color, its roses clearly relishing their new home. New crevice gardens became flashpoints of attraction, their minuscule plants both tenacious and stunning. The first major outdoor exhibit of Deborah Butterfield's remarkable horses found a welcome home here, the figures both beautiful and beguiling. How did she first imagine her process of taking found wood and crafting bronze equines? We were all amazed.
At Chatfield Farms, a new lavender garden was created adjacent to the Butterfly House which became a magnet for visitors. Vegetables grown at Chatfield Farms were taken to four sites to address the struggles of urban food deserts. Teams from the Gardens seemed to be everywhere, with projects at the 16th Street Mall to south Aurora.
The Garden's international impact deepened in 2015 as well. From design support of a new botanic garden in India to a new agreement with governmental authorities in Argentina to share plant research and propagation, we entered a new era of global understanding and cooperation.
By far, the biggest sensation of the year was Stinky, the Amorphophallus titanum that literally captivated the world. The event received international media attention including the Wall Street Journal, The Times UK, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and the Times of India. It was the first efflorescence of a corpse flower in the Rocky Mountain West and when throngs of daring visitors waited in line for half a day to see Stinky and as many thousands more tracked the bloom online, we had the opportunity to showcase one of nature's greatest and strangest stories of adaptation. This was the perfect fusion of horticulture and public relations.
The challenges of 2015 came from our most important ally - Mother Nature. In June, the York Street gardens were struck by twin hailstorms. The damage was profound, but the team's resilience proved to be equally so. Tents were shredded, whole gardens were pulverized. The roof of the greenhouse complex was pitted with holes. Conservatory panels were cracked. Yet, within hours, scores of staff and volunteers went to work and the recovery went into full swing. After mere days, visitors experienced no diminishment of their experience and the chance to rebuild became an opportunity to make everything even better. In fact, as the Boettcher Memorial Conservatory headed toward its 50th anniversary, the entire structure moved toward complete restoration.
Fulfillment. Under the leadership of our remarkable Board Chair, Dr. Jandel Allen-Davis, the Board approved a new strategic plan, taking the mission of the Gardens forward in a powerful way. Four key objectives were identified: sustainability, diversity, the reauthorization of the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) and the realization of the final project of the Master Development Plan - the Center for Science, Art and Education. These four pillars have shared importance as each will be fundamental to the Gardens path for decades to come.
All good things at the Gardens are possible because of you - Board Trustees, volunteers, donors, staff and countless friends who relish this singular institution.
Thank you all.
Denver Botanic Gardens CEO