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 Tropical Conservatory, an indoor facility for tropical and sub-tropical plants, which made the Gardens a year-round attraction. The Tropical Conservatory soon became one of the 10 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.
The Freyer - Newman Center recently opened to provide dedicated space for art, science and education-- featuring art galleries, a library, classrooms, an auditorium, herbaria and science labs.
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 24-acre main location, includes indoor and outdoor plant displays, a green roof children's garden, 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 Chatfield Farms encompasses 700 acres of open space southwest of Denver in one of the country's fastest growing suburban areas. It offers nature trails, educational exhibits, a historical farm and schoolhouse and 50 acres of wetland and riparian communities. The site has an agriculture program that grows produce for members of the CSA (community supported agriculture) program and residents in food desert communities as part of the Urban Food Initiatives outreach. The Veterans Farm Program provides agriculture training, experience and horticulture therapy for post 9/11 veterans.
3) Mount Goliath Alpine Trail presents an interpretive high-altitude trail and alpine garden, as well as a nature center located along the Mount Blue Sky Scenic Byway. Mount Goliath is managed in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and is the highest rock alpine garden in the world.
Additionally, the Gardens manages education programs at Plains Conservation Center in Aurora.