Guest Columns

RILEY-CHETWYND: WATER MANAGEMENT BEGINS AT LOCAL LEVEL

Denver Botanic Gardens’ commitment to sustainability, water conservation is solid

GUEST COLUMNIST

With outdoor water use accounting for more than half of Denver’s water consumption, water-efficient gardening can help conserve this precious resource. Denver Botanic Gardens identified sustainability as a core value with this in mind — educating our community on how to design and maintain a beautiful garden with plants that are appropriate for a semi-arid climate. From the way we irrigate to the plants we feature in our gardens, we try to set an example of good water management.

How will drought impact the Gardens?

Denver Water has declared a stage 2 drought, which means mandatory water use restrictions for all its customers. Other water providers have made or will soon announce similar restrictions. At Denver Botanic Gardens, we are currently developing a plan to reduce our water use by 20 percent from previous years. This will entail reducing the frequency and run times for our automatic irrigation, watering during cooler times (evening and overnight) and turning off some of our water features, including the misters on the West Terrace and fountains in the Monet Pond.

Seeking inspiration for water-efficient gardening?

We’ll continue to showcase water-efficient gardening practices. Denver Botanic Gardens tries to lead by example when it comes to efficient irrigation and appropriate plant selection for this climate — with perhaps our best examples being the Roads Water-Smart Garden and the Western Panoramas Garden at our York Street location. Several gardens — the Plains Garden, Anna’s Overlook and Dryland Mesa — are not irrigated at all.
We urge homeowners to visit the Gardens throughout the spring and summer to get tips on how to practice water-efficient gardening in their own yards.And an expanded offering of classes and seminars will provide even more opportunities to become water-wise!

Additional water-conservation resources

In championing water conservation, Denver Botanic Gardens collaborates with many organizations. These include:

Alliance for Water Efficiency: In 2011, Denver Botanic Gardens became the first public garden member of this national stakeholder-based nonprofit organization dedicated to the efficient and sustainable use of water.

Colorado Nursery and Greenhouse Association: CNGA works in collaboration with the nursery and greenhouse industry of Colorado in implementing industry best management practices.

Metropolitan State University’s One World One Water Center: The Gardens is working with MSU’s OWOW Center on a range of education and awareness initiatives.

Plant Select: Denver Botanic Gardens co-founded Plant Select to help seek out, identify and distribute the best plants for landscapes and gardens from the intermountain region to the high plains.

Sterling Ranch: Denver Botanic Gardens has helped this water-efficiency-minded residential development in the creation of a low-water-use demonstration garden.

Jennifer Riley-Chetwynd is the director of marketing and public relations for the Denver Botanic Gardens.