Sneak Peek of New DBG Greenhouse Complex

Thanks to the Better Denver Bond Campaign–and Denver voters–the new Denver Botanic Gardens Greenhouse Complex is almost ready for its debut. This morning, the Gardens hosted members of the media to a sneak peek of the shiny new facility.

The Denver Botanic Gardens Greenhouse Complex opens to visitors on September 4, but if you’re a Denver County resident, you might want to wait until September 6 when you can get in for free. Marketing and PR director Robin Doerr told me the free day is DBG’s way of saying thank you to the community for approving funding for the project.

“We’re humbled in a time of difficult economic conditions to be able to do this,” she said.

More than $15 million was allocated for the major construction project that includes 50,000 square-feet of greenhouses, labs, offices, classrooms and other amenities. The exterior shows creative blending of existing structures–the Tropical Conservatory on the right–with the new Marnie’s Pavilion (left).

I got to the gardens early and watched the last minute preparations for the media tour, including washing the windows–and there are a lot of them on the Orangery (shown above).

“Orangery is French for ‘we’re richer than you are’,” joked CEO Brian Vogt. At one time it was a status symbol to have an Orangery at home for growing fresh fruit during winters in France, he explained.

Here the Orangery is a space between the greenhouses and the outdoor gardens with special roll-up doors. During the winter the long, narrow area will display citrus trees and other seasonal plants; in the warm-weather months it will extend the use of the outdoor patio.

Brian led the tour and he’s clearly pleased with the results of the extensive construction project. He told me that everyone involved on the project “wanted to get it right.”

Brian also said that one of the highlights of the new greenhouse complex isn’t something the public will appreciate, but will mean a lot to everyone who works there–storage space.

The greenhouse rooms sit empty, waiting for the return of the plant collections currently housed at the Chatfield site. It will take all of September to move the orchid, bromeliad, cactus, succulent and aquatic collections.

Once finished, the general public will have the opportunity to see what goes on in a greenhouse on a daily basis and will learn what it takes to care for a living collection of plants.

The planter boxes lining the inside of the Orangery were planted in the last 48 hours as part of the last-minute push to complete finishing touches before Friday night’s FĂȘte des Fleurs, a major DBG social event.

When visitors walk into Marnie’s Pavilion they’ll be greeted by the sound of waterfalls and the unique display of tropical plants, two of the main features of the man-made mountain that fills the entryway.

In addition to orchids, there will be bromeliads, ferns and many kinds of aquatic plants to help visitors learn about tropical ecosystems.

During the cold-weather months, visitors will be able to walk from the Tropical Conservatory (above) into Marnie’s Pavilion (below) without having to go outside. Brian said the new pavilion helps extend the garden’s four seasons of interest, especially on gray February days.


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