The Butterfly WebSite

Field Trips -
Dusty Darrah: October 12, 1998

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Walk with me in the garden................

Hudson Gardens consists of 16 separate gardens on 30 sprawling acres and is located south of Denver at 6115 S. Santa Fe Drive, Littleton Co. But, I'm getting ahead of myself.

Let me give you a bit of the romantic history of these grounds first. The land was originally owned by Evelyn & King Hudson who were very intent that the area remain for the purpose they had envisioned it, to teach people about nature and to display huge beds of gorgeous flowers, plants, bushes and trees with a little water splashed in occasionally. Evelyn worked very hard in her lifetime to begin creating this wonderful Eco-area. She also encouraged others to join garden clubs and other groups that helped to beautify the city and entrances to housing developments, shopping areas, etc. with trees and flowering plants. For her local efforts, she was named Citizen of the Year in 1971 by the Littleton Independent Newspaper.

The Hudson's began with a log cabin style restaurant on the premises called the 'Country Kitchen' which they ran themselves and it was featured in Life magazine as one of the 'Famous Roadside Inns for Travelers in America'. In later years, it was leased as the North Woods Inn, still maintaining its reputation for great food and excellent service. Now, most of the kitchen has been removed but it is still usable for caterers and is available to the public for weddings, business meetings, receptions, etc. A spectacular wooded setting, great for outdoor pictures.

King Hudson died in 1984 and upon Evelyn's death in 1988, she left general instructions as to the use of her land and financial assets to "promote the cause of beautification and attendant ecological benefits."

The actual construction of the gardens as we know them today began in 1991 when the first ornamental river rock wall was built. The gardens were only opened to the public after June of 1996 so this is a fairly 'young' garden in the Denver area, even though King and Evelyn had been working on it for years before.

I was openly received by Lynda Fletcher, one of Hudson Gardens' many representatives and the rest of the friendly group working in the various 16 gardens while I was visiting on behalf of the Butterfly Website. After a brief introduction to the area, I was left to my own whims to walk the paths that encompass the 30 acres, taking pictures and just absorbing the quiet. Documents describing the plants of each area are conveniently placed in weather-proof pedestals for the taking.

The entrance of Hudson Gardens hints of what's in store for me just beyond the graveled parking area with the gorgeous display of plants and flowers framing their sign. Plenty of parking just outside the entrance gazebo, which is just dripping with all kinds of flowers and plants.

The Variety Garden House (a fancy name for their gift shop) peeks through the foliage ahead. What a unique collection of nature oriented gifts; plants, stationery, cards, candles, T-shirts, sweatshirts, wind chimes, knick knacks, etc. all with the nature theme, either painted or embroidered or printed somehow on each item. If you live in the Denver area and have a hard time finding gifts for a gardening friend or someone that just loves nature, come to the gift shop here. You absolutely will not be disappointed and neither will the recipient of your gift. Keep this place in mind for early holiday shopping!

My stroll began in the Butterfly Bank at a bronze sculpture of Jack (the rabbit) and all kinds of flowering plants that provide nectar for the butterflies and caterpillar food.

Shelter for the butterflies (from the weather and predators) is provided by the huge Spruce trees that tower behind this area. The area being referred to as a "bank" stems from the flood of '65 that wiped out a large portion of the land just beyond the Hudson residence. When the water receded, the area now called the Butterfly Bank was left. The 4th graders from the Centennial Elementary School began planting perennials and the bank is now covered with Black Eyed Susan, Blue Mist Spirea, Zinnia, Verbena, Milkweed, Marigolds, Queen Anne's Lace and Blanket Flowers that protect and attract butterflies and help feed the caterpillars.

Each year, the Botanical Gardens in Denver has a plant sale and the items that aren't sold, are donated to Hudson Gardens to expand their quantity of plants and further beautify the grounds.

A nice sized pond with a huge fountain for aeration of the water and it's inhabitants comes into view as I walk to the Ornamental Grass garden. It makes such a nice background for the pictures.

Maiden Grass, Pampas Grass, Blood Grass all mingling with a few Day Lilies for a little color. Tall, lazy blades of grass swaying in the breeze.......... hmmm, what a nice place for a nap in the shade.

My very favorite of all the 16 gardens is the Lily Pond. It is absolutely overflowing with the cutest little green water frogs that sit and watch you ...

... and a few ducks splashing around here and there.

But the real treat of this area is all the beautiful Lotus flowers and Water Lilies that seemed to float by as I stood there, mesmerized by the quiet and serene atmosphere. A park bench close to the water would be great so you could comfortably linger a while and loose yourself in the absence of thought and stress of the outside world. I'm told "it's in the works already". I must not be the only one that likes to absorb that kind of nature.

Lynda enjoys the Lily Pond too but her favorite is the Cutting Garden. It's got a good sized bird bath with two bronze birds frolicking in the water.

A circular walk through the Cutting Garden gives you a great view of all sides of the flowers. Just beyond it, is the Rose Garden with beautiful fountains to accent and add a sparkle, here and there.

The sound of splashing water draws me to another area where a waterfall empties into a small pond, viewed from a wooden bridge. Wow! Take a deep breath! All of a sudden, there's a strong smell of pine in the air and visually, there's Pine Trees, Juniper's and other conifers snuggled all around. I'm not sure which one was supplying the great aroma but it immediately brought my other senses into play with my eyes.

On my way out of the gardens, I found the Oval Garden which is really the site you see when you come out of the gift shop. It's huge! It's full of annuals and perennials, the color combinations and their heights compliment each other perfectly. I see Stardust Sedum, more Blanket Flowers and even some Daisies sprinkled in here. Since walking on the grass is encouraged here, I got as close to them as I could without walking IN the garden itself.

After saying my thanks to Lynda for allowing me to just loose myself for a while on this beautiful, aromatic walk, I caught myself mentally planning what else I can do in my own back yard to invite more birds, butterflies and even more friends in to enjoy the experience I'm lucky enough to have every day.

Hudson Gardens support several FREE admission days throughout the year. The FREE days for the remainder of the year are November 6 and December 17. These FREE days average about once a month.

The Gardens are open 7 days a week from 10:00am - 5:00pm.

Adults $4.00
Seniors $2.00
Children (6-12) $1.50

For more detailed information: Call 303-797-8565 and talk to the friendly staff!

Thanks for taking a walk with me through Hudson Gardens. Soon I'll have more to show you from my next walk in another one of Denver's famous local gardens.

Dusty Darrah
Highlands Ranch CO
Oct. 12, 1998

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