Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms composes 700 acres of land that was once a ranch belonging to the Hildebrand and Green families. The site is nestled against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains and trees line the banks of the Deer Creek that runs through the facility. It is still home to three farmhouses, two barns, farm structures, and the one-room Deer Creek schoolhouse. One barn and farmhouse and the schoolhouse have been renovated to hold private events. Additional spaces include an open-air chapel and a garden terrace under twinkling lights, as well as Deer Creek Stables, which has retractable walls and rustic chandeliers. Views of the foothills and surrounding gardens can be seen from all corners of the property.
With aid from a Kaiser Permanente grant, the Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield opened in 2010. It operates as a non-profit and has rapidly grown from 1 acre and 55 shares to its current size of 4.5 acres and 275 shares. Farm produce is grown using organic methods, but the farm is not certified organic. Currently, there are two distribution sites, one at York Street Denver Botanic Gardens and one at Chatfield in Littleton, Arapahoe, Douglas, and Jefferson counties. The distribution is done in a Farmer’s Market-style which encourages members to select their products rather than receiving them pre-packaged. About 20 weeks of products are available from the middle of June to the end of October.
In addition, Chatfield CSA has partnered with other local producers to provide share add-ons such as locally grown fruit, mushrooms, eggs, bread, and locally roasted coffee. A further donation of produce is made weekly to non-profits that serve lower-income individuals and the homeless. The Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms were among the first to practice many waste prevention techniques, such as water conservation and biological pest management. Among the notable themed gardens are the 7 gardens featuring plants from Colorado and neighboring states. These include the Japanese Garden called Shofu-en, the Garden of Wind and Pines, and the Dryland Mesa. The Dryland Mesa in particular is a garden based on the 7 Principles of Xeriscape which include drought-tolerant plants from the arid West and Mediterranean areas. Also featured in the Gardens is the Boettcher Memorial Tropical Conservatory, a massive concrete structure designed in 1964. This became a Denver Landmark in 1973.
Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms also hosts free days year-round. No ticket is required for admission to Free Days events but they are only available during regular hours. On these specific days, you can expect the Gardens to be extra crowded, but they are still fun and frugal ways to explore. From spring to summer through fall and winter there is usually something fun happening at the Denver Botanic Gardens. One popular event is the Music at the Gardens concert series. Members get advanced ticketing to music inside the Botanic Gardens’ amphitheater. You can enjoy music from local artists and bands, connect with small business sponsors, taste yummy food, and enjoy a gorgeous outdoor setting.
In the fall, many people are attending the Glow at the Gardens, a nighttime festival of pumpkins and Halloween delight. Hundreds of carved pumpkins, gourds, and jack-o-lanterns are lined up in the walkways. In addition, every year there are massive sculptures made completely out of pumpkins. And every winter, there’s also an event called Blossoms of Light. It starts after Thanksgiving Day and continues through the New Year. It’s a beautiful event where you and your family can celebrate the holiday season with a dazzling and ever-changing display of color and lights. Many of the pathways are lined with thousands of colorful lights and different holiday displays. In addition, there’s also a Solarium where a glasshouse is tucked away in one part of the Gardens. One year it was decorated like the 12 Days of Christmas.
In addition to these special events, the Gardens near Littleton offer a range of educational programs for visitors of all ages. From hands-on workshops to certificate courses, to lectures for the public to professional development, the Gardens focus on programs for science and research. These classes make this a fantastic destination for homeschool families, school field trips, and adult education as well. Denver Botanic Gardens Chatfield Farms hours are from 9 am to 5 pm daily with the last admission being 4 pm. The gift shop at the gardens is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily but the Graden is closed for holidays like New Year’s Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day and on certain days the Gardens will be closing early due to special events or maintenance.
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