An unapologetic plant geek shares advice and opinions on gardening, the contrived and the natural landscape, as well as occasional topics from the other side of the gate.

August 9, 2014

Chihuly at the Denver Botanic Gardens

     For our vacation this summer we drove out to Colorado to spend some time with our friends the Sherpa Girls. In planning the trip I knew I would be visiting the Denver Botanic Gardens again whether anyone else would join me or not, but when Sherpa Girl K told me that they were hosting a Dale Chihuly exhibit the deal was sealed. I've seen bits and pieces of Chihuly's glass in museums, at Fairchild in Florida, and even in a former client's home, but the opportunity to see an entire exhibit made even driving through western Kansas worth it. When we got back home I told someone how thrilled I was that I got to see the exhibit, and they replied, in so many words, how overdone Chihuly was, and that he bordered on being passé. However, I loved it, in fact, I went twice, once during the day, and again at dusk to see the pieces illuminated. Judging from the full parking lot, and non-weekend crowds, I was not the only one who appreciated the successful marriage of art and garden.

Chihuly 'Lapis Icicle Tower' (3)

Chihuly 'Lapis Icicle Tower' (1)

Chihuly (47)

Chihuly (23)

Chihuly (4)

Chihuly (22)

Chihuly (13)

Chihuly (10)

Chihuly 'Garden Cycle' (2)

Chihuly 'Blue and Purple Boat' (7)

Chihuly (34)

Chihuly (28)

Cedrus libani ssp. libani

Chihuly (26)

Chihuly 'Red Reeds' (5)

Chihuly 'Red Reeds' (2)

Chihuly 'Saffron Tower' (1)

Chihuly 'White Tower' (2)

Chihuly 'Blue and Purple Boat' (13)

Chihuly (17)

Chihuy 'Green Hornets and Gold Waterdrops' (1)

Chihuly White Persian Glass(9)

Chihuly 'Saffron Tower' (2)

Chihuly (46)

Chihuly 'Float Boat' (8)

Chihuly 'Monet Pool Fiori'

Chihuly 'Lapis Icicle Tower' (7)

     If I had one complaint about the exhibit, it would be that the art was so alluring it made seeing the garden an effort. So for the next Colorado post I will focus on just the gardens. 


  1. Wow, the lighting was great for your photos! I love that last one! I can see how the art would be a little distracting but definitely worth seeing. Glad you had a great vacation!

  2. Great pictures. Thanks for taking the time to post and share.

  3. Living in the land of Chihuly I have had my fill, that said your photos are beautiful. If I'd traveled hundreds of miles to see the DBG (as I hope to finally do someday) and the gardens were playing second fiddle to artwork I would be very upset. Thanks for the reminder to always check the schedule in advance!

  4. I usualy yawn at "Chihuly", but not at how this series of exhibit placements was done, including the articulated fire pit. My last time at DBG was in 1/2013, and what a difference from when I first went there growing up in Denver many moons ago.

    This is extraordinary - thanks!

  5. Les, Wow, such beautiful pictures. I love Chihuly in the garden. If I had to pick a favorite it would be the babbles in the boat. Thanks for sharing your vacation with your readers. Vikki in VA

  6. I remember seeing the ceiling at the Belagio and being so taken with it. I am super envious that you saw the DBG AND that Chihuly's exhibit was there.

  7. Remarkable pictures.
    I find the glass and garden combination uplifting and beautiful, reminiscent of Chihuly's permanent exhibit at the foot of Seattle's Space Needle. The DBT provided even a broader canvas: I couldn't get tired of such ("overdone") beauty.

  8. Les, Great photos -- thanks. Yes, it might be a bit distracting without the tropical (eye-popping) color of plants to play these intense glass colors off of, but maybe we just have to use the earthy desert colors of CO as a visual contrast to the glass. I love the pic of the guy dusting (?) the glass -- makes me aware of upkeep of something like this installation. I have seen the same baubles in other of his installations -- I guess he has to take the glass to the next installation or else they would run out of these extraordinary beauties in short order.

  9. They seem more plant-like than some of the works i have seen in the past--as if the artists who executed them have been looking at plants (as they should!). Because of this, they seem quite successful in a garden context. Of course, as always, your photos are beautiful. Thanks for sharing them.

  10. Beautiful. Now that's what I call garden art.

  11. Since my summer garden is basically an all green dry shade garden, this just looks magical to me. Thanks for the pics!

  12. Living in Chihuly's home town where I see this stuff daily, I was prepared to be underwhelmed but this exhibit and your photographs are beautiful. I definitely want a canoe of glass balls in my garden. Now, where to put the lake...

  13. Sensational photos, Les! It's been fun to view the exhibit over time as the gardens have evolved and change through the summer. I can't wait to see it in October! Glad you had fun in *my* town!

  14. I think one has to recognize that Chihuly is actually an industry these days. Nevertheless, the glass/garden mix is a brilliant idea, brilliantly executed. And your pix prove that second visit was well worth it.

  15. When I saw that DBG was featuring Chihuly -- as so many botanic gardens have -- I felt a twinge of cynical "not again." But I must say, in this case, the plants and sculpture seem combined in a more deliberately way with the shapes and colors of plants and sculpture echoing back and forth, mimicking each other at times. Seems more care was taken in considering what went where; sculpture enliven plantings rather than taking all the attention. It's also a more extensive show than what I've seen elsewhere.... So I can see why you like it. And, it seems to be drawing people to DBG who wouldn't normally visit -- i.e., non-gardeners -- which is a big deal. Alan Bush noticed too. See his recent blog post:
    on Garden Rant (if you haven't seen). Apparently gotta keep pulling out the stops to attract new, younger people to gardening.....

  16. I have to laugh at people who are too "sophisticated" for Chihuly. Their loss. This is a stunning juxtaposition of art and garden, even better in person. Great post!