General Description and History
Several professionally-conducted surveys have documented that gardening is the single most popular outdoor leisure activity. Not only for gardeners, however, The Gardens on Spring Creek offers something for virtually everyone, including recreational, educational, cultural, and environmental components. It is a place for people, as much as it is for plants. In contrast to a traditional botanic gardens, The Gardens on Spring Creek:
The Gardens on Spring Creek was first envisioned in 1986 but the first critical step in our development did not come until 1995, when our founding non-profit group successfully convinced the Fort Collins city council to initiate a city-funded community horticulture program. The positive results of that program's dozens of gardens and gardening projects were then used as a springboard to secure the endorsement of voters in a 1997 municipal election, resulting in three million dollars in city funding to build the Gardens on Spring Creek. Ground was finally broken on the Visitors Center in 2004.
Situated on an 18-acre site along the Spring Creek corridor, The Gardens welcomes visitors with inspiring displays of plants suited to Front Range growing conditions.
Our display gardens include:
- The Plant Select® Demonstration Garden: featuring over 1,400 plants
- The Lauren Springer-Ogden Xeric Parkway Strip: showcasing unique plants for tough conditions
- The Garden of Eatin': producing an abundance of fruit, vegetables, and herbs
- The Rock Garden: featuring plants from all the northern Colorado ecosystems
- The Children's Garden: for kids to explore secret gardens, water features, playhouses, and more
Our Visitors Center houses a gift shop, a 1,400 square foot production greenhouse, and the Evelyn Clark classroom.
The Visitor's Center is the main building that includes a 1400 square foot greenhouse, a classroom that seats up to 45 available for rental, a retail area, offices, and informative display area.
Our grounds and gardens include the following:
- A One-half acre Children's Garden, the first in the U.S. with a focus on the themes of sustainability and community
- A gorgeous 400-foot-long parkway strip garden, created by nationally-recognized designer and author Lauren Springer, and featuring 900 perennials and 8,000 bulbs
- Community garden plots, available for a nominal rental to individuals and families to grow their own vegetables and/or flowers in a community setting
- Spring Creek and the Sherwood Lateral irrigation ditch, both of which meander through our site, have been transformed into visual amenities and valuable wildlife habitat through the plantings of several thousand plantings of native grasses, shrubs and trees.
- A lovely entryway garden complete with stone walls, water feature, and lovely assortment of trees, shrubs, and perennials.
- We are the city of Fort Collins' compost demonstration site
As funding becomes available through grants and donations, additional gardens will be established, including an extensive fruit and vegetable garden, an experiential garden, a meditation garden, and a prairie garden. The beauty of the site will be enhanced with many refined architectural elements, such as walled gardens, vine-draped arbors, and trellised walkways.
First envisioned in 1986, the establishment of the Gardens on Spring Creek has been an extraordinary example of citizens positively affecting their city by working within their community planning process. It has also been a noteworthy testament to the power of individuals in fulfilling their dreams. Much hard work (including many thousands of volunteer hours), perseverance, and the surmounting of countless obstacles and setbacks were necessary to realize the vision. The first critical step came in 1995, when our founding non-profit group successfully convinced the Fort Collins city council to initiate a city-funded community horticulture program. The positive results of that program's many dozens of gardens and gardening projects were then used as a springboard to secure the endorsement of voters in a 1997 municipal election, resulting in three million dollars in city funding to build the Gardens on Spring Creek.
Although a city-owned and operated facility, it is truly a public/private partnership. The city's funding for construction has been complimented with extensive private contributions. Furthermore, at least one fourth of the operating costs are met with volunteer labor, earned revenue, and donations. Private funding is relied upon to establish additional landscaping and gardens on the site. Much of the private fundraising, along with membership development and other tasks, is accomplished by The Friends of the Gardens on Spring Creek, our non-profit citizen group established to support The Gardens.