Elizabeth Street Garden | Cultivating Colorado’s Ecologies


Catalyzed by a family’s appreciation of horticulture, and their desire to create a distinct landscape that celebrates a mile-high location, the landscape architect forged a plan that merges nature and nurture, creating a cultivated oasis in the heart of an urban location. Horticulture and design converge in a three-acre residential garden, effectively transporting the owners and their guests through the myriad of diverse and extraordinary landscapes of Colorado. The result is a modern home, set in the heart of urban Denver, surrounded by sweeping meadows, perennial wildflowers, rocky outcroppings, aspen woodlands, coniferous forests, open water, and dry stream courses.


Located on the grounds of Denver’s first Polo Club and in the heart of an historic neighborhood, the three-acre property was originally developed in the mid-2000s. The home, a stately modern form defined by steel and cut sandstone panels, rested squarely on a restrained hardscape “plinth” surrounded by a restored landscape. While the former design was infused with large swathes of native plantings, the property had become overgrown and neglected.

A New Vision
In 2019, new owners purchased the property and invited the Landscape Architect to reimagine the garden to encompass a lively fusion of modern forms, naturalistic horticultural expressions, and create more family gathering spaces. The client’s deep interest for horticulture, often energized by weekend trips to the Denver Botanic Gardens, provided the catalyst for their desire to create a distinct landscape that celebrates both the unique Western identity of their location and the natural horticultural and seasonal irregularities inherent in an arid high-altitude climate and geography. While elements of the original garden design were retained, including the entry water feature and meadow, a new vision emerged for the property that conferred a collection of new experiences.

A Colorado Garden
As one of our country’s most ecologically diverse states, Colorado is home to 35 Level IV ecoregions (as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency), each informed by distinct regional factors including physiography, geology, climate, hydrology, soils, and wildlife. Recognizing the uniqueness of this distinction, the Landscape Architect crafted a vision that transports the owners and their guests on an experiential journey through many of these diverse and extraordinary landscapes. The result is a three-acre property that merges tallgrass prairie, wildflower meadows, rock outcroppings, deciduous woodlands, coniferous forests, dry ravines, and open water in the heart of the mile-high city.

Layering In Change
Much like the individual gardens and collections found at Denver Botanic Gardens, these regional portraits are manifest in distinct vignettes that are incorporated within the garden’s overall program. Experienced from various vantage points within the home, the gardens immerse visitors within a restorative setting so successfully that the surrounding urban environment is completely forgotten.

A prolonged journey of closure and reveal, the Pine Drive meanders through an introduced forest of mature Ponderosa pine trees, their protective canopies enveloping and sheltering the two-story home from the region’s intense weather. Anchored by a specimen red maple, the Wildflower Court is reduced and reconfigured from its original layout. Former expanses of bluegrass that once surrounded the court were replaced with a tapestry of stalwart perennials that both reinforce a water-wise planting design and attract local pollinators. Inside, the home’s central hallway terminates on views of a river birch grove, immersing visitors within a curtain of nature.

To enhance both physical and visual connectivity across the property, the design introduces a break in the existing sandstone spine wall that extends east from the home, enabling guests to explore the gardens and various vantage points. Flanking the north side and viewable from the kitchen, an overgrown hillside thicket of Wood’s rose was transformed into a Japanese-inspired display garden of specimen conifers and granitic outcroppings, set within carpeted layers of thyme, sedums, and moss. Opposite this garden, on the southern side of the wall, an outdoor dining and firepit terrace extends from the home, set adjacent to a new pavilion and vine-wrapped shade trellis. A new geometric pool, situated upon the threshold of cultivated gardens and the restored meadow, is finished with a nocturnal aspect, its stillness an abstraction of the reflective ponds commonly found in high alpine meadows. The critical need to collect and manage the property’s stormwater is achieved through a dry-stream ravine, bound by wildflowers, that traverses the Woodland Forest. Walking trails traverse the property, linking various spaces and inviting the owners and their guests to engage with the transformed landscape.

Plant List

Entry and Autocourt

  • Ponderosa Pine
  • Honeylocust
  • Autumn Blaze Red Maple
  • Beauty Bush
  • Western Serviceberry
  • Littleleaf Mockorange
  • Pinky Winky Hydrangea
  • Limelight Hydrangea
  • Snowmound Mugo Pine
  • Peking Cotoneaster
  • Fragrant Sumac
  • Spring Glory Forsythia
  • Pekling Cotoneaster
  • Summer Wine Ninebark
  • White Snowmound Spirea
  • Weigela
  • Dwarf Gro-Low Sumac
  • Apricot Yarrow
  • Rocky Mountain Columbine
  • Delphinium Connecticut Yankee
  • Autumn Joy Sedum
  • White Coneflower
  • Pure White Garden Phlox
  • Moonbeam Coreopsis
  • Rozanne Cranesbill
  • Autumn Joy Sedum
  • Walker’s Low Catmint
  • Blonde Ambition Grass
  • Mexicale Red Rocks Penstemon
  • Blue Cranesbill
  • Monch Frikart’s Aster
  • Little Spire Russian Sage

Shade Garden

  • Dwarf Korean Lilac
  • Miss Kim Lilac
  • Mountain Snowberry
  • Little Devil Ninebark
  • Hadspen Blue Hosta
  • Frances Williams Hosta
  • Francee Hosta
  • Light Green Hosta
  • Royal Standard Hosta
  • Golden Giant Hosta
  • Krossa Regal Hosta
  • Regal Splendor Hosta
  • Blue Giant Plantain Lily
  • Pink False Spirea
  • Rich Pink False Spirea
  • Bleeding Heart
  • Emerald Gaiety Euonymus
  • Purpleleaf Wintercreeper
  • Robust Male Fern

Zen Garden

  • Japanese Black Pine
  • Weeping White Pine
  • Niagara Falls Pine
  • Dwarf Scotch Pine
  • Lacebark Pine
  • Weeping Norway Spruce
  • Wate’s Golden Pine
  • Canadian Hemlock
  • Quaking Aspen
  • Royal Star Magnolia
  • Flowering Almond Tree
  • Redbud
  • Japanese Lilac Tree
  • Weeping White Cherry
  • Yoshino Cherry
  • Bloodgood Japanese Maple
  • Serviceberry Autumn Brilliance
  • Western Serviceberry
  • Texas Scarlet Flowering Quince
  • Pink Fountain Bushclover
  • Koreanspire Viburnum
  • Dense Yew
  • Coral Beauty Cotoneaster
  • Panchito Manzanita
  • Icee Blue Juniper
  • Prostrate Spruce
  • Robust Male Fern
  • Liriope Grass
  • Dwarf Mondo Grass
  • Irish Moss
  • White Creeping Thyme
  • White Swirl Siberian Iris
  • Japanese Forest Grass
  • Variegated Silver Grass

Pool Garden

  • Autumn Blaze Red Maple
  • River Birch
  • Wisteria
  • Arctic Fire Dogwood
  • Sandra Bernhardt Peony
  • May Night Purple Salvia
  • Blue Salvia
  • Six Hills Giant Catmint
  • Moonshine Yarrow
  • Blue Cranesbill
  • Blue Avena Grass
  • Sweet Woodruff

Woodland Ravine

  • Western Serviceberry
  • Arctic Fire Dogwood
  • Northern Lights Rhododendron
  • Common White Yarrow
  • Ligularia
  • Purple Coneflower
  • Blackeyed Susan
  • White Swirl Siberian Iris
  • Sweet Woodruff


  • Harmony Iris
  • Pickwick Crocus
  • Golden Yellow Crocus
  • Ruby Prince Tulip
  • Purple Prince
  • Mixture the Blues Hyacinth
  • Ditch Master Narcissus
  • Pinball Wizard Allium

Documents and Media

Planning Docs (if applicable):