Adopt-A-Flowerbed Volunteers Conquer all

Anne Ercolani, Leslie Allbery, Danielle Terlep, Dale Skivington, Weed Whackers Team at Sopris Garden
Photo: Marcia Doty

Several teams are weeding away at the Sopris Garden, located to the west of the Pavilion where many weddings take place throughout the summer and fall. This garden is named in honor of Mayor Richard Sopris, one of the enterprising pioneers who came to Denver seeking a fortune in the gold fields and ended up returning to Denver to establish a city of beauty and culture, rivalling in their minds Paris, NYC and beyond. After serving as mayor, Sopris became Denver’s  parks commissioner in 1881. He was devoted to City Park and spent much of his own money to plant trees and discover varieties of trees that would thrive on the plains. The Sopris memorial, a stone seat and a statue of a boy at whose feet is a bronze sundial, stands before the Sopris Garden. There was a pool beneath the statue that is no longer functioning. The statue and fountain were donated by Sopris’ son, Simpson T. Sopris in honor of his mother, Elizabeth Sopris. The sandstone Sopris Gateway on 17th Avenue and Steele St. was designed by Frank E. Edbrooke and donated by Simpson Sopris in honor of his father in 1912.

Sopris Garden
Sopris Garden (Burns Garden in background)

Did you ever wonder why there are cannons circling the Burns Garden? The three cannons were donated to Denver by the Grand Army of the Republic in 1897 to commemorate the Colorado volunteer armed forces who fought for the Union. The cannons are a 13-inch Seacoast Mortar, an 11-inch Navy Duhlgren and a 6.4-inch (100 pounder) Navy Parrott Rifle. These cannons provided a good setting for military floral displays (an elaborate one celebrated the return of veterans of the Spanish American War) and military gatherings and parades until the Caledonian Society donated the statue of the Scottish poet, Robert Burns for the central spot among the cannons in 1909.

Robert Burns Statue (Sculptor, John Duff McGilvray)

Martin Luther King, Jr. Statue(Sculptor, Ed Dwight)

Famous for the lyrics to songs like Auld Lang Syne, and poems such as To a Mouse and A Red, Red Rose, Burns was also an abolitionist who famously said, “…man to man, the warld o’er, Shall brithers be for ‘a that.” The Chieftan of the St. Andrew’s Society of Colorado, Jean Hess, feels it appropriate that the statues of Martin Luther  King, Jr. and Robert Burns are across from each other in City Park. She relates that both Abraham Lincoln and his Scottish wife, Mary Todd and also Frederick Douglass were among those who visited Scotland and paid tribute to their fellow abolitionist and writer. Both Lincoln and Douglass were inspired by Burns’ philosophy of egalitarianism and the worth of all men – a philosophy shared by Martin Luther King, Jr.

Woody Garnsey, Julie Lehman & Brooke Baydon, In the Weeds Team at Ida’s (City Park) Rock Garden

Julie Lehman, Greenhouse/Horticulture Manager for the City and County of Denver, paid a visit to Ida’s Rock Garden to introduce herself and chat with volunteers. All the flowers grown for parks in Denver are grown in the City Park greenhouses – all 250,00 of them. Julie also affirms that next year, unlike in post-pandemic 2021, the flowerbeds will be filled 100%. She talked with the group about City Park’s irrigation system. Ida’s has its own sprinkler system that can be adjusted for the low-water needs of a native garden like this native plant-based area. Sopris and Burns Gardens receive water from the sprinklers that water the lawns, so these gardens receive more water than a native garden could tolerate. If more native or pollinator gardens are desired, establishing separate irrigation systems for Sopris and Burns might be a good, though expensive place to start.

Julie thanked the In The Weeds Team for their weeding efforts and affirmed that the Adopt-A-Bed volunteers are making a difference in City Park! 

Kirsten Kahn, Joan Hickman, Tayo McGuirk, Grab ‘Em By The Roots Team
Photo: Tayo McGuirk


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