Thursday, July 17, 2008


So. Having dropped off a bunch of clothes that I never wear, I was walking out of the consignment shop today and I saw that it was raining. I was so surprised that I thought in French, "La mousson a arrive." For it is 17 July, and it was about 4:30 in the afternoon, and up until then the day had been oppressively hot. But the rain was cool, and in the great, front-range tradition, lasted for about five minutes.

Something about it inspired me, though. On my way to my next errand I remembered that there is a small public garden just next to the amusement park and just off the bike path that goes along the river. I have wanted to have a look at it for a while, but I never made a time, and whenever I am passing by it seems that the garden is closed -- it closes at 5pm each day, a travesty if you ask me. The hours just before the sun goes down are the best times for walking in gardens. I had twenty minutes.

Centennial Gardens was designed and is maintained by the Denver Botanic Gardens. It is laid out in a formal style, and the signs in the park refer to Versailles and to Kensington Gardens. However, the designers have taken care to use native plants or species that do not take up much water. The hedges are made of native fernwood and mountain mahogany. One section is comprised of lavender plants (and, it looks like, bees), and one has huge rose bushes. Instead of cypress, there are juniper.

The gardens are laid out in nine equal squares, with a colonnade stretching down most of the east side of the garden, and bosques of linden on the north and the south sides, respectively. The linden smell wonderful. I walked through the whole garden, then sat underneath the colonnade and enjoyed a rare 5pm breeze.

For the most part I was the only one in the garden. I saw several groups of people stop in and look from the front, but they left quickly, I think to ride the roller coaster. The only other people in the garden were a middle school-aged couple, the girl sitting literally astride the boy, who lay in the grass under the lindens. When I walked by them, they looked at me with huge, sheepish grins. Then, for the rest of the time I was in the garden, they kept looking over toward me, as if I were some figure of authority from whom they were trying to hide their bad behavior. "When is she going to leave?" They looked like they were saying. "It is irritating trying to have to pretend to be doing nothing." Such behavior is archetypal in gardens, I know.

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