Denver Botanic Gardens’ music-inspired Pavilion wins National Award


Photo courtesy Denver Botanic Gardens

Imagine if every part of your day had background music: You just landed your dream job and Pharrell Williams’ “Happy” started playing. Or after your first kiss, Whitesnake’s “Is This Love” tuned up. Wouldn’t it make the moment a little better? For the 100,000 visitors who made their way through Denver Botanic Gardens’ Annuals Garden and Pavilion this summer, that experience was real—and it garnered the gardens a top award.

All-America Selections (a nonprofit organization founded in 1932 to test new plants for home gardening) recently wrapped up its 2018 Landscape Design Challenge, in which more than 80 volunteer judges in more than 40 trial arounds across North America rated entries. The theme was “Get Social in the Garden,” with AAS encouraging public gardens to design with social media in mind.

Denver Botanic Gardens’ Annuals Garden and Pavilion earned first place for a garden with over 100,000 annual visitors. “Denver Botanic Gardens clearly had a strong social media presence before this competition and is highly competent in engaging the online public,” AAS said. “We applaud their ideas, engagement, and execution of this year’s challenge theme.”

Horticulturist Bridget Blomquist designed the award-winning beds around 1980s pop songs like “White Wedding” by Billy Idol, “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure, “Every Breath You Take” by The Police, “Purple Rain” by Prince and “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by the Clash, which were then offered to visitors through a Spotify playlist. The result was an audiovisual experience that visitors—and judges—couldn’t stop talking about. 

To satisfy the “social” aspect of the competition, visitors were encouraged to blog, tweet, and take photos of their experience; but the music was the heart and soul of the exhibit. For those who visited the Annuals Garden and Pavilion this summer, the Clash hit “Should I Stay or Should I Go” was arguably more relevant than ever before.

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