Campus in Full Bloom

The CSU trial gardens in the golden hour.
Take a return trip to campus on Aug. 6 (or really anytime) to see campus and the Trial Gardens in full bloom.

Every year, there’s a time when the Colorado State University campus truly comes alive, making it the perfect time for a return trip to campus. It’s a time of new beginnings when a fresh crop comes into their own, showcasing CSU’s mission and all the University has to offer. It could happen anytime between July and September, but most agree early August is the best time to visit the CSU Flower Trial Gardens because that’s when thousands of varieties of flowering plants are in full bloom and at their peak.

“It’s really become one of the top tourist destinations in all of Northern Colorado,” Dr. James Klett, flower trial garden coordinator, said. “We have more annual and perennial varieties being grown here than in any other part of the Rocky Mountain Region, and people will see varieties here that they won’t see anyplace else.”

A collection of red, white, and purple perennial flowers.
With nearly 1,000 varieties of annuals, there’s plenty to admire.

The gardens are the premiere public garden experience along the Front Range and beyond, Klett added, and it all culminates this year on August 6.

“That’s when we invite gardeners, horticulturalists, and everyone else to come and visit the garden to see the annuals and vote for their favorites,” he said. “Myself and my staff, along with some master gardeners, will be on hand to answer questions, give tours, and hear what the consumer thinks are best ones.”

It may sound straightforward, but with only three votes per person and nearly 1,000 varieties and types of annuals to choose as a favorite, attendees will need to be selective in their choice.

“It’s a really fun event and there’s something for everyone,” Klett said. “There’s 80-100 different color varieties of dahlias, bee-friendly and herbaceous plants, and all the different Plant Select perennials we’ve helped introduce over the past 25 years.”

Klett is especially proud of that last part, and he said what makes the gardens so special is how they truly exemplify all aspects of CSU’s mission. On any given day, he explained, you can see horticultural professors explaining how to identify plants, fine art students using the plants as still life subjects, and gardening professionals getting a glimpse at the newest plant variety that is about to hit the market.

A yellowish white flower in full bloom
The public is invited to visit the Trial Gardens on Aug. 6 to vote for their favorite.

“It’s pretty unique how we can fulfill all aspects of the University’s mission – education, research, and extension – in one place that is open to the public 365 days a year,” he said. “That’s my favorite part of the gardens. With the research and the work we do at the trial gardens, we’re helping gardeners and whole horticultural industry be more successful.

The Trial Garden Public Exhibition will be held on Aug. 6 from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information, visit