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Dutch Heritage Gardens: A Douglas County must-see

Dutch Heritage Gardens Owner and CEO Aaron Van Wingerden talks about the history of the 20-acre greenhouse off Palmer Divide Road in southern Douglas County.

Anyone lucky enough to have been inside the vast and vibrant greenhouses of Dutch Heritage Gardens knows that it is one of the must-see places in Douglas County.

Nestled off a country road in the unincorporated southeastern part of the county, the 20-acre greenhouse complex defies adequate description; the words “stunning” and “awe-inspiring” do not quite capture it. Dutch Heritage Gardens is to plant-enthusiasts what Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory is to kids. It is a dream-like wonderland with flowers stretching almost as far as the eye can see. And just when you thought you have seen all that Dutch Heritage Gardens has to offer, a turn around a corner reveals yet another expansive array of flowers as impressive as the last.

Chances are if you have bought a flowering plant from King Soopers in recent years, it came from Dutch Heritage Gardens. In fact, founder and owner Aaron Van Wingerden says that around 20 percent of flowering plants sold nationwide are grown there.

The greenhouse hosted a private tour for about 25 local influencers on April 20, many of them first-time visitors. As employees busily buzzed around and robotic arms conducted some of the more tedious tasks associated with growing plants, Van Wingerden wowed the group with his vast knowledge of cultivation and explained some of the sustainable growing practices that have been incorporated into the third-generation operation.

“When it comes to controlling the indoor environment, some commercial greenhouses fail to take the outdoor environment into consideration,” according to Van Wingerden. “Running energy efficient boilers, using controlled automated irrigation equipment, recycling water, using organic soils, limiting chemicals, using double poly roofs and purchasing from local companies are a number of ways a greenhouse can care for the environment. Here at Dutch Heritage Gardens, we are proud to say we do all of these things.”

The greenhouse has conducted extensive research and development into the rapid decline of pollinators important to plant reproduction, and added the BeeWilder line to its container-garden line. The “pollinator-friendly” line has colorful, fragrant blooms specifically designed to attract pollinators.

For all of its glory, a relatively small percentage of the population in Douglas County and neighboring El Paso County has actually seen the inside of Dutch Heritage Gardens. It opens to the public only three weekends per year, including Memorial Day weekend for its popular Spring Open House, and caps the number of guests at 15,000. The annual event allows the public to peruse its selection and purchase locally grown annuals, perennials, herbs and veggies, hanging baskets and patio planters at wholesale prices.

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Village Castle Pines Garden Club members Diane Wolfert and Liz Clarke touring the Dutch Heritage Gardens greenhouse.

Article and photos by Chris Michlewicz



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