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Durango Botanic Gardens

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Learn more about becoming a Docent

What's a Docent and What Do They Do?  

The title of "Docent" comes from the Latin meaning to teach or guide. Indeed, a key component of our mission is education, sharing what we have learned about gardening in the Southwest through hard work, trial-and-error, perseverance, and learning from experts.

On most Saturday mornings, mid-April through September, you will find a Docent available in our gardens to give informal tours or to answer questions.  Individuals or groups can also schedule tours at other times by calling 970-880-4841.  Learn about the interesting history of our gardens as well as specific plants we've chosen. 

Is Being a Docent Right for You?

If learning about our mission, our Gardens, and our educational outreach is something that intrigues you, if you like to share your love of plants and gardening, consider becoming a Docent. Docents are indispensable in garden maintenance, new garden development, and all Durango Botanic Gardens' (DBG) educational activities. With the Literary Garden a reality, the Docent experience is even richer and more exciting than ever before. We do our utmost to develop Docent talent, individual interests, and leadership.

Docent training is typically conducted in April and May and includes both classroom and outdoor instruction.  Training is FREE!  Watch our website in late February for information about scheduling an informational interview.  For more information about the program, contact Melanie Palmer, (970)769-3091 or Barb Johnson (970)799-4817.

Some of Our Docents Reflect on Becoming and Being a Docent

Susan Ostendorp, class of 2013

“When I moved to Durango in 2007, I had hopes of continuing my gardening hobby as I had in New Jersey. I soon discovered that the arid climate and clay soil found here did not provide the best growing conditions. First I joined a garden club to learn more, but when the opportunity arose to become a Docent for Durango Botanic Gardens, I took it. I was a member of the very first Docent Training Class (2013), and I have continued volunteering with this great organization ever since then. The other Docents have become some of my best friends - even as we chat over pulling weeds in the garden. Docents and gardeners in general are kind, caring people who are interested in beautifying our community and educating the public on which plants grow best in Southwest Colorado. If you would like to become part of a dedicated, hard-working group of people, please consider becoming a Docent for the beautiful Durango Botanic Gardens!”

Kate Stewart, class of 2014

“Listening and watching the river flow. The birds swooping by for a bite.

These sights and sounds accompany you as you make a little magic on the old christened soul of Durango Botanic Gardens. Meet great people, make great discoveries, enjoy great toil. Join us, it’s fun!!”

Annette LeMaire, class of 2019, DBG Director of Membership

“As a relative newcomer to the Durango area, I was looking for opportunities to become more engaged. Having settled into our home and being faced with a new landscape, it seemed only natural to join the Durango Botanic Gardens. Having never lived in the Southwest, there was so much to learn. It was imperative to learn ways to navigate drought conditions, altitude variances, soil conditions, etc. Becoming a Docent has provided me the opportunity to learn about flora in the area, to make new friends, to engage with others sharing the joy of having a stellar botanic garden in little Durango.”

2022 Graduating Docents

2022 Graduating Docents, (Back row, l-r), Barbara Johnson (Docent Instructor), Katherine Holt, Kandye Dille, Ronnie Zanon, Katherine Sheid-Noe.  Middle Row, Katherine Ballew.  Front row, (l-r), Cathy Metz, Lynn Hughes, Jane Conrad.  

Barbara Johnson, Class of 2018, DBG Vice President and Director of Marketing

“Growing up in dry West Texas and then ending up in Durango, I had a lot to learn about plants and gardening!   I became a Docent with the Durango Botanic Gardens in 2018 and have not looked back.  Not only am I continuing to learn about the plants that will survive in this climate but more importantly have developed a wonderful relationship with the Docent community, building friendships that will last a lifetime.   Being a part of DBG has been a rewarding experience during retirement.”

Melanie Palmer, DBG Curator

“I have trained or helped train every Docent class since the beginning of the program.  What always amazes me is how many unique talents each Docent brings and how they channel their gifts in ways that continually strengthen our organization and advance our Gardens and our Mission. The common thread, though, is their extraordinary dedication to the betterment of the Gardens for the entire community.”

Madeline Marquardt, Class of 2019

“I, like many others in Durango, am a transplant. I started my time here believing I had to give up gardening simply because it was "not the Midwest," not what was comfortable to me. After arriving here, I began to notice the beauty of the landscape that was so foreign to me and realized that I wanted to learn and be a part of this new beauty and connect with people who felt the same. Becoming a Docent is part of that process, learning about what is around me and connecting to others that feel that same passion. I have learned much from those who are so giving and caring about our community.  Being a DBG Docent has given me a new beginning and new growth.”

Latest News & Events


NOTE: Our physical location is 1900 E. Third Avenue, at the Durango Public Library. The gardens are located to the north and east of the library, along the Animas River Trail.

Mailing Address:

Durango Botanic Gardens

10 Town Plaza, #460

Durango, CO  81301

Phone: 970-880-4841

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Durango Botanic Gardens

Our Location:

The Durango Botanic Gardens are physically located at the Durango Public Library, to the north and east of the library.  The library is located at 1900 E. 3rd Ave., Durango.

There is no admission charge.  Stroll the gardens yourself (there is ample signage in most gardens) or call us at 970-880-4841 to arrange a group tour. See the About Us Tab for more.

Contact Us:

10 Town Plaza, #460
Durango, CO  81301    

Phone:  970-880-4841

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