Dan Johnson

Dan Johnson

Dan Johnson has spent his life gardening and has worked in horticulture for decades, both in the nursery industry and in public gardens. This includes 25 years with Denver Botanic Gardens, where he currently serves as curator of native plant collections and associate director of horticulture. Dan splits his time between Denver and Tucson, Arizona.

Dan’s work focuses on xeric and native plants as well as naturalistic design. He is especially interested in cacti, succulents, conifers, aquatics, perennials, and tropicals, from the traditional to the rare. He has presented internationally on plant selection, exploration, and garden design and has been published widely in many different horticultural publications. Dan’s forays throughout the American West continue to expand his plant palette and knowledge. His travels have also included horticultural exploration in South Africa, Argentina, Spain, Pakistan, and the Mexican state of Oaxaca, often with a focus on steppe and desert climates with conditions similar to the American Southwest and Mountain West.

  • Southwest Regional Reports

    Uncommon Flowering Trees for the Southwest

    It’s not hard to set your Southwest garden ablaze with flowering shrubs and familiar trees. In the right zones, jacaranda (Jacaranda spp. and cvs., Zones 9–11), crape myrtle (Lagerstroemia indica…

  • water saving tips in southwest garden
    Southwest Regional Reports

    Water-Saving Tips for Southwestern Gardens

    For most of the Southwest, “dry” is a normal state of affairs. We live in a complex mosaic of arid, semi-arid, and seasonally arid zones that make most generalizations impossible.…

  • cohesive garden design

    Create a Botanical Tapestry by Knitting Vignettes Together in Your Garden

    What happens when an avowed plant collector puts down roots on a blank garden slate? When I purchased my property, the small lot in a Zone 5b/6a Denver suburb had…

  • adaptable plants

    6 Knitter Plants That Can Tie a Garden Together

    Among the diverse combinations, several adaptable players help to knit the different parts of the garden together, thriving in a variety of microclimates and design aesthetics. See how Dan Johnson…

  • variegated agaves
    Southwest Regional Reports

    The Best Variegated Agaves for the Southwest

    When it comes to sculptural form in the garden, it’s hard to compete with a well-grown agave (Agave spp. and cvs., Zones 7b–11). With sizes ranging from 6-inch rosettes to…

  • Southwest Regional Reports

    Essential Hand Tools for the Desert Gardener

    Some people are particular about the garden tools they use. Others take it less seriously and are content with the cheapest things they can find. I’m somewhere in the middle.…

  • native plants for formal gardening
    Southwest Regional Reports

    How to Incorporate Arid Native Plants in Formal Garden Designs

    I love the natural shapes of plants in landscape design, but garden style is subjective, and it’s fair to say that gardens should be fun and expressive. We all have…

  • trees creating light shade in the garden
    Southwest Regional Reports

    Trees That Create Light Shade in the Southwest

    Shade is welcome most of the year in the Southwest, but too much shade can limit other options. Larger-leaved trees can cast dense shade, and when their leaves drop, extracting…

  • garden bed with cacti and succulents from Mexico
    Southwest Regional Reports

    Plants from Mexico for the Southwest

    The American Southwest has indelible ties to Mexico that run even deeper than its architecture, food, and culture. Many of the literal roots of our gardens can trace their lineage…

  • growing echeverias
    Southwest Regional Reports

    How to Grow Echeverias

    The inward spiral of rosette-forming plants always seems to draw us in. From Romanesco broccoli to golden barrel cactus (Echinocactus grusonii, Zones 9–12), many plants grow with mathematical precision that…