Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield (and Linguine with Lemon, Feta and Basil)

The other day I found myself wanting to leave the city. I didn't want to go too far, so I ruled out Rocky Mountain National Park. I was thinking about the Wildlife Sanctuary which is relatively close by, but decided to save that for a day when we had a few more hours to spare. I remembered that I hadn't been to the Denver Botanic Gardens at Chatfield in quite some time and it was calling me.  
The satellite garden is a nature preserve that has grasslands, blooms and Hildebrand Ranch. The old ranch is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it houses chickens, roosters, goats and ponies. We also met a large toad in the pond. Otis named him Walter. He wanted to "take him" and relocate Walter to our couch. I explained that the toad probably liked his natural environment a lot more than he would our home...and that his mom and dad would miss him dearly if we were to snag him, put him in a paper bag and bring him back to Denver. Otis seemed satisfied with my explanation. Walter was left in the pond. 
The garden is also affiliated with a local CSA  and if I lived a little bit closer I would have signed up for the season. But our long-term plans in Denver aren't certain, and I decided to forgo a CSA membership this year. Instead we will rely on the Denver Farmers Markets for our fruits and vegetables. I'm heading to the markets next week and I'm excited to see what they've got.
Back to the farm...
We spent a good deal of time in front of the chicken coup. Otis decided that this would be a good place to wrestle his baby brother Theo. As you can see from the photos below, the hens couldn't believe their eyes.  
There are lots of picnic benches in the gardens, so next time I'll bring some food and eat outside. And since Chatfield is only 30 minutes away from Denver, I think I'll be going back again soon...


When we got back from Chatfield, both boys feel asleep. It was quiet time in the house and I, not wanting to use all of nap time to cook, decided to make something super-simple that I had seen on Cookstr. And here it is...
Linguine with Lemon, Feta, Pinenuts and Basil (Courtesy of Cookstr, Gordon Ramsay)
The light and zesty flavor of this pasta dish makes it ideal for the summer. It's also quick and easy for supper during the week, because you are likely to have the ingredients on hand.
Yield : Serves 4
Ingredients
1 pound fresh (or 10 ounces dried) linguine
¼ cup olive oil
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Handful of fresh basil, leaves only
7 ounces feta cheese, crumbled
2 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
Directions
Cook the fresh pasta in a large pot of salted boiling water for 2 minutes. If using dried pasta, cook according to package directions until al dente. Tip the pasta into a colander, leaving about 2 tablespoons of the cooking water in the pot.
Immediately return the pasta to the pot and add the olive oil, lemon zest and juice, Parmesan, basil, and three-quarters of the crumbled feta. Toss well and check the seasoning. Divide among warm plates and scatter the remaining feta and the pine nuts over the top. Serve at once.