Take a break from the hustle and bustle of Iowa’s capital city to enjoy the natural wonders hidden within the geodesic dome and walled gardens of the Des Moines Botanical Garden.
The Des Moines’ downtown area has plenty to offer the casual visitor, even on a Sunday afternoon when government offices and many businesses are closed. This past Mother’s Day I found myself in the city with time to spare before a symphony concert at the Civic Center, so I was able to explore the Springtime offerings at the Des Moines Botanical Garden.
It was only my second visit to the Garden, which is located on the east side of the Des Moines River just across busy interstate I-235 from the main downtown area. Although the skyline of downtown is readily visible from certain outside areas of the Garden, the spacious grounds and interesting walkways and plantings made this a relaxing botanical oasis even on this busy Sunday afternoon, when the Garden’s annual Spring Festival (which included classes by Master Gardeners and a plant sale) pulled in families by the minivan-ful.
The weather was warm and the blue skies were dotted with cotton puff clouds as I slowly strolled along a wooden walkway overlying water lilies. Plants are easily identified by the small placards nestled at the base of the foliage, and I particularly enjoyed looking at the bonsai specimens which were displayed in a courtyard. Astonishingly—to me, anyway—the information placque at the gingko tree bonsai specimen said it had been “in training” since 1865, the year the Civil War ended!
The Garden’s website details a variety of upcoming events and educational classes for all ages. Last summer I attended a lunchtime concert by a string quartet held in a large outdoor courtyard which provided a beautiful setting for classical music enjoyment. Looking at the list of future classes, I see that the “Last Saturday Strolls” led by horticulture staff who point out plants and give advice on growing them at home seem right up my alley as a novice gardener. Membership plans offer unlimited admission and other benefits to nature lovers and those wanting to support the Garden.
And should your garden meanderings give you an appetite, stroll into the Trellis Cafe, open during lunch to serve the downtown working crowd as well as Garden visitors.
If you haven’t yet visited, definitely add the Botanical Garden to your list of Iowa favorites!
If you go: The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is located at 909 Robert D. Ray Drive, Des Moines, IA 50309, telephone 515-323-6290. Open daily except holidays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Trellis Cafe is open Tuesday-Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. http://www.dmbotanicalgarden.com/