A visit to a botanical garden is always a new experience, since the plants change so much with each season. The spring is popular for the bright blooms, while fall brings the vivid foliage as it prepares to go dormant. Summer is the transition period, but we enjoy the textures and shades of green that dominate the landscape. Our stop at the Des Moines Botanical Gardens gave us a chance for a relaxed stroll through their lush gardens.
We want to thank the Des Moines Botanical Gardens, Travel Iowa and Catch Des Moines for their hospitality. Rest assured that all opinions are our own.
Under The Dome
W started out by exploring the Conservatory and Indoor Gardens. Their 80 foot tall geodesic dome is perfectly suited for the tropical species that they maintain indoors. The warm, humid atmosphere well represents what one would find in the jungles of Central America. Here and there we spotted bursts of color from orchids or other blooming plants. With access to multiple overlooks, it was easy to get a better feel for the entire exhibit.
As we meandered along the hardscaped pathway, we took in all of the beauty that surrounded us. As we made our way across one of the small bridges, we caught sight of this most unusual sculpture. We guess it was only fitting to find such an over-sized garden tool when you consider the overall size of many of these jungle plants.
A small waterfall gave us a reason to stop for a selfie. (We love waterfalls.) Of course, like many it takes multiple shots to get one we can both agree on. While this was taking place, we had a visitor pop out nearby. We are guessing he wanted his time in the limelight, so we were honored to be able to add him to our pictures. Afterwards, he scurried away back into the foliage.
After the Conservatory, we passed down a hallway that led to the Gardeners Show House. This area is designed to provide inspiration to budding gardeners. It serves as a showcase for projects that utilize common plants, and re-purpose everyday objects. Some of the seating options are reclaimed from old pallets, and would fit well in most garden areas. While this area is not large, it is certainly packed full of great ideas. Be sure to check it out when you visit the Des Moines Botanical Gardens.
We had already found so many interesting things to see, and we hadn’t even stepped out into the main garden area. Through the double doors we passed, and immediately found ourselves in the Bonsai Collection. This series of diminutive trees have been trained for decades. The oldest example in the collection started out in 1865. Let that sink in. That is the time of the Civil War era, so over 150 years old. These miniature masterpieces are amazing to behold.
Moving past the bonsai, we entered the Water Garden section of the botanical gardens. This half-acre area offers still waters, which reflect the landscape around it. We made our way across the walkway, taking in the nearby city skyline. Here and there we would see the water lilies lying gracefully upon the surface of the pond. We were hoping to catch sight of one of our new friend’s distant relatives. Unfortunately, the other turtles were either hiding or had great camouflage.
Another waterfall caught our eye and we made our way toward it. Sitting at the base of the Hillside Garden, this waterfall offers an excellent spot for more selfies either in front of or even behind the falling waters. Be sure to take a few minutes to climb the hill for a better view of the entire garden facility. It is another spot to get a prime skyline view, as well.
Beauty in Form
As we mentioned earlier, the beauty of gardens doesn’t just lie in the colorful flowers. Much like a room in a house, the few artwork pieces are made richer by the background wall supporting them. The same holds true for a complete garden. While the bright blooms are stunning to behold, they are also fleeting. The textures and shades of greens, tans, browns, and reds brought in by foliage are the backbone of a beautiful garden. In the Conifer Garden, we were able to see a wide variety of species that winter well in our climate. We have always considered places like the Des Moines Botanical Gardens to be a perfect place to explore new potential varieties to add to our own landscape. How many of you do the same thing?
As we were making our way to the Des Moines Botanical Gardens, we passed a roadside garden that looked quite promising. After our main visit, we decided to stop by the Robert D. Ray Asian Garden for a closer look. This small urban park features a Chinese pavilion situated along the banks of the Des Moines River. It is a nice place for a short stroll or a chat in the shade of the pavilion.
Just beyond the pavilion the walkway leads into a small shaded sculpture garden. The day we visited was warming up quickly, but the gentle breezes through this tree shaded area was quite refreshing.
Great Views Available
The walk into the park is connected to a walking path that leads into the heart of the city. As we made our way up the small hillside, we found ourselves with this fabulous view of the downtown. It made the stop worth it alone. Of course, the beauty of the Asian gardens was the cherry on the top. Do you plan to add the Des Moines Botanical Gardens to your vacation plans? We would love to hear your thoughts.