The Outdoor Gardens encompass a wide variety of botanical beauty for visitors to explore. This includes various features, from the rose garden to the water garden and much more. With thousands of specimens on display, the Outdoor Garden celebrates the seasons, an ever-changing canvas for natural inspiration. Focusing on sustainable horticulture, this responsible and remarkable attraction is educational and entertaining for all.
Formed from a row of 20 maple trees, this 220 foot promenade is the architectural spine of the Garden plan. The hardscape of the allée (which is pronounced allay) incorporates sustainable features, such as the reclaimed brick of its construction. This walkway is at its peak beauty in late spring, when the maple trees bud and the 3,400 bearded irises that line its path come into bloom.
Art & Sculpture
Sculpture plays a vital role within the garden, complimenting and enhancing the natural beauty. Several pieces placed throughout the garden, invite visitors to periodically pause and ponder the moment. These sculptures include pieces by not only regional artists, but internationally recognized artists, as well.
Capitalizing on the Gardens’ riverfront location, the Belvedere creates a striking space for taking in the skyline. The area more than lives up to its name, which means beautiful view in Italian. Again reflecting the changing seasons, eight bold, seasonally planted urns enhance the drama of the seating area.
Trellis Café & Bonsai Terrace
The Garden’s Café, Trellis, also offers skyline views to visitors while enjoying lunch, a pastry or cup of coffee. The outdoor dining experience includes not only the skyline but garden enjoyment, as well. The café also contains an exhibition space for the Garden’s historic Bonsai Collection.
Celebration Lawn & Garden
Situated at the heart of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is the celebration lawn and its surrounding gardens. This spacious area with is lush carpet of grass creates a venue for events, performances and celebrations of all kinds. The gardens bordering the lawn are expertly planted using a variety of annuals, with seasonal punctuations to provide year-round visual interest.
Conifer & Gravel Garden
Based in the traditions of British Garden designer Beth Chatto, the Conifer and Gravel Garden is a highlight of the property. Densely planted with a vast variety of species, the exhibit showcases some of the Garden’s most rare and unusual specimens. With more than 250 species from around the world, this dry garden is a signature experience and a must-see for visitors.
The winding paths of the Hillside Garden guide visitors through woodland and prairie landscape, to a scenic overview at the top. Pathways are lined with a diverse collection of trees and shrubs, well-established lilacs and generous hydrangeas. The impressive cantilevered waterfall creates even more experience for the senses and is a particular feature of this garden.
Parking Lot & Entry Garden
A day at the Des Moines Botanical Garden begins in the parking lot, with gardens welcoming visitors from their very first moment. This seasonal garden is at its most impressive in the spring, when more than 30,000 bulbs emerge from the earth to bathe the borders in color. In summer and fall, native Iowa grasses and colorful perennials take over, keeping the color while providing abundant sources for native pollinators.
Always a classic feature to enjoy, the Rose Garden engages not only the visual but the olfactory senses, as well. At the Des Moines Botanical Garden, this is taken one step further, with roses interspersed with herbs and other edible plants perfuming the air. Developed by Dr. Griffith Buck, professor of horticulture at Iowa State University, the thriving roses pay homage to the Garden’s philosophy of honoring horticultural traditions of the Midwest.
The ecologically conscious Savanna Garden overlooks the Des Moines River, connecting back to the allée at the southwest corner. Incorporating native plants from the area, as well as those from other temperate regions around the globe, the garden interprets the natural world in inspiring ways. With long prairie grasses that undulate and dance in the river breezes, the Savanna garden welcomes visitors to sit back and unwind.
Featuring panoramic views of the Des Moines skyline, the Water Garden is a showstopper of the Botanical Garden. This permanent exhibit showcases myriad kinds of water-life, including water lilies, copper irises, and Japanese water irises, in addition to islands of seasonal and tropical plantings, as well. This year-round, half acre garden creates an engaging experience for visitors. Photo:
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