Relaxed Beauty at Des Moines Botanical Gardens

Relaxed Beauty at Des Moines Botanical Gardens

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.

The dome of the Conservatory is perfect for raising tropical species.

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.

A whimsical statuary graces the landscape inside the Conservatory.

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.

The authors pose for a selfie and meet a new friend.

Selfie Time

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.

An area shows visitors ideas of how to improve their own landscaping at home.

Ideas Abound

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.

An assortment of bonsai trees can be viewed at the Des Moines Botanical Gardens.

Heading Outdoors

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.

The water garden is a tranquil setting to enjoy the reflections of nearby landscaping.

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.

The authors take time to pose for a selfie in front of a waterfall.

Running Waters

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.

A conifer garden in the Des Moines Botanical Gardens offers lots of variations of textures and colors.

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?

The Robert D, Ray Asian Garden is a cool place to relax along the banks of the Des Moines River.

Bonus Garden

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.

An arrangement of symbolic Asian symbols.

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.

A wonderful view of the Des Moines downtown skyline.

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.

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By |2018-07-23T06:24:11+00:00July 23rd, 2018|Des Moines|4 Comments

About the Author:

We are Jeff and Crystal, a Baby Boomer couple who love exploring this big blue marble we all call home. After spending the first portion of our lives together raising a family, the empty-nest syndrome finally caught up with us. This has given us the opportunity to spend more time traveling, and seeking out new destinations. We developed this travel blog with the goal of showing how we “Visit Like A Local”. Our itineraries are designed to get us off the interstates, and into the heart of the places we visit. We believe this will allow our readers to choose a cultural experience, and eventually head home with a real flavor of the places they visit. We hope you are enjoying our website and will consider sharing it with your friends. Please come back often, as we post new articles three times per week.

4 Comments

  1. Carol Colborn July 23, 2018 at 8:05 am - Reply

    I love botanical gardens, especially when they are right in the middle of an otherwise congested city, which Des Moines isn’t. The water features and fauna surprises always complement all the flora. A view of downtown is a definite plus for his one.

    • Jeff & Crystal July 23, 2018 at 8:09 am - Reply

      We agree. Something about finding a nature escape in the heart of the concrete.

  2. Julie McCool July 23, 2018 at 3:15 pm - Reply

    I love to visit new gardens when we travel and I will definitely put the Des Moines Botanical Garden on my list. The bonsai collection and water features look especially beautiful. Nice that you found a bonus garden to visit too.

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