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The Botanical Gardens in Des Moines, Iowa

Submitted by Bethany on Fri, 06/07/2019 - 10:00

After our amazing lunch at Dumpling Darling last week, my mom and I headed over to Des Moines' not so secret gardens at the Botanical Center! This clear domed building is visible from the main highway through downtown and every time I see it I remember how much I love going to the gardens. 

In the midst of a cold, gray, Iowa winter the botanical gardens was always an oasis. Even though spring has already sprung around here it was still fun to go see what was happening inside the dome! In the entryway, there is a "living wall" where plants have been trained to grow vertically. My mom and I always take a selfie here for posterity. (By always I mean twice, we've done this exactly two times.)

Once you have paid your entrance fee (or received your membership sticker in our case) you step through the sliding glass doors to be greeted by this incredible scene...there is green and growth as far as the eye can see! The temperature varies throughout the year depending on the needs of the plants, but it usually is somewhere around 80 degrees with over 50% humidity.

While Iowa can often get to those temps/humidity in the summer, it is quite the opposite in the winter. The consistency of the dome is why many plants can grow here that would never survive outside, like this stately palm tree. (Apparently, a nearby business tried really hard to make palm trees happen outside (it went with their theme) but after several years they finally gave up.) 

I always gravitate to the water features once inside the gardens, as I love the gentle sound of falling water as I explore. I spotted this one through some bamboo that was growing - another plant that would never survive outside but thrives in here. 

There were so many gorgeous flowers around I could almost do a full picture post on just those! Instead, I'll just share this one perfect hibiscus that grabbed my attention with its stunning hot pink on a bed of perky yellow. 

While the inside of the dome is always my favorite (mostly for its contrast to the outside), the gardens have some stunning grounds outside as well. They have a bonsai tree garden that tickles me to no end. I don't know exactly what I find so amusing about miniature trees but I sure do love them. This mini beauty is the oldest one of the bunch - its been in training since 1865!

The outside has a fabulous water feature as well. I love this one in particular because you can actually walk under/behind it. Be careful on a windy day, though, you are likely to get soaked! 

As I walked down one of the paths lined with trees and flowers, I turned around to see that I had a perfect shot of one of Des Moines' most iconic buildings. If you are familiar with the Des Moines skyline at all, you will recognize the principal building. It can be seen from all over the metro area - including my bedroom at one point way back in the day before the city built up between us. 

When we had our fill of wandering about the gardens, mom and I headed to the nearby Union Park for a special treat - riding the carousel! This carousel is a replica of an old-fashioned one - and they still charge old fashioned prices - only 50 cents for children, and $1 for adults! Mom chose to ride zebra...

While I had fun on an Ostrich! (There was no T-Rex or unicorn, I checked.) 

Des Moines certainly has a lot of fun things to do if you know where to look - and my mom knows where to look! 

XOXO, Bethany