Apr 2, 2022 - Things to Do

2 new gardens opening in Des Moines this May

A man stands in focus during the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden's "Dome After Dark" event.

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden's "Dome after Dark" event last year. Photo: Brian Powers/The Des Moines Register via Imagn Content Services

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is undergoing a 7-acre expansion, and some of the first of its projects are slated to open in the coming weeks.

What's happening: Visitors will soon be able to check out two new gardens, following a grand opening planned for late May.

  • Founders Garden: A drought-tolerant Iowa prairie with native grasses and sandy berms to resemble the quick-draining hydrology of the Loess Hills.
  • Hiller Rain Garden: A lower-lying area where deep-rooted plants help educate about water management.

Plus: Founders Garden includes "Threshold," a 16-foot steel leaf sculpture that was commissioned by the Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation and installed late last year.

Catch up fast: The gardens are the first pieces of "Plan Refresh," an effort to better landscape and incorporate the attraction's riverfront property into the visitor experience.

  • The plan, which is expected to cost between $17 million and $23 million, also includes a children's play area, an amphitheater, building renovations and connections with the I-235 pedestrian overpass.

What's ahead: Additional community input and a formal capital campaign kickoff for the next phases of development are expected in coming months, Maggie Conner, the botanical garden's marketing director, tells Axios.

  • A timeline will be connected with fundraising, she said.

Visit: 900 Robert D. Ray Drive in DSM.

  • Open: Tuesday-Sunday, 10am-5pm.
A photo of steel leaf artwork "Threshold" in Des Moines.
"Threshold," by Spanish artist Juanjo Novella. Photo courtesy of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden

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