How Do Our Gardens Grow? Daffodils, tulips, and lilacs oh my! Spring has sprung in Central Iowa, and the explosion of flowers is sure to delight your kids. Take a walk around the block and you’ll bump into blooms, but if you really want the family to see spring flowers in their full splendor, then head to one of these 12 beautiful gardens and arboretums in Central Iowa.
Arie Den Boer Arboretum
Water Works Park • 408 Fleur Drive • Des Moines, IA 50321 • (515) 283-8700
The Arie Den Boer Arboretum proudly displays one of the world’s largest collections of flowering crab apple trees with 300 varieties, including some varieties that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Better Homes & Gardens Test Gardens
Between Grand and Locust Streets • 1716 Locust Street • Des Moines, IA 50309 • (515) 284-3994
This test garden for Better Homes and Gardens magazine offers a variety of plants and display gardens, including a dwarf conifer garden, a fragrant path, a shade garden, a clay garden, a rock garden, and an ornamental grass garden. The Test Garden is open to the public on Fridays from noon to 2:00 pm, May through September.
25141 260th Street • Dallas Center, IA 50063 • (515) 992-4211
A short ride down a country road in the heart of Iowa brings you to a living museum of trees, shrubs and native prairie at the Brenton Arboretum. Walk along grass paths and discover a diversity of 2100 different trees and shrubs representing 486 species, hybrids and cultivars. Bathe in sunlight or keep cool under a leafy canopy as you gaze over vistas of crabapple blossoms, silhouettes in the sunset or fantastic autumn hues.
Buxton Park Arboretum
West Girard & North B Street • Indianola, IA 50125 • (515) 961-9420
Enjoy the Victorian gazebo and lighting as you take a tour through formal perennial and rose gardens at Buxton Park Arboretum. The Arboretum includes an interpretive tree tour pamphlet which can be found in the display case near the gazebo or on the website.
Clare & Miles Mills Rose Garden
Greenwood Park • 4802 Grand Avenue at 49th Street (Behind the Art Center) • Des Moines, IA 50310 • (515) 237-1386
This historic garden has been a favorite spot for gardeners, strollers, and wedding parties since the 1930s.This lovely All America Rose Selections accredited garden displays more than 2,500 roses. You can find a brochure that includes a map of the Clare & Miles Mills Rose Garden online.
Corner of Dewy Gibbs Road and 92nd Street • Urbandale, IA 50322
This botanical gem is a nearly secret garden. The Demonstration Garden opens with a lovely rose garden accompanied by dwarf conifers and unfolds into two orchards, herb gardens, small fruits, native grasses, and many demonstration gardens full of creative ideas and horticulture information. The emphasis here is on learning, the bonus is the beauty that abounds.
Vern Willey II Park • Altoona, IA 50009
Kids will love the fun and whimsical elements of the Enabling Garden in Altoona. The main goal of the garden is to provide an area that illustrates gardening for physically impaired individuals. Through the use of design concepts such as raised beds and vertical wall gardens, visitors learn how gardens can be adapted to accommodate any gardener regardless of age or ability.
Garden of The Gardeners of America/ Men’s Garden Clubs of America
5560 Merle Hay Road • Johnston, IA 50131 • (515)278-0295
The national headquarters for The Gardeners of America/Men’s Garden Clubs of America is located on a two-acre plot maintained by volunteers and showcases a variety of annual and perennial gardens and trees, plus a gazebo, waterfalls and archway.
Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
909 East River Drive • Des Moines, IA 50316 • (515)242-2934
The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden’s 14 acres of outdoor displays are currently being re-landscaped and planted in phases. The first phase is complete and open, with seven of the fourteen acres having been transformed into seven different gardens with varying themes including a ½ acre water garden and an English style garden.
1875 Peach Avenue • Madrid, IA 50156 • (515)795-3216
The 378 acre Iowa Arboretum is a “Library of Living Plants”. It includes forest, prairie, and meadow areas and offers three self-guided woodland trails where you’ll discover hundreds of species of trees and shrubs, plus herbs, roses, ornamental grasses, Siberian irises, daylilies, and hostas.
Lilac Arboretum and Children’s Forest
Ewing Park • 5300 Indianola Avenue • Des Moines, IA 50320 • (515) 237-1386
This arboretum features more than 1,400 fragrant lilacs of 120 varieties. Every spring for about two weeks, the Lilac Arboretum comes alive with color when the lilac trees and many other types of beautiful trees are in bloom. It is a spring tradition for many Central Iowa families to walk through the arboretum taking in the fragrant smell of the lilacs and enjoying the spectacular beauty.
1407 University Boulevard • Ames, IA 50011 • (515) 294-2710
Now one of the largest public gardens in Iowa, Reiman Gardens creates a striking entrance to Iowa State University and the city of Ames. Situated on a 14-acre site, the year-round facility features distinct gardens throughout the indoor and outdoor areas, an indoor conservatory, 2,500-square-foot indoor butterfly wing, butterfly emergence cases, a gift shop, and five supporting greenhouses.
Where are some of your favorite gardens in Central Iowa?