Just in time for winter, indoor exhibits at Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden to reopen



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Just in time to provide an escape from the dead leaves and chilly winds of winter, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is set to reopen its conservatory to the public for the first time since closing in March because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 80-foot-tall geodesic dome, a landmark for travelers crossing the Des Moines River on Interstate 235, is home to a tropical garden featuring everything from delicate orchids to towering palms. 

The building, which also houses the Gardeners Show House, Garden Shop and an art exhibit, will be open from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. beginning Wednesday. The Trellis Cafe is also open for limited hours. 

Kelly Reilly, director of marketing for the gardens, said the staff has taken its time to ensure it can reopen the conservatory safely.

“That was the first date that we had the right protocols, the right safety precautions planned out, and the resources to get the conservatory and gardens ready for the public,” Reilly said. 

General admission will be available for purchase in advance at DMBotanicalGarden.com or by calling 515-323-6290. Entry into the garden is not guaranteed to those who don’t reserve a spot, except for holders of an Iowa Libraries Adventure Pass, Museums for All participants and Pineapple Program token holders.

More: With a new reflection garden open, what’s next for the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden?

Tickets will be for specific times to aid in ensuring social distancing.

Other protocols include: 

  • Groups should not exceed more than five people unless they are direct family members.
  • Drinking fountains will not be accessible, so bring a water bottle.
  • Face masks will be required at all times, except for children under age 2. Admission will not be given without a proper face covering. 
  • Six feet of distancing is required.
  • Patrons are asked to stay home if they are feeling ill or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
  • Surface areas in the garden and restrooms, and door handles will be regularly cleaned throughout the day to ensure safety. 

The garden will be closed to the public on Mondays to allow staff to take care of the collection without having to compete with visitors for space on the narrow paths.

The outdoor garden reopened in July and will remain open through the fall and winter, depending on the weather. 

For more information, head to DmBotanticalGarden.com. 

Sierra Porter covers entertainment for the Des Moines Register. She can be contacted at [email protected] or via Twitter @SierraAPorter95

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Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden luminarias 2020 tickets on sale now


The holidays might look different this year due to COVID-19, but Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix is keeping a Southwest tradition alive.

Las Noches de las Luminarias will take place on select nights in November and December, lighting up the night amid the garden’s 50,000 desert plants. Eight thousand luminarias and rows of twinkling lights will illuminate the plant collection and trails through New Year’s Eve.

Garden members can buy tickets now. Sales open to the general public beginning Monday, Oct. 19. Admission will be limited and reservations are required. You can reserve your dates at  https://dbg.org/events/las-noches-de-las-luminarias-2020/2020-11-27.

What’s new this year

For the first time, there will be a “silent night” for “self-reflection and rejuvenation” that coincides with the winter solstice on Dec. 21.

While past years have featured live entertainment such as storytelling, stargazing, mariachi bands and handbell choirs, most dates this year will only have “prerecorded  sounds of the holiday season and Southwest due to capacity restrictions of venues and trails.”

There will be a limited amount of live music during the member weekend, Dec. 4-6.

A touchless photo booth will be available for visitors who want to commemorate the evening by taking photos, GIFs and Boomerang videos.

COVID-19 safety at the garden

Tickets must be reserved online or by phone ahead of time; they will not be available for purchase at the gate.

All Desert Botanical Garden staff will be wearing face coverings, and all visitors ages 6 and older are asked to wear them as well while maintaining 6 feet of distance from other groups.

As a precaution, some experiences will remain closed at the garden, including select trails, Gertrude’s Restaurant, the Cocoon, the Cactus Clubhouse and the Ottosen Gallery.

Las Noches de las Luminarias

When: 5:30-10:30 p.m. Nov. 27-28 and Dec. 4-6, 11-13, 17-23 and 26-31.

Where:1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix.

Admission: From $29.95, $10.95 for ages 3-17. Reservations required.

Details: 480-941-1225, https://dbg.org.

Reach the reporter at [email protected] or at 602-444-4968. Follow her on Twitter @kimirobin and Instagram @ReporterKiMi.

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McNab House blossoms with plans for botanical garden

The historic McNab House in Pompano Beach is about to get a makeover. The goal is to make the house into a destination place for residents as well as visitors from around South Florida.


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Nguyen Tran, the city’s Community Redevelopment Agency director, said he sees a lot of potential for a redeveloped McNab House and grounds. The McNab House, originally owned by an early 20th-century farming pioneer family, was built in 1926. It was moved from its original location on Atlantic Boulevard in March when the owners sold the land.

The Pompano Beach CRA, along with the city’s Historical Society, saved the home, moving it several blocks to McNab Park, 2250 E. Atlantic Blvd. The goals for the historic building have taken on a bigger vision under Tran’s guidance.

“The house has been in the McNab family for three generations,” he said. “The house is a huge part of Pompano’s history. This is the major farming family that helped shape what Pompano is today.”

While Tran acknowledged the value of simply preserving the home, he and the city saw even more potential in terms of gaining value for residents and visitors.

“We at the CRA typically don’t get involved in a project, unless it makes business sense for us,” he said. “It’s always about economic impact and projects that drive the economic growth of the area. When we looked at it, we realized that houses like this are very rare to come across.”

Tran said he realized the value of the house transcends just its historical value.

“The inside of the house is beautiful,” he said. “That sort of craftsmanship doesn’t exist anymore. There’s a quaintness that you can’t capture in new construction. So we decided we wanted to try and convert it.”

One of the first thoughts that came to mind for the CRA was to create a restaurant experience to bring people in to eat and enjoy the surroundings of the craftsmanship of the house. There are examples of doing that in South Florida, such as the Sundy House in Delray Beach.

The botanical garden concept

The idea is to not only draw outside people to the McNab House with the restaurant but also to create a botanical garden as an added attraction to make it a destination. Tran envisions the garden creating opportunities for events, as well as just being a place to experience beautiful flowers and greenery.

“The botanical garden can also be a wedding venue or a corporate retreat,” he said. “We looked all over for examples of what we wanted to do, and the example we came up with was the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. The size of it is the same as in Pompano.”

“When you go to the garden in Miami, you can’t even imagine that you’re in the middle of a bustling downtown community, right across from the convention center,” Tran said. “It’s a lush tropical paradise. It’s all about education, preservation and education. Those are all the components

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Rare cheese plant stolen from New Zealand botanical garden ‘could fetch thousands on black market’

A rare indoor plant has been stolen from the Christchurch Botanic Gardens amid a boom in the houseplant industry.

The variegated monstera is hard to come by in New Zealand due to biosecurity laws, making it prized among Kiwi houseplant lovers.

Christchurch plant enthusiast Bridget Rennie told Stuff that even a cutting of the plant could fetch NZ$3,000 (£1,500).

She added: “The leaves are like fingerprints, no two are the same. It’s a very rare, very slow-growing plant. I only know of two people who own that plant.

“I’m angry, I’m disappointed, I’m really sad, every emotion you can imagine.”

Wolfgang Bopp, director of the Botanic Gardens told Stuff that the thief must have been “quite athletic” as they had to have scaled a high safety glass wall to reach the prized plant.

The gardens had begun installing security cameras at the time of the theft, but they were not operational when the daylight theft took place on September 19.

He said that the plant possessed “particularly nice” vegetation.

Mr Bopp added: “The thing I find sad is due to the selfishness of one or two individuals we can no longer share this plant with the public. It was there to be enjoyed.”

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Desert Botanical Garden 2020 fall plant sale: Reservations required


In the market for a new cactus to spruce up your yard? The fall plant sale at Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix has what you are looking for and then some.  

The 2020 fall plant sale will be a bit different than in the past due to COVID-19 restrictions, but there is still ample opportunity to purchase cactuses, succulents and other plants.

The sale will be open for three weekends in October and garden members get first crack. The sale opens on Oct. 16 for members and Oct. 17 for the general public.  New this year: Reservations are required. Book yours at https://dbg.org/events/fall-plant-sale-2020.

What kinds of plants will be available? 

The plant sale is divided up into sections including cactus, agave, shrubs, butterfly plants and trees. 

Tina Wilson, the garden’s director of horticulture, said in an email that they have “a lot of new aloes this year to check out, along with an assortment of cactus and succulent collectibles.”

She said the sale will have plants that people are looking to replace after a hot, dry summer. The sale will be restocked throughout the week.

As for cost, it ranges. Wilson said potted plants are generally $5 to $150, but some special boxed specimens can go for up to $800. 

How has the plant sale been modified for COVID-19?

Reservations and timed entry is intended to help reduce crowding at the plant sale. The following safety measures have been implemented:

  • Face coverings are required for anyone 6 or older.
  • No cash transactions. All major credit cards are accepted.
  • Sanitized shopping carts are available.
  • Guests must maintain 6 feet of distance. 
  • Curbside pickup and plant delivery are available.

Desert Botanical Garden fall plant sale

Where: 1201 N. Galvin Parkway, Phoenix.

When: 7 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Members only on Oct. 16, 23 and 30. Open to the public on Oct. 17, 18, 24, 25, 31 and Nov. 1.

Details: Make reservations at dbg.org/events/fall-plant-sale-2020.

Reach the reporter at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @DrShaena.

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Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden opens new Ruan reflection garden



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Now open to the public: the Ruan Reflection Garden, an oasis nestled at the north end of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden that caps an elegant, tree-lined allée and will serve as a gateway to an envisioned garden expansion.

The newly constructed space features an oblong fountain in the center of a courtyard. The pool is ringed with delicate black and red chairs and tables and 34 katsura trees, hardwoods with heart-shaped leaves. The trees are young but are expected to grow large enough to shade the sitting area.  

On the northern and southern ends of the courtyard are 12-foot metal archways, called “sky frames.” The southern gate connects to the Ruan Allée, a shaded walkway.

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Construction the Ruan Reflection Garden is complete and it is now open to visitors of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, in downtown Des Moines.  (Photo: Kelsey Kremer/The Register)

The northern gate will lead to future gardens, shown in an updated master plan from the Colorado-based Didier Design Studio. The plan does not specify a timeline, but illustrates an ambitious array of interactive exhibits, including a woodland exploration area, a water play area for kids, and an elevated forest walkway. In addition, it shows an amphitheater for the garden, which already hosts musical performances.

The garden’s marketing director, Kelly Reilly, said the plan, approved by the garden’s board of directors late last year, provides a “general framework” for the remaining, undeveloped half of the 14-acre property, located on the east bank of the Des Moines River between I-235 and East University Avenue. 

“The Botanical Garden looks forward to sharing more details with stakeholders and the public in the future as we solidify our plans,” Reilly said.

Janis and John Ruan III, chairman of the Des Moines-based Ruan transportation company, and their John Ruan Foundation funded the construction of the new reflection garden, donating about $1.5 million for its planning, design and construction, Reilly said. Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects of Chicago, which has worked with the botanical garden since 2009, was responsible for the design.

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Construction the Ruan Reflection Garden is complete and it is now open to visitors of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden on Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2020, in downtown Des Moines.  (Photo: Kelsey Kremer/The Register)

“It brings us tremendous joy to complete this project and unveil to Des Moines a stunning garden that is sure to delight and inspire each visitor’s experience,” Janis Ruan said in a news release.

The John Ruan Foundation also provided funding for the Ruan Allée.

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Due to COVID-19, only the outdoor gardens are open. Visitors who are not members of the Botanical Garden must purchase tickets and reserve a time slot for their visit online.

Katie Akin is a retail reporter for the Register. Reach her at [email protected] or at 515-284-8041. Follow

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Houston’s new botanical garden opens

It’s a loss for golfers but a big win for plant lovers. After decades in the planning stage, the Houston Botanic Garden finally opened September 18 on the former Glenbrook Golf Course in southeast Houston. The garden serves as yet another draw for locals and visitors to explore Sims Bayou, a watershed area near Hobby Airport that already includes miles of walking and biking trails and countless places to launch canoes.

a garden with greenery and white flowers

“The garden will showcase international and native plant collections, educational classes for children and adults, and provide engaging programming that will embrace the garden and natural settings,” said Justin Lacey, director of communications and community engagement at Houston Botanic Garden. The international firm West 8 designed and managed the overall garden project, with Harvey Cleary Builders as the general contractor. Houston’s Clark Condon designed the garden’s planting and soil, with installation by Landscape Art.

Related: Failed Palm Springs golf course is being repurposed

a garden of rocks and succulents

Building a garden

By the time Nancy Thomas, past president of the Garden Club of America, and the late Kay Crooker formed the nonprofit Houston Botanic Garden in 2002, they’d already been talking about it for years. The two women dreamed of a massive botanic garden that would rival those of other metropolitan cities.

But like all massive projects, the garden took a lot of planning and plenty of money. It wasn’t until 2015 that the Houston City Council unanimously approved a plan for the garden to take a 30-year lease on Glenbrook Golf Course. Garden supporters had to raise $20 million by the end of 2017 to claim the city-owned property.

The garden has been built from the ground up. First, the garden team analyzed how long-term golfing had impacted the soil. Maintaining perfect-looking greens meant decades of intensive mowing and regularly applying pesticides and herbicides. In 2018, the horticulture staff quit applying chemicals to the golf course and cut the Bermuda turf very short. They tilled to a depth of about six inches, added compost, and seeded the land with cover crops like tillage radish and white clover.

In 2019, gardeners worked on the drainage system and specially blended soils for the garden’s different areas. Planning for tropical, sub-tropical and arid plants, the gardeners sought the right mix to keep all the flora happy. The staff’s 30-year master plan includes conserving water, promoting biodiversity and providing habitat for butterflies, birds and other wildlife. Garden designers integrated the plans into the surrounding Sims Bayou, allowing for the flooding and intense weather events so prevalent in Houston.

palm-like trees in a garden display

Themed gardens

The botanic garden will be organized into smaller themed gardens. Landscape architects picked about 85% of the plants showcased because they grow easily in Houston. The architects hope that this may inspire visitors to up their home gardening efforts.

“In one area, we are assessing the rate of success for simply spreading seed, versus spreading seed and compost,” Joy Columbus, the garden’s vice president for horticulture, wrote in an article about the garden’s opening. “In another, we

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Momentum brings dance to the Alaska Botanical Garden

Dancers with Momentum Dance Collective performed at the Alaska Botanical Garden on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 20-21. The pathway performance “Sugar & Salt” was held in collaboration with The Forest That Never Sleeps, a project of Anchorage musician Kat Moore, whose music was broadcast on 106.1 KONR radio during each of shows. People could also watch the performances online.

“We’ve done a lot of work in unusual spaces and nontraditional theatre spaces. We really like bringing dance into the community,” said executive artistic director and dancer Becky Kendall. “This year was a little different because we had to think very differently not about where we were dancing, but about how people were watching.”

Momentum Dance Collective, now in its 13th year, had scheduled a piece for a stage performance in April.

“When that didn’t happen we had to rethink what a show meant, and we had to rethink what the content would be because the world changed,” Kendall said.

Audience wore masks as the watched Irenerose Castillo danced during Sugar & Salt at the Alaska Botanical Garden on Sunday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

“It’s a version of what we were thinking of doing in April,” added Irenerose Casillo. “With the pandemic and people having to be careful with where they are and how they experience things, I thought, maybe we dance on a path. We feel safe at home, we feel safe outside, so why don’t we bring those elements together on this pathway.”

Dancers with Momentum Dance Collective performed live and virtually at the Alaska Botanical Garden on Sunday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Dancers from left, Beth Daly Gamble, Stephanie Stepp, and Amy Kofoid with Momentum Dance Collective performed live and virtually at the Alaska Botanical Garden on Sunday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Kir Moore and Huey Worrell watched the dance performance on Sunday, Sept. 20, 2020. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Dancer Courtney Meneses performs with Momentum Dance Collective at the Alaska Botanical Garden on Sunday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

Irenerose Casillo and Becky Kendall of Momentum Dance Collective dance during the pathway performance of Sugar & Salt at the Alaska Botanical Garden on Sunday. (Bill Roth / ADN)

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Larger than life sculptures debut at San Antonio Botanical Garden

SAN ANTONIO – You probably remember making paper planes, boats or even birds as a child with a small piece of paper. Did you ever think about what it takes to make them into life-sized sculptures?

The San Antonio Botanical Garden is inviting visitors to reminisce and explore visual art form through their newest exhibit OrigamiintheGarden².

Origami is the Japanese art of creating decorative art figures from a single piece of paper using intricate folds.

OrigamiintheGarden² features larger than life sculptures at the San Antonio Botanical Garden
OrigamiintheGarden² features larger than life sculptures at the San Antonio Botanical Garden (Copyright 2020 by KSAT – All rights reserved.)

At the garden, the sculptures are a bit more sturdy, Eliana Rodriguez, marketing director of the San Antonio Botanical Garden said.

“Visitors can expect to see over 20 different sculptures made out of aluminum, steel and bronze medals,” Rodríguez said. “These larger than life sculptures were also created from one single piece of paper from the artist and collaborated with different origami art artists as well.”

The sculptures were created by artists Jennifer and Kevin Box. Rodriguez said visitors will also get a lesson about the Japanese paper-art form’s connection to nature.

“They’ll be able to discover over 12 different types of plants that make paper,” Rodríguez said. “Some of the plants that they’ll be able to discover that make paper, that we call paper-making plants, are mulberry and papyrus.”

The San Antonio Botanical Garden also highlights the Japanese paper-art form’s connection to nature through its paper-making plants.
The San Antonio Botanical Garden also highlights the Japanese paper-art form’s connection to nature through its paper-making plants. (Copyright 2020 by KSAT – All rights reserved.)

In case you missed opening weekend, there’s still a chance to participate in origami-inspired events at the San Antonio Botanical Garden.

“Starting Thursday, (September 24) is Origami Nights!, so you’ll be able to enjoy (the sculptures) in the evening from 6:00 to 9:00 P.M. and there will be some hands-on origami activities,” Rodríguez said. “Also, (there will be) some guided tours, Japanese-inspired cocktails and beer.”

OrigamiintheGarden² will be on display at the San Antonio Botanical Garden until May 2021.

For more information on Origami Nights!, click here.

To purchase tickets, click here.

Copyright 2020 by KSAT – All rights reserved.

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Idaho Botanical Garden to keep gates open after successful fundraiser

The nonprofit launched a membership and donation campaign to raise $150,000 to keep the garden operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

BOISE, Idaho — The Idaho Botanical Garden will get to keep its gates open after exceeding its fundraising goal.

On August 1st, the nonprofit launched a membership and donation campaign to raise money to keep the garden operating during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Their goal was to raise $150,000, and as of September 1st, the garden raised $182,485.

“Over the past couple of weeks, we have been awestruck by support from our community,” said Executive Director Erin Anderson. “Garden memberships are on the rise, donations large and small have been coming in daily, and our Garden community has gone out of their way to get the word out! Thank you, Treasure Valley!”

The pandemic impacted every one of the garden’s programs including admissions, memberships, weddings, field trips, concerts, and education programs that make up their annual revenue. 

With the 2020 Outlaw Field Summer Concert Series canceled, the garden has significantly decreased the capacity of remaining education programs and signature events. Without local tourism, the admissions are at a 13-year low.

You can still support the Idaho Botanical Garden by donating, becoming a member or visiting the garden.

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