One of the world’s largest collections of flowering crabapple trees can be found at Water Works Park and will be in full bloom this weekend through next week. Visitors may drive or walk through the Arie den Boer Arboretum between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. to view the colorful display of 1,200 crabapple trees, located in the northeast corner of Water Works Park, off of Fleur Drive.
The Arie den Boer Arboretum was established in 1930 and contains over 350 varieties of flowering crabapple trees, including some varieties that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Due to the unseasonably warm weather Iowa has experienced, the annual bloom is approximately four weeks earlier than the typical bloom date.
Who is Arie den Boer? Arie den Boer was a renowned horticulturist and Des Moines Water Works employee. He started at DMWW in 1928 and introduced several hundred varieties of crabapple trees to Water Works Park. In 1933, the park opened to the public and thousands flocked to visit it. In 1961, the crabapple orchard was named Arie den Boer Arboretum (he retired that year). Also in 1961, den Boer received the medal of honor of the Garden Clubs of America, its highest horticultural award. His book, Flowering Crab Apples, was published in 1959 and contained color photos and reproductions of his slides, in addition to his own pen and ink sketches.
View this beautiful video created by a visitor to Water Works Park last year: