Archive for the ‘Des Moines Botanical Center’ Category

September 19, 2012

Greater Des Moines Garden Transformation

In a few months, the Des Moines Botanical Center, an iconic fixture in the Des Moines landscape, will begin to transform to the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Under the care and management of Des Moines Water Works since 2004, the Garden’s management will transition to the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a 501(c)3 nonprofit  on January 1, 2013.

Over the course of the summer, the City of Des Moines has relined the sanitary sewer between the University Avenue and I-235 bridges in preparation for the transformation of the facility. The City has also been in the process of relocating and enhancing the John Pat Dorrian Bike Trail in the Botanical Garden’s vicinity. The new trail will have riverside views and the benefit of a 10-foot-wide trail and generous shoulders. The bike trail will be completed later this year.

The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden’s phase one improvements to the facility will be underway from early 2013 through late summer 2014, in order to plant the expanded landscape at the most optimal time for the plants. The building improvements will include a new café overlooking a terrace and water garden, a new garden shop and reconfigured lobby, an office suite for the staff, and upgraded meeting and rental spaces.  The phase one exterior additions will include a shade tree allee, a celebration event lawn surrounded by gardens, a water garden and a series of specialty gardens. The expanded landscape will have a diverse plant palette and year-round interest.

During the transformation, the geodesic domed conservatory will remain open from January-June 2013. From July through the early part of September, the facility will be closed to the public as the garden’s interior and exteriors are transformed.

Be sure to mark your calendars for some of the beloved programs that you have grown to anticipate including:  A Celebration of Champagne and Chocolate on November 16, 6:00-8:00 pm; Botanical Blues from 1:00-3:00 pm, every Sunday in January and February; Learn on Saturday Lectures from 10:00 am-12:00 pm every Saturday in January, February and March; along with seasonal floral displays, and so much more.

If you are interested in supporting the transformations of the Botanical Garden or becoming a member of the Garden, please contact the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden’s Membership and Development Manger, Amanda Jordan at (515) 323-6265 or [email protected].

Posted by: Stephanie Jutila 1 Comment
Labels: , , , , Posted in Des Moines Botanical Center, Parks August 21, 2012

Successful Gardening in a Drought

As drought conditions continue, it is essential to monitor your trees, shrubs and plants to avoid losing them for good.  As a general rule, most plants require a minimum of one inch of rain a week to remain healthy.  This can be obtained by either rainfall or watering.  Watering should be done in the early morning or early evening to avoid the hottest part of the day and evaporation.  Adhering to Des Moines Water Works stage 1 water conservation guidelines, it is also requested that any watering be done every other day.

Trees, shrubs, and perennials should be watched for either curling leaves or flagging (yellowing of the leaves).  A periodic, heavy watering is more beneficial than a light, daily spraying on these plants.  A bucket of water with small holes in the bottom allows water to slowly release into the soil giving a more uniform watering. Using a two-inch thick layer of mulch around these plants will also help retain moisture levels in the soil and reduce water evaporation. Trees that have been in the ground for less than five years should have priority over older trees.

Vegetable, annual and container gardening dry out much faster than other plants and watering should be done in the morning or late evening. Vegetable crops will likely be smaller than normal due to the heat. They tend to use the energy from water and sunshine just to flower and stay alive and don’t have enough extra energy to produce the crop.

Most brown grass is considered dormant, not dead. Applying a fertilizer would not be recommended in these conditions. Fall aeration and over-seeding would be better money spent. Under DMWW stage 1 water conservation guidelines, it is requested that residents and businesses in the Des Moines metro area cease or reduce lawn irrigation.  If you must irrigate (new sod), do so early morning or late evening, and every other day.

Posted by: Todd Monson No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , , Posted in Conservation, Customers, Des Moines Botanical Center, Green Initiatives July 11, 2012

A Growing Botanical Center

The Des Moines Botanical Center will grow next year to feature new outdoor gardens, tree-lined walkways, a water garden, and a botany lab. The renovation also involves a new name. Effective January 1, 2013, the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a nonprofit foundation, will assume the center’s lease with the City of Des Moines and oversee the expected $11.6 million in renovations. Also included in the makeover are a new cafe, an event lawn, updated meeting and event rooms and an expanded parking lot.  Phase one construction is expected to begin early 2013.

Des Moines Water Works has operated the Botanical Center since January 2004, and will continue to support the new Botanical Garden with annual in-kind contributions.

Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Botanical Center, Des Moines Botanical Center February 23, 2012

Life in the Tropics

Painted turtles, goldfish and koi call the Des Moines Botanical Center’s two ponds home. It is difficult to get an exact count of each, but we guess there are approximately 10 painted turtles, nearly 40 koi of all sizes and colors, and a couple dozen goldfish of various sizes.

The fish have a pretty easy-going day. Every morning, they feast on the fallen leaves inside the Dome and investigate anything found in the ponds left by visitors, including shoes, sunglasses and beaded necklaces. They then devour a not-so-gourmet blend of protein, fat and fiber. Between the two ponds, you can tell who is on a diet or a picky eater. The fish in the lower pond take their time making their way towards the food, while the fish near the waterfall pond have collisions with each other trying to get first dibs! The rest of the day consists of swimming with friends as visitors rain shiny coins on them like they are royalty.

The turtles have a different agenda. In the mornings, you can find them floating in the water, minding their own business. Most of them don’t seem to mind fish feeding time. As the fish franticly swim towards food, the turtles often get bumped into, and not surprisingly, sometimes get pushed under water, as a fish swim over them.  They just bob back up and grab any remaining food that comes their way. When high-noon comes, you’ll find them in groups on the ledge of the ponds sunbathing. They are still as can be with their necks stretched out, soaking in the rays…possibly the ladies of the group gossiping over the gentlemen floating by.

Everyday life as a Botanical Center fish or turtle is what some of us might call a much needed vacation in the tropics!

Visit the Des Moines Botanical Center today to see the fish and turtles.  The Botanical Center is open daily 9:00 am-5:00 pm.

Posted by: Karey Alvarado No Comments
Labels: , , , , Posted in Botanical Center, Des Moines Botanical Center January 17, 2012

Year in Review

From starting up our third treatment plant to educating more than 27,000 children and adults, here’s a look at the top 25 accomplishments in 2011 at Des Moines Water Works.

  1. Commissioned DMWW’s third water treatment facility, Saylorville Water Treatment Plant
  2. Responded to 300 main breaks
  3. Assisted 56,000 customers in the office and visited 42,000 customers in the field
  4. Launched Parkitecture competition for the redesign of Water Works Park
  5. Repaved roads in Water Works Park
  6. Hosted several events at Water Works Park, including HyVee Fishing Derby, Big Country Bash, weddings, charity walks, Des Moines Marathon and Jolly Holiday Lights
  7. Planted approximately 70,000 plants and flowers in Water Works Park and Fleur Drive medians
  8. Found $611,000 in process efficiencies throughout the utility
  9. Reaffirmed  our strong Aa1 bond rating by Moody’s, second from highest attainable
  10. Redesigned new website with enhanced customer features, like consumption alerts
  11. Implemented electronic checks as a new customer payment option
  12. Awarded “Public Policy Champion of the Year” from Iowa Ducks Unlimited
  13. Implemented new Geographical Information System (GIS):  DMWW’s water distribution staff is now using new GIS software that allows access of important information about the distribution system while working in the field.
  14. Established Enterprise Asset Management software:  Enterprise Asset Management (EAM) at its most basic level is a work order system.  But as an asset management software, EAM is a lot more than that.  Asset management goes beyond creating work orders and includes planning and scheduling projects, tracking assets’ conditions, and forecasting asset replacement. 
  15. Ended use of gaseous chlorine at all facilities:  All water disinfection throughout the utility (three plants and six remote locations) is now being done with liquid hypochlorite.  This effort brings a safer environment for our employees and community.
  16. Reported our greenhouse gas emissions to The Climate Registry
  17. Contributed $19,286.28 to the United Way of Central Iowa through employee donations – a record year!
  18. Reduced employees’ metabolic syndrome risk factors by 18% from 2010 to 2011
  19. Awarded two safety recognition awards
  20. Received a Proclamation from Mayor Cownie during Drinking Water Week, recognizing DMWW’s contributions to the community
  21. Assisted DMACC with a new water/waste water curriculum
  22. Received a book and dedication from Ankeny first graders illustrating the importance of clean rivers
  23. Celebrated the importance of water with over 2,000 Iowa 5th grade students at the Iowa Children’s Water Festival
  24. Reached 27,800 people through classroom presentations, tours and special events conducted by the Urban Environmental Partnership.
  25. Hosted 237 meetings/social events and 53 weddings at the Des Moines Botanical Center, including 10 weddings on 11/11/11! The Botanical Center also welcomed 255 tour groups for a total of 9,560 people
Posted by: Laura Sarcone No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in About Us, Botanical Center, Customer Service, Des Moines Botanical Center, Des Moines Water Works Park, Education, Employees, Environment, Parks, Saylorville Water Treatment Plant September 7, 2011

Fall Gardening Tips

Now is the time to start thinking about putting your garden to bed for the winter. September is an opportune time to start cleaning up beds by cutting back perennials and pulling out annuals that have quit blooming for the year.

By October, you should dig up and store tender bulbs such as dahlias, cannas, caladiums and elephant ears. You should cut off the foliage and store them in 50-65 degree temperatures until spring. Spring flowering bulbs should be purchased and planted outdoors at this time. Other plants that benefit from fall planting include evergreens, peony, phlox and bearded iris.

Before a hard freeze you should remove plants from containers, cut roses back to 18 inches and mulch, and continue cutting back plants in the garden that the frost has affected. Leaving old plants and plant debris in the garden over the winter is the best way to promote diseases in the spring, so remove them as soon as they are cut back.

Also remember, the best time to prune is after the trees and shrubs have gone dormant usually late December-February.

Posted by: Todd Monson No Comments
Labels: , , , , , Posted in Des Moines Botanical Center, Des Moines Water Works Park, Parks July 18, 2011

Orchids at the Botanical Center

Considering that flowering orchid plants today are routinely sold at the big box stores, it is hard to imagine that up until World War II they were considered a “rich man’s flower”. That perception, if not reality, began to change in the 1960s with the advent of tissue culturing, which made it possible to multiply a single superior orchid exponentially and to facilitate world-wide distribution by air.

(Friends office manager, Amanda Jordan, stands next to a schomburgkia orchid nearly 8 feet tall, on display in the Dome.)

Orchids do well in light and temperatures that are comfortable for people. The quickest way to kill an orchid is to leave it standing in water. A recent marketing ploy advises placing three ice cubes on the surface of the growing medium once a week—which assures adequate water without excess. Or, once a week take the plant to a sink and run tepid water all across the surface for a minute or two. Allow to drain and then return to where you want to enjoy the orchid. When in bloom, orchids do best in bright reflected light—in other words, good reading light. When the weather outside is warm enough for tomatoes, orchids do well there too, with morning sun or dappled sun-shade through the day. Apply fertilizer labeled for orchids.

The Botanical Center’s Margaret Swanson Orchid Collection, named for the Friends of the Des Moines Botanical Center president at the time the facility was first opened in 1979, is in a state of renewal, thanks to Team Orchid, a group of volunteers led by a champion orchid grower, Gary Heggen. They meet once a month. Instead of the typical fir-bark potting mix that has to be replaced annually, Gary advocates coconut husk fiber mixed with sponge rock, a medium that holds up well for three or four years. If you’d like to join Team Orchid and learn from a master, send an email to [email protected].

Posted by: Elvin McDonald 3 Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Des Moines Botanical Center June 28, 2011

The Botanical Center – It’s More Than Just Plants

The North Wing Gallery and Show House Corridor are mini art galleries which are open to the public to enjoy while they view the beautiful dome and lush outside gardens.  This art work changes every few months and is for sale with the proceeds benefiting the Botanical Center.

Currently in the North Wing Gallery is a display of 40 large color photographs by Friends Director, Elvin McDonald.  Elvin has had the opportunity to visit professional and amateur gardens all over the world which has resulted in a wonderful portfolio of photographs.  The images he chose for this display best tell the story of his life in the garden.

The Show House Corridor is showcasing the delightful flower images of Omaha artist April Kelly.  Her art represents beauty, energy, and light; her work is refreshing and happy.  April’s work is acrylic on canvas and she uses a special finish to give the work an illusion of a glass coating.

We hope you look for this art work when you visit the Botanical Center.

Posted by: Dawn Goodrich No Comments
Labels: , , Posted in Botanical Center, Des Moines Botanical Center June 1, 2011

‘Tis the Season for Weddings

Are you looking for a picturesque, affordable location for a wedding ceremony?  Have you considered Water Works Park or the Des Moines Botanical and Environmental Center, both of which are maintained by Des Moines Water Works?

Nestled amongst mature trees and blooming flowers, the Charles Sing Denman Memorial Fountain in Water Works Park has always been a favorite spot for outdoor weddings and the perfect background for those important photographs.  If you’re planning a small, intimate wedding ceremony, the South Garden Gazebo is another popular spot in the park.  For more information, check out “Special Events and Wedding Guidelines” on our website,  To make a reservation in Water Works Park, call (515) 283-8752.

The Botanical Center, an eco-friendly and budget-friendly option, provides a beautiful setting under the dome or in one of the outdoor flower gardens. With the flowers and plants already in place, you can easily save hundreds on your floral bill, and when you add the competitive pricing for room rental and catering, you get more “green” all the way around.  Contact an Event Coordinator at (515) 323-6290 or go to to plan the wedding and/or reception of your dreams.

Posted by: Pat Ripley No Comments
Labels: , , , , , , Posted in Des Moines Botanical Center, Des Moines Water Works Park, Parks May 10, 2011

Spring Gardening Tips from DMWW’s Gardeners

May is a wonderful time for spring gardening.  There are numerous activities that can be done around the yard.

  • Take a tour of your garden to see which plants have survived over the winter months.  Replacement plants may be needed for those that did not survive.
  • Divide perennials that are becoming overgrown from the previous year.  Daylilies, hostas and perennial grasses are a few that grow very aggressively. 
  • Prune back spent blooms on any bulbs including daffodils, hyacinths, tulips, etc.  As the plant’s foliage begins to yellow and brown, it can be cut off and removed from the plant.
  • Add a layer of 2-4” of mulch in perennial beds, around shrubs, and trees.  A thick layer of mulch protects the plant by keeping the roots cool, blocking weeds, and keeping moisture around the plant. 
  • Make sure to take time for plant shopping this month.  Greenhouses are loaded with beautiful annuals and perennials.  Don’t forget to wait until the frost free date of May 10 for planting most annuals. 
  • Containers and pots can be designed with various combinations of annuals and perennials.
  • Till the vegetable garden plots and begin planting summer crops including tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, etc.  after May 10 as well.
  • And lastly, WEED, WEED, WEED!  Get an early start on weeding.  Weeds are growing just as quickly as the flowers in your garden. 
Posted by: Dawn Goodrich 1 Comment
Labels: , , , Posted in Des Moines Botanical Center, Des Moines Water Works Park, Uncategorized