GARDEN REOPENS: Free Admission Saturday

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A Des Moines attraction in the middle of a major makeover reopens this weekend. The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden closed to the public in July so crews could give the conservatory a face lift. The building reopens Saturday.

Horticulture Manager Kelly Norris says, “When you used to come in here, it was like this one door. It wasn't a very grand experience."

Walking through the new sliding glass door, you'll notice changes at the Des Moines Botanical Garden. Norris says, "One of the first things you notice when you come in here is how much brighter it actually is."

Crews removed seven large trees this summer to help the gardens grow. The extra sun also makes the conservatory look brighter and bigger. Norris says, "You can get a chance to see the architecture and the magic of this pattern of triangles.

You’ll also notice is smells like a bakery. Norris says, "It also does smell like chocolate. That's because we're mulching with cocoa hull mulch now." The mulch improves soil health and helps plants grow without outside weather conditions.

The lobby features Iowa's first living wall. Norris says, "There are 1,700 plants racked on the wall in these plastic trays that run the full length of the wall. There are two water lines behind those so we can water the wall vertically."

botanical_garden2The updates are part of an $11.6 million makeover that started earlier this year.  President and CEO Stephanie Jutila says,"We want to invite people back into the space that they've known for so many years. For 34 years, people have had this as a destination in the community, and we're excited to welcome people back in to a revised and refreshed building. “

Outside, crews are still working on seven acres of gardens. Norris says, "New gardens ranging from a new entry garden, a water garden, terraces, celebration lawn and walled perennial border. We're really going to be adding a whole suite of gardens over the course of next year that we plan to grand open next summer."

For now, visitors can enjoy what's blooming indoors. The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden reopens this Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free just for the day.