March 4, 2013 – Des Moines, IA
DES MOINES, Iowa (March 4, 2013) — The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden will break ground on the $11.6 million Phase I improvements during a ceremonial ground breaking this week. The event will take place under the Geodesic Dome on March 7th at 8:45 a.m. The public is invited to attend.
On January 1, 2013 the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, assumed the lease, management and future development for what was once called the Des Moines Botanical Center, following 33 years of the facility being municipally operated by the City of Des Moines and most recently the Des Moines Water Works. The nonprofit leases the facility and surrounding property from the City of Des Moines.
The phase I improvements to the building include upgrading the original 1979 electrical and mechanical systems, renovating the program/meeting rooms and lobby, and reconfiguring the spaces to enhance visitor experiences while providing for administration functions. The updated lobby will include Des Moines' first living green wall and a new Garden Shop. The only addition to the building will be a café with an exterior terrace overlooking a new water garden and the Des Moines River beyond. The Botanical Garden will be selecting a café operator this spring and the new café will open in the autumn.
Formerly known as the Friends of Des Moines Botanical Center, the nonprofit leading the institution forward began in 1969, ten years prior to the Botanical Center’s opening in 1979. Community leaders Buz Brenton, Tom Urban and Janis Ruan approached the City of Des Moines and Des Moines Water Works in 2007 with their vision of what the Botanical Center could be. Shortly thereafter the three asked Fred Weitz to join their cause. The four have worked diligently with the City of Des Moines and Des Moines Water Works to architect the transfer of leadership.
“The $11.6 million phase I improvements will breathe new life into the beloved facility,” according to Stephanie Jutila, president and CEO of the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. “The nonprofit has hired a professional staff, several of whom have worked at public gardens throughout the United States and the United Kingdom.” The plans for the site and expanded programming focus around the Garden's mission of “Exploring, explaining and celebrating the world of plants.” The master plan for the Garden will be fully realized over multiple phases and years.
“Public gardens are living museums,” Jutila notes. “Our collection is based on plants and art or literary pieces that reflect or are inspired by plants. Botanical Gardens have something for everyone, young or old, from workshops regarding gardening techniques, landscape design, floral design, garden ornaments or botanical instruction, to music in the garden, children's activities or art galleries. And of course a simple stroll in the garden, a bench with a fantastic view or an escape from an Iowa winter in the tropical surrounds of the geodesic conservatory is welcomed by young and old alike.”
The Botanical Garden will be open seven days a week through June 30. After a two-month closure for interior renovations, the facility will reopen in September. Phase I outdoor renovations will be completed throughout 2013 and 2014, and include a new entry garden, water education garden, shade tree allée, belvedere overlooking the Des Moines River and the city, event lawn encircled by perennial borders, display gardens and reconfiguration of the parking lot.
The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden relies on annual operating support from individuals and corporations to offer year round display gardens and programming. Des Moines Water Works will continue to partner with the Botanical Garden, offering $200,000 of annual in-kind contributions for 10 years. In addition, Bravo of Greater Des Moines has pledged $245,000 a year for 10 years and the City of Des Moines $200,000 a year for 10 years.
On January 1, 2013 the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden launched a new beginning. After years of planning, a bold vision, generous community support and a new staff, the Botanical Garden assumed operatorship of a 34-year old conservatory and 14 acres of land bordering the Des Moines River. Armed with a mission of exploring, explaining and celebrating the world of plants, we are a garden now. The Botanical Garden is a 501(c)(3) privately governed, not-for-profit institution with ten years of operating support at $645,000 per year from the City of Des Moines, Des Moines Water Works and Bravo Greater Des Moines. In addition, the Phase II Endowment goal will grow the total endowment to $3.6 million.