The parking lot and entry garden welcomes visitors with a naturalistic planting inspired by the riparian context of the Botanical Garden site. In spring, sweeps of 30,000 bulbs wash the Garden’s entrance in yellows (Narcissus) and blues (Muscari). In summer, broad drifts of Iowa native grasses punctuated with colonies of shrubs, trees and colorful masses of perennials serve as a relief from the city’s hardscape and an abundant reserve for native pollinators, including bumblebees, Monarch butterflies and other Lepidoptera.
The entry garden, featuring a prominent island planting of Liquidambar styraciflua ‘Slender Silhouette’ (Slender Silhouette sweetgum) and arborvitaes is surrounded by rich and ebullient seasonal plantings that welcome visitors with the gusto of the Botanical Garden mission. The sign wall across the drive serves both the vehicular and pedestrian arrival experience with mass tulip displays in spring and eclectic annual schemes in summer and fall.
The parking lot garden peaks in late summer and early autumn with fiery references to Iowa’s prairies like Helenium (Helen’s flower), several species of Solidago (goldenrods) and Rudbeckia subtomentosa ‘Henry Eilers’ (Henry Eilers sweet coneflower), the rosy haze of Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass_ and the searing fall color of (Rhus typhina) staghorn sumacs
The entry garden is made possible through the generosity of EMC Insurance Foundation.