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Idaho Botanical Garden

By: Sherri RibbeySherri Ribbey
If gardening in a dry climate is your challenge, the Idaho Botanical Garden has lots of solutions!

Idaho Botanical Garden Dry garden: The plants in the Dry Garden, once established, need very little water to thrive. That’s a big help for dry Idaho gardens.

Idaho Botanical Garden

Boise, Idaho

Here’s a great place to visit if you’re looking for water-wise garden ideas. Founded in 1984 on the site of the historic Idaho State Penitentiary, many of the gardens within the Idaho Botanical Garden still feature the previous buildings’ native sandstone walls.

There’s so much to explore in this 32-acre garden: an English border designed by John Brookes; native and drought-tolerant displays; a rose garden; a large children’s garden; vegetable beds, and a shady meditation garden with a koi pond where you can relax and beat the heat. And visitors to the Idaho Botanical Garden should also check out the adjacent Firewise Demonstration Garden to see plants and landscaping practices that can help protect their homes.

Visit the water wise Dry Garden

Although winter temperatures are somewhat mild in this zone 6 garden, it only averages 11 inches of rain each year. The Dry Garden above showcases a wide range of super-drought-tolerant plants for gardeners in the Intermountain West who want good-looking borders without much watering. Horticulture Director Duran Villegas says they focus on creating plantings that visitors can have success with at home.

Explore the Native Plant Garden

In the Native Plant Garden you’ll find Munro’s globemallow (Sphaeralcea munroana), Oregon sunshine (Eriophyllum lanatum), sulphur-flower buckwheat (Eriogonum umbellatum) and other plants that thrive in this region. Behind the scenes, the team at the Idaho Botanical Garden is working with the city of Boise to increase the population of a rare, native perennial, the Boise sand verbena (Abronia mellifera var. pahoveorum). Soon they’ll be able to reintroduce it into wild areas.

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Idaho Botanical Garden Children's Adventure Garden: In the Children’s Adventure Garden, kids can participate in classes, such as hands-on Flower Power, where they get the chance to learn about and plant easy-to-grow annuals.

Bring the kids to the Children's Adventure Garden!

One of the most popular spots is the Children’s Adventure Garden, which is open to family visits and also regularly hosts field trips. Colorful flowers, such as the cutleaf coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata), hyacinth bean (Lablab purpureus) and globe amaranth (Gomphrena globosa), below, draw visitors to over to visit where a wide range of projects and activities opens up the world of horticulture to young people. Along with a fountain to splash in, hollow logs to crawl through and a tree house to climb, children can experience the sights, smells and textures of the sensory garden. At the garden’s summer STEAM camps (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics), kids spend the week learning about soil, plant and insect identification and pollinators.


Idaho Botanical Garden Children's Adventure Hyacinth beans growing up a teepee trellis: Colorful annuals welcome guests to the Children's Adventure Garden.

Plan a visit

Idaho Botanical Garden
2355 Old Penitentiary Road
Boise, Idaho
General admission: $12 (memberships and discounts available)
Follow on Instagram: @IdahoBotanicalGarden


Support Your Local Botanic Garden

In addition to free visits and special member events, many botanical gardens offer reciprocity: Free or discounted entry fees to hundreds of public gardens across North America. Visit The American Horticultural Society website for a list of participating gardens.

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The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden
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Sarah P. Duke Gardens

Published: Feb. 16, 2024
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