Praising Our Public Gardens: A Video Tribute to Idaho Botanical Garden

A variety of waterwise flowers, grasses, shrubs, and groundcovers grace this one-acre Water Conservation Landscape alongside the entrance road for Idaho Botanical Garden.
Design by Kecia Carlson of Madeline George Garden Design Nursery.

The American Public Gardens Association (APGA) holds its annual conference in Denver next week. The theme is Everyday Magic: The Transformative Nature of Public Gardens. With tracks on education, leadership, art, horticulture, and more, the program schedule underlines just how hard public gardens work to lure visitors and to ensure that their experiences are powerful and positive.

Our public gardens are a great resource for gardeners — showcasing a wide variety of plants, plant combinations, and mature specimens as well as art, hardscaping, and even smaller-scale demonstration gardens for homeowners. They provide experiences of different styles of gardens, more than we could ever hope to develop or maintain on our own properties. And they allow gardeners and nongardeners alike to stroll through beautifully designed and maintained landscapes without lifting a finger to pull a weed.

Susan Harris has urged us gardeners to praise our public gardens in video format in order to help them attract visitors, and has even started an online campaign showcasing the multitude of great public gardens in the Washington, D.C. area.

I’m lucky to live fifteen minutes from Idaho Botanical Garden, which is home to 30 acres of inviting, inspiring, and educational landscapes set at the base of the foothills on what used to be a farm and nursery for the old Idaho State Penitentiary.

Having just recently moved to Boise, I am only beginning to explore this superb local resource. Here is my video tribute to just one of its treasures.


By the way, this is a recently installed garden, maybe 2 years old at the time I took the photos.

Anybody else have a video of a beloved public garden to share?


  1. Evelyn, you have a lovely voice for narration. Great video tour. Thanks. I need to find an excuse to visit the Idaho Botanic Gardens. I keep hearing good things. Allen

  2. Nicely explained, succinct and inspiring.

    But how to spread this “word” effectively to “the many” that regionally appropriate gardening can be so smart and beautiful . . . (and low carbon/water/input footprint)?? What “channels” do we need to plug into??

    • Kate, I think public gardens (and private gardens in the hellstrip and front yard) can effectively spread ideas and strategies for waterwise, regionally adapted landscaping.

      That is, in part, why I wrote my recent book on Hellstrip Gardening; people who are brave enough (and generous enough!) to garden in places that are out in the public view are changing their neighbors’ and visitors’ minds about what is possible, what is beautiful, what is desirable, even what is “normal” in a landscape.

      I’ve seen during my travels that gardens do spread through an area when they are out there for people to examine and to visit in different seasons.

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