You may have visited the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden before and marveled at the broad variety of plants on display. Perhaps you've taken an adult education class or a workshop designed for families and children or you've shopped at one of the plant sales. Now, on Sunday afternoons until the end of March, you can escape the cold and enjoy a couple of hours of live music in the lush, tropical setting of the Garden's domed Conservatory.
The Garden's "Botanical Blues" program offers visitors the chance to experience live musical performances by a different group of musicians each Sunday from 2-4 pm. This special program began on January 7th and continues through March 25th. Sponsors of this special program include: Des Moines Radio Group, Homesteaders Life Insurance, Susan and Carl Voss, Central Iowa Blues Society and Kum & Go.
Here is the schedule of remaining performers:
Feb. 11: Brad “bebad” McCloud
Feb. 18: Eastside Brothers
March 4: Brian Holtz and Grover Kirkman
March 11: Jodi Bodley and Dewey Cantrell
March 18: Bryce Janey
March 25: Matt Woods
I checked out the Botanical Blues program for myself on the afternoon of January 21st when the performers included Cindy Grill (vocals) and Alan Smith (guitar), accompanied by the program's coordinator, Frank Strong (harmonica). Outside, the temperature hovered near 40 degrees and the skies were gray and foggy. What a refreshing change it was to step into the warm, humid air of the plexiglass geodesic dome housing a jungle of soaring bamboo, palm, and other tropical trees!
The musicians were set up in a wooden gazebo close to the dome's entrance, with seating facing the stage as well as chairs placed strategically throughout the entire conservatory including a second-floor gallery. (Note: seating near the stage was completely full when I arrived about 15 minutes before the show started at 2 pm, so if close seating is a priority for you, I'd recommend arriving plenty early).
I soon discovered that a seat near the music wasn't necessary to enjoy this multi-sensory experience. I had a fabulous time leisurely strolling the Conservatory's paths, where I could study the orchids and other brightly colored flowers and admire the cacti, ferns, and huge banana plants while still hearing the music. I also enjoyed discovering new vantage spots where I could watch the band across the foliage. I noticed many families with young children, as well as visitors enjoying wine, beer, coffee or other beverages and food sold by Trellis Catering.
These Sunday afternoon performances are included with the cost of your admission (Members Free; Adults $8; Seniors and Veterans/Military $7; Students 4-17 $6; Children 3 and under Free). If you live near Des Moines, it's well worth considering the purchase of a membership both to support the Garden's mission and for free admission and other perks.
The Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden is open from 10 am to 5 pm daily, and the website provides easy-to-follow directions (it does not recommend using GPS since most systems do not navigate to the property accurately).
Take time this winter to relax and listen to the Blues amidst the greens of the Botanical Garden, but fair warning--you may not want to step outside when the concert's over!
(Photo credit: Author)