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Find Peace in DSM: Botanical Garden's New Addition

Ruan Reflection Garden

September 29, 2020

Ask anyone from Greater Des Moines (DSM) what they think of when they hear “Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden” and they’ll likely mention the tropical conservatory, that towering plexiglass structure easily spotted from I-235. Though the lush, colorful plant collection is a unique gem in our landlocked state, the outdoor gardens, which opened to the public in 2015, are equally noteworthy. And their growth isn’t confined to a plexiglass dome.

A Welcome Addition

Until recently, only seven of the Botanical Garden’s 14 acres were developed. Now, one more outdoor garden has been completed and is open for you to explore: the Ruan Reflection Garden. Ruan Reflection Garden Sky Frame

This new space has a reflecting pool with a soothing rush of a water fountain, plenty of seating under more than 30 katsura trees (Cercidiphyllum japonicum) that will grow to offer an abundance of shade and unbeatable views of Downtown DSM.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more tranquil place in the center of DSM — and that’s exactly what it was designed for. Watch a drone video of the Ruan Reflection Garden below:


A Long Time Coming

The Botanical Garden’s 2012 master plan, designed by Hoerr Schaudt Landscape Architects of Chicago, always envisioned another garden at the north end of the established Ruan Allée. But the actual blueprint for this space went through three iterations before breaking ground in 2019 and becoming what it is today.

Initial plans were in place for another floral space. But after considering the abundance and variety of the existing outdoor plantings, it was decided that this new garden should offer a change of pace and place for pause. The final design features formal plantings, a contemplative water feature and an inviting space to stop and reflect.Ruan Reflection Garden in the Fall

Turning to Nature

We’ve heard it all before: This year has presented countless challenges and has pushed us all to new limits. Mentions of a “new normal” accompany changes to daily routines that don’t seem to get any easier. Although it’s not a fix for the issues at hand, you’d be surprised at how spending time in a quiet, plant-filled retreat can offer the clarity to recharge and refocus.

So before you drive past the conservatory again, take the exit and make your way through the beautiful outdoor gardens back to the Ruan Reflection Garden. Chances are, you’ll breathe a little easier.

The Ruan Reflection Garden is made possible through the generosity of Janis and John Ruan III and the John Ruan Foundation.

Downtown Des Moines (DSM) is a growing, vibrant community that offers the energy, sophistication, housing and attractions of a burgeoning city with a brilliant future. It’s also easy to visit with plentiful and affordable street and ramp parking options.