Our Gardens

The Garden is a living museum, dedicated to the advancement and appreciation of gardening, horticulture and conservation. You will find the following specialty gardens and features on your next visit!

Water Conservation Landscape

Look for this colorful one acre garden as you drive along Old Penitentiary Road on your way to the Idaho Botanical Garden. The Water Conservation Landscape focuses on water conserving plants that are attractive to humans as well as insect pollinators and hummingbirds, and serves as a dramatic statement that one has arrived at IBG. This previously weed infested, undeveloped flat ground includes a large berm edge constructed in 2006 to prevent water from flooding the Idaho State Historical Society Public Archives and Research Library. This waterwise garden serves as a demonstration garden while it helps control exotic plants and noxious weeds

Developed from a beautiful landscape design by Madeline George Garden Design, generous funding from United Water, and supplies donated by Rain Bird and Silver Creek Supply, the Water Conservation Landscape is accompanied by plant labels, an informational handout, and an interpretive sign. A plant list is available upon request.

Vegetable Garden

Located “up the hill” near the Summer Succulent Garden and Pencil Bench, this seasonal garden is not only a source of summer veggies, but also a multitude of colorful annual flowers, plus the ever-popular pumpkin patch. Used extensively for Education Programs, children and adults alike make use of this area to learn about raised beds, seeds, flower and vegetable gardening. It also is greatly enjoyed for pumpkin picking during the Scarecrow Stroll and Fall Harvest Festival activities.

Outlaw Field

When the Old Penitentiary was in operation, “The Outlaws”, an inmate team formed in the 1930’s, played baseball and football games here with local teams in Outlaw Stadium, built in the 1950’s. No restrictions were placed on team membership – even convicted murderers were allowed to play. Outlaw Field is the expansive grassy area you pass by once you enter the Garden’s main gate. It is now used primarily for concert seating and staging area and other Idaho Botanical Garden events.

Meditation Garden

The Meditation Garden’s many nooks and crannies are to the east of the brick road and north of the old Children’s Garden. Enjoy a cool respite from the summer sun with flowing water and a pond adding interest.

In Meditation Garden the plants includes broadleaf evergreens, conifers, and deciduous plants that require and prosper from shade, the cool and moist air, and a break from the intense heat and sun of the Boise summer afternoons. Temperatures in the Meditation Garden can be as much as 20 degrees cooler than open, exposed locations in the afternoon.

The trees planted in the Garden Woods portion of the Meditation Garden were planted by minimum security inmates from the Old State Penitentiary in the 1960s when this was part of the prison nursery. The ‘Old Pen’ was in operation from 1870 to 1973. The back wall of the Garden Woods is constructed of sandstone quarried on Table Rock by the prisoners. This area now creates an inviting forest and provides shade to the picnic tables scattered beneath their canopy.

Lewis & Clark Native Plant Garden

Officially opened in May 2006, the Lewis & Clark Native Plant Garden commemorates the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark Expedition (1804-1806). This garden’s goal is to display 145 plant species collected during the expedition between Great Falls, Montana and The Dalles, Oregon. We have nearly reached that goal, with more than 125 of the species currently in place.  This garden addresses the significance of the Lewis and Clark expedition’s journey, how Native Americans contributed to the expedition’s success, the great diversity of Idaho plant life, and how native plants may be used in today’s urban landscapes. The Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden was designed by Don Brigham and Steve Drown with Don Brigham Plus Associates.

Jane Falk Oppenheimer Heirloom Rose Garden

The Jane Falk Oppenheimer Heirloom Rose Garden offers a delightful collection of antique and newer roses within an old-fashioned garden setting. Planted among the roses and along this garden’s borders are a host of popular perennials used to extend the seasonal interest of the garden. Named for Jane Falk Oppenheimer, who, along with her husband Arthur, donated the funding to initiate this garden.

Antique or heirloom roses are “all roses that were in existence before the introduction in 1867 of La France”, the very first hybrid tea rose. In the Jane Falk Oppenheimer Heirloom Rose Garden, we feature roses bred and introduced before 1920, along with their more modern ones.

The Heirloom Rose Garden is designed to harmonize with its picturesque surroundings. Sandstone terraces reflect the contours of the Boise foothills and the rustic stone walls of the Old Penitentiary. It is one of IBG’s older gardens, opening in 1989.

Idaho Native Plant Garden

Originally planted in 1990, the Idaho Native Plant Garden was overhauled in 2010 to improve and enhance wheelchair accessibility to the Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden and other upper portions of IBG. New signage and a naturalistic cedar and steel sculpture (titled “Cedar”; sculpted by Francis Fox) were incorporated in 2011. A memorial bench fits comfortably into this “natural” environment, which now supports several 15-20 foot tall trees, all from the 1990 planting.

The reshaping of this Garden allowed us to increase its diversity, so much so that the small area currently houses 42 Idaho native plant species.

Children’s Adventure Garden

We are excited at the progress made in the Children’s Adventure Garden.

The Garden features a carnivorous plant display, tree houses, the pencil bench, a wildlife area, a Rolling Hill, our “Boys on the Swing” fountain, a musical trail and progress towards a kitchen garden!

There is still more to come! In the works are a colorful pencil fence to be installed behind the Pencil Bench and building blocks made from tree limb and trunk pieces will be placed for play.  In the future, additional interactive features will be added to the tree houses, a hut building station will be built, a play stream for boat races will be created, the Kitchen Garden will be completed, and fencing will surround the whole garden.

Muriel and Diana Kirk English Garden

This garden, which opened in 1998, was designed by world renowned English landscape architect John Brookes. It creates a feeling of “a light country garden, more relaxed than most American gardens.”

The wall of the Old Idaho State Penitentiary serves as this garden’s distant backdrop and helps define the style of an English Garden, where large groupings of perennials provide seasonal interest year round. More than 1,300 perennials have been planted in this garden.

A key focal point of the Muriel and Diana Kirk English Garden is the charming Summer House, constructed of Tablerock sandstone. The black slate roof originally graced the Veterans Home, and the ceiling is wood from the floor of Boise’s former J.C. Penneys store. The crowning achievement is the wrought iron and copper weathervane, crafted by Boise’s own master blacksmith Nahum Hersom. Another focal point is the Princess Diana Fountain, dedicated in 1998 in memory of Diana, Princess of Wales.

Firewise Garden

The BLM Firewise Garden was developed just outside of the Lewis and Clark Native Plant Garden Wetlands area. It is a partnership between the Bureau of Land Management, College of Western Idaho’s Horticulture Program, and the Idaho Botanical Garden. The Garden now supports more than 300 species and cultivars of plants, both native and non-native.

See the FireWise brochure for Vines and Groundcovers Brochure.

Herb Garden

Flavorful and fragrant, the Herb Garden contains plants rich in legend and lore as well as aroma. Featuring plants used for centuries in medicines, cosmetics, decoration, and cooking, this garden shows best from June through the first frost. It is one of the older gardens at IBG, established in the early 1990s. The stonework came from the Eastman Building which burned down in the 1986 Boise downtown fire.

You can see various species of thyme, oregano, comfrey, marjoram, rosemary, chives, and many more as you walk the brick pathway that winds through the Herb Garden. It is located on the east side of the Garden Cottage.