Photos: Connor McCourtney
Tired of the Des Moines winter? Escape the frigid cold and step into a tropical forest. You don’t have to fly out of Des Moines to stay warm. The Des Moines Botanical Center offers warmth, plants and now music.
Botanical Blues will feature a different local band each Sunday in February. The event takes place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., and admission is only $5 per person.
Parking was limited at the Botanical Center this past Sunday, nearly every spot in the parking lot was taken. People filed into the dome and crowded around a small stage set up among different plants. The air in the dome is a constant 65 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter; a nice change from the negative temperatures outdoors.
Water dripped from the exotic plants and from condensation on the ceiling. Some of the audience members sat down in chairs that had been set out for the concert while others roamed around the vast varieties of plants in the Botanical Center. Lizards, as well as children, darted across the paths as blues music filled the air.
Audience members can also enjoy a nice meal during the concert. The Botanical Center has food and beverages available at the Riverwalk Café. Items on the menu are around $10.
Bella Soul performed Feb. 6 as a part of this annual series. The members of Bella Soul are Tina Findlay, lead vocals; Brandon Findlay, guitar; David Larson, keyboards; Julie Myers, bass; Teywonk Tnodew, drums; and Kyle Gowin, saxophone The band describes itself as “a kaleidoscopic approach of emotion and sound that fuses rock, funk and blues with jam, jazz and gospel.”
This is the fifth year the Botanical Center has done this event. According to facility manager Dawn Goodrich, the Botanical Center works with Frank Strong, local blues artist. Strong approached the Botanical Center about the idea for Botanical Blues, and he hires all the blues musicians who play for the series. Only local blues musicians can be chosen to play.
“I guess they thought we were good to be included,” Tina Findlay said. Tina was very excited to be performing in the Botanical Blues series. She loved being able to sing in the dome but wasn’t too thrilled about how warm it was inside.
“It’s better than being outside, though,” she said. While the majority of the audience members were over 40 years of age, the Botanical Blues would be a great reason to leave the cold for an hour or two of fun.
The Botanical Center’s goal is to promote horticulture to the Des Moines Community. Many different plants grow in the Dome, from cacti found in Arizona to trees from China and South America. The Botanical Center is located on 909 Robert D. Ray Drive. It is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Adult tickets cost $5, and there are guided and self-guided tours available.
Other events at the Botanical Center include a plant sale on Feb. 12 and a Valentine’s dinner on Feb. 13 and 14. For more information about the Botanical Center and upcoming events, visit www.botanicalcenter.com.