Garden Photo of the Day

Scarecrows and Fall Interest

A visit to a botanic garden in fall

Carol Verhake from Berwyn, Pennsylvania, shared these photos from a recent trip. (See photos of Carol’s home garden here.)

I thought you and your readers might enjoy these photos from the Idaho Botanical Garden in Boise, Idaho. I visited in October and was inspired by the fall color, gorgeous vistas, and interesting sculptural elements.

According to its website, “The Garden is a living museum, dedicated to the advancement and appreciation of gardening, horticulture and conservation.” Featured gardens were dedicated to native plants (the Lewis and Clark exhibit), meditation, water conservation, children, and more, all of which were interesting.

Situated in the foothills and on the property of a former prison, the Idaho Botanical Garden is a mecca set in a parched desert that provides a stark contrast to the surrounding landscape.


Near the entrance we were greeted by a carpet of Bouteloua gracilis ‘Blonde Ambition’ (Blue grama, Zones 5–9) combined with a backdrop of Calamagrostis ‘Karl Foerster’ (feather reed grass, Zones 5–9) and hydrangea. It was almost as though the designers were easing us into the changing landscape that the cultivated garden represented. This area was similar to the surrounding foothills, but that was about to change!


I liked how the ‘Karl Foerster’ grass echoed the vertical stones and softened them with a contrasting texture. Both were accented by the bright color of the Knockout roses and, of course, the brilliant blue sky.


Fall color was everywhere, such as on this Rhus aromatica (Fragrant sumac, Zones 3–8).


Beautiful vistas were around every corner, whether I was looking at the big picture . . .


. . . or observing plants at close range.


The textural and color contrasts were well placed in the garden.


I particularly liked this courtyard garden, which I would consider a great meditation spot.


The designers did a great job of creating perches where you could stop and smell the roses. I wanted to sit here all day!


A scarecrow stroll and competition was underway when we visited. This was an adorable one. By giving each visitor a ballot when they entered, the staff encouraged visitors to see all the scarecrows and therefore all parts of the garden—a great and kid-friendly strategy.


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  1. User avater
    meander_michaele 11/08/2018

    Thanks so much, Carol, for sharing your visit to this garden. I really liked the en masse planting of 'Blonde Ambition' makes quite a delightful statement and, heck, who doesn't love that name! I love when public gardens have a scarecrow competition/stroll...a chance to see such fun creativity.

  2. cheryl_c 11/08/2018

    Carol, you have shared a really interesting and unusual public garden, and your pictures have made us feel as though we were right there. Thank you! Your photos, both close up and wider angle are great, and thanks for your good descriptions.

  3. wittyone 11/08/2018

    These are beautiful, well thought out plantings and the dry arid backdrop makes for an interesting combination . I can see why you would want to linger on that calm, restful bench overlooking the rocks, grasses and walkway.

  4. arboretum 11/08/2018

    After Michelle Gervais left FG, I noticed a marked decline in the edited photos on this site, but I have still chosen to look at it when the location sounds interesting. I really appreciate Carol posting these photos because they teach me i.e. that a FRAGRANT sumac exists , and they have reminded me of a number of plants that i have lost and want to replace.

    But I do feel there were a number of i.d. captions missing- that would have helped readers. Does FG not have someone who could help with photo i.d.'s when needed?

    I'm wondering if these might be correct?:
    (Photo #7 what is behind the roses close-up??)

    Photo #9 Verbena bonierensis(sp)
    Photo # 11 Mahonia (blue berries) behind the scarecrow


  5. btucker9675 11/08/2018

    What a wonderful public garden - thanks for sharing. I am also happy to know about the fragrant sumac - great fall color.

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