Botany’s New Boys –

A medium-size state capital does not become a competitive global city without a public display of shrubbery. As theories of urban development go, that’s a novel one. Yet nabobs in Iowa appear to believe in it so strongly that they are raising $18.2 million to close the dogwood gap.

Specifically, the civic project is the development of 14 riverfront acres at the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden. Until recently, this operation amounted to a geodesic dome with a big fig tree and leaky Plexiglas panels. Now, having ripped up a frontage road and graded a grass lot, contractors will spend the summer constructing a water element, a maple tree allée, a pine-and-gravel garden, a perennial display and a belvedere…

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