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Outdoor inspiration surrounded visitors to area gardens Friday. Sunday is Mother’s Day, a day when many want go get their hands dirty in the garden. Today, people found free inspiration as part of National Public Gardens Day.

Better Homes and Gardens Test Garden Manager Sandra Gerdes says, “National Public Gardens Day is an annual event nationwide, and the idea is to get people out from the community into their public green spaces.”

Five Central Iowa gardens teamed up for National Public Gardens Day. Gerdes says, “There are so many things to learn and enjoy at a public garden.”

Lee Goldsmith with the Brenton Arboretum in Dallas Center says, “It’s a great place to come and learn about what choices you have to put in your yard, how that tree is going to act perhaps in your landscape.”

And, gardeners have an extra incentive to visit area gardens. You can get a passport between now and Father’s Day to visit 5 central Iowa gardens. You’ll get a stamp each time you visit one and you’ll be entered in a drawing for prizes.

Gerdes says, “The concept in partnering with all 5 gardens is to get you to see what’s locally available.”

Gerdes says every garden is unique. Visitors to the test garden get a taste of what flowers work in yards. She says this weekend you could plant cool season annuals like pansies and snap dragons and get those shrubs in the ground. She says, “If your yard isn’t too wet, your ground isn’t too soft, you can go ahead and start planting shrubs and your bigger things because they’re fine in this cooler weather.”

But, the focus is on trees and native grasses at the Brenton Arboretum. Goldsmith says, “I really like the seven suns flower right now for something that maybe only gets 20 feet tall. I also like the golden rain tree. It has beautiful blossoms.”

No matter where you visit, you’re sure to see the beauty of nature.

The Better Homes and Gardens test garden, Brenton Arboretum, The Iowa Arboretum, Reiman Gardens and Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden are participating the in the passport promotion. Prizes include private garden tours and classes.